2007 Notebook: Weak XXXVII
gratuitous image
10 September 2007
No. 1,409 (cartoon)
I can’t live without you.

I wish that was true.


11 September 2007
Photographers and Entitlement
A friend of a friend is a very smart entrepreneur; she recently founded what promises to be a large Internet company. By large, I mean she’s just getting started, and has already raised over six million dollars for the venture.

Kiliaen, a professional photographer, was examining her startup company’s Internet site, and was shocked when he discovered that all of the photographs her company used were obtained legally from photographers who offered to let anyone reproduce their work for free. In other words, Kiliaen is not going to get a penny of the millions of dollars of startup funding.

Normally, this is the point in the story where I might be expected to rail against greedy corporations profiting at the expense of poor photographers. But not today. I was bothered by Kiliaen’s sense of entitlement. The evidence—and the most basic premises of private enterprise—suggest that Kiliaen is, by definition, an unexceptional photographer if thousands of other competent amateurs could provide similar images. And, if a policeman wanted to give away reproduction rights to her photographs, who cares?

12 September 2007
Aesthetic Darwinism
I went to an art opening at the California College of Art with Victor tonight. (The institution used to be called California College of Arts and Crafts, but I concur with the California College of Arts trustees’ conclusion that there’s no craft there any more.) I didn’t know what to make of the mediocre student work: was it original mediocrity, or were the kids emulating mediocre artists with whom I am not familiar?

Victor opined that there’s no original art except when the artist is unfamiliar with virtually all artistic precedents. In those very rare cases, the pieces usually don’t work, just as in evolution, where mutations that don’t have a healthy lineage don’t survive.

I suppose Victor’s right; he usually is. There’s too much bad art out there for it all to be original. As with most matters Darwinian, mediocrity begets mediocrity, and vice-versa.

13 September 2007
Bribery on a Sliding Scale
Today’s newspaper published a shocking story: the monetary wealth of the world’s richest people allows them to do things other people can’t. This is news?! I haven’t done any research, but I think that’s the way humans have always worked since the day after money was invented.

It seems that a couple of extraordinarily wealthy entrepreneurs are paying the U.S. government four million dollars over the next three years for the right to land their huge, private jet on a government airstrip near their corporate headquarters south of San Francisco.

In other words, we’re talking about parking, which has always been an expensive proposition in San Francisco. Or, in less polite terms, we’re talking about bribery and kickbacks.

I think the whole palaver has to do with envy and jealousy. After all, very few people can afford to spend over a million dollars a year on anything, let alone parking.

When Will Durst was running for mayor of San Francisco, he proposed a sliding scale for bribes so that the poor as well as the rich could have access to political favors. Durst lost the mayor’s race, but his idea seems to have been accepted. Some people pay over a million dollars a year for jet parking; recently a businessman paid a member of the city council a forty-thousand dollar bribe to get a license for a yogurt parlor. And so on; the system works!

Still, I feel sorry for the rich guys and their private jet down the peninsula. When I land at the San Francisco airport, I’m still closer to a great burrito then they are.

14 September 2007
Artists’ Activities
Sid lamented how lonely life was in his studio, so I passed along Gerrit’s advice: artists should have one activity they do alone, and another with company.

“Like drinking and sex!” Sid said with a smile.

“I suppose so,” I replied.

I was tempted to ask which activity he enjoyed alone, but I didn’t. I’ve always been well served by never asking questions best left unanswered.

15 September 2007
One Chop Sticking
“What is the sound of one chop sticking?” Lucile asked as she ate her sushi.

“Why are matters Japanese so inscrutable?” I wondered aloud.

“Hai!” she replied.

“Hai!” I responded.

16 September 2007
A Curious Change of Destinations
Mary called tonight; we agreed on that I was past overdue—if such a thing is possible—for a visit to Oregon. After we concluded our conversation, I called Barbara—another friend who lives in that pleasantly wet state—to discuss rendezvous options.

Barbara told me that her father Franz is in grave and failing health (are those the right code words?), and so I immediately booked a flight to Manitowoc to rendezvous with her and Franz. Thus, with the dead aim of a drunk on a trampoline, I missed my target destination by thousands of kilometers. Who cares? After all, Wisconsin looks a lot like Oregon when comatose.

And that’s fine. Of all the people I’ve known who’ve served me extraordinarily efficacious gin and tonics, Franz Kraler is tied with Ansel Adams for first place. And since Ansel’s bar has been closed for close to a quarter of a century, a trip to Wisconsin makes perfect sense, even without considering the inevitable cheese.

17 September 2007
Wormlike Creatures
Will Cuppy noted, “All Modern Men are descended from a Wormlike creature, but it shows more on some people.” (He was born in 1884; I guess His Generation capitalized differently than we do Today.)

I thought his remark was especially prescient, since Cuppy died before television was commonly available. I haven’t owned a television in some thirty years, in small part because I find the sight of many Wormlike politicians to be so repulsive. Unfortunately, getting my news from the radio is no panacea; I can hear the Wormlike overtones in their odious voices.

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©2007 David Glenn Rinehart