High and Tight


Today feels real and raw, today it rained only on the mountains where I live, while i walked along Adobe Rd. in Twentynine Palms attempting to research the aesthetics and history of the military haircut. Combat Barber, Stud Cuts, Barber Judi, Combat Barber II. These barber shops along Adobe rd., which leads directly onto the Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Center, all specialize in military cuts, a couple of them also offer "civilian" cuts. Marines are required to have their haircut every Sunday, if they do not comply with this, they are written up with a warning.


The Marine cut is the shortest and cleanest of all of the armed forces, because Marines are on the front lines of battle when America goes to war. Also because it is easier to treat wounds if the hair is quite short. There are low, medium and high military cuts. The back of the head is totally shaved, some might call it "bic'd", and the top is left at an inch or two long, to support the weight of a combat helmet. The longest the top can be is 3 inches. I stopped at all of the shops and talked to the owners, all except Stud Cuts were owned by Vietnamese immigrants, many from the same familiy. Next to the posters of "Haircuts of Today" were red and gold buddhist shrines with insence burning.


Mai, who works at Combat Barber II and I talked about our love of the green grass, how that makes a good life, she smiling big and rolling her head side to side laughing about how boring it is here. Her family was smuggled out of Vietnam in the early 80s on a boat, first to Indonesia, then the Phillipines, then Stockton, California, where her mother still lives, in a house with a lawn. She says the haircuts are boring to give, because there are only three options, low, medium and high cuts. And on Sunday it is packed from 8 am until 10 pm.


At Stud Cuts I got to see a Marine named Greg get his hair cut, with a straight razor. Stud Cuts is the only Marine Barber Shop that uses the straight razor, a nostalgic touch. Terry, the lead barber, is lightning quick with the razor, and soon there is a shiny head. I talk to Greg about his life, he wants to be a doctor after the Marine Corp, and they will subsidize his education. He just came back from Afganistan, for the third time; talking about what happened there is too much, for both of us. He shows me how to pull the pin out of a grenade, and I ask him if he ever makes art.


Amanda Mann
September 8, 2012 - 3:52pm

Very nice write up about the barber shops in town! I own Stud Cuts and appreciate the positive press for our business and customers! Thank you!

September 15, 2012 - 8:17pm

Here's a little photo of a man getting a stud cut at Combat Barber II: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alisonjeancole/6282356164/in/set-7215762798...

Great place.