Suspension is not a crime

Sometimes it seems like you have to travel to the boundaries of the map, the sort of “here be monsters” zone where you’re likely to sail off the edge of the world, to find somewhere truly epic to suspension. That’s probably just a bit of “the grass is always greener” thinking, but when I look at this picture of Jussi Paradise (photo by Wormz) suspending in Iceland, I feel like it might as well be swapped in for the opening shots of Prometheus or something. “Suspension is not a crime”, September 17, 2012.


The Ambassadorial Value of Tattoos

You may remember a little while ago I posted a charming entry about Christopher doing Peace Corps (I’ll say it again — what’s stopping YOU from joining?) work in Namibia and how the rural kids went curious-crazy over his tattoos, something they’d never seen before to such a large and bright extent.

After seeing that post, Aaron Brink wrote me about his own time over the last two summers spent in Burundi (an African country between DR Congo and Tanzania, just south of Rwanda). Like Christopher’s experience, the people there — and not just the kids — were completely enamored with his tattoos. Everywhere he went he had crowds of people following him and gathering around him trying to get a better look at his tattoos or to touch them. Not recognizing them as tattoos, and wondering if they were some sort of body paint or drawing, many people’s first response was to try and rub them off! These first pictures are from the village of Busiga.

This actually gave him a fun way to break the ice with the kids from the “Homes of Hope Orphanage” — when they broke out the facepaints, the only thing the kids wanted was tattoos of their own on their legs!


If you are able to watch Facebook videos, here’s a clip of kids:

They got a kick out of his piercings as well — this cute little boy named Brian from the orphanage is trying to put a film canister into Aaron’s stretched lobe in this piercing. At this point it is probably more common to see young people in America with stretched lobes than in most parts of Africa, where the traditional body modification practices are limited to certain rural regions and older generations.


Finally, showing that body modification truly knows no boundaries, not just across illusory racial and cultural lines like the people Christopher and Aaron met in Namibia and Burundi respectively, but also across species lines! Aaron spent some time with a young chimpanzee named Tina at the “zoo”, and she as well was very curious about his tattoos!!! (In every single picture, it’s all she’s interested in or touching).


AND P.S. Argh! Let me start by saying I feel like a DOPE because I captioned all these photos as being from “Adam” when they are from “Aaron”… and now I’ve gone and saved them and it’s too late at night to change them and still get the rest I need. My sincerest bleary-eyed and clumsy-fingered and calcium-riddled-brain apologies to Adam Aaron.

Seeing Tattoos For The First Time

Here is a joy kids growing up in the West these days with our bod-mod-saturated media will never be able to experience (or at least remember, since it happens to them when they are babies) — seeing tattoos for the very first time! Tracy’s good friend Christopher just joined the Peace Corps and is teaching math for the next two years in Namibia. The kids reacted with complete amazement not to his white skin and blond hair like we stereotypically hear in old Victorian explorer stories, but to his colourful fully tattooed sleeves, something that just doesn’t exist in most of rural Africa, so it was a real treat for them. Rachel and I were in Windhoek, Namibia almost ten years ago, but since we never went into the rural areas other than to go on a (quite wonderful, but very touristy) safari, mostly we were being glared at by snooty wanna-be-aristocrat German expats. Christopher’s encounter is much more charming.


PS. If this entry gets you thinking, here’s a map of all the places you can go if you join the Peace Corps — — much better opportunities for international adventure than joining the Military War Corps, I would say, plus the odds of getting your limbs blown off are much lower, and you’ll be helping people, not killing and oppressing them. They’ll excitedly poke at your tattoos, rather than cowering in fear and shooting at you.

The Travelling Gnome

I’m sure most of us in North America have heard of the Travelling Gnome.  The idea is you steal someone’s garden gnome before you go on vacation, then take pictures of the gnome in places all over the world, which you send back to the person you stole the gnome from.  Then, when you return, you bring back the gnome and replace it as if it never left.  The result, you end up with a great story and experience, and the person who thought their gnome was gone for good gets a surprise in the mail (and their gnome back).  Of course over the years the gnome stories have spread all over becoming so popular that a travel booking website uses a gnome as its mascot.

Well it seems the gnome is still on the go, and it looks like his latest spot was in Italy, paying a visit to IAM: Lady_FlameThrower.  You may remember her from a ModBlog post a while back about her Watchmen scarification piece.  You can see in the photo below that the photographer Alex Hen is featuring not only the gnome, but also Lady_FlameThrower’s surface bar and dermal anchors.


So has the urge to steal a gnome ever crossed your mind?  The idea of stealing a gnome is only scratching the surface of what travelers do for fun with their photos.  I’ve seen collections of people holding up cardboard cutouts of friends, other keepsakes from houses, and more.  Well ModBlog readers, have you taken a gnome or something else on your travels to document the  journey?

This land is your land, this land is my land

What about your city do you love?  I know why I love Toronto, but I’d probably take up the entire length of the main page to go into details, so I’ll sit this discussion out.

Seriously, is there something in your city that makes you feel like it’s the best city to live in?  Or is there another city you’ve been to that you think is much better?

I’m asking these questions because it says something about a person as to what they value most in a city.  What that something is I have no clue, Sean is the pretend doctor for BME, not me (he is a shrink right?).  Think about some of the commercials for cities you’ve seen on TV.  They’re out there, although most are state driven, I can assure you that every major city has a department dedicated to promoting their city as the best place to live.  The reason for that is simple, more people = more tax dollars for the city.  While the people in the streets may be shouting to the rooftops about how overcrowded the city is, to a bureaucrat behind a desk, all he hears are the potential revenue dollars brought in by new arrivals.

