These chairs are just inside the entrance of a medical building in Santa Monica. No doctor’s waiting room, no medical offices, just the hallway to the elevator lobby. Nothing really to wait for, and yet there they are. I guess if you are exhausted from the 6 step climb from the street and need to take a breather before venturing down the hallway, this is for you. Or if you need to catch the bus and don’t want to wait on the street these are more comfy than the hard metal bench. I dunno, but I liked the reflections and the motion blur of the door as it closes.
These are photos of the barber shop in which Jake got his last haircut – Monday, December 16, 2013. T and I were visiting him in Palm Springs. We took him for the haircut and dinner. It was the last time we visited. I snapped these pictures while I waited for him. You can see him through the window in the upper left and lower right photos getting one of the worst haircuts ever. I could never make up my mind which of the pictures I should select, so I am including all of them. We had a lovely visit. He was living in his own apartment with a roommate, had a job prospect lined up at a local restaurant, seemed like he was doing well. Less than two weeks later, we got the dreadful news of his passing.
I think I like the large one in the upper left. It has all the elements. Empty chairs, inside and out waiting places, someone waiting, Jake, and a slightly skewed perspective. Little did I know that this is one of the last photographs I would take of my son. I have taken thousands of them throughout his life, but none as poignant. We returned home the next day. I would speak with him during the ensuing weeks, would text, but I would never see him again.
Lincoln Blvd. is a street that could be anywhere. A strip of fast food restaurants, psychics, cheap motels, and liquor stores, it is replicated endlessly across the country. My particular slice of this uniquely American landscape runs from Venice Blvd. to Washington Blvd. All of the above are within a few blocks as well as a veterinarian, an art supply store, car wash, shoe repair, pawn shop, day care, bicycle shop, a couple of used car lots, nail salons, gas station, 7-11 strip mall, legal document service (wills, divorces, incorporations), beauty supply, car rental, Jewish synagogue, Catholic church, Chinese fast food, Thai restaurant, Italian restaurant, Indian restaurant, gluten-free bakery, donut shop, drug store, payday check cashing, wireless telephones, a post office box business, sewing machine and vacuum repair, Thai massage, mixed martial arts studio, car stereo, smog check, locksmith, tattoo parlor, and a marijuana dispensary; truly a cross-section of our culture. And a barbershop.
Over the years I have sought acupuncture treatment for a variety of ailments. While not a waiting room per se, this chair in the doctor’s office is specifically for a patient to wait in while the doctor is with another patient. The office has a tranquil atmosphere, each treatment always started with a cup of tea, and Dr. Hsien has a very calming and reassuring air. You can see the doctor’s desk in the corner with another chair for the patient to sit in while talking to the doctor. This chair is only for waiting. To the left of the chair is a doorway with a beaded curtain that leads to the treatment area. I was getting treated for hip and back issues. At the time Jake was living at home and we both saw the doctor once or twice a week for many of the same things. Like father, like son. Jake primarily for his back pain and to help with anxiety. In addition to the traditional needles and hot cupping, Dr. Hsien would attach electric wires to the needles for deep muscle stimulation. I had never experienced anything like it before. Overall, his treatments were very effective, we always emerged calmer and more relaxed. While I no longer see Dr. Hsien, he is still there in his small two-room office in the Marina.
Everybody needs to get their hair cut. By April, I was well into the waiting room project, and began to look for these spaces, and the best photograph, rather than having the image come upon me. I took several shots of these chairs from different angles before deciding on this one. Lincoln Barbers is a no-frills place with cinder block walls and a concrete floor. Most of the barbers are young Latino men, many with tattooed necks and close-shaven heads. Three years ago, the haircuts were cheap, and you could get an old-fashioned hot towel shave for 15 bucks. My guy, Steven, was a polite 24-year old who gave me a great haircut. You can see him in the mirror with his back turned. I began going to Lincoln when I worked down the street the year before, and liked the experience so I continued to patronize them. I took Jake there a couple of times, and he hit it off with Steven, who was the same age. Jake wasn’t with me this day, it was just another haircut. I got to know Steven a little, he had overcome some adversity to get to where he was, and his dream was to open his own shop. He had plans to do so, and told me about them right after I took this shot. I have more to say about Steven in a later post, so stay tuned.