2009 Notebook: Weak XIX
gratuitous image
7 May 2009
No. 1,287 (cartoon)
This is the end of the road.

What a view!

8 May 2009
Good Work and Bad Audiences
I asked Nora how she felt after her work was finally published.

“My book was excellent,” she replied, “but the audience was a great disappointment.”

I congratulated her on her achievement; an artist should always do good work and dismay the public.

9 May 2009
Who Died?
I was shopping for vegetables in Chinatown this afternoon when a funeral procession passed. Brass band, lots of mourners lining the sidewalk, the works.

“Who died?” I asked one of the onlookers.

“I’m not sure,” she said, “but I think it’s the person in the coffin.”

I wasn’t sure of she was serious or joking; that made her remark all the more entertaining.

10 May 2009
Everythings for a Dollar or Less
Oh dear, the great British apostrophe famine has reached our shores. I discovered this lamentable development when I saw a store sign promising, “Everythings for a Dollar or Less.”

An everything is clearly a desirable object, and an everything for a dollar—or less!—is obviously a great value. But here’s the problem with the “Everythings for a Dollar or Less” business plan: once you have an everything, why would you want another? Or perhaps the merchants know their clientele.

I’m reminded of the apocryphal (read: best kind) of story about a very inebriated Dubliner who passes out dead drunk at the side of a country road. When he regains consciousness at the first trace of dawn, he barely discerns the silhouette of a leprechaun. He grabs the sprite by the ankle, and, despite the little man’s protestations, refuses to release him until he’s been granted the customary three wishes.

His first request is for a pint of Guinness, which he quickly finishes. He notices the glass is magically full again, so he drinks it again. And again.

The leprechaun explains that it’s a magic pint of Guinness that will never be empty. The drunkard is delighted with this find, and uses his remaining quota of wishes by asking for two more magic pints.

And so, perhaps some customers might just buy several everythings, especially for a dollar. Or less!

11 May 2009
Bound to Please
The new gloves I bought for bicycle riding came with a little card attached extolling the quality of the material used.

    The product is made with high quality microfiber by Clarino, the world’s leading innovator of man-made leather.

I’ve never heard of Clarino before, but I do know that there’s only one source of man-made leather: a human. Ask any anthropodermic binder.

People have been practicing anthropodermic bibliopegy—using human skin to bind books—for hundreds of years. And why not? Human leather is readily available, durable, and waterproof.

I wish the doctor who amputated my finger would have saved the skin and bone for me. If she had, I could have a nice little leather sleeve in which to hold the tiny pieces of finger bone. As soon as I wrote that, I looked at my typing fingers and saw them in a different light. My digits are really just bones—with a little meat padding—wrapped in human leather, mine.

12 May 2009
I’m Over a Smoot
I just had a minor revelation: I’m over a smoot tall. To be precise, I’m 1.0746 smoots tall.

I made this discovery while analyzing satellite photographs. The computer program I was using gave me a choice of measurements: meters and kilometers, yards and miles, or smoots.


The smoot was named after Oliver R. Smoot, who was sixty-seven inches tall in October, 1958. That’s when Smoot’s classmates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used his body as a measuring device to ascertain that the Harvard Bridge is 364.4 smoots long, plus or minus one ear.

I’ve given this the thought it deserves: not very much. It does seem, however, that a smoot is about the normal height for a person. If you’re under a smoot, then you’re probably regarded as petite, or at least relatively short. I’ve never been uncomfortable with my height, but I must admit that 1.0746 smoots has a nice ring to it.

13 May 2009
King Poetry
I don’t under-
stand poe-

try. I

mean, I

sort of

get it


a lot of it seems

to be just

little stories

with gratuitous

line endings and

silly punctu


king poetry

14 May 2009
Richard Avedon’s Thin Skin
I just read that Richard Avedon was deeply hurt by Robert Brustein’s vicious review of Nothing Personal, the book Avedon made in 1964 with James Baldwin. Apparently, Avedon was so traumatized by the savage criticism that he stopped doing serious personal work for the latter half of the 1960s.

I needed a while to realize why that anecdote had some resonance.

In the 1980s, my late friend Morrie Camhi wrote a small piece in an obscure San Francisco photography periodical in which he mentioned that Avedon’s portraits might be as formulaic as those of any commercial photographer’s. Reportedly, Avedon was enraged by the observation.

Too bad Avedon was overly sensitive; his thin skin didn’t serve him well. I’m reminded of Miles Davis’s observation, “Dumb, insensitive critics have destroyed a lot of great music and musicians who just weren’t as strong as I was in having the ability to say ‘Fuck y’all.’ ”

last weak  |  index  |  next weak

©2009 David Glenn Rinehart