Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project: Cody Todd's Murals - Star Wars and an Interpretive Tribal

Today's tattoos come from Cody Todd, who was referred to me by Carol Muske-Dukes:

The first one is a back piece, still in progress:

Cody explains this as "a Star Wars mural--the Millenium Falcon in front of a meteor pursued by a TIE Fighter, from The Empire Strikes Back with the specter of Boba Fett looming above the chase." He credits an artist named Skip (since retired) at Old World Tattoo in Arvada, Colorado (North Denver). This was primarily done in 1996.

Cody expands on the piece:

...the one on my back is still in progress--I foresee at least 5-6 more sessions and touch-ups before I can say it is certainly complete. I like visual collages and pastiche, just as I like the poetic collage of Eliot's Prufrock and The Waste Land, Marianne Moore's Poetry, or Frank Stanford's "The Battlefield where the Moon Says I Love You" and Joshua Clover's The Totality for Kids, are other examples. Poetry that synthesizes subject matter, speaking voices, speaking subjects, and stitch together otherwise independent and unlike things--unified by the mode of collage.

Why a Star Wars tattoo? Well, I guess I buy the argument lent forth in Joseph Campbell's The Hero with A Thousand Faces, that the mythical embodiments of the epic, the quest, and the hero are not just culturally shared, but I think each generation has their own embodiment as well. Hokey, cheesy, and melodramatic --yes, but I still watch Empire... with great nostalgia, and I don't think enough credit goes to [George] Lucas and his literary homage paid to Aquinas, Emerson, Plato, and Homer, to name a few. However, the revisions of Star Wars Episodes 1-3 are so bad I cannot watch them without getting sick. Maybe I am old now, but I just don't get them at all. Nevertheless, my parents still joke about the fact that I was conceived in the backseat of a Ford Pinto while they were "watching" Star Wars at a south Denver drive-in in the summer of 77."

The second piece is a "tribal-esque mural," of sorts, and was tattooed by a friend of Cody's named Bryan in 1997, at Your Flesh Grappling (now known as Your Flesh Tattoo) in Durango, Colorado. This piece was drawn by Cody and wraps around his left thigh:

Cody added:

"The leg tattoo was a personalized redefinition of the "Tribal" tattoos that were the craze when tattoos were no longer isolated to deviancy. Loosely quoting Mike Ness of Social Distortion, in the 1990's, kids could go to a mall and get their little "parts" pierced or walk out of there with a barbed wire tribal band around their biceps. I took a one-page graffiti collage from a notebook that I penciled of hooks, circles, ovoids, anemone-shaped and flame-shaped patterns with tentacles--my first name is actually on the upper left, and a small skyline of Denver with that wacky cash-register shaped building [The Wells Fargo Center] is just 1:00 o'clock from the family of bubbles or spheres centered in the band. I am going to amend this tat with another piece of similar solid black-ink graffiti to wrap a 4-inch band around my knee. That is the thing about tattoos--they are addictive; they beg to grow new limbs, and in that sense they are like little monsters."
I've been posting the tattooed poets' work over on BillyBlog and you can check out not one, but two of Cody's poems here. One is called "Boba Fett". But, as an added treat, I'm including one here, as well, because it just seemed appropriate:

Tattooed on the Backs of Eight Fireflies:

Under a dark loam of night,

pure barbed wire.


Apparitions dancing

dancing and dancing.


Some of us just might bite

the apple those cursed birds already did.


Old story: cat bats us away

to reanimate or destroy.


Words are the ruse, flight

is the guise, and we are the fakers.


Return the favor: grace for

sex or salvation for dust.


Time is the knife. Gods the size

of thumbs. Men with bloody hands.


We captured our god, the sun,

and feasted on him by torchlight.

Thanks to Cody for not only sharing his tattoos with us here on Tattoosday, but for expounding on them at such length. It's always fascinating to hear people go beyond the literal meanings of the tattoos themselves, and explore the deeper significance of the art form as it pertains to themselves and society.

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