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Good-bye, Mr. Snips

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As loyal to his customers as he was to his own legend, Kyriacos Demetriou -- the Upper West Side's famous Broadway Barber, who died May 14 -- ran a quirky, authoritarian operation. He never took appointments (the wait could last for hours), he never posted his rates, and he discouraged any inane chatter that could break the mood set by the obsessively preserved early-century décor of his shop, which he closed three years ago. He also never tired of trumpeting his own press coverage: appearances on nearly every network news show, at least two renderings in New Yorker cartoons, special gigs to cut hair for the casts of The French Connection and The Godfather. But if name-dropping was Mr. Kay's vice, a little flattery was a small price to pay for the city's best shave. How many times did Mr. Kay bark, "If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it!" to an unfamiliar visitor asking his prices? And how many times was he tamed by an in-the-know patron who would show up after hours and, faced with a long line of customers, utter the words that he could never refuse: "Do you have room for one more?"


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