Friday, January 11, 2008
i’ve been fascinated with the straight razor shave since childhood. i grew up watching westerns with my dad, and always thought it was cool when the cowboys shaved in the river with a straight razor. i got my first straight razor shave when i was eighteen in houston. the barber was a woman. it was an existential moment for me. for about thirty minutes there i caught a glimpse, i think, of whitman’s sublime. but that’s another story. shortly thereafter, i began to collect straight razors and barbering paraphernalia. my favorites of the collection are my granddad’s straight razor and a wooden burma shave sign. when i began teaching at pearl river community college, i discovered they had a barbering program. one of the requirements for graduation is proficiency with the straight razor. when klelly ran the program, he had a woman named misty whose specialty was the straight razor shave. and faculty could receive barbering services for free, so about once a week in ’98 and ’99, misty would knock the sandpaper off for me. but misty graduated and most of the students since have made me a bit nervous. however, for christmas this year, my sister and brother-in-law got me one of the coolest gifts i’ve ever received. it was a straight razor shave from a high-end boutique shop called the art of shaving, new york. if you are a man, i highly recommend that you put a straight razor shave on your list of 100 things to do before your die.