ModBlog News of the Week: June 17th, 2011

It’s Friday night.  You’re either getting home from work or getting ready for a night on the town.  And for us here at BME the end of Friday means it’s time for the weekly news roundup for you to read over the weekend until we’re back on Monday with more posts.  Without any further ado, let’s begin.

A lot of ModBlog attention in the past year has been on a couple of Russian suspension teams that are constantly pushing the limits of suspensions.  Well this week it was an American who made headlines by setting the record for highest suspension ever.  Zane Whitmore, with the help of a team of professionals including Allen Falkner, took to the air, suspended from a hot air balloon.

Zane Whitmore’s weekend was probably more painful than yours.  On Saturday, this Seattle man spent nearly 75 minutes hooked to a hot air balloon 2,800 feet above the ground — and those hooks went through pierced holes in his back.  Whitmore, 34, practices the ritual of human suspension. Rather than focusing on being in pain, he said he spent most of the time thinking about how fortunate he was to be having the experience.  “I was mentally prepared for it so I was really just concentrating on the sensation of flying,” Whitmore told AOL Weird News. “I was having a blast.”

The stunt was filmed for “Feet Off the Ground,” a documentary about practitioners of human suspension. But Whitmore said he would have done it whether or not the cameras were rolling.  “The reward is largely mental,” he said. “When your mind’s state is altered I think the way you perceive the world around you changes a bit.”  According to Cory Devine of Precarious Egg, the company producing the documentary, Whitmore reached a height of nearly 11,000 feet above sea level. He wore a harness attached to his waist in the event his skin were to tear.  He added, “It was a unique way to view the wildlife, that’s for sure.” For sure.

Our friends over at Hooklife had the opportunity to hear from Allen about his part in the suspension.

“So how high are we?”  “You see those mountain peaks?  They are 11,000 feet.”  “That’s sea level right?  How high are we above the ground?”  “3,800 feet” I leaned out of the basket with camera in hand.  “Hey Zane, we just topped 3,800 feet.  How are you feeling?”  “Amazing!!!!!!”  Personally I wish it was me hanging below the basket, but being asked to pierce and rig this suspension was still a pretty amazing experience.

Just so we’re clear, this wasn’t meant to be a challenge to anyone to top this feat.  Allen and the rest of the crew are some of the top practitioners in the world, and even they had to differ to a stunt coordinator, as well as work with the hot air balloon company.  So as groundbreaking as this is, please don’t even think about attempting to recreate this, as this was probably one of the most dangerous suspensions I’ve ever seen.

However, Zane’s suspension wasn’t the only one in the news this week.  To see what other suspension made headlines, you’ll have to continue on with the rest of the news.

As I was saying, the hot air balloon suspension wasn’t the only headline making story in the news.  Alice Newstead in partnership with Shark Savers and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society took to the streets of Hong Kong to protest the killing of sharks for profit, such as selling the fins for shark fin soup.

The dramatic demonstration was part of a campaign to urge the Hong Kong government to stamp out shark fin soup.  Role-playing as a “live shark”, Artist Alice Newstead had her skin pierced with hooks, and hung suspended from scaffolding in an arts centre courtyard.  The 20-minute body suspension was a dramatic illustration of how sharks are caught on longlines to be killed for their fins.  “The ones that I used today are actually shark hooks that have had the barbs removed and have been sterilised. And I feel shark finning is a really barbaric practice. If it takes doing something a bit drastic to get people to notice it, then it’s absolutely worth it,” said Alice Newstead, a performance artist & Lush employee.

The campaign is a joint effort by British cosmetics company Lush and marine conservation group Shark Savers.  They are asking the public to sign postcards to the Hong Kong government, urging it to ban shark fin consumption, trade and sales in the city.

While we’re on the subject of metal piercing flesh, there were a couple of piercing related stories this week as well.

You may recall from a few months back that a woman was arrested for piercing kittens and selling them as “Goth Kittens“.  She appealed and this week her appeal was rejected.

‘Metal protruded from the kittens’ small bodies, pierced through their ears and necks, and at least one of these kittens also had an elastic band tied around its tail, an attempt at docking, which is a procedure to stem the blood flow so that the tail eventually falls off,’ Judge Kate Ford Elliott wrote in a 19-page opinion.  Crawford, who had offered the kittens for US$100 (S$124), was exposed after an investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) posed as a customer and met her in 2008.  She was reported to the authorities and the kittens were seized.  In April last year, the groomer was sentenced to six months of home detention and electronic monitoring.  Crawford, who was described as having ‘several facial piercings’ herself and being ‘enthusiastic about piercing’, admitted to performing the kitten piercings herself without anaesthetic, though she did treat the kittens with antiseptic after the procedure.

While I don’t think the ear piercing was too damaging as cats can live with a little nick in their ears, doing a surface piercing on a kitten or attempting to dock their tail with an elastic band is just cruel.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with doing it at all, but when it comes to impact, the neck and tail were definitely the worst aspects of this case.

Microdermals are back in the news this week with revelations that even more states are looking at putting together legislation on their use.  A number of states have already banned the practice outright until some kind of ruling can be made, and Washington state is the next one looking to make that move.

They’re single-point, surface or microdermal anchors, tiny pieces of metal jewelry slipped under the skin.  “A lot of people question how (the piercings) are done,” said Deshazer, who was taking a break from making lattes and other coffee drinks at 13 Buffalos, a drive-through espresso stand on Rucker Avenue in downtown Everett.  It’s so new that state officials are still taking a look at the practice. And at least one state has banned it until new regulations can be written.  For Deshazer, the piercings are a bit painful and mostly permanent. If she ever wants to have her anchors removed, she’ll have to go to a professional.

Officials with the Association of Professional Piercers, a national nonprofit educational group, agree that surface piercings pose less risk than other, more extreme kinds of body manipulation.  The novelty of surface piercing has resulted in some confusion, especially among lawmakers, said James Weber, the group’s outgoing president.  “A lot of legislators don’t know what to make of them,” he said.  Washington last year began to regulate piercers and tattoo artists. Regulations require that no piercer “implant or embed foreign objects into the human body.”  “We are continually working with the industry on new practices that come along, especially in relation to public safety,” said Christine Anthony, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Licensing. “As I understand it, the microdermal piercing is a relatively new practice and one we will be taking a look at.”  Some states, including New Jersey, have banned the practice until further study can be completed, Weber said.

Moving on to the tattoo portion of this week’s news we have yet another story out of Hermosa Beach, CA.  If you remember, Hermosa Beach was the town that tried to ban tattoo studios through the courts, and ended up having the 9th circuit court turnover their ban, and made a ruling that tattoos are now a form of protected speech under the first amendment and studios can not be ordered to close without legitimate health concerns/complaints.  Fast forward to this week and a group of citizens are now trying to push the council to impose strict regulations on the studios which include where they can be located and what hours they can be open.  Rather than lose another law suit, the council rejected the motion.

Despite what residents and the Planning Commission wanted, Hermosa Beach’s City Council refused to impose additional restrictions on tattoo businesses.  The unpopular move was made in order to protect the city from possible future litigation.  When the city lost a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to a tattoo artist allowing him to open a tattoo shop in Hermosa Beach, city officials were faced with creating zoning for the new businesses. Months later, residents began to react after shops started popping up in town.

At its June 14 meeting, the council heard from representatives for a group of residents called Citizens United, which had filed a lawsuit against the city in hopes of making it restart the zoning processes regarding tattoo shops in Hermosa Beach. Citizens United feels the city did not properly inform residents of zoning changes and said the city should have first consulted the Planning Commission before deciding what regulations to force on incoming tattoo businesses.

City Attorney Michael Jenkins was asked to inform the council of its options, and he said regardless of what the opposition says, any efforts to further restrict tattoo shops could entice legal action by the owners. He explained since tattooing is protected as a freedom of speech, there aren’t any options to impose further restrictions without risking litigation. He also said there is not any proof that real estate values decrease or that crime increases because of nearby tattoo studios.  “If we had documentation … we could rely on it,” Jenkins said. “We don’t have a documented problem.”  Mayor Pro Tem Howard Fishman said the city placed as many restrictions as it could last fall when zoning for the tattoo businesses and said a few more is not worth being sued over.  “We’ve done the best we can. It could subject us to some further litigation,” Fishman said, before making a motion to simply receive and file the Planning Commission’s proposal.

Hopefully this is the last time we hear about Hermosa Beach and it’s hatred towards tattoos.

Ok Aussie readers, you might want to pay attention to this story.  Researchers have discovered that people who get tattooed with Ned Kelly related images are more likely to die a violent death.

The life of outlaw Ned Kelly ended abruptly when he was sent to the gallows for his crimes – and now it appears he is still something of a curse more than 130 years after he went to his grave.  An extraordinary study has found that people with tattoos of the Irish- Australian criminal, who is seen by some as a freedom-fighting folk hero, are more likely to be murdered or kill themselves.

The comparison between murder, suicide and Ned Kelly tattoos was made by Adelaide University Professor Roger Byard.  He began looking into the phenomenon after seeing there were an unusually high number of Kelly tattoos on bodies in the Adelaide mortuary.  Of the 20 men with Ned Kelly tattoos that the professor studied, only three  had died from natural causes – the rest were murdered or killed themselves.  He also found that 11 of the 20 Kelly enthusiasts also had signs of drug and alcohol abuse.  Professor Byard wrote in a paper for the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine: ‘Although the population studied is highly selected, individuals with these tattoos had an above average incidence of traumatic deaths.  ‘Individuals with Ned Kelly tattoos in this series certainly had an above-average incidence of traumatic deaths compared to other forensic cases.

