Jan 7, 2009

Grooming and Litter

Years ago in downtown Allentown there were about a dozen barbershops and virtually no litter. Today, with the same population, there are about 60 shops and tons of litter. Apparently there is no longer a correlation between nice appearance and good manners. In the past men would wait their turn. Many of the new shops seemingly have an express system. A doorman with a walkie talkie informs the "barber" who is coming, and the patron can receive his service in less than a minute. Over the years I photographed most of the shops now gone. Although I'm sure many of the new proprietors are hardworking honest people who would not tolerate any criminal behavior, the days of taking my camera into barbershops has passed.

photocredit: molovinsky


Anonymous said...

The wind makes the litter even worse. Sometimes I feel like I'm looking at the same piece of garbage for days in a row. It'll show up Monday, disappear Tuesday, cross the street on Wednesday and return to my curb on Thursday. Trash sure travels!

Anonymous said...

OK, wise guy. Tell me where the barbershop with the doorman is located. This is another shot at the residents you do not like. Sadly for you, the barbershops now shear for a new clientele. Times change, wise guy. Get with it. But I don't expect someone like you to get it, someone who derides the notion of a dress code in center city taverns (a coat & tie .... belly-laugh!) without appreciating what gang colors are. Where is this barbershop?
Oh, and I drove around center city this last weekend, and nearly every street trash receptacle was overflowing. So blame your city for the trash, not the "element" that lives there. If the trash cans are full, guess what? The litter ends on the ground.
I'll never see this post, wise guy.

michael molovinsky said...

there are MANY barbershops with lookouts out front in allentown, anybody can observe that. over the years i observed hundreds of people littering. park in front of a downtown market for 20 minutes and watch the wrappers fall. if you think the litter is from insufficient trash cans, your a moron. your reply will not be posted.

Anonymous said...

And you are a bigot

michael molovinsky said...

anon 3;14-5:01 is upset because i will not provide addresses for the barbershops- here's one, the VIP shop in the 10 hundred block of hamilton always had someone out front. several" barbers" there were busted last year for drugs, however there was no proof the owner was actually involved and the shop remains open. the army navy store next door has closed, many of his customers were intimidated by the doormen at the adjoining barbershop. i mention this particular shop because the arrest is a matter of public record. this is not to imply illegal activity continues at that address. anon is probably not one of my fan's, because he also finds my litter accusation to be bigoted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Last week I had an appointment in downtown A-town at the end of the day. I walked by a barbership on Hamilton and saw a big dude standing in the doorway and holding a walkie talkie. Some barbershops are clearly a front for drug dealers, just as they used to be a front for bookies. Noting this reality in no way makes MM a bigot. It makes him honest.

Look Out Lehigh Valley said...

There is a really nice new barber place on the East Side of Allentown its called like Sports Cuts or something. I drove by it a few weeks back and it had a beautifully painted mural along the exterior walls facing the streets - last I heard the city was giving the owner crap about some kind of zoning or code problems having to do with the mural, which is mega offensive since the mural only serves to beautify the building and the block. Anyway I suspect they would be happy to have pictures taken of the nice work they've done.

michael molovinsky said...

over the years i have taken many photo's in allentown, often showing people. in today's downtown, i notice more and more people assuming i'm documenting some violation, crime or criminal. explaining photography as a hobby doesn't make it any more. people even get suspicious if you're parked waiting for a real estate client. i couldn't imagine going into a barbershop like i used to, and photographing the barbers and customers....

atown-liker said...

A friend of mine was unfortunate enough to spend 6 months in LCP recently. One of the little fun facts he picked up there was that MANY of the barbershops downtown these days are indeed fronts for drug dealers. I have no way to know if that is true; however, those in a position to know seem to believe it. … I used to get my hair cut at the Colonial, next to the Federal Grill, until the barber passed away. (He was not a drug dealer but I heard he had a stash of girlie magazines.)

Anonymous said...

You take a photo of some of these guys and you could get "clipped".


Anonymous said...

There are some great, friendly barbershops in Allentown. I think you are doing them a disservice by assuming most are drug fronts. There is a bigoted assumption that if a bunch of young black men are hanging out they are a drug front, but if a bunch of older white guys are hanging out it is a grand old throw back. VIP was a huge drug bust, I'm surprised they are still open but I walk by almost every day and the guys are always friendly. Barry on 12th st opens at 6am most days and is an all around great guy. I think it is wise to ask before taking pictures. It is rude to take photos of people without permission. You might be surprised. I think you limit yourself by only engaging in conversation with certain types of people.

michael molovinsky said...

atown-liker, as you most likely know your old barbershop sits there all these years, empty, and hasn't changed. his son. for whatever reason, doesn't seem motivated to do anything with the property. i believe your barber's name was gallo, at any rate i photographed him in his shop. if i can find the photo, i will put it up.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:35, my post clearly says that there are many honest hardworking shops. i don't make assumptions about people based on color, but i've been around the block enough to know what's happening. photographically, i also know the proper protocol

Anonymous said...

