Tattoos: Making People-Watching More Interesting Since 6000 BCE

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Photo: ? KL Services / Radius Images/Corbis

Cheryl Strayed wrote an introduction to a newly released book called Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them, with a thoughtful note about the wonders of people-watching.

To people-watch is to glimpse the mysterious and the banal, the public face and the private gesture, the strangest other and the most familiar self. It’s to wonder how and why and what and who and hardly ever find out.

She continues that tattoos are the best hook into observation, whether someone's ink commemorated a lost pet or a love of “pizza or whale sharks or being reminded of their own mortality.” It's amazing how long people have continued to be worth observing, forever and always.