Monday, March 18


another skull.
my ma asked me:
'what's with the skulls?'
skulls are F*ing awesome.

MORE skulls means i'm cool, right?
i know i've got a few i can still summon up,
when i'm not so slammed at the studio.
AMPERSAND TATTOO has got the skulls, friends.
we may also have the skills to pay the bills,
but we for sure have a lot of these head bones.
simple is nice.
complicated is too.
maybe the next one will be busier.....
it's too soon to predict the outcome as they basically paint themselves;
never quiet, never soft.....


irish mutha-F*ing soda bread!!
is it good?
is it rich and thick and only barely like bread?
did i make a sexxxy savory slab of the stuff?
neighbors, rules is rules,
and you do the thing when the day demands it.

it's black irish tea and toasted caraway everywhere in there,
and that's a combo that hits the spot a LOT.
it's moist.
it's thick.
it's got a ton of big flavor.
and it soaks up vegan butter and boil'd D broth like a sexxxy sponge.
so, do you want to make a loaf for yourself?
well, sure you do.
here's how:
preheat your oven to 350℉
line a 8" cast-iron skillet (or equivalent) with parchment.
in a small pot, steep 2-3 teabags of irish breakfast tea (exxtra strong and dark)
with 1 cup of non-dairy milk.
squeeze and remove the bags, and add 2 tsp cider vinegar to curdle it, like buttermilk-
set aside to cool-
in a medium mixin' bowl, cut 5 T vegan butter into:
2 cups king arthur white flour;
1/2 tsp salt;
1 T caraway seeds;
1 opened irish brekkie tea bag;
2 T raw sugar;
2 tsp baking soda;
1 tsp baking powder.
add 2 T vegan sour creme, and the tea/milk,
and knead it up,
adding tablespoons of exxxtra flour as necessary to form a not-too sticky dough.
i used the fold, turn and flip pattern of kneading,
in hopes of making it fluffier (by just a lil baby bit).
i formed up a ball, scored it with an X,
and baked it in that iron pan for 35 minutes.
.....that's all there is to it..
check it with a knife or other tester to make sure it's baked through and not doughy,
but otherwise, you're ready to rock it,
and eat it, right away.
that's wasn't hard, was it?
i know!
sourdough isn't invited.
like, literally just once a year, it's gotta stay home.
that's ok.
soda bread has it's time and place.
but the other 364 are still reserved for that fresh-baked, crusty,
hearty, wholesome, naturally fermented big boy business, though.
that's how i like it.
good bread makes better people,
but soda bread makes better saint patrick times;
never quiet, never soft.....


so, just like every single year of my whole entire life,
i did NOT drink any alcohol on st. paddy's day.
that's right.
i'm still as stone sober as a judge,
but i still had some celebratory somethin'-somethin'...
i mean, rules is rules,
and i was clad in all the green from head to toe,
and my ( 0% ) irish eyes were smilin',
AND i got into some expert boiled D.
you know i hit it out of the park, too-
i had a lot of things going on, and they were each and every one exceptional.
check the teleport:

