2001 Notebook: Weak XI
13 March 2001
Why I Can’t Boil Water
There comes a time in every person’s life when it’s time to buy new kitchen appliances. I seem to be far away from that date, since I have yet to purchase my first collection of such gizmos. Karen and Jeff, however, having reached the time of the second coming of appliances, bought a KitchenAid Supurba to replace the ancient and venerable Stove With Only One Knob.

The KitchenAid Supurba is quite a contraption. It doesn’t appear to have any burners as such, just a smooth, glassy, ceramic surface where the electric coils or gas nozzles should be. It doesn’t have any knobs, either, not even one. Instead, the KitchenAid Supurba user must type in various options from a keypad and monitor the results on a tiny computer screen.

The ceramic cooking surface has an unusual feature: it can be damaged by water. Karen discovered this after she made her first KitchenAid Supurba dinner, then sat down to read the hefty instruction manual. That’s when she read that moisture can destroy the ceramic surface. Unless, that is, she immediately cleaned it with some sort of expensive, custom-formulated potion for cleaning the surface of a ceramic stove.

And that brings us to this morning. Karen and Jeff left early for work and invited me to make myself at home. I did, until I came face to face with the KitchenAid Supurba. I stood there looking at the baffling away of function keys, flashing computer readouts, and surprisingly fragile ceramic surface.

That’s when I realized I could no longer boil water.

14 March 2001
Anthony is telling stories about an abuse bar and restaurant in New York. (His friend manages the bar, so he goes there for free drinks. That’s his story, at least.) In addition to the usual menu items, patrons may also pay to be abused by members of the staff.

Phyllis from Minnesota, not to be outdone, tells about the mosquito tent at the state fair. Visitors can pay seven dollars and twenty-five cents to spend five minutes inside a screen tent “filled with at least three thousand of Minnesota’s most bloodthirsty mosquitoes.”

Anthony’s not quite sure what to make of this story. On one hand, he’s not telling his tale about the New York abuse bar in order to brag. On the other hand, he knows the story has the unspoken subtext, “only in New York.” He also knows that Phyllis has topped his anecdote.

We’re not having any contests tonight, so we discuss the weather. Phyllis looks happy, Anthony doesn’t.

15 March 2001
Dead Pants Music Experience
I’m not quite sure of what to make of the Experience Music Project, so I’ll begin by describing the architecture of EMP’s building. It looks like a fifty-million kilogram, curvy, steel-plated pile of extraterrestrial excrement dropped on Seattle from a passing spaceship. That’s not a bad thing, though, in that the gaudy splot is situated within spitting distance of Seattle’s Jetsonesque “Space Needle.”

EMP is a shrine of contemporary music, particularly the genre of “rock and roll.” EMP visitors may see Jimi’s soiled underwear, a needle Eric used when he could still create, or a bit of dried vomitus from Led Zeppelin’s second tour of the United States.

Or, they may not see these things. I don’t know, because I never got past the free drinks at EMP’s “Liquid Lounge.” I must also admit that I was also reluctant to pay twenty dollars to “experience” the contemporary music that’s been an integral part of my life for three decades.

Frederic Chopin supplied the winning argument against patronizing EMP, when he wrote, “I don’t want anyone to admire my pants in a museum.” And, as anyone familiar with Mexican politics can attest, institutionalizing revolution doesn’t work.

gratuitous image
16 March 2001
Strategic Planning for Digital Presence
I’m at the “Museums and the Web 2001” conference, and it’s pretty tedious going. I forgot two important things about museums. First, a lot of museums, such as Keswick’s Pencil Museum, have almost nothing to do with art. Second, most of the art museums have almost nothing to do with art. That’s the nature of graveyards, I suppose.

Most of the people here are bureaucrats and/or administraitors. Who else would pay five hundred dollars to drink bad coffee and listen to tedious presentations? (Fortunately, no one’s questioned my forged pass that lets me drink bad coffee for free. And fortuitously, a few of the people are quite interesting. Worth plagiarizing, even.)

This conference features the curious notion of themed breakfasts. Each breakfast table has a topic for discussion posted on a little sign, so every conference participant can start the day with a group of like-minded folk. Or maybe not.

I looked for the “Don’t even think about saying anything serious until I’m fully caffeinated” table, but never found it. That may have been because I wasn’t entirely awake. I did, however, stumble across the “Strategic Planning for Digital Presence” table. There were no human beings there, so I guess they knew what they were doing.

17 March 2001
A Five-Dollar Standoff
I dropped in on Consolidated Works, a contemporary arts center in Seattle. The exhibit wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t especially good, either. That’s contemporary art!

On the way out, a woman approached me.

“I’m sorry I missed you on the way in,” she began in a cheery voice, “but there’s a suggested five-dollar donation for this show.”

“I’ll give five dollars to support your program if you’ll give me five dollars to support my work,” I replied.

She didn’t reach for the cash drawer. I kept my hands away from my wallet. It was an amicable standoff.

I suppose I could have told her that since I’m an artist, the world owes me a living. I was feeling lazy, though, so I didn’t bother. As I headed for the door, I overheard the five-dollar woman telling someone that she was the center’s curator.

Aha! That explains everything! I know the world owes me a living; arts administrators mistakenly assume the same thing. That can be a problem sometimes, but at least not today.

18 March 2001
Struck by a Creative Meatball
I recently enjoyed a pleasant, overpriced breakfast with David Kappy, a wonderful horn player and former instructor. I told him that I was impressed by the technical abilities of young, contemporary musicians. Unlike me, many of them seem to be able to play as fast or as slow or as high or as low or as loud or as quietly as they want. David agreed that the educational establishment has created a lot of proficient technicians.

“But what do they do with that technique?” he asked rhetorically. “I can teach them technique all day and all night, but there’s not much else I can do except wait for some sort of inspiration to fall out of the sky and hit them on the head like a creative meatball.”

Hit on the head by the meatball of creativity! I think that happened to me years ago. How else can I explain why my head is a meatball?

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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart