It seems that most people think of gin as that nasty pine needle tasting liquor that your grandfather had at his house. And I used to think the same thing. 6 months ago if you offered me a gin drink, I would have ignorantly turned it down thinking that all gin just tastes like floor cleaner. Dead of Night Distillery has completely changed my mind though. I’ve always been a beer guy, never much for liquor, but tasting this gin and the cocktails made with it, has me singing a different tune. Really great stuff and i’m excited to see where this recently opened distillery goes.
Been saying this for a while now, but personal projects are the best, especially when they connect you with other like minded people. Which is certainly the case with Dan Peterson of Project Backboard. He’s been doing amazing things with outdoor basketball courts all over the country. Taking broken down courts and turning them into beautiful works of art that locals are excited to play on. Recently we visited a few of his courts in Los Angeles together, and I was able to talk with him first hand about the process and how things have developed over the years. I really applaud this project and hope that it continues to grow. If you want to check out more of what PB has done, go to their WEBSITE or follow along on their INSTAGRAM PAGE.
If you recognize the bridge in the Watts Oasis images, that’s because it is the very bridge from those famous scenes in White Men Can’t Jump. I personally love that movie and was ecstatic when Dan told me what it was.
1) Where are you from and what place has basketball taken in your life (prior to Project Backboard) ?
I grew up in suburban NY during the heyday of the great 1990s Knicks teams and ultimately played a year of basketball at Iona College before leaving my official playing days behind.
2) When did you come up with the idea for Project Backboard(PB)?
Project Backboard wasn't really my idea! I started the work just by painting lines on public courts in Memphis that did not have any just because I loved outdoor basketball.
3) How long/what did it take to get things going for PB?
I got my first large grant about a year after starting Project Backboard but it was another year before I did the court with William LaChance in St. Louis that really got a lot of attention and opened the door for Project Backboard to become what it is today.
4) What was the initial reaction? How have reactions changed since you started?
The initial reaction was overwhelmingly positive and that is the reaction I have continued to get. That said, this style of court has become surprisingly common over the past 12-18 months that the reaction now may be a bit more restrained than the early courts. No one had ever seen anything like the William LaChance court when we first painted it.
5) How have you gone about getting funding for these projects?
A lot of the courts are funded either by community or corporate foundations.
6) What is the process like from the original idea for a court to the final execution?
The painting process is different for each court depending on what the artist has in mind for the court artwork. Sometimes its a lot of measuring and straight lines or curves and other times we create a grid across the entire surface of the court and drawing the artwork box by box.
7) PB has teamed up with some big name companies. How have those relationships come about?
People reach out and I respond! I am always open to collaborating but the successful projects have been ones were the brands are able to be a little less “corporate” in their approach and allow the artist the freedom to create and lead the project vision.
8) What is the overall goal for PB?
For every community to have a safe and inviting basketball court. I love outdoor basketball and want to share that with others but, from my perspective, the way that will happen is when individual community members step up to help care for public spaces and hold those charged with maintaining those spaces accountable.
9) Any big projects in the works that you want to share?
Yes! Looking forward to a few courts in the Bay Area and a court in Puerto Rico along with a handful of others.
10) Random thoughts on PB......
I appreciate all the support and, as I said, always open to collaborating and helping others follow my example so don't hesitate to reach out!
The Proper Barbershop is a special place that is right at home in Hollywood. If you want a show as well as a great cut, then The Proper is the place for you. The first time I visited was back in 2013-ish and there was someone sleeping one off in the backroom. From the time I stepped foot inside, the show was just naturally going on. The guys in there know how to have a good time all while getting shit done. The owner Vinnie is a good dude and a classic case of someone you shouldn’t judge just based on his appearance. Being the owner of The Proper and knowing it’s reputation, it would be easy to think that he’s just another Southern California bro with face tattoos. He’s the exact opposite of that though. And one thing I’ve been saying for years now, is that they are just tattoos, a vehicle for creativity and self expression. Vinnie is a really solid guy who spreads a lot of positivity and has a lot of support for his fellow barbers all across the industry.
Follow the shop on IG @theproperbarbershop and Vinnie @theedgebarber
“I think the industry has lost sight that we all cut hair and we all should support each other as it costs us nothing to support one another!”
1) Where are you from and what did you do before barbering?
I am from Los Angeles, CA and before barbering I was in high school and I actually was kickboxing and teaching kickboxing! But I had a friend who knew during high school that he wanted to do hair so when I realized that I was never going to have a life fighting I tried my hand at hair and absolutely fell in love with it!
2) Talk about owning a shop in Hollywood from a barber's perspective as well as an owner's perspective.
Well owning a shop in Hollywood is more than what I originally set out for, my hope for the shop was to be a cool little neighborhood spot and this shop grew a bit of a kind of its own, not to say that is a bad thing at all but this shop became more of its own personality, the antics the environment and the bullshit garnered it quite the reputation! From the barbers perspective this shop is so rad, always busy in a transient town with constant walk-ins and never ending material for discussion, it is a dream. From the owners perspective I would echo a ton of that but the real difference is learning how to keep this place relevant while remaining true to the roots of The Proper and that has been the real challenge!
Do you find that people come in expecting a show or a certain environment? If so, how do you deal with that?
Over the years I have learned so so much and one thing I have learned is that the environment is just as important as the haircut itself! So yes, at this point in the shops life I do feel that people have come to expect the show that is The Proper Barbershop, and we happily oblige that expectation! Don’t get me wrong we love to sling our brand of BS and entertain but we also make sure we give a quality service!
3) You also own a shop in Orange County. What lead you to open another shop there and what have you done to grow the business?
