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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

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Adam Savage's long lost brother?

This is why I no longer allow my children to read Calvin and Hobbes in public in case someone saw the strips featuring Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs cereals, and I no longer purchase Bath Bombs (those speherical fizzers you put in the bath to scent the water), I no longer use words like Bombastic, or refer to a bad movie as having Bombed, or even mention that my family visited Pearl Harbor where we were BOMBED. It's just too dangerous! I don't even mention Combs, Tombs, or Thumbs, in public, it's too close to the B word.

To Deborah: Wait till it happens to you because, maybe you didn't get a chance to tweeze your eyebrows that morning.

And Jason, what I would expect is that they check the seating plan to see who's sitting in that seat, and say, "Oh. He's a Gold Medallion customer who flies with us all the time. Never mind." Isn't that why the airline keeps all that information on you?

And Rick, maybe tattoos and piercings are unusual sights in your little corner of Mayberry, but not so much everywhere else. Unless Adam was nervously twitching, looking over his shoulder, and fumbling with the matches to light his shoe bomb (which more than likely wasn't atomic), then his actions weren't anymore suspicious than yours were, the last time you got on a plane. Having "Atomic Bomb" tattooed on your knuckles and stretched ear lobes doesn't make you a bomber, anymore than "Mom" tattooed on your arm makes you a sexual deviant.

So, yeah. Delta owes Adam a huge apology. And maybe an upgrade.

@Deborah-What do you mean by properly present yourself? Adam looks good and it should have been obvious to the person reporting him that if he was some sort of threat he would not have the word Bomb on his hands. The only threat he presented was to some close minded judgmental people. @Jason-sorry that it is a yawn to you that people that want to not have a cookie cutter image are ok to be looked at as suspicious. @Malby-you are missing the point. @BLM-BLM stands for big lame moron.

BLM - what mother would carry out a pregnancy of a judgmental pos like you? why are you here again? Oh that's right, you along with all the other sheeple comrades are here to make the world suck that much more one experience at a time.

This dude is a frequent flier and good to the airlines and they still interrogate him.... nice.

Making note:

1 - Country bumpkins retarded by prejudice and fake concern (high school judgement) ride on Delta and ...
2 - Delta treats it's top fliers like schiesse

This brings to mind everything we touch is somehow regulated. Why isn't the tattoo industry regulated as far as what can be posted on the skin for all to see? Its one thing about tattoos that are basically covered by clothing. A very sensitive subject that can be taken all wrong.

How the freak does a tattoo make people fear for their safety?
Only if they are morons, and it seems half the commenters here are. So much for free speech in the USA.

Some of the comments posted here are laughable at best. Who cares if he has the word bomb on his knuckles? Its a tattooed word, not a terrorist indicator. By the way, this is Los Angeles, tattoos exist, as do ear plugs so get out of your 1930's Middle America BS mindset. Deborah I'm sure you meant well but pull your head out of that dark hole you live in. Not everyone "looks" the same and according to you there is some kind of "proper presentation" dress code that I apparently did not know about. People act, look and dress differently, its part of being unique. Embrace it, or go live in a communist country. (Won't find those "suspicious" tattooed, unpresentable food stylists in N. Korea, FYI)

They didn't kick him off the plane but it was still kind of atrocious. I think it's time that there be some punishment for making obviously ridiculous accusations. But I can understand the concerns that his tattoos might have been explosive or that his earlobes could be used to beat the pilots senseless. And people who make different sort of life choices than baseline normal shouldn't be allowed access to the same services. Do they allow married homosexuals to fly?

WOW...such a non story....people are famous for "food styling"?????
too bad hes not a woman...Gloria Alred would be holding a news conference in her office oday

I'm sorry, but what Mayberry mo-ron mistakes a man's tattoo for a suspicious sign of danger? This is the 21st Century folks. To me, it's the passenger who reported him that should be ridiculed. The airline was just responding...

Guy does everything possible to himself so that people will look at him and then he is shocked that they do so? Grow up.

For a stupid tatoo they threaten to throw him off the plane. But, if it were 5 young moslem men wandering about looking at hiding places and otherwise acting like they want to take over the plane... OH NO!

Looks like Al Qaida to me. Should have him water-boarded and beaten.

He was not terribly inconvenienced. He was spoken to.

The fact anyone is crying about this is pathetic. This guy, and anyone supporting him, are the products of an overly pampered society, that teaches people to cry if someone looks at you the wrong way.

What's even funnier...he expects an apology! Grow up, Adam.

You would think that even the most stupid TSA (Testicle Sack Analysts) screener would realize that this man, while clearly labeled "atom bomb," was not in fact an actual atom bomb. However, the security goons have, once again, provided a level of incompetence and cluelessness (combined nicely with the implicit threat of violence) I have come to expect from marginal moron high school dropouts with no common sense.

This is what happens when stupid and ignorant civilians have been given authority to make decisions without training. Knee-jerk reactions based upon irrelevant pieces of information such as a tat is a no-go situation. There was no reason for this to happen. The problem is that the critical thinking skills of American's is very low these days and most cannot compartmentalize between a true threat and a tat with the word "bomb". Big difference. And yes, you can be 'too careful" in how you apply this thinking in the civilian world. Common sense and good judgment go a long way in understanding what to do and NOT to do. I for one hate this new mantra when people say, "you can never be too careful". That is nothing but an excuse for not doing a job in making sure that the threat is real.

Right. Wouldn't common sense dictate that the person with "bomb" tattooed onto his body would be least likely to actually conceal one? I guess it's all just clever reverse psychology.

Deb and Jason,

I find the both of you very suspicious. Before posting again, please report to Homeland Security so that we may confirm that you are not extremists or terrorists seeking to hurt Americans through your comments.

Er, Jason Saunders, this guy has already been through the full security screening. But sure, it's that "brief conversation" that's going to make a bomber break down and confess to everything. Ridiculous. Face it: the terrorists won. We've become a nation of scared little victims turning on each other because they look weird.

Deborah, Jason Saunders, rick and BLM... you are all incalculably ignorant.

looks like a criminal with prison tattoos. i don't want to be around low class scum ike him.

Don't we like to categorize everything and come up with unusual assumptions? So what if he has a tattoo? I am sure if he was or seemed to look like one of the wanted terrorists or suspects, someone from the security force or TSAs probably stopped him before he even got a chance to walk up to the plane. Is that the main purpose of us taking off the shoes and jacket and walking up to the security gate and having someone check our belonging just so that they can make sure we are not a threat. Maybe we should create an interview room just so that they can interview us one by one before we board the plane.

People should mind their own business and Delta's fight attendants and captain after being trained and years of experience should be able to make a better judgment.

Yeah, welcome to the real world that is surrounded by stupid people like one of those that thought this innocent guy was suspicious.

To Deborah & BLM:

You two are very ignorant.. I see you look forward to living in the United Snitch States of America.. Just wait until someone points a finger at you and says (she looks suspicious, something about her boobs doesn't loook quite right, maybe she has a bra bomb!).. Or that guy's hair cut looks kinda like a nazi hair cut, he must be up to something? The fact that someone doesn't agree, like or understand somebody else's appearance is not enough of a reason to depict them as a threat. Tattoos have been around for millenia and NOW it's suspicious to sport them??? People seem to have forgotten how the would was prior to sept. 11.. Now is all about being scared, be suspicious, be skeptical of everyone, don't trust anyone, BUT believe in your government, they truly have your best interest at heart. Like George Carlin once said, "it's all bullsh*t, and it's bad for ya'.."

Dude, he has ATOM BOMB tattooed on his knuckles. First of all, it's a stupid tattoo (I'm pretty sure everyone knows that). How can he complain about being kicked off the flight for looking suspicious. OH NO I GOT KICKED OFF. If you look suspicious, they're going to take measures to make sure everyone feels safe. And yes, having something related to BOMBS on you is not a good idea. They kick people off the plane just for looking middle eastern, not even suspicious, you just put the obvious out there "HEY GUYS BOMBS!". Sorry, but I don't feel bad for him at all.

He says: "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?" Hahaha, he thinks he's so important. That's cute. Look, if they're reporting suspicious people, they don't just move the suspicious person to another flight to make the person who reported them feel safe. They take them OFF the plane so no one feels threatened by them. You think they just take terrorists and go "Oh, yeah this person felt uncomfortable... let's just move the terrorist to a different flight. He's important too."

Come on. I'm glad people are reporting this kind of thing. Maybe it'll stop idiots from getting idiotic tattoos.

I'd want the guy off my flight, too. Look at him - he's obviously desperate for attention? And sorry, if anyone has anything about BOMB tattooed on their body, I don't want them near me. My neighbor was on a hijacked flight, where they THOUGHT the guy looked suspicious, and on one took action.

Anyone who is stupid enough to think that an artistic tattooed guy is going to "Bomb" the palne because he has a tattoo of the word on his knuckles is not very smart or wise to the real world. They must have been pretty darn sheltered and know nothing of pop culture. These close minded types make me embarrassed to be human.

What -- if he presses his knuckles together, he'll go critical? Every morning I get up and try to tell myself that Idiocracy is not a documentary. Must someone EXPLAIN to the people who are "protecting us" that IT'S.....A.....TATTOO!

Ooh, Little Johnny's got a Superman comic book that actually DEPICTS a burning airplane?? Throw him down and cuff him!

(sigh) Land of the Formerly Free and Home of the Slave

I am glad people look out for suspicious characters on flights! However in todays society, being tattooed is not suspicious!! I dare to say that 50% of Americans have at least one tattoo. I think the mind set of those that have commented below is ridiculous and the person that reported him as suspicious is even more so. Breaking news no. The way I dress and the number of tattoos I have is who I am. That is why this is a free country and I have the freedom of expression!! Unfortunately or society has begun to forget what freedom is! Today they are more concerned about allow illegal aliens freedom than those of us born and raised here!! Just my thoughts, and my freedom to think so!!

Read the comments by many others...You get the feeling there White Christians objecting to people with Tattoos.

The Christians are viewing tattoos as being "ABNORMAL" to Christian life style thus they treat you like a second class citizen and lower in class standing them them!!

There are many on the Christian Right who view Tattoos as EVIL & MARKINGS OF THE DEVIL!!

I bet it was a old white Christian lady who turned him in and did not want a man with Tattoos on HER FLIGHT!!

really people?????
.........you REALLY think a person carrying a FREAKING BOMB on a plane would take the time out of his busy 'bomb carrying schedule' to get the word 'BOMB' tattoo'd on himself??
I am all for being vigilant and reporting suspicious people/things...but yikes- did everyone on the plane come down with a case of group paranoia?

I would be more concerned about the guy siting next to you dressed like Ward Cleaver- THAT'S the guy you need to worry about. The one you don't notice cause he BLENDS IN.

Once upon a time there was a glimmer of intelligent life on the third rock from a yellow star. Over a several thousand year period there were major eruptions of savagery trying desperately to stamp it out but each time it miraculously rose again. Once again intelligence is underfire due to a few groups of humans, as they call themselves. There are certain violent groups who want to kill and destroy and then there are those who oppose the evil, but do so by seeing evil in everyone and everywhere instead of singling out those who actually are evil because they do not want to profile. They do not realize that by doing so, they embolden and support the very tendencies of division and hate purported by the evil groups!

One does not kill all of the dogs in a town when one bites, they only identify, capture or destroy the one with the rabies! It should be the same with any society of intelligent beings who hope to survive and prosper.

This nonsense is absurd. Remember the words of our founding fathers:

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin, February 17, 1775.

I am not sure what is more sad, the paranoid passenger, Delta airlines for acquiescing to their paranoia, or the delusional sheep that have posted here trying to defend them.

So what if this guy had tattoos? Why does the color(s) of his skin give anyone a right to assume the worst?

Oh, and Deborah, the TSA hasn't caught a single terrorist. Ever. So yeah, keep reporting your false "suspicious people", just makes you look stupid.

He's obviously an artist, you can tell that by looking at him, and there is nothing wrong with the way that he looks....he's an AMERICAN.

Tell me, Deborah, what do "normal" people think when they see "Atom Bomb?" It's not like he has an ATOM BOMB in his pocket. I can't believe the comments here.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

Sheep. Sheep. Sheep.

Bah. Bah. Bah.

So he was asked a few questions and allowed to go back to his seat? Who cares?

Seriously? Conan O'Brien's tatted up kid brother gets on a plane and some one freaks over a tattoo? There is a difference between being aware of something out of the ordinary and being a hyper-paranoid twit getting their panties in a bunch over a tattoo on a guy that looks like he might lose 2 falls out of 3 to large puppy.

I'm going to do something really far-fetched right now like appeal to reason, in response to what I believe are unreasonable comments on this thread.

So when's the last time someone used an Atom Bomb to blow up a plane? And what are the survival rates on those types of attacks?

And of the attacks that have taken place so far, how many of those people had BOMBER written ANYWHERE on their person or personal effects?

And since there is security ALL OVER the airport who screen people are perform surveillance ALL DAY long, why were NONE of them suspicious about Mr Pearson? Not once in the 120,000+ miles he has flown this year?

I'll put this in a better context.

