Monthly Archives: February 2005

BME updated + interview archived


First let me say “thank you” to everyone who has written me such kind and open letters sharing their own experiences in regards to the entry below this one. Amazing how many people feel the same…

Anyway, I've just posted an image update with a bit over a thousand new pictures. Updates are in the following sections: ritual and culture, scarification, flesh stapling, surface and unusual piercing, nipple piercing, and navel piercing. Enjoy the update, and thank you to all the contributors, and of course to Louis Fleischauer for the cover shot of another amazing A-M-F performance.

Other than that, I just did a little interview about “corporate logo tattoos” this morning for a newspaper published out of Humber College in Toronto. So if you go there and it gets printed, let me know. I'm archiving the unedited transcript of that interview here.

* * *

1. Tattoos became a mainstream “trend” in the late 90s/early 00s. Would you say that there is a connection between this and the rise of corporate logo tattoos?

Obviously if tattoos were still so fringe that they had negative connotations corporations would want nothing to do with them. Corporations are interested in tattoos because they have mainstream — but still slightly “cool” — appeal. It's the same as punk rock — dangerous and anti-establishment in 1979, but a great way to sell toys to nine year-olds in 1999.

2. It seems odd that tattoos have long been associated with deviance and rebelliousness (and i'm not really talking about those girls with the butterfly tats on their ankles). But adding logos into the mix brings in the elements of mass consumerism, an ultimate in conformity. What was your reaction when this first started happening?

It doesn't bother me one bit, but it started happening before I was born. It's not a new thing or a “trend”, you just see it more these days because tattooed people are more visible and numerous in general.

3. Based on what you've come to understand, why do people get corporate tattoos?

When people get tattoos of specific items, icons, or logos (rather than, say, a tribal sleeve, or a traditional backpiece, or whatever), they are selecting something that has meaning to them and are permanently marking themselves with it. As more of our culture has a corporate origin, more of the things that are important to people will be linked to corporations. So it's not surprising (or unhealthy) that people are getting tattoos with that iconography.

4. Our society is becoming increasingly consumer-driven. Do you think this tattoo trend is a reflection on that?

Yes. (see #3)

5. Do you have an ideal on what someone's tattoo should represent?

Not really, but I have an ideal on what my own tattoos should represent, which is all that matters. My only advice to people is go to a good artist and really think about what they want — don't just get a piece of flash or copy someone else's tattoo, because it probably won't be rewarding in the long run.

6. From a corporation's point of view, do you think this is an effective form of advertising? To add on to that question, who would win in that situation – someone who got paid to have a logo tattoo, or the company?

I should point out that virtually no one is paid to have a logo tattoo; most people do so because the logo represents something that is genuinely important to their life. I'm not sure if it's an effective form of advertising in terms of moving product, but it certainly can't hurt. In terms of paid logo tattoos, I don't think anyone “wins”… Other than the first few, which are successful because they're “curiosities” and media magnets, I don't see them moving product. In terms of the long game, I'm not sure that being paid to get a tattoo you don't really want is a good idea for the wearer or the corporation. I suppose it's a little like prostitution — sure, both the john and the service provider are getting something out of it, but in most cases is it improving their lives in the long run?

7. Is there a difference between pepole who sell their bodies to make money on something like this and someone who just really likes Nike and gets a “swoosh” tattooed on them? (or whatever other logo)

That's like asking if there's a difference between screwing a frat boy at a party because you're hot for jock cock, or screwing a frat boy because he paid you $200. There's a world of difference between the two. I'm not going to moralize and suggest which is better and which is worse, but they're obviously entirely different things.

8. You did an article on tattoos featuring people who really love Macs. Where is the line drawn between a passion and free advertising?

I don't see why a line has to be drawn between the two. It's both. Part of Apple's strategy has been the “cult of Mac”, and these tattoos help this image. At the same time, people enjoy it, have fun being part of it, and believe in what they're doing — it's a win-win scenario.

