Santa Muerte Tattoos Making White Bread America Less Unvibrant
From the New York Times’s long-running series The Way North celebrating the New America spreading north from the Mexican border along I-35:
REPORTED FROM KILLEEN, TEX.
When Roman Deluna and Jesús Jiménez opened Calavera Tattoos six years ago, many of the soldiers from Fort Hood struggled to pronounce the name.
“They called it Cavalier,” Mr. Jiménez said.
Those insensitive ignorant rednecks, thinking that the name of the shop is a reference to Fort Hood hosting the 1st Cavalry Division, when it really means “skull.”
At the time, the tattoo shops here in Killeen — an Army town with tens of thousands of soldiers and nearly as many strip malls — all had names like A-1 and Second to None while tattoo design skewed heavily toward bald eagles, flags or military insignia.
Slowly, though, local tastes have broadened alongside shifting demographics. With more Latinos joining the military and more non-Latinos interested in Mexican imagery like calaveras — skulls to memorialize the dead — Killeen now supports a handful of successful tattoo shops with Hispanic owners and obvious Chicano style.
Mr. Jiménez, 39, has become especially well known, opening his own shop, Vida y Muerte — Life and Death — in 2011, with artwork and a back story that defy categorization.