ModBlog News of the Week: May 13th, 2011

Happy Friday the 13th everyone.  It’s been a busy week in the news, so you can either chalk that up to good or bad luck, depending of course on how your superstitions lie.   This week’s big story is about an event that happened last weekend in Marikina City, The Philippines.  The plan was the throw a big party, invite as many people as they could, and hope to break a Guinness world record.  Well the turnout was great, but not everyone was smiling.  Especially the hundreds of young boys that attended the party.  Did I mention it was a circumcision party?

Preteen Filippino boys queued in their hundreds for a daylong ‘circumcision party’, which officials hope will earn their city a place in the record books.  Some boys cried in their mothers’ arms while others bit their shirts to stifle sobs as doctors carried out the surgery on dozens of makeshift operating tables in a stadium in Marikina city, east of Manila.

Officials said the event – touted in local press as a ‘circumcision party’ – aimed to promote safe circumcision.  They offered poor residents free surgery that would otherwise cost at least $40 (£25) in private hospitals.   In rural areas, the surgery is sometimes performed by non-doctors using crude methods.

This of course leads to the circumcision debate that many people in North America have.  Whether to perform one on a newborn child, or wait until they’re older and can make the decision on their own.  While that applies to North America, in The Philippines the practice seems like a standard rite of passage that all young men go though.  So do the same arguments apply?

Oh, and for what it’s worth, Guinness made an announcement that they would not be recognizing this record as they don’t keep track of mass medical procedures because of hygiene and risks.

Although a new record was set this week in Norwalk, Ohio.  In a single 48 hour, 26 minute session, Jeff Garton sat for the longest tattoo session on record.  The tattoo was done by Robin H.M. of 546 Tattoo Studio.

More news to come, including some questionable actions taken by DC police, and a children’s book that every tattooed parent should buy.

In Montgomery County police have come under fire after it was revealed that it is policy for officers to randomly stop teens on the street and photograph them.  The justification is that they’re trying to keep track of gang tattoos, but it seems some officers are getting a little overzealous in their actions.

Police say there are 34 gangs and more than 1200 gang members in the Montgomery County. One way law enforcement officials address the threat is by stopping and photographing suspected gang members — and keeping a record of identifying characteristics, including tattoos.  But in the process, some youth advocates say innocent Latino teens are being harassed. County leaders, police and advocates are trying to balance the needs of public safety with constitutional safeguards.

Nancy, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of retribution, recalls what happened to her. “An officer, he asked me to raise my shirt to see if I had any tattoos or anything,” she says. “I told him no and he had pushed me against the wall I couldn’t say anything at the moment ’cause I was only sixteen.”  Nancy says officers didn’t arrest her but took pictures and she doesn’t know where those pictures wound up.  Walter, who also did not want to use his last name, says he isn’t a gang member or a criminal either but was pulled over recently. “They didn’t tell me nothing — they just lifted up my shirt and took the pictures,” he says.  He hadn’t committed any crime when the police stopped his car, he says. “They pulled me over because they thought one of my cousins who was in the back looked like a runaway youth they was looking for,” he says.

Last month, the county’s Latino youth task force issued a report in December recommending that police review how these stops are being conducted.  “There is reason to doubt the constitutionality of the stops and the subsequent searches and photographing of Latino males in the County, due to statements of youth who were stopped,” the group, officially called the Latino Youth Steering Committee, notes in the report.

They must have been working a lot of overtime when the Baltimore convention was going on.  All those tattooed tourists passing through could have all been gang members.

About two months ago I posted an article about Walter Meyerle, a tattoo artist from from Pennsylvania who was accused of trading sex for tattoos with an underage girl.  The investigation into Walter has now turned up evidence that he may be guilty of over 200 sex crimes, including sexually assaulting a 4 year old.

Meyerle was arraigned Friday on charges including aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault and corruption of minors and was being held on $5 million bail. Dressed in a yellow prison jumpsuit, he said little during the hearing. The judge told him not to contact any of the victims from jail and asked the same of Meyerle’s wife, who authorities said is under investigation as well. A message left for Meyerle’s attorney by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.

Investigators said Meyerle victimized the children of his friends and girlfriends, children who were vulnerable because their parents were drinking and taking drugs. Authorities say he sometimes lured younger victims with toys and gifts. In one case, prosecutors said, Meyerle molested the children of a family that moved in with him after their house burned down.  He sexually assaulted a 4-year-old girl 10 times and made her watch pornographic movies, and also molested another girl, who was 4 or 5 years old, 50 or 60 times, according to court documents.  Investigators also allege he told a 15-year-old girl she’d have a surprise in nine months after they had unprotected sex, and the girl ended up getting an abortion, according to court records.

