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1 September 1996

Rabbit Rabbit

John DuKipe, the owner of the Beehive, told me there's only one thing I needed to know about rabbits.

"The back of a rabbit has good meat and good luck," he explained. "The front of a rabbit is a waste of God's finite space."

"Why is that?" I asked. (It seemed like an innocent question at the time.)

"The back legs of a rabbit is the sweetest meat you'll find this side of a ocelot. And everybody knows a rabbit's foot is good luck. But what a lot of people don't know is that it's only the back legs that's lucky. You'd have to be hare-brained not to carry a lucky rabbit's foot."

I waited for him to laugh at as his little joke, but he didn't even begin to smile.

"So what do you do with the other half of the rabbit, then?"

"Stuff 'em and sell 'em to tourists, mostly." DuKipe pointed to a row of rabbits over the fireplace. "Rabbits. Hell, they're just rodents, really, aren't they?"

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2 September 1996

Papadoms for Brains

Brains brains brains
He's got papadoms for brains
Papadoms for brains
Papadoms for brains

Brains brains brains
He's got papadoms for brains
Papadoms for brains
All night

Brains brains brains
She's got papadoms for brains
Papadoms for brains
Papadoms for brains

Brains brains brains
She's got papadoms for brains
Papadoms for brains
All night

Brains brains brains
They've got papadoms for brains
Papadoms for brains
Papadoms for brains

Brains brains brains
They've got papadoms for brains
Papadoms for brains
All night, all right!

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3 September 1996

Amateur Opening

At a gallery opening earlier tonight I spotted an obvious newcomer: he didn't have a drink in his hand, he wasn't yakking with anyone, and he wasn't even surveying the room to see who was there. He exposed his neophyte status by looking at the work on exhibit.

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4 September 1996

Don't Do It Again

Don and Louise have been married 50 years today. Their commitment to each other is touching.

Such a long marriage seems strangely out of date; it seems to come from a time when people married young after the end of a world war then stayed married. Or maybe they just took the best advice I received when I got married, when Victor counseled "Don't do it again."

When I called to congratulate them, Don said they'd decided not to have any more children.

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5 September 1996

Unblemished Surfaces

I recently attended a conference on "Art and the Hypothetical Tendency for The Universe to Attain a State of Maximum Homogeneity in Which All Matter is at a Uniform Temperature, e.g., Heat Death."

The symposium was as boring as the name suggested. The only redeeming feature of the event was the enigmatic sign "Stiletto Heel Must Not Be Worn In The Dining Room."

The institution's dining hall matron explained thusly: "You get these kids dancing on the tables and they're never the same again."

It wasn't until much later that I wondered if "they" were students or tables.

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6 September 1996

Twice as Nice

I ate a Nice biscuit; it was nice. I had another; it was twice as nice. Some day I may see if a third would be thrice as nice, but not soon. In the case of Nice biscuits as with so many other ostensible treats, the anticipation is much more satisfying than the realization.

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7 September 1996

Foot-Long Forearm

I was told that the length of a person's foot is usually as long as the distance from that person's elbow to wrist. It sounded improbable, but it appears to be true. Parties will never be the same again.

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8 September 1996

Pour Self Trait

I can't possibly be drunk if I can still pour whisky into a small glass without spilling a drop--what a waste that would be!--while traveling through the atmosphere at 500 miles an hour and composing a sentence that's forty-four words long.

If I could only point my camera in the right direction ...

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9 September 1996

Chinese Wisdom

(It is alleged that)
"Confucius say
'Good food not cheap;
Cheap food not good.' "
I say:
"Chinese restaurants with fake Confucius quotes not good;
Food cooked in oil older than Confucius not good;
Chinese restaurants with Coke vending machines not good;
Almost everything in Flint Michigan not good;
ad nauseum ..."

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10 September 1996

San Francisco Rules

After arriving in San Francisco after too long away, I learned that a new California law requires me to consume alcoholic beverages in a restaurant.

The long arm of the state: what's to be done?

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11 September 1996

Industrial Art

Some geeks at a computer company thought that if they mounted examples of their products on easels at a industry trade show it would be obvious that their work was Art.

It was a stupid idea and it didn't work. Sometimes nerds are so clue free that they're quite amusing.

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12 September 1996


Ken Van Laar claims to be run a camera repair shop, but it's just a front: Ken Van Laar is a magician.

People bring him ostensibly broken photographic equipment, which miraculously works as soon as he touches it. Ken could easily start a religion or found a cult, but he's happy just running a camera repair shop.

I have him touch my cameras whenever I'm in the neighborhood. I'm not superstitious, just prudent.

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13 September 1996

Altar State

Things go inexplicably wrong at the lab on Fridays, and this Friday is no exception. (As an aside, that this Friday falls on the thirteenth day of the month seems to have made little or no difference.)

Every Friday the lab workers fire up the altar, and every Friday sees new conundrums. At least life at the lab is never boring.

