Tuesday, January 10, 2006

...All In The Eyes Of The Beholder

...All In The Eyes Of The Beholder

At the start of the new year, Frank Jackson was sworn in as the 56th Mayor of Cleveland. Everyone is intrigued about the prospects for change in the economic and education sector of our fair city during the new mayor's tenure. That's well and good but I'm more pumped up about a more eye-catching headline that, in my opinion, is more universal than simple economics. This is where the legendary star of stage and screen actor Victor French (deceased) comes into the picture.

Several weeks prior to the election in November of 2005, the soon-to-be mayor was giving a press conference. As I watched, the puzzled look on my face became more and more apparent. Soon, a co-worker asked,

"Is anything the matter?"

To which I replied, "Is it me or does Frank Jackson look a lot like Victor French?"

* The picture is black and white and a bit grainy but it works *

Upon hearing my comparison, my co-worker suddenly wore the same puzzled look only his was not the result of the press conference footage but a reaction to my unorthodox observation. Although he didn't actually say it, his look was the verbal equivalent of, "Are you from this planet?" Unphased by my co-workers neutral interest, I explored their uncanny resemblance further.

Obviously, my co-worker was lacking the proper television/pop-cultural knowledge necessary to understand the nature and scope of what I had noticed. To the uneducated eye, their mirror image lies hidden inside the frames of video. But to myself, the resemblance was an epiphany. Call it fate or destiny but I soon realized I was put in front of that TV during that press conference for one reason and that was to identify who--between Victor French and Frank Jackson--was the "Man's Man".

For the longest time, I've been a huge Victor French fan so I could not do him a disservice by conceding the "Man's Man" Title to the new mayor without a test of strength. Therefore, a simple comparison of both men utilizing five criteria--my arbitrary set of criteria albeit somewhat slanted toward my tastes--was the only fair way to see who was the "Man's Man". There could be only one.

1. Speak ability - Mayor Jackson doesn't have the best pipes in the world but his voice is slow, methodical and very succinct in the times that I've heard him. Mr. French had a raspy, rugged voice no doubt from years of smoking. Let me make this clear, I don't condone smoking to increase ones ability to sound rugged. However, Mr. French--more than likely unintentionally--pulled this off wonderfully. The question isn't who is/had a healthier lifestyle; the question is who is manlier. The advantage goes to Victor French.

2. Height/Stature - Yes, there have been some manly men who have been short (like Chuck Norris: 5'9") but not many. For the purposes of this comparison, the combination of ones height and stature will be taken into account.

While there are no official listings of Victor French's height, I did find a picture of him standing next to Michael Landon who is listed on the internet movie database as 5' 9 1/2". Victor looks to be about 4 inches taller. So using inductive reasoning, we'll give Mr. French a height of 6' 1 1/2" or round up to 6'2" with a weight of around 230. Check him out in a rerun of Highway to Heaven. Victor is deceased so he can't really argue.

Last week, Mayor Jackson was a guest at my place of employment. I saw him stand next to a buddy of mine who is 5'10" and he seemed a few inches taller. Based on my observation, I'm going with a height of 6 feet for the new mayor. His is in good shape so his weight can't be more than 200 lbs (maybe 210 but no more). Again, for our comparisons, its physical stature not weight. So the nod once again goes to the deceased Victor French.

3. Occupation - A job is a job is a job. It’s a means by which to pay the bills and put food on the table. Some occupations are nobler than others which brings us to Mayor Frank. He is a lawyer, a former city councilman and is now mayor of the 15th largest television market in the country. Victor French was a superb actor and director in theater and television work. I'm not saying that Victor French wasn't smart but in order to get your law degree, you need a lot of schooling. It sounds biased but that the way it is. Moreover, Victor is no longer with us so he technically has no occupation so we have to give the advantage to Mayor Frank.

4. Hair - Wow. This one is tough. Both men have solid, healthy heads of hair from what I can see. Victor's hair had a slight disheveled look which gives the impression that he didn't care about it. Mayor Frank's hair is full of body, well managed and not one follicle is out of place. Advantage by a landslide: Mayor Jackson.

So far, it’s tied at 2 apiece.

5. Beard - Another very tough call. Being a man's man requires that you be able to grow a full beard in 15 days or less with no significant negative zones. That is a beard with dead areas in awkward places. You must also keep said beard for a period of 6 months as well as keep it well-groomed. Victor French no doubt has the most rugged beard. It’s the beard of a working man. Nothing wrong with that. Mayor Jackson's is a beard veteran. It’s not only rugged but it’s very well managed with no negative zones, its well-trimmed and is probably very fluffy. The facial hair--beard--criterion goes to Mayor Frank!

Now, what did this exercise achieve? It showed that a man's beard is the telling characteristic if he is manly. In this comparison between the late, great Victor French and the new mayor of Cleveland Frank Jackson, the "Man's Man" title--to my dismay-- goes to Mayor Frank Jackson by the slimmest of margins.

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