Modern Living: Brush Fires

The customer in Mr. Eckhard's barbershop in San Francisco's elegant Fairmont Hotel was turning hot under the collar, both literally and figuratively. Proprietor Eckhard Helmholz, brandishing a wide-toothed bone comb in one hand and a flaming 10-in. jeweler's torch in the other, was preparing to go to work, while cooing assurances that "it isn't nearly as bad as it smells." It turns out to be the blowtorch cut, the hottest innovation in California coiffure circles since Warren Beatty in Shampoo.

Helmholz's tonsorial firing for effect is the result of complaints from customers whose...

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