Aug 182007

The sailor’s legend goes that pigs and chickens don’t swim; they would thus be very very anxious to get out of the water if dropped in.

This makes them a powerful charm against drowning, the animals desire to be out of the water helping one avoid a watery grave.

Sailors, the story goes, tattooed these animals on their feet as a charm against drowning. Sailors were and are a superstitious lot, and in an era when most people could not swim, drowning was always a great fear.

I am not particularly superstitious, and I’m not afraid of the water; I swim reasonably well. Yet, given the amount of time I spend in and on the sea, the old sailor superstitions have endless appeal.

Thus – Pig and Chicken, by Uncle Tim at Blue Kauai Tattoo in Hanalei:

Cock FootHog Foot-2

Click for bigger views. The images are a bit fuzzy (phone cam). The redness and swelling will be gone in a day or so (those of you who’s been tattooed know the way they feel right now, vaguely like a bad sunburn).

Uncle Tim is wonderful; if you wanted to cast a pirate in a play or movie, you’d cast him. He’s a writer, an artist, an excellent and self-taught tattooist. He collects skulls and loves hot-rodd culture and Big Daddy Roth.

I would get tattooed by him again in a minute.

When I decided I wanted to get a tattoo on this trip, i looked at Tim’s work and thought, what’s his gift, his style, and then I thought about how I’d describe what I wanted in a way he’d get. I started by pointing him to this image in his book, and then said, simply, ‘cartoon fierce, wildly colorful.’ Tim was instantly excited, loving the description, loving the idea. “You couldn’t use better works for me,” he said.

His drawings were perfect, needing only tiny changes to make them work.

It took about three hours; a long three hours. THe feet are pretty sensitive, and there’s a huge amount of detail in these tattoos. But Tim was a great guy to spend three hours with, and Blue Kauai is a good shop, not out on the street so the walk-in-stupid-questions were at a minimum. Tim said the skin on my feet is really thick and tough; he said it was ‘like rhino hide’, and later that tattooing my feet was ‘like trying to tattoo a board with a rock.’

The trip home will be long, but as they say, a moment of pain, a lifetime of pleasure. Thanks, Tim.

  18 Responses to “pig and chicken”

  1. Beautiful work, great choices.

  2. Looks awesome!

  3. God, they are fabulous. Really.


    Wishing you and your new friends a aafe trip home.

    hugs, E

  4. That doesn’t look like your feet.

  5. Oooohh, very groovy. Who doesn’t love the new tattoo? And yours are so bright and menacing. They’re like a coloring book for demented children.

    Very nice.

    chelsea g

  6. Those are pretty unique and cool. I wonder what skin that tough feels like when someone tries to massage it… I love the story of the Pigs & Chicken. It’s pretty interesting. Helps to explain the pictures, and I love the images themselves. Wild and fierce. Good move going with something that he does well and how he really “got it.” Having just sat through a three hour tattoo with barely anything that actually resembled conversation- I’m a bit amazed that you had enough to say “Tim was a great guy to spend it with.” That says a lot about both of you.

    Glad that you finally got a new tat!

  7. That is the most badass chicken I have ever seen. The scar! The eye! The…is that a mohawk on that chicken? ‘Cause it looks like a mohawk. That is a chicken you would not want to meet at 1am in a dark parking lot.

    I’m slightly scared now.

  8. Outstanding.

    And you get to wear shoes again when exactly?

  9. So, I had right foot for breakfast yesterday and your left foot for lunch. What’s for dinner?

    The guy does nice work.

  10. Hang on a sec… MY chickens know how to swim…

  11. But do they know how to do the mashed potato?

  12. YES! yes I do. I was taught by my mother when she had had 2 screwdrivers and (I think) a joint in her bathroom. Chubby Checker. She taught me how to twist, watusi, mashed potato. Then we went to the Beach Boys and I got to learn how to do the swim. NYAH! :P

  13. DN, are you sayin’ you’re one of circe’s chickens?

  14. She is, you know. One of my dancing/swimming chickens.

    Thanks for all the eggs, hon!

  15. So how are they feeling now? You feel like dancing the funky chicken yourself? Welcome home!

  16. Bring on the rat snakes!

  17. Holy Jesus. What are these goddamn animals?

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