the Barbershop

I have learned that the two places where I most naturally feel at home are the high mountain desert or Philadelphia. I’m not really in either of those places too regularly these days. I doubt my geography will change any time soon, or maybe ever, so I am open to adjustment.

I recently discovered a place that may help me do just that.

This discovery came right after I discovered, or realized, that my hair was slipping well past hip and right on into hippie. Time to hit the barber’s.

For the past eight or so years when in need of a trim I would walk down to the corner of the block and take a seat next to a grumpy old man at Ricco & Son’s Barbershop. Ricco was long since retired but son was still there.  Sitting in their chair getting a straight razor drug down my neck is where I learned my picture was in the local paper. It was that kind of place. They knew everyone by name, they read the local paper, and they would trim your eyebrows without warning you first.barbershop Riccos

It’s a little too far to walk there now.

I know of another place nearby that is trying to be what Ricco & Son’s naturally is, but it is expensive. Men’s cuts should not be expensive.

Men’s cuts should also not be at Great Clips, or similar places. But in a land of strip malls and Olive Garden’s what choice is there?

I stumbled upon the Barbershop.

That’s the name of the place, the Barbershop.IMG_2809

I find it amazing that a place that has only been open a year or so could be the first to claim that simple name. Perhaps it speaks to the newness of the whole neighborhood.

It is in a poorly located strip mall, mostly big box distribution centers for neighbors and the front door faces the parking lot and not the street. I drive past the place every day and look over at the lawn sign that reads “barbershop. Now open.” So I gave them a shot.

I’m glad I did.

The place is new so what it lacks in generational patina it makes up for in cleanliness. It had no real artwork on the walls, I have ideas for that, but the angled mirrors stretching both sides of the shop work quite well. When I sat to wait my turn I realized Handel’s Water Music was playing on the sound system. I know it was Handel because that is about the only classical piece I recognize. It was maybe amateur hour playing choosing that for the background music, but it was exactly what I needed that day. I relaxed a little bit. It told me that I wouldn’t have to worry about that one barber who approaches you with a “Yo I can do you up with the flyest cut on the streets!”

I have nothing against fly street cuts, they just don’t match my normal work wear.

They shined my shoes. For free. They insisted.IMG_2807

When it was my turn they listened to what I wanted. Not the head nodding that proceeds whatever cut the barber intended to give all along, but the kind of listening that included restating my request. I have learned the hard way that this isn’t universal at barbershops.

They did a good job. Better than passable. There was no eyebrow trim but there was a straight razor.

And there were beards.

You should go. I did and I will.IMG_2808

www.thebarbershoprancho.com

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Raising Funds Once Again: for a good cause of course

We got our tickets second hand, but when those hands are clean and the food is good, who cares how you get the tickets?overview

My employer supports good causes, including employing ne’er-do-wells such as myself, but in this case said support entailed attending a charity auction. I’m beginning to like these types of events. I say beginning not because I’m learning or adjusting, but rather because I’ve finally begun being invited.IMG_1363-XL

They called the event “Chocolate Fantasy”. I called it “Black Tie and Bacon”. My name was better. Not only was my title alliterative but it had bacon. Everything, including the chocolate, is better with bacon.how funny

I know, I know… I’m hilarious.

Despite my irreverence, my tongue in cheekiness, my tendency to joke before I appreciate, this event did deserve actual appreciation. All proceeds went to give scholarships to young people at the Boys & Girls Club. The local sampling of desserts and appetizers was top notch, and the band, the band was good.trumpet

She made me dance. She did not have to make me eat. And I did eat.cakes

Chocolate covered bacon, raspberry truffles, fondue, and free champagne. I of course do not drink champagne, but there at the bar, at this adults only event, were bottles and bottles of Martinelli’s. Those bottles were like a carbonated token that I was indeed welcome here.glasses

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The Plaza of Angels

While driving into the heart of L.A.  I imagined aspiring plastic actors, hipsters, and the Hollywood sign. What I got instead was this:two dancers

It made sense once I saw it, but I didn’t expect it.  There in LA’s historic plaza, in the open space flanked by statues of Catholic missionaries and Spanish conquistadors, were Aztec dancers. This was not the land of William Penn.

smoke and dancersLA’s history is normally thought of as marked off by stars on sidewalks and fourth grader’s building mission models. I prefer Olvera St.market

It has sandals made from tire treads, redundant booths filled with baja pullovers, and plenty of painted skulls.skulls

If you look close enough at the photo you will see that I did not look very close before I snapped the picture. I mostly just kept strolling. The place had atmosphere. It smells heavily of roasted chili, there was loud mariachi music, and most of all, there were luchador masks.masks

I have never claimed to be classy. I have also never sat through a pro wrestling match; televised or otherwise. I do not speak Spanish past a Sesame Street level, mi casa es su casa, but I stood in front of that wall transfixed by the idea of owning a Nacho Libre red and powder blue mask. I think I would look very much like Jack Black were I wearing a cape and jumping around in stretchy pants. I’m not sure this is a good thing, but at that moment it was what I wanted. I wanted it for about $5 but the guy at the cart wanted it for $10.

There will be no photos of me dancing in a cape, mask, and stretchy pants.

At least for now.

In the mean time I present something much tastier:flamesNo it is not DiBruno Bros., but anyone who turns up their nose at carne asada is much more insane than Hector Jimenez ever pretended to be.conquistador

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Cal Poly Pomona: don’t eat your Wheaties

Cal Poly Pomona has more than 22,000 students. More than 1,000 are international. I’m not sure how many people from Pomona they have, but I do know they have about 85 purebred Arabian horses.

front doorI’ll get to the horse in a minute.

