Through My Eyes

Timing was everything.

Gettin’ they hair did

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I was strolling Divisadero for the occasional Art Walk tonight and happened to look through the front entrance of Chicago II Barbershop. I walked past the simple, straightforward shop, stopped in my steps, hesitated, and walked back towards the open door. Screw it. I had wanted to take photos of old-school barbers working on everyday Joes throughout the streets of Phnom Penh, but regretfully, chickened out every time thinking I’d be bothering them. This time, I walked through that doorway and up to one of the black barbers to ask, “Excuse me, but would you mind it if I took a few photos of you and your staff working on these guys here?” He said he wouldn’t mind, but I’d have to ask all the clients in the shop. There were 3 young men, probably in their 30s, sitting in those classic chairs either having their hair cut or their facial hair trimmed.  I raised my voice a few octaves and asked if any of them would mind.  They all turned their heads and proceeded to look at me like I was from a rural village stepping onto American soil for the first time.  The one closest to me even asked where I was coming from.  With a big sheepish smile, I said, “Oh, just down the street.  I live on California.”  They laughed.  I laughed.  We were good.

After a few minutes of kneeling with camera in hand, trying different angles, (insert dirty joke here), I thanked them and walked out.  Halfway down the street, I heard someone running after me.  I thought, I must’ve left something behind.  No.  The master barber, Kenneth, wanted me to come back and talk to him about “doing something” with the barbershop.  He asked me what I did for a living and why I decided to come in tonight.  When I explained my nostalgia, he handed me his card, took down my contact info, shook my hand, and said, “Alright, let’s do something here.  I’ve been wanting to do something to get the word out about business for some time now.”  Promoting their business in exchange for…services?  Wonder if they cut Asian hair – doubt it, but the place seems legit.  Curious as to how I can help.

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Written by winniewongsf

September 2, 2010 at 10:10 pm

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