Well last sunday I went and got a tattoo. I have been toying with the idea for a quite a while but I never did it until now. I would mention the idea to my friends to gauge their reaction, and I would wonder where I could put it so I could hide it when I wanted to and still show it off when I wanted to. It occurred to me that if I was asking myself these questions then perhaps I would be getting a tat for all the wrong reasons.

Now things are different. With the things that have happened recently, my quarter-life crisis has hit hard and my resons for wanting a tat changed. I did it for and of myself and not for any other reason. I didnt even tell my friends. I put it on my right deltoid which is where I wanted it and I dont give a damn who can see it and who cant.

I had only one moment of hesitation - ( The guy had positioned the stencil and I made him wipe it off and move it down about 1/2 a centimetre. I apologised for being so picky and he said 'Hey you might as well be happy with it - its going to be there forever')

I am glad I have it - I find it acts as a sort of anchor for my sense of self. When I find myself wondering who the fuck I am it reminds me. Its there because I put it there. It reminds me that I am not the contents of my wallet. It reminds me that I am not my fuckin khakis.

The tat itself is the Kanji character 'Su(ro)' which means 'To Do'. (you can now see it here - props to amoeba_protozoa)
This has nothing to do with Nike. For me its more about what Gichin Funakoshi called the wondrous enfoldment of doing - the concept of acting for no other reason than to do it, to do it fully and completely and for its own sake . It doesnt matter what 'it' is - it can be skiing, dancing or playing guitar - at times this is my only refuge.

In the end I did it because I wanted to. After all the body is a playground.
Mine, I had done for my birthday, last year. The big 20. w00p.

It's a band, with Calvin and Hobbes dancing in a circle around my arm. In their pyjamas, no less.

As for why I got it? Well, my middle name is Calvin, that's a good start. I love the cartoon, that's another reason. But mostly, I had it done to remind me to keep dreaming, keep laughing, and to reinforce that the best part of growing up is the fact that you don't have to.
Ok, let's see.

I have about nineteen 'tats inked, getting my first (Raise Hell Until Death) back in 1986.

I didn't have a lot of money back then so I'd get little 'tats whenever I had fifty or one hundred bucks, and over the years I gradually managed to work them together into larger designs.

Due to the number I am now considered heavily tattooed by law enforcement standards (according to a buddy who is an NYPD Detective, six is the threshold in most states).

Almost all of my 'tats were done by a friend in New York, Albert Scambati. I haven't gotten any ink done by him in about six years, but he is still working in the Long Island area.

With very few exceptions all of my 'tats are 1940's / 1950's style - sorta what you'd see painted on a WWII Bomber.

On the inside of my left arm I have a classic design called "Mans Ruin", a woman dancing in an ashtray, surrounded by everything that might lead a good man to ruin - drug paraphanalia, alcohol bottles, martini glasses, dice, cards, a switchblade, and a couple of guns - the of finer things in life. This 'tat is done is colour, and is quite nice.

On the outside on my left arm I have an image originally done as a woodcut by Wolgmuth in 1490; Dance of Death.

Inked in black and white, it protrays several skeletons rising from the grave, all dancing around to the music of another skeleton playing a musical instrument.

Still on the outside of my left arm and close to the elbow I have my girlfriend (topless) with angel wings. It's classic 1970's van art done in ink.

Used to my skin art hobby, she would occassionally accompany me to the tattoo studio but she didn't have any idea what was up that evening until the artist (Johnathon Shaw) started sketching her face. Then she fled but it was too late! HA!

Its a great 'tat though since she really is an angel to put up with my crap!!

Further up on my left arm, on the outside again I have a Raise Hell Until Death; a classic tatto that I originally saw in an R Crumb Zap comic.

I also have a bunch of three dimensional cheese, multi coloured on my left arm, serving to connect all these disparate 'tats.

Finally, I've got flames on the inside of my left arm (Shaw again), to sorta fill in the empty space.

I broke my left arm pretty severely about three years ago, and needed reconstructive surgery so now I've got this excellent keloid scar, about 11 inches long, running amongst the 'tats.

I'd to get a cool scar like that on my right arm, but didn't really like surgery followed by three days of morphine that much.

On the inside of my right arm I've got a black and white Love thy neighbour; this is basically a chunk of chain with a large 357 Desert Fox pistol, a knife and a blackjack - all essential items to being neighbourly.

On the outside of my right arm I've got my sole tribal piece (Michelle from East Side Ink), done in black.

On the upper outside of my right arm I've got a really nice sun with a smiling face, inked in colour. Also done by Scambati, this one is really impressive since it's a cover up; that is, Albert put this over and worked it into a earlier, inferior piece.

Finally, on my chest I have an excellent redition of the Intel Inside logo from 1991, done in bold black ink.

Nobody quite believes that I've got this one until I show them, and someday I'm going to balance it out with Linux Penguin and Apple logos.

I want to be well rounded.

Why *I* got my tattoo.

There are a number of reasons that I have a large, fierce dragon on my right upper back. First and foremost the ability to undergo the act of being tattooed - to overcome the fear of the unknown was part of what I wanted to anchor. That's why I got the tattoo. What I had inked and where I placed it are another matter entirely.

  • I chose a huge dragon for the statement it makes to me of power and strength. This I have to remind me of the personal power and strength that I have within me at precisely those moments when these qualities are lacking and I need them most.

  • The design is purely black and tribal in nature. The simplicity of the design highlights the simplicity of the ideas of power and strength. There is no embellishment - the ideas are simple and so is the design. The black is a sinister and powerful colour. The black represents a part of my personality as well as the bold reality of strength and power and the dark regions from which they are drawn.

  • The placement on my body is such that the dragon's head looks directly over my right shoulder. The symbolism of having such a powerful creature constantly looking over my shoulder is a reminder that I must be never forget these qualities, lest an enourmous beast with big sharp pointy teeth devour me..

People get tattoos for many reasons. I got mine to remind me of qualities in myself that pull me through when I need them most. I got the tattoo done at a time when these qualities were indeed lacking, which makes it all the more fitting.

The next tattoo, and the only other I want is the kanji for bushido: the way of the warrior. The dragon has a less obvious martial arts link as well. Having bushido will tie in nicely. The timing for the second one is something I've yet to decide. Perhaps when I reach shodan.

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