ModBlog News of the Week: Sept 16th, 2010

It’s been a little while since there has been a newsfeed post, but never fear, your news from the world has returned.

The big story this week is obviously the ruling from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Now I’m not fully versed on U.S. legalities, but from what I understand, the 9th Circuit is one of the highest courts underneath the Supreme Court.  If you haven’t heard, the city of Hermosa Beach in California was brought to the court because they refused to allow the opening of a tattoo studio in city limits.  The challenge brought to the court that tattoos are a form of free speech, and the city cannot ban the opening of the studio.  The L.A. Times recently published this article summing up the ruling.

In a majority opinion that sometimes reads like a paean to the art of the tattoo, Judge Jay S. Bybee concluded that tattoos — and by extension the tattoo business — are a “purely expressive activity” covered by the 1st Amendment. Tattoos, the judge wrote, “can express a countless variety of messages and serve a wide variety of functions.” Indeed, the medium of skin can also be the message. Bybee said that by “permanently engrafting a phrase or image onto his skin, the bearer of that tattoo suggests that the phrase or image is so important to him that he has chosen to display the phrase or image every day for the remainder of his life.”

Whatever one thinks of tattoos, it’s impossible to disagree with Bybee’s conclusion that “a form of speech does not lose 1st Amendment protection based on the kind of surface it is applied to.”

As for what this ruling means to people in the U.S., ModBlog will be doing a full article on it from a guest writer, discussing exactly what the ruling entails and how it will affect the industry.  So keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks.

In other news, a teacher in Madison, WA, has found a way to use tattoos to get kids to understand math.


Madison Middle School 6th grade math teacher, and entrepreneur, Kathy Myers, wants students across America to have a piece of the “pi.” The North Admiral District mother of two began a part time “temporary tattoo” business, Academic Tattoos, with math equations and slogans for students to affix to their hands, arms, cheeks, and even foreheads to remind them of equations and to increase their interest in math. Some stickers contain pi puns such as the “Vam-pi-re” design, the pumpkin with pi symbol over it. Get it? “Pumpkin pi?” And for the brainy high school senior, how about the quadratic formula on your shoulder, or the golden ratio, a design that evokes architect Frank Lloyd Wright-meets-seashell.

Ok so maybe they’re not real tattoos, but it is a fun idea that may help kids to learn, and from where I stand as a former teacher, I don’t see anything wrong with that.  I’m sure though that a debate will arise in which some parents may see this as a gateway tattoo which will eventually lead their children down the dark and scary road to a real tattoo.  But nobody would overreact like that would they?

There’s still more news ahead, keep on reading to see some examples of modifications and faith interlinked. Also, the celebrity news is back with a vengeance!

So when it comes to faith and body modifications, one name comes to mind immediately, The Church of Body Modification.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen anything about them in the mainstream news, but recently in North Carolina a teenager was suspended from school for sporting a single nostril piercing.  When ordered to remove it, Ariana Iocono refused on the grounds that her and her mother are members of the Church.  WLFI has the rest of the story.

A North Carolina school is disputing a student’s claim that body piercings are next to godliness.  Church minister Richard Ivey says its members believe that changes to the body can bring about inner harmony.  School officials declined to discuss the case.  The Iaconos say they’ve contacted the American Civil Liberties Union for help.

The article also includes the TV report that goes along with the text.  In the video it is revealed that while the school does have a no piercing policy, exceptions must be allowed if there is a reasonable religious reason to have the piercing.  In the case of the school principal, he has decided not to recognize the church and will keep Ariana suspended until she removes the piercing.

Now on the other side of the U.S. a small California church recently celebrated it’s first year of operation by having several members get tattooed.

City Church of Anaheim is celebrating its first year in operation and the goal of reaching a 200-member flock with a radical commitment to the congregation and community: Tattoos of the red-heart church logo.

Pastor Kyle Steven Bonenberger told worshippers that God “tattooed your name on his heart” and it was time for an everlasting commitment to Him and the church.