I KNOW that there WERE some barbershops in A-town that were "fronts" for a minute, but after the VIP bust, alot of people were "shook". I go to VIP, All Star, and a couple of others in Center City. If there are still people doing the deed, then they are definitely keeping it for only the "known" clientele or I am just not going to the right spots. (smile)
Anyway, I did a video interview with the owner of Sports Cuts Barbershop on Union Blvd and it is a great shop! You can see the clip on www.lehighvalleyflavor.piczo.com .

Alfonso Todd

petelewnes said...

it's a funny thing...I used to be a guy that went to a salon to get my hair cut...40 bucks a pop. Since living on 7th and getting to know the barbers, I enjoy being able to walk down the block anytime and get a cut for 10 bucks. I don't know them all but it's amazing how busy these shops are...I can definitely understand why there are so many of them...they are just a good money maker. The community that I have observed gets their hair cut every week (i'm back because my hair gets shaggy and mario my barber from hollywood yells at me until he's done). The places seem social and for the most part a great way to find out what's going on in the neighborhood...litter is another story. Most of the shops here have been working on cleaning up...we had the issue of those little blue trash bins that would have garbage fly out all over the place...with the new full size hooded bins, we are getting comments that things are better...we'll see when the summer rolls around. Mike...I tried calling you back tonight...not sure if I got the number right or not.

Squirrel said...

Anon 3:14 states "But I don't expect someone like you to get it, someone who derides the notion of a dress code in center city taverns (a coat & tie .... belly-laugh!) without appreciating what gang colors are."

The gist of this comment, to my interpretation, is that why should you negatively single out the gangs i.e. Anon seems to be of the opinion there is a certain pride and a certain social usefulness to this culture.

I would be supportive of that perspective if it were not for the fact gangs are so inherently violent, exploitative and frequently engage in illegally based economic activity.

This is an attitude that seems to be more pervasive these days. I hope Allentown is not headed down the same path as Compton CA.

Compton has one of the highest murder rates in the US, primarily gang related. It also is home of one of the worst school systems in the US. The political and municipal infrastructure has been in meltdown for years.

Oddly the police estimate, in Compton, the youth gang rate is in excess of 100%.

Perhaps we should start social services, in Allentown, to aid "dissed" gang members to settle their disputes without using violence.

This is not a product of my imagination, it is a current strategy in some cities.

The barbershops of the days gone by were places of social gathering primarily for men. They had their place and in many ways they are not unlike those of today.

Unequivocally though the majority were not based on a culture of violence and the underground economy. A greater percentage today of course are.

My apologies to many who would like to read more into this but this has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It has to do with a community in a changing world in which differing social groups learn to get along with each other through mutual respect and focused community goals.

When I attend meetings in Allentown where vision and strategy are discussed I do not see any gang members representing their constituency.

If gangs are of benefit to the whole community why aren't they a part of the wider initiative to make Allentown a better place for everyone to live.

Casey Claus said...

When I lived in Allentown, I used to walk down to Woody's on Tilghman by the Ford Dealership around 18th street for a haircut.
(Before I decided to shave it all)
That was a great old place, the way a barber should be. Is it still around? I heard he was retired.

michael molovinsky said...

squirrel, as i recall the original reference anon 3:14 refers to, a post about trinkles cafe, you have his meaning wrong. i commented that a bar at 5th and linden would not attract the coat and tie crowd or have a dress code, and he stated i was ignorant of gangs, and their color code.
you bring up an important issue, gang culture. apparently they are responsible for much of the violence, and we blogger types are mostly uninformed of this important subgroup, at least i am. i suppose the gangs will not be putting out a public newsletter anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Look out,

The mural law was past in Allentown about 10-12 years ago due to the fear some felt when a graffiti style mural went up on a 2nd st corner store (with the owners ok).

I believe Armstrong and other city Repubs were involved in this. Now all murals are subject to city approval and must on cover only 1/4 of an entire wall unless granted permission to do otherwise.

Sam said...

"Oddly the police estimate, in Compton, the youth gang rate is in excess of 100%.

Perhaps we should start social services, in Allentown, to aid "dissed" gang members to settle their disputes without using violence."

Your math is off. Anyway, these programs exist in Allentown. I think they are a waste but what do I know.

