There are a ton of subjects I thought about discussing to kick off the new year. After all, 2020 was a year like no other. Politics, pandemonium, and a pandemic all setting the stage for a perfect storm of philosophical whining.

So, after much deliberation, I’ve decided to talk about something everybody has an opinion on…OUR HAIR. Don’t scoff. Regardless of your current lot in life, the reality is that a bad hair day can make you or break you. Just ask James Dean, Farrah Fawcett, or Bo Derek. Good hair launched their Hollywood careers.

The amount of money spent every year on hair conditioning products is mind boggling. Brittle hair, dry hair, frizzy hair, greasy hair—enough potential problems to give everyone gray hairs. And that’s just the minor stuff. In the state of Kentucky, hair restoration is big business. We hate bald spots and receding hairlines as much as we abhor hair-brained basketball.

For the last five years, I’ve worn my hair in an unconventional ponytail. To commemorate the end of a hair-raising 2020, I’m ringing in 2021 with a brand-new look. I’m sending the ponytail packing.

Here are five good (or not so good reasons) why I did it.

1. Breaking into the UK Media market

The University of Kentucky media beat is ridiculously crowded. When I first started out back in 2014, it was also fairly homogeneous. I watched sports-obsessed stalwarts like Oscar Combs, Alan Cutler, and Larry Vaught peppering Coach John Calipari with all sorts of insightful questions. I knew I had to stand out in some way to get noticed. Being Asian helped. Being an Asian guy with a ponytail would surely turn some heads. It worked. Oscar invited me onto his podcast Episode 60 – Conversations with Oscar Combs – John Huang – , and we’ve become close friends ever since. I ended up writing a book with Cutler . And Coach Cal has called me out on several occasions for asking all sorts of weird questions. Mission accomplished.

2. Being the hippie I always wanted to be

I always thought ponytails were cool. Think Brad Pitt, or Roger Federer, or John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. If those guys walk into a restaurant like they own the place, they’ll be treated to the best seat in the house. Unfortunately, that never worked for me. With Covid-19 raging all around us, who spends time even eating in restaurants? Not me. Not cool. No need for ponytail.

3. I’m not your daddy 

There was a time when people thought my brother, Michael, and I looked alike. Granted, he still looks thirty years old. Me—not so much. That hair pulled back off my forehead aged me twenty years. When one of Michael’s friends asked me if I was his dad, that was the final straw. Scissors, please.

4. Boys don’t have ponytails

“Girls have ponytails. Boys don’t have ponytails,” said my five-year-old nephew Gabriel. In my case, the kid was right. The apparent gender ambiguity—especially behind a COVID-19 face covering—was what broke the camel’s back. It’s always a bit disturbing being called “Mam” by the Kroger checkout cashier. I immediately made a beeline for the Great Clips next door—and twenty minutes later, the ponytail was history.

5. Time heals a lot of wounds

Since my mom died in 2014, getting haircuts has always been a bit of a spiritual experience for me. I wrote about it in a previous blog post . You see, my mom cut my hair throughout my entire life. I think one of the reasons I grew my hair long was because I missed having her cut it. I still miss my mom…but it’s time to move on.

The old has gone, the new has come.

Happy New Year, everyone!

(Man, I’m so good looking.)

8 thoughts on “Ding, Dong, the Ponytail’s Gone!

  1. John – Great stuff here! Personally speaking, I like the new look – One more thing – Great job on the Alan Cutler book – Am finishing it up as we speak and it’s a terrific read – All the best to you and yours for 2021! Carl


    1. Thanks Alan. Always appreciate you and Sue checking in. My dad just smiled and nodded when he saw my new look. The guy’s amazing. Content in all circumstances. He probably wouldn’t say much if I shaved my head.


  2. John,
    The new hairstyle looks great and you are correct, the haircut makes you look much younger…and you also look happier
    ! I hope 2021 is a great year for you! Blessings! Tracy J


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