Exploit Thy Neighbor


I recently moved to a new neighborhood and after a bit of searching found a new barber shop in my new neighborhood. The place is small and dirty, but not filthy. It has a wide array of reading material (most features attractive women wearing little or nothing), a hot lather machine and a big screen TV. A man space.

So here is the problem: My new barber feels the need to engage in small talk, but he is not very good at it. The first time I went in, I managed to get a nice cut with very little conversation. The barber is Russian or Serbian or some sort of Eastern European and his English isn’t the best so we just stuck to basic communication about the haircut itself. It was very pleasant: a few exchanges about how short on the sides (there isn’t much on top) and I say back, relaxed and watched golf on the flat-screen.

Today I went in for a trim, thinking I would flip through a Maxim until it was my turn in the chair and then watch some football highlights or something. There was no-one in the shop, so I didn’t have to wait and we got past the basic plan communication quickly. Then the trouble began. I looked up to the TV and there was a Christina Aguilara video on. The sound was low and she’s an attractive woman who wasn’t wearing much, so I figured it would be fine. Then the barber said something. I didn’t really catch it and kind of ignored it. But it didn’t stop: all of a sudden I realized I was being engaged in a conversation about the relative merits of Ms. Aguilara’s ass vis-a-vis her dancer’s asses. Not in a normal matter of fact “that’s a nice ass” sort of way. In a “I’ve-been-led-to-believe-my-job-involves-friendly-banter-and-I’m-not-very-skilled-when-it-comes-to-friendly-banter” sort of way. I don’t know if it is normal in the Serbian (or Russian) community to have sexually suggestive conversations while in physical contact with another man, but that is how you make people less comfortable, not more. I changed the topic to the weather and finally the conversation tapered off. Until a Madonna video came on. I just don’t want to hear the man who is holding a straight razor to my neck explain how much he would enjoy intercourse with Madonna despite her age.

What do I do? I don’t want to find a new barbershop: the place is convenient, reasonably priced and the guy does good work. I also do not want to have creepy conversations with the man cutting my hair.

Is there a solution?

Dear Mysterious Writer Who Chose Not to Sign His Letter With A Clever Moniker,

Let me start by saying that I do feel for you.  There is no more horrible feeling than having settled into the perfect hair cutting routine only to find that something about that situation is seemingly untenable. Unless you have a recommendation from someone finding a barber from scratch can be very stressful. You’re gambling with your appearance and have no idea how it might turn out. If you find an acceptable establishment where you’re comfortable sitting in a chair while someone with sharp objects makes endless small talk while seeming to pay little, if any, attention to your hair you need to stick it out despite whatever their idiosyncrasies might be. So that said, not going back isn’t an option. If you find everything else about the hair cutting experience acceptable then you have to stick with it.

Don't look now but Floyd has a boner.

Now you could just time your visits so you’re there when other customers are around. That would probably minimize the creepy conversations and you could go about your day. I ask you though, is that really what we’re about in this day and age? Is avoiding creepy conversations with a barber really going to get you anywhere in life? The answer is no. We live in the internet age. Now is not the time to be avoiding creepy conversations. Eccentric characters are at a premium. We need to embrace them. You’re going to have to put up with the creepy conversations but it’s easier than ever to exploit and monetize those you find creepy. Everyone loves hearing about someone else’s encounter with an individual who is off beat as long as they don’t have to interact with them. That opens up a huge market for those willing to take one for the team and converse with the creepy.

Here’s what you need to do my friend: Take that creepiness and make it into a part of your hair cutting routine. Make a mental note of everything that he says. Every off color joke, ever lascivious comment, every crass gesture. Encourage his creepiness. Feed his stories. When he talks about how he talks about great Christina’s ass is respond with, ‘Yeah she’s got a great ass, but you know who else has a great ass? Shakira’. The next time he starts telling you about wanting to have intercourse with Madonna ask him if he’d rather have intercourse with Madonna or Debbie Harry. As long as he doesn’t get too excited and start giving you a shoulder rub or swinging around that scissor you’ll be fine.

