7 months, a new record!

It has been almost 7 full months since my last blog post. It would appear either I have nothing to talk about or I have been busy. Any takers on which it is?

 

This year, the year of Our Lord- 2013, has been a terrible mutherfucker if I have ever seen one. Wife lost her mom to cancer, I lost my oldest brother to (probably) a heart attack in his sleep. My health has been ok, except a recurring rash on my leg and my back and knee pain has hung around. The good news- no diabetes… so the silver lining on what has been a common ailment on my mother’s side of the family. Dad has cancer and heart attack history, so sometimes I just feel fooked. Not losing any more weight because I hardly exercise right now.. gotta get that figured out before I atrophy more.

Local tattooists who can’t cut the mustard have been doing everything they can otherwise to compete.. through badmouthing, rumormongering, and snake oil sales of the highest order I have ever seen in my profession. It either looks good or it doesn’t, I cannot believe these idiots can talk anyone into liking some of the crap they are slinging.

 

I am just trying desperately to turn some stuff around. The building is a bit of a money pit, the windows went in last Sunday and look great. Let’s see them ask me to spend anything else until they apply for new federal grants to help me with it and I will tell them to stick it. The shop has more coming costs- The rear roof still needs a new EPDM roll roof installed before winter. Lobby needs new carpeting in a serious way. Upstairs has repairs needed to be made before I can take in a tenant. I have a watercolor artist inquiring about the space now for a studio. Sounds great to me, but there is no water up there or heat. Not sure who would be willing to rent that AND it’s ugly to boot!

Other moves I have made toward trying to create some positivity is the time-honored tradition of buying things to make me feel better. Before you poo-poo my materialism, you should realize most of what I have bought is business expenditure and related, so not only is it tax deductible, but it buys me toys that help me do my job better and are fun.

All except the Fuzz Munchkin. Waiting on the one toothed purple monster to arrive. I am one of 300 lucky people worldwide who now owns one of these J. Mascis custom guitar pedals from Brisbane, Australia. It will, hopefully, require me to play more lead lines and less rhythm, but it sounds cool with rhythm, too. It’s where I want to go with my guitar playing, and I feel this will be the edge I need for the sound I want.

I am having my friend Chad do a large tattoo on my arm. It is from a painting he made and I got from him last year. It was titled “Impermanence” and after James died, it was a reminder to me that is what we all are. I can’t carry a painting with me wherever I go, but now I only need to look at my left arm to realize, well, we just don’t have a lot of time to get whatever we came here to do or say done. That’s what this tattoo means to me.. can you believe it? I actually got a tattoo that means something… I must be conforming.

I am painting a lot more again. I took a break after my January gallery opening.. but I have a show in October or maybe November depending… so the necessity has led me to the “toil” of painting again. It really is joyful, I just need to devote a corner to my supplies so I can leave them out and just break out the palette and go. I have one painting finished, and another almost done. I also have the mural project at the Gov’t building in town. There I will be painting a 6′ oak tree made of Styrofoam with nature scenes. Ah, the irony.

Truth be known, I live with a terrible amount of anxiety lately. Some of it I have earned, but some of it I have not.. and it seems like the amount is unreasonable. No matter what strides I try to make in my life, it feels like the rug gets pulled from under me every time I start making any headway and doing what I want.

I don’t want that to happen this time.

However, if Ohio does not put medical marijuana on the ballot in the next election, I will be turning my sights westward for a new home, methinks. My back and legs hurt to much nowadays to do without it, and yet most of the time I have to because of the law. It is not right that the one thing that loosens up back spasms and leg tension without bad side effects is illegal. The people who write and support these laws never walked a mile in my shoes.. and if they had, they would stop before the mile was up because of pain. It also helps with my daily anxiety and not blowing the little things out of proportion.

Big stuff will panic you no matter what.

My sister recently said that 2013 was a habitual fuckup and it needed to straighten its act up soon, or else. I agree with this sentiment.. aside from the Fuzz pedal, what else in the way of good can this year hope to offer to me or my family that could possibly salvage this latest ill-fated jaunt around the Sun? Wouldn’t mind the Packers making the Superbowl again.. but that would happen in ’14. Rats.

What can we do to salvage the year? It may sound corny, but re-invest yourself in the people who have invested in you. It’s easy to spot my friends nowadays.. not just because they are weird and/or ugly (and many, indeed most, of them are). No, they are easy to spot because they are the only ones who stuck around during some very turbulent times in my life, when I would not have blamed any of them for leaving me as some did.

