Archive for November 24th, 2009

“Go to the guys on Broadway.”  It was the hands down answer as to where I should get my hair cut.

I was told that not only do they cut the hair for most of the guys in the neighborhood but the endless bantering between the brothers is pure entertainment.  And indeed it is. Father and Son Barber Shop –  It’s kind of like the all-male version of Moonstruck.

“Did you hear about the woman who has a pet hedgehog on anti-depressants…..”
“Did you read about that guy who bought that hotel in Texas……”
“So, like my property values are going down and my property tax is going up?”
“That’s my brother, yeah.  Sometimes he pisses me off, but you know, he’s my brother.  It’s going to happen…….”
“Did you see that car out front?  It was here when we got here this morning and the front end looks like somebody dragged it down the block……”
“There’s the dog!  That dog comes by for a walk every day and every day that dog stops at the front door and won’t leave until we go out and say hello……”

Their shop at 5806 North Broadway is a clean, simple and modern facility.  Four seats across, a couple flat screen TV’s and a waiting area with a few stacks of magazines.  Whether you’re waiting or actually in the chair, plan to be engaged in conversation.  Even if they’ve never seen you before, you’re going to get pulled into the conversation.

“This your first time here?”  That’s what started it a few months ago.  “What’da doing in Chicago?”

Joe’s chair is the nearest to the window.  He’s the father of the operation that started out under the Thorndale L stop in 1967.  He’s been cutting hair in the Edgewater neighborhood ever since. In 2006 the shop moved to North Broadway.

I asked if their father made them go to barber school.
“No”, Pete said.  “I was in college, if you want to call six months being ‘in’.  But I found myself distracted.  It was my mom that suggested I do something else.  My dad had done pretty well and he was the only guy in the shop, so I decided to join him after I graduated from beauty school.  That was almost twenty years ago”.

He went on to tell me that his brother Anthony had been a banker before he became a barber.  “He saw things kind of tightening up – he wasn’t able to help his customers the way he felt he should have been able to.  Anthony joined us about eight years ago”.

Despite looking as though they’re twins, Pete and Anthony are two years apart. “Everyone asks”, Pete told me.  Fit, olive complected, dark-eyed, thick-haired Italians, both sport white toothy grins and both of whom arch their neck backwards when laughing out loud – something that’s quite common in their establishment.

Nino could easily pass as their younger brother.  He’s a friend of the family that joined the shop not long after Anthony.  But he may as well be because the three of them carry on as though they grew up in the same house together.
On my recent visit Nino was trying to convince a little boy that his haircut would be easy and painless.  He placed the vibrating body of the electric clippers against his shoulder.  “See.  It’s going to feel just like that and that doesn’t hurt does it”.  I remembered hearing that line when I was a kid. Everyone in the shop smiled as the young boy continued resisting the inevitable. We all must have heard that line.

Their customers slice through the local demographics – young, old, men, women, straight, gay, Cubs, Sox, hipsters and professionals.  You can expect the conversations taking place in there to slice through the same topics – or not.  It’s possible everyone there might just get caught up in the current game on The Price is Right.

“She’s only got two of those numbers right – and those are the two that can’t be changed,” says one brother sarcastically.
“I’d easily win on this show,” says one of the customers.  “I Know how all the games work and if you make it to the Show Case Showdown, you PASS on any showcase with furniture in it.”
“Why’s that?”
“What the hell you going to do with furniture?  It’s like winning china.  What am I going to do with new dishes?  I already got dishes.”

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