"They must think I'm a waste
Who cares
No I don't care
Cause it feels so fucking incredible to be alive"

—Screeching Weasel, "Good Morning"

It's a slow holiday week, a time to get your cockles hot with friends and family or your rocks off with whatever lonely soul you can find to distract you from the cold misery that even now is inching ever closer to the dead rock you once called a heart. In the spirit of the holiday, I have decided to forgo the usual ranting about records in order to bust out the avuncular sweater and pipe and give some helpful advice for once.

So here is how you should go about getting a punk rock band tattoo. And lest you think me a hypocrite, I have appended a picture of what happened to my body after taking my own advice.


1. Go stupid or go home. This is no time to be clever. Do not incorporate the Black Flag bars into some larger design riffing on the evolution of minimalist art or whatever. Own your idiocy by leaving it unadorned.

2. That said, DO NOT get a straight edge tattoo. There's stupid and there's fucking dumb. Straight edge tattoos are fucking dumb. We all know this. If you don't know this, you are probably straight edge. If you are straight edge, you are seventeen. If you are 17, the following rule takes care of you anyway.

3. Wait until you are at least 30 years old. Doing something stupid to your body is so much more pleasurable when your increasingly fragile form has begun its slow decline into the soft confines of existential packing popcorn. Let your body know that you could give a flying fuck.

4. Choose a band you've liked for at least 10 years. Because dudes who got AFI tattoos in 1996 aren't so stoked right now, are they?

5. Err on the side of iconic. Black Flag. Crass. Dead Kennedys. Minor Threat. Conflict. Man is the Bastard. Misfits. Ramones. Or whatever your scene's equivalent happens to be. Because getting a Brother Inferior or Diesel Queens or Whatever Obscure Band You Can Name tattoo just tells everyone that you think you're too smart to be truly stupid. You're not.

6. Make sure your life partner hates it. The person you share your sleep with is likely to be the only human invested enough in you to offer a satisfactory look of dismay when he or she sees your beautiful mistake. Get something that will push the dismay into horror.

7. Re-evaluate the tunes soon to be commemorated on your flesh. Number four might seem to obviate the need for a refresher course in whatever noise you love enough to memorialize on your temporary container, but who knows--maybe your Op Ivy boner died while you weren't paying attention in the last few months. Just double check, okay?

8. See a professional. A Misfits skull tattoo? Cute, cool, rad. The Great Lakes region rendered by a blind child with emotional problems? Not so much.

9. Breathe. For you are alive.

10. And as the needle digs into your flesh, as you wince with and against the beautiful blossoming of pleasurable pain, you might be delivered to a mental clearing in which doubts cast long shadows, and if and when you find yourself in this zone of potential remorse, remember that life is absurd and even stupid, and the best punk rock embraces this absurdity and stupidity, and the best punk rock tattoos embrace this absurdity and stupidity, and the best moments embrace this absurdity and stupidity, and that's what your pain is all about, that's what your tattoo is all about, that's what your life is all about, so hold onto it, love it, because it's awesome and too fucking fleeting.