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  Edition # 98  
San Francisco, 11-03-2012


Figure [1]: My long-established barber is forced to move because a newly-rich bought the building.

Michael It's been 16 years since we arrived here to San Francisco, and I vividly remember how hard it was to find a skilled barber. Back then, I was working in the Italian neighborhood of North Beach, and one day by accident stumbled into a small barber shop on Columbus Street. I loved the haircut I got there and have been coming back to this shop all this time, even after I got a new job in Silicon Valley.

Every time I need a haircut, I'm driving from our place in San Francisco all over town to North Beach, which only professional cab drivers and myself can manage in 20 minutes. It has always been worthwhile, both for the haircut and the gossip exchanged. For example, did you know that famous director Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather", "Apocalypse Now") owns a restaurant across the street from the barber and that he once came over to get a haircut? Or one day, a bunch of tech nerds from Google stopped by and booked the entire shop for a few hours to shoot photos for some barber related web product, because they liked the original look of the barber chairs with their red upholstery.

Figure [2]: Both Francis Ford Coppola and myself have received haircuts in this chair.

Unfortunately, a few months ago, a newly-rich person bought the building with the barber shop, and my barber who's way over 60 had to find a new location. He found a salon around the corner, where he rented a chair. I haven't been to the new place yet, but on my next visit, I'll have the photo in Figure 1 printed and framed. It shows my barber standing in front of his old shop waving, and I'll hand it to him as a present from a loyal customer.

This story illustrates how neighborhoods have been changing recently: The old barber shop will probably become another useless realty office. New money moves in, and originality and taste fall by the wayside.

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