2007 Notebook: Weak LII
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24 December 2007
No. 6,485 (cartoon)
Do you think Santa’s been drinking?

It’s the holiday spirit!

25 December 2007
A Really Warm Christmas Story
Ruth told me that I was too glum, and suggested that I write, “a warm Christmas story.” Since I’ll do just about anything Ruth asks, I shall share such a tale.

Once upon a time in a remote Alaskan telecommunications center, a worker arrived for his miserable shift on Christmas day. He was delighted to smell a feast cooking when he arrived at the dismal control center sandwiched underneath a sky of huge satellite dishes.

Christmas is a very popular time for phone calls, so some technocrat far, far away foolishly sextupled the amount of power used by the facility’s hardware to deal with the extra traffic.


Pumping up the voltage turned the worker’s tiny control center into a microwave oven. And so, the smell of freshly-baked meat wafted from the irradiated corpse of another worker at the facility.

Now that’s what I call a really warm Christmas story!

26 December 2007
Surreal Tiger Attack
Whether it’s a crucified baby in the manger or the irradiated telecommunications engineer I mentioned yesterday or James Brown’s demise a year ago, Christmas is a time to die. And so, yesterday, Tatiana the Siberian tiger escaped from her enclosure and attacked three young men at the San Francisco Zoo; she killed one of them.

A wild tiger hunting and killing people within the San Francisco city limits; who says surrealism is dead?

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27 December 2007
Los Angeles Beauty
Hoo boy, there’s more than meets the eye in Los Angeles. Or maybe there isn’t.

After returning to San Francisco from last week’s trip to Los Angeles, I paged through a copy of a periodical I picked up at a coffee shop, The LA Weakly.


I was expecting to see the generic content that passes for popular culture, but I was wrong. It turns out that there is a distinct way of life down there, and it’s based on drugs and/or doctors. Here are some of the ads that filled the newsweakly.

Dr. Alan Bittner (”All I do is liposuction”) offers to “immediately remove up to two gallons of fat in one procedure.” I wonder if that has anything to do with the prevalence of cheap, deep-fried foods in that grim megalopolis?

One clinic offers a holiday sale: Restylane (four hundred dollars a syringe, two syringe minimum), Juvederm (five hundred dollars a syringe, two syringe minimum).” I have no idea what Restylane and Juvederm are, and I plan on preserving that ignorance. That goes for “colon hydrotherapy” as well.

Another business suggests reversing baldness, with hair transplants at a cost of “just sixty-seven cents each.” (But then there’s the fine print: the price of “2,702 follicular unit hairs and laser” equates to “total cost: $1,804.”) My calculator tell me the actual cost would be $1,810.34, but it would be churlish to argue with an Angelino over six dollars and change.

Sona Patel, M.D., provided me with my favorite advertisement, “Hello Future Medical Marijuana Patient.” The promotion features Dr. Patel, or perhaps a stunt double, dressed in a tight, sleeveless shirt, a stethoscope, and short pants barely longer than her belt. Should I ever need marijuana or a model for a parody of a pornographic actress, Dr. Patel will be the first person I call.

I shall end on a circumspect note. Since I note that one doctor offers, “vaginal restoration for twenty-five hundred dollars,” perhaps Los Angeles beauty really is more than skin deep.

28 December 2007
Of Popsicle Sticks and Capitalism
I have a new perspective on a piece I made in July, Eleven Popsicle Remnants. I discovered a reference to popular culture with which I was unfamiliar when I created the work. Until now, I never knew that the singer Sam Cook practiced performing in front of popsicle sticks.

“When we was very little boys, we were playing, and he had these popsicle sticks ... he lined them sticks up, stuck ’em in the ground, and said, ‘This is my audience, see? I’m gonna to sing to these stick.’ ” his brother L.C. reported. “I’m going to learn to sing in front of these sticks, so when I get older, I won’t be afraid to sing for people.”

“I figured out my life, man,” Sam Cook said, “I’m never gonna have a nine-to-five job. Man, I figured out the whole system. It’s designed, if you work, to keep you working, all you do is live from payday to payday—at the end of the week you broke again.”

“I’m gonna sing, and I’m going to make me a lot of money,” Cook predicted, at the age of nine.

And that’s what he did, demonstrating a prescient understanding of popsicle sticks and contemporary capitalism.

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29 December 2007
Fifteen Bowlfuls (Fillerup Fillerup!)
Fifteen Bowlfuls (Fillerup Fillerup!) is, in fact, a collection of fifteen photographs of burnt match heads. This is perhaps my most juvenile work ever—no small feat—since only myself and a few others living in Verona circa 1975 will appreciate the obscure reference.

30 December 2007
My New Scottish Estate
This was something of an uneventful year, until today. That’s when I acquired the first real estate of my life. My wee estate is in Scotland, on the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, Islay. Fearghas offered me a ride on his boat, so I can visit any time I want.

I also get rent on my property; the Laphroaig Distillery is paying me a dram of whisky a year. That means in just under two hundred and seventy-one years I’ll have a free liter of that efficacious peat juice! Unfortunately, that’s not as good as it sounds. Beginning with the 2005 bottling, the percentage of alcohol was decreased from forty-three percent to forty-percent.

I don’t anticipate spending much time on my compact estate, since it’s less than a tenth of a square meter. I suppose I can stand there, as long as I don’t flap my arms. After a few glasses of Scotch, that shouldn’t be much of a temptation.

Islay, you lay, we all lay!

31 December 2007
Rolls of Honour
Now that 2007 is all but behind me, the only thing I need to do is to thank the generous businesses that have contributed to my Rolls of Honour programme this year.

Alaska Airlines Flight 446 (PDX/OAK)
Battam Bang (Oakland)
Berkeley High School (Berkeley)
Citizen Space
Coastal Repertory Theater (Half Moon Bay)
Embarcadero Auto Sales
Gorman & Son Furniture (Oakland)
Gulf of the Farrallones Visitor Center
Hang Ah Tea Room
Hawthorn Suites (Anchorage, Alaska)
Homeward Bound (Novato)
Kaiser Permanente
La Calaca Loca (Oakland)
Larkin’s (Los Angeles)
Melting Pot Gallery
Million Fishes Arts Collective
Pacific Catch
Payless Car Rental
San Francisco Art Institute
Southern Exposure
Sweet Aroma
Trader Joe’s
True Stone

Happy new year!

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©2007 David Glenn Rinehart