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L.A. food stylist pulled from flight for 'Atom Bomb' tattoo

Pearson300 It was the Tweet heard 'round the L.A. food world.

Noted Los Angeles food stylist Adam C. Pearson was settling into his seat aboard a Delta flight Saturday morning when the flight attendant tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to come to the front of the plane. His first thought? "I'm getting an upgrade!"

Not exactly.

Pearson was temporarily asked to step off the plane and learned that another passenger had reported him for suspicious behavior, and noted that he had the words "Atom Bomb" tattooed across his fingers. Questioned by the captain and the flight attendant, Pearson explained that the tattoos referred to a childhood nickname. After answering a few more questions, Pearson -- who is a frequent Delta passenger and has flown over 142,000 miles with the airline this year alone -- was allowed to return to his seat.

"I was just shocked," Pearson said. "All eyes were on me, I felt everyone staring at me and I was like, 'I didn't do anything.' " Before the plane took off, he twittered: "Just pulled off delta flight, passenger said I was suspicious looking due to my tattoos @DeltaAssist not happy at all #goldmedallion fail"

When he landed in Memphis, he had over 150 e-mails asking him what happened, and learned that his Tweet had exploded on the social media venue. It was "reTweeted" by many in L.A.'s close-knit food world, where Pearson is well-known for his stylish presentation of food so that it can be photographed for glossy magazines, advertisements and cookbooks. (It was laughable to many that the colorful Pearson could be considered a safety threat.)

"I had no idea all this was going on while I was in the air," Pearson said of the digital flurry. "It speaks to the power of social media."

A Delta representative told Pearson the airline would look into the incident. “A public apology would be nice,” Pearson said. “I’m not out for blood,” he added, “but why didn’t they offer to book that other person on another flight if they didn’t like my tattoos? Why was that other person more important than me?”

Later in the day, Delta spokesman Anthony Black said he did not have any knowledge of the incident but said that the pilot and flight attendant must use their judgment to handle such matters.

Pearson, who is one half of a food blogging/food photography/food styling power duo (the other half being Matt Armendariz), said he has never before been questioned about his tattoos or behavior while flying. "It really just made me kind of sad that you could just point at someone and say 'That guy is acting suspicious,' " he said. "It was just a bummer."

It was also just one of the snafus in his trip. Pearson was traveling to Milwaukee for a food styling job for Kohl's, but his first flight was cancelled. After racing around for new tickets, he was booked on the flight that would take him to Memphis and then on to Milwaukee. But a connector flight was overbooked, leaving him and his assistant with several hours to kill in Tennessee.

Like any good foodie, Pearson was finding a way to make it work: He used the Memphis layover to make a barbecue pit stop at Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que, which is where we caught up with him.

"They've got good pig," he said.

--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo courtesy Adam C. Pearson

 
Comments () | Archives (366)

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memphis is not tennessee.

Also, the title is an outright lie. Pearson wasnt pulled from the flight; and while it's silly that he was considered a threat because of his tattoos, the airline shouldn't have to apologize for an insignificant error brought about by being cautious.

Big deal.

Wow, smallkid. Just wow.

By your logic, my 82 year old father - a World War II veteran who volunteered for service (and got a tattoo before he shipped out for the Pacific just in case his body needed to be identified) - is a heroin-taking, law breaking, impulsive simpleton.

Quite frankly - your comments are offensive. But my dad defended your right to say them. Yep - him and his tattooed self.

A thousand whiny pseudo-hipsters lament! Tear curation business booms!

Hmm. The headline says he was "pulled from" the flight. But the article plainly states that he was allowed to remain on the flight.

Stop sensationalizing the trivial, LAT. There is enough REALITY to worry about: pat-downs, packages from Yemen, etc.

One guy being questioned because of some paranoid passenger is hardly a story, so you make it into a story by saying he was "pulled from" the flight? Sad.

