Thursday, May 16, 2013


The Atlantic, which may be my favorite long-form online news source, recaps this feature on sailors' tattoos produced by Scuttlefish and Bowsprite.

I saw a claim the other day that one in five adult Americans has permanent art somewhere on his or her body. That 's a sh*tload of tattoos. And it all started with members of my profession.

I probably need a few more.

Way back when I got my first tattoo I thought I'd find some support from my Uncle Junior (that's Ramon, Jr., for my grandfather, but everyone in the family called him "Junior"). Uncle Junior was a retired Navy man with 20 years on destroyers and he had some pretty good ink on his arms.

I imagined that some of it came from port calls in Hawaii, even.

"Why the hell would you want to do that?!" he thundered at me. "Tattoos are stupid. They're permanent. Don't get a tattoo."

Oh well.

Tattoos are, now, much more widely accepted (and acceptable) than they were even 20 or 30 years ago. College kids get them during drunken spring break binges. Accountants and lawyers get them.

Bikers and gang members get them, too, of course.

But so do soldiers and sailors. Still.

1 comment:

  1. A doctor once told me "Not all people with tats have Hep-C, but almost all people with Hep-C have tats.". This was after his complaint about a new tat on his adult daughter. He wasn't fundamentally against ink, just concerned about the health risks. I don't think it's commonly transmitted via tats as much as in the past, with the exception of the "home-made" jobs. I still haven't decided on my first tat.