Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tattoosday #5: Dolphins, Shackles and Skulls, oh My!

So last week, BillyBlog received its first unsolicited tattoo submission. I had no specific policy on this, but decided that, due to a gloomy week in NYC, I could use all the help I could get. Tat number one is blogged by proxy, courtesy of The Ancient One, Blessed Be He. He is, after all, Dear Old Dad, so I couldn't possibly refuse. Well, I could, but that would just be silly.

Dad wrote:

If you are willing to accept photos from others, I have attached a tattoo photo taken ... of the lower leg ...[of] one Suze Campagna, an extraordinary stage manager whom I featured on the blog a month or so ago. I have seen this tattoo often but yesterday I asked to take a picture of it and have her permission to send it to you. I can't offer too much back story. Suze turned 40 recently (like you) and when I asked about the little dolphin, she said it was her first tattoo and that she got it in celebration of her 30th birthday.
Thanks, Ancient One!

So, as mentioned, it was a cool, rainy week and the preponderance of flesh, let alone inked flesh, was atypical of August in the Big Apple. However....

The sun came out late Thursday, followed Friday by a slew of tattoos.

I discovered early on that my old reluctance had returned. I saw some nice ink, but everyone seemed to be heading somewhere in a hurry. Imagine that, in New York City!

But late Friday I was headed to a Cyclones game (thanks, Atlantis Health Plan, for the free tickets!) and the prospect of heading to Coney Island excited the tattoo aficionado in me.

But on my way to the ATM before hitting the subway, I saw a guy standing in front of The Garden, smoking a cigarette. He appeared to be covered with tattoos. Without hesitation, I ambled up and introduced myself and he obliged to be the first participant in Tattoosday, part V.

The guy I met was in his 20's, maybe early 30's and said his name was John Adams. He has an even dozen tattoos. He offered me up two tattoos, with the following tales...

He said he was most proud of this one, around his left ankle. It is a shackle with a broken chain.

He elaborated on this piece's history (forgive me, I am paraphrasing):

I got married in Vegas and it was the worst mistake of my life....the marriage lasted about 2 weeks...the divorce is still going on....after the marriage ended, one of my friends suggested I get this, showing that I had been chained down by a bad mistake, but I had managed to break free....the more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed, and it's one of my favorite tattoos because it reminds me how I escaped from a bad situation.

Again, I paraphrased there. John, if you're reading this, feel free to correct any details.

John's shackles were inked at Chris P. Tooles Tattoo Incorporated in Vacaville, California. He is originally from Vacaville and he seemed delighted not only to learn I knew where Vacaville was, but also that I had stayed there on numerous occasions with old college friends.

John also offered up a second piece, on his right elbow.

Through a seres of events, John here had been living in Slidell, Louisiana two years ago, right before the birth of BillyBlog. A weather disturbance known as Hurricane Katrina rolled through town and like so many Louisiana denizens, John found himself relocated elsewhere.

He found himself in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and ran into a tattoo artist at a shop called Tattoo Zoo. According to John, the tattooer had designed the skull, but no one wanted it. It was an orphan design, looking for a host. The artist felt bad for John after Katrina, and offered to ink him for free. John requested he add a jester hat to the design, and the rest was history.

John noted that the piece was particularly sentimental because it had come on the heels of Katrina and it had been a generous gift from a sympathetic artist.

John was in New York just visiting. He was very cool.

Thanks John for your tattoos and accompanying stories!

Finally, as I headed home on the R train on Monday, I spotted a young lady with a nice koi tattoo on her left biceps. This was the first person I ever asked on the train to participate, and my luck has continued. No one has declined my invitation yet to be on BillyBlog, and this individual, although tentative at first, agreed once the train stopped at 95th Street, to let me take a picture of her arm above ground.

This piece, which is a part of a theme for her, is a carp, or koi, representing the element water. Her right biceps has a dragon on it, representing wind, and her back boasts a phoenix tattoo representing fire. She understandably told me that it would not be appropriate to show me the back tattoo, not that I was forward enough to ask, I figured as much.

Her carp, if not all of her art, was inked at Rising Dragon Tattoos, a shop only 7 blocks from my office, situated just downstairs from the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street. I imagine that this will not be the first tattoo I find from this famous shop.

We talked briefly about how I was lucky I caught her on a good day (I did, after all, interrupt her while she was reading). She acknowledged that she is occasionally annoyed by people asking her about her tattoos. I was surprised, as I have not seen a lot of people going out of their way to ask about tattoos. She thinks that women get asked about their tattoos more because it is more accepted for men to have tattoos, and because hers are so large on her arms, people tend to ask about them more than one would think.

I gave this nameless, yet friendly, subject a printout of a prior Tattoosday post and invited her to e-mail me when she had some color added, as she is thinking of doing.

That wraps it up for this week's Tattoosday. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

1 comment:

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