Skin Trade

Tat space for sale

That billboard out in the industrial barrens of Opalocka is, phew, so banal. No zing, no pizzazz, you know? How about a placard on the back of a city bus? You must be joking, my friend. It all just gets lost in a haze of emissions (Tailpipe knows). Radio jingles? A good way to turn your product into a laughingstock (remember "Brylcreem, a little dab'll do ya"?). What's a good ad man to do?

Well, here's David Cope from Dania Beach. He's 21 and hungry, and he wants to help you advertise your soft drink or antacid or slice-and-dice device. Cope is cash-strapped, about to become a father, and already working extra shifts at his job. He wants to be your walking advertisement. He posted his offer on craigslist.com last month, suggesting a starting bid of $500 for a three-inch-square tattoo somewhere on his 185-pound frame.

He has his principles, of course. No defense contractors hawking anti-aircraft missiles or purveyors of adult entertainment, he says. But just about anything else he figures he can stomach.

"Like, most of the human brain goes to waste because people don't use it, most of the body goes too," he says. "And, like, I have all this skin that can be tattooed and I can make money off it, so why not use it?"

If it's done right, Cope figures, he'll just enhance his rugged, tatty looks.

"The way I see it, it's art, and it's also advertisement," he says.

Of course, any would-be advertiser will compete for attention with the angel inked on Cope's left biceps, a star on his right wrist, and an image of a ripped-up American flag on his left biceps. Cope also has the word PUNK spelled out on the inside of his bottom lip (sorry, Wrigley's... sorry, Listerine).

Oh, and one other caveat. Apart from Cope's days at the beach, potential advertisers wouldn't get much play in his workplace. The hard-up young man cooks, buses tables, and runs food out to customers at Big City Tavern on Las Olas Boulevard. Although the bar/restaurant has the sort of affluent crowd that marketing professionals drool over, Cope's interaction with the clientele calls for adherence to a longsleeved-shirt dress code.

Cope hasn't had any takers yet, understandably. Except his mom. She wants him to display the words I Love Mom.

Cope laughs appreciatively. That one he'll do at cost, he says.

Other interested parties can reach him at discodavenlaude@aol.com.

Our Boca Raton long ago squirreled deep into the American psyche. Of course, as Tailpipe discovered long ago, Boca's not just a city; it's a metaphor. And a target for half-baked social commentators.

The town's exorbitant wealth, its MILFs, its wacky retirees, and its affinity for pink have been insulted in films like Cats & Dogs, Music and Lyrics, Wag the Dog, and A Perfect Murder, to say nothing of repeated references on Seinfeld to Boca as "God's waiting room." And those rappin' mofos just won't let up. You remember Trick Daddy's line about "Boca boys know dough, that's fo' sho' doe." Then there was Cam'ron telling us in 2002 that "I be in Boca Raton, bonin' your moms." A little respectfor the moms of Boca.

Now here comes New York author and writing professor Steve Lewis with a book called Fear and Loathing of Boca Raton: A Hippie's Guide to the Second Sixties, to be published this fall by Quill Driver Press of California. Lewis argues that the baby-boomer generation, unlike its World War II predecessors, is not looking to retire to Boca Raton like their parents did. It's one of those defining issues, like the pill and weed, that define a generation.

Lewis' approach is a little unusual, though. The book is based mostly on personal interviews with Sarah Lawrence colleagues and New Paltz artists and rock climbers. Tailpipe is appalled. No Andy Roddick or Marilyn Manson or Chris Carrabba anecdotes? No tales about retired gangsters and fleeing corporate wrongdoers? What about the anthrax attack at American Media's Boca headquarters? Yes, Boca has darkness.

The fallacy of talking to a lot of freewheeling left-wingers from upstate New York is not lost on Lewis. He wrote the book only half-seriously, he says.

The 'Pipe caught up with Lewis, via telephone, as he drove from his professor gig at Empire State College to his other professor gig at Sarah Lawrence College. When asked what he had against Boca Raton, Lewis laughed.

"I don't really have anything against Boca Raton," he said. "My parents lived in Boca Raton for quite a while."

The fear-and-loathing bit gives the book a certain cachet, Lewis says. But, he admits, there's a little more to it than that.

"Boca is just a symbol of the mainstream culture that 40 years ago we were rebelling against," he says (although, shoot, he's only observed the city from behind the walls of his parents' gated retirement community).

In the book, he says, he explores how many of "the second '60s people" are looking for other places to settle. "Taos, New Mexico. Utah. In my research, increasing numbers of people are staying put in their own communities or looking for something like Key West used to be but no longer is." Let's all move to not-Boca.

Susan Gillis, archivist for the Boca Raton Historical Society, says the dissing of Boca Raton began in the '80s, shortly after the city voted on a growth cap that got overturned by the state legislature. That's when the snob label started getting thrown around and people began using the cliché "quality of life" in association with the city's palmy mansions. The din still hasn't stopped, Gillis says. She chalks it up to the beautiful landscape and warm weather of which other cities are clearly envious.

Lewis says that, in truth, he likes a lot of things about Boca. The warmth and the greenery, the golf courses, the beach, the fishing. Of course, at the moment, retirement anywhere isn't looking like an option for him. "Boca is prospering a lot better than I am," he says. Maybe, if the book becomes a bestseller...

Tailpipe has always been a sucker for a good doggy story. This one is about an extraordinary nun with an eye for canine potential.

When Sister Pauline Quinn heard that Central Bark Doggy Day Care, the upscale doggy "daycare" and grooming outfit, was offering a summer program for dogs and their owners at its Wisconsin location, she asked to come check it out. Sitting around a campfire, she explained how she had been abused as a child; how she ran away only to get caught and bounced among various juvenile institutions; how she stopped talking to people entirely and lived as a mute. It wasn't until she adopted a German shepherd named Joni that she felt safe; the dog helped her heal and, eventually, converse with people again.

"I learned unconditional love from her," Quinn tells the 'Pipe. "She became the bridge to meet other people and start to talk. People would come up and say, 'Oh, what a beautiful dog!'" Not to mention an intimidating dog. "She gave me more power," Quinn says. "People are a little afraid of German shepherds. Everybody would treat me with respect. It was really interesting how that worked and how the dog could help build self-esteem."

Several years and a few dogs later, Quinn became a nun. In 1981, she developed the Prison Pet Partnership Program. She rescues animals from shelters, brings them to prisons, helps prisoners train them, and then matches each dog with a handicapped person who needs assistance.

"I wanted to give inmates an opportunity to give back to society," Quinn says. (For more about Quinn, get the movie Within These Walls, in which Laura Dern plays the now-64-year-old sister. So "people know me as a tall, blond, thin lady," Quinn quips. "I was happy about that!")

Now, Chris Gaba, co-founder of Central Bark and proprietor of its Fort Lauderdale location, is implementing Quinn's program — with a twist. Influenced by Central Bark volunteer Lt. Col. Connie Christensen, a retired Army nurse who told him how dogs have helped serve in every major military conflict since the Civil War, Gaba launched Dog Bless America — a campaign to buy bulletproof vests and cooling blankets for 300 service dogs working with American forces in the Middle East.

As an extension of that, Gaba's now helping the Prison Pet program match dogs with veterans coming back from Iraq. Monetary donations for dog food and equipment are the biggest need — it takes 15 months and $12,000 to house and train each animal. Other than that, Gaba says, they're just trying to find Iraq vets who would best benefit from the program. "We have two dogs ready to go." For more about Dog Bless America, see www.centralbarkusa.com.

— As told to Edmund Newton

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