“This is one of the largest child abuse cases I’ve seen by one individual,” Schorn said.

In today’s final crime-related story, a Myrtle Beach man has been getting international attention after his mugshot was posted online.

Police said Robert Norton Kennedy was arrested Saturday after he spit in a man’s face in front of a police officer.  In his mugshot, you can read the text tattooed on Kennedy’s forehead that says: “With God All Things Are Possible. God Loves You. Please forgive me if I say or do anything stupid. Thank you!”Horry County police said they have gotten phone calls about the mugshot from news agencies as far away as New York and London.

I suppose spitting in someone’s face right next to a police officer would could as doing something stupid.

New Zealand readers will probably be familiar with this next story.  For years Te Papa (the national museum) has been fighting with the French government to return a number of Maori skulls that have been on display in a number of museums.  Well this week a number of the heads have started to make the journey back to New Zealand, however it seems the museum wasn’t too happy to let them go and took photographs of the skulls, even after being asked not to.

A French museum ignored Te Papa’s protests by taking and then publishing a photograph of a preserved Maori tattooed head.  The action was “inappropriate and culturally offensive”, Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation programme chairman Pou Temara said.  Photographing the dead was frowned on in Maori culture. “With ancestors, it’s doubly inappropriate for photographs to be taken.”  Rouen Museum is the most recent of five European institutions to have handed over Maori remains to a New Zealand delegation, which includes members of Te Papa’s repatriation programme, who are due back in Wellington with the nine human heads tomorrow.

This week Rouen Museum published a 3-D image of the toi moko, given to the museum in 1875.  Professor Temara said that, because the head had been in Rouen’s possession, Te Papa could not stop the photograph being published. “We are not happy with it, but there’s not much we can do about it, except to register our protestation.” The preserved head is believed to have come from a Maori warrior. Up to 20 toi moko in French museums are expected to follow the heads returning tomorrow. French senators are travelling to New Zealand for the handover. A bill was passed by the French Government last May to cut through the red tape surrounding the repatriation of remains.  French ambassador Francis Etienne said the photograph would have been taken to educate French people about toi moko. “It’s not a lack of respect or something done in a nasty spirit.”

For a little more background on the skulls and their significance, this article is worth a read.

While we’re on the subject of cultures that use body modification, Modern Ghana has an informative article about the tribal customs behind the facial markings that are seen in Nigeria.

THE tradition of African tribal marks dates back to the 14th century and forms part of the rich culture of the black race, most especially in Nigeria. At that point in time, people attached so much importance to tribal scars for various reasons  Tribal marks were a result of religious beliefs passed down from family to family, either as hearsay or just a common societal norm, usually as relating to a particular god or deity.  Similarly, Africans of old viewed tribal marks as a means of proper identification of people from different neighbourhoods. Members of the same village, family tree or lineage had the same tribal marks. The hometown, village and lineage of a child or anyone with tribal marks were quickly known and therefore, outsiders, who did not have such marks, were immediately spotted.

However, the ancient custom of tribal marks is fast fading away in the country. In its place, people are now embracing tattoos to either beautify their bodies or for spiritual and other purposes.  Because of the fact that marking is usually done to youngsters, most Nigerians whose faces bear ethnic marks had little choice in the matter. When they become parents, however, they often decide not to give their children facial marks. The pain and risk of infection along with scorn and discrimination the child may face later in life are all factors that make parents reject facial marking. Clearly, the popularity and acceptance of facial marks are waning. Individuals now prefer that their “identity card” should be in the wallets, not on their faces anymore.

Back to North America, where TLC’s show “Strange Sex” is taking a look into genital piercings this weekend.

Whistling wieners, holes in the moneymakers, nipple piercings and all sorts of fun stuff are on TLC this Sunday.  Rocket scientists, retired grandparents, soccer Moms and school teachers have genital piercings?  TLC is premiering an all-new episode of ”Strange Sex” airing this Sunday, May 15 at 10/9c.  Sex is never boring for James and Andi, they have supercharged their sex life with genital piercings.  Later, an accident forces a doctor to amputate a man’s penis. How will he rebuild his identity and his marriage, without the organ that makes him a man?

I’m curious to know if they’ll tackle heavy genital modifications, or only focus on piercings.

In Ohio the local Fox affiliate has done a story on the growing trend of “scratchers”.  Aside from the hosts and a few broad generalizations early on, the story is pretty informative and unbiased.

They’re part-time tattooing wannabes called “Scratchers.” It’s a group of people who have taught themselves the art of “permanent ink.” It’s growing in popularity and leaving people right here in the Tri-state with more than just a design on their body.

Local health departments regulate tattoo studios in many jurisdictions, which should give the person getting a tattoo some piece of mind about health risks but you want to do your homework. Make sure you ask a lot of questions before you decide to let someone put that tattoo design on your body.

Here are some of the question you should ask.

  • What are the laws in your city/state on tattooing?
  • What certifications and/or licenses are required to tattoo legally in your city/state?
  • What is the procedure of operating an autoclave? what temperature must the autoclave reach and for how long?
  • What is a blood-born pathogen and how do you prevent the spread of it, and cross-contamination?
  • How do you thoroughly clean and disinfect needles and tubes before autoclaving?
  • What layer of epidermis of the skin must you not enter to prevent scarring of a tattoo?
  • What is plasma, and what does the leakage of plasma during a tattoo indicate?

These are only a few of the things that are absolutely necessary for a tattoo artist to know, and if you can’t answer all of these questions with concise understanding, you are not ready to be a tattoo artist.

I’ll give a cookie to whoever can identify the famous rapper whose tattoo is featured in the photo montage of bad scratcher tattoos.

“Scratchers” isn’t the only slang word making the news this week. has a great story explaining what the term “gauging” is, and why you’re not cool if you simply say “stretching”.

Kids gauge their ears now. Do you know the term “gauge” in this context?  It refers to the process by which you gradually stretch a “regularly sized” pierced earhole into a larger one. (I’m nothing, if not informative.)  By the way, don’t indiscriminately toss out some sort of descriptive reference like, “stretched ears,” or you’ll need to immediately deduct several points from your coolness rating. If you’re like me, this occurrence would firmly place you in the negative numbers.

The funny thing is that I’ve displayed gauged ears for quite some time. This is of the INvoluntary sort; however, subsequent to my youthful pursuit of donning heavy chandelier-type earrings which just about equaled the weight of real chandeliers.  I didn’t realize I was sporting abnormally large piercings until an acquaintance helpfully mentioned to me that I had not so much earholes as slits and large slits at that.  Though she succeeded in undermining my ear confidence, she also succeeded in accomplishing something else much more memorable – she rendered me speechless.  I simply made a squeaking sound. Now that I think of it, perhaps the utterance was not so much validly vocal as aptly auditory; the result of air flowing through my enlarged piercing as we listened to the sound of silence.

I mean, what is a person supposed to do with this physical feature? Are there ear burkas? Earlobe tucks? How about earhole lifts?

Now if you happen to be a big fan of the Brooklyn bridge, then mark May 22nd in your calendar.  It’s the 128th anniversary of the bridge, and Brooklyn Tattoo is going to be giving away Brooklyn bridge tattoos for $28.

On May 22, Brooklyn Tattoo on Smith Street is throwing a party for the Brooklyn Bridge’s birthday the best way it knows how — by offering $28 tattoos of the fabled span.  The tattoo parlor threw a similar party last year (where tattoos were, naturally, $27) and inked nearly 70 skin versions of Roebling’s famous suspension bridge.  “I would say it’s the most tattooed homage to Brooklyn there is,” said Brooklyn Tattoo co-owner Adam Suerte, who got his own version on his neck for the bridge’s 125th anniversary. “I tattoo at least a half dozen bridges on people every month.”  For this special occasion, which comes two days before the 128th anniversary, tattoos will be done on a first-come, first-served basis, and those looking to take advantage of the deal can pick from several pre-drawn images that evoke the iconic skyline.

Here’s something for our geekier readers.  And I’m not talking about sci-fi or comics.

Heidi Moore has found the owner of the Gaussian copula function tattoo — it’s advertising copywriter Jared Elms.

Jared’s professional work is great stuff — I particularly like his idea of pitting the Chrome browser against a potato gun in a speed test. His body art, by contrast, is more emo grad student: his first four tattoos were inspired by Samuel Beckett, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and the Uruguayan-born French surrealist Comte de Lautréamont.  And now, to that list, you can add David X Li.

