Stare.
 
1999 Notebook: Interval XIII
 
   

25 April 1999
Not Nearly As Good As I Thought I Was
Almost ten years ago I wrote a couple of dozen short pieces that I liked. I don't know what inspired me, but they were much better than anything I've written since. I've been doing these bloodless daily notebook entries for years, but they're rather pedestrian compared to the things I wrote previously.

I guess I had beginner's luck. At least that's what I thought until I finally reread those early pieces, and found they weren't really that good at all. In fact, they were, well, bad. Amateurish. Trite. Clichéd.

Predictable.

I should have known that my best work is what I'll make tomorrow, certainly not the pieces I made yesterday. And definitely not the work I'm doing today. I guess I'm lucky that way.

26 April 1999
Kurt's Purgatory
I saw an exhibit of the work of Kurt Schwitters; it was rather disappointing.

I don't know much about Schwitters; my piss-poor encyclopedia tells me that he was born in 1887, died in 1948, and, in-between, was one of the Dada hombres. Also, "Schwitters is best known for the collages and sculptures he assembled from garbage, to which he referred by the nonsensical name Merz."

My encyclopedia has it a bit wrong. "Merz" isn't really a nonsensical name; it's the "merz" from "Kommerz-und-Privatbank." The "merz" bit of the name was a scrap included in one of Schwitters' early collages.

Dada, Merz, how could a Kurt Schwitters show not be good? The answer, in a word, is time. It's like Marcel Duchamp said:

    "No painting has an active life of more than 30 or 40 years--that's another little idea of mine. I don't care if it's true, it helps me to make that distinction between living art and art history. After 30 or 40 years, the painting dies, loses its aura, its emanation, whatever you want to call it. And then it is either forgotten or else it enters the purgatory of art history."

Poor Kurt, dead for fifty years and now relegated to the purgatory of art history.

A lot of the work in the show seemed unremarkable--the kind of paintings and drawings good students at good art schools would have made earlier this century. Still, Schwitters' collages seemed novel in spite of contemporary computer collages. No, make that because of computer collages.

When Schwitters cut and pasted, he wasn't pushing pixels; he was using real scissors and real paste. The approach still seemed fresh. It's amazing what a difference going even a millimeter or two into the third dimension makes.

And one more thing: when Kurt Schwitters died, he was so poor he only owned one pair of socks. That's art for you.

gratuitous image
27 April 1999
Linda McCartney Grease
I like Linda McCartney. Even if she was a more mediocre musician than I am, it's hard to dislike someone who's dead when you're eating her sausages and listening to a silent tambourine.

It would be churlish to criticize her, so I won't.

Linda was smart enough to understand that most carnivores wouldn't abandon their meat diets for foods that provided less immediate gratification than animal remnants scraped off the slaughterhouse floor and reconfigured into some sort of pleasing salt-fat hybrid. And so it is that the late Linda's vegetarian products save animals at the expense of the humans living on a high-fat diet.

I'm not complaining.

28 April 1999
Airlinia
All countries on earth are different, but their influences don't extend very far into the atmosphere. It's another country in the sky; at ten kilometers above sea level all countries are the same.

29 April 1999
Why the Tie?
Bill Gates has perhaps more physical wealth than any human being has ever had, even since Ghengis Khan invented Khangolium or Nero ruled Neuromania.

Bill Gates still wears a tie; I wonder why?

30 April 1999
Absolutely Splendid!
Splendid is a word I haven't heard in years; that's an oversight I must correct at once. Splendid!

Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid! Splendid!

Absolutely splendid!

gratuitous image
1 May 1999
Peter Knights (snaportrait)
Pete is a friend of mine.

2 May 1999
Butt Art
A friend recently suggested that I visit the Internet site www.badart.com. That was good advice, for it was there that I discovered Steve Murmer's Tulip Butts. Murmer had the astounding if all-too-common idea of making art with impressions of his derrière, a creative process he described in detail:

    There was a young lady in the class that I was dating. I'll call her Stephanie, because that was the name her parents gave her. Stephanie was a PAP (Painting and Printmaking) major and probably the reason that I took the class in the first place. The two of us paired up for the collaboration.

    We ran into trouble creating our product, all she ever painted was cats and flowers. She wanted to do the same with this lesson. I thought it would be a good idea to paint flowers using a cat in place of brushes. She didn't go for my idea, at all. She even had the audacity to state that she couldn't believe she paired up with the "freak who turned his ass in as a project." I think she was just mad that my "ass" got a better grade than her cat's paw prints. It, then, hit me. We could paint flowers using my bottom instead of her cat. She was a hard sell for the idea.

    I had to pull out the stamping product and show her that my cheeks looked like the petals on a tulip and my genitalia would make up the flowers pistol and stamen. She finally agreed to the collaboration. Stephanie used pastels on a large sheet of paper to create a blue background and tulip stems. I used red tempera and my "organic object" to make the flowers. I found out a short time later, that red Crayola tempera stains skin for about a week and a half. During its critique, our collaboration was a success. The relationship I had with this young lady was not. I had always wanted to make a painting out of the collaboration assignment. I never got around to it. I decided to use this class as an excuse to do so. I had forgotten how to make a stretcher and used quite a bit of wood figuring it out.

That's derrière art for you: always a challenge, always a disappointment. And always bad.

gratuitous image
3 May 1999
Bloody Good
I sliced my last complete index finger while cutting carrots. It bled quite a lot, so I tasted some of the blood. (It would have been a shame to waste both the blood and the expensive additives.)

The blood hit a spot on my tongue that nothing else in my diet ever has. I wonder if there's something I'm missing in my vegetarian-with-all-the-prefixes (and-then-some) diet?

4 May 1999
Greasy Divorce Strategies
I'm waiting for a flight at the San Francisco airport. My need to connect my computer to one of the few publicly-available power supplies has brought me into the company of three unpleasant business salesmen.

A fat, greasy, old man is giving a fat, greasy, young man advice on divorce.

"Get the best lawyer you can't afford. Go for the jugular. If you don't, the bitch will." He paused, then added, "The next time you feel like getting married, find some woman you hate and buy her a house. It's cheaper that way."

They then went on to discuss strategies for generating inflated expense accounts.

It's tempting do dismiss these cretins as atypical, but I fear that would be a mistake.

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©1999 David Glenn Rinehart