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Friday, September 30, 2005

How to submit stuff to The Tattoo

First off, don't send us anything until you've introduced yourself in an email. Tell us about yourself first and then pitch your ideas. We're eager to hear them, but it helps us to know something about you before we consider whether a particular story idea is a good fit.
For instance, say that "Becky" is 13 and just getting started with The Tattoo. If she proposed writing a story about "the way lots of teens are taking crystal meth and it's messing up their lives" we would think "well, she's ambitious, which is great, but that's too much to tackle for a newcomer."
But if "Becky" said she wanted to write about how all the girls in her school are wearing rubber bracelets with odd little sayings on them, we'd likely give her the green light to take it on.
In short, prove yourself first, then aim high.
Now for the information that will help us deal with all of the material that flows in here at Tattoo Central.
When you write something, you should:
Clearly state in the subject line of an email what you are submitting.
Paste the entire text of anything into the email itself (after any personal note you may need to explain what it is).
If you can, also attach the story in Word format or as a TEXT file. If you write it with WordPerfect or other word processing programs, save your story in text format (for Windows if possible) and send it to us as an attachment that way.
Don't write something like "REPLY NOW" on the subject line. That's just irritating. But if you don't hear anything from us within a couple days, a gentle email asking if we got it is fine. If you don't hear anything still, send a less delicate email. If you still don't hear, then you can write "What the heck is going on there at Tattoo Central?"
The answer is, almost always, that it's insanely busy here and we haven't had a chance to give whatever you sent a proper read yet.
If you are submitting photographs (hurrah!) or cartoons (bravo!), send them as TIF or JPG files in as large a size as you can. On the web site, we can use cell phone-type pictures but for our printed pages, we need reasonably detailed pictures or they won't work in the newspaper. Photos should generally be at least 150 MB but larger files are better. If you're scanning artwork or photos, do it at a very high resolution.

How come The Tattoo doesn't publish poetry?

We know that many teens write poetry, short stories, novellas and a whole bunch of other stuff that might be great.
But The Tattoo is a newspaper. We only print the sorts of things that are generally found in newspapers: news stories, features, columns, reviews, comics, photographs and such.
We understand there are papers that make room for poetry or even fiction, but we're not among them.

From Auckland to Newfoundland, Tattoo readers are everywhere...

In just the past two weeks, people in all of these places have been reading The Tattoo online:

