Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chef Hipsters Cross Over into the World of INK!

Chefs Ink: Inside the World of Culinary Tattoos

OK - I have to admit - it happens to me with some regularity; full-blown cultural phenomena, even ones that I am peripherally aware of as they are germinating and gestating sneak up on me and establish themselves in the world BIG TIME!" An example? Well, it happened to me with tattoos. I mean, I'm still not sure when tattoos went from being something that bikers and 'guys in bands' had to something that every college kid on the planet simply has to have to prove that he or she's a hipster, too. And it happened to me with chefs, as well. I mean, when did THEY become so cool? Yes, I read (along with everyone else), Antony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, and I was highly entertained watching him swagger his way across the globe seemingly talking about good food in exotic places while he was really talking about culture and politics, all the while getting drunk with his Russian buddy... all cool and brilliant. Hey, THAT was great TV (cable TV)! But when did we go from witnessing appealing, but somewhat goofy, TV chefs like Emeril (Bam!) and Crocs wearing, Vespa riding Mario Batali, to adulating guys who rate appearances on VICE (Web TV) - guys who are ultra cool hipsters, ever-so fashionable icons of brilliance? 

And now, that column to the right of my computer screen, the one for which the Google/YouTube viewer behavior analysis algorithm comes up with suggestions of 'other' videos I might enjoy, has offered me the video "Chefs Ink: Inside the World of Culinary Tattoo" - and here I go again, witnessing something 'uber cool' just coming into focus; the crossing over of chef hipsters into the world of Ink! 

I think part of what's going on in this video truly IS important, I mean look at these guys... just a few years back they would have been losers: hard working, decent living earning men who toiled away making acceptable, or even good, but pedestrian food for Everyman to consume (NOTHING wrong with that!), but still, guys who maybe should have gotten a diploma or a degree or a better degree or whatever - guys whose lives had no cache whatsoever, just working stiffs who happened to cook food for people. Now, however, they take themselves more seriously and more to the point, they take their art more seriously. After all,  they're in YouTube videos and these get views, lots and lots of them. And, oh, they've got tats, lots of those, too. And the plot thickens, because these aren't just any tats, they're something new, they are Chef's Tats!

At one minute and nineteen seconds into this engaging video, the chef with the "EAT MY PUCCA! (Poo !Chah)" t-shirt starts to show us his tattoos. At first he shows off nice, but by now, rather ordinary tattoos. He's got a big one, for instance, in the Maori style of the Marquesas archipelago:  nice! And then at one minute twenty nine seconds in, he gets down to rolling up his pants leg so that we can see his "first tattoo", a Brazilian something-er-other (the audio isn't all that clear). But at one minute forty seconds things really start to click. He whips out his smart phone and shows us on its screen the design of a tattoo he's about to get. This, we see, is a powerful drawing of a crossed chef's kitchen knife and fork. Next, the scene quickly shifts to a tattoo studio and our chef is getting that design inked onto the inner part of his right fore arm. He explains "the reason I choose that is because... that's mostly the tools that I use most of the time... and I need to honor that because... it's part of my life... you know?" And really, who can argue with that? He's taking himself and his life and what he does in it seriously. And he's explaining it all sincerely,seemingly without any braggadocio. The scene shifts again and this time we see another chef, this one more eloquent, but explaining the same sort of thing; the foodie oriented origin of the imagery for a tattoo that he intends to get. 

And then, the producers of this video put a text caption over the screen that states "We asked the editors of (get this) INKED Magazine for insight into the chef tattoo trend." Hmmm, digital video deferring to print, print that benefits greatly from how digital video popularizes it and validates it. Looks like a full-blown cultural phenomenon in progress; one not merely centered on cooking or tattoos, but on how media has partnered with these to produce a remarkable hybrid. By the way, much of the rest of this video shows off the continually maturing art of contemporary tattooing, revealing it to be something genuine and of high interest, too. But exploring that will require more viewing of more videos: something I look forward to. 

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