NEW YORK GROOVE: 1

So that was New York. What can I tell you that you don't already know about the place? How about this: did you know they had removed the book store at JFK airport and replaced it with Victoria's Secret? I know it's 2015 but do the people that go to make up the human race really need to buy a bra and a pair of pants to play with on the plane instead of read?

You know what... maybe they do. I don't know why I was surprised but I was - and still am.

Anyway - something that I probably won't mention anywhere else is a trip I took to Paul Booth's Last Rites studio/gallery at the weekend. Paul Booth was the first tattoo artist I ever interviewed (12 years ago now) and, as luck would have it, he was everything I needed him to be. Talented beyond measure, educational and most importantly for me back then, free and easy with his time when he didn't have to be. Over the years, we've met a few times by accident rather than design but this last weekend on his home turf was something else. I felt like I had come full circle.

I don't know if many people get to hang out in his office if they're not getting tattooed but it's a totally submersive experience of darkness that I kind of expected but didn't think would be quite so saturatingly dark as it actually was. What I'm trying to say here is that when you set yourself up as anything in this life, you better be on point during the important parts because people will go away and filter their findings back into the world. Last Rites is everything it is supposed to be and much more than that too. It's hard to explain, so your best option is simply to drop in when you're there. Don't forget to take some cash with you because the curated gallery is off the hook.

Paul Booth (left), Nikko Hurtado (right) and me. There's more black in this photo than I've ever seen. Good work darkness.

Paul Booth (left), Nikko Hurtado (right) and me. There's more black in this photo than I've ever seen. Good work darkness.

As we can see here, Last Rites is so dark in fact that it even has the capacity to suck all of the light out of a picture even with the flash kicking in. By comparison, here's a couple of shots from the rather more well lit gallery downstairs:

Stefano Alcantara, me and my buddy Trent. That white t-shirt was possibly the only white item in the building on that night.

Stefano Alcantara, me and my buddy Trent. That white t-shirt was possibly the only white item in the building on that night.

This time with Timothy Boor.

This time with Timothy Boor.

These guys are the most genuine people I know in the tattoo world. Stefano and Tim both came out of Last Rites before starting up their own studios, all of which goes to show just how balanced that damn place is.

(Footnote: I know these shots were taken on an iPhone5 (not mine), but the camera is shocking on it by comparison to today's standards. I don't remember my 5 being this bad at all - it makes it look like we are all stuck in 2009 and the phone cam is shooting through the Shroud of Turin.)

•••

More tomorrow - about this and some other stuff - but I haven't posted for too long and this one will make me feel better about the whole affair. 

On which note, this:

Sion Smith