Hartford, Connecticut (United States)
Indianapolis, Indiana (United States)
Atlanta, Georgia (United States)
Meriden, Connecticut (United States)
Bristol, Connecticut (United States)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (United States)
Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
Danbury, Connecticut (United States)
San Francisco, California (United States)
Austin, Texas (United States)
Burlington, Newfoundland (Canada)
Greensboro, North Carolina (United States)
Los Angeles, California (United States)
Plano, Texas (United States)
Las Vegas, Nevada (United States)
New York, New York (United States)
London (Great Britain (UK))
Hammond, Louisiana (United States)
Sacramento, California (United States)
Norfolk, Virginia (United States)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (United States)
Houston, Texas (United States)
Seattle, Washington (United States)
Washington D.C. (United States)
New Orleans, Louisiana (United States)
Chicago, Illinois (United States)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (United States)
Walnut Grove, Missouri (United States)
Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)
Jamaica, New York (United States)
San Jose, California (United States)
Cappagh (Ireland)
Huntsville, Alabama (United States)
Deerfield, Massachusetts (United States)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (United States)
Lake Oswego, Oregon (United States)
La Place, Louisiana (United States)
Dallas, Texas (United States)
Lyndhurst, New Jersey (United States)
Brooklyn, New York (United States)
Melville, New York (United States)
Orlando, Florida (United States)
Oakville, Ontario (Canada)
Latimer, Ontario (Canada)
Natchitoches, Louisiana (United States)
Frankfurt Am Main (Germany)
Milan (Italy)
Madrid (Spain)
Aurora, Nebraska (United States)
Madison, Wisconsin (United States)
Cleveland, Ohio (United States)
Albany, New York (United States)
Kenner, Louisiana (United States)
Somerville, Massachusetts (United States)
Dublin (Ireland)
Lancaster (Great Britain (UK))
Whittier, California (United States)
Newington, Connecticut (United States)
Miami, Florida (United States)
Baltimore, Maryland (United States)
Atlantis, Florida (United States)
Jacksonville, Florida (United States)
Watertown, Connecticut (United States)
Salt Lake City, Utah (United States)
Wayland, Massachusetts (United States)
London, Ontario (Canada)
The Hague (Netherlands)
Jersey City, New Jersey (United States)
Elmsford, New York (United States)
Münster (Germany)
San Diego, California (United States)
Columbus, Ohio (United States)
Wilmington, North Carolina (United States)
Joplin, Missouri (United States)
Irving, Texas (United States)
Greenbrae, California (United States)
Mobile, Alabama (United States)
Sandy (Great Britain (UK))
Soliera (Italy)
Palmerton, Pennsylvania (United States)
Saint Louis, Missouri (United States)
Calgary, Alberta (Canada)
Nashville, Tennessee (United States)
Slough (Great Britain (UK))
Manhasset, New York (United States)
Saint Paul, Minnesota (United States)
Lurup (Germany)
Walnut Creek, California (United States)
Cambridge (Great Britain (UK))
Kyoto (Japan)
Jackson, Mississippi (United States)
Fort Mill, South Carolina (United States)
Antiguo Cuscatlán (El Salvador)
Denver, Colorado (United States)
Boston, Massachusetts (United States)
Delhi (India)
Arlington, Texas (United States)
Duncan, Oklahoma (United States)
Hamburg (Germany)
Calcutta (India)
Ann Arbor, Michigan (United States)
Lima, Ohio (United States)
Metairie, Louisiana (United States)
Great Falls, Montana (United States)
Houma, Louisiana (United States)
Madison, Mississippi (United States)
Fairfield, Connecticut (United States)
Breda (Netherlands)
El Granada, California (United States)
Blanchester, Ohio (United States)
Vancouver, Washington (United States)
Saint John, New Brunswick (Canada)
Vejle (Denmark)
Birmingham, Alabama (United States)
Oldenburg (Germany)
El Paso, Texas (United States)
Warsaw (Poland)
Bratislava (Slovak Republic)
Akron, Ohio (United States)
Cornellá (Spain)
Jafra (Spain)
Smyrna, Georgia (United States)
Evansville, Indiana (United States)
Cincinnati, Ohio (United States)
Charlotte, North Carolina (United States)
Toledo, Ohio (United States)
Roseville, California (United States)
Brookfield (Australia)
Westwego, Louisiana (United States)
Cerquilho (Brazil)
Galliano, Louisiana (United States)
Lafayette, Louisiana (United States)
Leeds (Great Britain (UK))
Blackwood, New Jersey (United States)
Meriden, Kansas (United States)
Hayward, California (United States)
Oakland, California (United States)
Paris (France)
Hyde Park, New York (United States)
Erie, Colorado (United States)
Sayreville, New Jersey (United States)
Greenway, Virginia (United States)
Andrews Afb, Maryland (United States)
Tucson, Arizona (United States)
Alexandria, Virginia (United States)
Spokane, Washington (United States)
Edmonton, Alberta (Canada)
San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Burgholzhausen (Germany)
Round Rock, Texas (United States)
Hamburg, Michigan (United States)
Bloomington, Indiana (United States)
Waco, North Carolina (United States)
Feeding Hills, Massachusetts (United States)
Burtonsville, Maryland (United States)
Columbia, South Carolina (United States)
South Roxana, Illinois (United States)
Wichita, Kansas (United States)
Rockford, Illinois (United States)
Garland, Texas (United States)
Mississauga, Ontario (Canada)
Makati (Philippines)
Mdina (Malta)
Richmond, Kentucky (United States)
Long Island City, New York (United States)
Parramatta (Australia)
Lorton, Virginia (United States)
Achttienhoven (Netherlands)
Providence, Rhode Island (United States)
Centereach, New York (United States)
Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (United States)
Buffalo, New York (United States)
Roslindale, Massachusetts (United States)
Weston, Ontario (Canada)
Sebastopol, California (United States)
Southeastern, Pennsylvania (United States)
Fremont, California (United States)
Escondido, California (United States)
Mission, British Columbia (Canada)
Sapporo (Japan)
Shannon, Alabama (United States)
Moorhead, Minnesota (United States)
Wellingsbüttel (Germany)
Santa Fe Springs, California (United States)
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (United States)
Arlington, Virginia (United States)
Ankara (Turkey)
Anaheim, California (United States)
Hull, Massachusetts (United States)
Tampa, Florida (United States)
Dalton, Georgia (United States)
Staten Island, New York (United States)
Thane (India)
Santa Clarita, California (United States)
Fulton, New York (United States)
Grayson, Kentucky (United States)
Palo Blanco (Mexico)
Savannah, Georgia (United States)
Akers, Louisiana (United States)
Scarborough, Ontario (Canada)
Kingston, Ontario (Canada)
Cranston, Rhode Island (United States)
Thousand Oaks, California (United States)
Unionville, Connecticut (United States)
Berlin (Germany)
Regina, Sakatchewan (Canada)
Fairfax, Virginia (United States)
Brownsville, Texas (United States)
Cape Coral, Florida (United States)
Grand Rapids, Michigan (United States)
Clinton Township, Michigan (United States)
Glasgow (Great Britain (UK))
Philippine (Philippines)
Saint George, Utah (United States)
Bastrop, Texas (United States)
Santa Vennera (Malta)
Frederick, Maryland (United States)
Richardson, Texas (United States)
Stöckheim (Germany)
Cottleville, Missouri (United States)
Convoy, Ohio (United States)
São Paulo (Brazil)
Swepsonville, North Carolina (United States)
Ascutney, Vermont (United States)
West Monroe, Louisiana (United States)
Raleigh, North Carolina (United States)
Grand Prairie, Texas (United States)
Dayton, Ohio (United States)
Cliffwood, New Jersey (United States)
Kenosha, Wisconsin (United States)
Evanston, Illinois (United States)
Farmington, Connecticut (United States)
Falls Church, Virginia (United States)
Irvington, New Jersey (United States)
Kamperland (Netherlands)
Lacombe, Louisiana (United States)
Des Moines, Iowa (United States)
Highlands, Texas (United States)
Elyria, Ohio (United States)
Hengstenberg (Germany)
Gainesville, Florida (United States)
Flagstaff, Arizona (United States)
Aarschot (Belgium)
Aberdeen, Washington (United States)
Hartsville, South Carolina (United States)
Indianola, Iowa (United States)
Iselin, New Jersey (United States)
San Salvador (El Salvador)
Levin (New Zealand (Aotearoa))
Fort Wainwright, Alaska (United States)
Frankfort, Kentucky (United States)
Doctors Inlet, Florida (United States)
Eaton Park, Florida (United States)
Nottingham (Great Britain (UK))
Kingston Upon Hull (Great Britain (UK))
Hackensack, New Jersey (United States)
Harrisburg, Missouri (United States)
Campolide (Portugal)
City Of Industry, California (United States)
Lititz, Pennsylvania (United States)
Chatham, Illinois (United States)
Carmichael, California (United States)
Concord, Massachusetts (United States)
Chek Chue (Hong Kong)
Fort Belvoir, Virginia (United States)
Findern (Great Britain (UK))
Blacksburg, Virginia (United States)
Córdoba (Argentina)
Cornwall, Ontario (Canada)
Bicknell, Utah (United States)
Bonaire, Georgia (United States)
Eden Prairie, Minnesota (United States)
Durham, New Hampshire (United States)
Hays, Kansas (United States)
Limerick (Ireland)
Holdrege, Nebraska (United States)
Lommel (Belgium)
Hopatcong, New Jersey (United States)
Alfred Station, New York (United States)
Allentown, Pennsylvania (United States)
La Porte, Texas (United States)
Line Lexington, Pennsylvania (United States)
Livermore, California (United States)
Manchester (Great Britain (UK))
La Grange, Illinois (United States)
Kingswood (Great Britain (UK))
Huntington, West Virginia (United States)
Istanbul (Turkey)
Johnson, Arkansas (United States)
Junction City, Wisconsin (United States)
Johnson City, Tennessee (United States)
Medina, Ohio (United States)
Milton, West Virginia (United States)
North Easton, Massachusetts (United States)
Nyon (Switzerland)
Oak Harbor, Washington (United States)
Oceanside, California (United States)
North Charleston, South Carolina (United States)
Newtonville, Massachusetts (United States)
Minneapolis, Minnesota (United States)
Montclair, New Jersey (United States)
Montfoort (Netherlands)
Newark, New Jersey (United States)
New Windsor, New York (United States)
Harkema-Opeinde (Netherlands)
Hampton, New Hampshire (United States)
Djawa (Indonesia)
Dover, Delaware (United States)
Drayton Plains, Michigan (United States)
Durham, North Carolina (United States)
Denham Springs, Louisiana (United States)
Colorado Springs, Colorado (United States)
Ambler, Pennsylvania (United States)
Atoka, Oklahoma (United States)
Augusta, Maine (United States)
Canyon Country, California (United States)
Blytheville, Arkansas (United States)
East Hartford, Connecticut (United States)
Éibar (Spain)
Gadsden, Alabama (United States)
Gonzales, Louisiana (United States)
Gretna, Louisiana (United States)
Guthrie, Oklahoma (United States)
Groningen (Netherlands)
Fort Valley, Virginia (United States)
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (United States)
Esfahan (Iran)
Évora (Portugal)
Fairbank, Iowa (United States)
Falun (Sweden)
Fairview, Tennessee (United States)
Greenville, Texas (United States)
Salida, California (United States)
Joliet, Illinois (United States)
Kaisten (Switzerland)
Lakeland, Florida (United States)
Lakewood, California (United States)
Lees Summit, Missouri (United States)
Mankato, Minnesota (United States)
Escalon, California (United States)
Drillham (Australia)
Andover, Connecticut (United States)
Mount Airy, North Carolina (United States)
Markham, Ontario (Canada)
Newark, Delaware (United States)
Niceville, Florida (United States)
Park River, North Dakota (United States)
Pasadena, California (United States)
Iquique (Chile)
Hyattsville, Maryland (United States)
Ossian, Indiana (United States)
Oakton, Virginia (United States)
Prinz Ludwigshöhe (Germany)
Quaker Hill, Connecticut (United States)
Quartiere Monte Sacro (Italy)
Plainville, Connecticut (United States)
Portland, Oregon (United States)
Euless, Texas (United States)
Elizabeth, New Jersey (United States)
Niantic, Connecticut (United States)
Coudersport, Pennsylvania (United States)
Lawndale, California (United States)
Bend, Oregon (United States)
Norcross, Georgia (United States)
North Branford, Connecticut (United States)
Mexico (Mexico)
Naples, Florida (United States)
Moers (Germany)
Pampanga (Philippines)
Naperville, Illinois (United States)
Bethesda, Maryland (United States)
Green Village, New Jersey (United States)
Cedar Hill, Tennessee (United States)
Middletown, Connecticut (United States)
Salford (Great Britain (UK))
Porto Alegre (Brazil)
Enid, Oklahoma (United States)
Pico Rivera, California (United States)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (United States)
Basel (Switzerland)
Allhallows (Great Britain (UK))
Asheville, North Carolina (United States)
Great Malvern (Great Britain (UK))
Derby, Kansas (United States)
Bloomington, Illinois (United States)
Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Oatman, Arizona (United States)
Palisades Park, New Jersey (United States)
Lamía (Greece)
Little Rock, Arkansas (United States)
Norwalk, California (United States)
New Suffolk, New York (United States)
Hicksville, New York (United States)
Samobor (Croatia (Hrvatska))
Montclair, California (United States)
Nuevo, California (United States)
Mililani, Hawaii (United States)
Mount Laurel, New Jersey (United States)
Overland Park, Kansas (United States)
Atascosa, Texas (United States)
Beckley, West Virginia (United States)
Britz (Germany)
Boutte, Louisiana (United States)
Cape Town (South Africa)
Cayucos, California (United States)
Bridgeport, Connecticut (United States)
Redlands, California (United States)
Park Forest, Illinois (United States)
Braintree (Great Britain (UK))
Birmingham (Great Britain (UK))
Bethpage, New York (United States)
Pleasanton, California (United States)
Kent, Washington (United States)
Cubao (Philippines)
Edinburg, Virginia (United States)
Haverhill, Massachusetts (United States)
Helsinki (Finland)
Bangkok (Thailand)
Avon, Connecticut (United States)
Concord, New Hampshire (United States)
Bedfordview (South Africa)
Beaumont, California (United States)
Auckland (New Zealand (Aotearoa))
Auburndale, Massachusetts (United States)
Hiram, Georgia (United States)
Hamilton, Ontario (Canada)
Chorley (Great Britain (UK))
Chungnam (Korea (South))
Milpitas, California (United States)
Old Forge, Pennsylvania (United States)
Niagara Falls, New York (United States)
Boulder, Colorado (United States)
Adelaide (Australia)
Goshen, Indiana (United States)
Engelgau (Germany)
Fort Worth, Texas (United States)
Giffnock (Great Britain (UK))
Gagny (France)

Monday, September 26, 2005

New issue again today!

From April 1994 to December 1996, The Tattoo turned out a grand total of nine issues. At the time, that seemed pretty good for two and half years.
Times have changed.
In the last month, we did it again: nine issues -- this time in 29 days, an average of two a week instead of one every three months.
We can’t keep up this breakneck speed, of course, but it’s quite something that so many talented kids from across the globe have contributed so much to get The Tattoo’s volume 12 off to a racing start.
This week’s issue has a terrific sophomore journal from Nebraska’s own Zach Brokenrope, cartoons by Justin Skaradosky and Joe Keo, a news story from Bristol’s Molly Horan and back to school pieces from Marese Heffernan in Ireland and Michel Lee in California.
And here’s the best thing: we have every intention of turning out another page next Monday.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

First Tattoo 'Mooncake' Party

Kaishi Lee, Hila Yosafi and Stefan Koski at Mooncake Party

Seizing any excuse for a party, The Tattoo held its first Mooncake Party on Saturday night, featuring mooncakes that Kaishi brought from Singapore. There were pineapple tarts from Singapore, as well, until Stefan ate them all.
Kaishi also made fried rice and managed to turn tofu into something pretty good to eat.
I'll let Kaishi explain the origins of the Mooncake Festival some time. It has something to do with lovers and the moon.
In attendance were Kaishi, Hila, Stefan, Katie, Kate and Josh, along with Steve & Jackie. Kaishi is in her first semester at Wesleyan; Katie is starting school at UConn; and Hila is in law school in New York. Stefan, Kate and Josh are still slogging through high school.

Kate Haire and Katie Jordan

Tattoo alum writes blockbuster

Former Tattoo ace Amanda Lehmert, who is now a reporter for The Cape Cod Times, has a great story out today that any budding journalist should read carefully for what it can teach about thoroughness, finding sources when the government's not cooperating and how to tell a terrific tale: 'Officer down'.

Why is it called The Tattoo?

The Tattoo in 1995, with some of the original members

Long, long ago, when The Tattoo was a nameless new thing, we recognized that coming up with something to call ourselves was priority number one.

It seemed a simple enough task. Just grab a name like a thousand other newspapers before us: the Post, the Times, the Globe, the News, the whatever. We didn't much care, truth be told, as long as everybody was happy with the name.

So we told the first group of Tattoo kids – Devin Kingsbury, Mike Kelly, Jenny Jenkins, Corrie Balash, Hackysack Matt and more – to figure out a suitable name.

They took up the matter with suitable urgency but didn't exactly race to a conclusion.

For weeks, they debated this name and that, considering all sorts of long-forgotten possibilities that fell by the wayside.

In the end, it came down to The Tattoo, which appeared to be everyone's second choice.
Sometime later, the group again took up the issue. Rachel Jennings, who joined after The Tattoo already had a name, pushed hard for Tsunami, a word that at the time was little known in Connecticut (tragically, we all know all too well what it is today).

A big meeting was scheduled. Rachel would make the case for Tsunami and Bryan Pena would argue for The Tattoo. When they finished, a vote would take place and the decision would stand.
That night, neither Rachel nor Bryan showed up.

So The Tattoo kept its name by default.

Here we are, 127 issues and a dozen years later, still stuck with the name, proud of all that's been done under The Tattoo masthead but still sheepish when we have to explain to a senator or a public relations guy that, yes, The Tattoo is a real newspaper and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with tattoos.

In fact, we have an official policy against tattoos that means exactly nothing to anyone. But we have it anyway.

Jackie came up with that "Making a permanent impression since 1994" tagline for The Tattoo that goes a long way toward coming up with a rationale for the name. The slogan was an afterthought, but perhaps a saving one.

In any case, we're The Tattoo, and proud of it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Who can join The Tattoo?

We're always looking, as we say, for talented teens with an interest in journalism.
But what does that mean?
The simple answer is that if you are 13 to 19, you can do it. We're most happy when younger teens come calling because, of course, we can keep them in our clutches longer. There's obviously a lot more time to learn and do things when you're 13 than the week before you turn 20.
The idea, in American terms, is for people to join when they are in eighth grade or their first two years of high school.
You don't have to fit that mold, though. We've had older teens who have done terrific work and whom we love dearly.
You also do not need to be American. Much as we love our countrymen, we're most happy when a teen from far away asks to join. We love having Tattoo writers in El Salvador, Ireland, Malta, Singapore, England, India, Wales, Canada and beyond. It adds a welcome diversity to our group – and winds up turning kids all over the planet into friends, with us and with each other.
Though most of the teens we find are writers – or want to be – we're also eager to have photographers and cartoonists come aboard. Photographers are especially welcome. We've usually had a problem getting decent pictures, which is ridiculous in a digital age. We're hoping that our photography drought is finally over, with a few talented kids finally here to help.
To join, you only need to send us an email telling us about yourself. Don't just write something like "hi i'd like to join. what can i do?" Tell us about yourself: your name, your hometown, your school, your interests, what you think you can contribute and why. Tell us something memorable so that you stick in our thick, old brains.
And then JUMP RIGHT IN. Find stories, toss out ideas, email other members and us, read the old stories, look at the pictures, become a part of a continuing tradition that's brought some of those long-ago Tattoo writers into the news business as professional reporters. The Tattoo is for teens. It's for fun. But it's also the finest possible training to find out if journalism is really your thing.
If it is, you've found the world's best showcase for your work. And even if it turns out that this isn't your thing, you can make some friends and learn a few things.
If you're interested, drop an email to Steve Collins and Jackie Majerus at

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ssssh... Don't tell Sammy, but we need to get this girl a new laptop

The Tattoo has raised money for homeless teens and young mothers, but we've never tried to help one of our own before.
But now we are.
Samantha Perez, our 17-year-old Louisiana writer, is scraping by with an old Dell laptop that is on its last legs. She desperately needs a new one so she can keep writing her gripping Hurricane Journals that are bringing us thousands of readers who'd never heard of The Tattoo before.
Sammy lost almost everything when Katrina washed away her town. But she has a writer's eye, a way with words and talent that shines through all the darkness that's enveloped her in recent weeks.
So we're going to try to get her a new laptop with help from her readers, friends and kind-hearted people everywhere. If you can help, send a bit of cash to our PayPal account to this address: Put "LAPTOP" somewhere in the description for formality's sake. But we know that all the money that goes there is for Sammy's computer.
For those who don't know PayPal, it's easy. You can send someone money with a credit card, a debit card, an electronic check, a direct bank transfer and probably ways we don't understand. Just go to and follow the instructions.
The nice thing is that you can donate anything, from $1 to, well, whatever.
This is a good time to hit up your neighbors, your cousins, your colleagues and anybody else who might have a few dollars they can spare for a great writer who needs the tools to keep going. The reward is to have the ability to keep reading, but it's also a chance to assist one deserving girl whose old life was blown away in the winds of Aug. 29. Let's show her that we care, now, when it matters most.
If we should happen to wind up with extra, which we doubt, it will be used to help other young writers who are struggling.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Tattoo alum Amanda Lehmert ...

... is also writing about Hurricane Katrina, but not for The Tattoo.
Amanda's a terrific staff reporter for The Cape Cod Times, a well-regarded daily in one of our favorite places.
She's done lots of great work, some of which we'll need to link sometime, but here's her latest, about some of the hundreds of thousands who evacuated from New Orleans: After Katrina, a new start.
Amanda remains one of our most stalwart supporters and friends out in that cold, cold world. Here's a picture of her in July with Tattoo writers Zach Brokenrope and Teague Neal during a Tattoo trip to Cape Cod:
Zach is on the left, Teague on the right. That's Amanda in the middle.

More special editions going to press Friday and Saturday

Photo by Josh Gales/ The Tattoo
Two more special editions featuring entries from Samantha Perez's Hurricane Journal are coming out this week, on Friday and Saturday. This will make a total of four pages devoted to Sammy's stunning diary of life since Katrina hit, with more to come.
The printed copies will run in The Bristol (Conn.) Press. The issues will also be online, with PDFs of the printed versions posted Thursday and Friday nights.
Check it all out at:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"Stuck on stupid"

It sounded good today when Lt. Gen. Russel Honore -- the fellow charged with bringing order out of the chaos in New Orleans -- lashed out at reporters who kept asking him why the evacuation process before Hurricane Katrina was so clumsy compared to the well-oiled machine moving people out of the way for Hurricane Rita.
Honore snapped, "Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters."
The general insisted, "We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight. And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on."
When the next reporter had the temerity to ignore the general's order and ask anyway, Hnore fired right between the poor guy's eyes, "You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question."
You can hear the old drill sergeant laughing.
But it's really not funny.
It's important for people, especially young journalists, to recognize that it's not the job of the press to serve as stenographers for the powerful. Yes, we get their message out, like it or not. But we also have a duty to ask hard questions, even to ask hard questions that generals or presidents or CEOs don't want to answer.
And when they refuse to answer them, to ask again, and again and again.
Sometimes those questions sound dumb. Sometimes, they are dumb.
But if we don't ask, who will?
It's not "stuck on stupid" to want to find out how come hundreds of mostly poor, often elderly people were left behind in New Orleans to drown or die of thirst when Katrina slammed ashore Aug. 29.
We're not talking ancient history here. We're talking about a catastrophic failure by the government.
Gen. Honore didn't botch the job earlier -- it wasn't his responsibility back then -- but it's perfectly reasonable to try to find out from him how come things are working this time around that failed the last time.
That's not "stuck on stupid."
That's our job.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Samantha Perez's Hurricane Journal has a new entry

We've heard a great deal from people who are reading Sammy Perez's heartrending diary about how Hurricane Katrina turned her family into gypsies. They tell us it leaves them feeling "sad, sad, sad" but praise Sammy as a brilliant writer. That's pretty much right on the money.

Here at Tattoo Central, we have been aching right along with Sammy and our readers. Thousands of people have followed Sammy's odyssey across Louisiana, feeling the hurricane and finding that there really is no place like home... except sometimes home is gone.

We also want to take a second to thank, broadly this time, the readers who have stepped up to lend Sammy and her family a hand. We're not really sure about everything that's been sent, but we know that quite a few people have mailed boxes, some have sent gift cards and other have penned notes of encouragement. It's all greatly appreciated. We'll have more to say about the outpouring of generosity that we've seen for Sammy. It's a bright spot in a dark picture.

By the way, on a related note, Sammy's writing more than she can send us because she faces, off and on, two key problems: an old computer and a lack of internet access. If there's a reader out there who can help outfit her with the technology she needs, we'd sure love to hear from you. Sammy's got an amazing story to tell -- and important one -- and she's trying her best to keep it up. But it would help an awful lot if she didn't have to squander so much time and energy trying to keep her old laptop running and finding someplace to hop on the 'net.

Meantime, go read her new entry: Hurricane Journal. And keep watching The Tattoo. There will be more soon.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Another Tattoo alum turns pro

Though Tattoo alum Joe (Wilbur) Killian has been a staff writer for The Bristol Press and a paid intern for The Cape Cod Times in summers past, today he's joining the ranks of the pros a little more permanently.
Joe began working a 25-hour-a-week gig with the Greensboro News & Record in Greensboro, North Carolina where he can get cash to write while he finishes whatever the hell classes he still needs before UNC-Greensboro finally gives him his bachelor's degree. You'd think that by now they'd have gladly handed him the sheepskin just to get him out of there, but apparently academic inertia afflicts the administration as well as certain students.
In any case, we're proud of Joe.
Here's Joe's own account of nabbing the job: Game On.
And, if you're so inclined, check out all of Joe's work for The Tattoo here: A baldy but a goodie.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Cheating: Pro and Con - A new Tattoo issue

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can
fake that, you’ve got it made.” - Groucho Marx

The latest Tattoo issue takes on the all-too-common issue of cheating in school. Writer Stefan Koski doesn't quite advocate cheating, but he provides an awful lot of insight into how it's done. Other Tattoo staffers talk about why it's done, and why it's not a good idea.
Check out their work in the September 19, 2005 issue.
And weigh in here with what you think.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

New Tattoo issue to focus on cheating

Don't miss the new issue of The Tattoo that hits the streets Monday!
Check it out at

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Geek advice sought

Anybody know how I can remove the white space between The Tattoo's heading and the box where it says Tattoo Blog? I am flumoxed.

Why blogs suck

Hey everyone,
Here are some words of wisdom from Tattoo Mom/Umah/Mama/Mather/Mama/Mum/Mam.
I hate blogs.
They are generally filled with useless drivel that is a pure waste of time to read and write. They are also public and very permanent. That means that once you post it, it's up there, baby, for the world to see forever. Don't think that you can retract something, or chalk it up to a youthful indiscretion. You have to live with it the rest of your life.
Don't write anything in a blog that you wouldn't want your grandmother to read. Or your teachers or future employers. Or your parents. Believe me, one day, it will come back to you.
I think blogs could also be used by Internet creeps who prey on kids who offer up too much information about themselves, their lives and their schedules. You might think I'm an over-protective mother, and I am, but I'm also right about this.
It is true that the Internet world is wonderful, but there are also dangers.
I also hate blogs because they are trying to pass themselves off as media, which in some sense I guess they are. Lousy, stinking, unreliable, one-sided and biased, kind of like Rush Limbaugh. Come to think of it, he's one giant blog.
But seriously, I think they make it even harder for credible sources of information and news, like The Tattoo, to get and keep readers because so many people don't know what to believe, or how to separate fact from fiction on the web.
Besides all that, I hate the blogs that you all write because any time you spend writing drivel in a stupid blog is time you don't have for quality work for The Tattoo, for rubbing your puppy's tummy or just sitting under a tree and thinking.
It robs you of a chance to grow and develop as writers because you're not getting any guidance whatsoever, just feedback from friends.
Mostly, I worry about your vulnerability when you post your lives on the worldwide web without anyone watching out for you, like we try so hard to do. (Sometimes we have to protect you from yourselves.)
So why did I allow a Tattoo blog? Well, it wasn't my idea. (If it turns out great, I will later claim it was!)
But I agree with Steve that we have to try to stay on the cutting edge and all that rot.
For the record, though, Steve hates blogs as much as I do, and for the same reasons.

The Tattoo's Michigan bureau has a blog, too!

Liane Harder, another of the talented new crew at The Tattoo, is also blogging. Check hers out at:

A blog from The Tattoo's Malta bureau

With a little rooting around on the Internet, we find that The Tattoo's own Maressa Zahra, a talented writer from the tiny Mediterranean paradise of Malta, also a blog. Check it out at

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another photo of Kaishi at Wesleyan

Jackie Majerus, Kaishi Lee and Steve Collins at Wesleyan University recently.

It seems like forever ago that a young girl from Singapore, Kaishi Lee, sent us an email asking about joining The Tattoo. We said to ourselves: Singapore! Cool!
Kaishi quickly began turning out memorable pieces, from Tom Cruise winking at her (and nothing more, thank goodnes) to heartfelt columns after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. She became a real newshound, breaking the news that a young skateboarder had died in an ESPN-sponsored competition in Singapore and detailing the world championship for high school debaters. She even got the story, from thousands of miles away, of a teen elected mayor in Pennsylvania.
Beyond her work, however, Kaishi also became our friend. She constantly asked us about our lives, our country, our kids, the paper and more. She has the natural curiousity of any great reporter.
In all that time, we never met, just IM'd, emailed and had a few short talks on the phone, mostly during Tattoo parties. But we got to know her.
When the time came for Kaishi to go to college, she dreamed of going to America, but knew the odds were long, with price tags that seemed out of reach and tough competition for all too few slots. To cut to the chase, Kaishi hit the jackpot and nabbed a Freeman Scholarship that is making it possible for her to attend Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. for free.
We shouted right along with her when she got the news that she'd been selected. (Her work for The Tattoo helped her stand out.)
Instead of being halfway around the globe, Kaishi would be half an hour down the road.
So a couple of weeks ago, we finally met up, at a bookstore near the campus.
We all hugged, at last.
One of our faraway Tattoo family was, finally, close at hand.

A teen shutterbug helps hurricane survivors

Just back from a week in Mississippi helping people whose lives were blown apart by Hurricane Katrina, Florida 14-year-old Josh Gales found The Tattoo in response to our desperate pleas for photographs of hurricane damage taken by teens.
Josh and his father, an old hand at providing assistance to disaster victims, lived in a tent near Gulfport while doing what they could to reach out to those who lost homes, jobs and more to the terrible tides and wind of the Aug. 29 storm.
That tent is where Josh lived for the week. I think it was in a K-Mart parking lot.
Now The Tattoo is starting to publish some of Josh's photographs. He's got a good eye -- and a good heart.
Here's one of his hurricane-related pictures: A lone tree on the Mississippi coast after Katrina

Shaina Zura

The other day we caught up a bit with Tattoo alum Shaina Zura, who spent her summer sunning on the beach in Costa Rica. She looks marvelous and seems happy, despite having to return to grad school in Boston.
That's her to the left with Mary (standing in the shadow of Fenway Park's famed Green Monster, for any baseball fans out there).

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Tattoo reaching new heights of popularity

Here we are on September 12th and already we've had 50 percent more page views on The Tattoo's web site than we did in all of September 2004.

Today alone, The Tattoo has had at least 40 percent more hits than it has on any day in its long history on the web.

The reason is clear: readers are flocking to The Tattoo to read Samanatha Perez's 'Hurricane Journal,' with its unique glimpse into the shattering impact of Katrina.

Don't miss it:

The Tattoo is churning out issues -- and giving teens caught by Katrina a voice

Hello loyal readers –
With today’s issue – the latest in The Tattoo’s Insider’s Guide to High School series – The Tattoo has had five editions in the past 15 days, more than we’ve had during some entire years. Three of them were devoted to the Insider’s Guide and two focused entirely on the personal stories of teens whose lives were upended by Hurricane Katrina.
If you haven’t checked out the Katrina stories, do. You won’t want to miss Samantha Perez’s heartbreaking Hurricane Journal. We’re publishing each piece online as she turns them in and the audience for them is growing daily.
You’ll also find high school freshman Jesus Manuel Diaz, Jr’s account of spending five days in New Orleans during and after the hurricane.
The Insider’s Guide pieces that are also available include a look at boarding schools, a story on being the only girl at an all-boy’s prep school, making the most of junior year and some wonderful cartoons by Justin Skaradosky.
It’s all available at
Keep reading. We have more material than we know what to do with, which is a welcome problem.
Thanks for your continuing support!
-- Steve Collins & Jackie Majerus
Tattoo advisors

New photo of Samantha Perez in her pretty pink dress

Samantha Perez, in better days, wearing her "pretty pink dress" that's now underwater in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Read her account of fleeing Hurricane Katrina at

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A new issue of The Tattoo is online now

Photo copyright 2005 by The Tattoo. All rights reserved.

The third issue of this year's Insider's Guide to High School is available now. It's online at and is also in the Monday, Sept. 12, 2005 edition of The Bristol (Conn.) Press.
Past issues of the invaluable Insider's Guide are also on The Tattoo's popular web site.

How The Tattoo operates

A fellow from one of the Houston papers once speculated we had a staff of about 30 putting together The Tattoo. But that ain't quite right.
The Tattoo is, in fact, something that Jackie Majerus and Steve Collins put out on their own with a whole lot of assistance from talented teens across the globe who write, take pictures, draw cartoons and offer encouragement.
Majerus and Collins, who work as reporters, guide the students, edit the stories, lay out the pages and put together the web site. We do it because we love it, even though it costs a mint and we can't really afford it.
The Tattoo's been around for a dozen years and it's been growing through most of them. It's exploding in size these days, with more material pouring in than it can hope to handle. That's a good problem, mostly, but it's also a little daunting.
Some days, it's too much.
But then there are times when we see something like the Hurricane Journals that Samantha Perez is writing and we think, wow, we are privileged to have this great thing that we do.
By the way, the role of The Bristol (Conn.) Press is minimal. It offers pages where The Tattoo is printed. We are happy about that, of course, because we like to see the paper in print and not just online. But The Tattoo is something distinct from the paper and is entirely owned and operated by its advisors, Majerus and Collins.
That's important because it means we can do whatever we want with the paper. And, so far at least, we must be doing something right.

An update to Samantha Perez's Hurricane Journal

Several new entries to Samantha Perez's remarkable journal are online now. Don't miss them.

Another Tattoo writer with a blog: Stefan Koski

Stefan Koski is another of our glorious crew of Tattoo writers. But I think he's the only one who has written his own book already. Check out his blog for all the details: Stefan Koski Blog

Tattoo writer Teague Neal's blog

Yup, here it is, a blog by The Tattoo's unofficial ambassador, our man in Toronto (well, OK, Oakville, Ontario...) and tireless advocate for all things Tattoo. Check out his site:
Teague Neal- his life, interests and writing: Words of wisdom for the halls of high school hits the press

Automatic Writing

When Joe Killian walked into a Tattoo meeting eight years ago, calling himself Joe Wilbur in those days, I never dreamed that he'd end up posting stuff like this on the Internet: Automatic Writing.
But that's one of the outlets for his journalistic talent these days as Joe scrambles to finish, at long last, his undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Joe remains one of the most gifted writers The Tattoo has had the good fortune to find, publish and cherish over the years.

The Insider's Guide to High School

Cartoon by Joe Keo / The Tattoo. Copyright 2002 by The Tattoo. All rights reserved.

There's nothing on the web to compare to the annual Insider's Guide to High School series published by The Tattoo for the past five years. With humor and insight, it tells incoming freshman everything they need to know -- and more -- about surviving the four year adventure that is an American high school.

But it also has plenty of advice for students everywhere, including a great deal written by knowledgeable teens from countries as far-flung as Malta, Ireland and El Salvador.

Don't miss the great cartoons from Joe Keo, Katie Jordan, Noel Fahden and Justin Skaradosky while you're checking it out.
The third issue of this year's Insider's Guide will be posted online tonight.

Hurricane Journal by Samantha Perez

On the day that Hurricane Katrina roared ashore in Louisiana, 17-year-old Samantha Perez began writing about it for The Tattoo. In a series of remarkable journal entries, she's given Tattoo readers a candid, heartbreaking look into her life as an evacuee from hard-hit St. Bernard Parish, a town outside of New Orleans that was clobbered by the storm. Check out her ongoing series at:

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