Friday, February 24, 2006

topless barber

In my quest for a/v expertise, I set off this morning to find a story for my final DVD project in my art class. In the class we are learning how to program DVDs (I had no idea what I was getting into when I walked in there, it caught my attention because it was supposed to focus on podcasting too). Anyway, I've been tossing around several ideas and finally decided to do a project I have had in mind for years.

I am fascinated by the changing landscape all over Central Ohio...the neverending reach of urban sprawl and the consequent replacement of expansive cornfields with pre-fab cookie cutter houses. Every cornfield overturned by one of these horrid developments spells the end for delapidated barns, sheds, homesteads, etc. Everytime I see one of these old structures decaying in an empty field I want to pull over and scout around to see what traces of life are left.

So, I decided to head South toward Chillicothe, one of the relatively new areas targeted by hungry developers.

(What the hell does all this have to do with a topless barber, you are asking yourself right now. I know, I know, but I am longwinded and I need to set the scene, context is everything.)

OK, so I decide to stop first at a new development my Maronda Homes just to see what the landscape of a development in process looks like. Let me tell you, it's freaky and I will write more about it in another blog, I promise. After traipsing around this area for a good hour, I decide to head back to Columbus rather than go to Chillicothe because my camera battery is dying and I am sure I have enough material for the time being.

While driving back I am struck by the stench of garbage all around me and stop to take pictures of an electricity plant, a sewage treatment facility, a prison and a handful of abandonned factories. It's a part of the city I pass every time I drive to Cincinnati, but I've never stopped to look around. More on this later...

So, while heading home up South High St I pass this sign:

Duh, of course I pull into Buckeye Donuts for a giant U-turn. Now that I officially occupy space in blogland, everything is a potential post and I couldn't let this sign go undocumented. So, I jump out of my car, take the shot and then discover this sign on the other side of the shop:

Clearly, this George the Barber guy is a trip. Satisfied with my new blog fodder, I head back to my car and prepare to take off toward home. Just as I am about to pull away, I notice this older guy running down the street after me with an inkpen in his hand. OK, so this is South High Street and strange things happen in this part of town but it's broad daylight and I have just taken a picture of a shop and I am thinking that this running man might have something to tell me about the shop or the sign or God knows what. So, I wait for him to catch up to me and he hands me this pen that reads: "GEORGE THE BARBER 1538 S. HIGH ST. BEST HEAD JOBS IN TOWN"

That's it, he hands me a pen, smiles and then disappears into the ether.

I'm stunned because I am already having a freaky day, but I figure, alright, I am trying to do this a/v thing and this amazing guy just drops out of the universe and lands in my lap and I better go introduce myself, thank him for the pen and at least take his picture so I can include it in the blog. So, for the second time in 10 minutes I do a "U-ey" on High St., park my car and go find this guy in his barber shop. This was at 1:30 p.m. It ends up being 3:00 before I finally leave.

It turns out George is a Hungarian immigrant who left Hungary 50 years ago, right after living through the revolution that toppled communism in his homeland. He shows me pictures of it in the 1956 coverage from Life Magazine, and as if that isn't amazing enough, he then shows me a picture of him as a 9 year old boy clutching a pile of LPs as he is running from blasts in his neighborhood, a picture that is in the same edition of Life Magazine. Oh yeah, and the first thing he asked me when I walked through his door was if I told stories. This all too amazing to believe. One word...SYNCHRONICITY.

This is George:

This is me with George (it was his idea that I sit in the chair and take the picture with both of us in the frame):

Anyway, I am a novice at this stuff, but I am not stupid, so I pull out the video camera and ask him if he will talk to me on tape. He is thrilled to tell his story and immediately starts combing his hair in preparation to be on camera. I have the whole thing on tape and it's amazing, so watch for a post on my vlog as soon as I can get it edited.

Oh yeah and I still haven't explained the title, he's called the topless barber because he cut hair topless one year on April Fools Day. He said no one was doing anything fun anymore, so he set up a sign advertising "Topless Haircuts." He made the national news that day.

Here's George's Barber's Licencse:

Need I say more?

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