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14 September 1996

Long in the Tooth

Gerald Bittner Jr., D.D.S., purchased a newspaper advertisement to talk to me about my dental health. I was inclined not to trust him: why would anyone trust a dentist with strange teeth? But then I reconsidered: he must be an excellent doctor of dental surgery if he has enough confidence to publish such an unflattering portrait.

Gerald Bittner Jr., D.D.S. counseled me to brush and floss regularly. I've been doing that regularly anyway, but it's nice to have the professional approval and support.

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15 September 1996

National Endowment for the Ketchup Arts

Today is the first time I've been excited about ketchup since Ronald Reagan proclaimed it to be a vegetable.

Heinz Ketchup, in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts, is asking for young students to apply for the Heinz Ketchup Creative Design Awards. The three grand prize winners will receive $5,000 and will have their designs used on Heinz bottles. Applications are to be sent to the Heinz Ketchup Creative Design Awards, Box 3447, Young America Minnesota 55558-3447 USA.

There is nothing wrong with the current packaging, so I just repeated it three times. My solution to their problem was simple since they didn't have a problem.

My efforts were wasted; it turns out I am ineligible. The young Americans in Young America Minnesota won't accept ideas from anyone over eighteen. I'm resigned to such age discrimination; it's been a long time since respectable publications described forty-something Henry Moore as "a promising young sculptor."

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16 September 1996

Not Apparently Pears

Lynn has large spherical fruits on her counter. I was surprised to learn that they were pears--Turnbull pears, to be precise. It wasn't apparent they were pairs, especially since I found them in a trio. I've never been more confused by fruit.

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17 September 1996

Foreign Bedroom Experiments

Juliette insisted she needed a new bed; Ian prudently acquiesced. A thousand dollars later, Ian and Juliette have a new bed that Juliette hates. She claims even the slightest move Ian makes in his sleep wakes her.

I couldn't imagine a bed being that bad, so I asked if I could test it. It felt firm, just fine.

When Juliette insisted it was as wobbly as jelly, I began an experiment. I placed four cups on one side of the bed; my plan was to fill them with water then see if any spilled when I bounced on the other side. Or rather that was the plan until Juliette vetoed it.

Some people can't stand to have their irrational beliefs exposed to the cold light of science.

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18 September 1996

Horizontal Vertical

My friends and I were looking in a restaurant window when the owner opened the door and invited us in.

Modesto Lanzone is without a doubt the suavest person I've ever met. (Or maybe I've just never been exposed to that many older Italian gentlemen.) I felt uncomfortable having been caught staring in his window. Unshaven, even.

He chatted at our table for quite a while; my friends knew of his art collection and his long history running various restaurants. He told about selling and giving away a lot of his collection; he said he found it increasingly burdensome as he got older. He sounded intelligent, which more or less sounds like the reason he resigned from the board of directors of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Good for him.

He's still buying new work. He said he'd recently bought the painting in back of him from an Italian painter. It was supposed to be hung vertically, but the restaurant ceiling was too low. So it goes.

It's too bad my snapshot of him is so unflattering. Maybe I'll take a nice picture of him when he takes veal off the menu.

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19 September 1996

Dealing with Terrorists

United States Postal Service is violating Natural Security Administration guidelines about dealing with terrorists, but it seems to be working.

Terrorists based in a miserable central Californian town regularly mails letter bombs to their perceived enemies. They're largely unskilled in the art and science of bomb making; more than one device has prematurely exploded in the hands of the mail delivery driver.

To protect themselves, the postal workers have begun dumping liters of Safety-Gel in the letter boxes. Safety-Gel deactivates the bomb, but it also ruins most of the mail. Ironically, another terrorist group based in the same town has threatened the post office people with physical violence if they ruin another letter.

Why can't people just get along?

The terrorists and the postal workers finally arrived at a working relationship. The postal workers have designated one mail box that won't get the Safety-Gel treatment; its contents will instead be x-rayed. In exchange, the terrorists have agreed not to put any bombs in the x-ray only box. It's an uncomfortable relationship, but life can be that way.

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20 September 1996

Analog Architecture

I took a train to visit a friend who works at the world's third largest software company. I'd never been to his new office, so I noted the address in my portable computer. Unfortunately my computer died on the train trip and I had no way of finding his address. (For the record, I should add that the problem was unrelated to the software my friend gave me.)

I was fortunate that the company had the foresight mount its logo on top of one of its largest buildings. I suppose big software companies never grow into huge software companies unless their digital executives pay attention to even such small analog details.

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21 September 1996

Mercedes Envy

A number of San Francisco's homeless people have developed a strange attraction to luxury automobiles. Some jaywalk in front of expensive cars; the stupid ones do it in the hope that good fortune will literally rub off on them; the smarter ones know that an "accident" may yield a generous insurance settlement.

