The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Sunday, January 09, 2005


How extreme could Gladwell's hair be, I wondered, when I read this part of his promotion for 'Blink:'
Believe it or not, it's because I decided, a few years ago, to grow my hair long. If you look at the author photo on my last book, "The Tipping Point," you'll see that it used to be cut very short and conservatively. But, on a whim, I let it grow wild, as it had been when I was teenager. Immediately, in very small but significant ways, my life changed. I started getting speeding tickets all the time--and I had never gotten any before. I started getting pulled out of airport security lines for special attention. And one day, while walking along 14th Street in downtown Manhattan, a police van pulled up on the sidewalk, and three officers jumped out. They were looking, it turned out, for a rapist, and the rapist, they said, looked a lot like me. They pulled out the sketch and the description. I looked at it, and pointed out to them as nicely as I could that in fact the rapist looked nothing at all like me. He was much taller, and much heavier, and about fifteen years younger (and, I added, in a largely futile attempt at humor, not nearly as good-looking.) All we had in common was a large head of curly hair. After twenty minutes or so, the officers finally agreed with me, and let me go. On a scale of things, I realize this was a trivial misunderstanding. African-Americans in the United State suffer indignities far worse than this all the time. But what struck me was how even more subtle and absurd the stereotyping was in my case: this wasn't about something really obvious like skin color, or age, or height, or weight. It was just about hair.
Given how short his hair was, I figured that it couldn't be that long. I was thrilled to discover that

Gladwell's has biggest and best mop-head in literature since Georges Perec. Maya Angelou's 60s 'fro was of a similar size, but looks neatly conservative in comparison to Gladwell's hairdo. In profile, thanks to that receding hairline, he now looks eerily like the kid from 'Boondocks'.