The Modern Day Barber Shop

barber pole

There’s been something missing from Men’s style for at least my whole lifetime, or this is Gen X’s best kept secret: The Barber Shop.

When I say that, you may think of really old guys smelling of disinfectant and lecturing about “kids these days” while giving the same haircut to everyone. I can’t even say that’s not the case with most. What I can say is that the art of the barber somehow seems to have gone over the head of Gen Y, probably because, of course, if your dad did it, it mos def was not cool. Damn you, teenage angst! Blame Don Draper or Macklemore or whoever, but people are starting to realize dad & grandpa did it right.

The barber is one of the oldest professions on record. In Rome, circa 300 BC, they were very prosperous, popular & were a community hub for news & gossip. Barbers then became the first dentists & surgeons in history with that being a part of their profession up until the fifteenth century. In fact, the barber pole, pictured above, is a symbol of bloodletting. Bloodletting was the “medical” procedure of trying to heal someone by cutting them and letting them bleed, or putting leeches on them to suck it out because they had too much blood compared to how much phlegm, black bile & yellow bile in their system. Now archaic, the whole purpose of the medical field at that time was regulating these 4 “humors” as they were called to also regulate man’s health & temperament. I’ve heard the symbol (which is only red, white & blue in the US, but just red & white everywhere else) represents bloody bandages wrapped around a white pole drying outside the establishment & the bowl on each side represents the bowl of leeches they may incorporate. But if you wanted a history lesson you should have downloaded a Podcast.

Allow me to introduce you the modern barbershop.

oak bbs

Oak Barbershop 833 SE Main St. Portland, OR 97214

One day I was looking somewhere for my BFF & I to get a haircut with straight-razor shave for an event we would be attending. I had to find a new place as the last trendy place I was getting my haircuts was okay, but I never would’ve trusted the bubbly stylists there to take a razor to my neck, my life is just that precious. So I was on Google trying to find the most reputable source to avoid a possible slit throat & I ran across Oak Barbershop. With a Google rating of 4.9 stars I had to check it out. Not one bad review in the bunch, all 5 stars. To quote their website, “We believe trends come & go, but style is timeless.” We’re all on the same page, so I used their simple online booking and made a pair of appointments.

As an interjection here, Gus & Kyle are booked pretty heavily & have a ton of repeat business, and by writing this I run the risk of waiting longer than I already do to get my hair cut at Oak, but I decided that it would be unfair to not share what to me is, easily, the best business in PDX.

Like a true Portlander’s establishment, it is just off the beaten path. You will be searching for a bit before you locate it, allow extra time on your 1st visit & make sure you scope the info on the website 1st. You walk into a small room with two chairs, two tattooed men & good music. There isn’t much space for anything else, but it is very cozy. It doesn’t matter what impression you get, because you will soon get the best cut of your life.

The thing both Gus and Kyle are amazing at is communication. When you tell them what you want they repeat it back to show they understand, they tell you what is possible and what isn’t, they don’t demand you choose a number for the length of your hair in the sides and back, etc. They know what will make you look good. Even though everyone now knows whats up with the cut, the communication still shines. The two barbers are some of the easiest, funniest guys to talk to. The entertainment factor alone is worth the cost of the service you receive. The cut and shave were phenomenal. This was the manliest pampering I’ve ever got & the price is less than the trendy spots.

I had to stop myself from writing about it at that point because it could have been a fluke. The real test of a haircut is how grows out. Sometimes you can leave looking good, but in a week look like a tool. This was not the case. I liked my hair for the next two months! I decided to go back before I write & I’m glad I did. Gus & Kyle remembered us and specifics of what we talked about and my last haircut.

The watchword for these two is precision. The theme is service. Something you want when it comes to your hair. After my last haircut I’ve gotten the most compliments ever on my hair. I had multiple people talking about it and asking me where I got it done. That is style.

I can honestly say I will never get my hair cut by another. I highly recommend for your next haircut to get your best friend, schedule appointments at the same time and go together.

You will look better.

When it comes to haircuts you have only a few other options:

1. DIY – Not Recommended

Pros: It’s free. Cons: Everyone knows you are cheap, lazy & don’t care about what you look like. Unless your are using your shaved head as a fashion statement?

2. Great/Super Clips/Cuts – No

Pros: None. Cons: Everything. Their hairstylists are told to do each haircut under 12 mins so they can make a profit. No self-respecting man would take his dead cells to get cropped at a place like this.

3. Rock ‘n’ Roll/Man Cave/Trendy Spots – Not Recommended

Pros: You have an estimated 80% chance of a good haircut. Cons: You know this place: “Here’s a drink! We know and like you. Check out the pretty girls who work here.” This is not inherently bad. But most of the people who work here went to cosmetology school, yeah, like make-up and hair dye shit. The owners know marketing gimmicks, most of their stylists don’t have the clipper or bowstaff skills of barbering. Your ear hair will not get trimmed, they don’t shave your neck hair with a razor, they don’t know what “keep the bangs long” means, your cut will come out looking good 80% of the time in my experience. Mostly they assign odd hours for their workers, so setting appointments for someone you have found you like can be difficult. Also, there seems to be a pretty quick turn around for a majority of stylists.

So that is that. Remember your hair says a lot about you. Make it look good, don’t just cover it up.