All my tattoos are all concepts that are smarter than me that I’ll be chasing my entire life. It’s how I know I will never regret getting them, because these are concepts I never want to forget…  It’s pretty corrupt. It’s been hitting me pretty hard what happened just a few years ago. Then you see Carl Levin and the Senate looking to bring criminal charges against Blankfein. There are some key learnings that came out of that period in history, and it felt like it was a really appropriate thing to eulogize on my body…  To me this represents the recipe for human greed. It was severely misappropriated by traders, the way it was oversimplified and reduced it to a single gamma number – and they couldn’t stop using it even knowing the inherent fallibility in it…

And who said math wasn’t sexy?

Are you a tattooed parent?  Having a hard time finding a children’s book that has characters that your child can relate to?  Well look no further.

My Dad’s Got Tatts, a work in progress, is a tale about a young boy’s father who is covered in colourful images.  “I was just mucking around with my godson. I never thought of writing a book,” Mr Hines said.  Each of the 12 pages has taken him up to six hours to illustrate during the past year.  “I do doodling on paper every day. It’s no different, there’s just no blood and it doesn’t move.”  Mr Hines said the book, while not your average kiddie story, was educational: “It tells them not to go to a shoddy tattooist.”

And finally, in the only celebrity story I could bring myself to share with you, Kat Von D‘s ex is setting up shop near her studio with plans to start a turf war of sorts.

TMZ spoke with Oliver Peck — who worked alongside Kat for years — and he BLASTS his ex, telling us, they “make real tattoos” at his new place … unlike Kat’s “gimmicky tourist tattoos” a few blocks away at High Voltage.

Peck doesn’t stop there, insisting, “Nobody gets a good tattoo [at High Voltage]” — and urges ink enthusiasts to stop by his place instead … “We’re a real tattoo shop.”

Well, that’s all there is for this week.  As always, remember to send me any stories you find either by clicking this link, or e-mailing me directly.

Have a great weekend everyone.

22 thoughts on “ModBlog News of the Week: May 13th, 2011

  1. I was browsing a little mall kiosk around here the other day that’s got a very nice selection of jewelry / organics – as odd as that might sound. The cute gal popped her head around the corner when she saw me, and uttered “Hey, our gauges are buy one get one half off”.

    I promptly turned around and walked away.

    No thanks.

  2. turf wars… haha, i hope he runs her into the fucking ground.

    scary to thing that many kids having their PINGA’s trimmed all at the same time is sanitary in ANY way. ugh

    i was arrested once, and have been pulled over on multiple occasions, first time i was pulled over for by random selection was what had set me off most, because the cop wasnt able to find or pin anything on me to make me seem like a gang member i was let go, but fallowed for the fallowing week, till i called the police department and reported a car that had been fallowing me, finally gave them so much info on how the cop looked and on the car that they backed off after that. but i mean would block my car in in my driveway and look around in my car.
    when i was arrested i was repeatedly asked if my tattoos were in any way gang related, my best friend laughed non stop the whole time since he knows im far from that life style. but had a majority of my tattoos documented, especially since my face is tattooed. which is what I’d called the first cop out about, when pulled over and searched. i got no answer on why i was pulled over and had my car searched.

    and GOOD FUCKING WORK to that new article about “scratchers”, sadly though i feel most people will shrug it off due to them having a friend who knows a guy who does good work and their friends fine, and it was cheap….

  3. Tobias, Ive seen those sorta places around but sadly, its become slang and fact. hell im sure its on Wikipedia, which makes it FACT. people will never be able to break their habbits. Ive corrected people on it and theyll learn for a day, till the next time i see them… then its all out the window again. people are thick.

    guess its sorta like hipsters with their “fixies”.

    hahaha lets see how many people get set off by that

  4. I don’t care if I “lose cool points”, I will NEVER call my stretched earlobes gauges. I know we probably all did that in the beginning, but now, when you know better, why do you want to sound uneducated and stupid?

  5. I think that everyone is getting a little precious about what to call stretched ears. You have to come to realise that not everyone reads modblog or spends alot of time around piercers. I myself have corrected many people who freak out over my lobes (20mm, pretty small by bme standards) but I don’t feel its a reason to fire up at someone.
    Besides, when people say gauges they are still referring to the same thing so what’s the harm? Going on bme does not make you some kind of body mod expert.

  6. I never rage about it, but I do get fussy when people say they’re “gauging” their ears. I believe if someone is going to modify their body, they should know what they’re doing. Not even knowing the term gives me the impression that they don’t know about proper procedure and care either. But that assumption is just based on my own experience, when I was “gauging” my own ears years ago. 😉

  7. Child genital mutilation is child sexual abuse. This is a classic example of children having pain inflicted and being sexually mutilated by controlling adult scumbags. Absolutely disgusting!!