9. Do you think corporate logo tattoo have, or will change, the status of body modification culture?

It won't make a bit of difference one way or the other. It's largely irrelevant.

The Moral: Don't do drugs?

I'm going to write this entry because a very old friend of mine told me a tale a few days ago with disturbing parallels. I don't know if me telling my own version is helpful or not. That said, I'd like to warn that this entry sounds a lot worse than it's meant to. It's intended to be an interesting story, not a sob story, so don't read it as something bad. That said, let's begin…

Over a decade ago I was regularly mega-dosing on LSD. The time I remember most vividly I'd taken somewhere between twenty five and thirty tabs. It hits fast and heavy when you take that much; normally I get a very slow one to two hour buildup, but taking that volume of dose smacks you hard, coming on inside half an hour and moving from a lucid but psychedelic state to fully catatonic and out of body in about two minutes. As soon as I felt it I knew it was a little too much, mumbled something about having to go, and somehow made it back to my room to lie down. I think I was alone.

Was time stopping? I hoped so, because I was certain my breathing had stopped, and everything darkened. Either time had stopped or I had. My heart did not appear to be beating either. I felt myself disconnect, and move away from the flesh.

From my vantage point in orbit I looked down at the Earth, observing without emotion as the life left my body. I was already dead by the time anyone came looking for me. Time, already gone, was forgotten entirely and ceased to have meaning for me as I watched events unfold. I remember being surprised at who came to my funeral, and watching with interest as they traveled to it, but I can recall no emotive aspect. I suppose that was left in my body and didn't journey with me. Logically I think I must have been cremated, but I can't recall what was done with my corpse.

After the funeral, I began wondering how my life would have been had I not actually died, and I pretended that my death had been a hallucination. I imagined my body still lying there, somehow unaware of its pulse, unaware of its lungs inflating and deflating automatically. Slowly I convinced myself that things were back to normal. I don't know how much time went by — maybe eight hours, maybe four — but eventually I imagined myself getting up, and I did. I appeared to be breathing, and I was able to eat. The line between experience and imagination blurred and then disappeared.

Life went on, but I don't know if it was life or not.

Every day since then — every day — I've wondered if I'm really alive or not. I wonder if everything that's happened since is just the final thrashing of a dying mind. Will I cease to exist as I finish this letter, having revealed the hoax? The only way to be sure, ironically, is to die. Last year I saw a talk by a quantum philosopher who said that the best way to become an immortal is to kill yourself — by doing so, all of your quantum states which are mortal will cease to exist, and only the incarnation of yourself that is god will remain.

In any case, dead or alive, since that day I have considered ending my life and thus shattering the illusion every hour of every day. It has been my singular obsession, and the only constant that keeps me company. If I'm driving, before every corner I consider going straight. Every balcony I consider jumping from. Every gun I consider shooting myself with. Every knife I pick up I wonder if I have the determination to drive it through my ribcage and into my heart. If I am alive, I know there must be people reading this that feel the same way and can relate to what I'm saying. I am not the only one to live this life.

While there were certainly many other factors at play, about ten years ago I actually put the theory to test. After years clean, I took a small dose of acid, maybe three or four hits, and stood on the roof of a small apartment building in downtown Toronto watching the first snow of the season come down at me like a million angels fleeing heaven. A week later I overdosed on tranquilizers and died, at least in the technical sense of the word. My death is one of the few things in my life that I remember with some clarity, and the terrible truth that I saw after I died for the second time was nothing but silence and blackness. Eventually it wore off and I was back to pretending to be alive. Since then I've overdosed twice more, once on morphine and once on Dilaudid, spending four more days in the void.

I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out
   in a brilliant blaze than it
   should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
   of me in magnificent glow,
   than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.