Casey Claus said...

You have to be kidding, we have a "mural" police? this sounds like something crazy Emma thought up when she was trying to regulate the sales of black Magic Markers.
I can see what is coming. Mural permits will cost $1,000. Then there will be a mural review board, and a mural approval committee, not to mention a mural contest. But the one down at the Art Museum is pretty cool. I suppose that one is grandfathered in. Artists will have to donate to prospective candidates and or officeholders to get their proposed mural design through committee. It will never end.

Here's my suggestion: draw a Mural depicting garbage blowing everywhere. The city won't notice it, right? Problem solved!

Anonymous said...

Casey Claus is correct about the neglected trash in Allentown. The other day, I purposely drove around to see for myself. Yuck!

Also have to note, most every receptacle hanging on the poles was overflowing, so some human-like people actually do the right thing. I don't know what department has responsibility for such things, but someone in the administration is slipping. Why not have the contracted garbage collector required to handle this task when their trucks are 10 feet away?

It's not a problem unique to Allentown. Bethlehem's Wyandotte Street and Hayes Street are VERY filthy. I've actually seen residents get out of their cars, step into it, without a care in the world. I'm sure they think this is a problem for the landlord to handle.

Say what you want, for the most part, rental units create quality of life issues for the community. I guess that's a subject for another posting from Michael.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 1:58, i will give you my answer here and now. the rental units around rittenhouse square in philadelphia are not a problem, nor around central park in nyc; 20 years ago in allentown, when we were the all american city, the rental units here also were no problem. although not politically correct, the truth is the tenant base has changed to a lower income, less responsible demographic. that said, what can we do? we should not be increasing the available number of rental units in allentown, which we are under a variety of excuses. we create affordable apartments for low-income, we allow lofts to be created in former commercial space. in each instance we justify it by saying it fulfills a need, or will attract middle class. in reality we are only increasing the overall supply and lowering the general price, aggravating the existing dilemma. we only delude ourselves with different color recycle bins, and more ordinances.

Anonymous said...

Michael, you show insight and courage to describe the situation as you do.

Allentown has become OVERWHELMED by young, lower income renters. That's a city administration issue that has been mishandled for many years. It might be too late for Allentown to recover.

Being concerned about the growth of rental units is NOT a racist thing. That's an easy and stupid excuse for a condition that has clearly brought Allentown down.

By and large, Allentown rentals have shown to be single parent homes, units housing non-related persons, and low, self-esteem, sometimes slovenly, tenants. The public schools are overcrowded by kids from rental units. Kids of EVERY color, by the way.

If only the majority of Allentown's rentals were senior citizen high rises, that community would be a vastly different place. Seniors of EVERY color, by the way.

The current Mayor and the local newspaper seem oblivious to this problem. That's not helping.

I moved out of Allentown years ago. The handwriting (ridiculous buildings by John Troxell) was already on the wall.

Anonymous said...

They're in Bethlehem too. I tried a different shop on Broad Street a few months ago because my guy was ill. I was also attracted by the fact that they accepted walk ins. There was a guy out front (not sure about walkie talkie). I am a middle aged white male, conservatively dressed with a dress shirt, tie and dress slacks. My appearance clearly had them spooked. The guy out front asked me to please wait while he went back to huddle with a barber. Moments later he returned and said "yes", that they could help me. The other clientele eyed me cautiously, if not suspiciously as I walked by. As I sat in the chair, I could feel that my presense caused consternation. Other individuals were clearly there before me, but deferred to me. I mentioned "what about those guys who were here first" to the barber, but he dismissed them and said I could go first. Was it because they thought I was a cop? Did they get me in and out so as not to raise suspicion? I don't know, but the theory about urban barbershops has credence. BTW - This shop had been busted earlier for selling pirated goods such as DVD's, CDs, clothing.

Anonymous said...

OK, here is what pisses me off. Who do YOU rent to? Where are the landlords in this? Who thinks it is OK to accept CASH rent from shady people? I always had to do background checks when I rented. I had a great neighbor, long term renter, who was driven off when the landlord decided it would be financially beneficial to rent to a bunch of drug dealers. Nice.

Michael Donovan said...

Dear Michael:

I have great respect for your willingness to raise issues about Allentown. People will agree with you and disagree. That is the life of a public figure, which you are.

I come at life as an optimist. I believe, like John Locke, that most people are good and that we ban together to protect us against the bad. Thomas Hobbes focused on a world that was awful and evil. He felt government evolved to protect us against that evil.

I wish I thoroughly understood why people turned to crime or drugs or any anti-social vice that others will reject. Why does one child choose a path disagreeable to a parent while the other child is the celebrated star? I don't know.