Just over a dozen members got the church’s logo tattooed on their chests, and as the congregation grows, they predict more members will get the tattoo.  What intrigues me is how differing the reactions to faith and modifications are across the country.  On one hand you have someone who is a member of a church dedicated to modifications being punished for her beliefs, while on the other you have a pastor celebrating his Christian faith through a tattoo.  I wonder what the western world would be like if centuries ago it was mandated by the church that tattoos and piercings are a reflection of your spirituality and should be encouraged.

The mainstream news has always had a love-hate relationship with modifications.  They love to post stories about them, but only if they can generate some form of reaction.  Of course the easiest reaction to evoke from someone viewing the news is fear, followed by anger.  Anyone who watches Fox “news” can tell you that.  So while perceptions are finally changing, the vast majority of stories that I read have a negative slant towards anyone with a tattoo, piercing, or anything else.

Thankfully there are changes happening in the press, which show that it isn’t the modifications that should instill fear in someone, but their actions.  Beyond that, you have stories like this one from The Daily Aztec, which shows just forward thinking some news outlets can be.

Tattooing is an ancient cultural tradition dating back thousands of years, but western tattoo culture is largely influenced by American sailors who traveled abroad to exotic countries and returned home with ink. Norman Keith Collins, better known as Sailor Jerry, developed the traditional American tattoo design style in the 1930s.

“The Sailor Jerry stuff — the tattoos with imagery of roses, swallows, skulls, daggers, hearts — the real simple, heavy, black shading with bold lines, is making a comeback,” Chris Primm, a tattoo artist at Sleeping Giant Tattoo in Hillcrest, said.

Fast-forward 80 years to present-day and tattoo culture is no longer seen as an indicator of socioeconomic factors, but more so of a generational trend. Tattooing has always been popular within specific societal subcultures, but throughout recent years, tattooing has exploded into mainstream America.

The article goes on to discuss trends that have come and gone in the industry, and how the days of the grungy back alley shops are giving way to the clean studios with art hanging on the walls.  Of course there are still stereotypes associated with visibly modified people, and they will probably still linger for a couple more decades as the older generations give way to the younger ones.  By the time generation Y hits middle age, they’ll have grown up in a world where tattoos and piercings are the norm, and the stereotypes will have hopefully faded away.

Although with some kinds of tattoos, the stigma of criminal behavior may take longer to get rid of.  Specifically gang related tattoos.  Recently Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles was given a $1.3 million contract to expand their services to serve as a re-entry program for people wishing to get a new start in life.

LA 161022.ME.0914.homeboy.3.jpg

Los Angeles County supervisors Tuesday awarded Homeboy Industries a $1.3-million contract, providing critically needed funding for the gang intervention program founded two decades ago by Father Gregory Boyle.  The struggling gang intervention program will be able to hire 20 job trainees and provide employment counseling, tattoo removal, mental health, legal and other services for 665 people.

The tattoo removal portion of the program can be seen as a major stepping stone in an individual’s life, as they’re able to shed a symbol that not only links them to their former gang, but also links them to the life they are leaving behind in order to move forward.

Before we get to the celebrity news, there is one thing that was submitted by IAM: Quinnnchick.  It seems that everywhere you look there is some form of Sailor Jerry/Ed Hardy design printed on something.  Well, if you’re the type who enjoys having these images on items around them, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can now get paper towels that can match your clothing.


Personally, I don’t think I’ll be getting them, but I do think they’d look good hanging on the wall in a studio somewhere.  Although with the dyes in them, I probably wouldn’t want my artist using them to wipe down anything.

Finally, it’s the moment I know you’ve been waiting for, it’s the celebrity news.  Yay?

Well not really a celebrity on the world stage, the new Prime Minister of Australia has a family member that’s been generating some news.  It seems the step daughter of the PM has posed for some risqué photos showing off not only her love of Australia, but also her mohawk and tattoos.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s wild child ‘stepdaughter’ has appeared in a raunchy photoshoot wearing only a bikini and the Australian flag.  The tattooed New York-based stylist Staci Child, 31, who is the daughter of Gillard’s partner Tim Mathieson, posed for Zoo Weekly magazine and says her ‘first man’ father loved the photos.  ’I think Julia will think it’s a very Australian thing to do,’ she added.

