I apologize ahead of time for such a long post; hopefully you guys don't mind reading my long-winded thoughts.
I made it through security without getting searched or anything. Got to the gate about 45 minutes before my flight, and wasted some time on my iPhone since there wasn't much else to do. Bought two bottles of water for $6.95 (mistake), and waited to board. Boarding time came around, and it went by without any turbulence (haha). Cramped seats were waiting for me, but that's what you get when you fly coach. I got also a window seat towards the back of the plane, without any view obstructions from the wing.
Waiting at the gate.
Saw some awesome views of a river in the first ten minutes of the flight.
After that, there wasn't much to look at except dry hills, farmland, and clouds.
Arrived in New York at around 11:30, and was in bed by 1:30:
The dorm room at the New York Loft Hostel
Woke up the next morning at 8:00, and headed over to Tina's Place for breakfast. I had the corn beef, hash, and eggs, which was very filling, and pretty tasty. It was a pretty divey place, but that's what I expected and wanted from a cheap breakfast diner.
Then I headed over to Gasper Como's barber shop for a shave. Gasper is from Sicily and has been a barber for 48 years. He said he was shaving faces at age six in the old country. Such a great experience, and the closest shave I've ever had. Some of his regular customers were there with me, and they all seemed to respect Gasper a lot. He was really kind and welcoming.
After my shave, I went over to McCarren Park to take a look around before the next thing on my to-do list, which was a last minute cancellation filler appointment with Ron Wells to do the outline of a skull and mandala at Three Kings. Ron did a great job on the design, and killed it on the tattoo. Man, the stomach is one helluva painful spot to get zapped!! Also, judging from other people's feedback on Ron's tattooing pain meter and my past encounter with him, I think he saves all his strength for my tattoos and just punishes the hell out of me; HAHA! Three Kings is a great shop. It was a really cool atmosphere, with all the tattooers and shop help checking out everyone's work, and everybody having a good time. We also made plans to finish my tattoo at the SFO Convention this year. After feeling the pain that is a stomach tattoo, I can definitely be thankful that I split it into two sessions.
Two shots of McCarren Park.
The tattoo Ron made for me.
After my tattoo with Ron, I went to get something to eat at GreenStreets Salads. They made me a giant turkey breast, romaine salad with a bunch of stuff thrown in and honey dijon dressing. It was really great. Forgot to snap a picture, though.
At 5:30 it was time to head over to Carroll Gardens for my Smith Street appointment with Bert Krak. I got there a little early, so I went gift shopping at Olive's Very Vintage for my sisters and mom. I picked them out two sets of earrings (for my little sister and my mom) and one bracelet for my older sister.
When the time rolled around to go to Smith Street, I headed over, and was greeted by a friendly, helpful counter guy. I signed a release, gave him my ID, and started to look at the flash on the walls to pick out my tattoo. Bert and Eli came in a minute later, greeted me, then took their pups out for a short walk. I found it really cool that they had shop dogs, and that one was a pit bull and the other, a Staffordshire terrier, as I have two pit bulls in my immediate family, and one Staffordshire that belongs to my cousin. Such awesome dogs.
Anyway, there were so many pieces of flash that I liked, so choosing just one was extremely difficult. Eventually, I settled on a lady liberty design by Jonesy that was in a manila folder with a ton of other New York themed pieces. Bert got to setting up for the tattoo, and I waited in the front, looking at all the flash. It was a really mellow night, since only Bert and Eli were there, and it had been busy earlier in the day. A few people came in and had questions for the guys.
Then I sat down and Bert put the tattoo on me. It was a pretty easy affair, as it was on my arm, a less painful spot for me than the stomach. Bert and I talked about my weekend in NYC, the last SFO Convention, and tattoos. A pair of ladies came in, and one of them was getting an anchor and some initials on her forearm. I had heard her talking with Eli earlier, and she wanted some whacky ideas like having the rope be the letters, having it really detailed, etc., but Eli set her straight for the most part. He did let her have it upside down on her wrist, though. lol. The girls were from Brazil, so I got to hear some about Eli and Bert's recent trip there. One could really tell that the guys working were really good friends, which meant a positive environment to get a tattoo.
Overall, it was a good experience going to Smith Street. I hope I can make it back to NYC sometime in the future. I'm kinda bummed that I didn't get a piece that Bert had drawn himself, but he comes to the SFO Convention every year, so I can always get something from him there.