gratuitous image
 Ansel Adams' "El Capitan, Merced River, Clouds, c. 1952" Erased
(Back to High Mountains, Forward to Intimate Grandeur)


W E E K  N I N E T E E N

7 May 1997
Ansel Adams' "El Capitan, Merced River, Clouds, c. 1952" Erased
(Back to High Mountains, Forward to Intimate Grandeur)
As a (former?) photographer who learned my craft in the 1970s, I'm always aware of Ansel Adams' shadow on the far horizon. Or, to be more accurate, the myth of Ansel Adams.

(I met him a couple of times, and found him to be a very pleasant conversationalist ... and quite generous with gin and tonics. Since he died, though, the Ansel Adams industry has been working tirelessly to change him into a saint, a very marketable saint.)

When I first began working with a camera, I remember reading that Ansel was planning on making his negatives posthumously available for others to manipulate with computers. This struck me as a wild idea at a time when even a simple electronic calculator--the kind that today are given away in boxes of cereal--cost over a thousand dollars. I thought I'd be dead before anyone invented a computer that could manipulate photographs.

I'm not dead, yet, but I do have a computer that can manipulate photographs. So I did. I decided to loosely plagiarize Robert Rauschenberg's erasure of a Willem deKooning drawing, and went via the Internet to the Ansel Adams Gallery in the heart of Yosemite Valley to get the raw material.

Once I downloaded "El Capitan, Merced River, Clouds, c. 1952" it was simple to erase it. As for the rest of the title, I used the words from the Ansel Adams Gallery Internet site, "Back to High Mountains" and "Forward to Intimate Grandeur." It's hard to believe that people used to talk like that, even harder to believe that some still do.

(The piece is also available in the PDF format.)

8 May 1997
Do Say
I had a bottle of wine with dinner. Well, maybe two. In any case I will admit to no more than three.

One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew I was thinking about editing and publishing. I thought it would be a good idea to separate the publication into two sections: "Do" and "Say." (Or it may have been Show and Tell, I really can't remember.) "Do" would be profiles of artists and their work, "Say" would consist of people making interesting observations about artwork.

After thinking about it, I thought I should eliminate the "Say" half: who needs people blathering on about art when it's so much more interesting to see what people are doing? And then I thought I should eliminate the "Do" part, since artists are rarely articulate.

I think I decided to do away with both halves and enjoy the rest of the evening, but I really can't remember.

9 May 1997
What I Do Best
I think most people have a particular skill at which they excel, something they do better than anything else, perhaps even better than anyone else. There's nothing I do better than worrying, especially when it comes to worrying about things beyond my influence or control. I gave a virtuoso performance today.

After I emailed a friend who had a serious operation a few months ago, the mail was returned with a note saying his account was closed. Since I knew he depended on email for his work, I worried and worried that he was dead. Fortunately, after a few hours I discovered he was still on this side of that side, albeit somewhat the worse from the operation.

I'm glad he's still around, but I realized that, statistically speaking, I should outlive him by a decade or two. I suppose today was a dress rehearsal, like others I've had in the past. I think the thing that's made the deaths of other loved ones bearable is that, by the time they died, I'd said everything to them I wanted them to hear and I'd heard everything from them that I wanted to know. I've still got something to say to my ailing friend and there's something I want to hear from him, but I'm not sure what either of those things are.

10 May 1997
Different Explanations for Different Legs
There's a man on the couch at the party I've never met. I'm too timid to talk to him because there's only one thing I want to say: "Why have you shaved one of your legs?"

It's not that obvious, except that I happened to notice and can't stop wondering why one leg is hairy and the other isn't. Is it because of a medical condition? Does is have something to do with his sexual preference(s)? Did he run out of time or hot water or sharp razor blades while shaving?

I won't talk to him both because I'm too bashful and because my questions are probably more satisfying than his answer.

11 May 1997
Hopeless, Not Hopless
I was in a hopeless situation when I realized it wasn't a hopless situation: I still had some beer. It's like Umberto always used to say: "Hops will help you through times of no hope better than hope will get you through times of no hops."

gratuitous image
12 May 1997
Ideal Public Art
I was walking along the quay when I found a wonderful sculpture.

The piece was surprisingly complex. Someone had taken quite a bit of trouble to cut and join two bricks together at a forty-five degree angle and place them on top of a paving stone. What made the piece work, though, was that the brick and stone assembly had been placed on a crushed cardboard box. If someone didn't push it over, it would fall over once the rain saturated the cardboard box. It was an ideal piece of public art: it engaged, then vanished.

13 May 1997
Crapola Infiltrated His Head!
Honesty isn't always the best policy, as Walker will attest after a bad afternoon with an awful client at his recording studio. (Operating a recording studio is an expensive business, so Walker sometimes works for money instead of love.)

The client in question was a retired army lieutenant who was trying to start a new career as a country singer with a song he wrote called Watch My Taillights Fadin'. The recording session went as well as could be expected until the lieutenant (retired) belted out

    Watch mah taillights a-fadin'
    there ain't a dry eye in the house.

The lieutenant (retired) was right. Walker's eye's were moist, but he managed to stop from laughing aloud.

After the first take, Walker asked the lieutenant (retired) how he came to use the lyrics from an old Rolling Stones song. The lieutenant (retired) was perplexed until Walker told him with some authority that he knew with certainty that those exact words could be heard in a Rolling Stones song. Walker, who knows his classical music, offered to play it for the lieutenant (retired).

The lieutenant (retired), crestfallen, declined, then gave Walker an amazing explanation for his plagiarism: "The boys were always playing that crapola, some of it must have infiltrated my head."

Crapola infiltrated his head! It can't be easy being a lieutenant (retired).

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©1997 David Glenn Rinehart