However, not everyone is thrilled with the photo shoot.  RSL State President David McLachlan said the Australian flag should be respected.  Australians for Constitutional Monarchy spokesman Prof David Flint also expressed reservations.  ’It may be somewhat undignified and not what you would have done but then again you’ve got to allow young people a certain degree of liberty in these sort of things,’

Of course all of this screams publicity, as I’m sure Staci has no problems cashing in on her stepmother’s name in order to drum up business.  I am wondering why none of the Bush daughters did something like this though, weren’t they supposed to be on the rebellious side?

In celebrity DIY news, it seems that Canadian born Ryan Gosling has given himself a tattoo.

“I like when they look bad, but no one will do bad tattoos. So I did one myself. That’s why it’s bad. I’m waiting to get old — I think old guys with tattoos look good.”

To each their own I suppose.  On a completely unrelated note, my ex used to hold hands and walk to school with Ryan every day.  Does that make me one step closer to Kevin Bacon?

And finally, just when you thought Jesse James, Kat Von D, and Bombshell McGee were gone from the news, think again.  First there are reports that Michelle was booted from a party for showing off her white power tattoos.  Now it seems the highly esteemed journalists at TMZ have uncovered shocking evidence of a link between Kat and Sandra Bullock, that isn’t Jesse James.


Back in 2001, Kat Von D — a famous celebrity tattoo artist — was asked to ink a permanent image of Sandra’s face onto the chest of one of her male clients who happened to be a huge fan of “Speed.”  So there you have it — Kat Von D is now dating the ex-husband of a person she once tattooed on a total stranger.  How’s that for full circle?

Well how about that.  It’s like they’re sisters or something.

So, that’s it for this week’s news.  Remember if you ever come across a story that you think should be included in the News of the Week, just use this link to submit them.

9 thoughts on “ModBlog News of the Week: Sept 16th, 2010

  1. Kenedy, Woods and Clinton all had affairs. To be quite honest this bullshit of celeb drama just makes me think this site is turning into another myspace or facebook. completely and utterly disgusted that something like a fuckin tattoo she did nearly 10 years ago is coming back to make a big fuss here of all places…. ITS HER FUCKING JOB!

  2. I live in the South Bay area of Los Angeles and I’m thrilled that the ruling was for tattoos. The blanket “protecting the public’s health and safety” that Hermosa Beach was giving is a crock of shit. Why not just come out and say that they don’t want the imagined type of people who have tattoos? Would I get something done there if a tattoo and piercing parlor opens? Probably not, but only because I’m happy with who I’m seeing now.

  3. @Pharmacist: The celebrity news sections of the news of the week are pretty much tongue in cheek and shouldn’t be taken as something serious. Do you really think I spend time each day caring what new tattoo Justin Beiber has, or what celebrity is sleeping with another? It’s why I save them for the end of the article. Think of them as the back page of the newspaper, just the fluff that nobody thinks is important news.

  4. Cool!

    When i was a kid i always had temporary tattoos on. none of them were educational…i just liked to put them all over my chest before swim meets and such.

  5. this nonsense about the girl in NC with richard is just astounding.
    if she had brown skin, nobody would be questioning her motives for a nose piercing, because they’d just assume she was hindu and it would automatically be acceptable.
    so, this principal thinks he’s got the authority to “decide not to accept” her federally recognized religious beliefs? does he not realize that this is equivilant to deciding a muslim’s beliefs or a christian’s or jew’s beliefs are not substantial? sooner or later these people are going to have realize that the only reason tattoos or piercings distract people from anything is because they are allowing themselves to be distracted, and that is their own problem. why should this young girl be punished because this principal can’t bring himself to look past her jewelry?? simply pathetic.

  6. ….that tattoo of sandra bullock looks terrible. i dont know what else to say about it… before i read the article i was actually wondering who the hell it was….

  7. Wish I had educational fake tattoos when I was a kid. I might have taken an interest in maths then.

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