Probably no haircut in human history has communicated as devastating a summation of its owner’s entire life as the insane orange Moe Howard bowl cut sported by Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis. Carve the shape of it into the wall of his father Al Davis’s mausoleum and it will tell a richer and truer story of heredity and dynasty than all the hieroglyphs in Thebes. Jesus, man, our distant alien descendants will telepath at each other, staring at it in horror, translucent fiberoptic extremities held over their mouths: This guy did a fuckin’ number on his kid.
In this respect, the cascade of bonkers details in ESPN writer Tim Keown’s terrific profile of Mark Davis—the tricked-out minivan he drives; his lifelong bachelorhood; how his father wouldn’t let him ride on the team’s charter plane—mostly serves to add dimension to a thing I think everybody who has beheld that ludicrous ’do already knows in their bones: That its owner is a lonely, stunted oddball whose father ignored him for the first 55 years of his life, then died.
The familiarity of the story does not prevent the individual details from astonishing. I think I aged 15 years just reading the opening paragraph:
Most days start the same — behind the wheel of a white 1997 Dodge Caravan SE outfitted with a bubble-top Mark III conversion kit, a VHS player mounted to the roof inside and a r8hers personalized plate. Mark Davis pilots this machine from his East Bay home to the nearest P.F. Chang’s, where he sits at the left end of the bar, same spot every time, puts his white fanny pack on the counter, orders an iced tea and unfolds the day’s newspapers. Beside him on the bar, next to the papers, is his 2003 Nokia push-button phone with full texting capability. When someone calls and asks him where he is, he says, “I’m in my office,” and sends a knowing nod to the bartenders. It gets ‘em every time.
If a sadder block of text has been written in 2015, I will take your word for it. My God, the sound that came out of me when I got to the words “puts his white fanny pack on the counter.” It was like whale song. Somebody send Mark Davis some flowers.
Here is the thing about the hair, though. Mark Davis is a frugal man, not just for a multimillionaire but also for a regular dude. He skimps on cab fare, he takes advantage of all-you-can-eat deals, he wears cornball team-store apparel, and that minivan of his (with a VHS player!) is 18 years old. For that haircut, though—the one defined by its cheapness, the one your 12-year-old sister gave you in five minutes before you ran out for baseball practice, the one brought into existence by the bare need of broke motherfuckers to get overgrown hair out of their eyes so they could see their miserable work—well ...
Davis travels to Palm Desert to get it cut, just as he traveled to Chico from Oakland to visit a preferred barber long after he left college at Chico State. “I think he’s had three barbers since college,” [former Raiders wideout Cliff] Branch says. “If he likes something, he stays loyal.”
... he travels 500 fucking miles to have it inflicted upon him by a professional.
Imagine what that barber says to the next customer who strolls in, as Mark Davis is on his way out. Imagine the look they exchange. Dude could get that hairdo in front of a bathroom mirror for the cost of a metal colander and a pair of kitchen shears, and he’s traveling damn near half the length of the West Coast to pay someone to do it for him. Christ. A dear friend invites me to her fucking wedding 500 miles away and it’s, “Congratulations! Where can I send a gift?” and this dude is doing it, again and again and again, so someone can make him look like a lunatic on purpose.
Why? Does that particular barber do a particularly good job of this bowl cut? What does that even mean? The best you can do when a grown man asks for a bowl cut is to convince him to turn himself in to the fucking police. That barber is a goddamn sociopath!
Behold this sad bastard, this rich old man whom unfathomable lifelong wealth and leisure could never persuade to venture even a toe into the exhilarating terrors of real adulthood. Hug your children and tell them they are strong and brave and smart. Give them challenges, responsibilities, a hand when they need it, and congratulations after. Or one day a 500-mile trip for a haircut like Mark Davis’s might be all they can dare to do with their lives, and that dismal fact will be your epitaph.
Photo via AP