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DePaul professor Greg Scott | Chicago ink

The sociologist’s gonzo tattoos reflect his field research with drug addicts, drug dealers and prostitutes.

 (Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki)
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Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

 (Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki)
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Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

 (Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki)
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Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

Greg Scott The DePaul University sociologist who describes himself as a “professional street urchin” started reading Hunter S. Thompson in the late ’80s. Scott was instantly enamored with the patron saint of gonzo journalism, and the influence shows—in his work and his tattoos. The 43-year-old has spent the last 16 years practicing what he calls “carnal sociology,” in which a researcher lives among the community he or she studies. For Scott, that community is a cabal of drug addicts, drug dealers and prostitutes from the West Side (hence the goin west tat on his knuckles). On a typically wild night in the field six years ago, the leader of a ring of copper-wire thieves started smoking crack in his car during a getaway. The thief handed over the steering wheel to the prof, telling him, ‘You’re one of us now.’ ” Scott’s experiences aren’t always so congenial. After a brawl with a doped-up agitator, the suburban father was in his Oak Park garden reflecting upon the bifurcated nature of his life, represented by a knife stabbing a rose on his right forearm. “This kind of work,” Scott says, “is truly a double life.”

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