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Instead of a Disneyfied fairy with insectile wings or a Japanese samurai calavera greedily scarfing tamales or arm-bands of Maori-Chinese geometry lessons, try out these designs for innovative new style tats:

1. the East Los Angeles dirigible Agnes Smedley doing proud sexual battle with the mythical Sky Kraken, with “ELADATL” in easy-to-scan font such as Futura boldly displayed.

2. a wide array of useful hand tools, including tongue and groove joint pliers, needle nose pliers, diagonal cutters, ball pein hammers, bolt cutters, linoleum knives, metric sockets, open-end and adjustable wrenches.

3. a wild truck crash I witnessed on the 5 Santa Ana freeway where the 2 to 4 ton flatbed truck with a heavy load of concrete brick on the back could not stop for a sudden traffic jam so the driver—fearing no doubt that his heavy load would shift forward and pile onto the cab, killing him and his mates—drove up the right side embankment at forty or fifty miles an hour in a cloud of dirt and debris, around the immediate clot of stopped vehicles and bounced back onto the roadway, losing control of the big truck at that point as drivers frantically tried to maneuver in the confined space out the way, as it smashed several and sent them spinning, while it crashed headlong into the concrete center divider with such force that the front axle and undercarriage were shorn off and the truck itself ended up high centered and balanced midway atop the center divider, with numerous vehicles in both north and southbound lanes having collided in their attempt to get out of the path. A cloud of dirt and dust and smoke obscuring the chaos scene as traffic finally crept many cars trying to pull over to assess the damage.

4. Ajax lifetime guarantee unbreakable plastic pocket combs styling generations of men’s heads with unbeatable durability under normal use. Perfect for small areas such as the back or side of the neck.

5. How car cooling systems work: multicolored diagram with arrows designating radiator, upper and lower hoses, water heater, water heater hoses, pressure cap and reservoir, thermostat and water pump. Educational, a potential lifesaver in desert regions of the Southwest.

6. Fortune cookies that you yourself have received over the years: “Expect the unexpected. Something good is coming your way by next Tuesday.” “Don’t try to please everyone. Learn to be yourself.” “You have a way with words. Write a letter to someone soon.” “This is the best of all possible worlds. Try to be happy.”

7. A muffler man

8. the yellow green praying mantis, secret star and narrator of the new major motion picture, “Zeppelin Attack Dirigible!”

9. a Smith Corona Super Silent Deluxe portable typewriter (my favorite)

10. a picture of yourself at age five, a kindergarten school portrait

11. the full text of the last page or two of Moby Dick (depending on your girth) *

12. native trees and shrubs of the San Gabriel mountains and their seeds, fruits or flowers

13. the coastline of Florida, before and after the rise in sea levels (multicolored)

* i.e.,  For an instant, the tranced boat’s crew stood still; then turned. ‘The ship? Great God, where is the ship?’ Soon they through dim, bewildering mediums saw her sidelong fading phantom, as in the gaseous Fata Morgana; only the uppermost masts out of water; while fixed by infatuation, or fidelity, or fate, to their once lofty perches, the pagan harpooneers still maintained their sinking lookouts on the sea. And now, concentric circles seized the lone boat itself, and all its crew, and each floating oar, and every lance-pole, and spinning, animate and inanimate, all round and round in one vortex, carried the smallest chip of the Pequod out of sight.

   But as the last whelmings intermixingly poured themselves over the sunken head of the Indian at the mainmast, leaving a few inches of the erect spar yet visible, together with long streaming yards of the flag, which calmly undulated, with ironical coincidings, over the destroying billows they almost touched; — at that instant, a red arm and a hammer hovered backwardly uplifted in the open air, in the act of nailing the flag faster and yet faster to the subsiding spar. A sky-hawk that tauntingly had followed the main-truck downwards from its natural home among the stars, pecking at the flag, and incommoding Tashtego there; this bird now chanced to intercept its broad fluttering wing between the hammer and the wood; and simultaneously feeling that etherial thrill, the submerged savage beneath, in his death-gasp, kept his hammer frozen there; and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it.

   Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.

May 2011
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