Taxi Story – the Serb

April 17, 2007

That tattoo? That! I think I made a mistake with that. No, it is not the Great Wall of China. When I hold it out you can see it is a castle (on his inner forearm). It is an old crumbling castle near where I was born. I was born in Serbia, can’t you tell from my accent? No, probably not, we all sound the same from that part of the world. Even after eleven years here and being a “dinky di” Aussie. OK, maybe I am not yet a “dinky di” Aussie (laughs) but I want my two children to be. I want them to grow up in a place where there is no hate, where neighbours can be neighbours. The trouble with where I was born is that there is more than 400 years of hate and it is hard to live with love in a place that is so infested with hate. So I came here.

I had a girl in my cab recently who admired the colours of my tattoo. She liked all the green shrubbery around the castle walls. It is still fresh and bright since I have only had it for a year. On the soft skin of my arm it was painful to have done. But this girl pulled up her dress and showed me a beautiful angel (pronounced “anne-gel”) tattooed up the side of her body from her hips, up over her waist onto her ribs. But it was half finished because she was skinny and the tattoo was too painful to complete on her ribs. You see some strange things in the cabs. But this an-gel was beautiful, even if it was not finished. But I am still not sure if my castle tattoo was a mistake. At least it was not as painful as if I had had it tattooed on my ribs. (Shakes his head as he remembers, or imagines).

Getting Under Your Skin

March 31, 2007

My earliest memories of tattoos were of those etched onto large motorcycle riders who would growl into Palmerston every year before they headed into Central Otago for a spring festival or carnival of some sort. I can’t quite recall exactly what the occasion was, though it elusively slides around in the back of my skull avoiding being pinned down. (It will pop out once I have posted this note!) Tattoos went with beards, Harleys and leather. Nothing original in that. A universal image in fact. Thereafter images of tawdry tattoo shops in Melbourne complete the picture, as do the very rough tattoos military colleagues turned up with after a drunken night on the town. Some were funny, though not with the humour you would wish on yourself, but because the wearer had no idea why he was now sporting a full blown Indian chief in feather headdress across his back. (That guy slept on his front for weeks!) I must have seen on at least three occasions the classic tattoo scenario of one girlfriend’s name thoroughly embedded only to have the wearer hook up with another “name” a short time later. And one NCO I once worked for had the indignity of enduring an artist who had imposed his inability to spell all over his body.

So all of this tends to put tattoos in the redneck basket for me. Humorous in part but not something I could ever buy into. Though I have long given up the notion that it is somehow evil (childish association with bikers sowed that seed) or undignified. Indeed I will confess that tattoo art over the last few years has grown into something more restrained, creative, objective and carefully designed. And in many cases has become quite attractive, and is even erotic on the right canvas.

But the New York artist who did this piece of clever work has lifted the genre to another level altogether. Anil is his name and this link takes you away from here to his website where you can see more of this wonderful stuff. Well, its art, so some of it is wonderful and rest is clearly framed for beauty in the eye of the beholder only!