Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sitting 6 - Ribs and Pork Butt

Date: February 3, 2012
Tattooing Time: 4 hours
Breaks: 1 (25 minutes)
Total Tattooing Time: 22 hours

As I mentioned in my last post, Sitting #6 was scheduled to be a double-session, which I was dreading like nobody's business.  I had far too many lingering memories of our first session - an utterly brutal gauntlet of outlining - so the notion of another six-hour sitting was not sitting well with me.  Fortunately, two things happened: the appointment (originally scheduled for the Massapequa shop) was switched to the Bowery location and... we only did four hours.

It was a crowded day in the shop.  Admittedly, I was 15 minutes late for my appointment and when I arrived, the machines were grinding away under the talented hands of Grez, Brian Paul and Sarah Schor.  After a brief review of how I was healing up (verdict: great, just a tiny bit of "fall-out" near my armpits), I was back on my right side as he dove right in on the left side of my rib-cage.

I've been having an easy go with the ribs - they've not nearly been the horror story that I've heard about from other tattoo collectors who have the "skank-flank," as it's affectionately been called ever since rib-pieces have seemed to surpass the "tramp stamp" in popularity.  In all honesty, I think the open layout of the Bowery location combined with a steady client flow also helps make the pain far more tolerable.  The chatter, the bullshitting and ball-breaking, the constant stream of goofy wisecracks from Grez... while I'd never recommend letting out a big belly laugh when you're under the needle, a steady stream of snickering definitely keeps the endorphins flowing.

And then we sat me up on a chair...

"I wanna hit this spot next," Rube said to me as I felt him tap the waves on my spine and sacrum and my brain went into a mild state of panic.  Not this shit again, I thought.  Things were going so smoothly.

The chairs in the shop are quite big and very comfortable... when you sit on them the "proper" way.  But when you have to rock an A.C. Slater, it's a different story.  I had to get my right leg in between the seat-back and the seat-back adjustment lever, which then torqued my left leg nice and good.  You can almost stop focusing on the pain of a shader in your sacrum when you're concerned about dislocating your own hip on a piece of furntiture... almost.

"You're hating me right now, aren't ya?" Rube asked.  I'm not your biggest fan right now, that's for sure.

I wasn't gonna tap out after just three hours, though, so we decided to take a brief break for "lunch" and, much to some people's surprise, I suggested that we crank out another hour before my girlfriend arrived. Rube went to the back to eat some chicken and rice and I... went outside to find a bar to spend 20 minutes steadying my nerves.

Now, this is New York City... you can find bars that open their doors at 7am if you know where to look.  This was 4pm on a Friday on the Bowery and yet the first three places I dashed to all had their doors shuttered up tight.  I cursed my decision to head north instead of south; why hadn't I listened to my initial instinct?  But, just as I was about to give up my quest for liquid comfort, I spotted a Chinese restaurant...

A cocktail at a Chinese restaurant can either go very well (semi-skilled bartender who makes extremely strong drinks) or very poorly (semi-skilled bartender who makes extremely weak drinks).  Fortunately, my good man was one of the former and - even though I had to interrupt him from shelling snap peas to make my second beverage - I was able to return to the shop in a subtle but delightful haze before Rube had even finished his meal.

The last hour was spent on my left hip and ass cheek - another area that I've heard is nightmarish, but I've had surprisingly few issues with it.  Well, at least the ass-tattooing part.  The healing is certainly less than pleasurable: I've bruised up quite a bit on my hip and wearing pants (or simply sitting to type this) has become... "problematic."

But in the words of my friend Chad, "No pain... no killer fucking backpiece."

This will probably be my last sitting for the month.  The little lady and I have booked a well-deserved Puerto Rican vacation at the end of the month and I need to be fully healed up before I go anywhere near the sun or the swimming pool.

That said, I'd like to give our fellow hotel guests fair warning: we may be a heavily tattooed couple, but we're intelligent, polite people... please don't stare and definitely don't touch.


  1. Another great read Brian and the piece is turning out fantastic! Have you and Rubes discussed colors yet? Forgot to ask last time if there was any significant reason why you chose a dragon for your backpiece? Now I'm getting antsy about getting my back done but still dreading the pain and healing process.

  2. Thanks, Ricky! There's no real direct reason why I chose a dragon, other than that I've always loved them (which I touched on briefly in the first post on this site). Before we started, I spent a few months going through Marisa's (extensive) tattoo art-book libraryand while I was initially considering a phoenix and I saw a plethora of gorgeous tigers, my eyes always came back to the dragons.

    We haven't discussed color in too much depth (still got a lot more black/grey to put in) but I'm interested in making the dragon primarily blue and doing the maple leaves in red so they don't look too much like cannabis. But, that's about all I have to say on it. I firmly believe that Rube does his best work when I dont give him too much direction.

  3. Thank you for sharing. I have a back piece that started back in 2008, and due to circumstances, won't be completed until 2012. It's been quite a journey for me, and I can certainly empathize. What you have is beautiful, and I thank you for sharing. For myself, and perhaps for you, it will be something that...defines and shapes. For the better. It has certainly changed me. Cheers!