(I am finally going to be completing this series of posts that I began in 2010. In preparation for that, I am reposting these articles in their order of appearance. They will appear once a week on Wednesdays.)
In this series of posts I intend to give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.
We will start off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose. I like to refer to these as The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity. Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post. The first of the Hamsters is the Tattooed Vermin.
When I was a boy only veterans tended to have tattoos, along with sailors who were usually veterans. Many of the men would ruefully admit that they acquired the tattoos while drunk and most of them did not seem overly fond of their tattoos. Tattoos on aging human flesh have never been attractive, as most of those fellows amply demonstrated. Men with lots of tattoos tended to be restricted to working in freak shows. Tatoo parlors were usually located in red light districts where they specialized in giving tattoos at cheap rates, with tetanus from inadequately sterilized tattooing needles thrown in as an added bonus. From this I drew the conclusions that getting drunk in military service was doubtless not a good idea, and that tattoos might be an argument that while men were usually stronger than women, intellectual prowess might reside on the distaff side.
Fast forward three decades. According to a Pew survey in 2006, 36% of Americans 18-29 sport a tattoo. In the criminal courts where I have a chance to observe the younger generation, I’d say the tattooed portion of that age group is around 80%. Often the tattoos are upon the arms in such a manner that only a long-sleeved shirt will hide them, a device I have resorted to when representing accused felons, who desperately do not want the term convicted substituted for accused and were willing to follow my advice that not looking like a slovenly tattooed thug is best when coming before either a judge or a jury.
Tattoos are all the rage, as shows like Miami Ink indicate. Criminal youth may embrace looking like a walking art easel more than other members of their age cohort, but the difference is one of degree rather than kind. I have known young attorneys who spent thousands of dollars on “body art” and then spent thousands of dollars attempting to remove said “body art” when they learned that even tattooed clients tend to prefer that their attorneys be non-visibly tattooed. Of course with modern tattoo removal techniques, and tattoo removal is a hot growth industry, no one will ever know that the person was tattooed, unless the observer gets up next to the person and is not blind.
Unfortunately, the fashion for tattoos has afflicted both men and women. From small tattoos on ankles to full blown tramp stamps lower back tattoos, tattoos are an essential part of the never-ending struggle that some women engage in today to prove that they can act as foolish and feckless as the most dim-witted male.
The curiosity is why tattoos are so popular. The desire to stand out, not by accomplishing anything, but by becoming a human billboard? The desire to fit in? (“Well all the other lemmings are going over the cliff…”) Rebellion? (“Dad will have a cow when he sees this Obama tattoo”!) Rank stupidity? (“Purty tattoo”!)
Ah well, perhaps I am taking this all too seriously. There are worse things that people could do. That of course brings us to the Second Hamster of the Apocalypse, the Pierced Vermin. However, I am weary and we will save him for another day. Now it is time for my nap, and then yummy stewed prunes.