Wednesday, August 26, 2009

tattoo machine

Another window display for the month of August. I'm going to stick with the top part of it so that the picture doesn't lose the cool tattoo machines the author let me borrow to include. I have to say, it was a little exciting just having those things in my hands. Ooooh, dangerous! And shiny!

(OK, there aren't any needles in them.)

The book is Tattoo Machine - a memoir that is full of brash and hilarious and fascinating and flesh-crawling and at times poetic stories of a crazy tattooing life. Jeff Johnson, the author, lives here in Portland and owns Sea Tramp Tattoo Company, the oldest tattoo shop in the city.

I wanted to include a snippet from the book - in fact, I had in mind a certain story that made me laugh out loud, but

I just can't.

It's just too

I think my fingers are too wussy to transcribe the story of the Cleveland Puke Walker.

Wow, I just said puke in my own blog.

(Heck, if Shakespeare can say it, I can.)

One of the fascinating things about tattoos, of course, is their permanence - or mostly-permanence, anyway - and even Jeff Johnson has made choices he regrets. To set this up, Jeff has gone to another tattoo artist, Matt Reed, to see if Matt can cover up a tattoo on Jeff's arm, that he wishes he hadn't gotten.

"I've got good news, and I've got bad news," Matt Reed said.

"The good news had better be that you can cover this up," I said.

There was a pause on the other end of the line.

"That is the good news," he replied. I sighed with relief.

"The bad news is that it's going to be a shark biting an anchor."

I wish I could include the whole story of the origin of the tattoo Jeff had to have covered up with the shark biting the anchor - I will say it did involve a Las Vegas Elvis wedding chapel - but what I really want to put out there is his lovely musing on the subject. Tattooing someone's name on your body forever...

Beware the meathead dork who won't tattoo names. Art is an exercise of the imagination. If an artist can't imagine that a perfect stranger might have a chance at happiness, then I doubt they can imagine very much at all.


At the time I got the tattoo underneath the shark biting the anchor, it seemed like a good idea. My mind recoils from any deep probing of that period, like a tongue poking around a shattered molar hole, but a hazy overview summons up a feeling of general well-being and happiness associated with that time. I was having fun then. It was a lighthearted period eventually made sober by fanatics and by growing up. I was that young person. Things change, but history is real and permanent. I can lie to myself all I want, but there on my arm is a shark biting an anchor, a memento of failure and poor judgment, impermanence, and the worthlessness of personal fiction. Maybe we all need such a totem.


1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.