Friday, August 21, 2009

FREE: (helmet) haircut @ Bumble & Bumble NYC

Does it pass the test?


Bumble Razor Bob (4 min version, more hair action)
The above, shorter, 2-min version also appears on the tikit on Trial page

Inside Bumble & Bumble


WITH HAIRCUTS in NYC ranging anywhere in price from $5.50 (yes I did see a sign somewhere and it said men AND women) to $250, a free NY 'do is worth its weight in overgrown bangs.

Bumble Model Project
is a hip salon in the hipper-than-thou Meatpacking district with a 'university' that teaches experienced hairdressers from all over the country their signature 'razor bob' - a groovy haircut done with a traditional razor instead of scissors. Rather than use mannequins and wigs, they solicit willing guinea piglets form the freebie-lovin' public to be models, who thus get done for free. Super cheap and choosy if you're willing to give up your beloved Mamas, Papas and failed hippie look!

Why a razor? It's supposed to 'take off the weight, give more movement and texture', said my stylist of the day, Jessica (Jodie) Anderson.

Looking like she stepped right out of Sex in City, while I looked like I shuffled in from Celibacy in the Suburbs, Jessica was excited about returning to work the next day at Salon Red in Atlanta armed with her new secret styin' weapon.

Since I was just in hotter'n'hell Hotlanta on a speaking tour, I could have used a short haircut while there. You have to have enough hair to make it worth a bumble student's while, and I had to wait three months looking like cousin IT before I qualified. The first time it was cut really well by Jeff Stump, a young stylist from Costa Mesa.

I was also anxious to see if this cut would be a good antidote to "helmet hair". I told them last time, bike riders wanting a good anti-'helmet head' cut are an untapped market. The only problem is that the majority of cyclists are insanely cheap, never mind the choosy, so they'd never make any money on them.

A couple of instructors came by to make sure the razor was safely loaded, and that my 'bangage' (what a word) was falling to the ground the way it should.

Like many salons, Bumble make a lot of money on their branded hair potions and lotions. I looked at the ingredients, and being chemically literate due to childhood allergies to parabens and benzoates, noted that it was fairly standard stuff. If you don't have a problem with formaldehyde releasers and other questionable preservatives, go for it.

A lot of this 'product' was used on my hair, and since I'm super cheap'n'choosy I washed it all out and opted for what Jessica called 'your own product - NY grit, oil, grime, bit of dandruff thrown in for good measure ...' - now all we gotta do is stick it in a minimalist looking concrete bottle with a NY manhole cover for a lid and we got it made ...

The result? Take a look. It actually works really well for helmet hair!

I should mention I consider this excursion part of my ongoing tikit on Trial experiment in NYC. After being told on the phone "we don't have room for your folding bike" it turns out there was space to swing several cats end on end - the salon is cavernous and there is an enormous roof deck overlooking the Hudson. Proving that the convenience of folding bikes is not even on the radar of non-bicyclists. Moral: Just Show Up On It.

Bumble Model Project website

Jessica (Jodie) from Salon Red, Decatur, Atlanta, where haircuts appear to start at a very un-New York price of $35. Ask for her and her razor by (name).

That's the tool of the Bumble trade ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SNEAKY: How to approximate a bottomless Latte: courtesy of Locanda Verde

Continuing my tikit on Trial experiments, my folding friend and I ventured to Robert DeNiro's new eaterie, Locanda Verde. The place isn't cheap, but it's certainly choosy.

So how on earth does an upscale brunch qualify for this blog?

Justin, the Leo DeCaprio lookalike who served "il-latterate" yours truly told me why straight coffee drinkers get refills and latte drinkers don't ...

Fellow illatterates, you'll just have to watch the movie to find out.

MOVIE: The tikit on trial at Locanda Verde

More tikit on trial experiments

Left: A Brompton and a Bike Friday tikit parked just inside, the BMWs, Mercs and Aston Martins are languishing nearby in the gutter.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

$5 nip and tuck: Express Tailor Service, Lower East Side, NYC

That's what they charged me to take the waistline of my jeans in - and in about 10 mins flat. Nicely taken apart, cut, and re-sewn like new. Most other stores a few blocks west in Chelsea charge $15.

$15 was the quote for tapering the delightfully garish florid Debra Rodman shift I got from my favorite consignment store, New and Almost New. But the job was done properly - armhole binding opened and restitched, not simply run up both sides like I would have done if my sewing machine was her instead of downunder.

While I waited a woman brought in some green pants to be shortened and the hems were cut and sewn before she had a chance to sit down.

"$5," said the cashier.

"$4?" she ventured.

"OK, $4."

"You bargain here?" I asked her, incredulously.

"I do," she said. Pensioners (or pensioner-apparents) can get away with anything!

At $5 there can't have been a lot of profit in it. I just hope the workers are treated well.

What's interesting is the two rows of hombres beavering away at the machines - "not a mujer in sight" I said in my best Espagnol. Turns out they're largely from Puerto Rico and Mexico.

There's a plaque on the wall that says "Best Quickie Tailor" awarded by New York Magazine.

I actually dropped the dress off at 8pm - they were still open although the sign says the close at 7pm.

"You're the classiest customer who's come in this store," said the cashier in Spanglish. Classy? I noted the smart gent who came in to collect his Armani suit, seemed unhappy with the job, and showed it.

"I mean friendly", said the cashier. I'm glad they didn't mind me practising my Spanish on them. Love that language ...

Express Tailor Service
92 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002
(between Orchard and Ludlow)
Phone 212 674 7341
Open 7 days 9am to 7pm but they were still open when I swung by at 8pm and took my order.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

FREE MAP (if you can get your hands on one): NYC's best map

Doncha hate maps that ...

a) Tear along the creases, especially when flapping about on a windy street corner, and get soggy when wet

b) Omit streets. I'm sorry, a useful map has to have EVERY STREET marked, to be called a map

c) Are super detailed in some respects, but not the way you really need it

d) Fold stupidly, so you can never get it folded right again

I've discovered what I consider York's best map - all things considered being a freebie, assuming you can get your hands on one. It's by a company who call themselves NYTAB.COM - New York Travel Advisory Bureau, sounding as government-sanctioned as "Department of the Interior".

The map concertinas to a nice, standard envelope shape that slips nicely into a pocket. The subway lines crystal clear. It names every street. The best feature is you can fold to precisely the area you're traveling in "page" forward or back with a simple flip as you go up or downtown. No massive unfolding or refolding.

Admittedly, the paper stock is just a simple semigloss that will deteriorate over time, so I got mine laminated at Staples for $5. It was worth it. Now it's ballistic.

I would love arrows to indicate if a street is one-way, and have the bike lanes superimposed too, but that's the cyclist in me.

And yes, the typeface might be a leeeeetle small for some.

And if they could somehow incorporate the elusive restroom circuit without the map becoming busy ...

But all things considered, it's been my saving grace when out boulevardeering this expansive, diverse city.

Entranced by this map, I tracked down one of the owners, Jim Sorrell, and met him at his favorite coffee nook in the South St Seaport.

"It's actually a map for concierges at hotels," he explained. Yes, it does indeed have the usual loud tourism ads on one panel - Jim does need to eat once in a blue moon - but they are carefully placed to not overwhelm the map itself. And apparently, the ads really sell, says Jim.

"Amazingly successful, we have a waiting list for space."

Of course, concierges are wined and dined once a year to make sure they keep handing out the map, but since it's so useful it deserves to be supported.

Go track one down now, I expect to have mine in the orange pocket of my Traffic Cone Bag for many years to come. Now if they would just do one that goes up past 135th street to the very tip ...