Okey Doke Tattoos: Strange Alchemy


Tattoos can be a form of therapy. In the past four years I have had my work done by Kyle Hollingdrake, formerly of New Tribe. He has done the ourobouros on my chest, the hieroglyphic on my bicep, the large dragon on my back and a few others. In a big city like Toronto it is hard to find people who you can see on an annual basis. My doctors, dentists, financial advisors and concierges have all filled a place that I miss from being in a small town. Strangely, Kyle is the only one who is still around, and I appreciate that. He moved over to 853 College Street and started up Okey Doke Tattoo with Eric Newstead. I remember both of these guys from New Tribe, and have to admit that Okey Doke is a very cool place, indeed.


For today’s work I wanted to continue the simple black line theme that I have been going with, but to fill in the open space on my arm. The alchemical symbols I worked out in Photoshop have been part of my photography website at points, and I connect with the symbols [mercury, silver, water, alcohol, cobalt and lapis lazuli] on various personal levels. With a bit of time to wait in the front of the shop, I just hung out and enjoyed the scene: banter, odd music and eclectic customers.

When I began with my first tattoo in 1997, the little salamander was considered a statement. Fifteen years later, and eleven tattoos in, tattoos have become trendy fashion choices for the masses. Once a way doctors judged the mental stability of their patients, your mom probably has one. No one blinks at the dragon on my back, but a decade ago and I might be kicked out of some poolsides [Kyle suggested that I would have to try a LOT harder to get noticed these days]. Unlike many of the sleeved hipsters, I do it because I enjoy the hour or so spent talking with Kyle about whatever. Like a barber or a bartender, the tattoo artist can be a person who you can briefly connect with in an intimate way: he is scarring you for life, and you are paying him to do it. Regardless, Kyle did a superb job and I was in and out without too much pain to my arm or my pocketbook.


The good news is that I figured out that the weird spring thing was called a fairlead, and it is connected to a screw in the timing cover. Its purpose is to keep the wires off the exhaust pipe. The bad news is that after the tattoos, I hopped on the bike, and with a fuzzy head I forgot about the disc lock on my front brake. I feel like I warped my rotor a tiny amount, because when I ease up to lights the lever bounces ever so slightly in my right hand. No problems with the ride, no problems stopping; just enough bounce to bother me though. I have decided to ride with it until my next tune-up. The pads with either adapt over the Fall or I will replace the discs and pads in the Spring. If there were any danger, then I would hop over to GP Bikes tomorrow, but it seems like being overly sensitive to do that at this point.

Tomorrow has me starting the Base Camp X work. Paddles, axes and a kukri are on the block, and I am looking forward to the work. Wait for it…


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