In The News

Barbershop meets Café Society in Austin

Weekly confabs part of Humanities Council program

"Daley is not a dumb mayor," proclaimed Ron Gibson as he edged the hairline of a customer sitting in his Austin barbershop.

"He’s shown that he is very cunning, very strategic and things he doesn’t know, he [surrounds] himself around people who do know," the 39-year-old Gibson said, putting his two cents in the debate on whether the Chicago Children’s Museum should move to Grant Park from its Navy Pier location.

The banter at Ron’s Barbershop, 6058 W. North Ave., at times became heated. Quick responses came from the mix of 20 young and old men-and a few women brave enough to offer their opinions.

The scene was reminiscent of the 2002 hit movie "Barbershop." In it, the character Eddie, played by actor Cedric the Entertainer, stirs up lively debate on historical, social and cultural issues set off by his strong opinions.

"If they were trying to do something [for children] they should build the Children’s Museum in K-Town or build one in Englewood," Anthony Newsome, a 30-year-old Austin resident said.

"Because it is not accessible to tourist dollars-that is what his [Mayor Daley’s] primary reason for locating it there," replied Rod Rutherford, 46, also of Austin, whose response shifted the debate to whether Blacks will get construction jobs to build the new museum.

While barbershops have historically been places where men can let their hair down, so to speak, the discussions at Ron’s are part of the Illinois Humanities Council’s (IHC) Caf