- 18 June 1997
- Extraterrestrial Enticements
I'm not often stymied for long on a project, but Extraterrestrial
Enticements is an exception. When I first thought of the piece, it was
deceptively simple: find something that would entice travelers from beyond
Earth to stop and investigate. The best way to do this would have been to
use electronics or radio transmissions, but I never seriously considered
those options because I know almost nothing about such technologies. I decided
to place objects on the roof of my San Francisco laboratory that would pique
the travelers' curiosity and compel them to investigate further.
And then I hit the conceptual wall: what selection of objects would be
entirely new--or at least of interest--to the aliens? My first idea was to
present something unique. I quickly abandoned this approach; it's all been
Then I thought about juxtaposition, but didn't get very far with that
approach either. Everything I came up with sounded like an art school exercise
or a cheap surrealistic non sequitur.
I then considered trying to attract the aliens by presenting something
of value, but had no idea what they might desire--if in fact they desired
anything at all.
Jeremy Campbell provided the conceptual breakthrough I needed with his
observation on information theory:
"A message conveys no information unless some prior uncertainty
exists in the mind of the receiver about what the message will contain."
- I decided the combination of a block of rice, penetrated by screws, covered
in oyster flavored sauce, resting on a circular saw blade might work. I
hope it does; I can then start working on something new.
- 19 June 1997
- Transparent Pretenses
I read a sad story about Alphonse Lamotte, a taxi driver who tried to
commit suicide but make his death like an accident so his family could receive
a large amount of money from his life insurance policy.
Poor Alphonse failed to die; he's now--and always will be--paralyzed.
I have the same problem, sort of. When I try to make it look like I've
done something by accident or chance, most people can see through my thin
pretense. At least it's not permanent.
- 20 June 1997
- Little Yapper Dogs
There's not much to say about little yapper dogs that wasn't said years
ago at Signor Pizza.
If there ever were Italians involved with Signor Pizza, they were long
gone by the time I moved into San Francisco's Tenderloin. Signor Pizza was
operated and/or owned by Vietnamese. Their pizza wasn't that tasty, but
it was cheap. I regularly patronized Signor Pizza; a large slice--the only
size on offer--along with a forty ounce bottle of Rainier Ale usually satisfied.
One time I was waiting at Signor Pizza for a fresh pie to come out of
the oven when a garishly dressed prostitute in a short glittery red dress
began haranguing the man chopping vegetables with an interminable monologue
about her "big house back in Maryland."
"... and it's got a lovely yard with a beautiful garden and two
little ittie-bittie dogs, and these little dogs are so cute they just run
around and run around and I just love those little dogs, they never stop,
they just run everywhere and I love 'em so, you know what I mean?"
The man with the cleaver (Signor Pizza himself?) turned around and smiled.
"I know that kind of dog. Chop up. Put on pizza."
End of story.
- 21 June 1997
- Not Very Old, Really
An attractive young woman with long hair sat down beside me on the on
the train. I'm sure she wasn't interested in me; I think she only sat with
me because everyone else looked even scarier.
She began reading a literary magazine; I wondered what her face looked
like. When she finally brushed back her hair I could see she wasn't young
at all; she appeared to be about as old as me. Not very old, really.
- 22 June 1997
- Car Frisbee
Janet told me that she and her friends used to play Car Frisbee when
they were teenagers. It's played like the normal version except that the
players chase the disc in automobiles, not on foot.
I think Janet never played such a game, but it doesn't matter: the idea
- 23 June 1997
- Not Hot Enough
I believe most food isn't properly seasoned unless it's painful to eat,
which is why I tried Ass in the Tub Hot Sauce. Apparently the manufacturers
spent their money on the adolescent name and design, the sauce itself wasn't
hot enough. (In fairness, I should add that no other hot sauce I've tried
is hot enough either.)
- 24 June 1997
- Succeeding to Fail
I told Jen that to "succeed" in art (using the conventional
definitions) is to fail. She replied that to fail was also to fail, a tautology
I couldn't rebut.
I then remembered a Joseph Heller quote that amicably ended the discussion:
"Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with
success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, meditation,
medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure."
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©1997 David Glenn Rinehart