On Tuesday, New York Islanders center Micheal Haley is scheduled to appear at Tattoo Lou's, a Long Island-based parlor that's been in business for 50 years.
Hockey player gets a tattoo ... nothing too ground-breaking there, right?
Actually, there is: Haley is getting inked at the "official tattoo shop of the New York Islanders Hockey Club", which announced the partnership on Friday by saying it's "the first time a professional sports franchise has ever designated an official tattoo shop."
As part of the deal, Tattoo Lou's will set up a tattooing and body-piercing station on the Nassau Coliseum concourse for 10 Islanders home games during the 2011-12 season, selling jewelry and clothing there as well. From Darren Rovell:
Fans can get their tattoos in a space inside the arena that looks like a penalty box. The minimum cost for a tattoo is $60, but the average price ranges from $160 to $300. Body piercings range from $40 to $60, including the jewelry.
This being the Islanders and this being an out-of-the-box idea, it's been met with the expected ridicule and incredulity. The Village Voice wrote: "You can have Shake Shack while watching the Mets and eat Sushi in Yankee Stadium; it's only appropriate that you can pay someone to jab you with needles during an Islanders game." Josh Rimer from XM Home Ice even worried about the digestive ramifications of the tattoo stand:
"You're in line to get a hot dog & you glance over & see some girl getting her bellybutton pierced! So gross."
Well, that depends on the girl. And the hot dog.
Please, allow us a moment to share some information and lend some context about why the "official tattoo shop of the New York Islanders Hockey Club" is wholly appropriate and a welcome addition.
Guess Who Likes Tattoos? Everyone at an Islanders Game
Step into an NHL locker room in 2011 and you'll see more ink than in comic book store run by a family of squid. Not just on dudes like Ryan Malone; hell, rookies are getting tats 24 hours after they win the Stanley Cup.
Step into an NHL arena, and you're going to see more than a few fans who have, wait for it, tattoos. It's a rough-and-tumble game that attracts rough-and-tumble types. I would argue, quite successfully I imagine, that a tattoo parlor has more relevance to those attending a professional hockey game than a Dippin' Dots stand. And yet there's a Dippin' Dots on, like, every concourse.
Step into Long Island, and you'll meet a bunch of young dudes in muscle T-shirts who wear too much cologne, leave the club at dawn and have a bunch of tattoos of varying degrees of appropriateness. What, you thought the cast from "Jersey Shore" were from Jersey? (Granted, they're from Staten Island, but the point still stands.)
Step into the tattoo parlor at an Islander game and know that it belongs there.
Here's what the Islanders discovered this summer: Not enough people in town like them right now.
That even when an election is held on a Monday in August, there isn't enough community support for the franchise to get it funding for a new arena.
So short of a dramatic reversal of on-ice fortunes — and that's a work in progress — the Islanders have to do what they can to (a) fill the seats and (b) endear themselves to the community. While the deal with the cupcake shop was nice and all, this relationship with a local business seems like a more natural fit. And the more the Islanders build these bonds with the community, the better it'll be for the franchise.
Tattoo Horror Stories
Selfishly, we support this addition to the Nassau Coliseum for the comedic possibilities. Please consider:
- The Islanders fan who leaps out of the chair after a dramatic goal, causing the needle to slice them along the back while drawing an inky equator around their torso.
- The Islanders fan who gets a tattoo in honor of a player and then finds out they've been traded after the game. (Like this guy in DC with the Varlamov tattoo.)
- The Rangers fan who wakes up in a whiskey haze the next morning to discover his buddies paid for a tattoo that reads "The Islanders Own This" and an arrow pointed at his posterior.
Really, the possibilities are endless
Not Everything The Islanders Do Is a Complete Joke
The New York Islanders are like hockey's Michael Jackson, and not just because both peaked in the 1980s.
Before he was canonized in death as a entertainment vanguard and tortured genius, Michael Jackson was a moon-walking punchline. Jokes about his appearance, his music, his eccentricities, his family, his behavior … it became a universal language spoken everywhere from comedic monologues to your great aunt's kitchen table as she grappled with the odd fate of "that nice boy from the alphabet song."
The same thing happens to the Islanders: Every promotion, every signing, everything Charles Wang says, all the futility of the last 20 years … it all gets included in the cacophony of ridicule We're as guilty of contributing to it as anyone, because most of it is hilarious. (C'mon, DiPietro getting injured in a goalie fight?)
But this tattoo thing? Harmless and inconsequential. Yet someone in these very comments will use it as evidence that the Islanders are a "joke" franchise. If the Penguins or Flyers or Bruins did this, it'd be an indication of how hardcore their fans are. Ah, the subtleties of fan mockery.
Finally, No Matter How You Feel About This Promotion by the Islanders, Let's All Agree That a Real Tattoo Is Better Than This [Expletive]
Tattoo Lou's doesn't seem as bad in comparison now does it?