I used to work in a US consulate managing American Citizen Services abroad.
After September 11, an hysterical woman came in to the consulate demanding to speak to me. After I told her I was managing the American Citizen Services section, she was angry. She wanted to speak to the SECRET SERVICE. She had just been on a plane on which she over heard some men who were to her eyes Arabs, who were arguing loudly in Arabic. They were in Business Class. They were using regular flatware (not plastic). She was absolutely CERTAIN that there were some of the 9/11 terrorists. (NO, NOT people who aided them, the ACTUAL TERRORISTS). She made SUCH a stink on the plane, that these men were apprehended afterwards. And she was there at the consulate to carry out her patriotic duties by informing me that she had found some of the 9/11 terrorists.

I looked at her and said "You do know they all died don't you? They were suicide bombers." She didn't know that, and didn't know what it meant.

THAT is not the kind of buffoon you want to listen to when you are in a situation in which you have to exercise discretion. There are IDIOTS out there who can't tell the difference between someone from India, Sudan, Bolivia, Alice Springs, Tblisi or otherwise. WHY should other people be inconvenienced because of those idiots' ignorance? What qualification did the person have who pointed out that Mr Pearson was suspicious?

After 9/11 the government moved away from profiling for a reason. Because it wasn't enough just to LOOK at someone and decide who / what they were, but they realized that it is necessary to look at the totality of indicators.

Sorry, I know, I've just talked over the heads of those who think it's ok to let the pusillanimous and feeble-minded dictate who gets singled out in any situation.

And by the way, Deborah, I'm black, I've got good hair, and I get reported for being suspicious all the time, and let me tell you, no money in the world is going to change how I present the color of my skin. Except for Oprah Winfrey kind of money...

"You are completely tattooed, your earlobes are stretched, of course all eyes will be on you. Of course people will stare. Unfortunately you were judged based on your appearance. Welcome to the world."

Ya, because all the terrorists I've seen are body-mod freaks or wear shirts that say "I'm a Terrorist". That world you're talking about is just the little, closed-off one that you choose to live in. Tattoos and earlobe stretching are very common around the globe. Read a book. Realize there's more ways to live than yours.

Doesn't surprise me at all since TSA is all part and parcel of the "Let's Go Back in Time" crowd. You know, the WASPS who look at anyone darker than cafe au lait with utter contempt and suspicion. Tattoos! oh heavens how shocking! They might even be having sex in the privacy of their own homes! And those who applaud the pitiful douche who decided that he was 'suspicious' should go unclog their nozzles with a bit of fresh air.

Sounds like Delta needs a swift kick in the pocketbook.

Don't be surprised when people treat you like the freak you look.

Wow reading some of these cowardly ass comments has only reinforced the notion that the terrorists have truly won. You're afraid of a tattoo? We need to watch and snitch on one another?

What a sissified nation the US has become.


It's amazing how comfortable people are with discriminating based on appearance. I suspect it's ok until it's them in the hotseat. Shame on the people who think it's ok in America. This Orwellian sense of conformity or be squashed has no place in the land of the free.

Adam if you read this Bravo!!!

LOL at the idiots who think reporting a man with tattoos as suspicious behavior is a positive.

Is anyone so clueless that they think that having the word bomb on him meant that he'd explode.

This is paranoia, and with the internet, the paranoid have equally damaged goobers chiming in to support them.

And Malby, what's up with begrudging someone their success because others are struggling. Should we all fail because some have?

Another mentally unstable liberal crying like a baby

What an adzhl. Childhood name or not it's inappropriate and instead of bashing the flight crew he should have commended them for doing a good job.

As I said, what an adzhl.

This is news?

The article doesn't disclose any connection between the author of the story and the passenger, but there must be one- I cannot imagine why this nonstory would be picked up otherwise.

To the passenger:
1. You have adorned your body in a way that urges people to look at you. I am sure that one of the things you like best is how much you stick out. Guess what- there's a cost that goes with that. You were inconvenienced, but it was bound to happen at some point, especially if you fly as much as it sounds like you do.
2. The idea that this is news should be embarrassing to you. Someone thought you were a risk, you were "pulled off" the flight, but not really, you were asked to step up front and answer some questions. Boo hoo.

To the author:
1. Since when is this news? Where are the balanced facts? Actually where are the facts.... period? How many people get questioned like this every day? What are the pros and cons of this type of activity? Why do we care that he missed some other flight not related to the story?

LA Times: FAIL

Seriously, how does a tattoo constitute "suspicious behavior?"
The last thing a terrorist/hijacker wants is attention--the goal is to fit in and look as normal as possible so s/he doesn't get throw off the plane.

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