The school was officially founded in 1938, but the ball had been rolling for some years before that.  The Voorhis school for boys started in 1928. It had some hard times during the depression, almost made it out the other end, but come 1938 the place was broke and gave control over to The California Polytechnic School in San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly Pomona was born.palmtreesandpointythingToday the school offers 94 different bachelor’s degrees, and boasts the largest civil engineering program in the United States. The University is part of the California State University system, claims Forest Whitaker as an alumni, and has a strange connection to breakfast.libraryIn a strange twist regarding Mr. Whitaker, Cal Poly Pomona almost gave Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe’s dictator) an honorary doctorate back in 1998. Students protested and the honor was never awarded. Skip ahead to 2006 and alum Forest Whitaker portrays that same Mugabe in a movie and won the academy award for best actor. Not sure all of that connection is something they boast about over there but “Go Broncos!”

kellogsThe breakfast connection goes back to 1925 when founder of the Kellogg company (the ones who make Cornflakes) started a horse ranch in Pomona. In 1949 Mr. Kellogg donated the ranch, along with its herd of Arabian horses, to the state of California. The State of California gave the ranch to Cal Poly Pomona. The old stables, and the horses are still there. Strangely enough the horses now have new stables and the old ones now house the offices of the student clubs. When I was there I strolled past the open stable door of the Greek Life organization and chuckled at an “Animal House” joke I thankfully never said out loud.

IMG_2461The school, like most California public schools today, is officially “impacted”. This means it is full. No room for any more students. No Mas! But they still accept applicants. You can get accepted but then you have to wait your turn for classes. This is what happens when your yearly tuition is $6,350. So while waiting to get your class, you will have both the time and money to go shopping.usedclothes

 

 

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Mount Rubidoux: the beginnings of repentance

Children have a way of naturally highlighting the deficiencies in their parents. Quite often these adult shortcomings are obvious to everyone except the specific parent in question. We parents get caught up in minutia, lunches, pick-ups, drop-offs, lost homework, lost shoes, bed time, sugar intake, oil changes, lessons, stop hitting, say thank you, and on, and on. It’s like running with your head down.nicetrail

Then your six year old, the one who spends no time thinking about any of these things, asks, “Dad, have you ever been on top of a mountain?”

“Uhhhh, yes. Of course I have. On top of a mountain is in fact my favorite place to be. I would rather be on top of a mountain than anywhere else.”

My answer was a little indignant. Of course I’d been on a mountain. I grew up on a mountain. If I were to divide up my identity like a pie perhaps two of the six slices would be labeled “mountain man”. It was not till that moment, sitting in a car in the suburbs, that I realized my child had never been on a mountain. She had never seen me on a mountain. Never sat on the summit and felt the joy of looking out over the world. The simultaneous peace and excitement felt when the ground drops away in all directions.balancing

I have never given that little girl that experience.

Or a pony.

Or a marshmallow the size of a house.

She is deprived.

“Are we on a mountain now?”

“No, we are in a Target parking lot.”

“I want to go on top of a mountain. Can I go on top of that mountain?”

She was pointing up at Mt. Baldy.

“Maybe once you get bigger you can go up there.”

“Have you been up there?”

“No… No I have not.”climbing

Not only have I not been on top of Mt. Baldy but I haven’t been anywhere for far too long. No, strike that. I haven’t been nowhere for a very long time. I had spent so long, and my children have spent their entire lives, living in a place that is so much somewhere that getting to nowhere is quite hard.

I had never taken the six year old to nowhere.

I do not live nowhere now. Nor do I live somewhere. We live in between.jumping

Repentance doesn’t happen overnight but you must start right away. My supplication for outdoor forgiveness began in small steps; steps about the size of six year old legs.

Mount Rubidoux in nearby Riverside has a summit of only 1,329 feet. It has a paved trail. It has a tower, a cross, a large American flag, and on one Saturday morning, a very proud little girl.IMG_1460

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Hollywood Game Night

The whole way home my wife hit me with fact after celebrity fact in a rapid fire manner. She knows her stuff. If entertainment and celebrity news were a science my wife would be Albert Einstein.  I tried to convince her the show went great but she was frustrated.Hollywood Game Night

I wasn’t lying, I really thought she did great. She is a natural in front of a camera. She looked and acted like she was meant to be up there. But really… she did kinda choke.IMG_0641I wouldn’t normally write that she choked but she told the whole world that I wrecked the car. Which of course I did. But then again her choking goes to show how much this woman belongs on a television screen.IMG_0619You see, the Missus did not choke because she loves the movie Clueless (which she does) and Donald Faison (who is in that movie) was on the set. She did not choke because everyone else on that stage, or on that couch, were the sorts of people who get followed by photographers and written about in magazines, magazines that she herself reads -Nope- she chocked because she wants to fix that car. Cameras, producers, and celebrities did not phase her but a relatively marginal amount of money did.

IMG_0651Imagine how cool she would be if the money was already in the bag! Lets say she was on a contract, perhaps a flat fee, maybe an hourly rate, anything. She could hang with Chris Colfert, shoot the breeze with Penny Marshal, and not be nerdy with Kaley Cuoco -easy.

IMG_0596Seriously. Anyone who will jump off the armrest of a couch, on national TV, in a dress, is not afraid of a camera. And after watching the episode on air, I’m sure everyone will agree that the camera is definitely not afraid of her either.chattinwteam

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In the Studio: the process

On a Saturday…

sammybackground

 

sammyconcept

 

sammyoutline

 

sammyfinished

 

sammycloseup

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