Friday, August 5, 2011

Back to School!!! But for who???

   Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to get things ready for the new school year, which is only a few more weeks away. Now that my daughter has moved in with us, it means one more mouth to feed, one more body to buy clothes for, one more brain to buy supplies for, and one more body to wake up and have ready for the daily morning commute to school. Don’t get me wrong, we love our little girl, if that’s what you could call a thirteen year old nowadays. She is our prodigy child, the brains of the family, and the hopeful for a great future, and most likely a shoe-in for college scholarships. With that in mind, it is also hard to see that she isn’t as little as we perceive her to be. Long gone are the days of Barbie’s and Bratz dolls, and rolling in like thunder, are the days of boys, rock-n-roll, and clothes I think we had worn when we were that age. When they were all in their pre-teens, and in their adolescence, it was easy to buy clothes and shoes for them, as well as school supplies. One trip to Wal-Mart or similar stores, and we could find everything they needed; jeans, shirts, jackets, and shoes or sneakers. Me, personally, hate the fact that the older they get, the more complicated it is to get these things. The older they get, the more opinionated they get. No longer can we just go and buy clothes for them. Now we have to take them with us, because anything we buy is bound to be the wrong thing, or not cool, or in. The shoes are the wrong style, the jeans are too loose, or too tight, and for God's sake, that shirt is lame! And for some reason, even though the school sends a paper with a list of what is needed for the coming school year, they always come home after the first day with a list of a hundred other items they will need. The other thing that gets to me is the fact that Wal-Mart and similar places are taboo and to be avoided at all costs, at least according to the kids. Instead we are to bus them to places like Hot Topics or GAP, where a pair of, well, I guess fashionable, jeans can run into triple digits. As for the T-shirts, well, I never thought I would pay more than $10 bucks for one, but yet I find myself shelling out $20 to $40 for a shirt that doesn’t fit right to me, and has a picture or logo from some cartoon character I’ve never heard of. "Dad, I can’t believe you don’t know who that is, everyone knows that!” is the usual conversation as we patrol each and very isle in the small store. Who knew you could pack that much crap into a living room size space. Not to mention, every employee as well as patron, looks like a character from some sappy vampire movie. I can’t help but laugh and think of the Emo kids from South Park cartoons. So, as usual I cave in, and find myself at the register purchasing jeans with more zippers on it than my entire closet full of jeans and jackets, and a few shirts with weird characters and slogans that make no sense to anyone over the age of 20! Oh, and don’t forget the accessories, like the off color and bold belts and wrist bands, and the fashion buttons with more slogans and unknown characters. But wait, "Dad, I need some of these elbow length, fingerless gloves to go with my clothes!” Just when I think it’s over, we have to go to the other stores, for the other kids, and continue the entire process all over, this time with different tastes in fashion and likes. The only thing that keeps me feeling sane with some kind of control, is the fact that our littlest one is still little enough, and young enough for us to do the shopping, all we have to do is ask, "Do you want the blue one with the robot, or the green one with the shark?", or something similar to that, and shoes are even easier, we just pick the ones we like, and he picks the ones he likes out of that. He doesn’t care about the brand or the cost, all he cares about is the design and/or whether or not it lights up or has his favorite character on it. And the school supplies are easy enough; a few pencils, some non-toxic glue, crayons, and sometimes safety scissors and a pencil case. Most of the time, we just use the same supplies from last year, since they really never used it. Last year when our little one brought his school stuff home, his crayons were never opened! Apparently the teacher had enough for the entire class, as well as the other supplies we purchased. He goes to a special school, as he is hearing impaired, and wears hearing aids, so his classes were small; no more than 6 kids. So the teacher had everything they needed, or purchased it herself. So we couldn’t figure why they wanted us to buy the same things, especially if they weren’t going to use them. Oh well, like I said, it saved us from having to purchase them again, as we just put them in the closet until the next year, as he has all the same things at home. I swear we have the biggest box of crayons in the world. For some reason kids in this house don’t want to use a broken or incomplete box of crayons, or they favor one color, like black and purple, which causes us to buy an entire box of new crayons for just those colors, then the extras all go into the box, which by the way grows about 100 crayons per year, so you figure three kids at 100 crayons a year for the last three years, including stocking stuffers, and summer coloring days. I think the pencils are getting the same way, but in their case, we find them in every drawer and shelf in the house. Funny how you can always find an unsharpened pencil when you need a pen! And no sharpener in sight? Of course, no paper either! I swear we can buy the kids a million notebooks, but for some reason they take all the printer paper and non-school paper. Why? Who knows, maybe because it’s not theirs, or not conventional, or maybe it’s just because it ours.
    As for my wife, Brook, I’m not sure how she feels about it all. I assume that she agrees with most of my thoughts on the matter, as we spend countless hours talking about these things. I know I always welcome her opinion and feedback, God knows I can’t do it by myself, especially when it comes to our daughter. It’s funny, that it doesn’t matter what age they become, women are always complicated in certain ways. Maybe it’s because I’m a man, and not allowed to understand all that it is that makes them so needed, wanted, and loved. In any case, hopefully, she will post her thoughts on the matter, and help out those other men and fathers who are in the same predicament, or just as confused.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stupid Tattoos???

