April 4, 2008

First Person:


By Al Carlos Hernandez

There was a biker brother in High School, who was proud yet had mixed emotions after summer vacation, because he had a new tattoo. The ink was supposed to say, “Born to Lose” but it read “Born too loose.” Now this seems like an old joke but I saw the tat with my own eyes and I graduated in four years just like normal people before exit exams.

Don’t know if the guy was on one at the time when he got the work done, or, if the error was a result of a language problem or maybe he did the work himself, but from that point on he demonstrated a proclivity for long sleeve shirts.

My brother had a friend who lets just say was on hiatus from society for a while, came back with a jail house Tattoo on his forearm. This picture was supposed to be that of a girl, but the tattooist, cannot say artist, messed up the lips so badly the chick looked exactly like Little Richard. The masterful Miss Von D., was still a toddler at the time.

I don’t have anything against body art and really enjoy the program LA ink; there are family members who have an affinity for that sort of thing. What an adult wants to do regarding customizing their body is their own business; my only recommendation is start by losing weight. If however they place something on their body for public view, I cannot help but comment, don’t hate me for being an art critic.

On many occasions I considered getting a Tat, but remembered a lecture from a Brown Beret Commander, who advised us new recruits not to get any tattoos, because that is quickest and the best way for The Police to identify a person in a line-up. He didn’t stop to consider that they had all of our pictures on file already and probably several undercover cops listening to the speech with tape recorders in their backpacks. If recorders where hidden in six packs they would have been discovered immediately.

A tattoo is for life; in deciding where to get one three things need to be taken into consideration: What to get. Where to put it. And, Why are you doing it in the first place. I understand that many tattoos are a spur of the moment liquored up decision. They, like Vegas marriages to cocktail waitresses tend to be a big bad mistake, rather than a big badge of honor. No one ever gets a Honda or Yamaha tattoo.

Many OG’s still wear the faded green cross in between the thumb and index finger. This should be a vivid reminder not to carjack or attempt to rob someone like that, or you may find yourself waiting for the yellow bus with a hockey helmet on.

What to get can range all the way from a name, a flower, to a scene from Lord of the Rings. There are tribal symbols: Sanskrit-writings, portraits of hero’s, lost loved ones, cats, dogs, bar codes… and noticed and NBA player with a full faced portrait of Aunt Jemima on his shoulder.

I know a Dude who had his girlfriend’s name placed on his chest only to have it purposely and painfully obscured after an argument, by having a picture of a two headed Chola drawn over it. It would have been smarter for him to go out and get another girlfriend with the same name.

A word of caution, tattoo artists do not need a college degree or even spell check. The two headed Chola tat has since dropped like a real Chola is 17 years, and you can still see the former girlfriends name bannered in the background right through the beehive hairdos.

Where to put one goes from the ridiculous to the sublime. Some scraps have the names of their Barrios scrolled 6 inches high in back of their bald heads. Scary looking felons with green cobwebs fanning out the sides of their eyes. To the sublime: permanent eyeliner, babes with little symbols on their lower back, a rose on the ear lobe.

I always thought it would be funny to get a picture of your own face on your shoulder or a This Space is for rent. Tattoo lovers consider the skin a canvass, to color and decorate a subjective statement to society expressing the fact that you are permanently committed to looking different and making this visual statement the rest of your life.

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

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