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The next generation of fathers
Generation X dads share more eccentric hobbies and careers with children
James Parton is not your classic Hallmark dad sitting in a recliner watching football. He and his wife Kristin own Inkaholics Tattoos & Body Piercing in Gainesville. Parton has three children Kylar, 5, top, and James, left, and Arian Grace, both 8 months.

Not all dads play golf, have straight-laced hair styles and where a suit and tie to work every day.

As Generation Xers get older and start families, it's opened up the role of fatherhood to men who have taken to more eccentric hobbies and career paths.

Take George Harned, for example. The father of four is the lead singer and guitarist for local heavy metal band Dequelo. He's a rocker dad with tattoos and piercings - and his children love it.

"I actually learned to sing from him, from his heavy metal I learned to like two bands," said his 8-year-old daughter Taylor Harned. "I like System of a Down and Evanescence. He gives us the music."

Bill Bradford, a father of two, has spent his life riding motorcycles. He even met his wife Carol on his bike in Daytona Beach, Fla., and both of his children spent many hours of their childhood on the back of his classic British motorcycles.

"He always has us with him when he's on the bikes. We've been riding since we were legal age," said daughter Tara Webber, 23. "Him and all his other biker friends would take me to softball practice."

James Parton hasn't loaded his brood on the back of a motorcycle yet, but his 8-month-old twins and 5-year-old daughter Kylar have spent hours watching him tattoo folks at his shop in Gainesville.

James' goal, which he achieved in September, was to open a family-friendly tattoo parlor.

"There should be a tattoo shop where you can hang out with your kids and not have rude and crude people in there, and somewhere you can go that's safe," he said of his tattoo shop, Inkaholics.

So, in celebration of Father's Day we decided to spotlight these alternative dads and their unconventional lifestyles.

Bill Bradford

For 30 years, Bill Bradford worked as a firefighter in DeKalb County. He orked 24 hours on and 48 hours off and rode his motorcycle to work every day with his long hair flapping in the breeze.

It wasn't until he retired that he decided to cut his long locks and get a "real job."

"I was captain on a ladder truck when I retired; I was there 30 years and then when I left there I was thinking I was retired," said the East Hall resident. "And then the economy got bad and I went to real estate school."

But he still rides. He said he loves his classic Triumphs and his firefighter edition Harley.

"Mine are old British bikes, Triumphs," Bill said.

Bill's garage is filled with bikes, including a '68 Electra Glide, a Harley and a '70 Bonneville.

Now, Bill enjoys his favorite pastime with son Jim Bradford, 20, who rides his father's first motorcycle.

"Actually I kept it for like 15 years and sold it to a friend of mine and then when Jim was 14 the friend gave it to Jim," Bill said. "Jim restored it and has been riding it ever since."

Bill said he hoped Jim would never get on a motorcycle because they are dangerous. But like father, like son - Jim said he loved his dad's bike since he was a kid.

"It was always cooler being picked up from school on a motorcycle than in a minivan," he said.

And Bill's free spirit and independence is exactly what he wanted to pass along to his children.

"I want them to be independent and to realize that anything you get you gotta get yourself because no one is going to give it to you," he said.

George Harned

George Harned's father taught him to love music when he was just a toddler, and now Harned is passing that love down to his four children — even if his brand of music is heavy metal.

The first instrument Harned played was the piano, standing on the tips of his toes to reach the keys. Now he plays the guitar and sings for Dequelo, a Gainesville rock band.

And some of his children are already expanding their musical abilities, with Taylor, 8, singing and Alex, 6, learning to play the drums, spiked hair and all. Dalton, 7, said he thinks rock music and his dad are " really cool" and the youngest, Rachael, 5, is a little shy but watches wide eyed when her dad play music.

"They watch me be eccentric like that and (it) probably makes them a little more creative," George said. "My dad played all the time and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world."

Harned said his parents thought it would be good for him to become a doctor or go into the Army. But rock is his passion.

"It's just something that we like to hear and that's why the songs are so diverse," he said. "Songs tend to sound the same with other bands, but with us ... really none of them sound the same."

James Parton

Tattoos are a kind of art that doesn't disappear or get lost, which is one reason why James Parton began tattooing.

"It was something where the paper didn't crinkle and go away, it didn't get shoved in a box and lost ... that's something that lives as long as you live," said the owner of Inkaholics Tattoos & Body Piercings in Gainesville. "I started tattooing guys in the neighborhood when I was way too young."

For the past 12 years, Parton has been able to make a career out of his artistic abilities while expanding his family, too, with his wife, Kristin, also a tattoo artist.

The couple have three children - Kylar, Arian Grace and James - who spend a lot of their time at the studio. Kylar said she loves her daddy and his work; she especially loves tattoos with girlie skulls and skeletons.

But Parton, who is tattooed from head to toe, wouldn't suggest that his children get tattoos until they really knew they wanted one.

"They will not get tattoos until they are 18," said the award-winning tattoo artist. "I'm OK with it, I just know when I was 18 I didn't make the best decisions for myself and so I would strongly encourage them to think about it and wait."

Kylar said she loves her dad "because I like laying on him and I like hanging out with mama and daddy and the babies and the doggies ... and jumping on his tummy."

Parton said he loves to spend time with his family and have fun, but there are some important personality traits that he wants to instill in his children.

"Respect, integrity and loyalty. I want them to know those three values," he said. "I don't believe the integrity level of people these days is very high."