I don't get it...the whole idea of tattoos ( especially the words "atom bomb" spelled pout on one's knuckles!) is to attract attention. Apparently he succeeded in getting the attention of the passenger sitting next to him...who, unfortunately for him had a bit of an overactive imagination. Yeah, it's too bad what happened, but in the end I think he "had it coming"...at least once in his life anyway. People need to feel free to speak out about things that seem suspicious to them. I think the pilot and flight attendant resolved the issue in a fair way.

I think some of you are missing the point regarding the tattoos. It's not that Pearson has them, it's that he has one that reads, "BOMB". Does anyone get it that bomb and plane do not mix these days? I'd be extremely suspicious of someone that had that imprinted on their body. Raising his left hand for a drink might scare the passengers behind him because it could be seen as a declaration that there was a bomb on board.


"Smallkid" voiced an opinion on tattoos and some of you are elevating him by way of a group attack. He is as entitled to his opinion as anyone else here. I'd bet he's more like the rest of us, being that his similarities are probably greater than his differences. He doesn't like tattoos and I don't like mushrooms, so lets move on.


The article title is not only misleading, it is a blatent lie. Pearson was merely questioned, not pulled off the flight. The airline has nothing to apologize for. They were following procedure and it's good that they did. Maybe the person who reported him should apologize, but then maybe not. We do not know what that reason was, but seeing the particular tattoo in question is enough to cause some concern. His looking scruffy probably added to that, but wouldn't be a reason on its own.

Almost the entire U.S. military is tattooed now (including myself, with a set of full sleeves). Tattoos have been and will continue to be a time-honored tradition for us soldiers and sailors alike. It is also popular with those in organizations here at home, such as firefighters and police officers.
Yes, getting tattooed is expressing a permanent thing on your skin, and for those of us serving our country overseas, it is a way to have something permanent that no one can take from you, even if you become captured. It can be a reminder of whatever you want and can be a thing of beauty in an ugly place like Kunar province.I have been deployed twice to Afghanistan and each time I came back, I got tattooed and one is memoriam to the guys I serve with and on the other arm, a picture of my family and what keeps me going in this life GO ARMY RANGERS!

@smallkid - for those idiots who think tattoos are for people who are druggies and dumbass, I have met some of the smartest people who have tattoos. One of my physics professors, the youngest in our faculty was riddled with tattoos and a very wise and nice guy. Anyone who judges a book by its cover is truly a caveman and needs to evolve.

My rational response:

Nic: Right On!

Smallkid: You are small minded.

1. Most people I know take years to decide on a design...but not all.
2. Most people I know have a poignant message - it's not to be scary or antisocial per se although that does happen.
3. I will endure a brief episode of pain if the pay off is worth it. Obviously you have never had a tooth pulled, a bone set or been a mother.
4. WTF? I guess Bernie Madoff is getting his prison bitch colors about now.
5. Speak for yourself.

My irrational response: Some people should not be allowed to breed. Just because someone chooses to express themselves in a manner foreign / frightening to you does not make them a bad person. It shows where you are uneducated. All you asshats in your khaki dockers and Polo shirts with your popped collars and BoRics hair cuts are just as offensive to me.

Equally too are the slack-jawed, booger eating morons who think chew and monster trucks are the epitome of culture. Still, I know blanket generalizations are a sign of a small mind and every subset has a high and low.

Next time you have an urge, Smallkid, to voice your opinion, go read a book on tolerance. The world will benefit from it. It's small mindedness that will keep the US a banana republic.

Wow Smallkid you definitaly are living up to your name, Talking about things you obviously have no real knowledge of.

Let see how your were wrong

1.) This person act on impulse frequently without reasoning through the cause and effect of his ( her) actions -- the very same behavior that motivates crime.
Yeah not really. Lots and lots of people put real thought into there tattoos and really plan them out so that years after they get them they will still like them and the tat will still have meaning.

2.) This person like to be alienated from society and to be frightening to others.
Really I would go with people who have tatoos have large groups of friends and are very well socialized.

