I was without a computer on this trip, but my buddy Martin came to visit me in Buenos Aires and brought me a little netbook, so now I can write whenever I feel like it, I have been writing a lot ... I figured I could share some of the shit that has gone through my head while away. I don't know if its interesting or not, but it feels good to share shit, so here goes:
*** These fucking people (in Buenos Aires) go hard. harder than i have ever seen. they walk down the street old and aged, smoking their cigarettes, they drink their wine and eat nothing but red meat and live to be a hundred, not as invalids but as strong people who survive on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a day. it is a different life. we have been lied to in the states, don’t eat this, don’t look at that, don’t say what not... how long has this been going on and who is the captain?
*** I have my own hotel room here in Buenos Aires, what a feeling of freedom, I think it could technically be referred to as a flop house, or maybe a guest house. I get a ro
om but the bathroom is shared. The shower and toilet are in the same room, which is like a broom closet, there is no shower curtain, so you shower with the toilet and the sink. It reminds me of the divey hotels that I read about in Bukowski books. But the bed is big and comfy enough. What a nice treat, ha, I think of traveling and it seems more and more to be an exercise in accepting whatever life has to offer, looking at the sheets and the bed i think, oh man, i wonder if its clean (I’ve had two bouts with bed bugs and they are brutal) and then i remember that other people live like this, a lot of people live in these conditions and i can too, i am not special, i am one of the rest. As special as the rest. There are children’s stickers stuck to my headboard. An elephant and Daffy Duck, the bed is big with a paisley bedspread, a smaller single bed sits next to it, floral print on the bedsheets, roses. And more stickers, a monkey and some fish. There are two desks in the room an larger one and a a smaller one, an old wooden chair at the larger one with some of the back posts missing, three small bedside tables, very high ceilings, one light hanging in the center of the room, a large flat light bulb illuminates the room as best it can come nighttime.
*** It seems very much like the first time in my life where i am really on my own, there are friends but they are new friends, there is no history to share in, only the present moment and what we make of our relationship becomes our history. Walking down the street and seeing all of these women and these girls looking so beautiful, in a way that only Argentinian and Latin women can. I smile at them, or I don’t, but I notice, I always notice. Looking back on my history I am faced with this observation, I have pretty much always been completely consumed with whatever object of desire was in front of me. Most ferociously when that object was a woman. I lose a sense of my own path, and my path merges with their path, if I had plans, those plans entered into a realm of uncertainty. My life, ceased to be my life in most every circumstance where I chose to get into a relationship, like an eclipse that I couldn’t take my eyes off, sooner or later I went blind. Here, now, in this dingy room, alone, I am feeling withdrawals. Ultimately what I would love is to be able to be whatever it is I may be in whatever moment I may be in without changing according to the people around me, male or female, more so I guess with women. Even flings can throw me for a loop and make me uncomfortable with the sudden realization or assumption that because we exchanged bodily fluids shits done changed. In the high mind, I can see the benefits of open relationships and casual sex, in my normal mind, i freak out about what it all means, if anything. I just within the past month or two had my first situation where I slept with a girl and didn’t call her afterwards because of the aftermath, it made me so uncomfortable afterwards, what with her hanging on me and saying in her best "you no go home okay, you stay here yeah?". ugh. not what I wanted.
*** It feels good to read, really good. How do you read a huge book in a short amount of time? By going out to all the bars and getting sloshed? Nah. By going out to freind’s houses and kicking it? Nope. By staying in and reading, by yourself. I shower less than I used to.
