Monday, May 2, 2011

'Born To Loose' tattoo, or not to...

It's seems self evident that a skin touch-pad does not have spell check.

By Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez,

Edited by Susan Aceves


Publisher's Note:  Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez is Contributing Editor for Latino LA and a regular contributor to Vida de Oro.

I remember one September there was a guy in high school who was surreptitiously proud yet had violently mixed emotions after that summer’s vacation. All the drama was because he had a new tattoo. The tattoo was supposed to say “Born To Lose,” but it read “Born Too Loose.”

Now this seems like an old joke but I saw the tat with my own eyes. I don’t know if the guy was inebriated when he had the work done or if the error was a result of a language problem, but from that point on he demonstrated a proclivity for long-sleeved shirts. It seems self evident that a skin touch-pad does not have spell check.

My brother had a friend who, let's say, was on hiatus from society for a while and came back with a jailhouse tattoo on his forearm. This one was supposed to be of a girl, but the tattooist (I cannot say artist) messed up the lips quite badly. All the neighborhood thugs agreed that the tattooed "woman" looked exactly like rock pioneer Little Richard.

I don’t have anything against body art. Members of my family have a certain affinity for such. What an adult wants to do in decorating or modifying his/her body is his/her own business. If, however, they place something on their body for public view then as a journalist, a professor of mass communications, and professional insulter, I am compelled to comment.

On several occasions - fortuitously, when I was chronically broke - I considered getting a tattoo but then remembered a speech from a Brown Beret commander. He advised us street soldiers not to get any tattoos because that is the best way for police to identify a person. He didn’t stop to consider that they (the police) had all of our pictures on file and that probably several undercover cops were passing the chicharones (pig skins) while listening to his inspirational speech.

Many OG’s (Original Gangsters) still wear a faded green cross between the thumb and the forefinger. This should be a vivid reminder to youngsters not to try to car jack someone like that. You may find yourself in special education.
In deciding to get a tattoo, three things need to be taken into consideration: 1) what to get, 2) where to put it and 3) why you are getting it in the first place? 

I understand that many tattoos are a spur-of-the-moment liquored-up decision. They, like Las Vegas marriages to cocktail servers, tend to prove to be lifestyle mistakes rather than a stroll towards happily ever after.
What to have personally immortalized on ones body can go all the way from a name to a flower to a scene from the Lord of Rings on someone’s back. There are tribal symbols, Sanskrit-writing, pictures of heroes, loved ones, and I may have seen a NBA player with a full-face portrait of Aunt Jemima on his shoulder.
I know a guy who had his girlfriend’s name placed on his chest only to have it purposely and painfully obscured after an argument by having a picture of a two-headed Latina drawn over it. A word of caution: tattoo artists do not need a college degree or even a decent credit score.

Where to put it goes from the ridiculous to the sublime. Some chrome domes have the names of their cliques scrolled up to six inches high on the back of their bald heads. You'll see scary looking guys with green cobwebs fanning out from the sides of their eyes. Then the sublime: like a rose on the top of a babe's ear or Michael Jackson-styled permanent eyeliner. Once you go there, there is no going back.

I always thought it would be funny to get a picture of your own face placed on your arm or tattoo a sign that reads This space for rent on your neck. Tattoo-lovers consider the skin a canvas to color and to decorate. This is a militant and subjective statement to society saying that you are permanently committed to looking different, not necessarily multi-cultural as much as multi-colorful, the rest of your life. Some folks I’ve seen on line look like 3D meat comic books…

I just interviewed legendary cartoon artist of the New Yorker magazine Liza Donnelly. Who knows? Maybe I can get her to do a caricature of me and maybe I can get it tatted on my arm. Certainly a conversation starter at the next faculty get-together.
In the biker tradition, many display the Harley Davidson logo with orange and black. This type of brand loyalty is unparalleled in history. Talk about a walking advertisement! You never see anybody with a Honda or Yamaha tattoo and, if you did, you would not be able to scream, "Dork!" loud enough.

I have to confess that when I was 19, I actually planned to get a tattoo. It was going to be of an AK-47 assault rifle and, underneath, the word "Venceramos." This means "Victory." I am glad I didn’t because we didn’t win. A generation "born too loose," indeed.

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