2004 Notebook: Weak VII
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12 February 2004
No. 3,537 (cartoon)
You can’t be serious.

I could, but choose not to be.

13 February 2004
Forgetful Artists
I had a nice chat with Stella at the party tonight, even though I was more forgetful than usual. I finally apologized for my bad memory, but Stella told me that I shouldn’t worry about it.

“Do you know why artists usually have poor memories?” she asked.

“Drug and alcohol abuse?” I replied, hazarding a wild guess.

“No, it’s because they’re creative,” Stella explained. “They create because they can’t remember.”

I thought Stella’s argument was most implausible, but I bet my mother might like it. I just hope I can remember it long enough to repeat it.

14 February 2004
(Sort of) Meeting Karin Stack
I visited the DeCordova Museum somewhere in the middle of the Massachusetts tundra today, and I’m glad I did. I saw lots of very good contemporary work; that doesn’t happen very often.

I almost missed some of the best pieces because I was too lazy to explore the work in any detail. I’m embarrassed by my own hypocrisy: I expect people to wade through layers of my work, but I can’t be bothered to slow down from a brisk walk to read a paragraph on the wall that accompanies a large piece.

Here’s a case in point. Some guy made fifty black and white photographs of the top of someone’s head. The first print in the series showed a shaved head; each subsequent image showed longer and longer hair. I thought it was clever, nothing more, nothing less.

Later, I returned to the piece while I waited for my companion to finish looking at the exhibition. That’s when I found that the prints were made my Karin Stack. I was surprised to discover that my estimation of the work increased when I knew it was made by woman; that’s a little prejudice I never realized I had.

I also saw that Stack had recorded a series of tales to accompany the prints. I like little stories, but, since that’s all I write, I would say that, wouldn’t I? Having said that, I think it’s silly to expect someone to sit down in a gallery, put on headphones, and listen to a long recording. Who’s going to make that sort of investment in a piece when there are so many other works to discover?

I put aside my conceptual objections and put on headphones to listen to story or two. I didn’t move until I listened to everything Stack said about hair, cancer, and breasts. Karin Stack is a damn good artist.

I figure that there must be at least a million interesting artists on a planet that six billion people call home. Why, then, is such a wonderful show like the one I saw at the DeCordova Museum such a rarity?

15 February 2004
The Last Word on Diane Arbus
No one will ever know what was going through the mind of Diane Arbus at the time of her death. Thanks to W. Bertrand Rebozo of Hope, Missouri, I now know the contents of her innards after reading the autopsy report he forwarded.

    “The stomach contains approximately 100 cc. of greenish-brown liquid material. No unusual material can be detected, in the stomach. The gastric wall is not remarkable.”

This knowledge is completely useless, and thus not without a certain appeal.

16 February 2004
The Colon, The Semicolon, and the Exclamation Point
I got into a ridiculous argument with Dmitri today, the only type of discussion we seem to have. Dmitri insists that Leo Tolstoy invented the semicolon and the comma; I told him that was rubbish.

“Well if you’re so smart, Mr. Capitalist Stooge,” Dmitri replied dismissively, “then who did invent the semicolon and the comma?”

“Both descended from the humble colon with the intervention of chance and entropy,” I explained. “It all began back in the days when people used ink to write on parchment. Occasionally, the ink ran, and scribes copies the colon as the character we now now know as the punctuation in question.”

“Comrade,” Dmitri pronounced, “you’re as full of crap as I am.”

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17 February 2004
Grey Poopoo
Once upon a time, Stephen Barton worked as a chef in five-star restaurants. He told incredible stories of the endless battles between cooks and waiters, of how he once made a peanut butter sandwich for Andy Warhol, and so on. (I don’t know very much about art history, but I suspect Stephen’s one of the few people who knows about Warhol’s performance piece of of ordering a peanut butter sandwich at a haute cuisine restaurant, a request that usually sent some serf scurrying to a corner shop for a jar of peanut butter.)

I haven’t heard from Stephen in many years. I think of him, though, whenever I see Grey Poupon mustard. Stephen claimed that every prestigious chef in every fancy restaurant referred to Grey Poupon mustard as “baby shit.”

And so it was that I thought of Stephen today when I enjoyed a cheese, avocado, and baby shit sandwich. Yummy!

18 February 2004
Permanent Change of Address
After eating the lovely dinner Markate cooked tonight, we talked and talked and talked some more. She told me that when her mother died, she updated the entry in her database by replacing the phone number and address of her mother’s last home with contact information for the cemetery where she was buried.

Very nice.

19 February 2004
Not My Life’s Story
I’m on a flight from Seattle to Amsterdam, and the woman sitting beside me asked me to tell her about my life. I immediately recognized that as a trick question, for if I talked about my life at length she’d probably do the same. She had a stack of business magazines on her lap, and I wasn’t going to risk being subjected to hours of stories about the widget industry’s brutal machinations.

“I’m sorry,” I lied, “but my life story is unclear at best in that it’s not over yet. And at the moment, I’m up against a deadline that demands my full attention.”

She nodded, and I continued to play video games on my computer.

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©2004 David Glenn Rinehart