Some of the other homeless people who've been talking with the Buddhists living in the Tenderloin have started to leave offerings on expensive cars. As always, a lot gets lost in the translation.

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22 September 1996

The Secrets of Barbecuing

Victor says the secret of barbecuing is to serve the food with the burnt side down. That's good, but it doesn't address the other secret: is it spelled barbecue, bar-b-q, barbeque, or something entirely different?

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23 September 1996

Fountain of Fruit Flies

Morrie gave me some organic fruit from his orchard. (I didn't eat all of it immediately; I've been preoccupied with burritos.) A black spot on the fruit's surface became an aperture. To my amazement, first one then a trillion fruit flies flew out of the dark hole. Organic produce is an incredible entertainment value.

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24 September 1996

Spermicide Alley

Someone painted sperm on the sidewalk leading to the westlab. Someone else splattered them with globs of spermicide. It's a rough neighborhood.

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25 September 1996

Bizarre by Design

When I had lunch with Charles today I learned that he's also keeping a notebook. He said he was editing it to focus on what might be perceived as the more unusual aspects of his life.

"Like what?" I asked.

"Let's see," he said glancing at a pad of paper, "Someone canceled a shoot because they'd had too many drugs, a young woman called and asked if I'd asked if I'd photograph her even though she only had a dozen tattoos and sixteen piercings, a young stripper friend died from an overdose --and it wasn't accidental, a friend is using her company's office equipment to publish a journal for underwear fetishists ... that sort of thing."

He said he was omitting anything that didn't fit the theme, such as helping a friend get a show, having a spiritual insight, et cetera. As a result he sometimes has to condense two days in to one in order to make things interesting enough.

We went back to his apartment and looked at photographs of people doing things with blood. I didn't ask what they were up to; I'll wait for his new book to be published to find out.

Charles had a magazine page on attached to his refrigerator door with strawberry-shaped magnets. The page was filled with a romantic black and white photograph of a mist-shrouded coast with "Let the beauty we love be what we do.--Rumi" written underneath. I doubt you'll read that when he publishes his notebook, so I guess it's OK to mention it here.

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26 September 1996

Total Lunar Eclipse at 19:19

I was presented with many technical challenges when I photographed tonight's total eclipse of the moon. My cheap camera didn't have an interchangeable lens, so I was stuck with a wide-angle view. Scott helped me make the best of this difficult situation by providing a visual guide for the untrained eye. I was concerned that the flash might fill in the moon's shadow rendering the contrast unacceptably low, but an Expert assured me my shutter would have closed before the strobe light reached the lunar surface. The photograph was acceptable, but in retrospect I'd have to say that a lunar eclipse is like a kiss: it's one of those natural events that's better to experience without a camera getting in the way.

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27 September 1996

Happy Bagel Ending

Naomi asked why I took a photograph of her holding a bagel.

"I'm going to write about how you send bagels to your brother in Afghanistan" I explained.

She doesn't have a brother in Afghanistan so she knew I was lying. My story had a hole in it, the bagel had a hole in it; it all worked out nicely.

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28 September 1996

Sticky Grapelike Situation

It was very hot today, so I was unusually tempted by a pop machine. (The pedant in me is obliged to add that on this side of the Rocky Mountains the device is technically a soda machine.)

A can of pop was only a quarter, so I decided to have a drink. None of the flavors looked very good, so I decided to try my childhood favorite: grape.

The grape pop tasted exactly as it always had--syrupy sweet purpleness. I suppose that's why I liked it as a kid: purple was my favorite color.

It was horrible. I suppose I was being naïve expecting it to taste like grape juice, just like when I expected Gallo alcoholic beverages to taste like wine. Or maybe it tasted awful because I don't have a favorite color.

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29 September 1996

Reverend Bob's Ministry

The gaiety of the annual Folsom Street Fair is marred by terribly loud terrible disco music. Every year everyone says someone should do something about it, and every year no one does.

Until this year, that is.

Reverend Bob's Ministry covered the neighborhood with fliers exhorting everyone to "Repent from Disco and be Saved!" I asked a volunteer at Reverend Bob's booth what she preferred to disco music.

"Sir, there are only two types of music acceptable to the Lord."

"What are they?" I asked, even though I know it's inadvisable to carry on a conversation with someone with glassy eyes.

"Country and Western. Sir, would you care to make a donation to further our outreach campaign?"

I didn't care.

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30 September 1996

A Bad Dinner on Earth

Jim said his portion of Trader Giotto's Fresh Vegetable Lasagna Pasadena looked inedible. He asked me if I wanted it, but he was right: it really didn't look very appealing.

"I only touched it with my fork; I didn't eat any" he said, in case I thought I'd catch AIDS from him. I've known Jim for years; he should have known better. Or maybe he was just having a bad night.

I wondered if he was often treated as a pariah. I didn't know how I could explain that airplane food only tastes good a few miles away from earth.

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart