A customer, drinking a Miller High Life and waiting next to me on the shop’s purple velvet church bench, says of Floyd’s 99, “It’s Disneyland there.”
“It’s like this, but fake,” Reynolds says.
As if to prove the authenticity of his fellow barbers, Reynolds points out that Natt Wise, the 22-year-old barber standing at the chair to his right, plays with a local doo-wop band.
“They’re amazing,” Grossman adds.
Wise, a baby-faced guy originally from Julian, wears a scally cap — he looks the part of a kid in a doo-wop band. Although he’s been quiet up to this point, he seems to relish the opportunity to speak. Before he joined the band, he says, he played traditional-style rockabilly guitar, but when he hooked up with Jonny B, whose sound was more doo-wop, they came up with something that’s a combination of the two.
Turns out Grossman’s in a band, too: Rat City Riot, a street-punk band that he calls the “longest-running, hardest-working local band that nobody knows.” They recently returned from a five-week tour in Europe.
“We have more fans in the Czech Republic than in San Diego,” Grossman says.
At the risk of offending Grossman again, I ask if anyone has a pinup-girl tattoo. They all shake their heads, except Wise. “Not yet,” he says, and smiles mischievously.
Reynolds, whose rolled-up shirtsleeves reveal forearms full of tattoos, says, “Tattoos are for sailors and whores.”
Grossman glances around at everyone else. “What does that make Mark? I ain’t ever seen him on a boat.”
When the laughter dies down, Angielczyk returns to the Betty Draper vs. Bettie Page question, which he answers exactly as I imagine Ponyboy would: “She just has to be a good woman.”
“Right,” Reynolds says. “We’re not a theme.”
I’m Don Draper by the pool
If Reynolds says the word “theme” like it’s a bad thing, Greg Strangman would likely disagree. The owner of six local properties, including the Pearl Hotel and the Carnegie and Scripps buildings, Strangman is something of an “it” guy in San Diego’s hip, urban-living scene.
He waves to me from the sand that butts up against the side of his home in Ocean Beach. I’ve gotten lost in the neighborhood’s streets and alleys and have to remove my shoes to trudge across the beach to get to him. The 45-year-old wears a striped hoodie and a pair of shorts. I’m a little surprised. It’s not the expected look of an “it” guy.
Earlier in the summer, I’d spent an evening watching Caddyshack on an outdoor movie screen at Strangman’s Pearl Hotel, in Point Loma. The weather was T-shirt warm, and a wall of windows had been opened to create an easy flow between the restaurant’s inside and outside seating areas. Young cuties and bohemian lovers occupied every table and barstool, every cabana by the pool.
Once an old fishing lodge, and now home to an annual Mad Men party that coincides with the show’s season premieres, the hotel’s website describes the Pearl as “a vintage, mid-century modern” boutique hotel. Hotel manager Kimberly Parker told me that the minimalism in the dining area, the shag carpet in the game lounge, and the round, orangey Nelson lamps (designed by George Nelson — of bubble-lamp fame) hanging over the bar exemplify “the owner’s passion for mid-century modern.”
I’ve taken this “passion for mid-century design” as PR-speak until I follow Strangman into his house.
“This place was built in 1962,” he says, “by Loch Crane, an architect who apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright. Ninety-five percent of the place is original.”
A tour through the house leads us through 2200 square feet of no walls, save those of glass or lava rock, and into the open (and carpeted) master bathroom, where the five-foot-high, open-topped octagonal shower would likely be the first thing to go in the hands of any other homeowner.
This, at least, is my first thought.
Later, Strangman emails me a picture: the shower, it turns out, has no showerhead. Water comes out in 80 tiny streams (ten on each side) from along the structure’s top edge.
“To me, this home has great soul because it’s comfortable,” Strangman says from his perch at the edge of a pool table in a loft-like living room that overlooks the kitchen and dining room. Behind him, a long wall of tinted glass shows off an expansive view of palm trees and ocean. Beige shag carpeting covers the floor.
He points to a sunken sitting area. “Look at the conversation pit. Whether you’re wearing flip-flops or a suit, you want to sit down in it.”
When I tell him the place doesn’t quite read Mad Men to me, he flinches a bit. But when I rephrase and contrast his home with the sleekness of the Pearl, he describes the style here as “organic modern.”
“It’s bohemian sophistication, and it’s designed to be more casual because of the [beach] environment.” Then he adds, “Look at Don’s penthouse.”
In the early seasons of Mad Men, Don Draper lived in a suburban house with his first wife, while later, he not only traded his bitter wife for a hottie who worships him, but upgraded to swankier and sleeker digs.
Strangman bought this house eight years ago. He purchased the Pearl in 2006. Although the two properties speak to slightly different aesthetics within the same era, both confirm his adoration for the back-then “cocktail culture that seemed to be a lot of fun.”
The $10,000 or so that the Pearl’s Mad Men party grosses would suggest that he’s not alone in this sentiment.
“The original architecture is huge to me,” he says.
The Pearl was built in 1960, and Strangman kept many of the original features in place when he refurbished it.
Among the details that are key to the whole package, Strangman says, are the fins above the lounge, the wings above the entry door, the private dining area, and the property’s fencing and railing. He describes the entry and lobby’s original stone wall as “magical.”