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Need an excuse to go somewhere cool? How about getting tattooed?

February 3, 2010

In 2007 I took a trip to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam) with a bunch of law school friends.  When I was researching my trip I became engaged in an extended flirtation with the idea of getting a traditional Thai Buddhist tattoo (Sak Yant). These tattoos are done by the monks themselves and are essentially free (my understanding is that typically you give your artist a gift of cigarettes or some other token of your appreciation).  They are applied to the skin using a sharpened steel rod in an action that somewhat resembles the motion of a pool cue in microcosm.  In the end, partially owing to the fact that my father is a physician, my neurotic Jew brain freaked out about sanitary protocols used by the monks and I chickened out.  Although my research said that there has never been any reported cases of Hepatitis or HIV resulting from Sak Yant, the word “reported” was not much solace.  Perhaps one day I’ll go through with it if the conditions are right, but for the time being I think I made the right decision.

That being said, I would love to take a tattoo vacation some day.  I have always wanted to visit Japan, and it just so happens that one of my absolute favorite tattoo artists works in Yokohama.  The artist, Shige (Shee-gay) is an absolute master at combining the new school style of bold, bright color with traditional Japanese aesthetic. I would love to some day (money permitting) visit and get tattooed by Shige; maybe it will happen.

http://www.yellowblaze.net/shige/gallery/jn_comp/index.html

Japan would be amazing, but there is an incredible tattoo culture with amazing artists right here in the US.  I am fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is blessed with some of the most talented artists in the world, but tattoo talent in this country lurks everywhere from the largest metropolis to the smallest hamlet.

Today I came across this article about tattoo spots in Austin, from the Jetblue website no less, (who knew Jetblue was hip and comfortable?).

http://austin.jetblue.com/2010/02/insiders-guide-to-austins-tattoo-parlors.html

Austin is one of my favorite cities. I have lived in California my whole life, I love it, and I really don’t see myself moving to any other state.  Don’t get me wrong, there tons of great places in this country that I would love to visit, but there are very few places I could see myself living; however, Austin is definitely one of the few outside of California to which I would have no reservations about moving.  So if anyone is interested in  taking a trip to visit one of the great progressive, music loving, counter-cultural enclaves smack in the middle of the land of pickup trucks and gun racks, and possibly spend some time desecrating your flesh, the above article  would be a great start.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Steven Lolmore permalink
    February 4, 2010 12:07 pm

    I think it is amazing that you went to law school (did you finish?) and are also so into this INCREDIBLE art form. The idea that there are lawyers out there who are not the stereotypical corporate drone is wonderful and refreshing.

    Unfortunately I have to provide a bit of a sobering commentary to your post. Before I got deep into the henna culture, I was STRONGLY into ink and for my college graduation present my parents bought me a ticket to Thailand. I did not have your restraint and did in fact get a tattoo there (actually four) and unfortunately ended up with both Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I also stupidly picked up some herpes on the trip, probably from these two prostitutes, but it might also have been from this Dutch backpacker that I had my doubts about. I guess I am getting a little off target here, but these conditions are not nearly as carefree as some of those TV commercials might make you think, so I would definitely recommend sticking to clean tattoo shops here in the US rather than risking your LIFE in a foreign place. Of course I also would recommend Henna as an alternative to anyone, but you know that already!

    • February 4, 2010 12:18 pm

      Thank you so much for your story. I am sorry that your tattoos have cost you so dearly, that really is a shame. I am glad you felt comfortable sharing it here.

      As to your question. Yes, I did finish law school and passed the 2007 bar; so it turns out my Asia trip was a preemptive celebration of passing the bar exam as well.

  2. george permalink
    February 19, 2010 4:53 am

    hey steven,
    i recently received a yant from wat bang phra near bangkok. i am a little scared that i may have contracted hep c, or even hiv…..i will get tested in a few months when i expect the virus to be prevalent. is wat bang phra where you received your tattoo?

    any insight you have will help. thank you

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