08 April, 2010

Ocean City Seems Like It Was Named Lazily

Ocean City Seems Like It Was Named Lazily


I inadvertently stretched my nipple the other day. That was a pretty dumb thing to do. I lost a bead on the curved barbell of the vertical piercing in my left nipple. Here’s to you, prepositional phrases. So I scurried around my box of jewelry to find something to stick in there. I found a straight barbell, but I unfortunately found out that it was a twelve or a ten gauge only after I sent it through my nipple. I’m an idiot. I am also a “...goofy looking fuck…” according to an anonymous commenter on my blog. The blog was the one posted on April first. Go check it out. The nipple thing and the comment thing happened in the same day. You have to love reminders of your own brainlessness.

Summer time is quickly approaching. I make that statement based on the weather, baseball, and the return of the horrendous clothing people wear when it’s warm. Romans wore togas and tunics. We ought to go back to that. And they hung out at vomitoriums. It’s true; look it up. But I’m not here to talk about eating and vomiting. Nor am I here to talk about awful summer clothing. We’ll save that for another day. No, today we’re going to talk about Ocean City.

I live in Jersey, which you all probably know. I’m proud to be from the Jerz because I live in south Jersey, and it’s OK to be proud of that. If I lived in north Jersey, I’d tell you that I was from Connecticut (or the absolutely wonderful state of Indiana). We have an Ocean City in south Jerz, and it’s a nice shore town. It’s a dry town, which means no booze. My kind of place. They pride themselves on being a family friendly vacation nonsense hullaballoo. This isn’t about Ocean City, New Jersey. I just thought I’d waste your time. This is about Ocean City, Maryland.

Ocean City, Maryland was founded when flarberty whatever happened in the year weenisweewee by a guy named McCool Worthington. I don’t really care about history too much. Sorry, Mr. Wert; my high school history teacher. What I do care about is that the Washington Post (that’s a paper filled with news) reports that a local Ocean City area tattoo shop was rejected for an advertising contract on city buses because the town council believes that advertising a tattoo shop isn’t in accordance with what Ocean City represents. The owners of the shop contend that the modification culture has established more mainstream appeal, and is something celebrated by families. The township has the authority to reject any advertising contract from any business for any reason. The blurb I read on the Washington Post website wasn’t seventy words, so it was just a brief little news droplet. Ew. News droplets.

I have been writing about this kind of thing more frequently, and I really ought to find other things to rant about. This story, and others like it, do interest me because it involves money. The element of our culture’s involvement is nearly moot. For right now, anyway. You know what I’m going to say about how this relates to our culture, so I’ll save that for later. Right now, let’s talk about the money. We live in a country whose gravity is perpetuated by the molten nickel and iron core of the dollar. That’s a good thing. We are capitalists. That’s what we do. We ought never be ashamed for making money, despite what some celebrity handing out school supplies on camera in an underdeveloped country will have you believe. Making money is good. That’s what keeps things rolling. I don’t make shit, so I guess I don’t really contribute anything, but that’s not the point. Does it matter much from where the money is coming? We have businesses that line pockets on very much more sinister things than body modification. Drug companies maintain their heinous success on the diseases of other people and their suffering. People like me. Cigarette companies reap the rewards from the nicotine addicted. People like me. (I love to smoke.) Fast food joints count the dollars of the cholesterol clogged populous to whom they sell the largest three dollar hamburger allowed by law. People like me. Jeeze. I’m a real scumbag. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with these companies making money. That’s what our nation is designed to do, despite the efforts of this administration to run the country bankrupt in the interest of everyone going to the doctor when they have the sniffles. There’s nothing wrong with money.

Also, where I live in Jerz, I see buses that travel to and from Philadelphia everyday. Philly is only ten minutes over the bridge. I know what kind of ads are on the sides of these buses. Does the township of Ocean City expect me to believe that a tattoo shop’s advertisement is more inappropriate on the side of a bus than a Jim Beam ad? I can’t buy that. You kids know that I don’t drink, so maybe my opinion is skewed there. But booze selling bottles from the side of a vehicle seems counterintuitive to me. Also, New Jersey Transit has these ads they they’ve been running on the sides of buses that encourage the exploration of parenting options, such as adoption, for those who’ve gotten knocked up unexpectedly. In Spanish. Yeah, so if you’re pregnant and a spanish speaking type of person, you can get help for your unwanted pregnancy. What does that advertisement say about the timber of the society? How does a tattoo shop sound now?

I said I was going to get back to how modification reflects on society, so here it is briefly. Modification has matured from the infantile expression of counterculture to the adult realization of accepted beauty. Is that enough? Blah, blah, blah...we’re not bikers and sailors and jailbirds. I’ve said it ad nauseam. The old world conceptions of what a town or a society ought to be perpetuates a stereotype that is less than flattering to our motivations and points of view toward modification. But I’ve said this a thousand and six times and I’m tired of recapitulating it.

So no tattoo shop ads on buses in Ocean City, Maryland. Dumb. Any business has the right to make money regardless of if you’re interested in the business or not. If I ran a town, I wouldn’t prevent a billboard from advertising flip flops just because I think flip flops are the third sign of the apocalypse. I don’t think that the aesthetic of people wearing flip flops is the kind of personality that I want my city to portray. Doesn’t that sound absurd? As a side note, I think I’m going to start exclusively calling flip flops ‘thong styled sandals.’ The point is that the visual aesthetic of a town oughtn’t speak to a town’s timber. It does, though, and towns and people are so much more quick to point out the aesthetic that is created from modification than they are to expose other aesthetics. That town is full of whites. That town is full of blacks. That town is full of gays. But a town full of people who modify is so much more easily called out and banned. Strange or hypersensitive? Both, I think.

Unfortunately I begin to yawn at stories like these because they are more common to me than ‘no, I don’t want to go out with you,’ or ‘I’ve fallen for someone else, sorry.’ No one goes to bat for us, and that’s sad. Still, I don’t look at stories like these as ‘town hates mod’ so much as I see them as ‘town hates the small businessman.’ Maybe that’s because I am part of the mod community, and I see modification as a thing that is a part of me, not all of me. In today’s economic climate (pardon me as I sound like a political commentator), I would be more likely to think that a town ought to reap the dollars from anywhere it can. States are bankrupt. People aren’t getting their tax refund checks on time because there is no money to give. Wouldn’t a town be better advised to set aside its senseless view of what modification (incorrectly) represents, and take the dollars it so desperately needs to continue working? If you ran your house the way many of the towns and states in this union are running, you’d be living in a refrigerator box on the corner of 38th and Wallace next to the toothless guy who blows “Oh, Susanna” on the harmonica for money and reeks of Nighttrain. Besides, we are a culture of beautiful people, aren’t we? Oughtn’t that be worth something? Stay beautiful, kids.

Talk to A. Robert Basile on AIM at Basilephone
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