Monthly Archives: December 2011

Things to Promote, Some of them Selfishly

First of all I wanted to mention that the final episode of the first season of the awesome crowd-funded (via Vodo) science fiction series called “Pioneer One” just got released. For those that don’t remember it from my previous posts, the basic story is that an old Russian spacecraft crashes in Canada, although it’s at first assumed to be some sort of terrorist thing, so US Homeland Security takes charge of the situation. On board the ship is a sickly twenty year old boy and a note that says he’s from Mars. The evidence appears to suggest that at some point in the eighties before the Soviet Union collapsed, they launched a desperate mission to Mars which made it but was abandoned. Somehow the cosmonauts had a child, which they sent back. I don’t want to say more, but I really loved the concept and the (admittedly a bit amateur) show. Click the picture to visit their site and start watching episodes.

The sharp-eye’d may notice my name on the list of supporters on the final episode. I was very happy to help out and I wear my contributor t-shirt with pride. I totally hope they manage to find mainstream funding to continue the series. Unfortunately their ambitious plans for the growth of the series preclude doing the next season on a shoestring as well. Anyway, I just love reading about all the old dreams of space exploration — I mean, outside of amazing things like the flying nuclear bomb propelled cities of Project Orion, I could read the minutia on Astronautix endlessly (for example, seeing all the early plans for Lunar Bases like early US military bases and Mars Exploration like Von Braun’s from 1952, which I admit also breaks my heart thinking about all the space dreams we sacrificed to focus on war instead). Goddamn it really does break my heart to think how far from our potential we humans still are. We should be spreading the best parts of ourselves throughout the galaxy, rather than destroying our fragile world with the worst parts of ourselves. One day I hope we will mature.

While I’m mentioning things for fans of space travel, I want to recommend a graphic novel that’s appropriate for all ages. Kids will love it, as will adults. It’s called Laika, and I liked it so much that after reading it I bought a copy for my daughter (eight) as well. At first she resisted reading it because she thought a space history book would be boring, but once she started reading she couldn’t put it down. I assume it’s obvious but it’s a fictionalized account of the life of Laika, the first dog in space. A bit of a tearjerker two, because unfortunately it was a one-way mission. Unlike the American chimps, the Russians were much more concerned with getting their animal into space first rather than making sure they could also get back home alive. So the comic also explores the whether this tale is a milestone in space exploration (as most remember it), or simply a cruel and cynical piece of propaganda with dubious scientific value.

Of course depending on where your ethics lie, it’s pretty easy to find a copy of it to download with the abundance of file-search engines (torrents are so passé), but I really hope that if you do that, if you like it as much as me, you’ll buy it as well, either online or better yet, at your local indie comic book store.

Finally, I just uploaded a ton of keychains to a new section of my Etsy store called “Nugget Sculptures“. I call them that obviously because they have that organic lumpiness that kind of look like natural metal nuggets. Here are most of what I put up for sale. They’re all in the $10 – $25 range… But keep reading after the picture…

If you’re curious, I list how they’re made in the entries.

Now, if you want to guarantee yourself the one you want, by all means go ahead and order, but I wanted to say that I will be going away for most of the Christmas holidays and won’t be able to ship anything from the shop until probably January 4th (I’m “done” on the 2nd, and then I figure I’ll need a day to pack everything up for shipping). So like the last time I went away, I am going to run another hardcore sale with serious discounts so if you wait until tomorrow when I post that you will get a much better deal.

Yesterday’s Tattoo Session

Not that I will be making a habit of writing about mods but I have to admit even after all these years I do still miss writing for ModBlog, as admirable an effort as Rob is making. Anyway, I just took the bandage off my latest tattooing, which was done yesterday, so let me break the rules and post a quick unhealed and unfinished photo of where we’re at with it.

You can click to zoom, although I’m afraid I didn’t take very clear pictures. The new stuff in the picture are the two space stormtroopers wearing oxygen masks (since they have just hopped out of UFOs invading from the Nazi base on the dark side of the moon, duh), the one just outlined and the other one having its first session of shading. The other stuff was done previously. Of course when it is all done I will take suitably clear photos so you can see how awesome it really is.