All those reasons you thought of when determining if your city was a great place to live?  Well some ad agency has already gone over those and prioritized them to which demographic would be suited best by hearing specific points, while downplaying others.  Lots of schools is a great incentive to young families, but would be something that could potentially drive away singles and older couples.  It’s a delicate balancing act completely focused on one goal, making the city money.

So where do we fall into the equation?  Us modded types fall into every demographic.  Young/old, male/female, straight/queer, single/married, seniors/small children, and so many more.  What could possibly be a single point that could attract us to one city over another?

I’m going to guess most city planning departments don’t take us into account, or at least just lump us into a generic demographic without realizing that while we may be members of every possible demographic, we also consist of one of our own.  The one we choose.  The one that says to the world, we’re in control of ourselves.  So who is going to look out for us?  Make sure our needs are satisfied when deciding to relocate?  Well, for the most part, we have each other.  Part of what makes this community so strong is that we’re open with each other, we’re honest about most things (I’m talking generalities, not specific interpersonal dynamics).

Well, it looks like someone over at MSNBC decided to take a look to see if there was something that they could do to show (at least a portion of) the modded community that there are cities that could possibly be appealing.

Whether you approve of tattoos or not, some of the world’s sexiest men and women — from Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox to Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt  — sport ink. This made us wonder — where in the world do most of the tattooed bods in America live? To figure out which U.S. cities were the most tattoo-friendly, we perused chat forums and looked up every state in several public directories, including Yellow Pages, Google listings, Tattoo Yellow Pages and AAA Tattoo Directory, to find those with the most listed tattoo and permanent makeup shops. Then we looked up which cities in those states had the most shops listed per capita with populations based on latest U.S. Census numbers. We also took into consideration the city’s demographics and whether or not it hosted tattoo conventions, remembering that not all tattoo parlors were listed in the directories.

Now of course you’re wondering which cities made the top ten.  I could make you go read the full article, but instead I’ll give you just the listing of the cities.  If you’re curious as to why these cities made the top ten, head on over to MSNBC to read up on it.

So without further ado, “The Top Ten Most Tattooed Cities in America”.

  • 10.  Los Angeles, CA
  • 9.  Kansas City, MO
  • 8.  Honolulu, Hawaii
  • 7.  San Francisco, CA
  • 6.  Austin, TX
  • 5.  Portland, OR
  • 4.  Flint, MI
  • 3.  Richmond, VA
  • 2.  Las Vegas, NV

And finally, in the number one position… Miami Beach, FL!

Did your city make the list?

Actually, forget that last question.  What I am really curious to know is, now that you know these rankings, would they impact your decision to move to any of those cities?

Personally, I’m staying in Toronto.  We are the center of the universe after all.

It’s time for a contest!


BME Internship 2.0

It’s been almost 5 years since BME last had interns. I’ve decided that I’d like to do something similar to the internship contest that we had. You can read more about it here. This is a much shorter version of the intern ship and instead of relocating to beautiful La Paz, Mexico, we’ll be traveling around the world.

I’m currently planning a worldwide BME tour. This will probably mean being on the road for 2-3 months. My goal is to start the tour in time to be home for the middle of June. This means we’d be hitting the road in the beginning of April. I have approximately 6 weeks to plan the trip, get sponsors, figure out the winners and then buy everyone’s tickets and book accommodations. I will also be booking the interviews that we will have scheduled. We will have at least one day off each week. This trip is all business though so if you want to do it, be prepared to take photos, talk to people and video tape interviews while we work our way around the world.

The goal of the tour is to interview as many individuals from as many different cultures and locations as possible. In each city that we stop in, I want to interview at least 5 shops and collect copies of their portfolios to add to BME. In addition to interviewing Tattoo Artists, Piercers and Body Modification Artists, I want to talk to and photograph clients as well as random people that we meet on the streets. I want to see the sites that the various places we go to have to offer (yes this means playing tourist!) as well as compile video interviews along the way.  I’d like to bring 4 people besides myself. That means our group will consist of 5 people total. We can get away with 4, including me but we may go to 6 if I can’t make a decision between a couple great candidates.

Depending how the planning process goes, the trip may end up getting split into continents, obviously it’s always fun to think big but to make it so this really happens, we may need to scale it back and make it more affordable in terms of money, time and logistics. While I’m working on the contest and putting together the team, I’ll also be working on getting sponsorships as that will help make the tour that much more viable. I may also end up having a couple openings on the trip for multiple people to fill the various roles due to the length of the trip. I feel though that you should be able to commit at least two weeks. If you can only come out for a week, it’s not enough time to get into the groove with the rest of us. I will, however, make exceptions so please send in your audition and let me know that you’re the exception that I should make!

Click through for more information!
Continue reading

BMEfest and the TTC

Everyone travelling to Toronto and taking the TTC:

If you are planning on doing a lot of travelling within one day, are travelling in groups or are only here for our (Canadian) long weekend it might be a good idea to pick up a day pass for the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission).

A day pass costs $8.50, is from start of service (which I believe is 6am) to 5:30am the next morning.

On Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays (i.e. Monday, July the 2nd) you can have two adults travel with one pass (two adults and up to four people under 19 yrs of age, or one adult and up to five people under 19). This is only on the days mentioned in this paragraph, don’t forget!

So, if anyone plans on acting like pack animals, this is probably your safest and cheapest bet for travel within the city over the weekend.

A full list of schedules, subway and streetcar maps can be found here in PDF format.