Dreams, Pierced on His Skin
His name is not Nick Polly, but you know him. Okay, you don’t know him, recognize is the word. I don’t know him either.He’s tall enough, which means he doesn’t need to artificially attract your attention. You better cross out the thought that he got his tattoos because he felt vapid. He didn’t even care whether you’ve noticed them or not.I asked him whether those five tattoos are a form of self-expression and he denied. Our consensus was to call those aggregates of ink Nick’s spiritual epiphany.
It all started with the messianic “I’m gonna leave this place better than the way I found it was” in September 2013 when Nikita Zvyagintsev (Nick’s real name) entered AUBG. The first tattoo decision process was not perplexed at all. He was not sure only about the part of his body that was to be sacrificed. The sentence, however, was a famous line, sang by Tom Waits, the controversial singer/composer, whose voice was defined by critics as having been “soaked in a vat of bourbon”. This pledge, reinforced by the Typewriter font hinting at Nick’s substantial inclinations towards journalism, is what he sees every time he glances downwards at his arm. And it feels like just the right thing to read.
“No one in the history of the world ever did just one tattoo”, my interlocutor claimed, and obviously he didn’t feel like interrupting the tradition. Plus, looking at his first tattoo, he thought: “I gotta balance it out now.” And in two months, right across Nick’s chest, namely on his left arm, landed the “Gonzo fist”.
The Gonzo fist is obviously a fist, however not a regular one. Apart from its four fingers, it has two thumbs grasping a peyote fruit, characterized by its psychoactive properties and used for spiritual purposes by the Native Americans in southwestern Texas and Mexico. It is now an endangered species, partially maybe due to its contribution to popular culture. Ken Kesey wrote the first three pages of his legendary “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” after choking down this plant. The fist resembles a new for its age journalism movement, a subjective one, which uses first-person narrative and accuracy based only on personal experiences and observations. Gonzo journalists commonly use sarcasm, exaggeration and even profane language in their writing, so you can see why Nick is particularly keen as mustard to become one of the movement’s representatives. Why not write for the “Rolling Stone”?
Later on Nick decided he was still lacking balance when it came to his tattoos. While on Work&Travel, his friend Sasha popped out with the idea (and the proper instruments) for a DIY tattoo. Even though there was some hesitation on his friend’s part, Nick was categorical : “You’re ready to do a tattoo; I am ready to get one.” And in a while, our protagonist was a proud owner of the Pareto principle, a.k.a. the 80-20 rule of thumb, which his father is a big adherent of. I observed, however, that the rule runs counter to Nick’s constant diligence in trying to “balance things out”.
And then again, the contradiction persists. We are on tattoo number four, and this time we see a pair of scales. The balance concept strikes again, this time for good. It is conspicuous that the scales are out of balance; they are more like 60/40; surrounded by an inscribed Koyaanisqatsi, meaning “Life out of balance” in Hopi language. A cult movie directed by Godfrey Reggio of the same name is the first of a Qatsi “life”trilogy, targeted at challenging the viewer to use their own prism when extracting the meaning of the movie. Nick went deep with this tattoo, admiring the balanced lifestyle while not necessarily obeying to it.
Nick’s living canvas final acquisition is a Valkyrie wing. The Valkyries are those female figures in Scandinavian mythology responsible for choosing “those who may die and those who may live” in a battle. Nick’s idea when making the fifth tattoo was to protect himself from the “choosers of the slain” because he has not excluded from his future plans joining the army.
So far, the only thing I squeezed out of Nick’s mouth on what’s coming next, was: “I’ll keep you posted”. That and the fact that he likes Johnny Depp’s inky works of art—Nick and Johnny actually share the Gonzo fist. I can only marvel whether the actor will be Nick’s muse or an extraterrestrial idea will rather strike him. I’ll be sniffing around either way.