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November 06, 2014 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-11-06

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, November 6, 2014-- 3B

From Page 1B
Still, why would someone
want that - to look like that?
Most of mainstream society
can't wrap its head around it.
"You ready to do this?"
"For sure," I say and nod
way too confidently.
Pangea's three piercing
rooms are small square inlets
without doors. I lay on my
back on an orange operating
table. I stretched my head to
the side while Kenny handled,
through two pairs of sterile
rubber gloves, a sharp pierc-
ing needle.
Kenny seems confident, and
it's just my lobes. Lobes are
"When you're ready, take a
deep breath in. I'll pierce on a
slow exhale."
Two weeks later, with the
leaves turning fiery, I went to
Kenny's house in Ypsilanti to
interview him about piercing
His apartment is in a brick
block building. Out front, a
Styrofoam cup was caught
in the green hedges. With-
out plugs, Kenny's lobes
were wrinkled and stringy.
He wore long black Dickies
shorts. The same cat from his
business card eyes me.
"I see what you did there.
What's its name?"
Blinka clawed the wall.
A PlayStation 4 rested on a
vacuumed carpet; Next to the
TV, a cinderblock bookcase
filled with Horror novels, and
then next to that, two display
cases, one with jewelry and
the other with trinkets and a
Kiss doll. We sat on the couch.
Kenny said his foray into
piercing was like the next
kid's. When he was six, he
asked his mom if he could get
his ears pierced. After some
coaxing, she agreed, but qual-
ified it was a one-time thing.
She took him to the local mall
in College Station, Texas,
and the boy left with holes in
lobes, face glowing.
He was hooked, and started
experimenting. He pierced
himself, pierced his friends -
first just ears, then noses and
"We were all putting holes
in each other."
His parents eventually
caught on and were startled
a bit by their son's offbeat
hobby. They told him to take
out the jewelry, but Kenny
was in his teenage-rebel
phase. "I was grounded a lot
in high school."
Six months out of high
school, in 2001, Kenny took
a job the counter of the local
piercing shop. He was even-
tually offered a two-year
apprenticeship, but the shop
went bust six months later.
He moved to Houston in 2007
and eventually finished his
apprenticeship at the well-
regarded Taurian Piercings &
Metals. When Taurian closed

in 2010, he moved to Ypsilanti
to work at Pangea.
As Blinka snuggled into
Kenny's lap, I asked him what
a piercing career at Pangea is
"It can be stressful, man."

As one of two main piercers
at the shop, Kenny's paid $80
minimum per day, or $20 per
piercing, plus tips.
"A slow month is two-thou-
sand to twenty-five-hundred
dollars, a busy month, four to
five-thousand," he said
Doing 20 to 30 piercings a
day can be extremely stressful
"You're trying to get
through stuff fast and in a
precise manner, and at the
same time you have people
waiting for you in the lobby."
Impatient moms are worst:
"Sometimes you wait hours,
I'll be honest. But do you really
want me to rush through this
shit nonchalantly and poten-
tially fuck up your daughter
because you don't have the
patience? ... Not being able to
sleep for a couple days is not
Blinka jumped down and
up onto an elaborate cat bun-
galow. Kenny broke a small
"I have this job where I can
make people happy on a daily
basis. I can change someone's
life. It makes me all warm and
tingly inside." The sentence
looked ironic on the guy.
We laughed and I caught
sight of his lizard tongue
(inspired, he said, by Lizard
Man, a dude who's undergone
hundreds of hours of body
modification to look like his
favorite reptile.)
"I fucking stab people for a
living. If someone was walk-
ing down the street and poked
me with a needle they would
go to jail. People pay me to do
There's something incon-
gruous about this status quo.
Most people don't want to
look like Kenny. We likely
haven't dated someone nor
have friends that look like
Kenny. Worse, no matter our
claimed liberalism, we likely
hold ingrained stereotypes
of people like Kenny. Why
else is it that we don't want
our doctors looking like
Kenny? That Kenny has lost
girlfriends after being intro-
duced to their families?
"Some were more accept-
ing, but for the most part it's
been bad experiences."
When mainstream soci-
ety experiments, we try OJ
with pulp, paint the bedroom
salmon, maybe go bungee
jumping. Just simple studs in
my lobes will do, please and
thank you. Why would any-
one want so many holes in
their body? Or suspend their
body via shark hook?
I was playing with my studs
again, twirling the moon-
stones in their holes, when I
realized the same applied to
me. I like how my earrings
looked, but I still don't know
if my more traditional par-
ents will approve of my pierc-
ings. Them to Me to Kenny to
Lizard Man is just a matter of
degrees of judgment.
"It's your own fault for not
being able to even give it a try
and see what I'm like," Henny
said. "I don't care though,

miss out on whatever you
want. It doesn't really affect
"Don't let me know if body
fat pops out this time. I didn't