- Jack London, 1916
Fatally overdosed on morphine two weeks later

I don't really know what any of it means, and I don't know if I'm just lying in my bed right now, imagining this moment as a years-long drama plays out in my final microseconds. I'm fairly certain my life is a dream, but I'm willing to live with that delusion since the alternate reality is, well, kind of boring and not really very amusing. Maybe I'm wrong though, and by reading this someone else knows that they're not alone in what they're feeling themselves. I can offer you nothing to suggest that you didn't imagine reading this entire entry. However, I am flattered that you chose to hallucinate me. I appreciate the backstory you've written for me. If a hallucination can enjoy himself, I have.

I'd like to repeat that you should not read this to be some downer woe-is-me entry, because it's not. This isn't about depression at all — I love my life, and while I have my down days like we all do, I'm thrilled with the game I've been able to play so far, and the entire story up until now (and I hope forever more) is immensely amusing to me. There's a big difference between being suicidal and depressed. The thing that I think most people have trouble understanding is that you can be a happy person but still constantly fantasize and edge toward your own demise. Part of me thinks that's even the right way — the only way — to live, and that facing life without total acceptance of death is somehow incompete.

In terms of what actually keeps me from pulling the trigger, Canada had sort of an easy “crutch” solution for it all, and that's of course massive amounts of marijuana. Back when I was still living there I was buying by the half pound usually, and while I didn't bogart that joint and was generous with friends, I really did smoke the majority of it myself. I was a little paranoid about being busted as a dealer (Canada tolerates personal use but will still prosecute trafficking offenses) — in fact, that's part of the reason I grew my hair long. I liked having it long, but I also really liked that if I was ever drawn into court, they could analyze my hair and say, “holy crap, this crazy stoner really did smoke two pounds this year!”

But the crutch wasn't adding to my life and it's been over a month since I smoked pot — it was just putting me into a sort of limbo state between life and death. There were and continue to be better protections against this flock of grim reapers that follows me around… It's funny, because I think a combination of having suicidal tendencies and having zero fear of death is actually what's made my living life what it is now. I tend to make deals with myself as if coercing a child to eat its dinner on the promise of desert — “OK, you can kill yourself, but first you have to buy me a Porsche…”

“Well, thanks for the Porsche, and wow, driving 240 kph is fun, but I've got one more request before you hop off that balcony — I'd like you to go check out Africa first.”

Of course, until I run out of interesting things to do, it's generally not that hard to keep the deals coming. I'm not saying I won't one day float off into some watery abyss, but today isn't the day for that, and neither is tomorrow.

The moral of story is of course not as I've implied in the title.

Feel free to do all the drugs you want. The real moral of the story is that you need to have a sense of humor about your life. It's all funny. The purpose of life is to experience it and enjoy it, no matter what it happens to be. Or at least that's what my brain is telling me as it plays out an elaborate scenario in my final moments, perhaps to justify an end that came too soon.

If endtimes don't come, manufacture them

So various science journals are reporting that the HAARP project has successfully cooked the upper atmosphere and created artificial northern lights as a byproduct. Details are sparse and innocuous in that article and the official FAQ is in contrast to the truth (“it can't create an aurora” effect, and “it can't affect the weather” — also stated as one of the main goals of the project) and includes some ominous warnings (“lost habitat, socioeconomic, and wildlife impacts may not be mitigated”), so let me try and fill in the details a little (follow the links for more, but realize it's pretty conspiracy-laden).

HAARP array in Alaska

Using intense radio waves the HAARP project heats up the ionosphere, causing EM waves to be reflected and redirected to the Earth's surface. Tesla, whose research forms the basis of the HAARP project, sold it to the US government as a continental defense shield that could be used to literally melt any incoming threats. At lower power levels it can operate as over-the-horizon radar, it can generate EM pulses to knock out communication (similar to the EM pulse from a high-altitude nuke), it can be used to do deep earth penetration and scanning (for everything from reconnaissance to searching for oil), and so on. It also penetrates people, can disrupt health, brainwaves, and of course kill, kill, kill.

