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 State Self Portrait Triptych

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2 July 1997
State Self Portrait Triptych
I look remarkably the same in my last three official state self-portraits,which are a prerequisite for getting a driver's license. The most recentphotograph is obscured by copy-protection imaging, but that's a small priceto pay for an otherwise free portrait.

The Quality Control Committee's pernicious comments in yesterday's reportsnotwithstanding, I still think it looks much better in the PDF version.

3 July 1997
Worthless Art Pro
Bill told me I was making a wise marketing move by giving my art workaway over the Internet. He suggested that the next step should be to chargefor upgrades. For example, yesterday's State Self Portrait Triptych--whichyou may download for free--should be supplanted by an enhanced version, say,State Self Portrait Triptych Pro, which would carry a $85 "upgrade"fee.

I remain unconvinced. Bill's one of the most brilliant people I know,but I'm not sure if he grasps the concept of worthless art.

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4 July 1997
Hidden City Beers
Oh dear: another day, another scandal.

Today is the two hundred and twenty-first annual celebration of the Americans'more or less successful rebellion against the English, so most governmentworkers have the day off. A private contractor making an emergency repairfound that one of the utility holes in the street was actually a small refrigeratorstocked with beer. After this was reported on the news, people started pryingup metal covers out of the street, and they weren't disappointed. By nightfallhundreds of people had discovered thousands of bottles of beer, and thestreets were mostly impassible either because of the holes or the abandonedcars with broken axles.

It's not really a problem tonight, though: it's unsafe to go outsidebecause of all the drunks and gunfire. By Monday, however, I predict there are going to be lots of angry, sober, city workers.

5 July 1997
Film Director With No Antigravity Belt
I accidentally met a film director at an opening. (He came over to talkwith the woman with whom I was standing; she saw him coming; she got away;I didn't.) I was uncomfortable talking with him since I'd never seen oneof his films (although I later found I had seen one but didn't rememberit.) That wasn't a problem; I don't think it occurred to him that therewas anyone who hadn't seen all of his films.

I told him the problem I had with science fiction films--that was moreor less his genre--was that the future was always shown as being fully developed.In a century or two it always seems that everything's been perfected, nothing'sexperimental. I told him he should have a scene in which some rich middle-agedmen are playing with expensive prototypes of, say, antigravity belts thatthey bought after work from a science boutique. I suggested he show themfiddling with all the dials, knobs and switches but being unable to getthem to work, unable to get more than a few millimeters off the floor.

The film director stared straight through me looking for someone morewealthy, interesting or attractive to chat up; I thought he didn't heara word I said. As it turned out, I was wrong.

Ten minutes later he was yelling at two of his assistants: he didn'tcare if it was Saturday night and everything was closed, he wanted an antigravitybelt and he wasn't going to wait. At least I guess he heard a few wordsof what I said.

The film director stormed out in a covey of assistants, sycophantsand gold leeches.

6 July 1997
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
I had a talk with a painter over not a few bottles of wine. I told himthat since almost every medium in which I work in infinitely reproducible,I couldn't imagine making a painting, selling it, and never seeing it again.He said his paintings were like his children ...

    "In a couple years my four year old daughter will be 'replaced'by a more mature six year old. I can't hang on to a four year old just likeI can't hang on to an old painting."

It wasn't a persuasive argument, but I didn't argue; it was a betterline of reasoning than most painters make.

7 July 1997
Turpentine Intoxication
I thought I knew most of Marcel Duchamp's best one-liners, but I waswrong. In the mid-1930s, he suggested that the attraction to painting wasbased on "turpentine intoxication."

He was, predictably, absolutely right. That's how all the cute youngartists smelled during my brief art school stint. Even today, I find womenwho smell like paint much more attractive than those who don't.

8 July 1997
Gary Winogrand Lives In Me
If I remember right, Gary Winogrand left behind a couple of hundred thousandexposed--but undeveloped--frames of 35 millimeter film when he died.