I remember years ago walking around Boston. The city was full of trash. It bothered me tremendously. I remember walking around the Upper West Side of New York. Trash everywhere, too. Cities = trash, unless there is a dedicated system to pickup, and a dedicated system to encourage disposal. And I mean not "Don't Trash Allentown." The White Mountains of New Hampshire were decimated by trash for decades, until a successful program encouraged "carry in, carry out." The people who had trashed, were typically rich white people who did the hiking throughout the lilly white northern New England area.

So, be creative everyone. Accept that we begin with those who are prone to not "carry out." Be more creative than we have been in the past. Just so that you know, I have had a trash bin in front of my house for 18 months, with great success at getting people to dispose approriately. The street is not perfect, but based on what goes in, certainly the street would be much worse than it is.

Finally, I cannot comment on the "drug" accusations about various businesses in the city. I will say that the "Great Place" (there is an interesting book with the same name) is a normal characteristic of any society -- where do people hang.

We can wring our hands and say "I wish," or we can be creative while not stereotyping that all humans who are not like you are bad.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

ps...I'm sure I'll be yelled at here, but that is ok...go ahead.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:56, you demand to know who i rent to, but don't even use your name? of course i will not tell you who i rent to, but i will tell you that in 35 years i have never had a complaint filed against me by the city, a neighbor or a tenant. i have however evicted many people, most for non-payment of rent, a few for inconsideration of fellow tenants. i also over the years had a few tenants who went nuts, excuse the slang. i would bet that landlord you refer to regrets losing his good tenant because of drug dealers, it's also very hard for me to believe any landlord would knowingly rent to drug dealers. many new landlords are intimidated into renting to undesirables, the worst the applicant, the more pushy they are. as i stated before i believe the city takes the wrong approach with landlords, nobody buys a building or anything wanting it to depreciate in value. allentown needs a rational program to reduce density. i attempted to introduce such idea's in 2005, unfortunately i didn't produce power point presentations. excuse my sarcasm, but they should consider sufficient tax cuts for reducing the units in a building. the previous program of a flat 10k for de-conversion wasn't a realistic incentive. let me conclude by saying 20 years ago there were as many apartments, and virtually no litter. this city must hire more police and more street sweepers, and less planners and bureaucrats.

Look Out Lehigh Valley said...

although no one buys a building wanting it to depreciate, there are some landlords (mine included) who buy properties and think that they don't have to do anything to keep them up because the real estate market will just keep pushing the value of their property up regardless. My only pleasure when thinking of my former deadbeat landlord is knowing that he is going to lose big when it comes to selling his property (a west end twin which under its prior owner must have been a true gem) because PUTTY doesn't fix everything!

Anonymous said...

MM, you dufus. The post about Trinkle's Cafe was not you saying the bar wouldn't draw the coat-and-tie crowd, it was YOU ignorantly deriding someone's good suggestion that bars impose dress codes. You assumed the dress code meant a jacket ('cause you live in the Leave It To Beaver world) and I noted that dress codes in center city taverns meant gang colors not ties.
You are a Revisionist, or you just make it up as you go along.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:50, if you or someone else meant by 'dress code" that patrons should not be allowed to wear gang colors, then you should have stated that in clearer fashion. i felt the cafe was pretty much the victim of the neighborhood. i do know somebody who lives close by, and because someone (perhaps him, and maybe your him) implied the tavern was much responsible for the problems than i realized, i backed off the issue. fyi, i endeavor to state things honestly, some topics i know more about than others. i publish comments which oppose my POV, such as yours, but i would prefer they omit the insults.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 3:04,

Great story!

Anonymous said...

Leave out the insults? Check out how many times you've insulted people you simply don't agree with. Or isn't "moron" an insult? Hypocrite.

michael molovinsky said...

alfonso and pete lewnes, today i made an inquiry and learned indeed that the "fade in" style favored by many blacks does require maintenance more often then many "white" styles. that goes a long way explaining why some shops are so busy, but doesn't address the "doorman" issue at other shops or the sheer volume of the shops. this post was a vehicle to discuss several topics, at any rate i understand the drug trade exists with or without barbershops. on a personal level. my concern with drugs is limited to the extent that it involves gangs and shootings. sometimes i even wonder about that alleged connection. the policing industry has blamed crime on drugs since the 1930's.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 2:42, unfortunately there are some people who don't really care about the topics, but use the blogs for a personal vendetta, and attack their perceived enemies regardless of subject matter, even assuming other people's identity. the valley blogosphere has suffered because of this, most blogs are now moderated, and some of us mistake legitimate difference of opinion as coming from these antagonists.