Decided I would throw in occasionally a blog post that's a bit different than my usual fare blog type article. More of a free flowing stream of consciousness type of thing without all the glitz.
We live in an interesting world don't we? I can remember when I was a kid there as a program hosted by Walter Cronkite called "The 21st Century" . I happened to run across what I think is the first episode. It ran for about 3 years in 1967, 1968 and 1969 on CBS. It was sort of like a Sci Fi or Discovery Channel type documentary program that explored what the world would be like in the 21st Century. Mike Wallace later did a program called 20th Century. I distinctly remember calculating how old I would be at the turn of the 21st century. I would be 41 on New Years Day January 1, 2000. That has been 14 years ago and this year I will be turning 55 in April and very little has really changed other than a spiraling down of our society into greed, self centered tomfoolery and expanding poverty of both pocketbook and character.
One of my first thoughts when I began traditional wet shaving again in earnest over a year ago, after a hiatus of several years, my first motivation was to save money when I discovered by accident how cheaply I could purchase double edge razor blades. At that time Wilkinson Sword Classic blades were being sold in Walmart for a pack of 10 for $1.78. In that same store I could also then purchase Brut Dominant, Every Man Jack Post Shave Face Lotion, Van Der Hagen Deluxe Shaving Soap pucks, Williams Mug Shaving Soap, Aqua Velva Ice Blue, Brut Original, Barbasol Brisk and Pacific Rush, and Burma Shave Shaving Brushes. Today all have been put on clearance and are no longer in stock and on the shelves. I thought it would be easy to keep supplied in the shaving gear I needed. I foolishly thought to myself, Walmart will always be here and I can always find the essential shaving supplies anytime I want.
Over the past 40 years I have "played" with traditional wet shaving tools using a Schick Injector in college and pulling out my father's Gillette Slim Adjustable occasionally when I had endured the last shave I could tolerate from a Fusion or Astra twin blade cartridge and just needed to get presentable for work. For the most part I kept buying cheap electric razors that would last for a few months and then die or the blades would dull. I chaffed at the expense of buying replacement electric shaver blades even more than the cost of cartridges. As anyone who has been into traditional wet shaving for more than just a few days knows, the saving money gig really didn't pan out, although in the total scope of things the purchases I make on traditional shaving gear and products has far more "value" than the Proctor & Gamble/Gillette doodads and gizmos they push on the masses.
Probably more than anything else, traditional wet shaving has filled a void in my heart and soul that anyone who isn't at least old enough to be a baby-boomer probably won't understand. Traditional wet shaving has provided for me something on a daily basis that is NOT trendy, new, improved, fashionable, multi-media friendly, electronic, fast paced, hipster, etc., etc., etc. The phrase "old fashioned" fits it well and is a compliment and not an insult. In 1967 things that were old fashioned were very strongly looked down upon and that way of thinking has mostly grown into a major edict of modern life. In 1967 we were deeply in the cold war stance of racing for space and technology was surely the bright and shining future and the answer to every problem of society. In 1969 man would first set foot on the moon. The future looked bright and wonderful. It was this atmosphere and mentality that resulted in the rise of the Gillette Trac II razor and the ultimate attempt to bury double and single edge razor blades and razors.
Today, I don't know what our future looks like. I know the futurists paint a wonderful existence with nano medicine, robotics, super computers, embedded microchips, Borg-like melding of flesh and technology, bio and genetic engineering, chimeras and eternal existence where human consciousness can continue uploaded into living computers.
The computer and information age has done some wonderful things but it's effects on the heart and soul of society is a much more questionable thing. Computers and television has not resulted in our children being more highly educated citizens as was predicted when I was a child. The opposite has been the result. Ask the average high school graduate today where France is on a map and it would be a miracle if they pointed anywhere near Europe. Ask them about a geo-political problem or issue and they don't have a clue, stare into space and mumble something about "global warming". Our educational systems are failing and more computers and mass media is being used today than ever before.
I have truly found very good friends via Facebook shaving group membership and it has connected me to a much wider group of people worldwide than I would have ever been able to be "connected to" before. This is a very good thing, but without the in-person connections in the long run what good will it be to any of us?
My Facebook friends who live hundreds if not thousands of miles away can lend moral support but we can do very little for each other if a real problem in our lives should occur that requires an "in-person" response and presence. The trend of our society of being connected via the web but disconnected in our communities is troubling to me. This goes hand in hand with the trend that our brick and mortar stores are becoming more and more vacant of a variety of products.
I should be able to find locally in the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area (population of over a million) just about one of anything I should ever desire to purchase but that isn't the case. If something isn't a high volume selling item it is no longer "carried" in a store. "Oh, we can order it for you". This reminds me of my childhood somewhat when we shopped from catalogs and ordered from the very small Montgomery Ward or Sears Catalog Store tucked away in a downtown location in my local small town. If I wanted I could drive an hour into a big city and walk into a store there and purchase anything listed in the thick catalogs that sat prominently on our living room coffee table. Such all inclusive stores don't exist anymore, even in the cities. You can see a product via the internet, you can order it but no where can you go touch it without flying across the country to the select locations that happen to have that item actually in their store.
This past week, I saw on Etsy a shave soap and Ecotools synthetic shaving brush being sold as a "kit" for $25. I have plenty of shaving soaps and shaving mugs but the brush looked interesting. The synthetic fiber was taklon and is used in kabuki make up brushes.
I did an internet search for this kind of brush and found a very similar looking one at Walgreens. I found a half dozen stores in OKC that had them in stock for about $7. I wanted to see one and maybe buy one, but I wanted to see it in person and if possible touch it first. I went to each store. None of them had it in stock anymore. They had been put on clearance for $4 and sold out. The same way Gem Personna Stainless Steel SE razor blades are no longer stocked, and Walgreens DE razor blades, and any number of other products that just over a year ago could be found and used by traditional wet shavers. This used to happen occasionally. It seems in the past few months this type of thing is happening at a much more accelerated pace. I hate it!!!
I'm noticing that not only is the gap between the rich and the poor getting wider and wider with fewer people remaining in the middle ground. It seems the generation gap is wider and more contentious than ever before. I find that I can have conversations with younger people from Europe, Asia and South America far easier than I can carry on an intelligent conversation with the average young American. We just don't have anything in common and even when we do the methods, language, terminology, slang, etc. is so different it's like trying to communicate with someone from another universe. Their moral character, values and desires are so very different than mine. This seems strange and very wrong to me. So much in our world seems so very wrong to me anymore. Is this what getting older is all about? I don't think this is how things used to be. Maybe it was and I was just on the other end of the spectrum.
Traditional wet shaving is the one thing I see happening today that is on the rise, expanding and becoming more popular that seems promising in bring the generations together instead of farther apart. It also brings a basic philosophy and a common sense in product use, marketing, and hopefully in time distribution, that most modern consumerism does not embody - simplicity and utility, integrity and honesty. In more ways than I can really count, traditional wet shaving has become a symbol of hope to me and a mechanism of maintaining my own personal mental health and happiness. I hope it can provide similar things to you too.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe