The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Know Thy Neighbor: Laura Puemo
Anyhow, Laura's good. Really good, according to the two clients I met tonight. She's been doing hair her whole life, and knows all the styles, new and old, traditional and trendy. She charges less than her competitors for her various African braiding styles - box braids and classic or ornate cornrows (or "crows") and extension weaves like the ol' Brazillian Knot. If you're unfamiliar with the black hair industry and its terminology, you should march out and get the Chris Rock documentary Good Hair. It's a great primer for those of us who didn't grow up around this multi-billion dollar industry. (In my case, that place was the largely homogeneously pale population of central Iowa). While talking to the ladies at Laura's, however, I was reminded that Rock's is but one perspective. It might be easy to crack wise about the money African-American women spend on hair enhancements; but worldwide, fashion fells plenty of victims of all races and genders. For some of us it's hair; for others boob jobs and facelifts, for others it's driving the right car or wearing the right shoes or going to the right schools or having the right gadgets. We all get sucked dry in the name of perfection, so who's to fault a lady for trying to look a little more Beyonce? I found it interesting though that by bringing up the Chris Rock movie, the ladies launched into a discussion of whether society thinks black hair is beautiful and whether there's discrimination based on whether a woman wears her hair natty. Bottom line, said Simba Yangala, who was busy helping with a weave: "If you want a proper job, you have to show up with a weave. Black hair freaks a lot of people out. One time I was wearing my 'fro and I couldn't even catch a cab." Food for thought. Seems odd that people would be scared of a woman with an afro. What, they think she's hiding a gun in there??
Me, I just didn't understand what was going on with all these hair salons until relatively recently. I mean, the barber for me has always been a nuisance to endure - all 20 minutes or so. But here in Flatbush, folks take a LONG, LONG time getting their hair weaved or braided or permed. Oh, and by the way, a perm around here is getting your hair "straightened," not curled. When a girl from my high school got their hair permed before the big dance, you knew she was going to smell funny and that she'd probably look a tad like Lil' Orphan Annie. (By the way, just because you're white doesn't mean you can't get in on the action. Heck, Mrs. Q, an attractive white lady herself, got a full-on "crow" happening for a show she was in. It looked real sexy, but taking it out was a disaster. Make sure to get professional help when you unbraid it!)Wall Street Journal.
Back to Laura. She's very cool, very smart, and really proud to own her own business. She works ALL the time, so don't consider this line of work unless you want to LIVE in your salon. She likes our neighborhood a lot, and wouldn't mind living here, closer to work (she's in East New York for the time being). For 10 to 12 hours every day she's our neighbor, and if you need a new do, you know what to do!