"We are all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn't. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing." ~ Charles Bukowski
If there is anything good about this pandemic shut down of 2020 it’s this: to-go craft beer take out. I had noticed that a few select specialty beer bars were still open, like the Tap Room on Garnet Avenue in Pacific beach. It has a sun canopy set up now on the sidewalk in front of the front door so you don’t have to walk inside (they wont let you) and they have some bar table set up between you, when you walk up, and whoever works the window there, so you don’t have too get too close and you can order a “growler” filled up to take home. A growler is a jug. This is new… I think this is totally new in the whole state of California. Being able to fill up your own bottle or jug or whatever in a bar and take it outside used to be totally illegal. I know that for a fact. I remember 20 years ago being scolded about it, about even considering asking if I could take a drink outside. According to the guy at the Tap Room on Garnet all this changed in California when the pandemic shut down came into effect. The laws and regulations changed BAM! so you can now get an order of some fine to-go beer, craft beer, like this Pliny The Elder 8% heavenly concoction that I have in my thermos, all citrusy and pine. Mmmm. Yeah. So maybe something good will come out of this pandemic after all…
Tap Tattooing at Big City Tattoo: Polynesian Skin Art Interview
The Legend, Sua Suluape Angela
Video interview by Reviewer Rob
Six years ago, in 2014, Reviewer TV visited Angela at Big City Tattoo (San Diego and possibly California’s finest female tattoo artist/shopkeeper) and she described the proper technique for applying the ancient Polynesian skin art. Watch and be amazed! With your host, Reviewer Rob. Note: we recently transcribed the video to allow readers to see it in print. However, if you like to avoid reading, the video file is embedded at the bottom of this post. ~Editor
Rob: This is reviewer magazine we are here with Angela at Big City Tattoo on University in San Diego, and she is doing the drawing part of the tattoo that she is doing on somebody. This is going to be a Polynesian style tap tattooing – right?
Angela – Hand tap style tattoo. With Samoan it’s, ah…I was traditionally schooled in Samoan style, we are actually doing a blend of Samoan and Tahitian and uh, on Marty here. Hold on..
Rob: That looks like that would be a drawing of some kind of weave or something, I guess..being Polynesian they probably weaved something when it comes to you know, their housing or something, like bamboo.. Er, not bamboo, but whatever.
Angela: This is a flower and this is a representation of the beauty in life and this is actually for his wife. And um, we are going to do some shading in this, and uh, up here is actually um “weaving of the ancestors”.
Rob: Again, so ancestral worship?
Rob: Okay. So I was going to ask if those were masks or something, but those are representations of ancestors?
Angela: Those are his actually the..Yes, but Tiki is tohu, the tattoo god of Tahiti.. So the tiki faces you can see, they are actually holding hands because this is his wife and his sister.
Rob: Ah! Where did you learn this, Angela?
Angela: Um. I had an opportunity in 2000 to uh, when I was in Tahiti, to study many of the Tahitian styles.. and I met at that time..ah, Sua Suadalupe Ale’avaapatello from Western Samoan. Who after a period of time, asked me to become his student to learn the Samoan style, to become the first woman. We taught the traditional Samoan tattoo and um, so I went to Western Samoan, I lived there for about a year and a half studying the traditional tattoo styles and then I applied what I learned in Tahiti and what I learned in New Zealand.. I still have a lot to learn, though. And uh, I also learned many patterns while I was in Hawaii studying under my teacher there and then, um, recently I’ve been brought into a group that has taught me quite a bit in the Filipino styles as well, the ancient Filipino tattooing that they’ve only recently found mummies in the mountains of the Philippines covered in tattoos.
Rob: Oh, wow! Hey, is there any way we could maybe – just, turn down the music just a little bit? Because I don’t know how much the background noise, er the background music is gonna affect the sound pick up.
Jennifer: Yeah, sure.
Angela: And just to let you know, my name is Suadalupe Angela. I’m actually Samoan chief and when the title was bestowed upon me, it was told to me, my family, and everybody that was there that “Angela” no longer became my first name, it actually became my second name, and Suadalupe became my first name.
Rob: Okay, so to be proper, people should address you as Suadalape or Suadalape Angela.
Rob: Okay. Remember that folks!
Rob: And uh – and the name of your mentor, of your teacher, what was his name again?
