gratuitous image
1 March 1996

The Highest Praise

Andrew Burmeister has a good idea. He's working on a self-portraiture project that involves taking photographs of people who look whose appearance he envies. I told him that I thought it was such a good concept that I planned on plagiarizing the idea some day.

His reply revealed his naïveté: "Please don't." Stealing another artist's idea is the highest praise I can give. And anyway, he need not have worried; some day never comes.

gratuitous image
2 March 1996

The White Gloves Hypothesis

I believe it was Chris Rauschenberg who postulated the White Glove Hypothesis: "The quality of art work is inversely proportional to the number of white cotton gloves included in the portfolio case." At a recent portfolio review session I found a variation on this tragic observation. One photographer included her name and address on the back of the gloves. Surprisingly, one artist included white gloves with some excellent prints. Unfortunately, the smooth gloves made the prints difficult to grasp and I damaged several when a pile of them slipped from my fingers.

White gloves are bad news any way you look at them.

gratuitous image
3 March 1996

Faux Frost

There was frost on the window of the bus. There's nothing unusual about that except that it was warm outside; the frost was from the bus's air conditioning.

Those Texans are something else; I'm not sure what.

gratuitous image
4 March 1996

Invisible Child

I needed a caffeination and urination break during a long drive to Austin, so I stopped at a fast food restaurant. On the way to the toilet I saw a child wearing a bizarre mask that looked like something from a science fiction movie. I needed three glances to realize that what I thought was a leathery and plastic mask was in fact the child's grafted skin. On the way back to the car I saw the back of the child's head. There was long hair growing from the base of the skull, the unrecognizable child must have been a little girl.

I suppose she owes her life to a medical miracle. Still, it is the most upsetting thing I have ever seen. I regret I was too dumbstruck to even smile and say hello to her.

She rode away in a "Hospital Van for Crippled & Burned Children." I wonder how many other children there are there?

gratuitous image
5 March 1996

Between Art and Not Art

A lot of people want to stamp out bad art, but Clint is one of the few people I've met who is in a position to do so. With "This is Art," "PHOTOGRAPH," and "This is Not Art" he is certainly prepared for any eventuality.

gratuitous image
6 March 1996

Shrimp and Six-shooters

It's a pleasure to return to a peaceful San Francisco shrimp burrito. Yesterday's gun-toting Texan decapod crustaceans are just a bad memory.

gratuitous image
7 March 1996

Seventy-Nine Dollar Masterpieces

For only $79 I can own one hundred pictures depicting Leonardo da Vinci's "elegant sense of movement, careful study of emotions, unwavering attention to anatomical detail and dramatic chiaroscuro." An equal amount will provide me with Raphael Botticelli's "keen instinct for drama and a mastery of expressive gesture that suggest deep mystery."

At only seventy-nine cents an image, a little money buys a lot of art these days.

gratuitous image
8 March 1996

No Progress

Dr. Susan Block placed an ad in a San Francisco newspaper with the mysterious headline "Better TV Sex." There are many ways of interpreting those three words; none make any sense. As Man Ray said, "There is no progress in art, any more than there is in making love."

gratuitous image
9 March 1996

American Culture

Someone built a huge stone structure atop a hill in Scotland and named it after a bar in San Francisco. It's no wonder the rest of the world fears being colonized by American culture.

gratuitous image
10 March 1996

Square Hoop

Someone cut the bottom out of a plastic milk crate to make what appears to be a square basketball hoop. Or maybe it's not for basketball at all; perhaps they play a much more geometrically challenging game of bouncing blocks through the box.

gratuitous image
11 March 1996

Please Your Dog

When I moved to San Francisco I was amused that an aerosol artist (the term preferred by my friend Morgan) had removed the word "curb" from "Please curb your dog." Over a decade later it's still there. I can only conclude that pleasing a dog is a much stronger--or at least more popular--idea than curbing a dog.

gratuitous image
12 March 1996

My Favorite Painting

My favorite painting hangs in a taqueria at Mission and 24th. I love it because, unlike, say, Mona Lisa, it's unreproducible. Its thin layer of grey-brown grease gives it a patina that defies copying. El Farolito is not a restaurant; it is art.

gratuitous image
13 March 1996

Not Noreen's Theatre

Noreen has not seen a film in a theatre in the years since her first child was born. This is ironic since she lives literally across the street from the Metro.

I secretly believe she enjoys her deprivation; suffering for your child is one of the foundations of parental gratification.

gratuitous image
14 March 1996

Shane's Nose

Never lend your camera to a friend: they'll take a better picture than you would have. Always lend your camera to a friend: they'll take a better picture than you would have.

gratuitous image
15 March 1996

No Unlawful Sex

A bitter man with a loudspeaker and a large sign spent a sunny San Francisco morning urging pedestrians not to have unlawful sex. It seemed awfully complicated; like many San Franciscans he seemed to think sex is a fairly technical endeavor. His unfortunate choice of bad typography made his message all the more confusing. I suspect the unlawful sex problem is still out of hand, so to speak.

gratuitous image
16 March 1996

DADA Music

The Newcastle-upon-Tyne Drinking and Drumming Association performed before an unappreciative audience with verve and beer, not necessarily in that order. We were boring boring boring, boring right through, boring boring boring, boring right through, boring boring boring, boring right through ...

gratuitous image
17 March 1996

White Cord

A white electrical cord against a dark grey carpet and a light grey wall isn't necessarily boring. Tedium is relative.

gratuitous image
18 March 1996

Nickel-Iron Meteorite, Coarse Octahedrite

Appearances can be deceiving.

Chris and Margaret look like a normal, albeit strikingly handsome, couple. They share a delightful sense of wonder and adventure, the latest manifestation of which is their fascination with meteorites.

They showed me their most recent acquisition, a jagged piece of meteorite that crashed into Australia some 30,000 years ago. Chris said the rock was older than anything in the restaurant, or on the planet earth for that matter. I think it was billions and billions of years old, or something like that. It's always delightfully mysterious visiting Chris and Margaret.

gratuitous image
19 March 1996

Sick Kid

I only know one thing about parenting: a sick kid needs a big bucket. That's my only advice on children that a parent has ever taken, or appreciated.

gratuitous image
20 March 1996

Invisible Ray

Raymond lives in a San Francisco doorway behind a barricade of shopping carts and a cardboard curtain. I've been told he's an alcoholic, who sometimes receives visits from his family. A relatively prosperous neighbor opines "If you can't live out of a shopping cart you should reconsider being homeless."

Making blatant poverty and misery almost invisible is one of Ronald Reagan and his cronies' greatest successes.

gratuitous image
21 March 1996

Scot-Celtic Craft Centre

The Scot-Celtic Craft Centre has a stuffed Scotsman outside their store. With his glazed eyes staring out of a paralyzed stupor I'd much rather see him as the spokesperson for the Scotch Whisky Association.

gratuitous image
22 March 1996

Artist in Residence Couch

Frank McGrath is a great patron of the arts. For years, he has provided me with an artist in residence couch and asked for nothing in return. The portrait of Edgar Allen Poe gives me nightmares; what more could an artist want from a benefactor?

gratuitous image
23 March 1996

The Balloon People

It was easy repel the balloon people's first assault; I simply punctured each balloon with my pocket knife. One of the balloon people escaped after observing my rudimentary tactics. The balloon people's subsequent forays were unstoppable, for I couldn't tell when a balloon person had encapsulated someone. I couldn't shoot a friend, even if I knew it was really a balloon person.

gratuitous image
24 March 1996

Art Light

Nikko Soroya presented a large exhibit of burnt-out lightbulbs connected by a maze of aluminum cabling. Each bulb was illuminated by a dim spotlight.

