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  • Record stores, if you remember them, used to generate a lot of trash: cardboard, broken records, invoices, cans of Red Bull. The record store I worked at ten years ago accumulated several bags a day of this kind of crap, but we could only put out that trash a couple days a week--commercial trash collection being what it is here in New York. So when the guy next door decided to start renovating his store, we started unloading bags into his dumpster--every day.

    On the third day, Marco noticed. Marco is a Lower East Side legend of his own making. He paints cartoonish murals for local businesses in a style not entirely unlike that of Keith Haring. Marco was renovating his store for the third time in four years, and his construction team had seen our colleague Ben toss three bags out into their dumpster, and Marco was pissed. Outside our front door, we heard the foreman telling him, "It's the kid with the long hair". Ben, he meant. Ben had long hair.

    Brett, by contrast, had a shaved head. He'd taken a razor to it a year earlier, and had just touched it up the day before Marco's foreman looked into the back of the store and marked Ben for death. Within seconds, we grabbed scissors and a roll of packing tape, and hustled Ben into the bathroom with an empty wastebasket.

    Ben always cut his own hair, anyhow. He left it long most of the year, and would trim it off in a mirror every six months or so. It only took five minutes for him to shear off most of the length into the trash can. What was left looked pretty good--and short. Getting the hair onto Brett's scalp was tricker. We laid long loops of packing tape onto his head in a sticky grid, then grabbed handfuls of hair to press onto them; much of it would fall off immediately, but we eventually stuck enough of Ben's former locks onto Brett's bald head to yield perfect hair equilibrium.

    When Marco walked through the door, Brett and Ben had exactly the same amount of tousled auburn hair on their respective heads. They didn't even look up as they continued to pack boxes, tossing the adhesive backing for the shipping labels into an empty trash bag, which we would take to the curb the next morning for pickup.

    Marco left without saying a word.
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