3.) This person had a preoccupation with pain, indicating they are emotionally unhealthy. They may be using drugs that kill pain, like heroin.
Uhm most tattoos don't hurt to get. I know plenty of people who hate pain and are scared of needles that have no problem getting tatoos And none of them are drug users.

4.) This person is driven by a belief system that is foreign to mainstream life, where people abide by laws and pay taxes.
Really I would say having a tattoo is actually mainstream. As in I know more people with tattoos than don't and that includes professional types who have real jobs and pay taxes.

5.) This person isn't very smart. Stop projecting your own issues on to other people it isn't very nice.

Knowing this about him (her) without speaking, what do think that person is capable of doing? The possibilities should scare you to death!

Seriously this isn't the 50's anymore real, normal people get tattoos so no need to be judgemental.

Got to love feeding bigotted trolls

LMAO. I think I will have a new game to play on my next flights. I'll pick 5 random people on each flight and tell the attendants they look suspicious and scary to me. Just think how many laughs I can get seeing people's trips ruined by being removed from their flight just because of my irrational fears of tats. Even if not removed hopefully I'll be able to catch glimpses of TSA treating these people like common criminals as I yell out "Do a body cavity search!" though chances are they already had one done on them going through security. When will attendants tell someone complaining that the other person pass through a very thorough security process and if they don't like sitting next to someone with tats they can leave the plane for the safety of their car as they drive to their destination?

Yep, tattoos and turbans automatically make you a terrorist. Thank you Mainstream Media for scaring Americans to death and thinking tattling on our fellow man is the right thing to do. HOW ARE YOU NOT OUTRAGED, SHEEPLE?

Wow, there are some stupid, stupid comments here. smallkid, your comments specifically speak to complete and utter ignorance.

That is so stupid... Being PUlled out because someone saw the tattoo and assumed he was weird and may be a danger to the flight.. well
i have read several comments and it seems a lot of statements from both sides.
Right now i know still a lot of people find tatttooed *freaks* scary and still connect them to violence,jail time,druggies ect. but the truth is now in this time Tattoo is art , people dont tattoo just to make a statement or to be an outcast!
My brother is a respected Engineer he has tattoos, My other brother a surgeon and has tattoos I'm going to school to be a dentist and i have tattoos. I have it because i am an art lover and i love to draw its my passion and i designed my own tattoo which means a lot to me. I didnt do it with the attention to be a *BAD ASS*
so please get educated about the tattoo world before you make stupid comments about how if we don't want to be victims to think before we tattoo how bout you open your mind a little

A "food stylist" - for those of you who don't have long enough attention spans to read the whole story - is someone who styles food for television, magazines, books, etc. Meaning they put plates and tables together to make them look pretty, so they can be photographed and filmed.

I know it sounds dangerous, but someone has to do it if we want our cooking shows, Christmas movies, and cookbooks with pictures!

For God's sake, people, I live in South Dakota and I know what a food stylist is. Perhaps you might consider experiencing the world a little rather than holing up from fear of terrorists.

There is no story here...just a "food stylist" (WTF?)looking for some free publicity. He was asked a few questions then was able to fly anyway...end of story. Big freakin deal. I hope his feeling weren't hurt. Sissy. This isn't kindergarten anymore, people---the way you present yourself is how people see you. Grow up. If you don't want to be noticed, then don't pierce and paint everything or you are going to be treated like a sideshow attraction.

Smallkid ... you are so wrong on so many levels!!
I am tattooed & I do NOT act on impulse, I think my decisions through very well before I make them.
I do not like to be alienated, nor do I appear "frightening" to anyone.
I am far from emotionally unhealthy & I'm 100% drug free!!
While I may have a differing belief system, I do abide by laws AND pay my taxes.
Not very smart huh? Then why do I have a degree in law?


Get your facts right before you start spewing your hate!!