My Orange County shop came out of the need for myself to not drive to and from Hollywood every day from the OC as that is where my family and I live, so in order to preserve some tiny bit of sanity I had to open a shop less than 60 miles away from me! To grow the Orange County shop it required having to penetrate the residential neighborhoods surrounding the center that my shop is located. We drove around with home printed fliers and stuffed mail boxes and most recently have run an add in the money mailer at the recommendation of my brother Cory Danger of the locally famous Golden Crown Barbershop! So that has been fantastic for the shop as well! I have found more of the rad local feeling I wanted in the OC shop as opposed to the larger than life persona of the Hollywood shop!
4) Who/what in the barber industry is inspiring to you? Who/what outside of the industry gives you inspiration?
Inside the barber industry I draw a ton of inspiration from the team I am on over at Babyliss. I am surrounded by so many really talented barbers that all do something so different from my traditional style of cutting so right now it is learning to meld the new urban style I am learning with my tried and trusted traditional skill set and that has been such a breath of fresh air for me and my career! Outside of the industry I am inspired by culture, tattoos, art, design, currently I am super passionate about graffiti again and that is so cool to try to use some linear intersecting lines and bring that to my creative side of hair!
Are you saying that you look at graffiti and try to use those designs in haircuts? How has that progressed for you? Do customers come to you for that type of thing now?
I do draw some liniar inspiration from the cut lines in graffiti as well as all types of art. I try to evolve my style as a barber and as a haircutter every day. I never want to become complacent in this craft. As far as customers coming to me for designs I do have a pocket of those customers who allow me to express my artistic roots and freedom!
5) Each time I've been in your shop, there is an exceptional level of comedy going on. Talk about that.
Well the Hollywood shop as mentioned has become a place not just to get a haircut but now to watch and participate in the show! Clients are a part of our jokes and take things from inside the shop weather it be jokes or stories or jargon and apply them to their lives outside the shop and bring us some really epic stories that lead to some incredible real world comedy! Most recently we have a doctor who is a shop regular and his last visit he helped us diagnose that one of our barbers may have contracted an STI and once we realized what it was we just laughed it off and said “oh rad so it’s basically the common cold for the penis!” Well our client found this to be so rad that he vowed he would break the news to someone in the same fashion and this haircut. He came back and told us the story of the frat kid who came to him for the same STI and how our client was so pumped to let this kid know “don’t stress man it is just the common cold for the penis” and he had our whole shop rolling with laughter!
6) You are straight edge. What led to that decision/lifestyle?
Ehhh that’s a whole ridiculous story but let’s just say that given my family history I knew if I ever started drinking I would be really good at it so I have always been way to scared to even try it! But being straight edge works for me so I intend to stay this way!
7) What do you think about where barbering is today?
Loaded question, I think barbering is in an interesting transition where it is less about the work you do and more about the way you look and how you present yourself while not working as if that translates to how good you cut hair? I think the industry has lost sight that we all cut hair and we all should support each other as it costs us nothing to support one another! If we all could band together in positivity we could then and only then start to effect real change! So I hope we can make that the new future together!
8) What do you do outside of the shop?
Well I play ice hockey as well as have season tickets to the Anaheim Ducks and I raise my beautiful baby girl! I also love to ride my motorcycle. And may or may not be a part time plus sized model... no big deal!
I'm sorry, did you say that you're a plus size model?
I am trying out this new thing called..... sarcasm. I am not to sure about it but it sure is fun!
9) Can you describe the psychology of running and keeping a barbershop moving from day to day. In other words, what is that thing that's happening when you notice everything is just clicking?
I am not to sure how to answer this one because it changes from day to day. I just try to keep my shops busy because if we are all making money it tends to lead to good moods and a better working environment!
10) Random thoughts/ramblings/advice on what you do....
I love this industry. It is all I have ever known. I have never had a real job so to see what we are now and how the internet has had such a profound effect on us all I can only hope that we can soon come together and determine a nation wide rate of service. If we all choose, we can force each other to better ourselves by holding ourselves to higher standards we can drop the hate and just be in this together! I love to support barbering. I wear only shop shirts and never my own! I take pride in putting on a pin of a barber or a hat or shirt as I am proud of my industry. It doesn’t hurt us or devalue ourselves to say that someone else is an amazing barber! It just boosts that we are all in this together. I want to do nothing but cut with my friends and constantly put out the best work of my life every day! Through positivity and friendship we can all push ourselves and each other to be the best and it doesn’t cost us anything to support one another!
Anything else you want to get off your chest?
Have been greatly slacking on posts about my commercial stuff, but will get back to that soon. Not sure you can classify the below images as "street photography", but I don't know what else to call them? Either way, this style of shooting is something I have really enjoyed doing in my free time. And think it's very important for a photographer to shoot locally. Most guys put so much emphasis on traveling to exotic places, and that's a lot of fun, but what about your backyard? There is so much character in Southern California that gets overlooked by all the beautiful tourist destinations. Those little pieces are what I enjoy focusing on, and have recently started putting more effort into this project not just in Encinitas (where I live), but in all of "Southern California". It's a unique pocket of the world that is fun to wander around in, and I'm excited to see what this body of images looks like in 10 years.
You never know where your images will get picked up. I shot with DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers) a few years ago, before he really blew up into the beast he is today. It was only his first or second year in the league, but you could already tell that he would be a force. Awesome to shoot with, as you can see from his energy in the pictures. Very willing, and has an infectious smile. Huge dude, but seams like a teddy bear off the court. I think he's my wife's favorite player, just because of his smilie. Anyway, these images from a couple years ago got picked up by another media outlet recently. And ran alongside an article about DeAndre, written by DeAndre. Pretty cool.