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Tattoos (2008)

Adrian’s arms look mangled. The full sleeve space scene that he got on his arm when he was young and drugged up looks blurry now, in the early stages of being lasered off. He regrets the tattoo, and has a hook-up at the laser place so he got a discount for the removal. I regret my tattoos but will never do anything about them. Sam’s grandfather was so ashamed of his navy tattoos that he tried to bleach them off—now his gristly arms are smeared with blurry dark patches. Andy got his tattoo when he was stupid and nineteen. It’s so bad I’m not even going to tell you what it is. He has spent the last ten years paying to get it lasered off. “It’s just not something I’m proud of” he shrugs. The first session was in 2002 then he didn’t go for almost another six years. “The first session, they put the numbing cream on me, and I was able to go for an hour and a half. The second time I could only go for 20 minutes. It’s unbelievably painful because you’ve got the burning and the stinging sensation put together, at the same time. Getting a tattooed lasered off is very expensive. Andy has gone into hock trying to get it done, and has even started volunteering to clean up the tattoo shop to pay off some of his sessions. “I think the body is a canvas. One day I’ll get it off and will be able to put another piece there.” He looks down at his arms, which are still mostly filled with the alien hardware, and little bits of pink skin showing through here and there, like the Creature from the Black Lagoon halfway through the makeup application. His situation reminds me of sharecropping, minus the institutional racism and for the fact that he actually made a conscious choice to get a very-stupid tattoo. There is so much vanity and boredom and identity-grooming that happens here at the end times. Young people working as unpaid interns at ‘cool’ digital companies, working so they can pay their rent and get more tattoos and records, working at the Apple genius bar so they can buy more Apple products, a kind of guinea pig wheel that has been built to keep us entertained and distracted and separated while the people at the top laugh and laugh and laugh and keep collecting.



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