need to know that last time,"
John says.
From behind a surgical
mask and sterilized gloves,
Kenny squeezes a chunk of
John's back and propels a
long piercing needle in and
then back out.
Fondue chocolate is con-
gealing in the corner now. A
metal album called Wiscon-
sin Death Trip screams over
the PA.
By the wall, John Camp-
bell sits backwards on a
chair covered with a white
surgical tablecloth. A single
line of blood flows down
his bare back. His nipples
are pierced, "it doesn't hurt
nearly as much as you would
think," and he also has two
small silver metal tunnels
in his lobes. Marlee is snap-
ping smartphone close-ups of
the two hooks hanging from
four fresh holes in John's
back. The hooks are engraved
in swirly script with his and
Marlee's names, wedding
date, and the words "one year
anniversary" - a surprise
gift from Kenny.
It still smells like the bun-
dle of sage Kenny burned.
Behind him, on two disin-
fected tables covered with
white surgical table clothes,
is his makeshift piercing sta-
tion: boxes of rubber gloves,
sterilized rubber gloves,
lubricant, saline and alcohol
solutions, dental bibs, blue
dye, gauze in rows of "pre-
" and "post-packs," various
types of hooks Autoclaved
and hermetically sealed, plus
some sutures - just in case.
John eats his third pack of
M&Ms. We're talking about
needles, and Marlee says
she's terrified of hypodermic
needles, which surprises me
because she's a phlebotomist;
also because what's a hypo-
dermic needle to hanging
upside-down from your knees
(Marlee's doing that next.)
"I'm just scared of tak-
ings fluids in and out of my
skin," she said. But you're not
scared of suspending?
I tell her how I like shots.
She calls me weird.
John looks nervously at the
rigging in the center of the
room. From a metal roof sup-
port 20 feet up, a thick rope
hangs between two metal
pulleys. A carabiner connects
the lower pulley to a small
flat metal bar with lots of
holes. A thinner rope weaves
through the holes leaving two
long loops.
We gather around the rope
and Kenny attaches the hooks
in John's back to the rigging.
Last year, John only got off
the ground for a few seconds
before feeling a panic attack
coming on (he suffers from
them regularly). He wants
to improve on that record.
Kenny starts pulling the rope
slowly, and the slack taut-
ens. The hooks pull the skin
on John's back until it turns
white. Kenny increases the
pressure slowly. Skin stretch-
es. It looks like bat wings have
been growing, about to burst

from his back. I can't take my
eyes away.
A part of me weirdly wants
to know what that feels like.
Suspending from your back.
Floating like that. Another
part of me wants to run away
before its Marlee's turn.

Five books for the
literary and lazy,

DailyArts Writer
"I'm going to read more!"
"I'm going to do my homework
a week in advance!" "I'm not
going to wait until the last min-
ute to write my Michigan Daily
We've all lied to ourselves
We've all tricked our overly-
ambitious 20-something minds
into believing our fall semester
was going to be productive, not
like those "other" semesters.
But it didn't happen. It didn't
happen partially because of
classes and clubs and work,
and partially because you're
not Malala Yousafzai. "Who's
that?" you ask. At 17, she's the
youngest Nobel Peace Prize
Winner ever. Read the news.
Who has time to read
though? Between classes, daily
calls home to your parents,
running for CSG President and
playing quarterback for the
football team, who can spare
even an hour to read?
Reading doesn't have to be
a chore though. It can be fun,
like jet-skiing with Hillary
Clinton or bungee-jumping
from the St. Louis Arch. Or
sleeping. Maybe avoid "Infi-
nite Jest," "Atlas Shrugged,"
or "The Dictionary of Modern
English Usage" (all books in my
room). Just fly through quick,
sharp novels.
Here are a few that you
might not know about:
in Bad Decline"
by George Saunders, 192 pages
Satirist and humorist
George Saunders is widely
regarded as one of contempo-
rary literature's most-impor-
tant and most original voices.
His bizarre and off-beat sto-
ries shed light on what's been
in front of our faces the whole
time, often much to our cha-
grin. He's been compared to
Raymond Chandler, Kurt Von-
negut, even Mark Twain. He's
just that good.
Published in 1997, "Civil-
WarLand in Bad Decline"
is Saunders's first book. Six
short stories and a novella.
That's it. In just 192 pages, he
picks apart a dystopian Ameri-
ca with precision and simplic-
ity, deconstructing everything
from race to class to sex. It'll
take about a day and'a half to
finish (breaks included) and
will look great next to a cof-
fee mug on your Instagram or
slipped into the front pocket
of your messenger bag.
"Wolf in White Van"
by John Darnielle, 224 pages

