Tattoo Talk, Haircut, and a Shave

I spent two weeks in Wilmington, NC to work on an article from our Family and the Field Study with Michaela Howells. Our data look fascinating. It’s not so much remarkable as confirmatory and solid. We surveyed over 1000 anthropology graduate students and professionals about the influence of anthropology on their family planning and family dynamics on their anthropology careers. Given that we are both first-generation college students, I think we personally were a little stunned at the percent of our peers who come from educated families and were literally socialized for being academics. We will write a whole lot more about this in the future, but it makes clear why anthropology is so lacking in diversity despite being a discipline that studies diversity.

Our friend & colleague Carolyn Jost Robinson hooked us up with a writing retreat at her house near the beach while she was in Indiana on her own writing retreat.

Our friend & colleague Carolyn Jost Robinson hooked us up with a writing retreat at her house near the beach while she was in Indiana on her own writing retreat.

In exchange, we gave her transgender cat antibiotic shots every day & intravenous saline every other day.

In exchange, we gave her transgender cat antibiotic shots every day & intravenous saline every other day. (Photo by Michaela Howells)

I’m currently listening to Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, about his life growing up under apartheid, and he repeatedly makes a great point about the responsibility of privilege. It’s not enough to teach a person to fish, you must buy him/her a pole. It’s not charity because the person still has to do the work to fish. But knowledge without the resources to get started or support along the way isn’t enough.

Photo by Carolyn Jost Robinson

Photo by Carolyn Jost Robinson

The other main purpose was to give an invited talk to promote my new book. I worked up a talk from my chapter on tattooing called “Tattoos, Taboo, and Tradition: Signals of Health and Commitment from Warriors to Wide Receivers.” The turnout was great. I met with the Anthropology Club for a Coffee Chat for a few hours. The talk was advertised on NPR that morning and was very well attended, with several students coming over from Cape Fear Community College. Afterward, I was treated to some mofongo at a local Puerto Rican restaurant by Michaela, Carolyn, and Bill Alexander.

I may or may not have stotted like a Thomsen's gazelle. What does that have to do with tattooing? I am giving a version of this talk in a few weeks at Binghamton University--you will have to attend and find out. (Photo by Michaela Howells)

I may or may not have stotted like a Thomsen’s gazelle. What does that have to do with tattooing? I am giving a version of this talk in a few weeks at Binghamton University–you will have to attend and find out. (Photo by Michaela Howells)

In between, Michaela and her husband James Loudon showed me a good time. We went to a fundraiser for Carolyn’s rowing club at a local bar.

I may or may not have stotted like a Thomsen's gazelle. What does that have to do with tattooing? I am giving a version of this talk in a few weeks at Binghamton University--you will have to attend and find out. (Photo by Michaela Howells)

James, me, Carolyn, Michaela at Waterline Brewery (Photo by Michaela Howells)

At the fundraiser, I won a prize for getting the baby in a slice of king cake. It was a massage from a local place that I gave to my hosts (though after lugging all my bags on this trip, my shoulders could use some professional kneading and beating).

I also won a cool Salvador Dali book in the raffle. The book was so big I had to leave it to be mailed. Go me.

Michaela gave a public talk at a vintage store in town about Suffragettes and fashion that was very cool.

Michaela giving talk "Fashion as Political Resistance: Defiant Fashion, Defiant Women" at Second Skin Vintage, 3/7/17.

Michaela giving talk “Fashion as Political Resistance: Defiant Fashion, Defiant Women” at Second Skin Vintage, 3/7/17.

 

Before her lecture, we went across the street to Beale Street Barber Shop, where I got a haircut, and Michaela treated me to an old-fashioned straight razor shave. I liked the pampering, and the barber-proprietor was very cool–he was an old NYC punk rock guy so we had a lot of common ground to chat about. However, the straight razor cut was like shaving with a dull blade and hurt like a mother by the 3rd go-around. Apparently, I have a tough beard, so he had to go over it several times.

And I tagged along with Michaela and James on their daily trips to the beach to walk with their dog Uli, as well as a spring break day trip to Myrtle Beach to take in gaudy trappings of that tourist hellhole. Apparently, during one of its socioeconomic lulls, there were stripper joints every few steps, but those were shut down and replaced by pancake houses. Yes, pancake houses. Ikr? So we went for some seriously decadent flapjacks at a place that may or may not have been a stripper joint. I have no idea. I had chicken and waffles, with a side of fried eggs and homemade corned beef hash.

The place advertised the hell out of having a chef who was trained at the Culinary Institute of America, which is in Poughkeepsie, where I used to live. I think CIA needs to monitor who uses its good name in vain like that. It wasn’t terrible, but it was not particularly innovative or anything. I was most impressed with the awareness raising about autism. Apparently the chef’s child has autism, according to our waitress. Waffles with a side of social consciousness? Autism and pancakes? Kinda weird but fitting.

There was also some serious cruising in what I was told are “lifted” cars. Lifted lowriders? I don’t know. I was taking tourist photos of the Starbucks frappacino-mobile for my WTF? file along with others, and they said the cars were “lifted.”

We had best intentions of going to Ripley’s Believe it or Not and playing mini-golf at one of the totally decked out theme places, but walked up and down the boardwalk, went to the Gay Dolphin to shop (shit hole with a bunch of junk, but I got a good magnet about Jesus that says Gay Dolphin, so there’s that), then got tired.

I’m wrapping up a 24 hour layover in Istanbul and on my way to Madagascar now. Turkish Airlines do things right, I have to say. Cramped flight but free movies and good food. They put me up in a hotel in Fatih, which is a historic quarter and came with free breakfast. So after a 10 hour flight to Istanbul, I ate enough to tide me over for 12 hours, slept for 6 hours, walked the streets looking at mosques for 3 hours, took another nap, got a shower, and caught up on messaging family.

Don't read too much into this. I simply like this juxtaposition of feminity in the hotel lobby while I waited for the airport shuttle.

Don’t read too much into this. I simply like this juxtaposition of feminity in the hotel lobby while I waited for the airport shuttle.

I am now ready for another 13 hours in the air.

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Christopher Lynn

About Christopher Lynn

Christopher Dana Lynn is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama, where he directs the Evolutionary Studies program.  Chris teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in biological anthropology, human sexuality, evolution, biocultural medical anthropology, and neuroanthropology.  He received his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology in 2009 from the University at Albany, SUNY, where his doctoral focus was on the influence of speaking in tongues on stress response among Pentecostals.  Chris runs a human behavioral ecology research group where the objectives include studying fun gimmicky things like trance, religious behavior, tattooing, and sex as a way of introducing students to the rigors of evolutionary science.  In all his “free” time, he breaks up fights among his triplet sons, enjoys marriage to the other Loretta Lynn, strokes his mustache, and has learned to be passionate about Alabama football (Roll Tide!).  Follow Chris on Twitter: @Chris_Ly

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