Yes, another Friend Friday. Please let me know if you’d like to be a guest, even if I don’t know you!

Today’s guest is Cory Forsyth, a college friend of mine. He lives in New York, where he does technical work for a internet company that he helped found, outside.in. Before Cory even sent me his post, I had already decided on one of the words I was going to use to describe him – active. I would also describe him as inquisitive and genuine. Here’s what Cory has to say:

I’m excited to be writing here. Andrea, I think this is a great blog and I’m honored to be included in it. Friend Fridays are a cool idea and I like the special touch you have of summing up your friends with three words. I’m curious what mine will be and I expect that if you hadn’t chosen “goofy” for me yet, you will now after reading what I write here.

This year, one of my resolutions has been to be more active. By active I mean that I want to be more social, do more things, see more music, get back in touch with old friends, and in general strengthen the connections between myself and the outside world. This has worked out pretty well for me so far, and I want to share a couple experiences that I stumbled into as a result of choosing to say yes more.

This past Tuesday morning, I had my beard shaved live on the Today Show. The event that led to this hirsute fame began a little over two years ago when I was a grad student at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. Sai, a friend of mine at the program, asked me to assist him in a documentary he was making about a group of hipsters in Brooklyn who had formed a group called Bearduary. Bearduary is a celebration of male facial, and its members all grow beards during the -uary months, January and February. Sai was filming a documentary at their end-of-February shaving party, and I hung around with a bunch of bearded and soon-to-be-clean-shaven men that night, holding a microphone for interviews and fiddling with lights and sound equipment. Here’s the documentary that we made.

So on January 1st, I decided, because of my resolution, to officially “do” Bearduary this year. I’m no stranger to scruff, but after about six weeks I had serious doubts I could handle the increasing scratchiness. I persevered though, more out of inertia than anything else, and as Bearduary progressed I would check in with the website founders from time to time and send them a picture of the beard to post on their site.

Then, about a week ago, I received an email from the founders saying that the Today Show was doing a segment on makeovers of scruffy men, and all NYC Bearduary members were invited to attend.

On Tuesday morning, I showed up at NBC’s offices in midtown and joined 15 other hairy guys in the green room. When the time came, we were herded like cattle (“come on guys, move it!”, “put your camera back in your pocket!”, “look directly into the lens!”) into the plaza outside the studio. Once there we promptly disappointed a collected group of (I presume) midwestern tourists who were hoping for (I am sure) a celebrity, a performer, anything more exciting than 16 bearded hipsters.

NBC had set up an outdoor barber salon with four chairs where we could get our beards shaved for the cameras. Upon the suggestion of one of the producers, my barber shaved the right half of my beard off and then waited around for a commercial break to end so that they could zoom in close on me looking silly with a half a beard. I couldn’t bear to part with all my facial hair, so the barber left me with a pair of mutton chops, and now I look very Neil Young.

After we had all been shaved we got to come inside again to warm up, and then we went back into the studio for the end of the show. The producers had set up a large paper barrier with a “Shave it Off” logo printed on it that we were to run through, when given our cue, like a bunch of smooth-cheeked football players. One of the stage hands kept directing me to “chop out, then down, then tear across” when breaking through the paper. He said this about 8 times while we were waiting to set up and I asked him if they’d ever done the paper barrier thing before on the show. “Nope.”

We nevertheless managed to break on through without a hitch, and gathered behind the hosts for the show send-off. Giada De Laurentiis stood directly in front of me, and the guest for her cooking show was Padma Lakshmi, former wife of Salman Rushdie, who had recently come out with a recipe book. She offered me a radish covered with chili honey butter. It was ok.

The whole thing was bizarre in a really fun way, and I had a good time. I wasn’t the least bit starstruck, probably because I don’t watch much TV and had no idea who any of the hosts were. The two things that struck me were how much more normal and plain-looking the people and set are in real life, and how well-organized the entire process was, chronologically. We were told the segment would begin at 10am and go for 45 minutes. I expected that meant we’d get done sometime around 10:45am, but we actually got done at exactly 10:45:00, according to the clocks in the studio.

Here are my photos of the event: Bearduary at the Today Show.

There is one other thing that I’ve done recently that I wanted to mention because it’s so appropriate to this blog, and that is Thing A Day, another online community that challenges its participants to make at least one thing a day for every day in February. I did Thing A Day this February, but I set the bar rather low for myself, choosing to just “make” photographs or do new things and thus “make” memories. Nevertheless, it’s been a rewarding month and I highly recommend Thing A Day, or just the Thing A Day spirit, for everyone.

I’ll close this with one of the “rules” of Thing A Day that I found very inspiring:

Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.

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