No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn

March 30, 2011

Look out, BK!  I’ll be doing a very quick guest spot in Brooklyn at Fly Rite Tattoo on Friday, April 22nd.  I’m most excited, of course, to be tattooing in the company of friends in my old stomping grounds.  If you’d like to get a tattoo from me, please email me at .

A few weeks ago, Sue and I were on the Maine turnpike, and as we rolled up to the window, the toll lady said, “You’re all set- the car ahead of you paid for you.”

We were astounded (it doesn’t take much), and we squinted like near-sighted chipmunks at the car ahead as it pulled away.  We spent the next hour trying to guess who our mystery benefactor was based on the make of the car, the vanity plate, the indistinct shape of the back of their head, the smell of the exhaust… anything.  It was a fruitless effort, and the identity of the good Samaritan remained a mystery.  We decided that we had been the victims of mistaken identity and that the rube had mistook us for much nicer and more deserving people.  Ha.  Sucker.

So this week, I was sharing this story with a client and his wife, and she piped up.  “Oh, you got a random act.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, it’s this whole thing- people will do random acts of kindness for total strangers, and there’s a website where you can record your acts as the doer or receiver of the act.”

“Seriously?  Like, people pay other people’s tolls on the Maine Turnpike?”

“Oh yeah- they pay tolls, they buy coffee for the next person in line, they’ll pay for someone’s movie… Whatever.”

So how about that?  People out there, trying to make the world a better place one coffee, toll fare, or movie ticket at a time.  That sounds like a simple and real enough thing to do, right?  How about it, folks?  What if we all decided once a week to buy some stranger in line a coffee or paid for someone’s toll?  That would be pretty awesome, right?  While it may feel inconsequential in light of revolutions, humanitarian crises, and natural disasters, it’s something, right?

What am I doing here?  Oh, right!  Tattoos…

Here are some photos of Kenny’s koi (Kenny of umbilical hernia fame) and John’s dragon sleeve…

See the sea

March 24, 2011

About twelve years ago in New York, I had a conversation with my friend Steven about owning my own shop one day.  It was obviously a quixotic thought that flitted about my head since I had no actual business thinking about owning a shop.

“Do you have a name picked out?” he asked.

“What do you think of Tsunami Tattoo?” I replied.

“I like it,” he said.

“Yeah, me too.  I like the idea of something powerful but unseen- like a tsunami.  I don’t want to open up a street shop with neon and crazy signage; I want something low-key just to focus on doing the best tattoos that I can do.”

Watching the recent events in Japan has been just heart-wrenching and awe-inspiring.  I’ve never seen nature destroy something in such a methodical and ineluctable way before, and in watching the footage, Sue and I have been looking at one another, thinking, “Remind me: why our shop is named after such a catastrophic event?”  We had a similar moment when the tsunami struck Indonesia a few years ago.

We haven’t been alone in choosing to name our shop Tsunami Tattoo (there are two and a half in the U.S., one in South America, and one in Germany at last count), so I’m not feeling entirely alone in some questionable branding maneuvers; but the catastrophe in Japan certainly shifts the associations that I have with the word tsunami right now.

This past weekend, we spent some time with our friends in Provincetown at Mooncusser Tattoo, and while we were there, Andrea took us to the beach for a lovely walk.  Standing there on a beautiful, chilly spring morning, I thought about the paradox of our relationship with the sea; that we could both admire its beauty in one moment and be horrified by its devastating power in the next.

Of course, the sea is only nature- impartial and disinterested- yet in some romantic, Thoreau-ean way, we long to connect to it.  When it glistens and shimmers like a jewel, we praise it for its wine-dark beauty; and when it ravages our homes, we cower and curse it.  In our desire to compartmentalize nature in a tidy box, we want the sea to be friend or foe.

It’s easy to forget that it embodies both.

Our thoughts are with the Japanese as they meet the many challenges ahead of them.

Okay, I don’t normally devote a lot of cognitive space to celebrity implosions, but Charlie Sheen?!  (And who am I kidding?  I love watching celebrity implosions like I love dropping Mentos into Diet Coke.)  Charlie Sheen has created more quotable craziness in one day than most people dream of in a lifetime.  And thanks to the internet, we’re all able to aim our peashooters at him and level our democratic wit at his buffoonery.  Isn’t that what celebrities are for?  What a month it’s been!  I turn around from the computer for a minute, and now we’ve got the Middle East in full-on meltdown (tune in to MTV’s latest show: I Used To Be Fatwa) , Charlie Sheen on a crusade against his own sanity (and he’s losing), and the Oscars happened (The Importance of Being Franco).

The hoodies are on their way- Sue and I have been dithering about what kind of hoodies to get.  In my brain, I know all about the paradox of choice, and never has it been more true than now.  The paradox states that the more choices we have, the less happy we are with our decision.  How many hoodies have we looked at, you ask?  Over two dozen.  I’ve taken about ten hoodies home, worn them, washed them, stretched them…  But NEXT WEEK, we’ll make a decision on both the types (yes, you read that right: TYPES) of hoodies we’ll be getting and the design on them.

We saw our client Kenny this past weekend (doin’ a giant koi on his leg), and he shared with us a harrowing story: so there we were, last December, and I was tattooing Kenny.  He kept having stomach pains throughout the session and thought it was gas, and at the end of it, his pains were so uncomfortable that we had to cut the session short.  Last week, when we saw him, he revealed that he had been in so much pain that after the appointment that he lay in his car outside for AN HOUR.  And then he tried to drive home, but his stomach hurt so much that he lay at the Kennebunk rest area FOR ANOTHER HOUR.  And then he called 911.

Was my tattooing so brutal on Kenny that I exploded his spleen?  Nope.  Kenny had had an UMBILICAL HERNIA.  And he got tattooed while it was happening.  And then he lay around in Maine for TWO HOURS before trying to drive home to Massachusetts!  The moral of this story:  If you’re not feeling well, please let us know at the shop so that we can call an ambulance for you- don’t be a hero.  AND, Kenny is a tough, tough, tough guy.  He got some surgery, they stitched him back up last month, and he’s good as gold.  Huzzah!  Bi-winning!  (See Charlie Sheen for an explanation of bi-winning.)

By the way, I just googled umbilical hernia and clicked on images: don’t do that.  Seriously, don’t do it.

February was kind of a short month, so I kept forgetting to snap photos of things as they happened. (see the end of this entry for some tat-blasts that I did).  We got a surprise visit from our dear friend Khristian Bennett (of Mooncusser Tattoo in Provincetown, MA) who came to town for a convention.  We’ll be visiting them in a few weeks, so we’ll have some silly nuggets to share when that happens.  Phoebe is enamored by facial hair, which her father is woefully lacking in the manliness department.

There’s new research that shows that the more forgiving we are, the happier we’ll be.  I’m on one mission: kindness.  Or is it kidneys?

Charlie Sheen will need both.