1999 Notebook: Interval XXXIII

4 November 1999
Invisible Helicopter Walk
I floated down the Embarcadero today. I was suspended a few millimeters off the pavement by an invisible helicopter. I wasn't in the helicopter; I was tethered to the airship by an invisible line attached to my head.

I felt no pain. I thought that having a line attached to my head would have been agonizing, but it wasn't. I also thought the weight of my body dangling from my skull would be painful, but that didn't hurt either. Not in the least.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. I kicked and shuffled my useless feet; no one could tell that I was suspended from an invisible helicopter.

5 November 1999
Photographic Myths
A friend familiar with my grim past sent me a magazine article by Bill Jay and David Hurn, Some Photographic Myths. The myths the authors identified were as follows:

  1. Photographers are the best editors of their own work.

  2. Photographers are their own best writers/designers.

  3. Photographers are good printers.

  4. Commerce is corrupt; art is pure.

  5. Photography is all about talent and instinct.

  6. The it-has-been-done-before syndrome.

  7. Critics and theorists are useful to photographers.

  8. You should not photograph in foreign cultures.

  9. Documentary photography is not art.

I thought the authors made strong arguments in each case. I asked another recovering photographer if he was familiar with photographic myths.

"Of course," he replied. "There's Myth Cunningham, Myth Lange, and Myth Liebowitz, for starters. Are those the ones you were thinking of?"

There's no doubt about it: photography is a mythical medium.

gratuitous image
6 November 1999
Juliette Majot (snaportrait)
Juliette is a friend of mine.

7 November 1999
I don't think I've missed much by never having been in the military. Nothing much, that is, except expanding my acronym vocabulary.

Why is it the military types come up with such great acronyms? I suppose officers have a lot of spare time between wars. Idle tongues are the devil's workshop, and all that.

Everyone's heard of SNAFU, but a lot of people don't know it's an acronym for "Situation Normal, All Fucked Up."

Calvin taught me a new MA (Military Acronym) today.

Me: "Calvin, why are you installing five quadranet hubs? I thought they only worked in hierarchical pairs."

Calvin, with a shrug: "FIGMO."

Me, quizzically: "FIGMO?"

Calvin, authoritatively: "Fuck It, Got My Orders."

I wonder if there are any MAs without an F?

8 November 1999
Unfortunate Saying Cookies
I know where fortune cookies became fortune cookies: San Francisco. Fu Ling Yu invented them around a hundred years ago, more or less. Once upon a time--and perhaps today as well--punters could slip suggestions for fortunes through an unmarked slot in a greenish-orange building on Grant Street.

Today, though, it seems that most fortune cookies aren't. They are cookies, of course, but silly sayings have supplanted fortunes.

For example, these are the last three "fortunes" I received after my last three Chinese dinners:

    He who has imagination without learning has wings but no feet.

    Birds are entangled by their feet and men by their tongues.

    The sparrow with two nests has no home.

Those aren't fortunes at all! When did fortune cookies become saying cookies?

9 November 1999
No Indolence Clinic
Most of my rich friends worked very hard for their monetary fortunes. And most of them still work too hard, even though they couldn't make much of a dent in their savings if they became cocaine junkies after purchasing private, hundred-meter yachts.

I dislike being immodest, but this is the truth: all my rich friends ask me how not to work. What can I say? Slothfulness is an art; you either have it or you don't. I do, they don't.

But, of course, they could.

I told Judy I was thinking of starting an indolence clinic to rescue busy rich people; she advised against it.

"I bet you would be good at deprogramming the worker bees," she said, "but then you'd end up making too much money yourself, and you'd eventually be as miserable as they are."

I always appreciate advice from friends, especially when it's good advice.

10 November 1999
The Constant Comic Universal Variable
No one ever laughs at my jokes. Well, almost never. Here's a frinstance:

"What would it take to get the Beatles back together again?"


"Three more bullets!"

Everyone pretends not to hear me. Everyone except Lucile, that is.

Lucile is laughing, laughing and grimacing at the same time. She's just had some sort of back or rib operation, and it's physically painful for her to laugh.

I tell a few more jokes, and the constant comic universal variable prevails: everyone suffers.

11 November 1999
Contemporary Imaging Pitfalls
Victor teaches kids about photography. Victor's a smart guy; he learns them all about the contemporary canon of great photographers and/or his favorites. He also tells them about all the technical parts; Victor knows his DIN from his ASA.

But there's one critical bit of information, not quite a priori knowledge, that Victor almost always fails to impart: photographic paper is sensitive to light. And so it is that one or two students each semester inspect their box of photograph paper before they get to the darkroom.

Kids these days!

I think Victor feels bad about his omission, but I believe there's no better way to teach youngsters about the most essential quality of photographic paper.

12 November 1999
Bert's Broken Tongue
Bert yelled so hard that he broke his tongue. I didn't think there was a tongue bone to break, but Bert swears--in writing!--that such a tragedy is the source of his silent predicament.

13 November 1999
Future Increments of Time
Wendy Olsen of Great Pine Plains, Minnesota, suggested I amend my 20 July 1999 notebook entry, wherein I posited that one of the two reasons I disliked getting older was "measuring time in decades instead of years ..."

Ms. Olsen suggested that we only measure the past in decades. The future, according to her observations, is only measured in years or even smaller increments of time.

I fear that Wendy Olsen, of Great Pine Plains, Minnesota, is right.

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©1999 David Glenn Rinehart