   Why is it that when someone gets a stupid tattoo, there are no sensible friends around to talk you out of it. As a tattoo artist, I have seen my share of stupid tattoos, and have had to cover-up a ton of stupid tattoos. It seems to be a running plague in our country. If you could take all of the people who have gotten a stupid or crappy tattoo, you could probably fill up a small state like Vermont. I feel we need a study of this over growing problem. I mean we need to know fully as to the whys and hows, these persons decide to get these ridiculous so called works of art. More importantly, how could an artist, in their right mind, perform these acts, without thinking of the repercussions for their client and themselves. I have been in this business for over 15 years, and one of the most important things in the "getting a tattoo" process, is the consultation with the artist, about the design and placement of a particular piece. For instance, I don't just go tattooing someones face, neck or hands, without first talking to the client about the repercussions of their choice. For instance, how hard it would be to cover up, or the fact that you would not be able to get certain jobs, or possibly get fired from a present job, and somewhere in their, where will you be in 10 years? The choices we make now, will affect us in the years to come. I often wonder why any artist would put their seal of approval, on any tattoo, that well, looks like shit. I think as professionals, we have a duty to not only do a great job, but to be ethical as well. For instance, I choose not to do gang related pieces, or offensive or racist works. I also will not tattoo on the face, unless they already have extensive work done there already. I treat tattooing hands the same way. Tattoos are permanent, unless you pay triple to have them lasered off, and change over time. Any good artist knows what that ink is going to do over the years, and what that tattoo could possibly look like in 10 or 20 years. I find that most people who decide to tattoo their faces, or get a "stupid" tattoo, are usually young people or people from bad backgrounds. Regardless of who or where your client is from, it is in the best interest of everyone, that we choose to avoid or at least try and talk someone out of a bad decision. It not only makes the person getting the tattoo look stupid, but it makes you, as the artist, look stupid.
   A simple search on Google will result in hundreds, if not thousands, of pages of bad tattoos or stupid tattoos. Im sure it will never end, but at the very least, we as professional tattoo artists have an obligation to ensure the work we put out there is not only of great quality, but also of a higher standard. Those tattoos are walking billboards, and are a reflection of the quality and effort you put into that piece, and all of your works. So why on earth would anyone allow anyone else to get something that is obviously a "stupid" tattoo. You would think that in todays media world, with TV, internet, and websites like YouTube, and television shows like, Miami Ink and LA Ink, that people would be more educated about what a tattoo involves, and what they should expect. It seems the opposite has happened, and that more and more people are going and getting really bad tattoos. There is also a rise in what I call minuteman tattoo shops. These are the guys who buy some equipment, do a few tattoos, then think just because they have some money, that they can open up a shop and be considered a tattoo artist. They usually don't last very long, but long enough to hurt, scar, and ruin what could've been a good design. Then artists like me have to figure out a way to cover up or fix something that could've been avoided, if the client did their research. Just like a doctor, we as artists, have an obligation to make sure that what a person is getting, is something that will stand the test of time, and will not be a regret to them later on in life. Of course you cant see the future, but you can weed out an obviously bad choice or terrible design. Saving both you and the client, a lot of heartache in the future.
   So from now on, think people, think! Check out an artists portfolio, see their work, check out the reputation of a particular artist before you take the plunge. And for Gods sake, DON'T GET A STUPID TATTOO! Thats not a club you want to be a part of!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Should America Follow The Lead?