Once you’ve collected enough material from your perverted barber you’re ready to start cashing in on you hours of sitting in the barber’s chair listening to dirty jokes. Follow the ‘Shit My Dad Says’ model. Start a twitter account, or a blog, or a Facebook Fan page. Parlay his creepiness into a large online following. From there it turns into books, movies, TV shows, etc. The world will be your oyster thanks to your perverted Russian and/or Serbian barber who seems to lack a conversational filter or awareness of personal boundaries.

If you’re willing to embrace the creepiness rather than avoid it I think it will pay off for you in the long run. Even if you’re not able to cash in, you’ll have endless hilarious stories for cocktail parties and family gatherings. Thanksgiving is coming up fast. Would you rather tell your Grandma another boring story about how things are at the office or would you like to spice things up by telling her how your barber thinks Katy Perry breasts are superior to Scarlett Johansson breasts? It seems like no choice at all.

Hope that helps.



The Kanye Way

First off, I’d like to apologize for not helping to make the world a better place by “publishing” more advice this week. My computer crashed last Saturday and that threw off my writing schedule. The free advice for the week is to make sure that you have an adequate backup of your important files. I myself did not. Fortunately, I was able to pull things together enough to write my ‘Unsolicited Advice for Celebrities’ column because this week’s subject definitely needs it.

I really, really, really, really wanted to write about Miley Cyrus this week. There is a growing tension (and some might say hypocrisy)  in society between protecting children while  their idols running around like over sexed jail bait. The furor that 17 year old Miley caused this week by showing off mild side boobage with a tattoo was expected. I wanted to write about it because I feel like she’s going to need advice when she turns 18 in 12 days (not that I’m counting) to handle the internet exploding with Pedobear excitement not seen since the Olson twins turned legal.

Yo - AK, IMA let you finish but Dan Savage had one of the best advice columns of ALL TIME!!!!!

But then there is Kanye and I can’t ignore Kanye this week. In case you missed it over the last month Kanye West has been all over the news. There might be naked pictures of Kanye floating around. Kanye considered suicide. Kanye has bat shit crazy album covers that were censored. Kanye apologizes to George Bush. Kanye rants and raves about the Today Show on twitter.

I feel like Kanye needs a big hug. A big hug and some Valium. A big hug, some Valium and for someone to take away his Twitter account.  It seems like Kanye is trying to make a genuine effort to act somewhat normal and the tension between normalcy and insanity is causing such friction in his personality that it’s actually causing him to go crazier. At some point all the insanity that is bottled up by his fleeting attempt to look like a normal human being is going to blow in some sort of epic meltdown. Insanity must be vented from time to time to release the pressure.

Kanye please don’t make any effort to act normal. We all know that you’re insane.  That’s why we pay attention to you. Now granted, Mike Myers and Taylor Swift might not appreciate your craziness as much as we do, but the general public is waiting to see what sort of crazy shit you’re going to do next. You are a talented musician and insanity and musical talent and insanity often walk hand in hand through a field of lollipops on their way to pet the unicorns. We accept it.

Kanye you are responsible for my favorite one minute and 50 seconds in television. When you started your rant about the plight of black people after Hurricane Katrina I couldn’t take my eyes of Mike Myers. For those who haven’t seen it, here it is:

He looked as uncomfortable as anyone has ever looked on television. He realized that he was part of a run away train and the only way it would end was by crashing into a school bus full of children that had stalled out on the tracks. The look of horror on his face when you said that George Bush didn’t care about black people was a moment that I will think about and laugh at on my death bed.

That kind of memorable moment of pure unadulterated insanity can only come about if you let go and don’t try to act normal. Your craziness is part of what’s made you a success. Don’t go around apologizing to George Bush. Do you really think that W cares if you think he’s a racist? Most upper class white males just assume that rappers are going to think that they’re racists and hate black people. It goes with the territory and they’re fine with it. Don’t apologize to Taylor Swift. She’s smart enough to realize that your moment of insanity gave her far more publicity than she ever could have ever hoped for by just accepting an award for a video that most people have never seen.

If you feel like giving in to your crazy inhibitions is going to ruin you then do what The Beatles did. Stop touring and limit your public appearances. Just write music, and crank out albums. Maybe if you focus all that insanity on music instead of running around on tour or hanging out at awards shows you’ll come up with something really great. Your craziness has gotten you where you are today. Don’t let it go. Think of all that you’ve accomplished. After all, how many people could get George W. to say, “I’m not a Hater.”