*** With that wind blowing across dry land and the words of your favorite band playing in a broken loop in your mushed out brain your heart breaks again for the umpteenth time that rock in your stomach like a tumbler memories of months past rush like flooded out sewers in the streets of Cordoba The sound of the tires on the pavement, 17 feet beneath your flat body reverberate in the empty rooms and the cavernous abyss of your chest where all of those horrible nights reside. memories begin to fight, they begin to claw eachother the cookies at the door, the white sweater in the cold weather of Connecticut that dark skin in soft blanco cashmere Hot weather and hateful words, no love in that heart for you soft skin vs. tight lips Love and hope throw a right at go fuck yourself and a jab at the silence that silence which was draped upon those two lovers like a rabid sloth
*** As I was walking home tonight from eating at a Parilla I was thinking about what it means to travel. What are the benefits and the restrictions... are there guidelines? Like is it bad for me to have sat at home all day yesterday and not to have done anything at all? In the grand scheme of things I think that acts as a creature comfort, gone for 10 months, all in all there are not that many days spent completely fucking off and being a bed potato. Traveling of course expands ones horizons, visiting different cultures provides the experience for culture shock, it requires one to force themselves to be comfortable when the situation doesn’t allow for that to come naturally. Sometimes, it works like a round peg in a round hole and other times its a triangle into an octagon, it either flows well and is comfortable, exciting, fast paced and thrilling, or it is monotonous, lonely, slow, dull and uncomfortable. In either situation though, the person is removed from their normal daily routine, they are taken out of their routine and placed into a different world. With that it is possible to create each day anew. There is a definite lack of history when one is on the road for any extended period of time by themselves (when traveling with someone else you have a familiar face there, a constant reminder as to who you were the day before,a mirror of sorts). The people along the way can be amazing and memorable and inspirational but at the end of it all, each goes in their own direction. This has been one of the most distinct feelings as of late: a constant state of not really knowing anyone, I have, at times, felt like a tree floating away, a tree with no roots. Sometimes, the feeling is more distinct than others and other times I am opened up to the people around me. I know that they care and like me, but they still don’t really know me though, we can not talk about people we both know, because we are the people we know. This might not be a bad thing. It allows each and every day to be a free form sculpture, changing throughout the day as one sees fit. Life as Art.
*** I've experienced an odd sense of anxiety the last couple of days, normal steps on the sidewalk suddenly give me vertigo and i feel as if i am stepping off of a cliff or slowly floating away, but something drops. The earth drops from beneath my feet.
*** Cocaine, carne and papas fritas for breakfast. Mmm mmm weird.
*** Throughout these countries I have seen people living with less fear. In small cities, in the middle of the jungle, in coastal towns, at heights above the clouds in the Andes I have seen entire families riding on one motorcycle, dad driving, wife on back, baby up front near the handlebars and child on the mothers lap, entire cities of motorcycles, entire cities of mototaxis ( a motorcycle turned into a three wheeler, with a cab in the back). I have watched these people share close to everything, cigarettes, drinks, beds, seats, food. I have see
n a grubby dirty beggar approach a couple, sitting at a outside table of a bar and ask for change or a cigarette or a drink and the man, gave him his own glass to drink from and then passed him a cigarette. The beggar left and the man poured more beer into his glass and drank from it without any concern. *** Recent books I have read: The Ice Man, Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer: Philip CarloChile, The Other Sept 11th Distant Star: Roberto Bolano Marching Powder: Rusty Young In the Time of the Butterflies: Julia Alvarez ++++ The Kite Runner: Khaled Housseini +++++After Dark: Haruki Mirukami Guns, Germs and Steel: Jared Diamond Kitchen Confidential: Anthony Bourdain Down and Out in Paris and London:George Orwell No Country for Old Men: Cormac Maccarthy Drinks with Shane Macgowen (fucking great if you’re a Pogues fan) +++The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: Andy Warhol +++++ The Rum Diaries: Hunter S Thompson ++++
And thats the news from Lake Wobegon. JTG Buenos Aires, Argentina Nov. 2010
Okay. So I am in La Paz Bolivia, working for a couple of weeks at a great tattoo shop called Pepes, with great new friends... friends like family. Tattooing continues to amaze me, the opportunities that open up to me because of my craft floor me. Doors that would otherwise remain shut, open up and I am allowed behind the curtain. I am incredibly thankful for this life and all that I am experiencing. I have seen so much over the past 8 months.
I have been in the norhtern jungle of Peru, where there is only electricity for four hours a day, from 6 Pm - 10 Pm. While on a walk with some friends to go smoke a joint, I met an old woman whom I could not speak to because my Spanish after all of this time is still shit, this poor woman was losing her face, it looked like biblical leprosy, she had no nose left, no lips and her cheek was starting to rot off, it was all just an open oozing sore that looked like the fat of a steak. Standing above her, I could see the top of her tongue as she struggled to talk. She had been suffering from this for 8 years, she lived with her son, in the jungle jungle, their house was 4 poles with a thatch roof, no walls, two mats with mosquito nets, no running water, no bathroom... This shit is life changing. When I get grumpy or feel bad for myself I remember this woman and her suffering and how she lives and I am thankful for my life. I am appreciative.
