Beard Champions Bristle With Pride

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The Web site, started last year, celebrates fuzzy-faced Americans. Its database allows you to find the best beards near you. There are more than 241 hairy mugs registered for your viewing pleasure — and at least 500 more applicants waiting eagerly to be listed.

Some guys have long braided beards that run down to their belt buckle. But you don't need to be a showman. Just register, send your picture, and you're among the few who proudly hold your hairy chin high.

Jerry Jackson, a 53-year-old computer programmer, created the site with his wife after attending a folk festival last year. They intended it as a good-natured way to let America know that it's still OK to let your facial hair grow long, no matter what the boss thinks.

"Some people say growing a beard is radical," says Jackson. "But if you think about all the presidents with mutton chops, and bearded generals, it couldn't be more traditional.

"Then again, John Lennon and Bob Dylan wore beards," he says. "So let's not pigeon-hole bearded Americans. They cover both ends of the political and cultural spectrum."

Jackson plays guitar with a folk-rock band, the New Arkadelphians, bearded musicians who celebrate their hairy ways in song. He boasts that his wife of 10 years has never seen him without facial hair.

But all too often, beards are associated with recluses. "Al Gore loses an election and he grows a beard," says Jackson.

Even Jackson has fallen victim to letting his beard grow extra long in sadder moments. He jokingly refers to one picture of himself in untamed glory as his "unemployment photo," but now trims back his gray and black facial art. ‘Just Say No … to Razors’ Such weaker moments serve only to contrast the Web site's unabashed celebration of hairy pride.

"If the good Lord had meant me to be clean-shaven I would not have been given testosterone!" writes a 46-year-old California man who signed up on the beard registry. Another man advocates the new political slogan: "Just Say No … to Razors."