Thursday, September 04, 2003

In all of Iraq — itself a candidate for worst place in the world — this little corner of paradise 120 kilometers west of Baghdad sets a whole new standard for “God-forsaken.”...

Yet, there is a place on Fallujah base where tranquility reigns: J.C.’s Barber Shop.

Staff Sgt. Joseph Chapman runs J.C.’s Barber Shop out of a backroom in a vast complex that was, until the war, a base for mujahedeen fighting the Islamic republic in Iran. With few resources, Chapman has managed to turn the room into a convincing recreation of a back home barbershop, down to the clippers and the magazines.

Most importantly, he has the defining barber quality: “I’m a good listener.”

Haircuts are $1, and all the money — including an average $4 tip — goes to a Squadron fund for a big pool party at the base, which has indoor and outdoor facilities. Chapman and Spc. Ashlea Baker, 16th Signal Company, have taken in $450 in just a couple of weeks.

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