And more!

February 17, 2014

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Benefit Eve Update

February 15, 2014

Sue, here. We’re super excited about tomorrow’s Tattoo Benefit for Amie. I went out this morning and stocked up on paper towels, A&D, spray bottles, and beverages for our tattooers in anticipation of the 40 people we’re scheduled to tattoo. Rest assured, Cyndi Lou, Chris, Phuc, and Mike will all be getting a good night’s sleep tonight! With this weekend’s weather, we do anticipate a few last-minute cancellations, so I definitely encourage locals who want to come in for a last-minute benefit tattoo tomorrow to give us a call early in the day – we may still be able to get you in!

To sweeten the deal even more, our friends at Ponomo have designed a special, limited edition Lucky Number leather wrist bands in Amie’s honor. Not only will Ponomo founder and designer Hannah Tarkinson be on hand at the shop to sell them, she’ll be happy to custom stamp your lucky number while you wait. All proceeds from the bands will go to Amie as well!


Available with or without Fuck Cancer message.


Not your mama’s cancer riboon.


Definitely not your mama’s cancer ribbon!

We’re hoping to do a bit of live blogging for those of you who can’t be here in person tomorrow. Also, for those of you “from away,” as we Mainers say, we’ve set up a special Gofundme in Amie’s honor.

Thank you all and please wish us luck!


Most people in our little city probably know and love our dear friend and client Amie (Lavway) Milo. Whether it’s through her therapeutic massage practice, the Tsunami Tattoo 10th Anniversary video, the events she’s hosted, her tattoos, or her dance moves at the White Heart, you know her. Amie is what we natives call “Portland Famous.”

Just before the holidays, Amie received the difficult news that she had a cancerous tumor in her right breast. Aggressive treatment was required, and Amie bravely underwent a double mastectomy just after the new year. She is now facing several months of treatment.

On Sunday, February 16th, starting at 9AM, we will be hosting a benefit to raise money for Amie to help support her family as they weather the difficult days ahead. A fellow small business owner who, like us, must be physically able to earn her living (let’s face it, none of you would be comfortable having Sue tattoo you if Phuc was out with a cold… am I right?), Amie will need to take time off from her practice to heal. We want to help in the best way we know how: tattooing!

Therefore, on the 16th, Phuc, Cyndi Lou, and special guest star Chris Dingwell will be offering a small array of tattoos (lucky numbers, cherry blossoms, and possibly a few FUCK CANCER banners) at $150 a pop to thirty lucky friends and well-wishers. All proceeds will go to Amie.

Since this is about raising money, tattoo sessions will be limited to one hour each, and the tattooers each have 10 slots available. We announced this benefit on Facebook late last night, and the slots are already filling up fast. To book yours, please e-mail Sue at the shop (using the form below) as soon as possible. Please specify an artist and general time of day, and Sue will follow-up regarding availability.

Amie 1


Better Laich Than Never

February 2, 2014

Happy New Year AND rabbit, rabbit!  The year of the Horse and the first of a new month…  it’s a capital day.  I tried as hard as I could to get this out in January, but damn it if it hasn’t been a busy month.  I’ll update with new work from me in a new post soon, but I’ve been sitting on this interview with my friend Rus Laich since Thanksgiving.  He was in the midst of moving from Boston to Los Angeles, so we held off on releasing it until the dust settled a bit.  Like I said, better Laich than never.

Phuc:  Hey!

Rus:  Hey, homeboy.

 P:  Thanks for taking the time to do this.  It worked out that you’re bedridden. [Rus had an emergency appendectomy two days prior.]  And I’ll fix typos in the editing, so don’t worry about them.


 R:  I’m also slightly medicated, so if there was ever a chance of my being entertaining, now is it.  Please correct all my spelling – none of that [sic] shit that makes me sound like an idiot.

P:  Hahaha-  I was going to say that we should turn down the sarcasm a notch as much as I appreciate your sarcasm.

 R:  Ha, I’ll be fine.