I assume I don’t have to clarify that this is not a neonazi tattoo. It’s a pulp sci-fi tattoo with Nazi zombies and Vril Society UFOs and so on being the central theme. Those of you into these subjects may catch some of the references such as the main zombie, who is from the movie Dead Snow, and the space stormstroopers, who are from Iron Sky, and the screaming robot is based on the main charcter of the comic Fused (which is not strictly speaking in the same theme, but has a handicapped character trapped inside this steel body, so it feels appropriate). On the next session we’re starting to do the background, which will have Wewelsburg Castle on the highest ground (real world site of the Indiana Jones-esque SS occult rituals), and behind the zombie’s head a large moon from which an immense swarm of Haunebu-type UFOs are flying, based on more artwork from Iron Sky (the amazing movie poster that says “In 1945 the Nazis went to the moon… in 2018 they are coming back”). I’m very happy with how it’s going, although there’s still a long way to go.

I should mention that as with other edgy tattoos that Shane Faulker has done on me — my facial tattoo and my S&M chestpiece — that even though he knows me extremely well (since the mid-90s), in each of the cases he talked to me about the implications and we spent a lot of time going over the design to make sure they were exactly what I wanted and I was really, really sure about it. As was part of his role as an ethical tattoo artist! I have nothing but good things to say about him both as an artist technically, and as a reputable member of this industry. Plus his tattoos heal faster and better than any I’ve gotten from anyone else… dunno what the magic trick is there. To be fair most of my tattoos are by him, and those that aren’t, half of them have either been touched up or covered up by his work! As far as I know he has space in his calendar for a change (historically it’s been difficult to get appointments) so if you’re in the Toronto area the best way right now to get in touch with him and see more of his work is via his facebook page at this link. He wholeheartedly has my recommendation.

Things that make me angry. Disgusted and angry.

I have also been getting asked a lot about what I think of this poor girl that got a “DRAKE” tattoo across her forehead. Here’s a picture if you need your memory jarred:

Ultimately if someone really wants to have “DRAKE” tattooed across their forehead, as long as they “get it” and have thought about what it’s going to mean in their life, I’m all for it, as goofy as I might personally think it is. Hell, I’m sure that lots of people think my facial tattoos (to say nothing of my hardcore porno gay S&M chestpiece or Nazism-evoking leg sleeve) are goofy if not worse. Unfortunately “well considered and thought out” appears not to be the case here, but the part that really gets to me is the interview with the tattooist who put this onto her. He did an interview about it that makes him look like a real piece of shit. The so-called artist is Kevin at LA’s “Will Rise” tattoo, and here are some quotes from him in that interview:

“I’m not really sure how much extended coherent thought could actually go into getting such a stupid tattoo on your forehead. I guess I feel bad that this dumbass got the name of the softest motherf**ker in hip-hop tattooed on her forehead. She was really psyched about it. She had the shitty font all picked out on her iPhone ready to go and was pretty adamant about putting it on her forehead. She didn’t say a word about what it meant to her, some of the guys at the shop asked her, and she just kinda giggled at them. I lost a little sleep over it that first night, wondering if I wanted to be known as the asshole who tattooed ‘Drake’ on some crackhead’s forehead. She was on a pretty good one when she came in, and I think by the time I finished, she was coming down, because her attitude changed pretty drastically once the tattoo was finished.”

What. An. Asshole.

It’s one thing if he wants to say this shit to the guys in the shop in private, but to slag your customer in print, in such a public forum is horrible. It shows a complete lack of respect for your customers, to say nothing of effectively bragging about doing what you think is a terrible tattoo on a person’s forehead. Let me play Perez for a moment and deface a photo:

As far as I can tell, this pretty young girl is not a “tattoo person”. For all I know they have mental problems. Given his description of her being on a high when she came in and starting to crash by the time it was over, that sounds like a distinct possibility. He absolves himself of all blame by saying that he “asked her three times” in a row.

“Are you sure? Are you really sure? Really really sure? OK, let’s do it!”

Yeah, there’s ethics for you. I’ve never heard a single good thing about the character of the folks at that shop, and plenty of bad, but this seems like a new low. Given that he in print says over and over that he knows it was a bad tattoo idea, I hope that his victim sues him and the shop into the stone age. She’d be well within her rights to, and I suspect under American law there’s a good chance she would win.

So what do I think should have happened?

Well, let me tell you a story about a friend of mine that was tattooing in BC and had something analogous happen. A guy came into the shop and asked for a Rolling Stones band tattoo. My friend drew it up — the logo of the mouth with the tongue sticking out — and asked him where he wanted it, thinking it was going to go on his shoulder or chest or something. The guy was a normal working class “Joe Six-Pack”, so the tattoo artist was pretty shocked when the guy pointed at his forehead. In fact, he thought that the guys in the shop were pulling a prank on him and looked around to see if they were snickering at him. But after asking the guy a few times if he was pulling his leg, it became clear that he was quite serious. He was decked out in Rolling Stones logo pants, a Steel Wheels tour shirt, and so on, and it was clear that the guy really was a super-fan, but still, he just didn’t feel right about this tattoo and told the guy he wasn’t comfortable tattooing the face of someone without a single other tattoo.

So the guy whips out his wallet and starts peeling out hundred dollar bills… $100… $200… $300… until there are $700 dollars sitting there (for what should be a hundred dollar tattoo) and insists that he wants it then and there. So, my friend makes an excuse about not being able to do the tattoo right then because he has another customer coming in, but offers to draw it on so he can get a feel for the tattoo. Using Sharpie markers, he draws a Rolling Stones logo on the guy’s forehead, and the guy is STOKED! He loves it. He’s super excited, and my friend says, “Look, if you come back tomorrow, and you haven’t washed it off, I will consider doing the tattoo for you.”

Tomorrow comes, and the guy doesn’t show up. Months go by. Finally, six months later a woman comes in for a consultation and he notices that the Rolling Stones superfan is sheepishly standing behind her. She asks to speak to my friend and says,

“Thank you so much for not tattooing my husband! When he came home, he reaked of alcohol and was covered in Rolling Stones logos. After he left your shop, he got markers and started drawing more and more logos all over himself and then spent the rest of the night binge drinking. He’s manic depressive and had gone off his meds and was having a psychotic break. I don’t know what would have happened if you had done that tattoo.”

It turns out that both of these people were high paid successful professionals in the film industry, and the guy was, like I said, off his medication and having a nervous breakdown. If some unscrupulous and uncaring tattooist had done this ink, it would have destroyed his life. Taken away everything he had earned, all because he went off his meds and was taken advantage of. Instead, the man and his wife ended up getting a pair of Rolling Stones tattoos, just like the one that my friend had initially drawn up, but on their shoulders. For each of them it was their first tattoo.

A wonderful, life-affirming story about healing and making the right decisions.

I wish that the piece of shit who did the DRAKE forehead tattoo had even a fraction of the decency and respect for his customers and basic empathy that in my opinion is required of a tattoo artist. Maybe it could have been a wonderful story too rather than the internet Darwin joke meme of the day. I think there is a very good chance that this girl was manic depressive or otherwise not in the right frame of mind to commit to such a tattoo. Asking “are you sure” “three times” in a five minute period just isn’t good enough. It’s not good enough ethically and it’s not good enough legally. Would “come back in a week” (and keeping his insults to himself) have been good enough? I don’t know. But it would have been a lot better. When a plastic surgeon does a procedure on someone, they are legally obligated to ensure that the person fully understands the implications of the procedure. Tattoo artists are similarly obligated. Perhaps to a lesser extent, but the obligation is still there. To ignore that obligation, and then to take it a step further and turn your customer into a worldwide laughing stock by slagging them online compounds the damage. Can you imagine if your tattoo artist pulled this stunt on you? Imagine how you would feel? Now what if the tattoo was on your face? What if you got the tattoo as a part of your mental illness? How much worse did that person just make it?

It really makes me sick. Disgusts me.

Of course I think that ultimately people have the right to get the tattoo they want, no matter what anyone else thinks, but that doesn’t absolve the professional community of responsibility. Tattoo artists are not machine-like prostitutes. They play a complex role that is equal part craftsman, artist, and therapist. Do not overlook the last part. Therapist. Body modification is a profound, life-changing, even spiritual experience. What this tattoo artist did falls analogous to raping and robbing a cripple. He spit on the entire profession and the entire body modification community with his profound lack of respect for the customer, the community, himself, and his industry peers.

Now calm down by looking at this art-bicycle that’s been parked in my neighborhood for years. “I’ve got a bike, you can fly it if you like?”, right, Syd?