Soroya looked troubled when I told him I liked this installation much more than his previous pieces. He explained that the gallery owner had been very rude to him, so he mounted a terrible show to humiliate the owner. I expressed my sympathy with his plight, but I didn't feel at all sorry for him. Since so much serious art is a joke, he shouldn't have been surprised when his joke was taken seriously.

gratuitous image
25 March 1996

Demon Dog from Hell

Sarah and Ale have two lovely scruffy cats and Doug, the Demon Dog from Hell. For only ten pounds (including the lightbulb!), Doug is without question the finest poodle ever.

gratuitous image
26 March 1996

Cherubim and Seraphim

Sarah and Ale commissioned an artist to paint their ceiling with a glorious tableau of angels. I liked it even more when I learned that it is conceptual as well as visual art. The models were troublesome children, who now stay away since they dislike seeing themselves depicted as plump little cherubs.

gratuitous image
27 March 1996

Synclastic Elastic

The boys who program computer graphics draw women's breasts as perfect spheres. I believe they do this because a sphere is much easier to define mathematically than any real breast. Curiously, their laziness has led to another case of life imitating art (or at least video games). It seems that spherical breasts have become an adolescent ideal. Brassiere manufacturers are proud to advertise their prowess with elastic.

gratuitous image
28 March 1996

Postwar Post

I am bewildered by a German stamp I received. It features six elements:

- 100 (pfennigs)
- Deutschland
- Europa
- 1945 Ende des krieges
- 1995
- a photograph of soldiers

I can't read the minuscule photograph. I am told it is a famous image, familiarity with its historical context would probably answer many questions. Are the soldiers German? Are they retreating? If so, why would the German government issue such a stamp?

It must be a cultural difference; I can't see the American government issuing a stamp commemorating the end of the Vietnam War. Americans wouldn't accept "USA fifty cents" underneath a photograph of a desperate mob trying to get on the last helicopter out of what was about to become Ho Chi Minh city.

Or maybe I can see such a stamp. After all, western capitalists have conquered Vietnamese communists after the former's military was defeated by the latter. Similarly, German businesses are succeeding where German armies failed.

Still, this is a disconcerting stamp. It's unsettling that World War II still has such resonance, even though it ended before most people alive today were born.

gratuitous image
29 March 1996

Equality and Fraternity

Sanjay was an ugsome, docile idiot; he miserably survived only through his neighbors' ahimsa. He flubdub paraded through the slums in his khaddar smock embroidered with haomas, the kecking stench of myiasis barely camouflaged with greasy dollops of skatole.

Rajiv the speculator was heard to cleverly observe "Sanjay cannot differentiate between ennui and ataraxia; that is his problem, his fear and solution." Sanjay earned a beggar's subsistence by staging dharnas outside the doors of the city's wealthiest merchants. He spent his days weaving elaborate enoki and dandelion snoods, which he modeled to the amusement of passing pedestrians. "I am an acyclic ewer, a rubber spewer; I equalize and fraternize." This was his neanthropic chant, forgettable.

gratuitous image
30 March 1996

Ruby Art

Leslie and Marjorie have been married forty years as of today. 14,610 days isn't necessarily a work of art, although for them it certainly is.

gratuitous image
31 March 1996

After Alice

"There won't be any difference between when I'm dead and now, because I won't know it. You see the famous 'to be' is consciousness, and when you sleep you 'are' no more. That's what I mean--a state of sleeplessness, because consciousness is a formulation, a very gratuitous formulation, of something, but nothing else. And I go further by saying that words such as truth, art, veracity, or anything else are stupid in themselves. Of course, it's difficult to formulate, so I insist: every word I am telling you is stupid and wrong."
--Marcel Duchamp

I fell in love with Alice when we were both very young. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her across the room at a gallery opening. That can't possibly happen and it most certainly did.

It never occurred that our relationship wouldn't really develop until long after she was dead.

last month | index | next month
©1996 David Glenn Rinehart