For you who remain: I love you with all my heart… and as for the slight chance that a former friend who decided things got too hard being there for me might be reading this: You’re missing the best, which was to come. I don’t fault you, but I’m ‘The Heavy’ now you knew I was always going to be, and were scared of.

My regards!

 

 

SURPRISE!!!

Yes, loyal readers, your reward for coming back here to check and see if I ever post anything has finally arrived.

It is true, it has been quite a while since my last update. Long time readers may want to know what is going on, but I have a sneaking suspicion most of them are on email updates, so I imagine my stats look terrible on WordPress lately. Well, it ain’t Facebook at any rate.

The business is finally bringing a little money in. It appears that the pre-Christmas season.. not so good for new tattoo shops/art galleries. After Christmas, however, and particularly after the new year, I have been pretty busy.

Except today. Today is not a good day. I knew rain was coming, my legs have been screaming at me, just above my bad knees, for almost 48 hours. Bad enough today that I had to medicate. Bad enough that I missed work, ill, for the first time since opening the doors. I also realized today that Facebook status updates about the shop being closed is probably not good enough. I need to work out a deal with another neighbor who can put a sign on my door in case it happens again. And it will.

I am in the process of slowing down. I had my first injury that I never bounced back from last year. Mortality, and arthritis, are really starting to set in. And that is one of the reasons I am feeling so guilty right now about not being at work. I am letting myself down missing when I am not contagious. This is not McDonald’s.. heck, this is not even a law firm. If I am not here, who is going to man the boat? Nobody.

Right now we are in a spot where we are not making tons of money and thus have no extra bodies in the shop even when I am not there. On top of that, who can i trust to be there when I am gone anyhow? Not many people. I have recently been helping a friend along with learning how to pierce so he can come be the extra help as well, but it appears the interest and time needed to be involved in that are slipping away. I am starting to look at piercing as a non factor in my business. I may lose $20 a week by not doing it… and I am pretty sure my insurance would need to be increased to include any activity of that kind in the policy.

In short, I am starting to wonder if a piercer is necessary for my business at all. I am, however, beginning to explore the possibility of another artist in the near future. Now here I get to be picky. If I am going to split the profits from my business venture with someone, they are going to not only have to be good at tattooing.. but also likeable. I will not compromise on this issue… I will have no deadbeat scumbags working in my establishment. Except maybe me.

Now, the issue was brought up about my business and firearms. My position is clear, if I see your gun I ask you to take it to the car. Recent rashes of violence have not deterred me from my position, and something tells me a full contingent of armed customers would not be effective in deterring gun fire as much as increasing it. Do you need to be armed in my chair while I work on you? Ever consider that an accidental discharge would automatically make me the most likely recipient of your mistake? Then why demand to wear something that is more likely to harm me than anyone in the building?

No, I will not willingly take a wolf by the throat. If the danger is there, I will avoid it whenever and wherever possible. Regardless of intentions, firearms are never 100% under the control of their owners. Too many accidents have happened, too many people who have been shot that supposedly responsible gun owners were NOT defending themselves against. Too many hurt compared to how many saved for me to want to risk it.

You like guns? Fabulous. Take them to where they are welcome and more commonplace, like a shooting range. I am all for your second amendment rights, but if you are under my roof, then my rules apply.. as the old man used to say. Leave your pistol in the car, or better yet, at home. If you are too big of a paranoid coward to walk out your door in the morning without being armed, who says I want you in my chair with it anyhow? My property, my rules.

Recently, my property has come under the reach of others who would like to make their own rules for it. From the local nutjob who thinks he is the sheriff because he is on a couple of committees, to the neighbor landlord.. a fat redneck who likes to stick his pudgy nose in everyone’s business but not take care of his own.

Recently, an attempt to strong-arm me into turning on a security light behind my building fizzled. The “man of committees”.. let’s give him a name. How about “Steve”. Well, Steve came by the other day to let me know the nightlight behind my building was out and needed to be turned on. I explained that would cost $27 a month through the local utility company… and why should he care? Well, pudgy redneck neighbor landlord (Let’s call him “Randy”) had called him to complain about it not being on.

So what?

Well, apparently since moving into my building, Randy has been convinced that my clients will try to hurt his upstairs tenant and rob him or something. His upstairs tenant, a man with CB since birth but lives alone. Well, without the back of my building lit up, apparently he thinks it will be easier for my evil tattoo clients to slither up into his hallway to take him out. Its clear, you see, that my business is bringing a bad element to town. Pay no attention to the pawn shop that opened three doors down providing small change for video games to all the meth heads so they can get their next batch of sizzle.

I have heard this kind of stuff before, so its harder to get me to flinch nowadays. “Well, Steve,” I told him, “I will get right on that when either you or Larry pay the bill, or the city gives me a court order.” Until then, I do not have the money to throw at lighting my building, which is private property, up like a prison yard at night. The hilarious thing is it was not lit for years, but suddenly 6 months after I purchase the building, the motherfucker better get lit “or else.”

Likewise, the lady who is one of Randy’s “Tennants” is giving me the cold shoulder, and she has inhabited that storefront since 1979 without making changes to the exterior, yet I am the evil man who won’t go into debt $50k or more to remodel my building’s facade. Yes, you see, Steve wan not done with me. He insists we need to remove the circa 1960 sheet metal facade from my building to see what is going on underneath. His tricks are well-known.. he did it to another business. The minute you remove your sign board, he demands you apply for remodeling permits to put a sign back up. And during that permit negotiation, they tell you the sign is no longer historically accurate, and these expensive changes will need to be made if you intend to put up a new sign. (And lets not forget permit charges through the city to do so..) So the neighbor lady (remember her?) is no longer speaking to me since Randy and Steve’s strong-arm attempts are not working thus far.

No eye contact, no “good morning”, no nuthin’. Of course, when something heavy needs lifting or the guy with CB upstairs needs help, I will be expected to do the right thing regardless of how I have been treated by them. Until then, I get to fume over the audacity of someone who does not own my building telling me how to spend my own money to modify it. I guess I should not let it bother me too badly, since I have not received any court orders to do so. Yet.

So now I wait to see what the next act in this Ballet of the Absurd is going to be.

 

Try to look busy when the boss comes in.

So it’s official, we just capped off our 8th day of business. There was an opening party that was open to the public last Sunday. We had about 20 show up, and they ate our food and drank our beverages. Then on Monday, we opened in earnest.

And did not get a customer until Saturday.

It happens.. two tattoos done on Saturday night, and it was fo about double what i am getting from the restaurant a week. Still not a manageable amount, but with time and the buzz around town, I will be seeing more and more business.

Today I painted our 10 foot long sign for above the window. It will need some touching up tomorrow to be sure. I hand painted the first letters, and used masking tape and an exacto blade on the other sixteen. It’s not that it was coming out badly, It was just taking too much time per letter. The tape did an ok job, but really let me down when it came time to do the accent lines, which is where I will have to make my touch ups where the paint bled.

I am trying to be on time for work every day and so far I have a streak of 1 day going. I hope to expand on that, because I do not want tardiness as one of my well known qualities. I have always been a bad procrastinator, which often causes trouble.. but I try to make up for it with doing good work and working hard when I get to work. Yeah, it’s a shabby attitude to have if I was working for someone else, but..

Got a birthday coming up on Thursday. Hope I get a bonus from the boss.

It all runs downhill…

Suffice it to say, this post is about plumbing. Or lack thereof. Everything is waiting on the plumbers to do their job. I even had an opening party scheduled, which would have been fine if they had left water hooked up in the place so I could have a working toilet. No doubt it will not be ready by Sunday, so I had to reschedule the opening party for a week later.

I still have a few things to buy, but otherwise we are just waiting on other people to do their jobs, not me. The art is hanging on the walls, the tattoos are ready to apply. All that is necessary is water and drains, hopefully they come soon and get to work. And hopefully this time not destroy my flooring in the process. It gets old having to strip up tile and re-lay it. Old and tiresome.

In the meantime, because of exposed drain lines, the shop is smelling, well, not so fresh. It is going to be hard, waiting on that particular fix to come in. Also, in the meantime, bills are starting to mount and no way to make income, because I am waiting on Mario and Luigi to finish their business so I can do MY business. Literally and figuratively. It WOULD be nice to have some water while I am cleaning, but that’s why DOW invented scrubbing bubbles.

Back to it, time to spend more money.

Seasons will change..

It’s football season. Later today, I am going to the Green Bay at Cincinnati game with a friend and it looks like we are going to have a good time and maybe eat some good food on the way.  I am pretty excited for the season to begin, to give me something to cheer about. My team, of course, are the Packers. As discussed here before, I have been a fan since about the age of 13, as it was my wish to cause a ittle controversy in the living room on Sundays. My parents and their other spawn were insufferable Bears fans. At that early age, I appreciated the rivalry and sided with the most storied and decorated franchise in NFL history.

This year the Packers enter their 93rd season as a professional football team. That’s right, football has only been with us in this form for less than a century, yet it is arguably the most popular sport in the country. It is popular in my world, to be sure, but not because I ever really played at an organized level. I was not a jock in high school, as a matter of fact I despised that particular “caste” in our system. The conformists and the sheep, stuck in their fads and fashions, disgusted me in ways as a teenager that I find it hard to believe now I am the same person.

I appreciate the strategy of the game.. football. The team aspect of the sport, the leader who makes the calls and the players who are tasked to execute them. In many ways, it reminds me of Civil War battles- another subject I care for a lot.

In fact, I have found that I have “branded” myself with some of the material items I like, follow that brand and make purchases (capitalism.. gasp!) of merchandise. Not only the Packers, but anything American Civil War, anything Pontiac Fiero.. my little two seater from the 80s that is fun to drive but will always need work because it is old. In fact, I am getting into old stuff more and more. I like the idea of owning antiques, although I do not make enough money to likely ever afford a serious collection. The teenager inside is sneering at the adult me and materialistic ways. What’s next, owning another property.

Ooops. I guess I swung the other way on that kind of thing, too. Yes, I now have owned my business property for one month officially today. And we are making some progress now… the floor goes in tomorrow, as I primed it today. This will be my first commercial tile installation that does not involve the self-adhesive type tiles. instead, I will be using an adhesive that comes in a 4 gallon bag. I will need to trowel it, wet roller the adhesive, place the tiles carefully following pattern, and then lastly run a 100lb roller over all the tiles both ways to press it firmly in place.

I do not own a 100lb. roller, so I will need to rent one in the morning to use. The rental place opens at 9am. I will have to grab it, and get directly to work in the shop. I will have a little under seven (7) hours to install this floor before I need to go home and clean up for the game. Then I need to go back to town and pick my friend up and then we head out to the game.

I see a long, hard day tomorrow with perhaps a great payoff. The Packers, 0-2 in the preseason thus far, are starting a player Cincinnati let go last year against them in his debut as a Packer. The Packers, who won the Superbowl two seasons ago, but “disappointed” by only losing two games last year, can make this guy happy again. Go into the home team’s house, and get a “W” to make the long day on my aching knees worth every minute of it.

It would be nice to get out a good cheer,and hopefully escape the wrath of upset fans in orange and black.

These days it seems EVERYONE is a curious passer-by

I see a lot of faces of strange people have been showing up at my window and peaking in. In fact, I have nose prints on my display case right now from all the traffic we have gotten. I guess tomorrow I am putting up paper to keep lookey-loos at bay until I open. I have also been questioned by a great many people about what i am doing with the business. Honestly I have no time to field the questions of the curious, or trying to get a feel for the reaction they might have that *gasp* tattoos are going to be performed in THEIR historic downtown. It’s usually not that bad of a reaction, but I have raised more than one eyebrow.

The building and I are having a love affair. I have begun to care for her imperfections as much as her real positive points. The smell of the building is old, but not musty or overpowering. The construction is from another time, and especially the ceiling is a thing I am overjoyed with. Wood trim and panels that are over a hundred years old mingle with more recent renovations in a very pleasing mix. Upstairs is still Buffalo Bill’s house from “Silence of the Lambs” but the downstairs is finally becoming less cluttered and stripped to its barest components. I have found some of the most interesting stuff in the upstairs amongst the former owner’s old crap… old car titles, insurance paperwork, typewriters, a wall plaque of an old sailing vessel, A hundred screwdrivers at least, numerous office items.. no kidding, I scored a case of printer paper and a whole bunch of jeweler trays (and I mean a WHOLE BUNCH) that they were going to throw away. Some made of really nice wood.. you “wood” not believe it.

We tore up all the carpet that is to be removed today and the padding as well. (Carpet in the bathroom YUGH)  We emptied the upstairs rooms so we could effect repairs on the walls and virtually replace the ceiling…and I am DEFINITELY going to get a good look at the rafters and roof structure while we have the ceiling out. This is the best time to do a roof repair if necessary, but hopefully everything is solid up there.. but the ceiling indicates it may have rot, so we will see.

We have a few shelves to yank out as well, and that might not be any fun, either. There is plenty to like about that office, however, and one is the nice cubby holes and spaces for a TV and many other things the other offices do not have.

There are working and non-working electrical outlets all over the building. I am going to start tagging the non-working stuff for repair. Likewise, the water pressure is complete crap, the toilet needs repair/replacement and the sink needs a better way to anchor it to the wall, because it came off today when a helper leaned on it. It could have gotten ugly, and we were very fortunate to avoid any major injuries thus far. *knock on wood*

There is so much shoddy wiring, plumbing, and air duct work that I am surprised there has not been a fire or a flood yet. (AGAIN knock on wood..) We are working on getting it all done, I expect to have most of this wrapped up by the end of next weekend. I know it sounds like a lot in a little time, but its about one project a day so its not TOO hateful.

We also have a huge load of tile to buy, along with primer and floor glue. I am going to have to get the measurements but I see no less than 700 sq ft of tile, so this could be an expensive component of the shop coming together.  Maybe the plumbing work will be, who knows? I must replace my whole supply line because it starts out 1/2″ copper, goes to galvanize (Looked like 3/4″) and then steps all the way down to 1/4″ or something at the sink. Its ridiculous and needs a complete overhaul, so that is gonna cost, too.

Well, this is when I need to be sleeping but old habits die hard. I am trying to get my sleep schedule tightened up so I am not so tired all day while I am finishing the remodeling. I did 12 hours today, probably the same tomorrow. I confess, I hope this is the last time I ever have to do all the re-modeling myself and just a few friends. They have been great so far, one guy has already worked 16 hours with me. I plan on getting some “crew” t-shirts made up for everyone with the shop logo on the front, as an extra thank-you above and beyond my compensation to them.

That about wraps it up, B.

More red tape, more history

Ok, so I got the place. I spent almost $6k yesterday in the form of two personal checks. The mortgage down payment was $4500 with a couple add-ons from title inspection, etc. and both DW and I observed that neither of us have ever written a personal check for that much money before. I have come close, but this is a new all time high.

I headed over to the building and let it rip. We ripped out drywall, pulled out dividers, and tore down paneling. (Which some idiot had GLUED to the wall…sigh…) Anyhow, now the wall under the paneling needs a major repair, and i am leaving one section of it up because painting it is easier than patching the wall.

I would like to get some pictures of the place up soon, I have just been trying to fly low and get everything I need done done. Well, the powers that be love red tape, and this morning, a new set of issues and hoops to jump through began unfolding. I set up my utilities on the building, and each utility had a separate requirement. Gas company needs me to let a reader in tomorrow because the meter is in the basement. Electric company wanted a cancelled check so they could do direct withdrawal unless i wanted to give them a $135 deposit. (Hell no.) The city which handles water, sewer, and garbage pickup requires my signature and ID in person, so now I am getting ready to run up to the municipal building and get that done.

The previous owner, who was kind enough to finance my loan, still has a BUNCH of junk upstairs and downstairs that needs to get out of there. Luckily i will not be ready to open for at least another 3 weeks, so they do have some time. And so much of it is old and interesting.. while looking through some of it we found a paper from ’81 from right when Pope John Paul II was shot. We found a box FULL of automobile titles (That fascinated me) , we found a couple ancient bottles of Gin and Southern Comfort, and a hole host of dirt, filth, kitsch, knickknacks and the like. The place is loaded down with weird and interesting stuff.

I am not necessarily feeling the greatest today. We ripped that drywall out and i forgot a respirator mask, so my nose is full of asbestos probably. Mesothelioma, here I come. In all seriousness, after researching, that drywall is probably the only thing in the building that has a chance of containing asbestos.. the rest of the building is TOO OLD to even have materials made from asbestos, which really only became prevalent in this area in the late 1870s.

We found out yesterday that it was made pre-civil war.. 1852 is the initial date for a business in lot 71&72 of the downtown area. It has mostly been a jewelry store for all of its life, with a few insurance companies mixed in there for good measure. Dan, the real estate guy, also brought me an old bicentennial newspaper that had some neat information and photographs of the building from different eras in its existence. Its pretty cool seeing pictures of your new business with Model A fords sitting in front of it, or horses and buggies.

I have so much to do, it probably should be no wonder why I have to end this abruptly. Gotta get going today, I am already running behind schedule.

That about wraps it up, B.

EDIT- There goes post 50, I guess i am not the prolific blogger others are since I started this in September.