Just Another Day... Getting Tattooed By Mike Rubendall
[Ed Note: Brian Grosz is currently three sittings into his chest piece, a pair of Fu Dogs inked by Mike Rubendall at Kings Ave Tattoo - here are his reflections on the process so far]
Some people are of the belief that repetition breeds comfort and, without a doubt, there's a certain routine to my tattoo sessions with Mike Rubendall at Kings Ave Tattoo.
I know that I will sit in traffic on the Long Island Expressway for at least two hours in deadlocked traffic up until the Queens border for no discernible reason. I will be nearly run off the road on the Southern State Parkway because I pilot an unwieldy van and seemingly the only requirement for a driver's license in Long Island is an abnormally heavy right foot.
Blood will flow (profusely) and there will be a lot of jokes and inquiry about how much I must have drank the night before. The debate on whether the coil or the rotary machine hurts more [he uses both machines] will rage on in my head as I try to remember to breathe and I will stare at the artwork hanging on the wall of Mike's room; carefully searching for some detail or point of interest that I somehow hadn't noticed over the last three years of staring at the same damn paintings.
The drive home will a blur of taillights and adrenaline, I will have to urinate like a Russian racehorse, and upon arriving at my local bar for a drink to steady my nerves, someone will give me an unwitting slap wherever I've taken some ink -- despite the fact that I'm visibly wrapped up in Saran Wrap like last night's leftover tuna casserole.
Ah yes: comfort incarnate.
What I really enjoy about my tattoo sittings, though...
... is the knowledge that something fairly weird is gonna go down. Because while all the tattooists at Kings Ave are venerable artists in their own right (and with extensive waiting lists to match), there's still a "street shop" element and the interesting characters that come with it.
Like the time that a delivery driver came in and tried to sell a leather sectional sofa and 18 goose down pillows that were "accidentally still on the truck." [Note: they've since installed a "no soliciting" sign on the door and no one took the fence up on his offer - if only because how the fuck do you get a sectional sofa home from work?]
Then there was the time when we heard one of the customers could crush an apple in one hand, so we sent the shop girl out to the store for some produce and I managed to get it on video - or, at least, I got the attempt...
So it came as no surprise to me last Thursday when -- above the din of grinding tattoo machines and a Biggie Smalls record pumping from the sound system -- every artist in the shop became focused on... a math riddle.
Three guys go to a hotel. The hotel room costs $30, so they each pay $10 and go up to the room. A few minutes later, the bellboy comes up and tells them that there was a mistake: the room only costs $25 and he's got their change. They each take a dollar back and they give the busboy a $2 tip.
Yup, a whole shop of unshaven, tattooed dudes were trying to solve a math riddle en masse and I felt as if I were centered in a beautiful venn diagram wherein low-brow art was intersecting with abstract mathematical thinking.
At least it felt that way for all of seven seconds at which point someone in the next booth shouted, "Three guys are sharing a hotel room together? The dollar is probably up someone's ass!"
Well, it was a tender moment, if short-lived, as was the riddle. I figured out the gimmick fairly quickly, which was a shame -- it gave me something to take the edge off of a needle hammering repeatedly into my clavicle.
I go back on the 25th for my next sitting. I'll be sure to keep you posted if anything interesting happens, which is more than likely.