2003 Notebook: Weak XXV
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18 June 2003
No. 2,686 (cartoon)
I can’t endure you.

Love conquers all.

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19 June 2003
An Offending Cartoon
Another year, time for another meeting of the International Whaling Commission, the international body that regulates whaling. I don’t really care about whales, but I am fond of free beer and free international trips. And so it is that I’m in Berlin, turning out anti-whaling propaganda for alleged environmentalists. The modest amount of work is tedious, but this year I’m finally having a bit of fun.

Many of the commissioners’ votes can be bought. Both the so-called environmentalists as well as whaling nations have bought the votes of commissioners from small, impoverished countries. I’ve heard that Greenpeace initiated the practice, but the Japanese are now the masters of checkbook diplomacy. And so it was that my coconspirators and I decided to commission a cartoon depicting some countries as Japanese lapdogs.

Oh dear.

The august International Whaling Commission members had a collective hissyfit when they saw our work. The would-be diplomats went into a closed-door session that lasted for hours, and emerged with a demand that my colleagues and I apologize for publishing the offensive material. They also demanded that the purported environmentalists denounce us. The farce seemed rather Orwellian, in that the commissioners didn’t say what was offensive or who we’d offended; they just wanted us to apologize to everybody for everything.

My associates declined to use the brief apology I drafted, “We are sincerely sorry that you are morons.” In the end, we made no apology, but did publish another piece of samizdat that used the most polite, objective, and diplomatic phrases to say, “We are sincerely sorry that you are idiots.” On the other hand, the “environmental” groups had an informal contest to see which one could assume the most submissive position the soonest.

The commissioners spent the remainder of the meeting in an apoplectic froth. Why people with such genteel sensibilities enter the brutal arena of international politics instead of teaching basket-weaving courses, this I do not know.

I’m leaving Berlin in good spirits. It’s reassuring to know that visual art—or, more accurately, a simple cartoon—can still pinch a nerve.

20 June 2003
Space Debris Over Greenland
On today’s Lufthansa Flight to San Francisco, I noticed the back of my seat felt wet somewhere over Greenland. I stood up, turned around, and saw a large blood stain. I noticed that my shoulder was bleeding about the same time the flight attendant did. She put a blanket over the bloody seat, draped another blanket over my shoulder, and asked me to accompany her to the back of the jet.

As instructed, I followed the flight attendant into a toilet. Once inside, she punched some numbers into a control panel, then a hidden door opened.

“I can’t believe there’s an operating theatre on the plane!” I said.

“The medical facilities are a recent addition to the fleet,” she replied. “More and more particles from American military experiments are passing through the fuselage. So far the injuries have been relatively minor, like yours.”

“What kind of particles?” I asked.

“No one seems to know,” she answered. “They travel through aluminum without a trace but open small holes in the skin.”

The doctor gave me a glass of whisky before she sewed my small wound shut.

21 June 2003
What Do I Do?
A stranger approached me at Ivan’s party and asked, “What do you do?”

“About what?” I replied.

22 June 2003
Art That Doesn’t Make You Laugh Gallery
I was biking along the Sausalito waterfront when I spotted the “Art That Makes You Laugh” gallery. I stopped and looked at the prints on display in the window. The alleged art made me grimace, not laugh. That makes sense, since the art that’s supposed to make me grimace usually makes me laugh.

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23 June 2003
Big Bad Brutal Baghdad Bully Boy Bamboozler Bang!
I made a series of images depicting Saddam Hussein blasting things with his evil eyes. Blam! There goes the Statue of Liberty. Blam! There goes Big Ben. Blam! There goes the Eiffel Tower.

And so on.

Poor pResident Bush and Prime Mister Blair. It seems that no one appreciates Operation Cheap Oil, just because it turns out that the Iraqis’ weapons of mass destruction turned out to be a few crates of Kalishnikovs and some Wrist-o-Matic slingshots. The western dictators are now under considerable pressure to demonstrate that the invasion of Iraq wasn’t just another one of their silly, drunken whims.

And that’s where I come in. Today, I prepared a set of Big Bad Brutal Baghdad Bully Boy Bamboozler Bang! proofs to send to George Despot and Tony Despot along with the following note.

    Dear [name of despot],

    Some people—I’m sure you know who they are—still question your invasion of Iraq. If it’s any help, I’ve included proofs of my recent work, Big Bad Brutal Baghdad Bully Boy Bamboozler Bang! If these images will help you in your crusade, please let me know.

I was all set to put them in the mail when I showed Aerlia my latest work. I told her that the generic “thanks for your support” letters I’d receive from George and Tony would become part of the final piece.

“Are you crazy?” Aerlia asked. “Those scoundrels are looking for nonexistent terrorists behind every tree. Your silly pictures of Saddam Hussein may be as close as they get this quarter. And I can guarantee you that those cretins don’t appreciate bad art, and they certainly don’t have a sense of humor.”

I considered her comments and compared the value of government form letters to the inconvenience of another government inquisition. I decided not to mail the prints to Tony and George. Having just invaded and occupied the world’s second-largest oil reserve, they can certainly afford to buy a set.

The war on the terrorism of stupidity continues.

24 June 2003
Running on Occasion
A woman asked me a technical question about my bicycle. That happens a lot. It’s a really lovely machine with lots of brilliantly-engineered parts, but I know nothing about such things. Even though I invented mountain biking, I ride it without understanding how it works.

After I told the woman I know nothing about bikes, she headed for another conversational dead end by changing the subject to other areas of athletic endeavor.

“I’m a runner,” she said smugly. “Do you run?”

“On occasion,” I replied.

“Such as?” she asked.

“Such as on the occasion someone’s chasing me.” I explained.

She left me alone after that.

25 June 2003
Eric Authur Blair’s Hundredth Birthday
Eric Authur Blair was born one century ago today in Motihari, Bengal, India. I don’t think Blair—aka George Orwell—would have been surprised that 2003 looks more like 1984 than 1984. He saw it coming.

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©2003 David Glenn Rinehart