I had occasion to get my hair cut recently, by a barber named Rocco Scali. He’s been cutting hair in Brooklyn Heights for fifty years, tending the finely-coiffed locks that populate the nearby Superior Court along with the rugged noggins that once worked the now-defunct Brooklyn piers.
If Rocky has any celebrity himself — and he does; you can tell he’s a fixture because of the number of people who stop in to say hello — it’s the unassuming kind. He’s got an old-school barber chair the likes of which I haven’t seen in thirty-plus years (which I now covet), and the easy manner of a man who isn’t waiting around for other people to tell him whether he’s any good or not.
Over the years, one of Rocky’s more notable neighborhood clients was Truman Capote. In fact, after Capote moved across the East River to Manhattan he kept coming back to see Rocky several times a week. After only a few minutes in Rocky’s chair it’s easy to see why. Rocky’s personable, funny, sincere and committed to his craft. Not the kind of person you tend to run into much, no matter what the task or occasion.
Had anyone ever offered me the choice of meeting either Truman Capote or Rocco Scali, I would have taken Rocky — and not just because I needed a hair cut. I know what it’s like to be a writer. I don’t know what it’s like to be a barber for a neighborhood for fifty years, but having met Rocky I have an inkling of what that means.
In the press reports I’ve read about Rocky he’s referred to as Truman Capote’s barber, but I think that’s backwards — and I think Capote would agree. Rocky wasn’t Truman Capote’s barber any more than Rocky is my barber. We were both his clients, and the better for it.
$15 for a half-hour appointment, plus tip. No extra charge for the straight razor.
— Mark Barrett