07 March, 2012

A Community’s Success

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those only of the author and may only coincidentally reflect those of Mystic Metals, its employees, or associates. All responses should be posted as comments here, or mailed directly to the author, A. Robert Basile, at ihatebasile@gmail.com.
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A Community’s Success

This year may feature the return of Mystic Metals Body Jewelry at conventions. I’m pretty stoked to be a part of it. We like to do horror conventions because, well, we like horror. Like isn’t a strong enough, I think. We love horror. Even as I write this, I’m wearing an Evil Dead shirt which replaced the Battle Royale shirt I wore yesterday, which replaced the Ichi: The Killer shirt I wore the day before, which replaced the Ed Gein shirt I worn the day before that. So stay tuned for news of the Mystic Mob taking over conventions. Come out and see us. Buy Dave a beer and me a cranberry juice. Also, I was thinking of compiling all my blogs (that’s all of my 342 blogs) into one book to sell at the conventions. Would anyone buy that? Let me know before I put the work in; I’m pretty lazy.
I don’t have a plan for what to write today, just a heads up. I searched the internet for interesting topics and only found ‘20% of piercings get infected’ or ‘women in mod outnumber men in mod’ or ‘celebrity slut [name here] gets tattoo.’ Not a ton of interesting things going on in the news in terms of modification. Which is good. It means we are becoming more accepted into the culture at large, and that having a modification doesn’t mean you’re into strange sex or white supremacy or carnival shows or biker gangs or whatever the stereotype of the week is. That’s a good thing; we should be happy about that.
That’s not to say that all of the social discrimination toward modded people has abated. That’s not to say that I’m going to invoke the words of the great civil rights leader Dr. King, content of a man’s character and not the color of his skin. Yes, it does apply from a certain point of view, but Dr. King was talking about a greater menace than what we in the mod community deal with. I don’t think there’s a hate group walking around stringing tattooed people to trees. At least, I haven’t seen one. So let’s not jerk our knees too much. It hurts my legs too much to jerk my knee, even though I tend to exhibit a persecution complex. (Right, Nanci? My lovely little kitty face love muffin.)
I see a lot about modded folks getting a fair shake. I even saw a ludicrous online petition for equal employment rights for modified folks. We do have a fair shake. We have the right to modify. More accurately, it’s a privilege, not a right. Like driving or health care or any number of things that our entitled mindset believes is a right when it is actually a privilege. We tend to focus on missed success or the cloud instead of the lining. We talk about what we don’t have, what we should have, what we’re entitled to have instead of what we do have, what we’ve worked for, what we’ve earned.
Success, whether from a modded person’s point of view or otherwise, is such an amorphous and nebulous thing. Ignoring the redundancy of that last statement, let’s talk about success a little.
Have you succeeded when you pierce something on someone’s face that has never been done before? Or tattooed your first portrait that looks photographic? Are you a success when you write a poem that makes someone cry, or a story that makes a reader look at life differently. Maybe you crafted something, made a baby, made money, moved into a bigger house, grew your bank account, got married, done something you’d never done before, or have done something for the first time. Are those successes?
I haven’t been modded in a long time. There are a couple of reasons. The foremost is that I feel as if I am a failure in many ways. I am proud of the artists who have worked on my worthless flesh, piercing and tattoo. I love their works, I have known some of them for more than half of my life, and I celebrate their successes in the business we all love. For a long time, I have been privileged with walking into a shop and not paying because of my kinship with my artists. I appreciate it very much, and as the great Alex Feliciano has said to me a dozen times, “It’s not a handout; it’s a gift.” Part of me, a large part of me, wants to have success before I walk into the shop again. I want to go there with money and stories of greatness to share with my good friends Meghan and Alex at 12oz. Studios (http://12ozstudios.wordpress.com/). I also, if I am receiving a gift, want to do something to earn it. I want to do something for my friends at 12oz. in order to justify to myself that I deserve their time and work. The same with my new friend Tim Pangburn (http://timpangburn.com/). His work is gorgeous and I’d love to wear some, but I feel as if I need to have successes first; I need to do something for him to show him my friendship and appreciation before he wastes his time on me.
I have a warped sense of success. It’s such a thing that isn’t really real. What’s success, getting back to the point. If I ever get a publisher interested in one of these novels I’ve written, will that be a success? Not unless it’s a bestseller. If Dan and I get a record made and sign to a label, will that be success? Not unless it’s platinum. Now, these rules don’t apply to people I know and care about; just me. That’s my great double standard, and is a hypocrisy I freely admit and embrace in the same way I embrace my stuffed facehugger that I sleep with every night.
There’s a weird benefit to the ‘best or failure’ idea. It is that I am always pushing to be the best in all things. Will I ever play bass like Stanley Clarke? Very unlikely, but I will use my disappointment and failure to push me closer to being the best. Will I ever write that bestseller? I don’t know, but every work I write (not here; this is a piss poor example of my writing today) will be closer to the best. Hopefully I don’t run out of time.
What the hell am I talking about? I don’t know. I told you I didn’t have anything to write about. Success, modification, all of that stuff. I do have some successes, though. When you kids read this shit and drop me a Facebook message or a tweet or an email about what it meant to you, or a personal story that relates, or how maybe something I wrote gave you a perception different than what you’d normally have, I consider that success. This blog is very rewarding at times. What’s great about the modification community is that, on the whole, we’re not elitist dicks. At least that’s not my perception or attitude. I see someone’s tattoo and praise him for it, ask him where he got it, what it means. We share stories. Who cares that my lobes are bigger than his. Who cares that I’m crippled and he’s able. Who cares that he is financially successful and I’m broke. None of that matters. What matters is that we have both had a similar experience. We’re bonded in that to each other. We both sat for a tattoo or twelve. We both took the nipple piercing, the penis piercing, the navel piercing (yes, my navel is pierced). We both have joined a community and are now similar if only in that one aspect. It’s a great thing, isn’t it. That is success to me. Success in mod is that I am the same as people who are otherwise not like me, or rather, whom I am not like. I have a relationship in mod with blacks and gays and women and liberals and conservatives and parents and teachers and artists and businessmen and rich and poor. That is a community’s success. You want a melting pot? Here’s the meltiest. Meltiest; that’s awful. We chose our kinship, and that’s a beautiful thing. We all share the sense that each of us is beautiful, and how can that ever be construed as anything but success? Stay beautiful, kids.

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