Please note that engaging in criminal activities like Ned Kelly did can also be a cause of violent death.

Speaking of criminal activities.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.  If you plan on committing a crime.  Make sure you cover up any tattoos that can easily be identified.

Baraboo police are searching for a man with a “Die Pig Die” tattoo on his neck who they say held up a Wells Fargo Bank early Thursday evening with a handgun and drove away in a stolen pickup truck.  Police are looking for Baraboo resident Richard B. Hindes, 31, in connection with the incident. Baraboo Police Department Lt. Rob Sinden said Hindes was identified by the tattoo described by tellers inside the bank.  Sinden added that Baraboo police officers previously had contact with Hindes. He is described as a 31-year-old white man who stands 6-feet-tall and weighs about 190 pounds. The tattoo is on the right side of his neck.

This goes double if you already have a criminal record and the police have documented your tattoos.

Richard there isn’t the only idiot in the news this week.  Who could forget Kimberley Vlaminck, the Belgian girl who got 56 stars tattooed on her face, and then tried to blame the tattoo artist.  It seems she’s finally ready to get them removed, which gives me another chance to post her picture again.  I can’t help but laugh every time I see it.

Belgian Kimberley Vlaminck, 20, told her furious dad tattooist Rouslan Toumaniantz had inked on the extra as she slept.  She said she woke in horror to find the stars spread all across the left side of her face.  Kimberley, then 18, blamed Flemish-speaking Rouslan for not being able to understand her French and English instructions.  She vowed to sue the Romanian after complaining she could not go out on the street looking “like a freak”.  She told reporters: “I explicitly said in my French native tongue, and also in English when he looked confused, that I wanted three little stars only near my left eye.”  She finally confessed she did not fall asleep, that she wanted all the stars and was “fully aware” of what the tattooist was doing a week later.

She told a TV station: “I asked for 56 stars and initially adored them. But when my father saw them, he was furious.  “So I said I fell asleep and that the tattooist made a mistake.”  Shocked Rouslan maintained she had given him explicit instructions at his parlour in Courtrai, Belgium, in June 2009.  He offered to pay for half the removal op when she complained, saying he did not “wish to have an unsatisfied client”. He later retracted the offer.  She will now pay for the surgery herself.

The “I fell asleep” line cracks me up every time.

Finally in news that’s only slightly tattoo related, a new trend is emerging in nightclubs.  It seems that if a guy wants women to know he’s available and looking, he gets a fake tattoo replica of Mike Tyson’s famous tribal.

Mike Tyson’s tattoo, is taking on a life of its own. This famous boxer’s facial tattoo is now considered a “hot new way to woo somebody,” according to the New York Post this morning. While most people, both men and women, are having the Tyson facial tattoo painted on temporarily, it is considered a real attention grabber for the single set.

“It is the No. 1 requested design I get from men of all ages . . . and men definitely use it as a way to attract the opposite sex,” says Prom. The temporary painted on version of the Tyson tattoo was seen Friday night at Coyote Ugly in the East Village, where there seemed to be no shortage of this newest trend. They were actually offering the boxer’s inspired tattoo as a face stamp, at this club. Both men and women were sporting the Tyson tat.

I fully expect everyone attending this year’s BMEFest in Virginia to arrive with a Mike Tyson tattoo.

And that’s it for this week’s news everyone.  As always, be sure to send in those links you find, and have a great weekend.

8 thoughts on “ModBlog News of the Week: June 17th, 2011

  1. As happy as I am that those cats were rescued, there’s no guarantee that PETA actually found them homes.

    In relations to the Tyson temporary tattoo, how does the artist feel considering that recent lawsuit?

  2. If I could make it to BMEFest I would so get some temporary Mike Tyson ink 😉

  3. I hope it wasn’t PETA that physically took in those kittens; I still can’t believe they got off as lightly as they did for euthanizing animals.

    Re: the Ned Kelly article. I know a criminology professor who can rattle off statistics and study results that have found that the Number One predictor of being murdered (at least in the U.S.) is having a criminal record.

  4. awww….I have no space on my face for a mike tyson tattoo….oh well…maybe I’ll just make do with my actual tattoos that arent there to say “hey lady’s look at me…I want in your pants!” 😛

  5. People just don’t understand correlation without causation. I doubt if I got a Ned Kelley tattoo that my chances of being murdered/committing suicide would change…

  6. PETA kills more animals on a yearly basis than they save, by a large majority. The cats were most likely euthanized when they could’ve had the piercings removed and offered up for adoption.

  7. regarding Alice suspension, the Sea Shepherd were not involved with this .
    Shark savers and Pangea seed were involved for this hong kong protest

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