Hope that helps.



I Think I Love Booze

Every Friday I like to do a little charity work and dispense some much needed advice to a celebrity or newsmaker in need of assistance. This week that lucky individual is:

David Cassidy

If you were waiting for someone to call David Cassidy so you could fill in a row on your office’s game of ‘Former-Child-Stars-In-Trouble-With-The-Law’ Bingo stand up and collect your prize.

Mr. Cassidy was arrested in Florida on Wednesday evening with a blood alcohol level that was creeping close to twice the legal limit. He was released late Thursday morning and has thus far been unavailable for comment.

I wonder if Bonaduce can post my bail.

David, you were the last bastion of hope for the purity of child stars untouched by the ravages of booze and pills. Haim, Plato, Bridges, Lohan, O’Neil, were all America’s bright eyed hope for the future at one point until they started their downward spirals. Even sweet little Stephanie Tanner couldn’t avoid getting in trouble. Now granted, one DUI does not make you Leif Garrett but I was hoping to get through my lifetime with at least one child star that didn’t get in trouble with the law. According to your website you recently performed with Danny Bonaduce at the Kenswich Theater in PA. I can’t help but wonder if the timing of this DUI so close to hanging out with Bonaduce is a coincidence. So David, I’m disappointed in you. You couldn’t fade away gracefully into a life of regional tours. You got caught and have given TV and newspaper websites a chance to dust off their celebrity mug shot slideshows to gin up some page views.

But…I’m also a little proud of you. No, you shouldn’t be drinking and driving but this little incident tells me that you like to party. For most of your career you were the clean cut heart throb traveling around in a wacky bus. While wildly successful, you were stuck with image of a hollow pretty boy. I think you can take this incident and use it to reinvent yourself .

There is definitely a market for celebrities who can turn their wholesome, clean cut reputations upside down. Look at Neil Patrick Harris and George Takei. They are two stars who were at one point or another punch lines. They had a sense of humor about their reputations and managed to flip their public images upside down so we thought about them in a new light. Now they both have a cool factor that we never could have imagined if they’d just been content to be Doogie Howser and Sulu. No, I’m not saying you need to come out of the closet and start making jokes about how many guys you’ve blown. Mr. Cassidy, my advice is that you take this DUI charge and use it to launch a new phase of your career. You can go from David Cassidy “former teen idol” to David Cassidy “Hell yeah I like to party!”. Make the rounds on the talk shows,  apologize for drinking and driving, but don’t apologize for drinking in general. Say I shouldn’t have been driving, but tell us how much you love sitting by the pool drinking your bourbon. Make it into a shtick.

I have a couple notes for you if you are going to embrace this new, hard partying persona. If you need to get somewhere for Christ’s sake, get a damned taxi or a limo. I’m getting a little tired of celebrity DUIs. They’re so preventable. If you’re a celebrity and you like to drink you need to start using your head when it comes to how you get to and from the bar. If you insist on drinking and driving, stop keeping half empty bottles of booze in your vehicle. If you’re busted and you have booze within arms reach you’re just making things worse. At least put it in the trunk. Having it in the car is just going to irritate the police AND you’re going to lose your hooch which is unacceptable. Finally, if you do get caught don’t make ridiculous claims about how much you haven’t been drinking – it just makes you look foolish. In your case don’t blame it on one glass of wine and a pill a few hours before. You’re busted. Own up to it. We all know that wasn’t true. If you lie about it the public will laugh at you, but if you embrace it, if you say something like, “Hell, yeah – I’d been getting my drink on since noon.” we will look at you in a different light.

I want to see a David Cassidy that knows how to have a good time. So take this lemon and turn it into a vodka and lemonade. Hang out with some rappers, hit the Vega$ strip with Vince Neil, see if Kate Moss wants to do

Call us DC. We'll party!

something  (and by “something” I mean coke).  We’ve been there & done that with Clean-Cut David-Cassidy, but we’ve never even thought about Hard-Partying David-Cassidy. It sounds like fun to me.  Show us you have a dark, malevolent streak in you. I promise it will make us take a second look at what makes David Cassidy tick.

Hope that Helps.


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