Speaking of the right to express yourself, “I hate Muslims as much as the next guy”, but what’s been going on here in Canada has to be decried as bigotry. Bigotry plain and simple. Not to get all Godwin’s Law on you, but I have to wonder how history will judge the modern West? We’ve killed millions of Muslims in a variety of wars, and we’ve politically oppressed and abused them at every opportunity. I fail to see how we are any better than the Nazis in regard to the Jews sixty-five years ago. The only reason that the Nazis are reviled while the West is getting a pass is that the victor gets to write the history and so far we remain the victors. But looking at it objectively, it’s hard to say one is worse than the other.

Those in Canada may know that the Canadian government has recently said that they will not allow women to take their Citizenship Oath while wearing the niqab (as in the full face veil where you can only see their eyes). Our country’s immigration minister has said that he’s been getting complaints from judges sayin it’s “hard to tell whether veiled individuals are actually reciting the oath” and said it was “frankly bizarre” that wearing the niqab had been allowed in the past, also saying, “allowing a group to hide their faces while they are becoming members of our community is counter to Canada‚Äôs commitment to openness, equality and social cohesion.”

I’ve been listening to various radio shows on the subject, and even on rather left-leaning stations like the CBC, the overwhelming response has been positive. A lot of folks saying stuff like “if they want to come here, they should respect our traditions and show their faces.” Now, like I said, I despise Islam since I despise all religion. However, freedom of religion and freedom of expression is a fundamental right in Canada under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The very last place that people should be told they can’t wear the niqab — which, again, I find singularly offensive for a long list of reasons — is at the citizenship ceremony. That’s the very first place the right to do such things should be protected and I really think it’s beyond offensive that the government would behave like this.

It’s a very small step from telling Muslims that they can’t express their culture with silly clothing and still be a Canadian, and telling me that I can’t express what’s important to me with silly tattoos and still be a Canadian. This is a big enough country to have them express their sensibilities and have me express mine — and have the majority sitting in the middle expressing the status quo. We’re all Canadian and we should all stand up for the freedom to express ourselves as we individually desire. You know, salad bowl not melting pot, and all that beautiful kaleidoscope stuff. We are a multi-coloured quilt not a white sheet. There is no fundamentally Canadian dress code, all jokes about the Canadian Tuxedo aside. The only Canadian dress tradition is the right to dress however we want. No matter what their feelings are about women’s rights or any specific religion, Canadians should stand up for the basic right to wear the niqab. If you’re worried about the implications of the niqab — be it oppression of women, or be it rightwing paranoia bout Sharia law — then attack the underlying issues, not some poor woman’s desire to dress in the way that makes her feel welcome and at home in our country. “Our” as in hers as well as yours and mine. Let her know that if she wants to get out of an abusive home, we’re here to protect her and we will respect her cultural traditions as she values them. But we won’t compound one oppression with another! The only time we get to object is when she tries to force us to wear a niqab too.

And guess what? That’s not gonna happen.

I can’t help but think of oft-quoted Voltaire –

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Freedom rings pretty hollow when you’re not willing to defend anything but your own freedom, and even more hollow when you are actually willing to take away someone else’s freedom when you disagree with the way they use it. There is only one way to pull repressive religious fools like those that espouse the niqab out of the stone ages — by having a legitimately free society, and more importantly, by welcoming them and showing them that society is a better way to live. In time they will come to appreciate our customs and adapt to them. Stomping on the traditions of those wishing to join us isn’t going to achieve that goal.

Big Etsy Store Update

I just posted a whack of new jewelry — today I finished off a pile of skull rings and did some gem settings in the eyes of many of them, and also posted the new jewelry I made earlier but haven’t posted yet. Some of these items have actually already sold before I could finish putting this grid of pictures together. Over the next week I will aspire to add some of my non-jewelry stuff finally.

The link as always remains: http://www.etsy.com/shop/zentastic

Crazies all around

First off, I’ve got to recommend that everyone read “My Occupy LA Arrest by Patrick Meighan” (if you think you recognize the name, it’s because he’s one of the Family Guy writers). It’s disturbing to say the least to see the level to which the police are militarized and act as the standing army of the so-called 1%. It’s upsetting when you realize that their actions are specifically meant to terrorize, demoralize, and emotionally beat down any political unrest, and that their response to free speech that offends their masters is far harsher than reactions to actual rape-and-plunder type criminals. The part that really got to me was the destruction of property issues — after the police had everyone strung up in zip-tie restraints, they pulled out their combat knives and began slashing up all the tents, all the books, all the personal possessions — and then the complicit media had the gall to say that this was “30,000 pounds of garbage left by the protestors to be cleaned up at the taxpayer’s expense”.

Now, it doesn’t take a legal genius to realize that these police actions are completely illegal. That seems to have become their way. They’re not looking for convictions. They’re looking to hurt people so badly they won’t speak out again. Man, like I said recently I just finished reading Transmetropolitan, and it might as well be prophecy it’s so relevant to everything that’s happening. I’m sure that soon enough the police will be facing a multitude of lawsuits for the destruction of property and various rights violations. They don’t care — they’re happy to lose these lawsuits. Why? Because no one is going to lose their jobs. In fact, a whole bunch of the thugs are going to getting hefty overtime paychecks and bonuses. Yeah, they’ll have to pay out some hefty settlements. But who is “they”? It’s not like it’s coming out of the bastard’s wallets. It’s paid for by the taxpayers, the very people who are being violated in the first place.

The 1% are laughing all the way to the bank.

And of course my comments are not just about LA, or about the US (the pictures above are ones I took a decade ago in Toronto). This pattern of militarized police beating down anyone willing to speak out against the ruling class is a worldwide problem. The ruling elite has armed thugs in every country on the planet to protect their wealth and power, and frankly, I have no idea what it’s going to take to change it because they’ve made it abundantly clear that they care not for the rule of law, and the political process is a complete sham, not just by virtue of election fraud, but primarily because it’s so incredibly expensive to be a part of it. To be successful in politics you have to be either a part of the 1% yourself, or completely beholden to them. I have to wonder, with such an obviously hopeless landscape, and with constant abuses of any who dare to hope for a better world, when will we start seeing domestic terrorism becoming common? When you deny the people peaceful means to enact change, not all of them are going to back down and give up.


In lighter ground, for the second time this week I spent the morning at the hospital. When I got there, a fire alarm was going off and the building was pseudo-evacuated. “Pseudo” in that it just meant everyone had to be in the waiting room. When they’d finished their building sweep to ensure it was a false alarm and shut it down, there was a long line of junkies waiting for their morning prescriptions to stave off withdrawal (just to clarify I was not part of that group). In the middle of the group was, for lack of a better description, a stereotypical white trash user, getting the group all worked up as she ranted about the mythical Keith Richards treatment. She claimed that in the US (I guess in Canada the story uses the US, and in the US they use Switzerland), for a cost of $10,000 it was commonplace to have all of your blood replaced at the hospital over an eight hour period, and at the end of it, you were completely “cured” of heroin addiction without any withdrawal. She said that her doctor looked into it for her, and discovered that the reason they don’t do it in Canada is “because it works too well — it’s so easy to get off heroin that no one would learn their lesson.” As if the medical system has anything to gain by avoiding inexpensive (because you can bet that the cost of a multi-year detox program is higher than an eight hour magic bullet) treatments just because they want people to “suffer for their sins”.

She went on and on and on, getting people angry at the doctors they were there to see, and also building up false hope that they could cross the border for an easy solution to the hell they were caught up in. After listening to it for a while I went over and explained to her that she was promoting an urban legend and that you couldn’t really go to the US and have your drug addiction cured in eight hours. Come on. Outside of the medical impossibility, if you really could easily cure heroin addiction, it would be common knowledge and everyone would be doing it. She got extremely angry at me and claimed to have first hand knowledge, although thankfully the other addicts seemed to see reason and a couple others spoke out saying that it was a scam. Of course, then they went on to talk about how the doctors were also implanting chips in addicts, so maybe all I did was shift their interest from one conspiracy theory to another. Oh well.

Speaking of crazies, yesterday I spent twenty minutes trailing the guy in the picture. A bit taller than me, older guy with gray hair. The entire time he was loudly talking to himself — “I’m gonna kill every last soul. All of them are going to die tomorrow. I’m killing all of them. Every soul. All of them are going to die. I will kill every last soul.” On and on and on and on, repeating that general theme. So if there’s a mass murder in Toronto today, it’s him. But I doubt it. He ended up at the Coffee Time at Queen and Niagara, which I suspect is frequented by many other solo-dialogue murder junkies.

Today I have to spend most of the day making jewelry orders so I will update the store later today finally.