Tattoos are commonly used among criminals to show gang membership and record the wearer’s personal history—such as his or her skills, specialties, accomplishments, and convictions. They are also used as a means of personal expression. Certain designs have developed recognized coded meanings. The code systems can be quite complex and because of the nature of what they encode, the tattoos are not widely recognized.
Tattooing is forbidden in most prisons. It is therefore done in secret, with makeshift equipment. For example, tattoos done in a Russian prison often have a distinct bluish color (due to being made with ink from a ballpoint pen) and usually appear somewhat blurred because of the lack of instruments to draw fine lines. The ink is often created from burning the heel of a shoe and mixing the soot with urine (for sterilization), and injected into the skin utilizing a sharpened guitar string attached to an electric shaver.
Prison tattoos often signal gang membership, form a code, or have hidden meanings. However, due to the lack of proper equipment and sterile environments in prison, the practice poses health risks. Tattooing in prison is illegal in the United States, but inmates find ways to create their own tattooing devices out of their belongings. Improvised equipment is assembled from mechanical pencils, magnets, radio transistors, staples, paper clips, guitar strings, and other common items. The ink used also needs to be improvised, either from pens or made using melted plastic (such as checkers or chess pieces), soot mixed with shampoo, or melted Styrofoam. Prison tattooing is not generally done freely, and the tattooists are normally paid with anything from stamps and cigarettes to actual cash.
There are many different symbols and numbers that represent multiple gangs or groups. Certain images like spider webs can represent the length of sentences. One of the most well-known tattoos is the teardrop tattoo (which can mean the wearer has killed someone). Tattoos are also used to communicate who the inmates are as people – for example, white supremacists will display prominent tattoos to show their beliefs such as the number ‘311’ (representing the KKK), the percentile ‘100%’ (a white supremacist indicator of racial purity), Valknuts (an old Norse symbol), and swastikas. Another common prison tattoo is the five dots tattoo, a quincunx usually placed on the hand, with different meanings in different cultures.
UV tattoos are tattoos made with a special ink that is visible under an ultraviolet light (blacklight). Depending upon the ink, they can be nearly invisible in non-UV environments, thus they are a popular consideration for people seeking a subtler tattoo. They are particularly popular in the raver subculture. Although the tattoos are sometimes considered invisible in normal light, scarring from the tattoo machine in the application process may remain, and therefore still show. A UV tattoo becomes visible under blacklight, when it glows in colors ranging from white to purple, depending on the ink chosen. Colored ink is also available, where the ink is visible in normal light (as with a regular tattoo) but the ink will glow vividly under UV light. However, some UV inks are not as bright under normal light as normal tattoo ink and are considered not as vibrant.
The blue star tattoo legend frequently surfaces in American elementary and middle schools in the form of a flyer that has been photocopied through many generations, which is distributed to parents by concerned school officials. It has also become popular on Internet mailing lists and websites. This legend states that a temporary lick-and-stick tattoo soaked in LSD and made in the form of a blue star (the logo of the Dallas Cowboys is often mentioned), or of popular children’s cartoon characters, such as Mickey Mouse and Bart Simpson, is being distributed to children in the area in order to get them ‘addicted to LSD.’
The legend is present also in Brazil as well as Portugal, at least since the 1970s. Flyers detailing the hoax circulated in the UK during the 1980s and 1990s.
Teardrop tattoos originated as a prison tattoo that was forced on some inmates by their ‘Sugar Daddy’ to signify sexual ownership and to permanently mark that person as a ‘sissy.’ The tattoo was later appropriated in the Chicano gangs of California by members who had killed another person, particularly while in prison. The tattoo can also mean that a family member, close friend or fellow gang member has died, frequently in a gang related incident.
In the United Kingdom, the tear tattoo can indicate someone that has spent time in a young offenders prison. In the U.S., A fully inked in teardrop can mean that a murder was committed. If the teardrop is clear in the middle, it can indicate an attempted murder, or that a loved one was murdered. A tear drop that is empty at the the top and inked at the bottom can indicate that a loved one was murdered and the killer was himself murdered by the tattoo wearer.
Ghetto fabulous refers to a fashion stereotype alluding to individuals living in an affluent materialistic style while not actually wealthy. It is part of a larger cultural trend of the 1990s where black, urban fashion was becoming a hot commodity through the rise of ‘hardcore’ rap. Because of the circumstances of many inner city families, poverty and consumerism became the focal point of artistic expression. With the rise of malls in the 1980s, this could be seen in the larger cultural context as well.
‘Excessive consumerism and an obsession with bling are certainly not confined to any particular demographic. We are a nation of excess and instant gratification. It has become the American way.’ For inner city youth, the ghetto fabulous life was about trying to outrun their socio-economic situations. For centuries, fashion has represented socio-economic status, so lower classes will buy outside their means in order to try and fit into an image of the upper classes.read more »
Christopher Nolan (b. 1970) is a British-American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He created several of the most successful films of the early 21st century, and his eight films have grossed over $3.5 billion worldwide. Having made his directorial debut with ‘Following’ (1998), he gained considerable attention for his second feature, ‘Memento’ (2000). The acclaim of these independent films afforded Nolan the opportunity to make the big-budget thriller ‘Insomnia’ (2002), and the more offbeat production ‘The Prestige’ (2006); which were well-received critically and commercially. He found popular success with ‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy (2005–2012), ‘Inception’ (2010), and ‘Interstellar’ (2014). He runs the London-based production company Syncopy Inc. with his wife Emma Thomas.
His films are rooted in philosophical and sociological concepts, exploring human morality, the construction of time, and the malleable nature of memory and personal identity. Experimentation with metafictive elements, temporal shifts, elliptical cutting, solipsistic perspectives, nonlinear storytelling and the analogous relationship between the visual language and narrative elements, permeate his entire body of work.read more »
‘The Adventures of Pete & Pete‘ was an American children’s television series produced by Wellsville Pictures and broadcast by Nickelodeon than ran from 1993 to 1996. The show featured humorous and surreal elements in its narrative, and many recurring themes centered on two brothers both named Pete Wrigley, and their various interactions with family, friends, and enemies.
The show was created by Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi and began as minute-long shorts in 1989 that aired in between regular programs. Owing to the popularity of the shorts, five half-hour specials were made, followed by a regular half-hour series.
YOLO is an acronym for ‘you only live once.’ Similar to ‘carpe diem’ (‘seize the day’) or ‘memento mori’ (‘remember that you will die’), it implies that one should enjoy life, even if that entails taking risks. The expression’ is commonly attributed to Golden Age film star Mae West, but variations of the phrase have been in use for over 100 years, including as far back as (the German equivalent of) ‘one lives but once in the world’ by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his 1774 play ‘Clavigo’ and as the title of a waltz, ‘Man lebt nur einmal!’ (‘You Only Live Once!’) by Johann Strauss II in 1855.
The acronym is in youth culture and music, and was popularized by the 2011 song ‘The Motto’ by Canadian rapper Drake (who later claimed to want royalties due to the proliferation of merchandise bearing the phrase). Actor Zac Efron has a tattoo with the acronym. The expression has been criticized for its use in conjunction with reckless behavior, most notably in a Twitter post by aspiring rapper Ervin McKinness just prior to his death: ‘Drunk af going 120 drifting corners #FuckIt YOLO.’
Slim Jim is a brand of jerky snacks or dried sausage manufactured by ConAgra Foods, Inc., the food conglomerate based in Omaha. They are popular in the United States. More than 500 million are produced annually in at least 20 varieties. The Slim Jim itself has been transformed in the years since Adolph Levis invented it in 1928. He sold the company in 1967 for about 20 million dollars to General Mills, who moved the operations to Raleigh, N.C., and merged them into other meatpacking operations that it renamed Goodmark Foods. It sold Goodmark in 1982 to a group led by Ron Doggett, who sold it to ConAgra in 1998.
The product Levis created is different from the one known today. Lon Adams developed the current Slim Jim recipe while working for Goodmark. Slim Jim is one example of a food product which is listed as containing mechanically separated chicken in its ingredients by requirement of the USDA. Production was interrupted after an explosion and fire in 2009 destroyed the packaging operations of the formerly-sole Garner, North Carolina manufacturing facility, but has since resumed there and in Troy, Ohio. On May 20, 2011 the facility in Garner, N.C. closed, the same day that former spokesperson ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage died.
Darrell Lance Abbott, also known as Diamond Darrell and Dimebag Darrell (1966 – 2004), was an American guitarist and founding member of the groove metal band Pantera, as well as Damageplan. Abbott also contributed to the record Rebel Meets Rebel, a collaboration between Pantera and outlaw country music singer David Allan Coe.
Darrell is considered to be one of the driving forces behind groove metal (a subgenre of heavy metal characterized by a slightly slower tempo than most metal). Abbott was shot and killed while on stage during a Damageplan performance on December 8, 2004, at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio.read more »
Marc Quinn (b. 1964) is a British artist and one of a loose group known as the Young British Artists. He is known for ‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’ (a sculpture of Alison Lapper, an English artist who was born without arms) and ‘Self’ (a sculpture of his head made with his own frozen blood). Quinn has used blood, ice, and faeces to make sculptures; his work sometimes refers to scientific developments. Quinn’s oeuvre displays a preoccupation with the mutability of the body and the dualisms that define human life: spiritual and physical, surface and depth, cerebral and sexual. Quinn’s sculpture, paintings and drawings often deal with the distanced relationship we have with our bodies, highlighting how the conflict between the ‘natural’ and ‘cultural’ has a grip on the contemporary psyche. In 1999, Quinn began a series of marble sculptures of amputees as a way of re-reading the aspirations of Greek and Roman statuary and their depictions of an idealized whole.
‘Self’ is described by Quinn as a ‘frozen moment on lifesupport,’ the work is carefully maintained in a refrigeration unit, reminding the viewer of the fragility of existence. The artist makes a new version of ‘Self’ every five years, each of which documents Quinn’s own physical transformation and deterioration. Self, like many other pieces by the YBAs, was bought by Charles Saatchi (in 1991 for a reputed £13,000). Despite reports that the piece had melted, it was exhibited by Saatchi when he opened his new gallery in London in 2003. In 2005, ‘Self’ was sold to a US collector for £1.5m. The National Portrait Gallery in London acquired the 2006 iteration of ‘Self.’ His portrait of John E. Sulston, who won the Nobel prize in 2002 for sequencing the human genome on the Human Genome Project, is also in the National Portrait Gallery. It consists of bacteria containing Sulston’s DNA in agar jelly. ‘The portrait was made by our standard methods for DNA cloning,’ writes Sulston. ‘My DNA was broken randomly into segments, and treated so that they could be replicated in bacteria. The bacteria containing the DNA segments were spread out on agar jelly in the plate you see in the portrait.’