Village Barber & Beauty

When I asked Tyrone if he ever cut a red-Afro before, he said, “I’m not afraid.” Ray offered that I might be forty when queried during our discussion about gray hair. Tyrone, who’s been at Albany’s Village Barber & Beauty for ten years caught that amount of difference in my reaction and guessed right. Ray noticed me taking the shot to your left. I caught the place in the corner of my eye during a detour in New York’s ancient capital. It’s easy to confuse the Second Avenue neighborhood with the much hallowed and denigrated South End. Tyrone’s from the West end.

What is beauty might be a fair question in this obscure Albany “village”. As Tyrone set me in the big, black middle swiveling chair, Ray pointed to the types of cuts on the far wall, washed out by the pounding Sun that hit this little two story probably built around the turn of the last century. Maybe brick covered by respectable vinyl siding now. The checkered black and white floor could probably hold a dozen patrons on a packed Saturday. This Tuesday afternoon was a “lean and mean” in my words.

As I blearily made out indistinct heads on three sun-washed posters with various styles, I could squint out the “No Profanity” message on the board underneath some product displays on the white slat retail board. Reginald Graham popped in almost exactly as I found out he owned the place for the last seventeen years. Apparently Ray and Tyrone found out that this part-time preacher’s middle name is also  Eric. Felt instantly comfortable as Tyrone started up a loud buzzer after strapping me into a white foam(?) collar. Scotti may have used one once or twice in our 27 plus years.

I told these guys about him a bit as Reggie shared the fact that he occasionally preached down at the Columbia County jail. Ray knew Hudson. Tyrone felt we were in what is considered Albany’s South End. Ray left some cheese out too long. Reggie asked if I worked in Albany. I can’t remember if I mentioned my new coaching gig. The shop is on Second and Slingerland.

Towards the end the only thing Scotti kept on the tee-vee was The Movie Channel. It makes sense for customers and barbers a like to have something to occupy the time between customers. On a Tuesday afternoon in Albany Spectrum News told of local flag burning and a funeral. Tyrone recently learned that HW was the youngest pilot on WWII. 

I made no mention of the War on Drugs. I stopped talking serious politics with Scotti after he jumped on the T-Wagon too. To be fair, Tyrone and Ray never shared a political opinion either.

I do picture these guys holding court on Saturdays with a shop full of local guys who want to hang out and feel better after their cuts. Tyrone talked about the quality of cut and conversations when I brought my aversion to stop and chops. Ray trimmed his goatee in his big red barb er shirt and camo pants. They jokingly fought about a random clipper repair and stealing styles from each other. For fifteen bucks and a tip it was worth the show. When I promised to come back, Ray pointed down and said “this is the place.” At least in Albany. I wonder if they joked about me afterwards. Cutting the cheese mid-cut.

I didn’t see the owner Reggie again, but he’s running a quality show. When I sat down an elderly lady had returned with a tip she couldn’t leave on her last visit. As I left, Ray sat a young man down at his station. If you visit Google of FB you can see almost universal praise for this shop. A picture of Reggie getting a cut by his son struck me as one of the reasons for the Proverbs 22:6 quote in the front window.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”




BLoCkchAin Barber

Barbara Sitcer & Sandy Fix have been running Credible Cuts for three years at 911 Main St, Niverville NY. It’s three doors down from me. It was a great start for this little project. Don’t let that picture to your right fool you (see below), Barbara Sitcer gives a credible cut.  Turns out she started working for Scotti, my dead barber.

I was able to share a few memories with Barbara about my old barber as she put me in the seat and gave me a shampoo! Scotti once asked me if I washed my hair one of those visits. My affirmative might have been a white lie after a particularly long weekend. He washed my hair once (?) all those years. Most guys (that I know) don’t go for it. Here I am though going for it.

We’re both almost the same age and have two kids. As I sat in the cutting chair of their very cozy shop (a white walls and black leather vibe) and explained the closeness of the relationship with your barber. In this case, stylist? Fancy for me. I deserved it this visit. A new location (albeit three doors down) and feel.

We settled into an interesting conversation about the value of trades versus college nowadays. A real Mike Roe moment. Listened to a kid Rowe talked about once, a welder in North Dakota perhaps. He  made a one hundred dollars an hour and paid for his house with cash. She’s pleased her sons are both doing so well in life.

Barbara didn’t blow dry my cut as that first photo attests. I was self conscious enough tucking in front of the sign for the selfie at the beginning. I hate selfies, this is harder than I imagined. I’ll go back and see Barbara and Sandy again, even though I’m not big on little yappy dogs. I understand the old ladies probably love it.

That was about two weeks ago. I’m due for another cut soon.


It’s all about ME! You too?
This humble scrivener, editor, host and other stuff has decided to go live. Well, not really. I’ve decided to make millions by simply talking. I’ve heard it can be done. The studio’s complete, put the shingles on myself. Probably get rolling officially . . . come the first of the year? In the mean time, all the fun will be now. So it’s sorta live, if you follow, I guess. Patreon and what not . . . a mic somewhere. Well the sound version should be better. First Cast coming soon! Post Script: I’m disappointed I couldn’t get a prototype method/system working before noon.   