The current owner of most of the patents on this technology is defense megacorp and everyone's favorite nightmare generator, Raytheon. You may remember them as the company that flew the bin Ladens out of the country after September 11th, had high-ups in the company “die” on every plane that crashed that day, are tied to the training of the hijackers, as well as the company who's Global Hawk fly-by-remote is implicated in the attacks themselves.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Rauscher (Nuclear Physics and Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, IEEE, APS, AAAS, MAA, ANA, AAMI, Congressional OTA Advisory Committee, and more — not a nut), the ionosphere is like a “soap bubble” around the Earth, and if we tear enough holes in it (which is what HAARP does), we risk “popping” it or at a minimum radically altering it — and it's these fields and solar winds that protect us from the Sun's radiation.

“I'm not insane, I just don't give a fuck!”

When Telsa first discussed this technology, most people assumed he was exaggerating — after all, “I possess the ability to start devastating earthquakes” and “I can melt an airplane from 250 miles away” are bold claims. This project is playing with fire.

Justice is very blind?

So right now a troubled kid that shot his allegedly abusive grandparents at the age of 12 is being tried as an adult and faces thirty to life for the act. I should mention that he was being prescribed anti-depressant psychiatric drugs at the time that are not recommend for children (and the FDA has warned can lead to suicidal behavior in children). You know, it really would be easier to just give cops a license to kill, maybe send out death squads or something. When kids go bad on the soma provided by the corporate state, it's best to eliminate them as quickly as possible…

But what about those who self prescribe and stay non-violent?

I recently got this note from an old friend of mine — I know the family as well (this isn't just a “friend of a friend” story). Anyway, her cousin is now effectively facing the death penalty for being in the car with someone who had drugs on them.

My little cousin (age 22) is in jail for a short sentence (under one year) for a minor drug-related crime — she was in the car and not directly involved. She has Crohns Disease, and needs medication for it. Not only did they not give her the medication her doctor prescribed (they take away all prescriptions), but they did not feed her what she needed to eat. She got sicker and sicker, but they refused to put her in a hospital. She couldn't eat for weeks.

They finally put her in a jail hospital where they still did nothing to help her. She has lost about 45 pounds and they had to give her two blood transfusions so far. Now they are talking about having to remove part of her colon. She is bleeding internally and still cannot eat, yet they are not giving her the IVs she needs to survive. She is too weak to even get into a wheelchair to go to the visitor section so her parents haven't been able to see her for over a month.

The lawyers have thus far not been able to convince the judge to let her out to go to a real hospital. They are literally letting her rot, and this is in a county jail for a non-violent crime! If they do this to a 22 year old girl, can you imagine what else goes on? It is seriously fucked.

Ah, justice…  And who said America isn't winning the war on drugs?

UPDATE: I just got the following email:

My godfather at the age of 49 died in the ***** county prison system. He was porking a prostitute, and when it was all over she tried to steal his money and some jewelry. He shot her square in the face — obviously she died.

Just before the incident he was just diagnosed with lung and throat cancer, and while pending trial it spread to his lymph nodes and some organs. He never got the medical attention he needed due to the pending trial, and he died.

He did the crime and had to do the time, but that's not the point.

It's true… Justice does need to serve out a punishment, but inside justice there must be — should be — space for compassion? Surely we can find a middle ground that serves the public good, doles out a suitable punishment and rehabilitation, and perhaps leaves the criminal with a future after prison? After all, if we're not willing to do so, would we not simply be better off with the death penalty for all crimes?

Going too far

Does anyone (else) here feel that I should start kicking off people who are gay who refer to themselves as “fags”, or feel that people who do so are bigots or engaging in hatespeech? Personally I think it's a ridiculous notion, and at best a sad excuse by bigots to try and strike out in one last way at the groups they hate. Are there any people here in the gay community who feel threatened when others inside the gay community use words like “queer” in a positive and self-referential way?

By Tom “T-Bone” Martin, Lark Tattoo, Albany, NY

To be very clear: If you are gay, you are more than welcome to call yourself a “fag”. Unless you file a TOS complaint about yourself, I have no interest in listening to someone else's complaints about it.

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