Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Russian Dogs and American Tattoo's

Dateline Yesterday -

So there's Danny Klecko, alone...sitting in a bread truck in the parking lot of General Mills.

I am there to give a presentation, a presentation that will require a lot of visuals.

My visuals are mostly bread starters/ferments and they are throwing a stecnch in my ride that can only be described as a July hamper filled with soiled football uniforms from the big game....5 days ago.

I am early, too early in fact to buzz my contact to let me in, but then I recall the advice that Batman gave me as a child.....

"It is better to be 5 minutes early, than 1 second late."

And remembering this....I take solace.

I have 15 more minutes to kill before I can even attempt to seek admittance without being a complete annoyance.

Like many of you, the first way I attempt to kill this lull is by whipping out my Droid to see what is going on in Facebook Land.....but I can't get reception for some reason.

Bob Dylan's Tempest disc is playing, but at the was on the last track "Roll on John" which is Dylan's tribute to John Lennon.

John Lennon in on Klecko's Top 10 list of people who he feels is overated.

So Klecko goes old school and drifts back Walter Mitty style and begins to day dream.

In my mind, I am back at the Sea Wolf Tattoo Company, where I had spent the previous evening.

Jason, my tattoo guy was busy on his honeymoon, so for this appointment I was inked by a 22-24ish year old artist named Dylan.

I had sent her instructions informing her that I was looking for some kind of tat that would capture the spirit of Laika the famous Russian dog that was sent to her demise during the Sputnik 2 flight.

Russians have got a bad wrap for this debacle, and rightfully so, but kinda not.

You see back when the Cold War was at it's zenith, The USSR beat the United States by getting Sputnik 1 into space before the Americans could float one of their vessels.

Russian President Nakita Kruschev felt that the momentum was be all cost.

I don't know the name of the Soviet's NASA program, but their scientists were given extreme pressure to send another rocket ship up, but this one needed to support a life.

Great minds were gathered.....

"Should we send a duck, moose, elephant? Nah let's send a dog."

So the scientist scoured the streets of Moscow. It was felt that a street dog would have a more adaptable immune system that a domesticated mutt.

Kruschev began to tighen the screws to the scientists and demanded an immediate launch.

However, the scientist pointed out that although they had the technology to get Laika into space, they didn't have the knowledge to bring her home.

This would be a one way trip.

The Russian NASA peeps were sick about this, they loved that mutt, but if they didn't comply it would certainly mean their career was over....or who knows, maybe worse, maybe some Gulag time, or maybe even death.

When the news of the launch went public, the world knew that the poor dog was about to be murdered, and there was an outcry that was so loud, I'll bet it gave PETA a smile.

It has been reported to me that the entire island of England would have National moments of silence to display their saddness and their wraith.

Years later, some of the Russian scientists stepped forward and confessed to have nightly nightmares, for not standing up to the tyranny involved.

On the evening before the blast off, one of the project leaders risked peril and actually removed Laika from the launch site and brought her home.

When doing this, everybody pretended not to notice.

The guy was going to bring the dog  to get loved up on what could be the final night of her life.

In the spring of 2008, the day before I left Moscow, I was watching on the news how they had raised a shrine of this noble canine at their NASA like HQ.

It is tragic when a country gets a bad wrap for the choices, or actions that a goverment makes.

This launching was like what??? 1/2 a century ago???

And I can tell you from first hand experiance, the people of Russia love-love-love that mutt.

People who weren't even alive when Laika died know the story, frontward and backward.

All of this has been passed on by their elders because the Russian people are beautiful, they have hearts like nobody else I have ever met.

Buzzzzzzzzzz, the tattoo gun pounds the top of my right shin.

Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz- Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and still some more buzz........and Wa-Lah....Dylan nailed it.

Tattoo #41 is complete.

There on my leg is the head of Russia's most famous dog, framed by a rocketship and stars.

Underneath there is font that spells out.....MUTTNIK.

All of my tat's are pretty much other peoples stories that have impressed me, but for whatever reason......

I consider this tattoo, this story my own.

It has all the componants of the things that bring abject joy into my heart.......

Dogs and Russia.

So after Dilly takes a couple photo's, wraps plastic around my leg and pushes me out the door....

I experienced a sensation I had never felt before.

As I hit the sidewalk of 35th and Cedar a thought creeped into my head......

"O-M-G......dude, you have so many tattoo's, you're almost kinda scary....and you are going to look this way until the day you die."

I don't know where that came from, but I won't lie to you guys, you're family....I was actually scared.

For about 2 minutes, and then I went back to being my typical loser self.

I'm going to leave you with a poem I wrote about Laika, it will be released in my upcoming poetry-cook book entitled EXIT THE DRAGON.

Laika heard the children laughing
From what appeared to be a distant room
The most beautiful sound she ever woke to
When Victor brought her home from work last night
And took her straight to bed
It seemed natural to assume they were alone
Fraternizing was considered unprofessional
But this secret would remain safe
By this time tomorrow she would be gone
Boarded onto a tin can
Filled with rocket fuel and no parachute
All the more reason to break protocol
This is why the entire science team
And the launching crew
Held their tongues and looked away
While Victor escorted her
Off the project site
So her last day of freedom
Could be spent outdoors
Getting belly rubs
From his daughters


  1. When I dare at last to imagine hunger,
    see farmer wandering his parched fields
    knowing nothing to do, finally, but sleep
    the day out in the barn's long shadow,
    dreaming of the family dog he drove
    deep into a neighboring county
    and abandoned by the side of the road.
    Weeks later a boy finds it in a ditch—
    timid and gimp, a halo of gnats
    festering between its swollen testicles
    and wormy flanks—and he coaxes it
    into some pines, tethers it with a tentstake
    and a chain as the late summer light
    spirals and drapes over the branches,
    a mirage the dog slavers and snaps at.
    Consider the boy's amusement
    as he imagines the animal jerking the light
    down and the ruckus of bells that clang
    and catapult from the treetop belfries,
    the canopy rent like a piƱata, spilling licorice
    and circus peanuts, coins and fluttering dollar bills.
    The real possibilities are beyond him.
    The dog as a parable of pain or loss.
    Hunger as some small iridescent thing at work
    inside the animal, hovering around its heart
    the way a lone dragonfly skirts the dry pond crater,
    dismantling the day—light unstitched
    from dust, dust unbuckled from air.
    By now, the dog's given up, and the boy
    watches its tongue loll in the pine needles,
    the heave and fall of its stomach, its eyes
    following birdflight in and out of the shade.
    Restless for something he cannot name,
    he imagines the music he might make
    if he thumped the dog's belly like a drum.
    Imagines its eyes are the color of iron.
    Imagines the unimaginable and does it,
    the tire tool and the belly unwilling instruments,
    and the dog's caterwaul is not like music
    at all and when night comes the cricketsong
    dulcifies nothing, the dog's body
    is just a body, is not paltry, is not glorified.
    What hunger is this that haunts the boy,
    that haunts the man sleeping in the shade?
    Watch as the dragonfly dips into his open mouth
    and keeps going, a blur between bone and sinew,
    a wet thread collapsing soft caverns of flesh,
    gone to where his body is a field
    honed by sleeves of sunlight,
    to where the boy ceases to be and the man wakes.
    He knows what flits through him now
    keeps the time with its thrumming,
    carrying him away from himself
    into himself, to where the dog roves in the shadows—
    ravenous, luminous—its tail bobbing
    in the heat, a winnowing sliver of light.

    --Brian Barker
    "Dog Gospel" from Poetry (Nov. 2004)

  2. Laika is mentioned in the film "My Life as a dog" nice film from Sweden...