Main Street Barber: A Eulogy

I woke yesterday thinking I really needed a haircut. For over 25 years that thought has been an automatic in the course of things. Just stop by my barber in the Village of Kinderhook (NY) in my daily travels … git ‘r done. He died last October. I can’t do that anymore. Next week is Thanksgiving, well over a month after my friend, Angelo Scott confided in me he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He passed before his oncology appointment at the V.A., I haven’t had a haircut since.

My father-in-law and son have. The latter has been going to Scotti his short 16 years and the former knew him for most of his long and prosperous life. My son has to get his haircut as a part of the dress code of a former military academy. My father-in-law has been blessed with a crop of hair that should be the envy of any middle-aged man who’s hair has thinned or has departed all together. I’ll likely visit Scotti’s relatives, who still maintain a practice on that other Main St., now that Scotti is gone. That’s where my father-in-law goes now. Some Guy (wink).

You might say that my hair is unique, to say the least (see below).

Scotti never balked at my wild twenty-something Orange Afro when I first started going to him. His uncle Frank was in the biz on that other Main St. and he had to be in his nineties before health issues made his tenure a tenuous terror to visitors from a far. It was a pretty easy cut, even for Frank’s unsteady hands. He once cried, “I need you Red!”, when I stopped to greet a friend getting the service. I like to think the ease of my hair cut furthered my conversations with Scotti over the years. But he was a pro, I don’t know how he handled others.

I know Scotti was in the army sometime after the Korean police action and before the Vietnam intervention. He got me started in my first business in 1995. A retail computer store. A college buddy working with me the first week snorted about the stereo type you can imagine for a second or third generation Italian American. I loved Scotti’s almost open, plain (?), Hawaiian shirts. Vikings have hairy chests too.  My hair is very dry.

He was above us for three years before we moved across the street to a bigger place. We watched the nineties go by in a magical village that had everything . . .  a bank, a bagel shop, lawyers, retail, pharmacy, real estate, a corporate office over the post office. A book store and a rock shop didn’t even round out the other fascinating businesses tucked in historic barns or epic modern places in the hills. I played a character in a noir novel when I shut the shop door and went up the steps to the Old Dutch Inn, a veritable Cheers. It used to have so much more over the years, yeah . . .  Ichabod Crane stuff.

As the years went by, we reminisced about the time I got him to put his coffee down and have a catch with the FEDEX guy on the melting lawn of the House of History.  Everyone played football behind that place back in my day, back in his. Every once in a while, when I was in a raging moment at the Old Dutch Inn,  I’d often look across the dim lit room full of music, people and cheer. There was Scotti suddenly, having a quick chat and drink. I think he got up earlier than I did in those days. He just smiled and shook his head at those antics. He never stayed long.

After he came out of the Bagel Shop he’d toss what seemed a third of a steaming cup of coffee into a snow bank in his black trench coat if it was below freezing. While we were banging our heads on modems, memory and constant manic needs of the general public, he was kind of kicked back. Watching the village life and the tee-vee. Who ever came into to chat. He must have known everyone. While he didn’t mind winning on the horses, he was just giving the average guy a service that allowed them to come and clean up their rotten face or head. The hang over stories must have been incredible. I’ve heard many.

This story will continue. I need a new barber and refuse to go to a stop and chop. I’m going to visit my main streets and see what I find. I’m no longer not sleeping at night, because something in my sub-conscious says you are now forced to change something that has always been there. For my Haircut it was Scotti. I’ll share the parts of him I knew and I’m sure many will share with me. It’s just a matter of time.

Thanks for stopping by . . . I’ll let you know where I stop by, here and again.

I found a place today.






Project X

My editor’s concerned that this new project may take up space I hadn’t anticipated this summer. While it doesn’t effect my writing as you might expect, it does challenge some norms.

What’s the point of creating (inward smile) if others can’t follow along? Indeed. From a credibility standpoint, I had to drop Mark Z’s crowd for some real space . . . and quiet. The riot that is the soul, shouldn’t huddle with the digital pack, you too, noob. Passes the offering plate.  Ugh.

Get it? We’ll see.


An Inner Pyle of Steel

When Austin strapped into the Oerlikon 20mm dual barrel on the starboard deck and described a Mitsubishi “Betty” bearing down on us across the choppy Hudson at three hundred twenty miles an hour, it was hard not to imagine the fate of Frank O. Slater on the USS San Francisco over seventy-five years ago during the Battle of Friday the 13th. Frank and eleven other men died on an anti-aircraft platform holding their position until the Japanese plane crashed into them.

On a blustery opening day of the USS Slater’s 2018 touring season, Austin was much like 200 plus the young sailors (ages 18-22) assigned to the over 500 Destroyer Escorts deployed during World War II. Maybe three inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than an Alabama sharecropper’s son that the 22 year old Frank Slater was, Austin’s future is more assured in an era of relative peace. With any luck you can enjoy a tour by him before his recent Siena degree propels him into a world of even greater potential.

