Monday, August 3, 2009

Do You Tattoo?

I hope you have tomorrow night circled on your calendar! Jeff Johnson will be at Broadway Books at 7 pm to read from his memoir, Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink, recently published by Spiegel & Grau. Jeff has been tattooing professionally for eighteen years and is the co-owner of the Sea Tramp Tattoo Company, the oldest tattoo shop in Portland.

I must confess that my tattoo preferences tend to run more to the kind that you apply with a wet wash cloth and that last a few days, depending on how vigorously you scrub in the shower. It's probably a mixture of a commitment thing -- a tattoo I'm gaga over this week might become something that annoys the crap out of me in a year or two -- and needle-whimp-fear-of-pain thing, which I guess would make me either a bunny or a chudder (a customer on pain pills or a customer who barfs, respectively) -- most likely a chudder bunny.

I'm seeing more and more truly good looking tattoos these days. And it's not just bikers and gang members with tattoos. You see people of all ages and from all walks of life with tattoos -- even sweet little old ladies with tattoos. Maybe I could get some kind of bookish tattoo. Any suggestions? Maybe Roberta and I could each get the BB logo needled somewhere discreet. Not that we're old. Or sweet. But, my point is that tattooing seems to be going mainstream. Heck, even the Portland Art Museum is currently running an exhibition on the art of the tattoo.

Jeff's book has gotten tons of reviews -- local and national. You can read what Jeff Baker of The Oregonian wrote about Jeff Johnson and his tattoo world, or read the interview with Jeff Johnson in Time magazine. Katherine Dunn, author of the novel Geek Love and the recently published anthology One Ring Circus: Dispatches from the World of Boxing -- who clearly knows a thing or two about both writing and tattoos -- had this to say about Jeff's book: "Meticulously observed, savagely funny, and deeply compassionate....Jeff Johnson is a sharp-eyed master tattoo artist and an extraordinary writer....[his] own remarkable story weaves through this engaging and gritty examination of the world of tattoos. With lyrical punch and plenty of scabrous behind-the-scenes shenanigans, Tattoo Machine is an informative, intelligent delight." You've gotta love a book with scrabrous shenanigans, no? Hope we see you tomorrow night at the reading! (Tattoos optional.)

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