At the barbershop

Yesterday I arrive one hour early for my hair appointment. As I turn around to leave, I see it’s Scott Uzelman sitting in Mel my stylist’s chair. It is a small town, this planet. This is a guy – media activist, scholar, and now instructor at Simon Fraser University – whose Master’s thesis I quoted in my own, before I lived here or knew him. Lame? you may think. But not so; in 2003 almost nobody had published on Indymedia. There were a handful of academic sources, but of those, some were chronically out of touch (gasp! no, not scholars!) and others had missed the boat on the importance of IMC. So Scott’s work on IMC Vancouver was important; as an Indy activist he was engaged in some cool work – participatory action research etc. with fruitful results.

Anyhoo, I’ve seen him around here and there – he’s completing his PhD at York in tdot, but living here in Van. Now I’ve been here for over two years, but it’s never felt like home. I can hardly figure out my directions because there’s no grid, or several, and I’m hopeless on the best of days. And it really just feels like a glorified Windsor (Ontario, that is) with mountains as a backdrop, and some sea salt in the air. Instead of breath-stifling humidity, there is rain (which, to be honest, I dont’ really mind). Poverty is more apparent, and more appalling; and on the flipside, cost of living is ridiculous. Finally, the service in restaurants is atrocious and I’m usually incensed by the end of my meal – moreso as I pay the bill because I cannot not tip, or even tip poorly (when you’ve been a server for a decade, this is something like a world view).

But meeting Scott in Kokopelli (on Commercial Drive), by sheer chance, as if I lived here all along, as if I knew people whose haircut I could crash, and hang out talking about our work, the politics of the academy and our big dreams for it, well, that was just cool. He said later it reminded him of the old-style barbershop, with discussions of power and politics and such. Which is a funny thing, because women have never gone to the barbershop (typically) and were thus excluded from discussions of power and politics, as usual. I’ve been reading Betty Freidan’s Feminine Mystique for the first time (it’s amazing. I highly recommend it to all) and it has really made me reframe everything in a feminist context. Which is good, because we tend to forget that things really are that bad. So while I can’t reminisce with Scott, I get his point. And it was fun.

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