Streetwise Professor

November 9, 2010

Mama Told Me Not to Come: Diary of the Tattoo Challenged, 8 November, 2010

Filed under: Music,Punk — The Professor @ 3:01 pm

I attended the Social Distortion concert at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC yesterday–combined a trip to see my folks with a trip to see the mirror image of my folks, Mike Ness (though he is a dad–as I’ll discuss more below).  The thing that struck me while waiting between the openers (Frank Turner) and Social D was that I was the only person in sight without a tattoo (though I did see one girl later without one–what was her problem, anyways?)

The winner of the evening was this nightmare Goth bitch whom I stood next to for most of the show.  Don’t look at me!  I’m just reading the labels!  Really!

Specifically: She had “Nightmare” tattooed across the back of the neck.  (I didn’t know there was a Nightmare Diocese.)  She had “Goth!” tattooed on the fingers and thumb of her right hand, and “Bitch” on the fingers and thumb of the left (conveniently positioned facing outwards for easy reading!)

But there’s more!  She was wearing just a chemise, and her shoulders (and visible) front were fully tattooed.  Pictures.  No words.  Except for the “Nightmare” thing.

I’m not done!  She also had non-tattoo body decorations.  She looked like she had taken a bite out of my grandmother’s pin cushion, but hadn’t spit out 8 or so of the pins.  And I wouldn’t say that her ears were pierced.  I would say they’d been excavated.  She had huge holes in her lobes, which had been stretched to reach nearly to her shoulders.  I hadn’t seen the like since reading National Geographic when I was 10.

I can’t imagine that there was anybody there more elaborately and deliberately defaced than she.  I’m not saying that there wasn’t, just that I couldn’t possibly imagine it.

The show, you ask?  But I was talking about the show.  Oh, the music, you mean.

Two words:

Damned good.  They’d cancelled the two previous shows because, as Ness said at the show, he was “sick as a f*cking dog.”  But he was sick in the good way on Monday.  High energy.  Tight and loud.  He was fantastic on the guitar.  They played about 1:50, with only  5 minute break.  My favorites: “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “Bakersfield.”  Only disappointment: didn’t play “Far Behind.”  One tune from their upcoming CD, which sounded really good.

It was a younger crowd than at the last Social D show I saw in beautiful Sauget, IL, at Pops nestled conveniently between the Hustler and Penthouse Clubs.  And with youth, came energy.  I was closer to the stage (about 4 bodies back), so it was more crazed than even the Murphys back in March.  Constant body slamming, though I was on the receiving end I wasn’t deliberately initiating.  Often hit, never knocked down, though I did knock down one knucklehead that was getting a little carried away.  After he hit me full speed about the fifth time I gave him a two hander which sent him and about 3 other people in the pit sprawling.  Whoops.  A member of the security “Krewe” (that’s what the shirts said) wasn’t too pleased.  He came up and shook his finger in my face, and shouted something.  Yeah, like I could hear you, man.  No problems after that.

Except for the beer shower.  Some girl accidentally doused me with beer, right on the top of my head.  I looked back and she was so apologetic.  She started wiping off the dripping beer with the sleeves of her shirt, and then said: “Let me give you a hug to apologize.”  So she did.

The funniest part of the show (for me, anyways) was right at the very end.  Right before the finale number, “Ring of Fire,” Ness delivered a little patter, saying “this next one’s a love song, so guys lean over and say something loving to your girlfriend, I can’t tell you what to say, but if you say the right thing maybe she’ll drive you home and run all the red lights and you’ll get lucky, but if you don’t she’ll just throw you a bottle of Jergins” (though he pronounced it “jerkins”).  While he was giving this little monologue, some kid, a guy, leans over to me and says: “This dude is like 50 years old.”  I could only look at him, smile and chuckle.   (Ness isn’t 50, BTW.  Only 48.  Although I think he’s turned over the odometer several times more than I have.)

This was Social D’s first time in Asheville.  I was wondering why they’d play there, and about half way through the show I found out.  Ness’s son came out to play guitar on one number.  Ness said his son, 18, lives in Asheville.  I would surmise he goes to Warren Wilson College.  Let’s just say they’d never ask me to teach there.  Ha.  He played very well.

All in all, a blast.  I should also say I really liked the leadoff band, Frank Turner.  It was like Deliverance meets Hell’s Angels meets the Muscle Shoals Horns.  You know a band is good when you’ve never heard them and you can immediately get into the rhythm and beat of every song.  Definitely buying their CD.

