2004 Notebook: Weak XL
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1 October 2004
No. 2,438 (cartoon)
I’m all right.

You’re all wrong.

2 October 2004
Happily Ever After
It seems almost all my friends and I are living happily ever after, just not in ways we’d planned, anticipated, or foreseen.

3 October 2004
Richard Avegone
Richard Avedon died yesterday, a few decades after my interest in his repetitious work did.

“If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence,” Avedon said in a 1970 interview, “as though I had forgotten to wake up.”

Maybe he finally took an overdue day off and just forgot to wake up.

I went to his Internet site and was greeted with a black screen. I found a few lines of the underlying computer code interesting.

<meta name="keywords" content="richard avedon, Richard Avedon, avedon, Avedon, dovima, sixties, doon arbus, in the american west, truman, capote, evidence, jacques henri lartigue, egoiste, jacob israel avedon, roland barthes">

Sixties indeed.

4 October 2004
Open Studios Visits
A number of San Francisco artists have opened their studios to the public today, so I took a little tour. I saw a lot of art that looked like art and a few abominably mediocre presentations.

And then I saw Cecilia Galiena’s work; she’s absolutely brilliant. One exceptional artist out of two hundred and some people participating in the open studios program was more than I was expecting.

Eavesdropping provided the other highlight of the afternoon. Most of the talk was about money, and it seemed that most artists thought they were getting a reasonable amount of money for their work when the cost of framing represented less than half the total sale price.

5 October 2004
Medicated Meat
Ruth suggested we go to a new taqueria, The Holistic Hombre, because it featured, “medicated meat.”

I suggested we go somewhere else.

6 October 2004
Ig Nobel Prize
I’ll never get a Nobel prize because I don’t have the right political connections. Plus, I’m not all that smart.

On the other hand, I may have a shot at the Ig Nobel prizes, awards that acknowledge the kind of underappreciated research I do. For example, a couple of sociologists documented the correlation between country music and suicide. One might argue that falls within the realm of a priori knowledge, but it’s good that the diligent scientists proved the link, because sometimes generally accepted facts aren’t. Aren’t facts, that is.

For example, take the five-second rule: food that’s been on the floor for less than five seconds is safe to eat. Most people know it’s true, but, thanks to tireless research by Jillian Clarke, we now know it’s false.

Here are some of the highlights of Clarke’s study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, courtesy of Communications Specialist Phyllis Picklesimer.

—Seventy percent of women and fifty-six percent of men are familiar with the five-second rule.

—Women are more likely than men to eat food that’s been on the floor.

—Cookies and candy are much more likely to be picked up and eaten than cauliflower or broccoli.

—And, if you drop your food on a floor that does contain microorganisms, the food can be contaminated in five seconds or less.

Of course! One should never forget escherichia coli!

For their work, the Ig Nobel prize winners received “prizes made of extremely cheap materials and a medallion that’s pretty awkward to wear.”

Someday that could be me behind that medallion, if I work harder. (But, of course, I won’t.)

7 October 2004
Not Banned Films
Julian asked me if I’d seen any films recently, and I told him that even though I rarely watch movies, I had seen two band films.

The first cautionary tale featured the band Metallica in Some Kind of Monster. It was hilarious! The documentary showed aging multimillionaire musicians squabbling like tired seven-year olds in dirty diapers. What the quartet lacked in talent they made up for in petulance and hissy fits. The once-promising band members couldn’t be in the same room together without the supervision of a thousand dollar-an-hour psychiatrist, poor things.

The most pathetic thing about the film was that Metallica paid for it and then released it! I can only assume that the band members have been living in an isolation chamber and breathing their own fumes so long that they had no idea how ridiculous they appeared.

The second cautionary tale involved the Ramones. End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones documented the band’s early days, when they were innovative and passionate. Aesthetic success wasn’t enough, though, and the film went on to show how the search for recognition, money, and popularity led them into a variety of dead ends.

I told Julian that both movies reminded me of Cyril Connolly’s observation, “Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.”

“I still don’t get it,” Julian said, “why were the films banned?”

8 October 2004
The Art That Chose the Words Can’t Spell
If there’s anything funnier than a stupid, arrogant artist, it’s a stupid, pretentiously arrogant artist. And that brings us to Maria Alquilar.

The Livermore, California, city council commissioned Alquilar to make a public “art” work outside of the Livermore library that a local paper charitably described as “of a genre known as naïve art because of its whimsical design and childlike nature.”

Alquilar demonstrated her naïve and childlike nature by managing to misspell the names of eleven relatively well-known figures, including “Eistein,” “Shakespere,” “Michaelangelo,” “Van Gough,” and “Gaugan.”

Alquilar could have simply said, “Oops,” fixed the typos, and that would have been the end of story. Instead, she spent more time trying to justify her mistakes than she’d have needed to correct them. She responded to “nasty messages from people who don’t understand art” with some memorably laughable excuses.

“The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake’s concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words. In their mind [sic], the words register correctly.”

“None of us are particularly good spellers anymore because of computers.”

“When you look at Michelangelo’s David, do you point out that one [testicle] is lower than the other?”

“The art chose the words.”


“My career in public art is over,” Alquilar declared after the humiliating debacle.

And that’s just as well. Even though she lacks even the meager skills needed for public “art,” she’s clearly qualified for that special niche reserved for artists with her special abilities, performance art. I know that may sound harsh, but the art chose the words.

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©2004 David Glenn Rinehart