I stopped in yesterday at the Southern Sting tattoo parlor in Larose, Louisiana, and spent some time talking with the owner, Bobby Pitre. As well as tattoos he does paintings and sculpture, and has decorated the outside of his shop with political statements about the BP oil disaster.
The Southern Sting tattoo shop in Larose, Louisiana.
Much of Pitre's business since the disaster has been from Coast Guard workers. "One of them got a Spongebob [Squarepants] standing knee deep in oil, screaming, with an oil well blowing up in the background, on his calf," he said. Read more and see pictures after the jump.
Overall, Pitre's business is down 50 percent on last summer, he said, and many of his customers are concerned about what the economy is going to do over the coming months. "The business from the cleanup effort was keeping us afloat," he said. "And now with people being laid off it's going to make it tough. It's normally slammed in here in the summer, and stays steady through to October. Now look: We've got two customers, and one of them is a friend of mine."
Having missed the fishing season in May, Pitre hopes that some of his customers will be able to fish in August, although he shares seafood safety concerns with many environmentalists.
"It probably would have been a lot easier to deal with [the oil] without the dispersant," he said. "Now these fishermen don't have any oil to clean up, and we have to worry about the safety of the fishing."
Pitre has heard about BP doing more drug testing on its cleanup workers than in the past, over recent weeks "they popped up a drug test real quick last week, I had a friend who got busted for marijuana," he said. "Before that, they're weren't doing drug testing on the job, although I think you maybe had to pass a test to get hired on."
Pitre is not a fan of former BP chief executive Tony Hayward, and showed me this painting of his, describing Hayward as the "burro of bad news." He's selling the painting on eBay.
Tony Hayward: "Burro of bad news."
Pitre is pleased with the efforts of Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser to draw the attention of President Barack Obama to the disaster. He is also a big fan of Governor Bobby Jindal's efforts to build sand berms. Here are a couple more paintings of Pitre's:
President Obama sleeps at the White House while Governor Jindal and Parish President Nungesser try to draw his attention to the oil spill and threatened wildlife.
Bobby Jindal: "Bonhomme."
Here's the Southern Sting website. Or if you're passing through Larose on route 1, just look for the sign: