Monday, July 7, 2008


Yesterday I embarked on the tried and true ritual of stopping by my favourite Italian barbershop, "Guido's" on Lonsdale Avenue, for a much needed taming of my unruly hair. Guido's is an institution of sorts in North Vancouver. The original owner Guido sold it a few years ago, though the place retains the name due to it's local notoriety. I started going there when I moved to BC in 1997, and I have been going there ever since.

It is your basic no frills old school type barber shop where you can sit by the window and watch people walk up and down the main street while getting a trim. It makes me feel like I am in some surreal 21st century version of a Norman Rockwell painting, where it is more multicultural and everyone has either a cell phone or an iPod plugged into their head - the future is now!

I thought that it was endearing that my Kurdish barber decided tried to make small talk about hockey, and to his instant relief I brought up the recent Euro soccer tournament. In many ways it is liberating to be away from the world of suburban shopping malls (something I grew up with) and have that authentic main street experience where you walk around, buy a book or some good magazines and sit down at any one of a gazillion coffee shops and watch the world go by.

It makes me feel more human to have this visceral community experience - fire trucks occasionally buzzing by, overly caffeinated & chain smoking groups of labourers taking a break on a patio, hoodie draped teens zipping past on skateboards, people talking too loudly on their cell phones, - it is all a wonderful din of noise and bustling life that invigorates my senses and every now and then I like to breath it all in.


Dean Wormer said...

That sounds so neat.

I assume you're not that old in real life or don't suffer from the thinning hair some of us do.

Because I stopped going to barber's a couple of years ago and now simply run a razor over my head.

I miss hair.

Allison said...

Only those who have grown up in the suburbs (I think) can only truly appreciate the greatness that is living in a multicultural city.

mellowlee said...

This is exactly why I love living on Commercial Drive (well, close by anyways) I try to spend as much time as I can on the weekends, just strolling around, stopping by coffee shops, buying veggies at local stands and whatnot :O)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I love cities as well. Although I generally fester away in the burbs, I do need to escape downtown regularily to get an injection of life that doesn't involve an SUV.

Your barber shop reminds me of the one that the Spousal Unit frequents. The Lebanese barber/owner is a wealth of information about middle Eastern geopolitics and apparently is the offical barber of the city's police force.

Westcoast Walker said...

Hi Dean - although I haven't fully retained my youthful figure, I have fortunately held on to my hair and consider myself lucky (at least in that regard).

Allison - I hear you, I survived a soul sucking suburb in my adolescence and I am all too happy to leave it behind

Mellowlee - Commercial Drive is absolutely fabulous - up until a year ago I lived there, and I loved the dilemma of having to chose from one out of 100 coffee shops I should go to on any given day. Also, at 5th & Commercial there is that fabulous record store called Audiophile, which is a great place to waste countless hours!

Barb - so true, Barbershops have historically been a place of great communal connection and spirited debate (whether it's sports, politics or whatever) by virtue of having the luxury to sit for a while with others this promotes a unique opportunity for social interaction, something less likely to occur in a bank line up.

mellowlee said...

*nods* JJ Bean is my fav coffee spot. We buy all our music equipment from Bonerattle, which is right next door to audiophile :O) Such a great neighborhood! Happy almost Friday!