Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Por Vida Y-Que!

Growing up I can say I lived in a barrio, that was downtown Santa Ana. I wasn't allowed to wear Wino shoes and go the path that my father did. You see my dad grew up with a gang mentality and spent a good amount of his formative years in Juvenile Hall. So my dad made sure that both me and my brother would grow up safe from harms way. Away from the hands of cholos and trouble, both him and my mother worked hard to do the best they could and raise us right. Still I had two uncles whom had tattoos early on and they were related to the barrio that they were raised in as well. My uncle Chino is dead now and my Uncle Gilbert is in prison for life on his third strike. So I can understand the association with the raza and the movumente, that my dad and his brothers once followed to some degree. I can see it forming an adoptive family and an ingredient often missing in these mens lives. Belonging, to something that accepts them no matter how flawed.

I was made aware that Honduras and Central America, which suffers from some of the harshest and highest crime rate in the world. Put into action a plan to curb gang related crime and activity. Gang tattoos are easily identified, and are considered a hinderance to those whom where them. Making gang members search for more subtle ways to pledge association. Some find it hard to find work and realise that they are now moving targets, and some are preferring to rebuke the activity and allegiance all together. Putting into place harsher punishment for those caught violating laws and signalling out the gang tattooed members. This hardline has made some gang related members rethink their path in life and the government tries and helps them remove their tattoos, to assist them in a new life. This has been most effective on the youngest members of gangs.

Although Pena (pronounced Pen-Yah) art is popular with the masses, and tattoo artists like Mister Cartoon who is it's most visible vanguard help place it in another forum altogether. Out of the barrio and into Gallery Spaces. When I look at these type of tattoos, I always think it's a shame they just didn't pick something more personal. But The gang claims the body with the tattoo work. There is a site that displays tattoo work by those associated with gangs, and after looking at a few tattoos, I came to the conclusion that most were done by a hommie or house artist. Most gang members never want to pay what a professional would charge. Perhaps cause they don't have the money or you need to be affiliated with one particular artist, like the Yakuza. At least the Yakuza have some impressive work and artists. When I was working at Funny Farm Tattoo, there was a guy from Japan called Anarchy Man, whom cut off his patch of tattoo that he was working on, when he met a girl whom would have nothing to do with him and his acquaintance. So he went to his boss and was instructed he could leave but the tattoo stayed with them. That was fucking bad ass, cuase he took a razor to his arm and now a scar that looks much like a burn remains, and a small portion of a peony.

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