Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Barberism in Meridian Township

Having had real short hair for the longest time now, I am still surprised by the reaction I get from people. The short-cropped hair causes people to think I’m a cop or military personnel or CIA, particularly when I’m wearing a suit and carrying my camera. Alas, I’m just a simple guy who likes a simple hair style – I am, as the button says, another skinhead for peace.

For some strange reason, hair cuts and straight razors were a recurring theme for me in December 2007. Let me tell the story in four short parts.

Part 1: Tom’s Village Barbershop

The best barbershop I’ve ever found is located in Haslett, Michigan. No one can match the craftsmanship of Duane and Tom Willett, the father and son tandem at Tom’s Village Barbershop. They have been running the Haslett shop for approximately 10 years, having moved over from an operation in Holt. They’ve maintained the quintessential small-town barbershop – a friendly place for a reasonably priced haircut, which includes free sports chatter focusing on high school sports (Go Vikings!), the MSU-UM rivalry, and anything Red Wings, Tigers, or Pistons. Never mind the Lions.

At Tom’s Village Barbershop, you are welcome to a cup of coffee while you wait. There is a stack of quality mags from SI to Rolling Stone to National Geographic. The LSJ is always on hand for today’s headlines or last night’s sports scores. You can also peruse the sports memorabilia on the wall while you wait your turn in the chair.

Duane Willett (far right)

For me, Saturday mornings at the barbershop will have a slightly different beat starting in 2008. As of December 29, 2007, Duane Willett hung up the barber shears and retired after 39 years. His quick smile and laugh and running social commentary – not to mention, great hair cuts – will be missed. I want to salute Duane for being a great person, a great barber, and a steady, successful small business owner in our community.

It’s good to know that Duane leaves behind the town’s best barber, his son Tom Willett. Duane’s other son, Kevin, will step up to the vacant chair and carry forward his own career as a barber. No problem, these guys know what they’re doing with clippers in their hands.

So here’s a hearty congratulations to Duane Willett for a successful career and best wishes for a great retirement.

(L - R) Tom, Duane & Kevin Willett

Part 2: The Men’s Salon

Competition in barbering comes in all shapes and sizes here in Meridian Township. My friend, Elizabeth Jesse, is a barber and is now cutting hair at Douglas J Men in Okemos. You got it right: Elizabeth J. is working at Douglas J.

Elizabeth is a person that I got to know and admire while working in the community in 2007. She is sharp, articulate, and multi-talented – I always look forward to reading her letters-to-the-editor in the LSJ. She is that rare brave soul that is insightful in her social commentary and observations. It was good to see her recently as I stepped out of my normal routine and visited her for a haircut and shave at the men’s salon.

The trip to Douglas J was well worth it as Elizabeth deftly cut my hair and we got caught up on local happenings, usually impossible for the two of us who are constantly on the go. A deeper connection and understanding was achieved when we both discovered that we share the same birthday, January 6. No wonder I like this lady: We’re both Capricorns!

Overall, I walked out of the salon feeling pampered: the package included the haircut, straight-razor shave, and a facial and neck massage. A free shoe shine was offered as well. The straight-razor shave is rare service today – Duane and Tom in Haslett never offered a shaving service, and they certainly wouldn’t give you a neck massage (and you better not ask for one).

Up to this point, I have never considered myself a metrosexual, though some of my friends and co-workers are. Still, you may find me back at the men’s salon occasionally in 2008 – just do me a favor by not mentioning it to the guys on my Sunday hockey team.

Part 3: Sweeney Todd, Academy Award Candidate – Snuff Said

Do you think Johnny Depp is a metrosexual? His profession probably requires it.

The only movie I caught in the theater this past holiday season was Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Depp plays the lead role as barber Sweeney Todd, a character who does two things Duane or Elizabeth would never do: (1) break into song and (2) treat clients very poorly.

Sweeney Todd has already been nominated for 4 Golden Globe Awards. I gave the movie a five-star rating on Facebook and I am

predicting a pile of Academy Awards for the acting, directing, adapted screenplay, and technical presentation. Still, you should not plan to take your movie date to dinner after watching this movie. I won’t mince words here: It is graphically violent. It is a highly-stylized snuff film. Sweeney Todd will be required viewing in the de-sensitizing process for our American C.I.A. torture teams. For other Americans, we need to begin to wonder if movie makers are holding up a mirror to an already-desensitized culture that accepts violence and torture. Be a good American and think about it.

Part 4: Just a Little Redemption

Despite my movie-going experience, I took part of Festivus Week and went down to the Red Cross to donate blood. Every little bit helps – if so inclined, you can give blood too by calling the local Red Cross at 1-880-448-3545, or visit the web site at http://www.givelife.org/. Feel free to share this information with any of my hockey buddies. Thanks.

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