P:  So from time to time, I interview tattooers for our blog, and I thought we could talk a little about tattooing and also the process of getting tattooed, etc., since you’re a tattooer and a collector.  And I think you’re an interesting example of someone whose second act is their tattooing career (like Bob Tyrell who didn’t start tattooing until his mid 30’s).  Actually, what’s funny is that we don’t talk that much about tattooing when we’re hanging out tattooing you.

R:  Tattooing is a bit boring in comparison to the circus of our lives, I think.  Also, it’s a bit like preaching to the choir.  Neither of us seems to be the type that just wants to be agreed with, so why waste our time saying things just to be told ‘yes’?

P:  Right! It’s  one of the dirty secrets that the general public doesn’t know.  It’s kind of like how I like to think that all my favorite musicians sit around and talk about music all day.  But I can’t imagine that they do.  (Puts loaded gun to head…)

 R:  Ha. Well, I cant speak for you, but I also know for myself that I have such a wide range of interests, tattooing is just a facet of that. It’s my job, and it’s something I care deeply about, but it’s not the only thing in my life.


 P:  So tell us (the faceless public) what else occupies your time?  I think that I really enjoyed that aspect of our sessions.  The conversation ranged from your dog, to motorcycles, to Buddhism, to porn, to hip-hop, to your work in the music business, etc.  In no particular order, what makes you psyched to wake up in the morning?

 R:  Oh man. It sounds a bit simple and cliché perhaps, but it’s just the experience of life – enjoying the moments as they come to you. I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived what feels like five different lifetimes already. I’ve done and experienced so much, with none of it really following any linear path. Knowing that the day could literally take me anywhere is I guess what I’m most excited about.   That and my dog, of course.

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 P:  Not cliché – very Kerouac of you.  So would you say that you try not to overthink things? I ask this because I think you tend to over think things – hahaha – like tattoos, motorcycles, music, etc.

 R:  Ha. I absolutely overthink things. My brain is constantly spinning and processing. It’s something I know I need to work on but it’s difficult. Amusingly – and even more difficult – it’s also not quite that simple. On one hand I obsess and overthink, yet at the same time I’m very relaxed and easy going. It’s some weird schism that i’m constantly trying to bridge (all the while knowing I should just give it up).


 P:  So is that true with tattoos that you get?  It seems not, and I think that your way of NOT overthinking things is so counter to how much meaning people want to shove into the tattoos that they get (hence all the writing and lettering that’s happening in tattoos right now).  When we tattooed your back, you were pretty chill about it. 

R:  I definitely obsess and overthink tattoos.  It’s why I thankfully have so few bad ones. I’ve gotten better though. At this point I’ve just learned to find someone I want work from, give them some direction, and let it happen. Generally that works out. It’s different for me than your average customer though. I have the majority of my body covered, so each individual piece is far less meaningful than the girl who gets just a butterfly on her ankle.


 P:   It’s a good point you bring up about the value of something versus how much of it you have.  One tattoo is more meaningful than one tattoo when you have 100 other tattoos.

What’s the threshold?  At what point does having too much shit devalue everything you have?  And is this what’s behind the monastic style of living?  Like a “yo, I’m gonna throw ALL MY SHIT AWAY” so that what few things I have will be inherently more valuable.

Even with the tattoo on your leg (which I didn’t do) even though it didn’t come out the way that you wanted it to, it’s not like you’re super bummed about it.  That’s actually a funny story – maybe you should tell it.

 R: Long story short is: I got a tattoo from a guy I respected a ton. He pretty much ignored half of what I said, did the complete opposite of what I asked for on the other half, and in the end I have a very well done tattoo that in a picture I would think ‘wow, that thing looks great, but I wouldn’t want it on me’. However it’s on me, but what can you do? Ultimately I look at it as a reminder that the tattoos I do are not about me or my vision. They’re about what the customer wants. Just ‘cause I think something is bitchin’, if it’s not their thing, they’re not gonna be happy. You have to find that middle ground where you try and include as much of their (sometimes dumb-ass) idea as possible, while applying it in a way that will still look good both technically and stylisticaly in 30 years.

