Since God knows I had a few hair adventures on Cher's "Living Proof: the Farewell Tour," it would be unfair not to share one from this D2K. Same bat channel, same bat problem:  I'm touring with a legend whose status began during an era of lots of hair, which I try to maintain;  before our break, mine grew to a length that could only be tamed in a braid; after two weeks, the new growth happened between the rows so that the corn and the soil (my scalp) were indistinguishable.

            And what to do on tour when looking for a hurr stylist?

            You find one. You super-sleuth it. In Chicago ten years ago, it was the cashier at the Walgreens on Michigan Avenue who took me to her west suburb home where I ate fried fish, played with her kids, and got my hurr did. 

            To my knowledge there is no app for this, and it wouldn't have mattered on my service-less phone in scenically spectacular Vancouver, B.C., which gives beaches, green-tree-carpeted mountains and bays within walking distance of the Shangri La Hotel.  I could get entrees for $4.95 at the Capitol Grill on Davie Street and go down the hill four blocks for a sensible beach lounge.  It’s fabulous. 

            So is the friend of the friend I met.  Via FB message—and here is where I’m happy with social-networking—Lydia, a very amazing woman I met in Montreal back in 2003 on the last tour told me that a very good friend of hers owns an Italian men's boutique near the Waterfront District. Lydia has never steered me wrong as far as friend recommendations (her last introduction had me jumping over the fence ten years ago).

            Off I went to cute boutique Alfie Italia, messy braids be damned, and met Kenyan-born Grace.  True to her name in every way, she recognized me right away and, free of make-up and pretense, hugged me on the spot.  She offered me a latte, insisted I get comfortable and chatted with me about Vancouver. When I got back after lunch, I was helping her sell couture leather skirts to a cluster of guys on a relocation from Anchorage to Los Angeles (ask if you want to know more on that).

            I digress. Hurr.  Grace understood my problem.

            “You’re in the wrong city,” she said. “I have to go way out of the vicinity to get my hair done.

            “But how far are we talking?”

            “Way far,” she said. “And I’d get it done more often but people are not as informed about black hair here and can’t recognize a weave that needs to come out. When I was in New York it was a crime, but here I can get away with it.”

            I laughed as she combed her tresses between her fingers, a startling self-indictment. I officially adored this woman, just real on top of real...

            Anyway, now I was on a mission. I walked up the street to a store that sells extension hair, but they were closed.  A random woman at a hostess stand close to the sidewalk told me about a black hair boutique on the perimeter, a mere bus ride away. Off I went the next morning.

            It was one stop shopping.  Afro Hair Studio on Commercial Drive got me hooked up with a hairstylist to braid my hair, a barber to edge me up after and products to keep it looking good on stage.  

             When I took the bus back to Alfie Italia—because of course I was an expert on the city after one day off—Grace was stunned.  And how could I not share the spoils of my find?  I made sure to pass her the business card so that she could cheat on her stylist effectively if she so chose.  I had graduated from scrambling desperately around Chicago on the Farewell Tour trying to solve my hair issues to offering advice to locals about how they could solve theirs.


            And if you’re ever in Vancouver, please drop by Alfie Italia. Browse, buy a garment, learn some stuff (Grace is smart as hell), drink a latte. Meanwhile, I have to send a thank you card to Lydia for the second time, on a second tour…


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