The Mongrel Hordes, Those Drunk Frat Boys and The Meaning Of Life:
A Short Meditation on Tattoos

Maybe I will post a pic showing some of my own ink once the camera is charged up again – I first wanted to take exception with the ‘only drunken frat boys get tribal tattoos’ or ‘only stupid honkies get Japanese word tats’ type comments and the ever annoying cries of ‘beware of future regret’.

Now I know people prolly mean the “Point & Pay” type of ‘tribal’ armband crap that stains many a tattoo parlour wall, but I just wanted to say that not all ‘tribal’ can be dismissed as such. Nor can the seemingly omnipresent use of Kanji, Katakana or even Hiragana so popular with us barbarians from the West be dismissed as some drunken late night mistake – many put no small amount of effort into researching the characters prior to going under the needle.

You see, while not an armband, I do have some urban tribal work done on my left arm. Running from the crown of my shoulder down the outside of my arm till just above the elbow, it is a solid black heavy line design inspired by Samoan, Marquesas and other indigenous peoples traditional tattoo just as much as it pulls from art nouveau and the more widely known US style of black line ‘tribal’ ink. At first glance it appears to many as just another ‘tribal’ design, but in reality when drawing the original I began to see a sort of monogram of my name begin to appear and so that is the final direction I took with it. (It should be said I only point this out to certain people when showing it off, the hidden name is not readily visible until I do.)

Further, about the use of Japanese in non-traditional tattoos by gaijin: before moving 3,000 miles across country to Los Angeles where we would start a new life together to eventually become a married couple, my then girlfriend and I both had Katakana renderings of each others name indelibly etched onto our right shoulder. Does either of us regret it? Will either of use regret it in the future?

Barring the possibility it really reads “Cat Vomit” or something (which neither does) even if we DO end up regretting the ink at some point, the really cool thing about any solid black tattoo is that, with the right artist and enough money, it can become part of a larger design effectively rendering the ‘mistake’ of youth invisible.

So no, we do not nor will we ever regret getting them done.

The 2 remaining tattoos I currently have are both done freehand using India Ink, a sewing needle wrapped in thread and a LOT of reefer – both are on my ankles and both denote significant portions of my life when I was in my early 20’s. Are they amateur looking and incomplete? Of course! Will I ever regret doing them or cover them over? Nope – they are a direct reflection of who I once was and in many ways still am. Just like my others and the many I plan to get going forward. It is this fact that compels me to wonder whenever I hear people asking ‘Don’t you think you will feel stupid having a tattoo when you are 65 years old?’ – does this person really understand what a tattoo means?

Are they aware of any historical facts regarding the art, a skill that was practiced even before our ancestors figured out how to write on cave walls?

Does this person believe for even one second that their oh-so-common, tired and trite words of warning will do anything BUT dissuade someone who has already decided to change their physical being, appearance and self image?

But on the flipside, these are all questions that should also be meditated long and hard upon by anyone considering going under the gun. And I don’t say this just to be fair, I mean after all – it might kinda suck to find out years down the road that you maybe should have listened to those warnings and incredulous guffaws now wouldn’t it?!

What you really ought to do is ask yourself three deceptively simple questions before taking even one step towards the local ink-slinger:

– Why, am I wanting to do this and do I truly feel the desire way down, deep inside myself?

– What does this image I want to wear like a leopards spots for all my days really mean to me as a human and spiritual being?

– Most importantly and above all else you need to ask yourself, will this tattoo look good surrounded by many other designs or should I maybe get it done here instead?

That last one… believe me, if you do NOT consider before getting your first, you WILL with each one following – and I promise, there’s gonna be more!

It’s like an addiction, once you feel the ink drenched steel upon your flesh.

A beautiful self realizing addiction.

An addiction that will make you ache when walking around town you hear that unique droning buzz as it floats from behind a chair, through the air to your ears and then into your soul.

It’s one addiction I hope never to kick.


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