Monday, September 29, 2008

New York Observed: The Barber of Warm Feelings

Paul had some memories about a Clinton Street barber
Your mention of Steven Warbit reminded me: he was friendly with Barry Rosenband who was a few years older than me. His mother was friendly with my mom. Marion and Joe Rosenband: she taught hair dressing at some beauty school and Joe had an old time barber shop, with the barber pole in front, on Clinton Street. I know Barry had gone to Fredonia and did something in the science field. It's possible that Steven Warbit's mother Peshie is still around as I believe I've seen her on Grand Street.

Above, an image that combines where I go now for a haircut (13 Monroe Street) with Rocco who is mentioned in this excerpt from a Times' story below.
FOR once, in this city of cranes and money, it’s not about real estate. This is more a story of devotion — not to a usual suspect like a wife, not to the secondarily acceptable, like a mangy pet, and not to something embarrassing like a blanket. What I’m talking about is someone I’ve seen regularly for more than 10 years, someone who became a part of my life shortly after I moved to New York.
Oh, a therapist, you say, or someone herb-related. No. The man in question is Rocco, my barber, and he snips away in a narrow, old-school storefront on Spring Street in SoHo. Even back when I became a regular, before the city had so unapologetically traded its tattered edges for the relentless sheen of gentrification, his barbershop was a humble anachronism, somewhere too quietly perfect to last. I found him through a friend’s roommate, a Manhattan native who worked at an auction house and was the only consistent user of the apartment’s broom — and who I therefore assumed was spending lavishly for anything having to do with his hair. He swore that Rocco was the best in town and he was not alone; I quickly learned that Rocco is beloved by scores of men in New York, his name passed around like a gift. Rocco is not the only person ever to cut my hair. My mother was my first barber, draping a towel around my neck and sawing away with scissors so dull — she was deathly afraid of injuring me — that they were useless. Even with the right tools, I suspect, she wouldn’t have been a very good hairstylist. Once I determined that I required the services of a professional, my father took me to his barber, a woman named Tommy. I don’t remember the name of her establishment, but it was probably either A Cut Above or Shear Excellence. There were two major surprises (beyond the fact that a woman could be named Tommy): cut-out sinks — we didn’t have those in the bathroom salon at home — and a stack of Playboys in the waiting area, right next to Time and Esquire, not squirreled away in the den, passed down from a creepy uncle.

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