(I thought that number must certainly be wrong, but given that he wastwo years behind on his developing, that works out to just under eight rollsa day, every day. But I digress; I mustn't let facts get in the way of agood story.)

If I remember right, Winogrand's theory was that he waited two yearsbefore developing his film so that he wouldn't have any emotional connectionwith the images. By forgetting the circumstances under which the film wasexposed--if not the subject matter--he was able to look at his work as objectivelyand dispassionately as possible.

(It's time for an anecdote break. When Mason Resnick asked Winograndif he felt bad about missing pictures when he reloaded, Gary replied, "No,there are no pictures when I reload.")

I thought of Winogrand after developing two or three years of film--ninerolls in all. I was surprised at how many of the frames seemed completelyunfamiliar. Gary Winogrand lives in me.

9 July 1997
The Lubricant of Run-On Sentences
Bradley reports that when leafing through an old reference volume

I think it may have been an encyclopedia

he ran across a tutorial titled Punctuation, the Lubricant of Language

Although he shares my love of punctuation

I like it because it holds my run-on sentences together

he was disturbed by the title and said

I will never punctuate again

I think he was being a bit hasty as I'm sure you will agree

Or perhaps not

10 July 1997
A Tough Act to Follow
Brendan Macpherson died yesterday. He died as he lived: quite drunk.

I read one of the last interviews with him; he seemed like a sad oldman. "I always thought I'd be remembered for my plays, not my drinking.I guess I was wrong."

At least he was right about being wrong. I saw "The Potatoes ofAuchtermuchty"--arguably his best play--several years ago, and can'tremember a thing about it. I can't even remember the plot, or if it evenhad one. I never even heard about some of his other works like "SevenDrams of Hate" or "Oatcakes With Porridge" until I read hisobituary.

Ah, but his drinking; that's another story. Who can forget the time hedrank two bottles of whisky between breakfast and dinner then picked a fightwith Fitzgerald by taunting him with his famous "bollocks for brains"jibe? Or the time he stuck the princess's finger in his mouth instead ofdoing something as passé as air-kissing the back of her hand?

Brendan Macpherson is a tough act to follow.

11 July 1997
Museum of Improbability

A friend in Vienna told me there was a lucrative four-week guest curatoropening at the Museum of Improbability. I asked her if she thought I hada chance of getting it.

She thought about it for a moment, then replied "It's improbable."

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12 July 1997
My First Painting
For the last couple of decades I've had an idea for my first painting:"PAIN-" on the top of the canvas and "TING." on thebottom. I haven't gotten around to it yet.

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13 July 1997
My Second(?) Painting
After thinking again about the "PAIN-TING." painting I've beenthinking about for a couple decades, I thought maybe I should think aboutdoing a second one (even though I haven't done the first one).

I came up with "A SQUIGGELDY LINE AROUND THE EDGES," but I'mnot too sure about it. I guess that's the difference between thinking aboutsomething a lot and a little. Maybe I'll like it, maybe I won't; it's hardto say. I think Tadashi Kiyotani has the best perspective on the discomfortof the new: "Everything new looks strange for the first 200 years andthen it's fine."

14 July 1997
Surly As Ever
I got a letter from an old high school friend; it was the first timeI heard from her in literally twenty years. (There are a number of friendsI haven't heard from in figuratively twenty years, but literally is of courseliterally different.)

She closed her letter by saying, "Hope this finds you healthy, happy,and as surly as ever." What a nice thing to say! I always thought allmy efforts at acting surly as a teenager had been wasted, but it turns outsomeone noticed!

15 July 1997
Refusing the Tie
Someone murdered Gianni Versace today: it doesn't pay to be famous. AndI don't think it pays to be a fashion designer, either, except in termsof cash. I'll let Jean Cocteau provide an obituary ...

    "Art produces ugly things which frequently become beautifulwith time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things whichalways become ugly with time."

Still, Versace left behind something I'll always enjoy, a lovely littlequote: "I refused the tie many years ago."

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©1997 David Glenn Rinehart