Angela: Sua Suadalupe Ale’avaapatello
Rob: Okay, so you kind of took on a variation of his name? So like, a familial thing
Angela: It is..it is a family title, yes, the Suadalupe title and it’s also a surname. So it’s both. So like, officially, my teacher would be Sua Suadalupe Ale’avaapatello Suadalupe
Rob: Wow! That’s a mouthful
Rob: You know, so when I was a kid, I first was learning about Hawaiian culture because I surfed, you know, and there was a lot of articles about Duke Kuhanamoko and um, people would always add, you know, smile when you say that, after you Duke Kuhanahanamoko..I still can’t stay that!
Rob: Duke Kuhanahanahamoko
Angela: It took awhile, yeah!
Rob: But um,it being kind of a uh, a warrior society, was that sort of a sign of distinction in honor, the more tattoos you had?
Angela: Excuse me, pardon me… *answers call* Mom, how can I help you? Hi Mom, yes.
Angela: I’m being filmed right now, Mom, how can I help you?
Rob: We’re doing a documentary!
Angela: *in background* Okay, because we were going to come by and talk to um Dave, to come by and do that. Okay? Talk to you later. Okay, then don’t do it – do it later. I love you.
Rob: Have we introduced everybody here? Ooh, well do you want to…well, what’s your name?
-Camera turns right-
Marybeth: My name is Marybeth.
Marybeth: Yes, I am Angela’s key stretcher, I’ve been, uh, helping her for eight years.
Rob: Stretcher? What do you stretch?
Marybeth: Ah, stretch the skin. Um, it’s Jen and my job to hold the skin.
Jennifer: Should we even go into nicknames?
*Marybeth and Jennifer laugh*
Marybeth: To hold the skin taught
Rob: Okay, like a canvas?
Rob: Like a canvas has to be tight
Marybeth: Yeah, so that the comb can go in and out of the skin…can go in and out of the skin without getting caught or..
Rob: The what? The cone?
Rob: Okay, got it.
Marybeth: ..that she will be tattooing with, that she puts the ink into. Or, you know, that she dips into the ink.
Rob: Okay. Is that a hard thing – to hold the skin?
Marybeth: Uh, it changes
Jennifer: It can be, yeah, it definitely can be. It can be a little trying. *waves* My name is Jennifer. Um, and it can definitely be a little difficult at times, because we have to hold the stretch and its really.. kind of important not to move because then it can affect the mark that the tool makes..
Jennifer: Because, you know, there’s really no eraser in tattooing.
Rob: Right, right. So you get one shot, huh?
Jennifer: Exactly. So it’s very important that we know how to stretch and that we hold the stretch properly and Angela has taught us very well. I’ve been with her for a year less than Marybeth has.
Angela: It’s not just like anybody can just jump in and start stretching.. I mean, if you have an experienced stretcher you may be able to, you know, use somebody if you needed another stretcher and maybe show them a few things, but not for big pieces, not for the really important things. A good stretch is very important to the tattoo. If you don’t have a good stretch, you know and it’s also important in machine tattooing, because when a machine artist.. they’re actually stretching the skin as well, with both of their hands while they’re tattooing. So stretch is important in all the tattoo. Otherwise, you’re just hitting them as hard as you can until you get them into the..get the material that’s in the.. You know, the invasive part, into the skin. Without a good stretch, you can get a lot of problems, and I’ve been very lucky to have two girls that will actually care as much about the tattoo as I do and do a really great job stretching.
Rob: Has there been any recent advancements in the industry when it comes to color? Because I know that used to be kind of a thing, people would lose color in their tattoos after, say, a few years.
Angela: I don’t know if – are you talking about tattoo in general, or about the traditional style?
Rob: You’re right, that isn’t specific to traditional, just in general.
Angela: In general, yes.
Rob: Ya know, in Portland, they’ve got.. the tattooists there use a lot more color than down here. At least that’s what I’ve heard.
Angela: In…pigments have advanced, I mean they, but it was also more – not just the pigments advanced in the tattooing industry, but it’s also the technique that’s being applied. I mean, what they used to use is a single – they even actually used to use a single needle tattooing, which is hardly even used anymore because you get it pretty tight and it’s about the same as a single needle, but so it’s how it’s applied, the way it’s applied, and how much it goes into it. And I did an actual proper five year apprenticeship underneath my husband who’s a tattoo master. And there’s people out there who have been tattooing like, six months, and then go out there and start tattooing people and they wonder why the tattoos don’t look as good as somebody who has been doing it for like, fifteen years. It really comes down to the experience, how they were taught, who taught them, and what they were taught. Just because you spent six months under somebody does not mean you’ve learned everything that person can teach you. And the same thing with both modern tattooing and traditional tattooing.