I’m psyched and ready to do it again.  Houston, November 19.  House of Blues.  A little too upscale for a band like Social D, but it’ll do.

Only damper on the evening occurred during the drive back to my folk’s house around midnight.  I came upon a motorcyclist who had wiped out, and was lying sprawled in the middle of the road.  I was the first person there, and thought he was dead at first because he wasn’t moving.  I jumped out of the car, and when I reached him I saw that he was breathing, though unconscious.  Somebody else came up and called 911, but it was 5 minutes until the cops and EMT arrived.  During that time the guy regained consciousness and started thrashing around, so I tried to keep him calm and hold him down.  I was worried about him hitting his head again, so I put my hand on the back of his head, only to feel a goose egg literally the size of a real goose egg.  He hadn’t been wearing an helmet, and a good portion of his scalp was also ripped open but still attached, so I got pretty bloody.  He was talking by the time the EMTs arrived, and his eyes looked fairly clear, so I think he’ll be OK.

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  1. Tattoos used to be the preserve of lowlifes. Do those 20-year old emos/goths wonder what they’ll look like in 30 years time? Good job helping the road crayon. I hope he’ll be OK. Road deaths are particularly senseless.

    Comment by So? — November 9, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

  2. The only tattoo I’d think of getting is a ?, somewhere discrete.

    I’ve yet to figure out where so I’m refraining for the time being.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 10, 2010 @ 1:55 am

  3. The poor tattooed-up girl you described was probably abused as a child and her self-mutilation is a way of trying to master her body herself and/or (like cutting, which I’ll bet she does) a way of diffusing the unbearable tension she feels. One sees so many such people in the non-chronic units of psychiatric hospitals.

    Comment by AP — November 10, 2010 @ 8:47 am

  4. Man, SWP, you saved the shocker for the end of that piece. I never know how I’d react to a scene like that. I’m not good with other peoples’ blood. Well done.

    As for the tattoos, I have no clue why such a large portion of our population is doing this to themselves. It seems like some sort of fatalism where they confirm that they plan on being a lowlife for the rest of their lives. Can you imagine seeing your tax accountant or your doctor when they have tattoos on their fingers and neck? This is a disturbing psychological trend in our society. And yes, are these people actually going to look in the mirror in 30 years and say, “Wow, I look great”? Oy.

    Comment by Howard Roark — November 10, 2010 @ 1:16 pm

  5. The tattoo removal methods are bound to get much better, given the expected demand. A future growth area, no doubt. Also, I expect at some stage we’ll see smart/animated tattoos.

    Comment by So? — November 10, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

  6. @Howard Roarke,

    That is because you are a man of convention and “respectability”, and apparently undeserving of your namesake.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — November 10, 2010 @ 8:11 pm

  7. @SO. I love backhanded compliments. 🙂

    Comment by Howard Roark — November 11, 2010 @ 12:10 am

  8. @Howard–thanks. I sort of surprised myself too, because I’m not into blood either. But something just kicked in and I didn’t even think about it–just was focused on dealing with the situation.

    Re tattoos. A puzzle to me too. AP’s explanation probably fits the more outlandish cases like Nightmare GB. But it’s so ubiquitous now that can’t be the only explanation. Yeah, old, faded tattoos on sagging skin. That just screams attractive.

    The thing that strikes me is that it betrays an inability to, or a refusal, to think ahead. I could understand it for people who consider the future the be a short one–e.g., gangbangers. But realistically, for many of the people I see having tattoos, that’s not the case. But perhaps if the practice is so ubiquitous, their peers will not make the same judgments in 10, 15, or 30 years that you or I do. Perhaps it’s one of those things that if enough people do it, it will not have the negative connotations when these people are in their careers. An example of a social network/feedback effect. The interesting thing is the dynamics–how does the critical mass form so that the equilibrium tips from tattoos=lowlife to tattoos=no big deal?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 11, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

  9. SWP! Well, so long as you don’t frequent S&M supper clubs with derivatives geeks. Better start listening to Mama again…

    Comment by DrD — November 11, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

  10. You’re right as you so often are, professor – I didn’t mean to patholgize everyone who has tattoos, I was only only describing that girl you mentioned. I think “normal” tattoos are as likely to be as controversial in the future as women wearing slacks have been for the past 50+ years. At worst, if the trend dies, it will simply be a permanent generational marker shared by tens of millions of people in this cohort.

    Comment by AP — November 11, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

  11. DrD. No need to worry about that. Head-banging/slam-dancing–yes. S&M–definitely not. Especially not with bankers.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 11, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

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