Sunday, May 8, 2011


May 8, 2011

Yo, let’s go to the Tatoo Parler and be marked for life as brainless lower-level people so that everyone we encounter between here and the graveyard gives us strange looks and avoids us.
Who cares if the tattooist can’t spell, which is the vast majority of them. Or if the fearsome tiger I wanted turns out like Pikachu the Pokemon. Ah so, that oh-so-perspicacious ancient mystical symbol is really just some nonsensical doodle – or worse. It’s a tattoo, ain’t it – what’s the problem?
What used to be the exclusive domain of sailors and criminals has now gone mainstream. There’s even the Tattoo Museum in Baltimore.
Lots of folks like it. The oxen who stampede into these parlors and shell out hundreds, even thousands, to some equally clueless, yet money-hungry, individual who stamps bodies with something that’ll never come off. Never, unless you can pay ten times the cost of the tattoo itself, $10,000 not being uncommon.
I’m not overstating this. The young and naive think they’re being different while all the time they’re being the same. Followers. Marked by the social equivalent of a branding iron as cattle, herd animals. The Ponderosa people.
Mankind’s little dogies think it cool, so, without even a nanothought, these ninnies go under the needle. It isn’t just Love, Hate and Mom on your knuckles any more, so let’s see, what to choose, um...
Well, for a $15,000 fee we could be like Karolyne Smith, who’ll go to her grave with “” in bold black lettering across her forehead. Or fall for a no-money practical joke, as David Winkelman did; he now wears a radio station’s logo across his frontal lobe.
Branded for life. But, astoundingly, other simpletons have made themselves unpaid walking ads for Nintendo, Lubriderm, Hooters as well as assorted sodas and beers.
Food? Okay, let’s have a hamburger, a corn dog, maybe tea-and-toast on my arm, pizza, pancakes or simply two rashers of bacon. By jove, let’s go for the $600 full English breakfast like the one scratched on the bald pate of 19-year-old Dayne Gilbey, a prize numbskull who now has, yes, egg on his face. Or the 1993 original, and far better defined, breakfast head by Oregonian Dave Lum. It’s a buffoon’s buffet.
Forget the banquet, then. A giant portrait of Bob Marley, perhaps? The ornate wording says it’s him but the image is of Jimi Hendrix. The work of a too-young tattoist?
How about Peace And Love. Of course, you have to take the pricker’s word as to what his hieroglyphics really mean: could be an insult. Does anyone understand that thing on the side of Mike Tyson’s face?
For the whole world to recognize you as a Grade A jackass, though, nothing beats a slogan. Here we select from: misquotes, atrocious spelling and gibberish.
Tattoos have been around since God was a boy. The ancients used them to denote status and to ward off evil spirits. But just over a century ago you had to go to the circus.
In 1882 La Belle Irene Woodward, the original Tattooed Lady at PT Barnum’s, was profiled in the New York Times. She claimed she’d been decorated by her father who was killed during an Indian attack. Fearful her tattoos meant bad medicine, her captors had then released her.
The man who inked her for real, however, was Martin Hildebrandt, the sailors’ friend-in-needle, who also had designs on an English girl, Nora, whom he married. She told a fantastic fable of capture by the Lakota Sioux and of the holy man Sitting Bull forcing her father at tomahawk-point, so to speak, to create the artistic patterns on her skin.
Absolute Sitting Bullpoo, of course. But all you needed in those days was a tall tale; that it was almost identical to Ol’ Martin’s previous painted lady’s clearly wasn’t a problem
Impressionable youngsters and older dimwits rush to drop an inky curtain across their future. Like fighter Melvin Costa with the swastika that looks like ending his career. That tattoo brings nothing good: at Worthwhile Profession Street it’s a No Entry sign. No managerial jobs for the Marked Men: tattoos are simply not executive livery.
Okay Wanda, so you hid it. Just had a tramp stamp, that little trollop dollop at the base of the spine for your lover’s eyes alone. The butterfly was indeed popular when you were slim - now it looks like a pterodactyl. And for the rest of his life your husband’s arm carries your cherished name: “Wander”.
This trashtoo craze has been fueled by the likes of Angelina Jolie and Pamela Anderson, two Hollywood floozies to whom no-one could apply the word “classy”, and both now removing theirs. And then there’s Sandra Bullock’s much-painted love rivals Bombshell McGee and Kat von D. Must I go on? The madness makes me want to go shoot myself. Where’s that tattoo of a revolver? I’ll get one applied to my temple, as some other nitwit did.
Probably the most sensible is the arm that reads: "Yes I’m Drunk. I need your help to go home. Please could you call this number for me 06 66 66 69 99. Don’t trust me if I say everything is okay." If his wife kicked this drunken bum out, that number is no longer valid.
And against that there’s the bold announcement over Jerome Smith’s eyes that describes precisely what he isn’t: “Jenius”.


© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.