2009 Notebook: Weak XVII
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24 April 2009
No. 1,164 (cartoon)
Your alcoholism is a disease.

It’s one of the diseases that pleases!

25 April 2009
Last night I had dinner with Dr. Hayes; he ate a barracuda. Or, to be more accurate, he ate a relatively small piece of the huge fish.

My father had a car with the brand name of Barracuda; it was made in 1966. I remember that the rear top of the car was formed by a huge, glass dome that made the car an efficient oven during the day. When I laid under the cupola on a starry night, the automobile became a serviceable spaceship.

Dr. Hayes gave me a sample of his barracuda; it tasted fishy, like some sort of sea creature.

26 April 2009
Laurie Anderson in San Francisco, Twice
I saw two notices regarding Laurie Anderson today. One advertised a speaking engagement by the well-known recording artist; the other was an invitation to a small exhibit.

The promotions were for two different women, one from New York and one from San Francisco. I feel a bit sorry for the San Francisco Laurie Anderson; it’s most unfortunate that she has the same name as her famous counterpart. I suppose the name is the female equivalent of Robert Smith ...

It seems like the obvious solution—if there is a problem, of course—is one I came up with decades ago: additional data provides disambiguation. In this case, the New York artist might use her middle name, so if I saw a Laurie Phillips Anderson poster I’d know which Laurie Anderson was performing.

I use my middle name as a tip of the epithetic hat to Glenn Albert Rinehart, my late father. I also do it to avoid being confused with a hundred other David Rineharts.

I’m overthinking this non-problem. I’m sure most of the Laurie Andersons in the world are quite satisfied with their name. And I wasn’t at all confused about the today’s two Laurie Andersons; it’s probably been decades since the east coast model used a hand-lettered poster.

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27 April 2009
Ridiculous Bathroom
I popped into a public bathroom at 1890 Bryant Street, where I was dismayed to find the urinal mounted almost at floor level. Why would anyone install a urinal at a height appropriate for a one-year old boy? I’m sure it has something to do with well-intentioned zoning laws, but it’s a huge design mistake.

I decided to photograph the absurd installation, so I unpacked my backpack to reach the camera stowed conveniently under everything else. As I fumbled with the camera, battery, lens, light meter, et cetera, a man came in, took one look at the urinal, then proceeded to urinate in the sink. After he left, another man came in and reached the same logical conclusion.

If my studio was at 1890 Bryant Street, I might designate one sink for personal hygiene and the other for urination. Fortunately, my studio is in a building built in a more sensible era, at least when it comes to urination.

28 April 2009
Tactile Art Appreciation
I went to an open studios event at a converted warehouse tonight. The artists (and not-really-artists-at-all) lined the hallways with their work. There, I saw a curious site.

The woman in the hallway in front of me kept the fingers of her right hand against the wall, and brushed them against the surface of the alleged art as she walked. She didn’t seem to be conscious of what she was doing, and treated textured paintings the same as panes of glass. Most curious.

I couldn’t figure out what she was doing, or why. She didn’t seem to be drunk, although that’s always a possibility. She may have been a bit insane, but who isn’t? I guess she was simply demonstrating more creativity in experiencing the pieces than was evident in the works themselves.

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29 April 2009
Thirty-Six Modest Shrubberies Observed About Decker Island
Commercial considerations led me to Decker Island, a pile of gravel—soon to become a gravel pit—in the Sacramento river. To the untrained eye, it’s a desolate place populated with birds, feral cows, and modest shrubberies.

Some combination of heat and dehydration led me to become interested in the miserable little plants clinging to life in the dry sand. As a pulled out my camera, I briefly meditated on Alfred Barr’s unanswered and perhaps unanswerable question, “Why do all photographers have to photograph bushes?” My love of tedium can’t be ignored, but that’s not even close to a universal explanation.

I chose thirty-six photographs for nostalgic reasons; that’s the number on one roll of Leica film and on three rolls of Hasselblad film. I haven’t used film in a decade, but the number thirty-six still has a certain resonance.

And then it happened. In a moment of aesthetic weakness, I failed to demonstrate the courage inherent in my lack of convictions. Specifically, I gave into the temptation to run the tedious images through a computer filter. As a result, Thirty-Six Modest Shrubberies Observed About Decker Island ended up looking like someone made after their first drunken encounter with a computer graphics program.

To conclude with a possibly relevant aside, let the record show I was sober during the entire shrubbery debacle. Perhaps that should tell me something, but I have no idea what it is.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart