written by by Michael Coyle
Who knows if Jim Morrison ever really said it, but liver Stone’s movie The Doors, Val Kilmer (as Jim) says something that has stuck with me forever. Asked if he wants to trim before appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, Mr. Mojo Risin’ shakes his head contemptuously at the stylist and quips, “Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.” Maybe this stuck with me because I grew up s Supercuts kid. Until (embarrassingly) recently, I didn’t know it was possible to walk out of a barber shop without feeling like a dork. All that changed when one of the bartenders at Alex’s Bar recommended Syndicate. Now I get a sharp haircut and a good time every visit.
“We aim to make this place as comfortable as possible,” says owner Pedro Zermeno. To that end, they’ll offer you a beer if there’s a long wait (which there can be on Fridays or weekends), and they often display the works of local artists or photographers on the walls, as well as subscribing t every magazine from Penthouse to the official AAP magazine. ” I think we have about 25-30 magazines subscriptions,” says Zermeno.
The place has classic community barber shop feel to it, the sort of joint where you can walk in and find locals discussing where to find parts for a ’52 Cadillac, or what album the Steve Jones track that’s coming over the satellite radio is on, or how fucked up so-and-so got at the Adolescents show the other night. Syndicate opened in2002, and Zermeno’s been cutting hair since 1989. “Before opening Syndicate, I worked at a whole bunch of different places to get experience from every different angle of the business of cutting hair. I wanted to be able to do a spectrum of haircuts- from long to short to whatever.” In the year or so I’ve been a patron, I’ve seen everyone from five-year-old with bangs to old man with barley enough hair to cut in the first place taken a seat at the shop. Thre years ago, Zermeno brought in Tim Trezise as a partner. From that point, the shop changed its style a bit and began hosting art shows and renting booths at tattoo conventions, where they always get a long line for those looking to tighten up their ‘do while their ink dries. Zermeno, Trezise, and every other barber at Syndicate are heavily tatted themselves, and the walls sport vintage tat posters.
“Back in the ’20s, Long Beach was full of barber shops that were also tattoo parlors,” says Trezise’ “We couldn’t do it nowadays because it’s a health-code violation. You wouldn’t want hair getting into the bleeding skin.” While tattoo art and culture are ba big part of each stylist’s life, the vibe in the place is hardly exclusionary. “we get everyone on here from firefighters to people who work in city hall, cops, teachers, pro skaters,” proclaims Zermeno, “all types of people needing all types of haircuts.”
A haircut will run you 20 bucks and includes a hot foam and straight razor clean up of the nape the neck and around the ears. They even trim your eyebrows. A guy can indulge in an old-school straight-razor shave with hot towels and the works for another 20 (and about 45 minutes of time). They also offer beard trims, color, and bleaching.
“Whatever you want, we can do.” says Zermeno. ” Some other places that are opening up, they specialize in one style and one style only. If you come in here, we can take care of any request.” And you certainly won’t feel like you’ve made a mistake when you leave.