By Joseph Johnston
"Excellent Haircuts" is a visual jazz poem about the death of the American barbershop. It incorporates cell phone photos of barbershops and the art of barbering from across the country, found historical images of barbers, and new macro images of barbershop knickknacks along with spoken word and music.
No more good haircuts.
The barbers are all gone. Dead or dying. Boom. Gone.
Jerry’s Barbershop must have had a crystal ball in the back. Jerry and Buck knew about
all the trouble we caused before our parents did. Before the police did.
Last good haircut I got was in Lebanon, Ohio from an eighty-seven year old Hungarian
who played the fiddle. The hand-painted sign above the door read
and Shakespeare and Robert Frost never composed truth like that sign.
A month later the door was locked and the sign was gone, torn off by an evil set of
Now all that’s left are the coupon-generating computers of the Great Clips Industrial
The giant leather chair with metal footstool and dual armrest ashtrays.
The boom SWEEP SWEEP after each customer.
The old man in a proper barber’s uniform.
The peaceful silence.
The odd collection of model tractors, old Life magazine photos taped to the mirror,
favorite presidential portraits behind cracked glass frames hanging on the wall, dusty
little league baseball trophies on shelves, butch wax canisters for sale near the register,
the smell of pomade and old men and slow death.
Freelance writer and filmmaker Joseph Johnston made his first movie at the age of 11, an industrial espionage thriller that continues to play to excited crowds in his parent’s living room every Christmas. His work has appeared in Rawboned, GTK Creative Journal, Old Northwest Review, and the Linden Avenue Literary Journal and his movie Fragments was the inaugural winner of the Iron Horse Literary Review's Video Literature contest. You can keep up with him at http://www.joe-johnston.com.