Rob: When did you start tattooing?
Angela: Oh! Oh my god. I started machine tattooing, I believe, in late 2001, almost 2002, and then I started hand tapping in late 2002. It took me longer for the hand tap because uh, I actually could not use the boar’s tusk tools in which I was taught with, that my husband took him about a year and a half to create the surgical stainless steel tools in which I use today. So, that’s the main difference of what I do versus what my teacher does is the surgical stainless steel single use auto-cleavable tools. And then people don’t have to worry about getting a.. Something wrong with their tattoo, like an infection or disease. Unfortunately, with bone tools, you still run that risk, even though..
Rob: Bone tools, is that with uh, the traditional style of Polynesian?
Angela: Yeah, the boar’s tusk tools bone in the Samoan styles are very traditional. I was a person, that when I went to Samoa, I did bring with me the education that I had with blood borne pathogen awareness and I got, uh was very.. er, that’s what I taught to them was keeping it a clean and sanitary environment through my family’s, the people who tattoo over there, other artists who are doing it – I can’t guarantee that because I don’t know how they treat their tools.
Rob: So you contributed a little bit of learning for them. In teaching them a little bit, it sounds like.
Angela: I had to.
Rob: Didn’t Pamela Anderson… didn’t she get uh..
Jennifer: I’ve heard about that, I, I think she..
Marybeth: Japanese style, didn’t she?
Jennifer: No, it was just a, it was just..
Angela: No, I’m sorry, that’s a misnomer. And I have to put my cents in.. You cannot. She supposedly got Hepatitis C through tattoo. I have to put this down right now, I taught the awareness and prevention of blood borne pathogen diseases and in order to catch the H-C, the Hepatitis C virus, you have to swallow a tablespoon of somebody’s blood to get it.
Jennifer: And her tattoo was on her ring finger…
Angela: Her tattoo was this tiny little thing, and no professional artist would re-use the needle twice, that is disgusting and we-
Jennifer: Even with a married couple.
Angela: Even with a married couple, that does not matter.
Jennifer: It does not matter.
Angela: And if she was going to get Hepatitis C, she would have gotten it from other things.
Rob: So, she got it in Tahiti though.
Angela: It doesn’t matter. You have to be able to… the only one you can actually catch readily is the Hepatitis B virus – which is the most contagious disease out there that you can get just by going into water that’s bad with an open wound on your body
Rob: Yeah, I heard you can get it surfing.
Angela: You can get Hep A and Hep B, but Hep B takes .03 cc’s of blood to get into an open wound or orifice on your body, which is your nose, your eyes, your mouth. Hepatitis C takes a tablespoon! A physical tablespoon of somebody’s blood to get it, or through a blood transfusion.
Rob: Hm. So, you heard it here, folks!
Angela: And so that, that is one of the biggest misnomers that upsets the tattoo community.
Jennifer: And you can get vaccinated for A and B, and we are all vaccinated for A and B.
Angela: And all of our children are mandatorily vaccinated for A and B, so all of those adults out there who haven’t had it, you should just go down and get it. It’s just a good idea.
Rob: There’s a lot of good vaccines out there that they are just not really pushing and should, probably.
Angela: So, the only thing you’re going to have a problem with in the Hep B vaccine is if you happen to be one of those rare people that is allergic to eggs, because that’s how they incubate the vaccine.
Angela: Yeah, that Pamela Anderson thing sure did make the tattoo industry in a little bit of a tither.
Angela: Oh Yeah.
Jennifer: Didn’t they think she got it because they shared the needle between Tommy and her?
Angela: They shared the needle and at first it wasn’t ..
Jennifer: Wasn’t that it?
Angela: Yes, and at first entirely..
Jennifer: But if you have unprotected sex, you can get it through sexual contact as well, can’t you?
Angela: Exactly, you can get it through sexual contact.
Rob: Tommy and her were sharing a needle?
Jennifer: I think there’s a video on that, as well! I believe so.
Rob: Yeah, yeah, we have proof of that, there’s a video on it.
Angela: But it was first said that she got it out of a shop in Los Angeles. And then it was said she went out from..