   Well, if most of you follow the news, you will know of the protests going on in Cairo, Egypt. It would seem that after thirty years of being ruled by one person, it has finally taken its toll on the population. What a lot of you may not know, is that this is not the first time in history, that another country's population has rallied together for a cause. In fact, throughout history, many countries have protested against their government, in an effort to change the way the government or leader has ruled over the years. Many Mid-East countries have done the same in the past. Other countries, including France's, "French Revolution", have done so as well, including right here in our very own backyard, when our forefathers fought for the so called freedoms we now have today. When I watch these news stories, or read about these revolutions, I cant help but wonder, "Why haven't we done this yet?". I mean, when you look at the data, it would seem that out of all the revolutions and protests that have gone on throughout the years, have all been for things that would be considered "not as bad" as the things that go on in our very own country today. If you think back to a time not too long ago, we bailed out a bunch of wall street companies, to which most of them screwed the American public. A nice thank you, considering we paid for the bailouts with our very own taxpayer money. Also consider all the money we give to other countries for all kinds of reasons and problems, but right here in our own country, we have the same problems, if not greater, that could use that money. The list goes on and on, but my all time favorite, is the way oil companies price gouge and our government never says a thing about it in any speech or proposal. We are told it is because of the price of oil per barrel, and conflicts in other countries, and any excuse they can give us. Well, my friends, the numbers don't lie. When companies, like Exxon, are reporting billion dollar profits, in excess of $40 billion, well that's not because the price of oil went up, its because they raised the prices, period! Its very simple folks, you don make a profit if you are paying more, thus having to charge more. You make a profit, when you pay less and charge more. So essentially, the big oil companies continue to pay a certain price, then tell us that a war in some god forsaken place, or a shortage, or that some fish off the coast of India has laid eggs, so we had to raise the price of gas. The first time Exxon, or any oil company reported a $40 billion dollar profit, our government, who is supposed to look out for the welfare of the American people, should have questioned how they made such a profit, when the price of oil has supposedly gone up. So, if you noticed, the question or topic of oil prices is avoided like the plague by our politicians.
   It wouldn't be fair, if we didn't mention the health care issue. Another reason as to why we need a regime change in our country. Has it ever struck anybodies curiosity as to why prescription drugs are the most expensive here in our country, but dirt cheap for the same medication in another country? I'll tell you why! Its because our health care is not determined by our government, it is controlled and determined by the pharmaceutical companies, that lobby our congressman, and bestow lavish gifts (in the form of money), to hear their pitch about a product or law (which means to vote in favor of them), in the hopes it will go through (which means it will). We are the one of the worst countries, when it comes to allowing the rich and powerful to run this nation of ours. Not one politician in D.C. represents the people fairly. Instead of voting together for things that will makes us better for it, they would rather vote against or for something, because of what party you belong to. So it doesn't matter that your Democratic leader has a great bill or law that will help us, when all the republicans are going to vote against it, all because it wasn't a Republican bill or law. If you watch politics in our country nowadays, it is nothing more than a civil WWEake it to the streets, take it to the steps of our political leaders, and most certainly, take it to the very steps of the White House. Because voting doesn't work, and writing to your congressman doesn't work, and little town hall meetings don't work. Nothing works, because your cries can not be heard over the sound of money being put into their pockets. You wan to cut back the budget, how about cutting those big fat paychecks our congressman get for doing nothing. If a person is representing the people, then he should have to live like the people. I don't see how you can even begin to understand the trials of living in poverty, until you live in poverty, and that's half the problem. We pay these guys so well, that they live a lavish lifestyle, and lose touch with the American people. Did you know that some states have as many as 53 congressmen?!! 53? Really? Why would we need 53 congressman to represent one state? Talk about sharing the wealth. If these guys would do their jobs, they wouldn't need 53 representatives. Considering a congressman can earn up to $400,000 a year, cutting back to one representative per state could save us billions of dollars a year. I think the mob has more business sense than our government. I know I am not the only one who feels this way, or sees the blatant crimes taking place in our government, so again, my question is, "Why haven't we done this yet?".
   As Americans, we have a duty to right what is wrong, and we have a right to. We need to stop hiding behind our computers and cell phones, and get back to the basics by voicing our opinions as a whole. Instead of writing to our congressmen, we need to show up at their doorsteps and offices. We need to rally together to show them that we are not stupid, and that we are sick and tired of being robbed blind by our government, and that we want change for the people, by the people.

Saturday, January 1, 2011