 P:  Hahaha- good reminder.  Tattoo “artists” often forget this. But I think you and I don’t consider ourselves “artists.”  We’re here to find some middle ground with the client – realize the clients’ vision in a way that will still have integrity as a tattoo.

R:  Yeah, I’ll never call myself an artist. Maybe it’s an inferiority complex, I don’t know, but I consider myself a craftsman. People hire me to do a service. Sometimes I get more freedom than others to express my ideas, but at the end of the day, I have little use for artists. Too much pretentiousness that piques my own insecurities.

 Going back to what you said earlier, I’d say that it depends somewhat on the quality of the “shit” you have, but it’s a very valid idea, one that I think we’ll start to explore more and more as everything becomes even more accessible. Quick example: recently I was looking at tasteful nudes on the internet. The pictures were great, but there were hundreds of them, so it immediately went from ‘wow, that’s beautiful’ to ‘I don’t even care anymore’. Ten years ago you had to hunt for photos like that. Now they’re selling Sprite and Altoids and shit. Can’t get away from them, and despite what Liberace would have us believe, too much of a good thing can indeed be too much. You need some variety. Like guys with amazing body suits: I respect the artistry, but I’d rather see great tattoos interspersed with shitty tattoos that have good stories. Life can’t be all beauty.

P:  Interesting.  So there’s the yin-yang, you-need-the-bad-to-appreciate-the-good kind of outlook?  I totally agree with you about the nude pictures thing.  We’re all so numb to it now.  Which means that everything has to be ratcheted up to get our attention.  More violence.  More swearing.  More boobs.

R:  I don’t think you need to puprosefully seek out bad.  Badness is all around.  I guess what I mean is that things don’t work out/get fucked up/go sour all the time IN SPITE of all my best efforts.  It’s the universe’s way of keeping everything in check.  So I think even if you had an amazing bodysuit that was jaw-dropping, there’s gonna be other stuff in your life that will function as the antithesis to the perfection of the bodysuit.


 We’re living in a very interesting, challenging time, what with instant gratification and constant bombardment. The human condition is not really suited – or at least it has no training – for an experience like this. The advances in every field just since I’ve been alive.   it’s going to be interesting to look back in 20 years and see how we’re coping with it as a species.

P:  So let’s take this over to a motorcycle analogy.  When I upgraded from scooters to motorcycles, I was like “Fuck, this is so fast”.  And now I’m eyeballing 900cc bikes like a total dick.  Psychologists call this “habituation” – it basically means that we, as human beings, re-set our baselines for what is normal.  So, for example, if you’re married to a pornstar, it’s going to be awesome for the first three months or whatever, and then you get used to it (it becomes the norm) and then you start thinking that being married to a pornstar is dull and that there must be something better out there.

 R:  There’s a quote I’ve always liked – something to the effect of “For every beautiful woman, there’s a man who’s bored of fucking her.” That’s so American, I can’t even take it.


 P:  But that’s not even about having a 100 women.  It’s just the one.  How do we look in the mirror every day and be thankful instead of thinking “I wish my nose were straighter and my boobs were bigger and my skin were smoother.”  That dissatisfaction starts deep.  I blame advertising.

 R:  I agree absolutely, and I blame people’s inherent insecurity with their place in the universe. I think advertising just takes advantage of it. I remember my first few times on my bike, 35mph felt FAST. Now i’m doing 85mph and don’t even realize it. However i think there is a point where that levels out, because i know that even after a few years, 100mph still feels faster than I need to go. I’m comfortable with where I’m at and don’t feel a need to push it further.

P:  Okay, I gotta wrap this up.  parting words?

R:  So soon?

P:  We’re at the mercy of people’s short attention spans!

R:  Ha, I know. Hmmm… we’ve barely scratched the surface of our normal conversations. If I’ve learned anything about life, it’s the importance of being honest with yourself. Until you can really look at who you are and what you’re facing, you can never hope to change anything.

God, that sounds fucking corny. Also, thank you to my friends who have supported and loved me. Without you guys, I wouldn’t have anything.


 P:  Thanks again, pal. 

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, give Rus a call/email.  Follow him on instagram: crushrus; or check out his website: .

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