A really messy tattoo mistake

Several sources (including WMAR-TV, weinterrupt.com, and Het Nieuwsblad (article in Dutch)) report on a tattoo session where the customer, Kimberley Vlaeminck, an 18 year-old girl from Belgium, quite literally got more than she bargained for.

According to Kimberley, she wanted three (possibly four) little stars on her face, but wound up with a mind-numbing total of 56 when she fell asleep during the session. Not surprisingly, she is a little shy about showing her face in public. Kimberley is suing the Romanian tattoo artist, who she claims did not understand her correctly, for what appears to be €11,000 or so (the Euro equivalent of US$15,000).

The artist, Rouslain Toumaniantz, paints quite a different picture of what happened, stating that Kimberley was not only awake but saw herself in the mirror several times during the procedure. Rouslain has offered Kimberley a discount down to €50 (the cost of the four stars she originally wanted) but flatly refuses to pay for the removal surgery.

I don’t really know who to believe here. However, I do have four observations:

  1. I remain committed to never getting a tattoo;
  2. I advise my readers who insist upon getting tattooed:
    1. make sure there are no communication problems (ideally, the artist speaks the same language, fluently, and if not, have a trustworthy interpeter along), and
    2. make damn sure you stay awake through the whole thing;
  3. Some tattoo artists look scary as hell to me, even without a tattoo gun in hand;
  4. Finally, I will admit, the design would looks great as a facepainting, but not as a permanent tattoo.

Hopefully the lawsuit will receive an equal amount of press coverage. I plan to follow up on this one.

The thin line between art and vandalism

Featured on KTRK-TV (among other sources) was the story about Joseph Carnevale, a Raleigh, NC, college student who swiped three barrels from a construction site to make a larger-than-life sculpture of a surreal monster trying to hitch a ride.

News of Joseph’s arrest on two misdemeanor charges (larceny and destruction of property) is all it took to draw hundreds of supporters out of the woodwork demanding the charges be dropped.

And I think the supporters of Joseph’s work have a point. Absent any provable danger to the public (unlikely) there is really no need for a criminal trial. The only thing I can see for sure resulting with a criminal trial is more unneeded mistrust of the police and court system– which we already have way too much of as it is. And that happens whether or not our budding artist Joseph Carnevale is found guilty or not guilty.

(Note that given the positive publicity Hamlin Associates, the construction company, has received, a civil lawsuit is not in the cards either.)

One of the supporters on Facebook makes references to “carjackings, drug deals, domestic violence and murders” happening at the same time as all this. I couldn’t have said it better myself. The Raleigh police need a hard lesson in priorities.

Despicable discrimination by Abercrombie & Fitch

A recent post on the blog Zeldalily details the firing of Riam Dean, a UK native who was employed at the clothing mega-chain Abercrombie & Fitch. Riam has a prosthetic arm and normally wears a long-sleeve shirt to conceal it. The A&F store dress code normally requires employees to wear short sleeved shirts but Riam was given permission by the store-level management at A&F to wear a sweater.

Fast forward to a few days later. Riam’s store gets a visit from an image assessment team, and is summarily reassigned to stockroom duty, since she does not fit A&F’s “look policy” which, by its very name, sounds like it is a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen.

Which, in this case, is exactly what happened: Riam is suing A&F for what they did. And I don’t blame her. In fact, this is so far out of bounds, I dare call it Hitleresque discrimination, and A&F deserves to pay dearly for this mistake.

Particularly disturbing is that this is not the first such misstep for A&F. The site afjustice.com documents a class-action lawsuit filed against A&F in 2004, based on flagrant racism in hiring practices, and settled for US$40 million. I’d like to think that lesson wasn’t so quickly forgotten. Apparently, it was, or A&F management forgot to tell the UK/Europe division about it.