My Phoenix Rising from the Flames tattoo is one of my largest pieces on my body in regards to surface space. And it's a positive message and generally considered to be a good metaphor and aspiration. But it is on my thigh, from just above my knee to my waistline, which means not a lot of people will get the full presentation, which is fine by me because my tattoos are personal first even though they are on public display to varying levels.
My latest tattoo might be a bit more controversial. Nothing like my anarchist tattoos which can take some explaining but they're on my chest which I don't bare that often.
The newest addition to my collection is a bit larger than life rendering of a cockroach on my forearm. Actually depending on the species he may be a bit small.
So why a cockroach?
The concept has a lot in common with the Phoneix and it is about survival, which has been a constant theme in my life and with my tattoos.
"Never Give Up-Perservere" is the translation of the one on my calf, which ironically or maybe not so ironically was carved into to remove a malignant cancer.
"Misery Loves Company" (in Latin a nod to Mephistopheles) and "I am the Company Misery Loves" directly below it refers to some of the trials I've been through in my life but more as an inspiration when I am up against a difficult challenge, such as running 50K at Burning Man or not drowning by way of turning my back on a sneaker wave in Iceland or swimming from Alcatraz.
In the book Revolt of the Cockroach People, an autobiographical novel by Oscar Zeta Acosta, cockroaches are used as a metaphor for oppressed and downtrodden minorities in US society in the 1960s and 1970s. The image of cockroaches as resilient also leads people to compare themselves to cockroaches. Madonna has famously quoted, "I am a survivor. I am like a cockroach, you just can't get rid of me. "Cockroach", or some variant of it is also used as a nickname, for example Boxing coach Freddie Roach, who was nicknamed La Cucaracha (The Cockroach) when he was still competing as a fighter.
I love how my little buddy; my spirit animal if you would, came out. I must admit he is a little bigger than I had planned but I think now he's the perfect size.
A very healthy and constant reminder of humility and staying strong when the odds might be against you and you may not be the most popular in the crowd, but you very well may be the most resilient.
I get tattoos for a variety of reasons. My very first was a Celtic-knot arm band which was admittedly a bit trendy when I had it done. But that being said, I did it just before getting married and it was nod to my Irish heritage as well as a simple of "tying the knot" as it were.
Since then I've got a calf full of tattoos keeping a record of the marathons and ultra-marathons I've completed over the years. Inspirational tattoos; a Kangi script on my calf roughly translating to "persevere, never give up"; ironically or perhaps fittingly, I had a massive malignant melanoma tattoo carved out of my calf that happened to be right where my tattoo is; fortunately it only shortened on line slightly and didn't turn it into a different symbol.
My latest tattoo, is a phoenix rising from the flames which given the way my life has turned in the last few years will hopefully not only serve as inspirational but will reflect my life journey.
In Greek mythology, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the Sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. According to some sources, the phoenix dies in a show of flames and combustion, although there are other sources that claim that the legendary bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again. There are different traditions concerning the lifespan of the phoenix, but by most accounts the phoenix lived for 500 years before rebirth.
It's about the same size as the Kraken and pirate ship on my left thigh, so I feel like it balances things out nicely.
I was going to get another one today but decided to let Cindy get used to this one first, not to mention all the chores and stuff and packing and cleaning and keeping up with the Tour de France and rewatching Deadwood several episodes at a time. I tell myself since I've already seen it, I can play it in the background while I get things done; that never really works out.
The next one is coming soon; much smaller but in a more prominent viewable by the general public place on my body.
For now, behold the glorious Phoenix Rising from the flames.
I have been fascinated with barrels for several years now and for a variety of reasons as well as a variety of barrels.
I'm not sure when it started. It could have been because the Texas/rodeo side of my family have several fairly accomplished barrel racers that I used to watch in awe when I'd visit in the summers. But I don't think that's it.
I think it's when I was looking into rain barrels which in LA is pretty funny because it so rarely rains there. But LA being LA, people wanted to be part of every trend, whether it made sense or not.
I was more interested in composting with barrels. I had been doing research and realized I could speed up the composting process with regular turning of the rotting materials as well as introducing black soldier flies.
I found a very cheap and viable resource for barrels with a local pickle company.
Now, honestly these were more drum than "barrel".
My first major adventure into wooden barrels was when I was set decorating the sequel of Zorro. We were shooting in San Louis Potosi, Mexico which is in the middle of the country on a high desert platue. But we were trying to recreate a hacienda and vineyards around Napa Valley and San Francisco in the central valley of California.
Recently, I've gotten back into barrels on a couple of levels; lifting them for physical fitness and filling smaller ones up with rum.
When I started doing jujitsu after a long break, the owner of the gym was impressed with my strength; he used to call it "old man strong". And in a way he was right. I've been doing some version of strength training ever since I was a kid. One of my first gym memberships was at the legendary Gold's Gym in Venice, CA. But I think most of my physical strength has come from working, whether it be landscaping or furniture moving. Handling and lifting odd objects works your core and grip strength like nothing else.
When I decided to start getting back in shape, I turned to a wonderful book that I've had for a while, Dinosaur Training by Brooks D. Kubik
Several times when I have made the journey to Burning Man, I've camped with the Funk Pirates, so it seemed appropriate to bring an ample supply of rum and what better way to store and serve it than from a traditional barrel. I started with a couple smaller ones and have upped my game this year to a nice 10 liter one with my Hunter S. Thompson tribute/ Gonzo symbol burned into the face of it.
I was aging the rum in it for a bit, but recently uncorked it, literally, to give it a taste.
And one thing led to another....
But I'll be refilling it later today and putting it to bed until I get to Burning Man later in August. That will give it a nice time age a bit and soak in the oak flavor.
Blue Burner Barrel
Fun with alliteration; The blue barrel has already been to burning man and will return with me again this year, the little friend to the left is not really a barrel, it's a bear resistant canister aka a bear vault to keep bears away from you food when camping. I've found that more importantly it keep mice out which we found out while hiking the Appalachian Trail were more invasive than bears especially in that neck of the woods. It might be a different story out West like up in Mammoth Lakes.
Jon Danniells is an adventurer and traveler, a teacher and student, a husband and a father, a cook and a farmer, a "week-end warrior" (very amateur athlete) and has not earned any money on these labors of love.When I googled myself what showed up first was my IMDB listing, which is basically a resume for my 20 and then some year career in film, for which I fortunately do get paid.