  8. The story about the facial marking or “Oyo” as they are often referred to in Ghana, represents the ritual facial cutting of Nigeria but fails to mention that the practice is common throughout most of West Africa. In the southern third of Ghana, facial cuts are used to ward off disease in sick children. When a child, usually under the age of 10 or 12, gets seriously ill (a bad case of malaria or dysentery are the most common) a single cut, usually vertically on women and horizontally on men, is made under the eye of the child. If a second sickness occurs, a cut is made under the other eye.

    While the article is correct in it’s characterization of the declining use of facial cuts, especially in Nigeria, the ridicule of that young boy is very uncommon and was most likely in a large city where cuts are less common as family members are less likely live with their ancestral villages.

    In Ghana, where I have conducted my research into facial cuttings, the marks are shown with pride. They are a sign of survival, and a sign of a strong connection to traditional Ghanaian culture.

  9. I agree with Disgusting.

    I dont understand why on earth you would remove something you were born with. I mean, I would be SO pissed if my parents took part of me away without my permission (not talking about surgeries done for health reasons etc).

    Its there for a reason. Even if you think about it from an evolutionary standpoint…foreskin was probably devolped over the millenia to protect le caveman junk from getting cut up on twigs and grass and stuff when our ancestors were running through the jungle or wherever…and now, its a modern day shield, protecting wangs all over the world from the evils of zippers, denim, and pants in general. Think of how ‘caloused’ it becomes after years of rubbin’-and-a-frictionin’ against clothes!

    I wouldnt want my fun bits being desensitized 🙂

    I think all bodypart removal should be left for the kid to decide, once theyre old enough to do so. 🙂

  10. …and PS

    Whenever we go to a restaurant, and they have potato skins on the menu…we always ask how many…the answer the waiters give is usually ‘There are Four Skins’

    …and we giggle.

    i know i know…im like a 12 year old :p

  11. RE: “Gauging” – The problem isn’t just that it is the incorrect terminology. It’s that people use the same term to describe stretched lobes, the act of stretching, the type of jewelry and the size of said jewelry.

  12. Circumcision-Schmirkumcision, how DARE someone talk bad about Kat Von D????She’s the greatest tattooist who ever lived! Haha

  13. I’m sure Oliver Peck loves the fact that we’re still referring to him as “Kat Von D’s ex”. <_<

  14. A few years ago, the term “Gauging” was just an ‘american’ thing with hot topic kids and the likes…but oh dear lord the last year its here MORE AN MORE in the UK…and makes my blood boil all these lil ‘emo’ kids with their ‘gauges’ uggghhh sooooo many times I’ve had to tell them “Gauge is a form of measurement and a very archaic one for this country…NOT the damn thing itself!”

    And alot of the shops are picking up on it here too….AND what’s more, is now we here in the UK seem at times to abandon the good old millimetres for 14g 12g etc and further (the american sizing)…which yes I’m aware its correct (gauge for once correct lol) BUT I’m too set in my old ways of 1.6mm 2.0mm and so forth lol although im aware if I went into any plumbing or hardware shop they would have been using both the UK & American sizing for years….im just too used to my old sizing way since I started stretching a near decade ago lol

    god I sound like an old man yet only 25 lol

  15. I just wanted to point out that calling toi moko “skulls” is kinda wrong because they’re HEADS, complete with hair and eye-lashes, skin and moko kanohi.

    And thank f*ck that I live in New Zealand where you’d have to call a significantly large proportion of the populace “criminal” if that were the pre-requisite for having tattoos. Sometimes you can’t shop at the supermarket in my town without almost every person exhibiting tattooed skin.

  16. Forced circumcision is horrible and definitely a form of child abuse.
    I don’t have anything against circumcision in general, as long the man who gets circumcised is old enough to make this decision himself…but forcing it on kids is disgusting and should be illegal.

  17. i’ve come to accept the term “gauge” as a slang term. we all know the correct terminology, but “gauging” is the popular way of saying “stretching.” I can act like a know-it-all sometimes when it comes to mods, but I have no problem with the term “gauge.” I use it myself, in fact.

    Concerning the circumcision party…. Ugh. I don’t believe in circumcision really at all. At least these boys are old enough to “make the decision themselves.” But I think there’s a lot of cultural and societal pressure on them, too.

  18. I love how in that episode of Strange Sex, they were totally in my city at the shop I get pierced at! =p P.S. They did touch on genital beading, but for only a few seconds.

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