Tattooers on Instagram: John H.

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I first met John Himmelstein in 1992 in Daytona Beach Florida. I was checking out the shop he was working at on behalf of Guy Aitchison, who had decided to come down and tattoo during Daytona’s chaotic BIKE WEEK celebration. Guy had been invited by the shop’s owner to do the guest spot, but not wanting to go down sight unseen he asked if I’d check the shop out to make sure he wasn’t getting in over his head.

John was working that day, thankfully, and his presence at the shop made me feel comfortable recommending it to Guy. John’s artwork really stood out in the more Biker oriented world of Daytona; almost a quarter of a century later he still stands out; more Tex Avery and Bob Clampett than Sailor Jerry or Ed Hardy. He was a major influence on the younger generation of Florida tattooers who came up after him including Mike Wilson who used some of John’s artwork as inspiration on his first flash set.

Visiting John’s apartment was always a trip; going through stack after stack of perfectly lined drawings which each one more crips than than the last, combing through his epic laser disc collection (laser discs will never die) for the newest and weirdest import…

Strangely, he’s always shied away from social networking. It was a total surprise to see the FOLLOWING notification on Instagram this afternoon from Himmelworks… I didn’t even take the time to finish checking it out before I started this entry.

If you’d like to follow John- and you should- his Instagram is:

The Dance of Reality

The_Dance_of_Reality-257200794-largeThe films of Chilean born director Alejandro Jodorowsky have made an indelible mark on how I see the world around me. Back in the 1990s I developed an interest in semiotics just to break down the sigils in the Holy Mountain and that opened the doors to finding out more about the Tarot,. Jewish mysticism and film as a vehicle for magic realism.

Last year I took a twenty two hour (round trip) bus journey to Toronto to see JODOROWSKY’S DUNE. Synchronicity found me sitting behind the director- a very talented fellow named Frank Pavich- and we were able to get to know each other a bit while talking about Jodo’s legacy. Before the DUNE documentary, Jodorowsky had several aborted attempts at making a new film- his last being 1989s Santa Sangre- but no matter how strong the script or how talented the actors he never seemed to get anything off the ground.

Pavich’s DUNE project reunited Alejandro with producer Michel Sydoux and the two teamed up for La Danza de la Realidad- the Dance of Reality. It opened in the States on 23rd May and is hitting select cities nationally.

Philadelphia will be getting it for one week only starting tomorrow- 30th May.

The film opened to rave reviews- scoring a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.6/10 on IMDB. If you’re a regular Occult Vibrations reader, I can almost bet this film will be right up your alley and absolutely worth seeking out.

And Jodorowsky’s DUNE has a June release date on DVD/Blu-ray.



Worst Zine Ever



I think it was somewhere around 2000 or 2001 that I visited my friend Skip Sampson in Ybor City, Florida and had a little Mr. Burns head tattooed on my knee along with my brother and our friend Mike. The idea- a riff on the classic Sailor Jerry POISIN girl, featured C. Montgomery with crossedbones and was originally going to have POINTLESS under it. My other two bro-tat wearers decided they didn’t want the lettering and just like that, the classic tattoo overtones drifted away.

1515670_1415131222062686_1767480264_nOur friend Ash Davies, who was previously featured on OV back in April of 2013, just put out a new 60(ish) page ‘Zine that would do that POINTLESS idea proud. Titled WORST ZINE EVER, it collects some of his best renditions of our favorite Springfield residents (along with art by Billy Hay, Brad T, Gavin Rose, Fil, Mark Ford, Marcus McGuire, Marcos Attlewood, Nick Baldwin and Swambo) with just enough whatthefuck to appeal to us here at Occult Vibrations.

You can check it out on his web store at, or check out his Instagram feed here.

Make sure to tell him OV sent you!


My buddy Klint and I braved West Philadelphia’s streets back in April of 2011 to catch a show by Skull Defekts (featuring Daniel Higgs) and Zomes. Previous clips from that night have appeared on OV but for some reason I never finished editing and uploading the entire show. I found the folder while rummaging through a backup drive earlier today and randomly grabbed, edited and uploaded a song from the set  for you folks who’ve patiently waited for three years to see the whole thing.



ww1_01“Scott Harrison is an internationally recognized tattoo artist, infamous for his peculiar cartoon imagery and lack of finesse.”

I grew up with Sunday Morning Comics; waiting for my Dad to finish the paper so I could get my crack at Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes and Gary Larsen’s The Far Side. As I got older and more interested in sequential art I discovered Windsor McCay’s Little Nemo, Richard F. Outcault’s Yellow kid and Jim Woodring’s dream-based Frank.

Frank is of special consideration when talking about WELTWORLD, the new newsprint compilation of artist Scott Harrison’s Knobby Mcbumps strips, currently available from his online store. Woodring’s Unifactor could easily run parallel with Harrison’s dream-state Weltworld; including it’s start black and white aesthetic and it’s distantly related frog characters.

Having been tattooed by Scott (who did what may be, after 25 years of getting tattooed, my favorite oneshot piece) it’s easy to see the characters in the 79 strips collected in this 16 page newspaper talking in his voice; the man is a natural story teller and his sequential art ties very well into the overall output of one of the most enigmatic tattooers to come out of the 1990s tattoo scene.

You can buy the collected WELTWORLD from Scott’s site for the low, low price of $6/shipped (domestic).



Dances In Dreams Of The Known Unknown


I think it’s fair to say that the music of Daniel Higgs- whether with the seminal Baltimore based LUNGFISH, his more free-form solo offerings or his partnership with Swedish experimental outfit SKULL DEFEKTS- is critic proof. You’re either going to buy it or you aren’t. No review could dissuade a Higgs fan from purchasing his latest offering in whatever form it comes in regardless of the vitriol of the reviewer. Speaking for myself- I buy them all, figuring that the best of his worst is still more interesting to me than most of the new releases that will drop along side of it.

April 8th 2014 will see a new Higgs/Defekts collaboration- Dances In Dreams Of The Known Unknown- on Thrill Jockey Records. With any luck they’ll be touring to support the album and we’ll have a chance to hear the new material live.  The band has released a single and a video for Awaking Dream; check it out and let me know what you think.

The Skull Defekts – Awaking Dream from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.



Some years back I received a message from a Tattoo Artist who wanted to enlist my help in speaking to the City Council of Plant City, Florida on his behalf in a quest to allow his tattoo shop to be opened up within City Limits. I guess when he searched YAHOO (that kind of ages it) searched PLANT CITY and TATTOO I was the only thing that came up; an escapee who moved to the big city and who could return, triumphant, to plead the case of allowing tattooing in a city known for The Strawberry Festival and not much else.

I checked his portfolio, which included a photo of him speaking at the City Council while wearing a T-shirt with the silhouette of a stripper on a pole and the declaration I SUPPORT SINGLE MOMS. Needless to say, I felt that my home town would be better off without his contribution to tattoo art, and I passed on the assist.

When I went back down South last year to get tattooed by David Bruehl I ended up spending a lot of time with my old Ybor City friends; visiting Skip Sampson, talking shit and catching up with he and Casper Geist was great. They’ve really helped changed the face of Tampa tattooing and I was surprised to hear that Casper had planned to leave Ybor and stake out his own plot of tattooland in Plant City.

The city had changed so much since I moved North in 1999; I had to use my GPS to get around on the streets that I had spent half of my life on.. there was a Scientology Center for goodness sakes. Was it time for a tattoo shop?

Casper sold me on it. His passion for building a kickass oldschool shop in Plant City was tangible and I found myself keeping up on the progress of the build and eventual opening of the shop, Dixie Station Tattoo.

Today’s online edition of the Plant City Observer ran a great piece by Amber Jurgenson on Casper’s fight to change the city ordinances concerning tattoo shops in the Historic Downtown area which can be read here: Plant City Observer.

I look forward to seeing Casper’s progress and wish him the best of luck in bringing modern tattooing to my old home town.