I’m hoping to get my father and brother there this year. They’re both Navy veterans. After hitting the deck of the Slater, the first place Austin would bring them is the Galley. The recently restored space seems like a small one to serve over two hundred sailors. Austin’s favorite part is the potato peeler. It is hard to imagine the two man crew without the innovation.

The fifty caliber forecastle gun could probably hit the Troy Innovation Garage from where the Slater sits now. Listening to Austin describe the calculations and calibration required for these weapon systems is impressive when one considers a slide ruler, trigonometry wielding 18 year old required up in red lit CIC room on the chart table. Just like the movies. The mathematical depth required is as impressive as all the depth charges on the MK10 Hedgehog, that Austin also aptly describes.

Before yesterday, I kept telling myself every time I passed the Slater this winter on I-787 that I was going to visit when it opened up again. There’s a lot more to the tour. You get to see the mess hall, sleeping quarters, the officer’s mess, Captain’s quarters and the rear deck. For a couple extra bucks, anyone over thirteen can visit the engine room.

At the end of the tour, Austin gives an almost half-hearted apology for a ship that isn’t as impressive as, say the USS Intrepid. While it may not have the glory of the big ships, it’s none the less impressive that a non-governmental operation has preserved a piece of the past that’s so impressive. If you live near Albany, take the time and go visit the USS Slater and Austin this season. We’re fortunate to have this preserved gem so close.

I’m also fortunate my father and brother didn’t die in the “undeclared” wars they were ultimately part of. While each of the sailors who died that day were immortalized by having Destroyer Escorts named after them, one has to think that young men in that world shouldn’t go off and die because of the mistakes made by Nations. Don’t make the mistake of not honoring those that these vessels are named after.

By the way Austin, the Oerlikon appears to be Swiss, not Swedish.



The Most Interesting Man in Niverville

I’ve decided to put down GezichtBoek (Dutch for FB) for two weeks and engage the world with my blog. Yes, you’re right, probably an equal waste of time. I’m sick of waiting for Winter to end though.  Sure it would be easy to rail on the social media giant from afar, but my own sanity and place in the world is at stake.

This title should not be taken for granted either, half my weekly poker posse might be eligible. We didn’t play last week, so I won’t know what those fellers are up to until this Saturday. Updates to follow.

While I’ll never be as prolific as a great cit-iot, James Altucher, the hope is that two weeks of mad writing might get me noticed by Vanity Fair for the DVRF’s Christopher Hitchens award.  Only three dudes have won it already, so I figure ten years of hard output might make me available for the Fifty Grand it promises. That’s um, five a year I suppose. I won’t calculate how much easier it would be to just amp up my billable hours for that amount of time. The key is the Idea. Am I someone who “reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry, a range and depth of intellect, and a willingness to pursue the truth without regard to personal or professional consequence.” Probably. Will I? Hmmm . . .

Well two weeks of it shouldn’t be too hard. After all, without GezichtBoek, I’ll have plenty of extra time for writing. My regard for personal and professional consequence has always been limited. The problem will will be reward and promotion. Who reads a blog with like three-ish posts to date? I can’t promote it on FB while I’m abstaining so, stay tuned indifferent Internet Universe, Eric Sundwall, the most interesting man in Niverville, is coming.

Ah damn . . .  metrics, google ads, all that shite now. I need a side kick like Brockmire now.

UNder$tand Your PeRSona!ty

This test.

Is outgoing, sociable.

Sure, sometimes. When I feel like it, when it’s necessary. When I get a couple drinks in me at a cocktail party on a veranda with interesting folks who’ve heard of Stages in Life’s Way by Kierkegaard. Even the random encounter with the grocery checkout lady who actually doesn’t care she’s anything but alive. Crags, bags and all. When the dull glaze of habit, routine and infertile curiosity purses its lips and gushes nothingness? Well then . . . neutral is the new Zen.

Is compassionate, has a soft heart.

Probably not when the dog and I were killing the opossum last fall before it burrowed under the shed, where the rogue still is going to be. When I helped that lady with the Christmas tree before finding out her husband died last year? Yeah.  Makes for another neutral, eh? A Libertarian? Bastard.

Tends to be disorganized.

Strongly disagree. It’s those people. Even the most anal re-tentative house person slides into disrepair of thought as they share their day among perfect appliances and vacuumed floors. My passwords are secured, some screws not accounted for in the basement, but an AI reasoning app that organizes paragraphs from those yaps? I’ll take it. Is it free for first respondents, um what do they call those folks?

Is relaxed, handles stress well.

Sure, if there’s no water everywhere or blood popping out. Expectation of others is the biggest stress right? Or is it deadlines for ridiculous enterprises? Physically pressed up against the wall. Every damn show on teevee is some violent orgy and people tremble on the simplest tasks. Ugh, Ugh. Agree a little.

Can’t believe some guy gets off on personality tests. I’m not doing this for another 100 million questions.

Four twenty exercise complete. Reboot rational day . . . .