On Guns And The Irish
Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick lived in somewhere and died when something happened for some reason, whatever. I really don’t care about Saint Patrick’s Day. I might sound like a sourpuss or some other kind of puss, but I really can’t stand the day. There are a couple of reasons. One is that the majority of my friends are Irish, and I am bombarded with Irish pride nonsense all year long. It gets really old. The way I see it, Irish Americans are good at two things; drinking and fighting. Terribly irritating to me. The other thing is that my birthday is March fifteenth. For all of my adult life, my birthday plans have been usurped by Saint Patrick and his shitty day. We’ll just combine it all! You know what, Mickey O’Douchebag, no we won’t. I don’t drink, and I don’t feel like driving your drunk asses from bar to bar to celebrate some foreign ideal that has no consequence on your life in America on my birthday celebration. You don’t live in “Gangs Of New York,” just cut it out. Fuck Saint Patrick.
Wow, that was needlessly mean spirited. I guess the new pills aren’t working. Remarkably, I didn’t use the word hate in that first paragraph. Way to go, me. So, the population of idiots who think they are proficient in something they have no business attempting is growing. Facilitated by senseless encouragement and ludicrous accessibility to the tools of the trade, people think that all they need to be an artist is a brush and a canvass.
What the hell am I talking about? I stumbled across a website that sells stuff. How wonderfully detailed. The site is www.getbetterlife.com and they sell a ton of electronic shit like oscilloscopes, volt meters, and beauty supplies. In addition to that odd collection of things, the site sells body jewelry and tattoo kits. The tattoo kit thing is where I’m going to try to make a point, and yes; I have a point.
On the site, anyone with a credit card or PayPal account can buy himself his very own tattoo kit. What’s in the kit, you ask? You get ink, needles, tips, a power supply and foot switch, a carrying case, an instructional DVD, and of course a tattoo ‘gun.’ That’s right. Everything you need to start mutilating people is right here. Everything but the hours of apprenticeship and artistic ability, of course. Those are obviously optional. There are several kits from which to choose, spanning the budget of anyone from the thousand dollar kit, to the more accessible kit at a mere forty bucks.
Let me explain why I think this is a horrendous and ill-conceived cash cow perpetuated by the ignorance of the average douchebag. The first thing that drew my attention regarding this tattoo kit thing was the repeated use of the word ‘gun.’ Any artist who maintains a respect for his art form will likely avoid the gun word as much as he can. None of my artists use that word, and shun other’s use of it. Like how I correct people when they use I and me incorrectly. He didn’t go with you and I, he went with you and me. Objective case. Nor did he give it to you and I. He gave it to you and me. Christ. I’m off topic. Right. The gun word. I saw a t-shirt once that read, “Guns kill, machines create.” I think that sums up the point of view of the educated member of the modification community pretty well. No one with respect for the community uses the gun word. Guns are things that hurt and kill (don’t get me wrong; I think every American ought to have a gun), and I am hard pressed to think of a type of ‘gun’ that brings joy and gladness short of the hot dog gun that the Phillie Phanatic uses at Phillies’ games to launch hot dogs into the upper deck. That thing rules, and could probably kill someone close enough to it. This website’s continued use of the gun word demonstrates to me their ignorance toward the culture and toward our sensibilities. A tattoo gun is something that someone who has never seen one thinks is used to make a tattoo. A tattoo machine is something that someone who has been tattooed knows is used to make art.
Aside from the lexicographical ignorance that populates the site, making this type of do it yourself, Ez-bake oven type of Playskool bullshit available to anyone who can read the site is horribly damaging to the culture and is an insult to those who have devoted tireless unpaid hours drawing roses and writing script letters as an apprentice for their mentors. These types of things are how those backwoods, creepy van, mall parking lot butchers start spreading disease and shit art all while smearing the perception of the art form. Allowing just anyone to acquire the tools required to create art in this beautiful art form dilutes the talent pool, and allows untalented ‘I can do it because I have a tattoo machine’ assholes to continue to mutilate people because they charge a third of what a reputable artist would. It’s a bullshit and anarchistic affirmation to all of those who believe that modification is mutilation and a perverse behavior. This is not how we ought to be represented.
So what’s the solution? How are those who apprentice honestly to get the tools required to hone their artistry? I don’t know, exactly. Perhaps an organization could govern the distribution of these tools, thereby making it more difficult for the everyman to get them. After all, the board of health requires certifications for artists. I remember when I was little, my mother did fake nails for people out of the house. She needed a license to practice, and she needed that license to get the shit needed to make the nails. We’re talking about plastic nails, here; ought it be more difficult to get the materials to make fake nails than it is to get the equipment to make tattoos? That seems stupidly backward to me. I just barely passed high school chemistry, so maybe the nail stuff is terribly dangerous and can be used to make dirty bombs. Or clean bombs. Or any type of bombs. We live in a society that requires us to ask for a box of Sudefed at the drugstore because people can make meth from it, but we don’t have a problem with handing out needles and tattoo machines to anyone who thinks he can draw a straight line on someone’s skin?
All of that sounds pretty fuct up to me. I don’t think that this type of thing is going to change, and I also think that people will continue to believe that these modification butchers represent the whole of us rather than the gangrenous limbs of us that they actually are. The tattoo machine ought to be a prize won for devoted hours of work. It ought to be a symbol of things much more revered than just something you can buy on the internet. I am not a tattoo artist, and I never will be. I am a terrible visual artist. There are dozens of those terrible artists who have bought their tattoo machines on the internet and are, right now, scarring people’s skin in their basement or van or hotel room or wherever. These types of people, and the types of people that willing and knowing sell tattoo machines to people who do not deserve to have them, tarnish the beauty that you and I who modify properly attempt to acquire. How are home tattoo kits any different than idiot kids who are crookedly piercing their labrets right now with paper clips? Stay beautiful, kids.
Talk to A. Robert Basile on AIM at Basilephone
Yahoo Messenger at firstname.lastname@example.org