"The Monsters Are On Maple Street."

omg he has a beard, too. Muslims often have beards, you know. Scary!!!

yep, the sky's definitely falling, i'm sure of it now! LOL

Sorry about my last messages. I just wanted to point out that I'm a complete wuss and a bigot and I judge people entirely on their outward appearance. If you look different than me, I'm going to apply a rigid list of stereotypes to you and then complain about it on the internet!

I'm an idiot! Sorry for the inconvenience.

Apparently many of those commenting here are severely lacking reading and or comprehension skills. Mr Pearson wasn't reported ONLY for the tattoos or his looks. It was his total appearance and who knows what behavior. Maybe he was looking around a lot or seemed nervous or on edged. We have no idea b/c he didn't bother to tweet that or say in the interview. Many of you are coming down hard on the passenger but you have no idea if they were new to flying or have been on a flight that had a bomb threat or was high-jacked or related to someone who was. Maybe some other kind of bad experience Pearson looks the way he does and got the tatoos to send a message of who he thinks he is and obviously gave little thought to how many outside of his shallow foody world and CA lifestyle would perceive him. He obviously gave no thought at all as to how he might be percieved when in a bad mood or agitated which, according to his tweet and interview he seemed to be due to his original flight being canceled. His character or lack of it is proven in his tweet where he omits the fact that he WAS ALLOWED ON THAT FLIGHT not removed as he implied. Someone misunderstood his personal message. Who know swhy; maybe he was being rude? Now he cries foul like a self centered big baby. He seriously overreacted to the attendant and pilot doing their jobs in a professional manner. I don't fly much but I have seen people questioned for seemingly minor things. I myself was when my son was an infant and had to tolerate them patting me down and inspecting him b/c some dumbazzes tried to smuggle drugs and weapons wrapped in a blanket with a baby. This was long before 9/11 and all the new security threats. I was far less than happy but I didn't take it personal or whine to the world about it like Mr. Pearson.

Wow Jorge, by your logic we should all assume that you are a gang member and ex convict. Oh wait, is that racial profiling?... What's the difference, jackass?!

You're wrong, Tristan.

When I see a person covered in tattoos, I know several things about them without speaking to them.

1.) This person act on impulse frequently without reasoning through the cause and effect of his ( her) actions -- the very same behavior that motivates crime.

2.) This person like to be alienated from society and to be frightening to others.

3.) This person had a preoccupation with pain, indicating they are emotionally unhealthy. They may be using drugs that kill pain, like heroin.

4.) This person is driven by a belief system that is foreign to mainstream life, where people abide by laws and pay taxes.

5.) This person isn't very smart.

Knowing this about him (her) without speaking, what do think that person is capable of doing? The possibilities should scare you to death!

You people who mark up your bodies need to realize how scary that makes you to others. Don't get tattoos if you don't want hassles!

Dear offended person on plane. Grow common sense... now. I guess it wasn't enough he got his bag checked, body scanned (or patted down). Clearly he has the words Atom Bomb on his hands and therefore, must be in possession of a weapon of mass destruction.

I.D.I.O.T.

Pulled?...but he wasn't pulled off the flight. They allowed him to go back to his seat for take off.

Misleading headline by LAT and misleading tweet by Mr. Pearson.
338 comments so far (including mine) on a non- event...

You must be kidding me? So, if I pass someone on a plane who is reading catcher in the rye, should I say I'm uncomfortable because Chapman shot Lennon because of that book????

Something needs to be done to passengers who report people they think are suspicious. They first need to be questioned about what the "activity" was that they observed. Just because you don't like a tattoo someone has, it's no reason to harass them. These are the small minded people who don't have any intelligence and let hate and racial fears rule their lives. Some have posted here, like Jorge Sanchez, Maria,Jacob, Dennis, all show that they would rather bully someone to satisfy their own selfish interest. To make them feel important, to make them feel that they have power. For me, it's just pathetic knowing these people still exist in decent society.

for many of you commenting on tattoos here is a little fact, many Police Officers, many judges, many corrections Officers and yes even some pilots have tattoos, so now where does that put us..oh thats right there ok only if you personally like the tattoos or feel they don't personally offend you.