Rob: Wait, so the celebrity that was saying she got it out of Tahiti, then that was..
Angela: Tahiti or Thailand?
Rob: No, it wasn’t Tahiti and wasn’t it.. Um.. Wasn’t it.. Uh, she was married to Brad Pitt.
Marybeth: Angelina Jolie?
Rob: Right! Right, that’s the one.
Angela: They said she has Hep C now?
Rob: Yeah, because it turns out that Brad Pitt got sick after they being married to her for a few months..
Jennifer: Oh, no!
Rob: And he might have gotten, and then there was conjecture that she had it and..
Angela: Well that’s interesting, because according to the doctors that I’ve spoken to- it’s very, very difficult to actually get the H-C virus even sexually.
Rob: Yeah, cause I mean she loves tattoos. She’s got tattoos all over, right?
Angela: Some of her tattoos are beautiful.
Marybeth: Yeah, normally Hep C is from a blood transfusion or uh, like from using IV drug use. Not sharing needles.
Angela: Yeah, the H-C virus is very hard to get, so unless she mis-talked about it and it’s actually Hep B, then that makes more sense…but, not Hep C, that doesn’t make any sense.
Rob: Cause all the, all the tattoo artists, parlors and salons that I’ve been to in San Diego, they all look like doctor’s offices. I mean, I’ve been in doctor’s offices that didn’t have as much sterilization equipment.
Angela: Well, we have a very strong sterilization procedure everything that happens for a , the way we clean down surfaces, surface wipes and everything. It’s very regulated, if you go to a professional – professional being key word there, tattoo shop. We are regulated, we do yearly blood borne pathogen courses, it’s not like something we do once in awhile, it’s actually done every year. And its um, it’s something that is very important to our industry. I’ve been been to the dentists where I’ve made them stop and change their gloves!
Rob: Oh, wow.
Angela: ..because they were going to be touching the trash can and then trying to attempt to come to my mouth, after touching the trash can with those gloves, and I’m like, “Um, excuse me, would you please change those gloves? ‘Cause you’re not touching me with those” *laughs*
Rob: Those were San Diego dentists?
Angela: Oh yeah.
Angela: *laughs* I mean, lots of them..any, unless, I mean I have seen it and it’s one of those things that once I’ve said it, now watch your dentist.. and its, sometimes it’s the nurses, it’s not even the dentists, but they just don’t think about that. “Oh, it’s just a clean trash can..” No, it’s not. Nothing’s clean.
Rob: Alright, so I’m going to clip this now so it’s Youtube length.
Busy Sheltering In Place: How People are Coping during the Pandemic
by Reviewer Rob
So, I’ve been thinking about what the post-pandemic shutdown world will be like. Will the world ever come back the way it was, and will socializing ever be the same. Are public displays of affection and intimacy going to make people uncomfortable even if it’s among family members or lovers? What about mingling in crowds like at bars or concerts, remember that?
I was told today that I needed a mask while entering the local grocery store. I said to the kid, “No I don’t, I just saw you let two people inside without masks.” I had, as he had said something to them but apparently they ignored him.
“If they can go in without a mask so can I,” I said firmly. He relented, resentfully, and after I was inside I noticed others were indeed masked, but some were not. I also saw I was pointed out to security. No one brought it up again. I asked the cashier about it as I paid for my groceries and Guinness and she said the word came down “from the CDC two days ago” that masks were required. In retrospect next time I’ll simply go back to my van and get my dust mask. But I didn’t like being singled out when I saw other weren’t required.
So there’s that. On my way out a guy who appeared to be the store manager was near the door (with a security guard now) and I said quietly, “Tell the kid at the door that if he lets some people inside without a mask he shouldn’t tell others they need one to come in.” He replied they weren’t supposed to let anyone in who isn’t masked.
Friday at the local arts and crafts store there was a line of people waiting to get in, all social distancing themselves down to the street and around the corner. I was curious as to why so as I was driving out of the parking lot I rolled the passenger window down to the Reviewervan and asked somebody in line why was everyone eager to get in, “Do they have hand sanitizer?”
“We’re getting fabric,” he said. I was momentarily curious as to why but then realized, they all want fabric to make masks. Homemade masks. During a worldwide pandemic.
I’ve discovered there is a new booming cottage industry of shelter-in-placers manufacturing masks from home right now. One of them told me the local craft store isn’t the best source, “There’s plenty of sellers on etsy and eBay and it’s much easier to social distance while shopping online,” she said. “I already have a huge fabric stockpile but before everything went totally insane I stocked up on needles and thread. If I need more supplies I’ll just order online. I’m working massive overtime at my day job so I’ve just been sewing my own projects to keep myself entertained during the pandemic. My good friend has been making a lot of masks to donate to the hospitals, post office, etc and she’s been selling ones on her etsy too.”
Kaylene Marie was another San Diego mask maker and has made the rounds at the local crafts stores too. “Yes I was there too, some have them been standing there for an hour or more. The Walmart fabric section has been cleaned out. Looks like everyone is trying to do their part,” she said. Kaylene makes her masks for “friends, family and co-workers” but told me she could make one for me for $5 plus shipping “or if it’s close by pickup/drop off.”
Kaylene is in City Heights so I’ll likely opt to pick up since my supply of N95 dust masks from Home Depot acquired two years ago during a period of surfboard repair won’t last forever or outlast this shutdown if it does into the months they are rumoring it might. Her price is better than what I’ve seen advertised for more elaborate masks online. Business is good for her too. “I’m running out of elastic,” she said, “so I’ve been making surgical-style ties.”
They ones she makes, “have a pocket for extra layers for filters.” If you don’t have proper filters for these fine pandemic fashion accessories — now growingly required in public by health code decree apparently — blue shop towels will do.
Kaylene Marie is on Instagram at @misskaylenemarie and or @charmingminx and accepts Venmo.
Another online mask builder talent is Ronn “Magnus” Swanson. “I’m a teddybear seamstress. I have recently switched all efforts to making masks. Friends and family, even former clients, have been reaching out to me from all over the states. They just can’t find what they need. I mostly deal in fur for the animals I make, but I do have a dresser full of cotton that I’ve been collecting over the years. I’m not charging for the masks, but I am accepting donations to help pay for things like elastic and filter inserts,” she said, “eBay and Etsy are often less expensive than JoAnn. I recommend searching there, too.”
She’s not advertising outside Facebook and says, “I hand stitch everything and I don’t want to get overwhelmed with orders. People are going nuts with orders… needing ten or fifteen at a time because they are looking for their families too.”
“The masks are 100% cotton, and have an inner pocket to insert filter media or a disposable surgical mask. They are washable.” She then provided “some neat info about mask material effectiveness.” It came in the form of this meme-type image:
“I use quilters’ cotton plus a PM 2.5 filter,” she said.
“I am an underemployed scientist right now I’m working as a cook at a fast food joint. It’s essential job but even so they’ve cut my hours in half. I always run the teddybears as a side hustle it provides steady income year round.”
Meg Pinsonneault is a Pasadena based film maker who says, “We’ve made 350+ masks so far! It’s so hard to get fabric right now. We have three orders in at Joann but have no idea when we can get them. Fortunately we found a small shop (in L.A.) that’s still open! If you need a mask HMU.”
Most industries’ job markets are slimming down in every city. Even fashion designers are shifting from doing proper lines for Fashion Week to re-configuring their catalog during this wartime-like output of essential items. Mask wearing is a trend that looks to be growing in the near term and, while no one can guarantee prices and materials will stay at current levels, the ‘buying local’ ethos takes on greater significance when the regional economy is under threat of collapse.
But if all fails I’ll tie a torn up t-shirt around my neck. That should get me into Vons or Walmart.
Current affairs. I’m just gonna put this out there and hope that people respond logically (burn these fuckers to the ground):
-Mortgage and debt and tax companies are still collecting
-SBA was given billions of dollars for small businesses and isn’t distributing it
-Unemployment is really behind
….once again mortgage and debt companies are still expecting their money??
-Most people are out of work
-The government is rolling out 5g while people are not around
-1.5 trillion was injected into the stock market OVERNIGHT when the rich people needed it
-There has been NO MORATORIUM on utility collection. So when this is over and nobody has had income for months, the full amount will be due or piling up, furthering Americans being in permanent debt slavery.
-Trump is probably going to be president again
-The citizens who get no debt relief are making masks for health systems that rake in millions of dollars per year (the CEOs are taking it). They have plenty of money to get their own masks. Or pay you to do it.
-Where is the $1200 stimulus money by the way? Not that it is sufficient at all and it’s basically just going from the bankers (government) right back to the bankers (debt owners)