This trip has been more than i ever expected, while I was on a riverboat into the jungle I met a 16 year old kid from Englad who was on a tour of some sort with some other well off kids, it was his birthday. My friends from Argentina and I were stoned and I offered to smoke the kid out for his birthday on this gigantic ship making its way down a tributary of the Amazon river. I wondered as we layed on the deck and stared at the amazing sky, the stars shooting and falling, what the difference between this kids experience and mine was, we were both on this crazy ship, in the middle of the river, for days on end, eating prison food... what made his experience different than mine? I realized I had worked my ass off to make it to the river, to be at that point in time, to have the time to be there laying on that ship, staring into the sky. I had earned it. I worked for it and therefore my appreciation must have been different, I had learned through my experiences what people to trust and what people not to trust (most of the time), I knew what risks I wanted to take and where I wanted to go... this kid was just floating and that was alright, it was a treat to talk with him for a bit and get him stoned on that creaking steel mass floating on the murky brown water as the landscape passed us by.
So far I have been through Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and now Bolivia. I love walking across the borders and getting new stamps. There is a new focus for me with tattooing, at the beginning of the trip I did a couple of tattoos here and there but no real concentration. Now the trip has become about tattooing. Hence the name of this fucking blog. And I can not believe how much it has changed my approach, my ideas, my drawings etc... The people tattooing down here in South America love the craft just as much as I do, most of them anyway, some of them are jokes, using other peoples work as their own for posters and business cards, not using autoclaves, I saw one shop that used the same grip over and over and would just change disposable tips for every new client... assholes. But there are amazing people here who love it like I love it. And that crosses any language barrier. The artists here have a lot less access to supplies and reference material, which means that they work in different ways than we do in the States. I haven't used or seen a thermofax (how we tatters make our stencils) or any of the normal reference books all of us love so much, because they have to pay a fucking shitload to get anything into their country. In turn this has transformed my work ethic. That and conversing with all of these dudes and exchanging information, I can actually feel myself becoming a craftsman, with pride and confidence in my abilities.
Doing this blog is difficult as I dont have a computer and blah blah blah... but I figured I could share some photos from the trip thus far, the best of the best with no concern for a timeline, just to get them out there for you all to see, to share aas best I can my experience up until this point.
Trying to blog while on the road with no computer is proving to be a difficult experience. There are photos that I want to share and show to everyone, amazing things I´ve seen, people I´ve met, wierd shit that I have come in contat with. But they are foating in cyber space and I am currently in Mancora Peru, which is on the coast of Northern Peru very close to the ecuator. It is beautiful and hot and filled with women that fit the same description. So the photos will wait....
I just tattooed serioulsy for the 1st time since I left home in January. I had done a couple here and there but had not settled down to focus on work at all. My buddy Daniel Aranda had a friend in Lima with a shop called Arte Sagrado, I spent two or three weeks there with those guys and really worked my ass off. It felt so good and the dudes were cool as shit, made some really great friends. I am in love with tattooing, my mistress for the past 11 years. Tattooing in Lima Peru was a bit like being a missionary, Peru is not a rich country (at least in economical terms), most things are inexpenive. Tattoos as well. So I was doing the best work I could for a fraction of what I would charge while at home and it felt so good. It wasn´t about money. It was about the love of the craft, and leaving a trail, a record of my being there, a record left in the skin of the people.
I have been reading a shit ton since this trip statrted and I would like to brag about the books I have read since January... the stars represent my favorites
1. Kafka on the shore by Mirukami***** 2. Savage Detectives by Roberto Baloño***** 3. You Cant Win by Jack Black***** 4. some book about two douchbags kidnapped in the Darien Gap 5. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez**** 6. Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevera 7. Cold Dark by Comrmac Mccarthy 8. 2666 by Roberto Baloño***** 9. The 8 fold Enlightened Path by ?... 10. Raise High The Roof Beams by Salinger 11. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou***** 12. Lord of the rings (the 1st one) by Tolkien 13. Geek Love by...? 14. Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez***** 15. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse 16. Synopsium by Plato 17. The Metamorphosis by Kafka*** 18. The Art of War by Sun Tzu 19. The Old man and the Sea by Hemingway***** 20. The Brief Wondrous LIfe of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (2nd time) *****