Photo: Holy long-hair Batman! Ira Glass - circa 1991

March 15, 2010

Last week, a blog post was bandied about the twitter-sphere confirming that the myth that WBEZ's Ira Glass was indeed Lynda Barry's inspiration for her "bad boyfriend" character. In the post confirming the myth, the author takes on the character's ponytail, which was one of the reasons that people didn't think this was Ira. But here's the story, according to the post, which uses a quote from the Chicago Reader in 1998:
It was over, but she and Glass weren't done with each other. She briefly collaborated with Covino and Glass on The Wild Room, and in fact coined the title. Glass recalls that Covino wanted to call the show "Radio Factory," which he and Barry were able to agree was stupid. And when Glass went on The Wild Room to tell the story of why he'd let the Tribune cut his hair, she was the old girlfriend it got cut for. The Tribune had published a vapid Style section photo spread, with Glass as a guy with a ponytail who goes to a fancy Oak Street salon to make "drastic changes." A caption said, "The final cut finds Glass 'ready for Wall Street.' He loves the new look and so do we." Glass said on the air that he went along with this tomfoolery because the ponytail had been favored by an old flame who'd dumped him -- and now it was time to stop pining and let her go.
Damn, that's good. So in reading this, we realized that there might be a Tribune article out there somewhere that shows a different Ira Glass. We realized it had to be in the early 90s due to the reference to "The Wild Room" and since I met Ira in 1994 and he had no ponytail.‚  Our search was fruitful, turning this up this abstract from September 11, 1991.
Glass, a National Public Radio reporter, was just ready for a change, he said. And he sure got one. From "Kiss band member" to "GQ junk bond trader" is how the 32-year-old journalist summed up his long-to-short hair transformation created by Diane Peterson and Charles Ifergan at Charles Ifergan Salon, 106 E. Oak St.
So ladies and gentleman and merry blog-readers, I bring you a photo from the 1991 photo-spread featuring former NPR Reporter Ira Glass before we knew him...

Big thanks to Aaron Duncan for tracking this photo down and to to the Trib archives for the copy. Also, I did e-mail Ira to get this from the source, but he didn't respond. Which I took for a "go ahead and find it. I dare you." Now we have a few questions: 1) Is that a fancy smock or was Ira really into The Cure? 2) Ray-Bans? I'm assuming it was a daylight shoot and probably indoors. 3) Was Ira famous? Or was this article just a way to get a long-hair into an Oak Street salon?