1999 Notebook: Interval XXVI

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28 August 1999
Morrie Camhi, 1928-1999
Morrie Camhi never woke up yesterday. I learned he died around three in the afternoon, twenty-one days after he told me he had three weeks to live.

I took my last snapshot of him on 4 July 1998. At the party he and Lynn threw, he wore a ridiculous hat to make fun of himself. He explained that he was sometimes mistaken for the janitor when he cleaned the building he owned, so he wore the silly hat with rhinestones and costume jewelry so everyone would know he was someone important.

This last anecdote isn't much of a memorial, but Morrie doesn't really need me--or anyone else--to build a memorial for him. When I last visited Morrie, he wasn't too enthusiastic about the posthumous exhibits and tributes in gestation while his heart was still beating. I left with the impression that he wasn't too concerned with how he was going to be remembered as a photographer. (I don't remember his words exactly; I was quite drunk. At the time I needed anesthetics more than he did.)

Morrie wasn't too concerned about how he'd be remembered as a person, either. Having spent his life being kind and helpful to everyone who knew him, he knew exactly how he would be remembered: warmly, as a lovely person.

Morrie's gone. I wonder from whom I'll now plagiarize?

29 August 1999
Brad Perkes' Improbable Moons
I saw some photographs by Brad Perkes on a friend's light table. The images showed traditional San Francisco stock photography views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Painted Ladies, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, et cetera.

The images were completely ridiculous; they featured impossibly large moons in almost every scene. I asked the editor who was reviewing them how she could take such crude digital manipulations seriously. Or weren't people who hadn't been using cameras for twenty-five years aware of the optical impossibility of such huge moons?

The editor gently pointed out that all the photographs were unmanipulated. She said Brad Perkes had been running around San Francisco with lunar timetables and telephoto lenses for years; everything was "real."

Maybe he did really make all the photographs without the help of computer jiggery-pokery, but that really doesn't make any difference in 1999. The photographs still look like bad digital composites.

30 August 1999
Toxic Night Breath
A dubious doctor gave me some pills--pain-killers--to take after I broke my finger. I took the pills before I went to sleep.

Whenever I awoke during the night, I smelled drycleaning chemicals. There was a laundry factory at the other end of the street, but that was unlikely to be the source since it was closed.

It took me a while, but I finally figured out what smelled like drycleaning chemistry: my breath. I wonder what's in Naprelan 375 that made my gastrointestinal tract generate toxic waste?

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31 August 1999
Randy Hayes (snaportrait)
Randy is a friend of mine.

1 September 1999
Listless Artist
Umberto's dealer asked me if I was an "A list" artist. (Why she thought I might possibly be a marketable artist, this I do not know. Could it have been the absinthe?)

"I'm afraid not," I politely replied.

"B list?" she asked hopefully.

"No," I said. "As artists go, I'm listless."

2 September 1999
The Greatest Show on Coldwater Road
I was on the train to San Jose when I saw an amazing sight: the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey train.

The train was long, maybe forty or fifty cars, maybe even more. Each car was emblazoned with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey logo. The logos appeared to be permanently painted on the cars; it suggested to me that the circus is permanently on the road. Or, rather, on the rails.

I don't like traditional circuses (circi?) very much, mostly because of the way the animals are mistreated. I remember a story from my youth that illustrates one of the myriad reasons elephants belong in the wild, not in the circus. This is purported to be a true story, although I can't verify it: my relatives who told me this story are dead, mostly.

It seems that some distant member of my extended family was driving home from the bar early one morning; presumably he was drunk. He drove into an elephant that was crossing the road.

"Didn't you see the elephant?" asked the policeman who investigated the accident.

"Of course I saw the elephant," replied my indignant relative, "but who'd believe there'd be an elephant on Coldwater Road at three in the morning?"

3 September 1999
Poets Day
A friend invited me to his new office for a Poets Day event.

"Allen-baby, you can't be serious," I said. "You know I hate poets and poetry."

(Actually, that's not entirely true, but that's what I say anyway. It's vitally important not to give poets any encouragement whatsoever.)

"Relax, Dave-baby," said Allen. "POETS is an acronym for Piss Off Early, Tomorrow's Saturday. I believe it's an Australian holiday. I think you'll quite enjoy it; there'll be free beer. The company's buying a keg."

Free beer! Why didn't he just say that in the first place?

Well, it is now 17:35 at the new office, and the only thing here is nothing. No Allen, no keg of beer, just nothing. In addition, there's no Internet, no computer, no phone, nothing to read, just nothing. Nothing, that is, except a pencil and paper.

Normally, I'd pull out my electronic doodad that translates my handwriting into text, but I intentionally left it at the lab since I was scheduled to be incoherent tonight.

And so it is that I'm writing this with a pencil and paper. How ridiculous! Pencils are inconceivably difficult to use. I hate the friction, and it's almost impossible to see what I'm writing because my eyes keep getting drawn to the wiggle-wagging pink eraser at the unleaded end of the pencil. And to make matters worse, I can't remember how to write a capital "Y."

POETS Day: Poor Office Equipment, Totally Scandalous.

4 September 1999
Idea Seeds
I came up with a lot of ideas this morning, which I converted into a variety of small seeds to make them easier to transport back to the lab. But I was tired after all that thinking, so I took a nap.

When I awoke, I was surrounded by fat birds, the fat birds who ate my idea seeds.

And that's why there's nothing here.

5 September 1999
Sky Antiblue
"The sky looks deeply antiblue this afternoon."

A famous musician said that; I wonder if anyone would pay any attention to such a ridiculous observation had not the author been a celebrity whose name I cannot disclose for obvious reasons?

6 September 1999
The Notable Printer's Very Funny Joke
I recently needed to get some propaganda printed; that's always a difficult challenge. Almost every printer I've ever patronized has the following statement prominently displayed:

    "You want it quick and cheap and well done? Pick two and get back to us."

That statement is usually accompanied by a caricature of a printer laughing at his own very funny joke.

Ha ha ha.

I decided to have my piece printed at Notable Printers. My choice was influenced by the company's foyer: the printer's very funny joke was nowhere to be found.

When I picked up the printed work, I was amazed. It was some of the worst printing I've ever seen. The registration was off, the ink was smeared, the edges were trimmed unevenly, and so on.

"How is it that you call yourself notable printers?" I asked. "I mean, other than the fact that this is notably the worst printing I've ever seen."

"Oh, the name thing," said Pat, my "Customer Satisfaction Liaison."

Pat went on to explain that the name of the business was a result of a typographical error. The business used to be called Smythe Printing, but a court order resulting from a class action lawsuit forced the owner to change the name to Not Able Printers. The typesetter missed a space, and inadvertently created Notable Printers.


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©1999 David Glenn Rinehart