i prefer beautiful food, but i'll get busy with a bowl of brown bits
when it's that exxxtra-irish day of devotion.
we got that homemade, fresh-baked soda bread, with a pat of vegan butter-
we got crissspy potatoes, and exxxtra-crissspy potato waffle sorcery,
AND the roots with the sexxxy spice blend,
and brown-(vegan)butter-blasted cabbage....
that's somethin', for sure.
so, here's the haps on what slaps, chaps:
take two non-tablespoons of vegan butter, in a non-stick pan,
over high heat, and two or three wedges  of green cabbage,
and let 'em sizzle until they edges get blackish and the middles get super-soft.
that's really all there is to it.
flip 'em, obvi, after they get grilled all nicey-nice.
y'gotta add it to the boil'd D, in a minute, but first that needs makin', man:
in a 2 quart pot, toast up a lil baby bit of the following:
celery seed;
mustard seed;
red pepper flakes;
coriander seed;
cardamom seed;
fennel seed;
dill seed;
black peppercorns;
2 bay leaves;
and a tiny pinch of nutmeg.....
when that all gets aromatic af,
add a fat pat of that vegan butter,
and two cubed up potatoes;
1 chunked-out large carrot;
1/2 small purple carrot;
1/2 onion, roughly chopped;
2 cloves sliced garlic;
1 stalk of chopped celery;
2 1/2 cups warm water;
3 T tamari;
2 T malt vinegar.....
simmer the sh!t out of that, until everything is soft enough to split with a fork.
at some point, drop those cabbage wedges on the top, and lid the whole pot,
so it steams AND boils.
that's the move.
and how about that crawnchy potato waffle, boyo?
that's two potatoes, shredded, and 1/4 paper-thinly mandolined sweet onion,
and some pink salt and black pepper, drained, squeezed, and pressed,
spread across a hot waffle iron with another 'nother pat of that vegan butterpattin'.
it gets SO crisp.
...and that's a nice departure from all that softness.
i also had a few roasted potatoes, mostly because breezy likes potatoes,
but not all that other stuff so much.
i used to use a n/a beer in my broth, but i'm over it.
i mean, i don't wanna pretend i like beer,
and i don't need five more bummers to waste
from a six-pack of crappy wheat sodas.
here's the thing: it's ok not to drink-
even when it's a day normally dedicated to being a totally lame F*ing A*-hole.
maybe do something different, dudes.
i did 7 tattoos on st. paddy's.
that was a lot.
but only two were irish.
that's not enough, but it's still more than i'd have thought.
i did two sets of matchies, AND a pair of similarly-themed mom-and-daughter jauns,
as well as some scissors (a scissors? the scissors? scissors?) behind an ear...
and now, i've got a whole bunch to do today too,
but really, though:
too much is the right amount.
so in the spirit of the thing, i'm ready for whatever, neighbors.
what's good, today, universe?
i'm listening;
never quiet, never soft.....

Sunday, March 17


sometimes, candle lids have exxxtras on top,
like a hook, or a little doodad, or a little thingy, or whatever.
like, to make it seem fancier, the lid has decoration on it.
i'm not hatin', take it easy.
however, i couldn't remove all of the attachment from this one,
so there's a star-lock and a screw poppin' up out of it's face:

i think this one's like three and a half inches?
give or take.
yeah, that alchemical astrology jaun on it's head is crooked.
i told you- these happen in between appointments, man.
that's not an excuse, it's a reason-
they exist in the spaces between spaces,
and you get what you get, and you don't get upset.
i'm letting the weird wood and the very cheap paint dictate what happens here.
i'm just a hand holding a frayed and splayed set of budget brushes,
making small art for the small spaces in between square frames,
filling in and filling up the flavor and the atmosphere of AMPERSAND TATTOO.
there's no room for taking it easy, only for making MORE.
i'm dippin' paint out fast and loose, and i s'pose it's a lil tiny bit formulaic as well-
but that's how a series of something comes into being, i think.
a template is laid out, and extrapolations occur on the continuous theme.
i'm pretty sure that's a thing.
i know i've got over a dozen of 'em so far,
and i'm still stocked with my hoarded heap of circles still, too-
i'm gonna keep doing it until they're all used up,
and then, i'm gonna do a whole new thing.
i might even learn to draw something else.
we'll see;
never quiet, never soft.....


100% naturally leavened dough?
dudes, pizza is always expert,
but with this one i even impressed myself.
check the teleport:

the toppings were great, of course-
crushed tomatoes, caramelized onions, steamed brox,
mandatory-mega-minced daiya mozz',
homemade tempeh bacon, and fried garlic sprankles....
everything up there i've had and enjoyed countless times.
but the dough was the true superheroic new hottness for my face, friends.
that's the truth.
it was a verrrry wet dough, but with incredible gluten-strength,
and righteous texture,
super crispiness,
and all the flavor yu could ever demand of flat bread carrying the weight of the world.
this was atlas sourdough pizza crust, and it did the trick.
how did that even hapen?
well, i refrigerated some of my sourdough starter
before i went down to connecticut for a few days.
how much? maybe half a cup.
and when i got home on thursday, i added a fat spoonful of flour to it, and stirred it around.
on friday, it was reactivated and bubbly as hell.
so, i did what i thought was best-
i added two cups of flour and half a cup of water to it, with a spoonful of salt,
and kneaded the holy livin' sh!t out of it in my upright stand-mixer,
which as always has it's fused-in-place aluminum dough hook strong-arming
all the gluten into complex chains of power and glory.
it was wet dough, kids.
like i had to handle it with wet hands, to keep it slippery and unstuck to my fingers.
i kept it covered, and let it rise,
but over the course of the morning, i folded it on itself three times,
an hour or so apart,
before i let it do it's thing from about noon until six.
i got home to a stretchy, bubbly, well-risen wet heap of floury fresh-to-deathness,
and i floured up my hands, oiled up my trusty seasoned stainless-steel sheet,
and laid it all out, and hand-formed a circle from the sloppy, formless flab on the slab.
i let ity rise some more while i had my oven taking FORever to preheat,
and honestly, the wait was excruciating, but it probably produced a better end result.
this was so flippin' good i have to believe it took exxxactly as long as it was s'posed to.
as always, the oven was cranking at 480℉,
with that convection circulation in full effect.
i could've eaten three of these, just for that crunchy, crispy crust.
daaaaaamn, tho.
it had bubbles and bumps and everything.
i always love pizza, but i really loved this one.
my advice?
eat better pizza, and eat more of it;
never quiet, never soft.....


imagine tattooing for a good number of hours,
and at the end, with crampy hands, and crossed eyes,
you snap a shot of your finished product,
and the photo sucks the most.....
that's be a bummer, huh?
now imagine that that is 95% of the time.
now you know what i feel like more often than not.
that said, i got a picture, 
with as much glare as you could maybe ever get without a spotlight and a flash.
bernese and rick get tattooed a lot.
they make special trips to come and hang out in the mountains,
and be romantic and stuff like that....
which, somehow, includes gettin' tattooed.
that's good news for me, because they get fun tattoos to do-
even though they always break my stiff little fingers.
check out this bummer picture from yesterday:
i love to tattoo flowers with waaaaaay too many lines!.
always and forever.
but, when it comes to a worth-a-sh!t record of my work?
i'm F*ing fired.
tattzappin' away for hours, and taking a dozen photos, too,
and i'm still walking away with a picture that does zero justice to the work i did.
they don't get small tattoos.
i'm not even gonna show you how terrible the pictures i took of his are.
i'm disappointed in myself...almost enough to set up a space to take good picture.
i work a lot, and the tattoos leave with my clients, 
leaving me with those movie checks,
fond memories, and no good pictures.
that's how it goes, neighbors.
i know better, so i'll do better.
i mean, it's only been nearly twenty years, after all.
i'm just getting started;
never quiet, never soft.....

Saturday, March 16


fast and loose, dudes.
fast, but not too fast,
and loose, but not so loose that it's abstract.
i'm talking about painting another 'nother wooden circle of sexxxiness,
and the resultant skull that's now hanging proudly on display
amongst all the others along the gallery wall at AMPERSAND TATTOO.
check it:

the wall has plenty of room moving UPwards,
but the main viewing height is packed to the upper limits.
that's ok.
too much is the right amount, anyway.
i should have a big art sale,
and make room for new paintings by blowing out some of the old stuff.
i mean,
i can see the changes in technique or lack thereof,
and i'm gonna need more space for the natural progression of personal style
that has been getting activated in four inch increments...
small art is still art, and being smaller means there's room for a TON of it.
i like that.
it's prolific instead of profound,
but that's always been my lot;
never quiet, never soft.....


i did it.
braided prezz'ly-styled bagel magic for my face.
pretty breakfast buns to go with a hot cuppa irish brekkie tea.
check the teleport:

ever since i learned to braid, i've been all about that triple-twist life, f'real.
i gotta tell y'all- wheat bran is my friend.
it has a TON of flavor, and texture, and color, and really,
i feel like it turns up the overall sexxxiness to eleven.
...and that's no joke.
so, i have a slap of that manly branliness in 'em,
to give the whole project some burly big barbarian bavarian activation,
and there's real new hampshire maple syrup in there, too-
just because i'm feelin' good about sugar season.
you wanna make some of these pretty powerhouses?
here's the plan:
in your upright stand-up mixer, with the dough hook attached,
3 cups flour;
1/4 cup wheat bran;
1 tsp sea salt;
1/2 tsp baking soda;
2 T vegan butter;
1 pkg regular-actin' active dry yeast.
in a separate bowl, combine:
1/2 cup non-dairy milk;
1/2 cup + 2 T warm water;
2 T maple syrup;
1 tsp bread machine yeast.
give it 11 minutes to bloom.
...and while you're a it, preheat your oven to 450℉...
allow your dough to rise for, like 30-40 minutes-
and while it does, get a rolling boil on for a pot of salted, baking soda'd water-
that's 2 tsp sea salt/3 T baking soda/8 cups water.
now, on a floured surface, divide your dough into 8 equal pieces.
roll every chunk into a looooong length of dough-rope-
i'm talking 15-16" long, and cut each of those into equal thirds for braiding.
the important thing here is to crimp the ends so they don't unravel.
and you may already instinctively know this,
but the first ones done will still be rising and attaching themselves into solid braidy blocks,
so boil them for twenty seconds per side, starting with the first ones finished.
i always bake 'em on parchment, and i like a little coarse sea salt on top, too.
they get 14 minutes in the oven, tops.
that's all they need.
these jauns got beautifully browned,
and verrrrry good lookin' within the allotted timeframe.
toasted, with vegan butter, is the smart move here.
i mean it.
simple excellence, and superior tastiness.
that's all y'all need to really experience the full effect of these braided babies.
this weekend is FULL.
that's a good thing.
i had tentative plans for yesterday,
and when they fell through, i did what i always do.
i went to work.
that's all i know, guys.
if i can't work at it, i work through it, and work on somethin'...
and my work is personal; i put in work, i work with purpose.
yeah yeah yeah.
i'll be tattooing with some kind of terrible thumb-ache.
i sprained or pulled or somehow hurt the hell outta it.
- thumbs are important, kids.
and i'm down one on my power hand.
really, who needs opposable thumbs when you're opposed to most comforts anyway?
i'll be hook-handing the day away,
with all the hours of tattooing ahead of me.
that'll keep me occupied, at least.
here's to hard styles and hurt hands and all these muh-F*ing TATtoos, too.
that's what's happening, and that's what's up;
never quiet, never soft.....


not everyone who gets a first tattoo gets a fun one.
i mean, sure- they have their first tattoo,
which is probably huge in their world;
and certainly it changes their outward appearance forever.
here's the thing: that ain't me, bro.
i'm talking about making tattooing FUN again.....for tattooers.
you know what makes the day better by leaps and bounds?
MORE skulls means MORE fun.
and if there's some creepy nature stuff, like animals or flowers?
c'mon, man.
that's practically like wearing a poncho!
(because it's impossible to be unhappy in a poncho)
so when jen came in for her very first tattoo on her leg,
and wanted a beat up crow and a skull, you'd best believe i was 100% on board
with zipzappin' all of that as soon as possible.

she got a good one,
i got to do a good one,
and our time at AMPERSAND TATTOO was pretty frickin' good.
i'm always surprised by the 'support people' who hang out and don't get anything.
for real.
i'm not ever tryin' to span hours just sittin' and  watchin' anybody get tattooed.
i think that's half the reason i need conversation while i work.
the other folks hanging around give me stress, neighbors.
i'm serious.
i'd be crawling the walls if i somehow got suckered into just sitting around.
luckily, i know better, and i make certain i've got somethin' i can be doin'
besides just staring at tattoos or a phone screen all dang day.
then again,
i'm tattooing or painting or reading while i'm at work,
because rules is rules,
and we're not wasting time at the studio,
as per my resolution for the lunar wood pig new year.
i hope you're paying attention-
skulls are invited.
nature is invited.
your weird no-talking friend? invited, but only just barely.
we can chat about pizza, we can chat about not knowing how to paint, really,
we can chat about dinosaurs,
or we can chat about life-
heck, if that's not your thing, we can sing along to the radio, if you know the words.
just make sure the nature skull part is covered and we'll do the rest live;
never quiet, never soft.....

Friday, March 15


the muh-F*ing ides of march, neighbors.
this is the halfway point,
and supposedly, after today,
we start getting lambish weather to counterpoint the lion's roar.
this is the north, dudes.
we get that wild sh!t much longer than the more temperate spots.
in fact, there's still mountains of snow everywhere.
it's warm, at least, but that just means mud and sludge everywhere.
warm is good, though.
i'll take what i can get, for sure.
ANYway, i'm back at work after a few days in connecticut...
and do you know what that means?
check it:

 a study in green and grey.
for the record, i got rid of that glint in the eye immediately,
and didn't take a picture before i left.
he seems happy, at least.
i guess that's good.
if you aren't anthropomorphizing your art, you aren't doing it right;
never quiet, never soft.....


Pi Day.
i was late to it, as i was driving from southern connecticut up to
northern new hampshire from the pre-dawn hours of the day,
in order to get to work and do my thing.
i did take a minute to make a savory pie crust for the nighttime.
when i have all the feelings, and nowhere to put them,
and no words to help anything?
i eat my weight in wheat, and bury the rest underneath.
oh, no, i'm not bragging.
but, anyway, nobody cares about sadness when there's pie,
even if it's a POT PIE.
check it out:

three inch deep fluted pastry sorcery is in full effect.
there's roasted carrots, potatoes, red onions, and celery.
there's blackened cabbage.
there's also plenty of chicken-herbed exxxtra-firm tofu.
and green peas, obvi.
rules is rules, and it isn't a pot pie without peas, bruh
plus, there's the obligatory herbs,
and a bunch of scallions,
and a ton of homemade vegan gravy.
that's right.
too much is the right amount.
anything less is just a pan of bullsh!t.
the oven was up to 450℉.
the veggies roasted in there from the preheat.
the carrots were still firm, but the rest was soffffffft and smooth.
the tofu was fried up in olive oil,
and coated with the patented vegan-roast-chick'n blend:
1/2 tsp rubbed sage;
1 tsp thyme leaves;
1 tsp dried parsley;
1/2 tsp ea GPOP;
1 T nootch;
1/4 tsp crushed rosemary;
black pepper, pink salt;
1 T white wine vinegar;
1 tsp tamari;
1 T warm water-
drizzled and sizzled and sealed onto the surface-
that's how you keep it vegan,
and expert,
and totally real af tasting.
the frozen peas go in as is-
the cabbage, seared until black on the edges, gets chopped post-fry-up,
to make it manageable and stackable inside the dough.
fresh parsley and scallions add some textural sexxxiness,
as well as a shake of each of the herbs again on top of everything.
y'just toss it all up and dump it into the pie, and slather all of it with gravy,
and bake it for twenty-five minutes,a nd you're the champion.
that's simple, right?
i s'pose it is, if you know what you're doing.
in your food processor, combine and pulse together;
2 cups flour;
11 T vegan butter;
2 T vegan creamchee;
1/2 tsp salt;
3-4 T non-dary milk to make it self-adhesive.
cromble it up, and refrigerate it for the afternoon, so it's just righ for rolling later.
do that on a well-floured surface, please, so it doesn't stick.
the braids on top?
well, i wanted to eat something pretty, since my mood was so ugly. helped......barely.
in small saucepot, melt
2 T vegan butter and 3 T ap flour until it smalls nutty and barely begins to brown.
add 1 T nootch;
1/2 tsp ea. GPOP;
2 cups vegan broth,
and turn up the heat to high, stirring while it thickens up.
i usually stir in and extra T of flour, whcked in to ;prevent clumps, too.
that helps it get burlier and better.
believe me, you don't want waterbabyish gravy.
it's too wet to be of use in your pie.
i ate half of this bad baby, with the exxxtra gravy-
you used two cups of gravy in your pie?
that's sloppy.
you're wild.
i used half, and thought it was excessive, but you do you, boo-boo.
Pi Day came and went,
and while i was largely underprepared, i did what i cold to make it dope.
that's the best i can do with what i have to work with;
never quiet, never soft.....