Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Barbershop Quartet

I got my hair cut this morning at my local barber shop. It would be more accurate to say that I got my hair cut at one of my local barber shops. There are at least three or four barber shops near by house. The Park Senate Barber Shop where I get my hair cut may not be the closest barber shop to my house, but it's only about three blocks away and it's the first one I found. Though I've only gone there three times, I can already say it's one of the best barber shops I've ever been to. I've gotten a great hair cut each time I've gone. My hair style is simple enough that it's nearly impossible for anyone with a license to cut hair to give me a bad haircut, but that doesn't mean I always leave the barber shop looking exactly the way I want to look. Each time George (I believe that's my barber's name) has cut my hair, it's come out exactly the way I wanted it.

I've been a big fan of old school barber shops for a while now. As a kid, however, I always hated getting my hair cut. My Dad went bald in his 20s and he got his biannual hair cut at the barber shop in his office, so my Mom was the one who usually took me to get my hair cut. She took me to a number of different places, none of which I liked very much. The worst, by far, was the hair salon at our local Meijer's (The Golden Knight Salon, I believe it was called). I absolutely loathed that place. Finally, when I was probably 11 or 12, I got my first taste of an old school barber shop, Mel's Golden Razor. I immediately took a liking to Mel's. The decor at Mel's was a random collection of Detroit Tigers and University of Michigan sports memorabilia. There was no muzak being piped into the shop, the barbers didn't ask me stupid questions like what grade I was in, if the TV was on, it was tuned to either sports, the news, or an old black-and-white movie. Like all great barber shops, it was a place where you could just go and be a guy. If you wanted to talk, you could. If you wanted to sit silently in your chair while you got you hair trimmed, you could and no one would care.

I don't know how much longer these kinds of barber shops are going to be with us. Whenever I get a haircut, I'm usually the youngest patron in the place, unless someone else has brought their children or grandchildren with them. There doesn't appear to be a new generation of barbers coming up through the ranks. The youngest barber I've come across at any of the old school shops I've been to over the past five years looked to be at least 45.

I've always had good luck with Italian barbers. I've been going to Italian-American and Italian barbers for so long now that I don't remember exactly how I decided that they are better at cutting hair than people from other ethnic backgrounds. It probably has something to do with all of the moving around I've done. It's a lot easier to choose a new barber shop from a list of places you've never heard of if you have some simple rules of thumb, like last name must end with a vowel.

I'll close by posting my barber shop recommendations. If you're ever in any of these areas and need a haircut, check one of them out.

Mel's Golden Razor
595 Forest Ave
Plymouth, MI
The original. I hear that one of the barbers who used to work at Mel's (Larry) has opened up his own place across the street from Mel's. I'm not sure what his place is called, but it's worth checking out as well.

Tony's Barber Shop
7601 Madison St # A,
Forest Park, IL
This place is run by two brothers from the old country who spend most of the time making bad jokes and then laughing hysterically at them.

Alibrandi's Barber Shop
194 Holland St
Somerville, MA
Lots of sports memorabilia on the walls here too.

Ottavio's Barber Shop
472 W Broadway # A
South Boston, MA
Ottavio is from the old country and does a great job.

Salvatore's Barber Shop
6288 Thompson Rd
East Syracuse, NY
Every square inch of wall space is covered in postcards from around the world. Sal and Frank (the barbers) spend as much time busting on each other as they do cutting your hair.

Park Senate Barber Shop
46 Rolfe Sq
Cranston, RI
A great barber shop in a neighborhood full of clip joints.


Gregory said...

I think you're giving Golden Knight Hair Design a bad name. When I sported the flat-top fade, my man Viktor made my hair look the tightest. I also remember getting my hair cut there by some women with some really nice tortillllllllllias, as Dhruva would say.

dhodge said...

I'm glad that your experiences at the Golden Knight were less traumatic than mine, but I stand by my words.

MDS said...

I haven't paid for a haircut in a decade or so, but I'd concur that Mel's Golden Razor was the best of the places I went to. In fact, if Mel opened up a barbershop in my neighborhood, I think I'd tell my wife she'd lost her job and start patronizing him.

I'm a little curious about what kind of relationship Larry and Mel have now that they're competitors. My sense was always that Mel played the Enzo to Larry's Gino.

Although I agree that barbershops for white men's hair are dying out, I think black men still have a lot of great barbershops. I've thought about stopping in one and asking for a haircut myself.

dhodge said...

I'm totally with you on Mel - Enzo analogy. Larry was the superior barber by a pretty significant distance. I'm not sure what Larry's ethnic background is, but he could definitely pass for Italian-American, which lends a little more creedence to my theory.