2009 Notebook: Weak XXII
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28 May 2009
No. 4,738 (cartoon)
Why won’t you leave me alone?!

No one hates me like you do.

29 May 2009
An Entirely Predictable Story
The first thing Bernie did after I showed up at his studio this morning was to pour a pint glass full of gin and tonic water, with more of the former than the latter.

“I’m not sure if that’s the best breakfast option,” I cautioned, “remember what happened last time?”

“Not really,” Bernie shrugged. “Anyway, it’s not déjà vu until it happens twice.”

Anyone can see what happened after that, so there’s no need to narrate an entirely predictable story.

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30 May 2009
Steve Barton (1956-?)
When we were students at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Steve Barton and I played our French horns in the school orchestra. I was the first chair who was supposed to play the solos and glorious bits; Steve was my assistant who had to play all the oom-pah-pahs and other crappy parts. Sometimes we’d switch positions depending who was most adversely affected by the mild drugs and alcohol that made following the musical instructions of some long-dead white guy somewhat more endurable. (I quit the orchestra when I decided to only engage in creative pursuits that didn’t involve taking orders from anyone else, living or dead.)

In the eighties, I hired Steve to work with me in San Francisco during my ill-considered dalliance with capitalism. We spent lots of time together, usually in his chaotic apartment. Every surface was covered in some sort of art project in gestation, as well as dirty plates, empty bottles, and other detritus. It took me a long time to understand that rows of moldy beer bottles, a tower of empty cereal boxes, et cetera, were also creative works. He taught me—by example—more about art than anyone else.

Steve discovered the warm embrace of heroin in San Francisco, then decided to move back to Texas to get away from it. The last time I talked with him in the nineties, he was going to pack everything he owned into a suitcase and move to rural Colorado, even farther from opioids.

And then he disappeared.

Yesterday, an Interlochen alumnus sent me a database of our classmates. The first thing I did was to see who was dead, and there he was: “Barton, Stephan Charles, 5/10/1956, deceased.” I have no idea when, how, where, or even if he died. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve mailed a fake death notice to the alumni office; I may do that myself.)

Steve never liked being photographed; he explained that “cameras never get the lips right.” Without burrowing through thousands of old negatives, the only photograph I have of him shows him blowing his Horn of Doom into a concrete hole in 1978. It’s not a great portrait, but at least I didn’t get the lips wrong.

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31 May 2009
Dice and Checkers
I bought a five-dollar set of games at the drugstore: chess, checkers, and backgammon. The checkers and dice arrived mummified in clear plastic; I assume that a machine packed them. If I had five-thousand dollars to waste, I’d buy five thousand game sets and present the columns of dice and checkers in a pleasing twenty-five by eighty grid. I imagine studying the random distribution of dots on the dice would be quite rewarding, at least for the first few hours.

1 June 2009
The Mysterious Disappearance of Air France Flight 447
A passenger jet just fell apart in a huge storm ten kilometers over the Atlantic Ocean. Contemporary jets are supposed to withstand violent turbulence, but everyone knows they don’t.

I wonder how long the two hundred and twenty-eight people on the plane survived after it broke up? At the speed the plane was going, it would be a minimum of fifteen seconds, but probably not more than a minute. That’s not very long to live.

I hope my last minute is spent experiencing something marvelous I could not have imagined, such as hurtling weightless through tropical storm lightning high above the ocean.

High, above the ocean.

Like the old show business adage advises, “always leave ’em wanting more.”

2 June 2009
New Imaginism
Here’s what I found in this morning’s email.

“Attached you will find a release outlining an exciting development in the New Imaginism movement with the announcement of Mr. Anthony Fawcett, art critic and visionary to their line up of evangelists overseeing the launch of their exciting new art form, to the art community in October 2009.”

The press release continued, “... the New Imaginism movement has been chosen by Anthony as the next great contributor to the Art world and no doubt the exciting months in the lead up to the launches in October we see Art History made.” In case the enormity of the announcement wasn’t obvious, the statement added, “It is a concept arriving before it’s [sic] time ...”

If there was any doubt about the monumental nature of this yet-to-be realized development, I was informed that it will lead to “an entirely digital existence and evolutionary jump in humankind.”

I didn’t read the rest of the hyperbole to see if it also promised weight loss, huge financial rewards, better sex, et cetera. Instead, I went to the Internet site of the “movement.” When I did, I heard the words, “New Imaginism, Making Art History,” repeated over and over in a über-twittish English accent until I disconnected my speakers. I was greeted by the equally pretentious text, “We bid you welcome to the official website of the world’s most original new art movement: New Imaginism.”

Bid you welcome?! And isn’t “most original” an oxymoron? As for the art, there wasn’t any, just more grandiose hyperbole.

“New Imaginism was founded and developed by Herman Bean and a close-knit group of collaborative artists over the past eighteen months. They are being extremely secretive about the specifics of their movement at this point in time, saying very little other than the description above.”

When it comes to combining incompetence with bloated pomposity, no one does it better than the English! I’m reminded of The Gallery of the Future, a similar fiasco I visited a dozen years ago. It too was full of ostentatious flamboyance. And of course there wasn’t any art, none at all. I suppose it takes the imbeciles who peddle such nonsense so much time to publicize how they’re about to change everything from the history of art to human evolution that the cretins have no time left to even attempt to make art.

That’s just as well; I imagine their art would be as atrocious as their rhetoric.

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3 June 2009
Chicken Neck Tube
I’m ostensibly sick, so Dahlia’s brewing up a batch of chicken soup. And I’m watching.

“Yuck!” Dahlia exclaimed. “What’s that?”

“Chicken corpse?” I guessed.

“No, I mean the tubular bit coming out of the neck,” she said.

We poked at the hollow tube and tried to guess what it was. Throat? Windpipe? (Are those the same thing?) As was the case when Florian and I discovered a turkey feather a few months ago, it seems like the only time those of us who live in cities learn anything about the animal sciences is when the butcher forgets to remove all the miscellaneous parts from a carcass.

4 June 2009
Museum of Not Very Modern Art
The San Francisco Museum of Modern [sic] Art recently announced a new exhibit, “Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities.” In this instance, “modern” and “new” are misnomers. Ansel Adams and Geogia O’Keeffe were born over a century ago, so they’re hardly modern artists. They’ve both been dead for decades; that’s effectively prevented them from doing any new work.

So why would museum curators mount such a tediously predictable show? I suspect they didn’t take the initiative in rehashing such relentlessly overhashed work. Instead, I’d wager administraitors concocted the idea in order to sell lots of fifteen-dollar tickets to a popular show. And then there’s this relevant announcement from the museum’s promotional material: “Merchandise related to ‘Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities’ is available for online and in-store purchase.”

I like Adams and O’Keeffe; virtually everyone does. But if a local institution is going to exhibit their work, I think honesty and accuracy dictate that it be called The San Francisco Museum of Modern Merchandising.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart