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  • Found this blog post I wrote a couple years ago…it’s funny, at the time I didn’t think I was much of a writer. I’m not calling myself Kerouac, but it holds up and I stand by it, so that’s pretty cool I guess. -JM

    I didn’t get them for you… (Jan 2010)

    Let me start by saying I don’t know Antwuan Dixon… I’ve never met him… I don’t know if I ever will, but I’m inspired by him. I was looking at some skate footage and that’s how I first found out who he was. He seems like a wild cat. I looked up a bunch of footage, pictures and wiki-google-yahoo’d him etc. but what was really happening as I learned a little more, bit by bit, is I was growing proud of the guy. I’ll give you a link in a little bit and you’ll see why…

    So when I originally signed up for “The American Dream” it was pretty easy. I went down and saw a college, where a very nice lady talked to me, looked at my essay and was convinced, I guess, that I’d bring the grade point average up of the “Rich Kid” school and that someone would pay for it… That someone was me and I did get decent grades, while I was working full time at job or three. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good story, I have a good life and I adore the fact that i’ve learned to love work… This is a story about “The American Dream” or part of it at least, and tattoos. It’s really a story about tattoos, okay. So, I worked at this privately owned 4 Star type restaurant, down where I was going to school. It was the type of place with a lot of rules and directions. There were a lot of exclusive this and that type things, it was hard to get a job there… because people spent a lot of money. I got the job because of a friend of mine named Susan, by the way Thank you Susan, I don’t know where you are but I remember you as rad always. Anyway, this place was money, money, money-ville. I worked and made “Drug-Dealer” type money at this spot. There were people working at this place that had graduated from college and just put their careers off because they were making so much money at the restaurant! I wanted a shot at living like them so I went in early, stayed late, picked up shifts, picked up tables… I hustled my behind off.

    So check it out, in the back of this place, against the wall, there where about five “2 Tops”, these are tables for two (duh!) that were always filled with “walk-ins”, “young couples”, “not so picky types” and “poor people”… Yeah you heard me correctly, “poor people”, my kind, people who didn’t eat at places like this every day. People who are judged, on sight, by a hostess, as those who will probably not order much and will tip less, if at all. These people were seated in the section that I was seated in for most of my life, unbeknownst to me… when I learned about the protocol for this seating, I made it a priority to always stop through there and make sure, “my section” you know “my people” got the service they deserved, whether it was my assignment or not.

    So one night, toward the end of my shift, in walks a man in a faded old Harley Davidson Sturgis Rally t-shirt, accompanied by his wife and mother. At first glance my read on this guy was that he was a rad ol’ greaser. He had a beat up hat on, leather vest, a tooth pick in his mouth, prescription aviators and lastly he was covered in tattoos. His weathered, tan, skin was sleeved up with green ink, tattoos way older than I was. I thought to myself, this man has got to be the baddest mothrfvcker that has ever set foot in this restaurant, he is giving everyone the finger with his presence alone… and I like his style. If I’m honest, even those seemingly reverent thoughts, were judgements.

    I watched as this man, his wife and the mother were seated in the “section”. I watched the guy saunter over to the table, like it belonged to him, like he wanted to sit in the back… like he always sat in the back. He owned the whole experience and when the assigned server moped to the front to ask if anyone wanted to pick up a table, I was already halfway there.

    I think, at the time, I had one tattoo. I’m not sure but I think I had gotten my first one and was considering, maybe, just maybe a second one… haha. Anyway, I walked back and greeted the coolest, most polite, appreciative three people I’d ever met in that establishment. I remember vividly the fella’s mom taking forever to order and he was real loving, he treated both ladies like they were the only women on the planet. I looked down at his neck and arms, his hands, all covered in tattoos, wrinkled like gloves that had held on to chopper handles and tire irons through a hundred ice storms and thought to myself… “this guy is a viking!”

    I cannot explain how inherently cool this individual was in the face of obvious discrimination… I mean, I’ve seen it before, people discriminate and the more mature person is calm and tolerant of the ignorance, but I guess I was baffled. I was even more baffled when, at the completion of the meal, I dropped the 54$ check off at the table and this man gave me a hundred dollar bill… “Thanks man, what’s left is yours…” he said. There was a lot that I didn’t know at that time… a whole lot.

    I didn’t know I’d get older and learn what it means to care more about what I like, than what other people think. I didn’t know I’d sit across from a father or two and be treated exactly like that man was in the restaurant. I didn’t know I’d watch my brothers struggle for years to get a band off the ground as people told them they were stupid for getting tattooed because, “Bands don’t work out…” and “That’s quite a gamble you have going on…”. I never knew every single tattoo I’d end up getting would have a memory of a time and place, a person, a struggle, a victory, maybe some hate but mostly a lot of love. I wouldn’t have expected that the “quiet guy in the back of the shop” would end up being my tattoo artist, one of the best in the business and one of my best friends. I never new the other guy who would tattoo me, would then inspire me to be a champion with his ethics and lyrics. I never knew I’d have so much explaining to do… and that explaining has lead me to frequent thought of who I am, how I live, who I want to be and what I want to do with my life…

    So Antwuan Dixon…

    Here’s Antwuan Dixon… a kid with a skateboard and the drive to put his clenched fist, so far up the rear-end of life, that he knocks it’s teeth out… I’ll bet this guy has heard “Wow… that’s quite a gamble you have going on buddy…” a couple times. Do you know what it means to be a professional skateboarder? It means you go out an do something every single day and that very thing could end up deading your career… It’s professional bullet dodging that garners very little respect from the “grown up” world.
    If you take a moment to read about Antwuan you’ll find out that his first skateboard was a stolen gift from his older brother, who is now locked up. I don’t know his family’s financial background but I do know he doesn’t have to skate a stolen set-up today… I don’t condone theft. I do condone skateboarding. I’m grateful for the people in this world that are 150% themselves… they inspire me to do the same, to believe in me and thus gamble on me… I gamble on us…

    I invite you to ask yourself, today… maybe tomorrow if that works better for you, “Who am I, where am I going and does it really matter?” I’d like to answer the last part of that for you, with a hopeful “YES”. I’m not trying to sell you on anything, except for yourself, here. I’d like to pass along what I’ve been fortunate to recognize, and that is, where we are going does matter.
    I didn’t know just how much I was going to learn, or how much I’d value, the judgement of others… not because I care, but because my self value has risen with the frequent recognition of the value and understanding other may or may not have for me. I rarely consider what people will think when making important life decisions today and that freedom is a feeling so amazing I can only wish it for others. This means that what you think means nothing and what I prove to help others understand means everything.

    Today, I do not desire to go where I am not invited… when I go out I like sitting in the back, I tip better than anyone you’ll wait on all day and when I end up married, you better believe I’ll treat my lady like the last woman on the planet… I may not be a viking, but I’m living an American Dream. I’m grateful for each end every experience in my life where my back was against the wall. I’m given the chance to dig deep and revisit “Who I am, where I am going and why it matters”. With each day that I live, I question less and less who I want to impress and walk more and more toward what I want to be. I can sit with any father, prospective employer… “grown up” and know exactly what I bring to the table. I know and appreciate my value. I am confident that I’m a winner, I’m even more confident that I’m here to stay. I am not rich. I am not famous. I am just like you… and you know what, that’s good news for both of us.
    *Thank you Antuan, I look forward to hopefully meeting you one of these days.