A Delta representative told Pearson the airline would look into the incident. “A public apology would be nice,” Pearson said. “I’m not out for blood,” he added, “but why didn’t they offer to book that other person on another flight if they didn’t like my tattoos? Why was that other person more important than me?”

Uh....probably because the other passenger didn't have stupid tattoos across all of his/her fingers. It is not difficult to question the state of mind of someone who makes decisions like you have made. It doesn't make you a bad person but we don't give you the benefit of the doubt like we do people who decide not to plaster strange tattoos on their hands. Live with it.

What we would like to see is someone getting "pull aside" because they look TOO normal. If you wanted to go under the radar and evade security...wouldn't THAT be how you would look?

Wow! I feel so much safer knowing people can't sneak bombs onboard (even if they're just expressed in ink across someone's own skin).

The "atomic bomb" was disassembled as long as his hands were separated. That's why the "X-rated body [image] snatchers" didn't detect it.

So the terrorists have already won...if you are not white bread Ken and Barbie, then you are now "suspicious."

Any guess if/when the next terrorist does show up, what he/she would look like?

Bet they wouldn't be Middle Eastern looking, have any skin markings, or be wearing anything other than clothing from the Gap.

I may be wrong, but I don't think terrorists typically announce their intent with body art.

Welcome to the Fourth Reich.

He must be a atom bomb waiting to go off. SO what if he has a tattoo that says atom bomb, I say BIG DEAL...Depends on how you take it, if you think he's a scary person with tat's then your a idiot.

It is apparent that the only people on message boards at 8 am are unemployed old people with nothing better to do with their time than express their disguist with anything that doesn't fit into their narrow-minded and geriatric world view.

Go watch Matlock or something.

If he didn't want people reading his tattoos, he wouldn't have them visible. It's not about having tattoos, it's about what he has had tattooed on himself. If security is doing its job he'd get a pat down every time he passed a security guard, federal agent, or local police officer, whether at an airport, bank, mall, or large gathering of people.
---------------------

Oh yeah, great point. Usually people walking around with atomic weapons advertise it via knuckle tattoos. Idiot.

Reading this board makes me realize how full of conformist Sheeple this country really is. Apparently, anyone not white, wearing Dockers, and with a good ol' buzz cut should be prompted reported for being suspicious and subject to public riddicule.

Glad I escaped to the West Coast 10 years ago...I forgot how close-minded the majority of our country really is. You people are pathetic -- enjoy the hell that you're making this country by allowing your fears to justify allowing the government and private sector to remove every shred of privacy and humanity in our lives. Robots, the whole lot of you.

You cannot point people out and make accusations just because you don't like someone's tattoo or the way they dress, etc. I think the other passenger should have been taken off the flight for making a false claim about Pearson acting suspicious when it doesn't sound like he was acting suspicious at all. Maybe that would have taught him not to make reports unless there is really something going on.

If he didn't want people reading his tattoos, he wouldn't have them visible. It's not about having tattoos, it's about what he has had tattooed on himself. If security is doing its job he'd get a pat down every time he passed a security guard, federal agent, or local police officer, whether at an airport, bank, mall, or large gathering of people.

Suspicious behavior? Most definitely! But, pretty sure a tattooed, gay, food stylist isn't going to be carrying a bomb.

This just in: Some people read what you write on yourself.

He didn't say he got kicked off the flight. He said he got PULLED off. Not KICKED off. Big difference my friend.

Well, this is a lesson for others who are considering getting really stupid tattoos...

Terrorists should learn from this. Have a nice american flag tatooed, dress in red white and blue , and you will be considered unharmful.

Now you need to dress a nice food plate and name it as "atom bomb". Greetings from Brazil :)

 
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