Headline above from Milwaukee Sentinel, 1933.
When I first started blogging about tattoos in 2003, I was amazed how so many media outlets around the world were rehashing the same line (often the first line) in their articles on tattoos:
"Tattoos are no longer for sailors, bikers, inmates ..."When I complained about these constant tattoo cliches, my friend Dr. Matt Lodder, art historian (with a particular specialty in tattoo art), schooled me on how they have been recycled for over a hundred years -- with the first "tattoos...are not confined to seamen only," appearing in the NY Times in 1908.
Matt got to address the media directly about these tired tropes when he spoke to the BBC for their article "People always say the same thing about tattoos," which was published yesterday. As with most articles that feature Matt's tattoo expertise, it is a wonderful read, not just for the history lesson, but also for his discussion on the relationship between tattoo culture and the media. Here's a taste from the article:.
Lodder compares media representations of tattooing with the film Groundhog Day where Bill Murray's weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again.
In addition to more of Matt's thoughts on the media's tattoo fascination, there are also interesting examples of tattoo news articles over the past century.
Read more here.
While I would be hard-pressed to convince anyone that I'm a practicing Buddhist (due to my foul attitude and all-around, Type-A, New Yorker mentality), Buddhism is certainly something that I've studied for a few decades. Conceptually, I agree with the notions of serenity, enlightenment and tolerance, so this news item makes me want to throw Sri Lanka a good ole Brooklyn-style side-eye.
According to the BBC, Briton Antony Ratcliffe was detained by security at the Colombo airport when they caught site of his Buddha tattoo and proclaimed that it was "disrespectful."
Sounds "Om" as fuck to me...
I won't lie, I've been profiled/questioned/scanned/swabbed/wanded at airports due to my outward appearance and tattoos on numerous occasions (in fact, one time I was patted-down by a guy who claimed to be Big Steve's stepfather). I try to take the serene approach: they're doing their job. But I find it odd that a permanent decision/commitment to Buddhism would raise such ire as an "act of disrespect" from a predominantly Buddhist country.
Got an opinion? Let us know on our Facebook group.
[Buddha tattoo by Little Swastika]
Just got back into Brooklyn and wishing for a few more days of vacation, but to help me ease back into the NY grind -- and appreciate the treasures of the city -- our friend Nick Schonberger sent us the link to this wonderful BBC video interview with Tony Polito.
Tony is the very definition of a Brooklyn tattoo legend. He started in the business at the age of 14 in 1959 and continues to tattoo today (although he closed his Crown Heights studio last year). In the video, you'll hear him talk about tattooing sailors from the Navy Yard, his penchant for pin-ups, and the 1961 NYC tattoo ban, which forced him to work underground (literally, his basement) for a while. You'll also catch Tony tattooing another tattoo luminary of Brooklyn, Mike Perfetto aka Michaelangelo.
The footage is just over three minutes and leaves you wanting more from this old salt. But I have good news! Tony, Mike and many others will be featured in an upcoming book on native Brooklyn tattoo artists, culture and history by Pete Caruso, aka Brooklyn P. With such a strong tattoo heritage in the borough and stellar art being created, it will be an important addition to your tattoo library. More on the book when it's ready to drop.
Meanwhile, check the video to get a taste of Tony's stories.
The London Tattoo Convention made the headlines again, although less so this year, but what's out there is pretty good. Here are a few of my faves:
For their In Pictures section, the BBC has a beautiful slideshow of the event including the photo above of Martin Poole, a tattooist in Cornwall who does hand tattooing. In fact, he has done most of his own facial work. I interviewed Martin and will try to have our talk up later this week.
Cheekier photos and captions can be found on Asylum UK's The London Tattoo Convention's Best & Weirdest gallery, which also has shots beyond tattooed butts like the one below.
And finally, this video by the Telegraph entitled "My dad's gonna kill me - getting your face tattooed" with some excellent footage and interviews on traditional tattooing among other scenes from the convention floor. Check it below.
My thoughts on the show are up soon as well as those from Brian, who took his own great shots.