August 15, 2008

Nip Tats, Ear Brands, and Back Piercing

Coping with the Dangers of Tattooing, Body Piercing, and Branding by Beth Wilkinson (Rosen Publishing Group, 1998, ISBN: 0-8239-2717-2)

This book was written by: Beth Wilkinson, who enjoys “paper making, candy making, and getting to know people of all ages.”

What is in this book: A rational examination of everything you need to know before undergoing body modification. This includes a discussion of reasons for getting a tattoo such as being in love (p.94), religious considerations (p.96), body art addiction (p.92), the Holocaust (p.97), and peer pressure (p.91). ”There is a great deal of misinformation about body art,”(p.113) but this book offers rock-solid, indisputable facts. For example, in prison, “after the lights are out, cellmates frequently and sometimes painfully tattoo one another”(p.64).
Although “in modern Western cultures, tattoos have alternately been regarded as signs of chic and high fashion or as disgusting and crude practices by misfits and sailors,”(p.3) this book tracks body modification trends. “Recently, a magazine, written especially for people interested in body modification, issued a special edition dedicated to the art of branding”(p.4).

What is not in this book: Condemnation. Coping with the Dangers of Tattooing, Body Piercing, and Branding wants to provide you with all the information that you will need for a safe, hygienic, body-mutilating experience. “The business should be in a neat and clean studio – not in an apartment, a tent at a circus, a garage, a music festival, or a bike or motorcycle shop”(p.13). Also, “if an artist should insist that you remove more clothing than you feel you need to, he or she may not be the right artist for you”(p.12). It is especially important to remember that “criminals turning state’s evidence often ask that any identifying tattoos be removed”(p.68). Would you really want to be prevented from quitting a gang because you couldn’t bear to undergo the tattoo removal procedure?

Would you recommend this book to Warren Buffett? Yes. Even though “people who work in places from McDonald’s to Manhattan’s Wall Street have eyebrow, lip, tongue, cheek, and bellybutton piercings,”(p.3), he should be fully informed of his risks before accessorizing his “Thug Life” back tattoo with an eyebrow bolt.

Would you recommend this book to Kat Von D? Without reservation. I would also recommend that she get a decent wardrobe, a real job, and a name that doesn't manage to embody the worst aspects of bourgeoisie pretension and hipster irony at the same time.

What was interesting about this book? This book is one of a series on “Coping with” issues including interracial dating, confrontations with the police, teenage motherhood, compulsive eating, gay parents, and migraines and other headaches.

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August 1, 2008

Stepfamilies: How They're Not Supposed to Love

Stepkids: A Survival Guide for Teenagers in Stepfamilies …and for stepparents doubtful of their own survival by Ann Getzoff and Carolyn McClenahan (Walker and Company, 1984, ISBN 0-8027-0757-2)

This book was written by: Ann Getzoff and Carolyn McClenahan, who are licensed marriage, family, and child therapists.

What is in this book: Frequent discussions about sex. Apparently, stepfamilies in 1984 were seething cauldrons of hormones and temptation, and the authors discuss how “a common problem for teenage stepbrothers and stepsisters is sexual attraction” (p.112); “Some stepmothers do behave in a seductive way with their stepsons”(p.127); and they discuss the dangers of “Mr. Hot Pants,” the type of stepfather who “comes on in a very sexy way with his stepdaughter”(p.73), although they acknowledge that “sometimes the girl has provoked the assault by parading around half dressed or acting in other sexy ways around her stepfather”(p.125). What makes these problems worse is that “when a teenager becomes sexually active, she usually doesn’t go backwards and stop having sex”(p.48).

What is not in this book: Instructions on how to build a shelter in the woods, how to start a fire without matches, or how to find water in the desert. Instead, this book addresses how to survive the fact that your stepparents “don’t have the same love feelings for you that your natural parent has”(p.36).

Would you recommend this book to Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, or Micky Dolenz? No, they have all gone on record stating that they are “not your stepping stone.”

Would you recommend this book to Ashton Kutcher? If I were Ashton, I’d spend less time worrying about my relationship with Rumer, Scout LaRue, and Tallulah Belle, and more time trying not to get Bruce Willis so pissed off that he feeds me my teeth.

What was interesting about this book? The hip lingo employed by the authors to connect with their audience. They discuss the importance of “hanging loose,”(p.9), what to do when your stepmother’s cooking makes you want to “barf”(p.37), and why “leveling”(p.151) with each other is essential. Note that the last term appears to be an effort to keep up with the slang that kids on the street are using these days and not an attempt at furthering a secret, pro-mason agenda. They also use the phrase “intact family”(p.2) to describe the opposite of step-families, presumably to soothe readers from broken families by using a term with no judgmental connotations.

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