From the lead singer and by his best friend, Ford Pre-
lyricist of The Mountain fect. The two spend the novel
Goats, comes a jarring novel traversing the galaxy and try-
about Sean Phillips, a man ing to find the meaning of,
facially disfigured at 17 years- well, Everything.
old. After "the accident" (no Where 800-page novels
spoilers), Sean creates Trace weigh you down with lessons
Italian: "A Game of Strategy and (ugh) metaphors, "Hitch-
and Survival!" Strangers play. hiker's Guide" doesn't even
Sean helps and struggles and take itself too seriously: "The
thrives. That's all you need to ships hung in the sky in much
make one of the most original the same way that bricks
stories in fiction today. don't." I read this book in a
This book stirs. It wakes. day. The next day, I went out
Then it shakes. It's an expert- and bought the sequel. I read
ly crafted work with a unique that in a day too. The next
voice and a sharp, unforgiving three sequels are sitting on
perspective. Darnielle attacks my desk, eager to be added to
what it means to be alive with this list at a moment's notice.
ferocity and ambition. The
result in an exceptional work "Stardust"
that is much more than just a by Neil Gaiman, 288 pages
story; it's an experience. Buy
this book, finish it this week- Tristan Thorn promises
end, and read it again. I'll be his true love he'll bring back a
in Espresso Royale doing the fallen star. His journey begins,
same. and we're off. Neil Gaiman, a
master of fantasy and wonder,
"The Name of the Star" delivers an enchanting
by Maureen Johnson, novel that never ceases to be
400 pages suspenseful, hilarious and the
favorite book of young Gaiman
The day Louisiana teenager nerds everywhere.
Rory Deveaux moves to Lon- An old witch seeks to regain
don for school, a body is found her youth. A flying pirate ship
brutally murdered outside of sweeps through the clouds. A
a pub. The murder begins a Daily Arts Writer gets goose
string of killings that mimic bumps and audibly gasps at the
the gruesome crimes of Jack end.Thisbookhas itall. Murder.
the Ripper. One night, while Romance. Magic, magic and
outside of her dorm, Rory magic. For 288 pages, anything
spots a grave-faced man in can happen. And anything does.
a long black cloak. The next Buy it. Read it. Rinse. Repeat.
morning, a body is found on So there you have it. Five
her campus. (Cue music.) books. Finish them. And then
Johnson, usually a writer of next week, read: "Franny and
realistic YA lit, dives headfirst Zooey," by Salinger, "Sirens
into the paranormal with this of Titan" by Vonnegut, "Glory
haunting tale - the first of a O'Brien's History ofthe Future"
series of four. Don't be con- by A.S. King, "Amsterdam" by
cerned about the 400 pages Ian McEwan, and "Pudd'nhead
either. It's a quick, pulse- Wilson" by that guy named
racing read. "The Name:of Twain. , ;
the Star" will chillyou, thrill Read, read,I readt Then
you and make you paranoid do your homework. It's due
of any man in a top hat. And tomorrow.
the end will - well
you'll just have to
read it, won't you?
Just be sure you're
not alone. Or in the
dark. Don't make
my mistakes.
"The Hitchhiker's [
Guide to the .p.NOVEL
Galaxy" __
by Douglas Adams,
224 pages
If we're talking \ A /
about dark humor
(and we always are),
then look no further
than Adams's most
famous story. When
Earth is demol-
ished to make way JOHN DARNIELLE
for a galactic free-
way, Arthur Dent is


Pharrell Williams's "ItGirl" is
byfar the mostvisuallyinterest-
ing music video I have seen in
a long time.
The produc-
tion combines
anime-like It Girl
scenes, Pharrell
video-game Columbia
graphics and
even some bizarre, neon-inverse
coloring of a dancing Pharrell.
The music video opens up on
a sandy cartoon beach. As Phar-
rell begins the first verse, mus-
ing"my compass spinning baby,"
a compass in the sand is shown
spinning on the beach. Such
continuity between the lyrics
and visuals occurs sporadically
The nextscene is a grooving
Pharrell, with his entire body
flashing and filled in by bright,
neon colors. The background
is plastered with hundreds of
floating little characters and
symbols. The stimulus overload
from this scene makes it abso-
lutely off-the-wall and unique.
A videogame that looks alot
like Maplestory then pops up
on the screen with Pharrell as

the skateboarding protagonist,
but then quickly changes into an
anime beach scene of sorts.
I could definitely see "It
Girl"getting some heat for this
video here, as there are plenty
of young looking girls in bathing
suits who certainly have clearly
defined, um, proportions.While
this may be typical of anime/
manga style art, Pharrell lurking
in the background with apair of
binoculars inspectingthe girls
definitely sets a creepy vibe for
the moment.
The music video proceeds to
alternate between its computer-
generated trippiness, cutesy-
video-game sets and anime
scenes until finally rolling out

the credits in a similar fashionto
Pokemon games on Game Boy.
Personally, my favorite part of
"It Girl" comes alittle after the
halfway mark, when cheesy-vid-
eo-game Pharrell buys a dolphin
spaceship, goes to outerspace,
shoots some bad guys and visits
Galactic Mount Rushmore with
Pharrell's face (and hat) chis-
eled in.
Even from the start of the
music video, it's clear that the
computer-generated animations
and effects of "It Girl" allow for
fantastical outside of the box
thinking that makes this pro-
duction well worth five minutes
of your time.

Josh Campbell looks at his work on LSA sophomore Eric Hur's pierced helix.



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