When my family moved here two years ago, I saw a lady with purple hair walking down Main Street. I nearly stalked her I was so excited to see this “funky element” in an otherwise pretty staid town; now I know her to be the puppeteer Jill Liflander and she still stands out as a rare creative and multi-colored bird, and, I might add, a great mom.
Of course we moved here, as opposed to some other inland town in Westchester (no offense to Scarsdale), because of this Rivertown reputation for being more boho. Granted, we’re immigrating from the gritty fringes of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, home of the displaced lower Manhattan arts scene, so I think our standard for the low culture of “street” is high. A few conservative art galleries doesn't exactly cut it.
Main Street, Tarrytown seems to have its image fairly well fixed: high rents, mostly high-end shops. It’s Sleepy Hollow’s Beekman that has the lower-rent potential in my mind to be truly cool. I picture Brooklyn’s Bedford Avenue the way it used to be before the luxury condos came – second-hand shops, local designers, flea markets, street vendors, affordable multi-culti food. Someday I want to open a shop here of some kind. And mixed in with all of this would have to be a tattoo parlor.
If to opening a parlor on a ground floor and/or on Main, then please please please might I invite him to come to Sleepy Hollow? I’m not out to drive the existing businesses out, but we can do better than 10 redundant deli-whatevers, pizza, pubs and a few pricier restaurants. The Latin population would patronize a tattoo parlor, as well as everyone else interested in this ancient art – except of course the few folks protesting this in Tarrytown.
I like how visitor Melissa Neuman put it to the Trustees at the last board meeting, saying she “puts a high premium on cultural diversity and could see myself raising a family here. It’s not ignorance that makes us want cultural diversity. It’s acceptance.”
I wonder whatever could possibly be wrong with a tattoo parlor? Or for that matter, with someone who patronizes such a place? Like this tattooed mama for instance?
Naysayers cite this as bad for the kiddies. Since kids can’t get tattoos without parental consent until they are 18, what harm in just seeing them? Should I, a tattooed lady, not stand within 500 feet of children? Does having a few tattoos here and there make me a bad influence?
And why in the world is it necessary to limit the density of these shops, as if there would be so many, or even two? Please people. It’s business and it will succeed and we should encourage it. I would argue that too many pizzas and too many pubs is far worse for our health than too many tattoos.
My daughter, other children, and most adults for that matter, always ask me about my very visible forearm tattoos. If you see someone with a tattoo ask them the story behind it and I guarantee you’ll get to know a person in a quick and interesting way. Tattoos are conversation starters, though that’s not often why we get them.
For me, every tattoo comes after great deliberation, planning, and drawing. I never regret them; even if they no longer apply to my life now they represent a history of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.
There’s the logo of the bar I opened, Stain, on my arm. It's the ring a wine glass can leave on a napkin and a record of my big entrepreneurial achievement (and where, I might add, I met my husband, which led to baby, which brings us to Sleepy Hollow).
Then, adjacent to this, and more recently, there’s the word “to” in a huge black book font. As a writer, I often wondered what one word I could possibly choose to get tattooed on myself but then author Shelley Jackson came along and gave me one.
Jackson's story “Skin” will never exist on paper. It’s 3,000 words long and 3,000 participants will each receive one word to tattoo on their skin. Together we "words" comprise the story; a string of 3,000 different lives from the world over. I thought Jackson's idea was astounding and wrote her my plea to participate immediately. When the word “to” arrived in my mailbox I was so relieved it wasn’t “umbrella” or something. (Participants can't choose the word but they can choose not to participate.) “To” can mean whatever I like. Potential, progress, forward-motion, growth.
Which is what I would hope for our towns.
Sometimes the feet-in-concrete resistance to change expressed by some members of this community really dishearten me. Other times, I realize these are just a few voices among many, voices as essential in their resistance as the inevitable change itself. “To.” Onward we move, regardless.