2003 Notebook: Weak XLII
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15 October 2003
No. 8,029 (cartoon)
I’m appalled at my options.

What are they?

None, I’m afraid.

16 October 2003
Life Imitates Science Fiction
I’m enjoying the daily four-kilometer walk from the Wiles compound to the jazz festival venue; I appreciate the exercise after hours of sitting behind my computer. On the walk back to the compound tonight, a Santa Fe police car pulled up on the sidewalk in front of me. A policeman got out of the car and asked me what I was doing.

“Just walking back from town,” I explained.

My straightforward answer proved unsatisfactory. The officer told me I was rambling through a neighborhood full of drunks, heroin addicts, and burglars, and thus my very presence was suspicious. It was clear he couldn’t fathom why anyone would walk except to go to or from their automobile unless they were up to no good.

I couldn’t provide any identification, so the policeman took down my name and date of birth. After that, he said he was letting me continue my walk since I appeared to be sober and clean. (He didn’t add that I was Caucasian.)

After he drove away, I started laughing. I never saw the comedic elements in Ray Bradbury’s fifty-year old novel Fahrenheit 451 until tonight.

17 October 2003
Undiplomatic Jazz Debates
Over the last few days, the jazz musicians have begun to turn on each other. It all started when someone spotted a car at the stage door with a bumpersticker that featured an image of burning drums and the text, “Real Musicians Don’t Do Drum Solos.” Was it a theatre employee’s car? A musician’s? A festival volunteer’s? The place is abuzz with dark slander and tawdry innuendo.

At the same time, the people who play more or less traditional jazz are at loggerheads with the musicians who play newer works. The latter group complain, with increasing boldness, that the traditionalists are just refrying the same old tired beans, playing the same predictable riffs they’ve heard a zillion times before. The keepers of the true jazz flame shoot back that the new pieces are pretentious, shallow, gimmicky, flimsy failures.

I’m enjoying the little spats; they more or less neatly encapsulate most of the learned aesthetic debates I’ve heard in the last few decades.

18 October 2003
Between Words
Celeste asked me what I was writing, so I told her.

“You know how theatre people describe themselves as being ‘between plays’ when they can’t find a project?” I asked.

“And so?” Celeste replied.

“Well, I’m between words.”

19 October 2003
The Problem with Santa Fe Art
I finally figured out why all the Santa Fe galleries are so annoying. The problem is not just the really bad art; most art venues show really bad work. The problem here is that the galleries show just one genre: really bad desert art. I’ve seen enough gaudy paintings of technicolor sunsets, wise, old, romanticized Native Americans, and cute, clever, colorful sculptures to last a few lifetimes.

In other cities, galleries present a balanced diet of just about every kind of bad art. I could probably make a lot of money if I opened a Santa Fe gallery specializing in, say, bad surrealism or bad impressionism. I could probably make a lot of money doing a lot of unpleasant things. But I don’t need the money and, more importantly, I’m getting out of this monocultural wasteland tomorrow.

20 October 2003
Back in Sco

After too many weeks in the Santa Fe desert, I’m back in San Francisco, or Frisco, or Sco. I used to call San Francisco “Frisco” because it bothered so many people. But that was before I discovered tht most of the pseudo-natives here find “Sco” many times more annoying than even the reviled “Frisco.”

Of course, the problem with a three-character name is that someone has probably used it before. And someone has. “Sco” is the name of a mediocre software company; it’s also the international airport code for Aktau, or Aktau, in Kazakstan, or Kazakhstan.

Nevertheless, I’m sticking with Sco. The name confuses most people and perturbs the rest; how can I go wrong?

21 October 2003
Clyde’s Ballet Review
Clyde went to see the San Francisco ballet last night, and he’s giving rave reviews of the performance to anyone within earshot.

“You should have seen the lead lady,” Clyde enthused. “Damn, she was gorgeous. And when she stood on one toe and raised the other long leg way up in the air behind her like a wolfhound at a fire hydrant, that was worth the whole ticket price right there.”

It’s always a pleasure to see someone in aesthetic rapture, even when the message received was unrelated to the message sent.

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©2003 David Glenn Rinehart