3am Tattoo in Shanghai.

So, China is in the news oh so much lately, with the Wuhan Coronavirus flu pandemic and what not, so I thought it be nice to share another needle based story that ends a bit happier.

A couple of years ago I found myself in Shanghai, one of my favorite cities on a shoot, and after we wrapped I found myself out with some of the crew enjoying the finer delights this jewel of a city provides. As a bit of a running joke while finishing what should have been the last drink of the night around 3am I said “let’s get tattoos!” to which our local producer quickly said “Sure! I know a place. Above a bar!”

Intrigued isn’t really the word … as a die hard traveller I was obligated to check this place out, warmly named “Tattoo Family“. So very glad I did, as I not only found a tattoo parlor, literally above a bar (as in above the actual bar, not in a studio on an upper floor) but also to a “drink” I’m not sure I will need to try again.

I have had snake whiskey in Cambodia, and fermented goat blood in Turkey, but this, which I’m not really sure has a name, was the daddy of them all. Basically grain alcohol preserving a snake, a starfish, perhaps a plumb, and a bag of ants. Not sure why these animals were chosen, perhaps for their beautiful floral notes, but it was rough, and probably both gave and cured me of all sorts of ailments.

In any-case, I was very primed for the main event, so, with a moderate bit of discussion, and a quick jump onto Chinese Photoshop (used so often I remember where the tools are in the menu system) I was ready to have a dark cloaked wide brimmed chapeau’d man throw some ink in me.

All in all one of my favorite nights out with some of my dearest friends, now bonded in time with this shared moment, as permanent to the heart as ink in the skin. While deciding to get a tattoo sauced can lead to some regrettable decisions, this is one of my favorites by far, and have to say the line work is delicate and precise, which, for 3am anywhere, is a grand feat. Bravo.


PS. If you are wondering what the script is below, it’s Da Vinci’s “Once tasted flight, forever your eyes skyward.” Backwards, of course;)

How to get a tattoo in China.

Shanghai! City of the living!

Not too long ago I found myself in this fantastic city on a shoot and after we wrapped our producer was lovely enough to take me and my DP out on the town to savor the delights that Shanghai had to offer. Strangely most of these delights came in liquid form, more specifically in this clear, liquid-lighning-bolt, lighter fluid called Baijui.

It started out friendly enough, but before I realized it it was 3am and we were in a tattoo parlor inside of a bar, and I had drunk something with a snake and starfish marinating in it. Now I have a permanent reminder of that night, and this video to jog my memory if I ever dare to forget it.

WARNING: The following is a true story. This could happen to you.

Grace Neutral Will Blow Minds.

So, came across this very cool video from LikeCool about Grace Neutral going into Korea’s underground tattoo culture to find out why tattoo’s are illegal in Korea (no I didn’t know that either… apparently you can give tattoos only if you are a doctor.)

After seeing this I had to know more about Grace Neutral. Specifically I wanted to know what the hell was going on with her eyes. 12 shots of ink to the whites of her eyes is what is going on, along with a split tongue, pointed ears, and decorative face scaring. Grace is a very dedicated and intreguing person to say the least. We salut you.

sorry ma… i got a new tattoo

My sweet mother still thinks the “VERITAS” that I got inked on my arm back in 199…. will one day wash off with enough soap. I mean, sure, with enough soap anything will wash off, but we all know it’s probably not going to happen.

So while in Denver my old friend Tom Taddeo and I both got new Tattoos. We see each other once a year, having once lived together for many years and being super close, best of friends, we take the time to see each other once a year and visit someplace new. This is super important for me, and in a life that zooms by faster than I can register sometime, I feel like it grounds me, forces me to check in with myself, and to take the time to really appreciate what matters in life, mainly, taking the time to appreciate what really matters in life.

Some people go to the mountain, some do yoga retreats, some people visit the holy pace. We go to random cities to eat steaks and drink beer. And yeah, get a tattoo I suppose.

I love tattoos, and tattoo culture. All sides of it. I love people who get the dolphins on the foot and the tribal band around their meaty arms. I love the sailor jerry hipster phenomena, and I love blind tattoos done by the brave/mindless. Do not be fooled; like other forms of writing, it is used for communication, and while a hand written letter might be “prettier” to some then a typed email, both serve the same purpose. In the end, it’s origin, author, and recipient all create a tattoo’s final meaning. This is why I think tattoos are wonderful.

I have a few tattoos on my body. Those that have “serious” work done will look at mine and probably pass judgement. They are not done by anyone notable, or in a historic style of any sort. Others will look at them and not really understand, since they aren’t familiar, nor can I say that anyone else has them on their body. To me a tattoo needs to have two things; a personal reason and a unique design.

So I was happy when Tom and I both wanted a similar tattoo. We’re old friends, have seen our share of fortune and folly, and the idea of another person sharing an indelible history with another was quite special. We drew our ideas on scratch papers and went to a little independent shop in Denver to have the artist help with the interpretation.

tattoo panorama

It couldn’t be more perfect. Tattoos, at least for me, are not body art. They are more like tags that you would find on a garment or fine suit; they tell you information about the article, who made it, where it comes from, what it is made from, and how to care for it. That’s what makes tattoos special for me, and that’s how I choose them. They are the sort of thing that should be always true, no matter where, when, or how you find them.



dear cops. I bought pot.

That’s right fuzz. I bought pot. Lots of it. Pot you can smoke, and some you can even eat. And what’s more… I smoked it. In my face hole. Yup.

So whatchagonnadoboutit?

Nothing. That’s right. Mainly because it was legal, as I bought it in Denver, Colorado; the new pothead’s playground.


This is the first of a series of posts about the adventure I’ve had out mid-west. It was an eye-opening experience, and anything but sobering. I’m going to break it down into a few different chapters:

• The Beer
• The City
• The Food
• The Hotel
• and of course, The Pot.

First, a prelude.

Beyond just going to the mile high city to get stoned (yep, dodged the pun. You’re welcome) it was my yearly boycation with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Mr. Tom Taddeo. Tom and I lived with each other in a slick little Hell’s Kitchen apartment back when you could still smoke in the city. Since then we’ve been married, and some of us divorced, but  every year we set a long weekend aside to check in and check out a place we’ve never been. The choice to go to Denver went something like this:

Tom: “So where do you wanna go this year?”
Me: “Donno. Preferably somewhere with good food and beer. And pot.”
Tom: “So. Denver it is.”

And it was.


It’s important, perhaps more than anything, to make the time to take the time in life. The younger version of me would be proud that I do that now, cutting out a few precious days to reconnect with an old friend who’s seen you drink your share, make a decent amount of bad decisions, and has become a ring in the trunk of your existence.

So I crossed the great divide to meet up with ol’ Taddeo and watched the fabric of the country roll out its quilt 30,000 feet below me. 29,000 feet later I was on land, but frankly it could have been the moon.

Denver, I would find out soon enough, is a very strange place.