Ernie Ray’s Gifts

Ernie Ray

Ernie Ray, gifter and collector of commas (photograph by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova)

Almost a year ago, in early November 2013, while the tattooing marathon for the Boulder Tattoo Project was gathering speed, Chelsea Pohl, Project Manager of the Boulder Project, came up with a brilliant idea: anyone who wanted to get a tattoo but had missed the initial call for participants could get one of the commas left over after Anne Waldman’s poem was given away as tattoo words, phrases, and punctuation signs. People could pay $25 to have their comma inked and thus enter the Boulder Comma Club, the Western relative of Lexington’s “of the Universe” Club, which Jack X Taylor had started nearly a year earlier.

Almost as soon as Chelsea announced the Boulder Comma Club on Facebook, we received a message from Ernie Ray, the only participant in the Lexington Tattoo Project who got a stand-alone comma as part of the Lexington artwork. Though initially Ernie had committed to his Lexington comma as his first and only tattoo, he wrote to ask us whether he could pay to have one of the Boulder commas tattooed in Lexington AND send $25 to Boulder to pay for someone else’s comma. Of course, we thought that Ernie’s offer was generous and fun, and we loved the idea of more connections between Lexington and Boulder. We consulted with Chelsea and we said yes!

It was Gail Loveland who received a Boulder Tattoo Project comma courtesy of Ernie. In turn, Ernie extended his offer: he would pay for a comma for a participant in any of the other city-based Tattoo Projects, as long as Ernie, too, could get his own comma from that Tattoo Project.

Little did Ernie know that the first other comma to become available would be from Love Letter To the World, our global tattoo artwork! Of course, we had to make sure one of the LLTW tattoos is a comma. Of course, Ernie got his new comma inked. And he has offered to pay for someone else to get a LLTW comma, as long as the price can be kept to $50 or less.

Thank you, Ernie. We love your collection of commas and how you keep extending generosity to strangers through it.

And—if you are a newcomer to LLTW who is reading this blog and thinking that you would like to get a LLTW comma, courtesy of Ernie, send us a message. We promise to feature your comma , too, on our blog.

Gail Loveland

Ernie Ray’s Boulder comma gift for Gail Loveland (photograph by Andrew Brislin)

Ernie Ray

Ernie Ray’s newest comma, right next to his comma from the Boulder Tattoo Project (photograph provided by Ernie Ray)