Flashbacks, February 3, 2006

The Boston Phoenix has been covering the trends and events that shape our times since 1966. These selections, culled from our back files, were compiled by Chris Brook and Ian Sands.
By EDITORIAL  |  February 2, 2006

BACK IN BUSINESS | 5 years ago | February 2, 2001 |
Mike Miliard reported on the reopening of the state’s tattoo parlors after a 38-year ban.
“As of today, February 1, anyone in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who is 18 years or older can get a fluorescent butterfly, a KISS logo, or a good old-fashioned anchor and chain tattooed on his or her virgin flesh. Legally. Now communities statewide must decide for themselves how (or whether) to welcome this ancient form of body art to town.

“It’s been a long, hard fight. In October of last year, a Massachusetts Superior Court judge overturned the Commonwealth’s 38-year ban on tattooing (instituted in 1962 after a hepatitis outbreak in neighboring New York), ruling it unconstitutional. The catalyst was an ACLU-sponsored lawsuit brought by tattooist Stephan Lamphear, charging that the prohibition violated freedom of expression. In her ruling, Judge Barbara Rouse cited the flourishing underground tattoo industry in the Bay State as further reason to legalize and regulate. ‘[T]he Commonwealth agrees that unregulated tattooing poses greater public-health risks than regulated tattooing,’ she wrote.

“But the Commonwealth was caught off guard by the swiftness of the decision, and many tattoo artists, champing at the bit to practice their trade, opened up shop immediately after it was delivered. For a few weeks, tattooing in Massachusetts was legal and completely unregulated. So on November 21, Judge Rouse reinstated the ban until the end of January, in order to give health officials time to draw up regulations.”

URBAN WARFARE | 10 years ago | February 2, 1996 |
Geoff Edgers spoke with Kitty Bates about her campaign against clothing company Urban Outfitters.
“Kitty Bates, who invented that name earlier this winter, has real blue eyes and fake red hair. Her stringy nylon wig does what it’s supposed to do: draw attention while masking her identity. She sits in a booth at the Deli Haus, in Kenmore Square, eating scrambled eggs and explaining her campaign against the clothing retailer Urban Outfitters.

“ ‘When you go in there, you feel like you’re a mouse in a trap,’ Bates says. ‘Kids have enough to worry about without trying to fit into some T-shirt made for a three-year old.’

“Bates’s beef with Urban Outfitters is twofold, she explains. Some of her friends have had bad experiences working there, and the store’s style, she believes, pressures teenage girls to think they’re fat.

“So Bates, an artist and the daughter of a former New York City cop, has designed a poster featuring a waif in a short plastic skirt and tank top marching across a sea of dollar signs. The model’s arms stretch out like a zombie’s, her face blocked by a question mark. The headline reads: ANOREXIC OUTFITTERS. CAPTURING THE SOULS OF MINDLESS TEENS EVERYWHERE.

“Around Thanksgiving, she hit New York City, plastering walls in the blocks surrounding an Outfitters outlet with more than 100 posters. A few days later, she returned to Boston and, working from 3 to 7 a.m., similarly papered the Back Bay and Cambridge.”

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