Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tattoosday #3: BillyBlog Pulls a "Tat Trick"

Welcome to the third installment of "Tattoosday". They get better with age. First a quick recap of the week:

8/7: Interesting tidbit came in the form of a friend (Jill) sending me over to this blog, more specifically this post about the good and bad in a tattoo experience. Interesting read. I posted a comment inviting her to contribute to Tattoosday, if she wanted.

8/10: Rain in the forecast all day. Not the best for tattoo-spotting. In fact, by the end of the day, I realize that this little venture, difficult now, will be next to impossible once the mercury drops below me 60 degrees, 24-7.

8/12: Last Sunday was good to me so I had hope today. At the laundromat, a woman who works at the local bank and who I see occasionally at the laundromat, was sporting a nifty ankle tattoo. Jolee even spotted it and suggested I ask her. Despite many opportunities, I failed to ask. Later in the afternoon, I ran into her again down the block and this time asked her, finally, if she'd be interested in the project. She seemed receptive to the idea and said she'd let me know next time she saw me. She indicated she had designed the piece around her ankle herself.

8/13: (7:00 A.M.) I have decided that today will be the day. I will leave at lunch and find a cool tattoo. I will rely on the students of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to supply me with the body art. Let's see if I can do it.

[Later that day....]

Ok, BillyBlog-ience, enough of my bellyaching. I just went out, under the deadline, and snagged a tat-trick (I love coining new words). I got not one, not two, but three subjects in less than sixty minutes (and managed to run some errands in the process.

I was walking back from the bank on West 27th Street when I passed a guy standing in the doorway with tons of tattoos. He had a King Tut on his right forearm. I walked past him and then said to myself that he looked pretty cool. I ambled up and said, "Hey, mind if I ask you about your tattoos?" He hesitated for maybe a split second and then said sure. I explained the concept of tattoosday to him and asked if I could take a picture of one of his tattoos. He said sure, and selected the one on his left leg.

He selected that one because it represented New York City and is one of his more recent pieces. It reads "Too Tough To Die," features a skull, and the New York skyline peeking up out of his sock.

I asked him how many tattoos he had and he didn't know. He has two full sleeves, tats on both legs, and he said on his chest and back as well. The tattoo I photographed, he said was an homage to the Ramones, from their 1984 album of the same name.

He gave his name as "Tops," and although he didn't disclose more about where he had the art done, he did look at one of the previous tattoosday posts and said he knew the owner of New York Hardcore Tattoos.

Well I was pretty proud of myself for finally jumping in the pool. Even though I didn't know James from last week, we had seen each other around and were familiar with one another. Tops was the first complete and utter stranger I approached. I was proud of myself for finally getting someone for Tattoosday.

Perhaps because the pressure was off, I walked with a lighter load. I headed back to 7th Avenue and decided to walk through F.I.T. over to 8th Avenue. Perhaps I would encounter some artistic student who would be approachable.

Sure enough, halfway down the block I saw a young lady approaching with two tattooed arms. I used the same approach, and mentioned BillyBlog. She gently kidded (I think gently, and I think she was kidding) about me asking her to be on my "nerdy blog". I have to remind myself that I am forty and your average F.I.T. student is in their early 20s, at the oldest.

Anyway, Jackie Alvo didn't mind giving me her real name, nor did she mind letting me snap shots of both arms. I found some of her design work here.

I noticed the cherry blossoms on her left arm first and she indicated that all her work was done on Long island because that's where "all the best artists are".

Her right arm, she joked, had to have a fashion theme, because she was at F.I.T. As cool as her left arm was, the dressmaker's form and other aspects were highly original and quite impressive. She let me know that her work was done at Timmy Tattoo in Huntington, NY (on MySpace here).

I thank her for her contribution and later saw her zip away on a bright metallic blue Vespa scooter.

The third tattoo was a bit of a surprise. I was in the plaza in front of the Borders at Madison Square Garden when I saw a woman with the following gecko tattoo above her left ankle.

She preferred to remain anonymous, but she is the first tourist tattoo on BillyBlog. The gecko design, which she searched for for years, has no specific significance. She just wanted a gecko tattoo. The piece was inked at Atomic Buddha Tattoos in Greeley, Colorado, from which our tourist hailed. Well, Colorado for sure, not necessarily Greeley.

We talked about geckoes a bit, especially the fact that, growing up in Hawai'i, I had them in and out of the homes I lived in. Shayna, coincidentally, just got a rubber gecko from a science museum last week. It went through the laundry on Sunday and she flung it at the ceiling last night and it stayed there until I pulled it down.

Thanks to the folks who let me take the pictures. Tops, I don't think, will be checking out the blog, but Jackie said she'd google BillyBlog and I gave a printout to our friend from Colorado. Please, feel free to add comments, questions, anecdotes, whatever. Or e-mail me if I need to clarify or edit any of the facts from my brief encounters with you.

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