Column: 'The Dreamer' Dispenses Haircuts And Healing For Hom


The practically 80-year-old man slicing hair on the streets of West Los Angeles is not your typical barber.

Most of their purchasers are homeless, and lots of are army veterans; Value is negotiable and will be paid for in meals (ideally contemporary fruit); And nobody has empty pockets.

“Ring Man!” The barber referred to as the opposite day a US Navy veteran who usually pays for his haircuts with costume jewellery.

The ring man – 32-year-old Omar Herrera – handed over a clutch of rings and some {dollars} as fee for a trim, and the barber shortly handed the money to a person who had pulled right into a Nissan Sentra.

The motive force, 78-year-old Vietnam veteran Wilbur Thornton, mentioned he wanted the gasoline cash and would return it quickly, as he at all times does.

Barber Tony Bravo on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus.

(Francin Orr / Los Angeles Occasions)

“He listens, he understands, he by no means lets an individual down,” Thornton mentioned. “And he offers free haircuts.”

The hairdresser is Antonio Bravo Esparza, higher recognized by some as Tony Bravo. However most individuals tackle him by his favourite identify, which is stitched on the again of his Western-style blue shirt: “The Dreamer.”

“I am an Apache drugs man,” mentioned Dreamer, who served within the Nationwide Guard for six years, who has a smooth spot for the vet and throws an apron with an American flag over them as he cuts hair.

One dreamer adopts ancestral Native American values ​​to clarify this to Tony Bravo. He considers himself a magician and shape-changer on a pilgrimage of therapeutic. His explicit imaginative and prescient is that, in what he calls probably the most divisive time for the reason that Vietnam Conflict, human relationships constructed round good works, mutual respect, equity and respect can generate a wave of constructive power.

“I believe it is time for us to comprehend that we’re in the identical storm and in numerous boats,” mentioned the streamer, who thinks it would assist if we paddle collectively Is.

When Herrera paid for her haircut, partly in rings, the streamer handed one to my colleague Francine Orr and one to me. As soon as we slipped on them, he mentioned, the three of us bonded, just like the Energy Rangers whose mission is to beam constructive power into the universe.

“Flexibility, magic, love,” mentioned the dreamer. “Let’s have enjoyable and do not take ourselves so significantly.”

Bravo, known as "a dreamer," Sits in the shade of two eucalyptus trees and waits for customers to get haircuts.

Bravo, higher often called the “Dreamer,” sits within the shade of two eucalyptus timber and waits for patrons to get haircuts.

(Francin Orr / Los Angeles Occasions)

The Dreamer was featured in a 2011 Occasions story by Martha Groves and Annie Cusack. He started his haircutting profession at a Westside parlor, and a few of his outdated purchasers nonetheless discover him. However he took a detour a number of years in the past, parking his trailer on the West LA Veterans Affairs campus to serve veterans and anybody else who wandered inside. When the pandemic struck, the doorways of his “Freedom Barber Store” had been closed, however that did not occur. Throw the dreamer away from his progress.

A reader named Alex Nicol noticed her chopping hair in a car parking zone close to Ohio Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard and was desperate to cease and say howdy. Nicole loved chatting with Dreamer and instructed I do too.

The dreamer is just not going to reply a direct query with a straight reply. winds a particular response By way of his views on thriller, the moon, and metaphysics, all of which intrigue him greater than the literal world. He shared a few of his background, however emphasised that these particulars say much less about him than his every day pursuit of, within the second, the folks he encounters.

I can let you know he’s homeless, or not less than one among a sort. As advised in a 2011 story, Dreamer has a sliver of property and family members in Arizona, however even when he usually goes there, touring by prepare, he lives with the family. It isn’t simple to sleep inside.

“I do not do properly inside,” he advised me. “The sky and the celebs and the timber are my roof.”

He springs considerably from childhood. He and his father left their house in Corona, California, and traveled the state as agricultural employees, consuming dinner by rivers and lakes and watching the celebs from their camps. The younger dreamer chopped walnuts into the chico. Prunes in Colusa. Cotton in Corcoran.

“It was stunning,” he mentioned of his childhood, which he remembers not as back-breaking labor however as working in service of an pressing want.

Bravo cuts Omar Anthony Herrera's hair at the West LA VA campus.

Bravo cuts Omar Anthony Herrera’s hair on the West LA VA campus.

(Francin Orr / Los Angeles Occasions)

“In the event you supplied me a $2 million home in Brentwood, I might say hold it,” mentioned the streamer, who advised me he slept throughout the road, in an upright place and dealing with east. . That’s the course of the following occasion, he mentioned, the following event, the following morning.

Most of the homeless are struggling, the dreamer mentioned, and he needs there was extra help and housing for them, particularly these with psychological sickness and people affected by battle. He’s there and for these vacationers, he mentioned, and he likes to be advised that no matter their circumstances, they’re all wealthy.

“I’ve a unique worth system, you would possibly say,” the dreamer advised me. Success and happiness are primarily based on conventional however misguided notions, he mentioned, which is why the indicators he hangs at his haircutting websites say, “Dreamers Faculty of Unlearning. apply inside.”

“I inform my veterinarians that when you’ve got a automobile and get on the street and cross a bridge that prices hundreds of thousands to construct, that bridge is yours and you should use it 24/7. You possibly can, everytime you need. They do not assume so, however I do. I am grateful,” mentioned the dreamer.

I took him to his closed trailer, the place he typically finds prospects ready for a haircut and tells them the place they’ll discover him off-campus. Two of his buddies – each veterinarians – had been hanging out on the trailer.

One, a homeless man named Paul, mentioned that the streamer is sweet with scissors. Second, Keystone, who served with the army within the Center East and suffered a traumatic mind harm, was pissed off a couple of controversial household drama and knew Dreamer would assist her by means of it.

“He is a poet; he is a magician,” Keystone mentioned. “Daily, he’s utterly within the day. He has a farm he can go to, however he prefers to be right here to serve.”

The Dreamer, which has a favourite playlist, fired up their stereo. He loves “Over the Rainbow” and “Inconceivable Dream”, Johnny Money will get an excessive amount of time, and this time, Patsy Cline was singing “Loopy.”

Bravo holds a sign while waiting for customers.

Bravo holds an indication whereas ready for patrons.

(Francin Orr / Los Angeles Occasions)

Keystone defined the specifics of his grief and, combating again tears, confessed that he “has gone again to the weeds.” The dreamer tells him to not let the medication be “it” what he feels he wants and to discover a energy merchandise—with deep which means for each him and the relative with whom he was at odds—and Let or not it’s a therapeutic drive.

“Good days are forward,” the streamer advised Keystone.

We drove again to Dreamer’s location in Ohio, the place a buyer with a psychological well being incapacity associated to the service was ready to get a haircut. The Dreamer arrange his outdated Spice cologne, gel product, and scissors on a staggered stool, fired up his little generator, plugged in his scissors, and went to work.

Earlier than lengthy, Keystone confirmed up along with his guitar and an amp and danced his coronary heart out earlier than taking his flip within the barber chair—a forged workplace recliner on wheels—and getting a haircut underneath a eucalyptus tree.

The dreamer stored a watch on his work, fastidiously operating his scissors over Keystone’s cranium. He mentioned that the folks he is aware of and cares about — the homeless, the distressed, the injured and even the well-heeled — are simply looking for their approach house.

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