- 2 July 1997
- State Self Portrait Triptych
I look remarkably the same in my last three official state self-portraits,
which are a prerequisite for getting a driver's license. The most recent
photograph is obscured by copy-protection imaging, but that's a small price
to pay for an otherwise free portrait.
The Quality Control Committee's pernicious comments in yesterday's reports
notwithstanding, I still think it looks much better in the PDF version.
- 3 July 1997
- Worthless Art Pro
Bill told me I was making a wise marketing move by giving my art work
away over the Internet. He suggested that the next step should be to charge
for upgrades. For example, yesterday's State Self Portrait Triptych--which
you may download for free--should be supplanted by an enhanced version, say,
State Self Portrait Triptych Pro, which would carry a $85 "upgrade"
I remain unconvinced. Bill's one of the most brilliant people I know,
but I'm not sure if he grasps the concept of worthless art.
- 4 July 1997
- Hidden City Beers
Oh dear: another day, another scandal.
Today is the two hundred and twenty-first annual celebration of the Americans'
more or less successful rebellion against the English, so most government
workers have the day off. A private contractor making an emergency repair
found that one of the utility holes in the street was actually a small refrigerator
stocked with beer. After this was reported on the news, people started prying
up metal covers out of the street, and they weren't disappointed. By nightfall
hundreds of people had discovered thousands of bottles of beer, and the
streets were mostly impassible either because of the holes or the abandoned
cars with broken axles.
It's not really a problem tonight, though: it's unsafe to go outside
because of all the drunks and gunfire. By Monday, however, I predict there are going to be lots of angry, sober, city workers.
- 5 July 1997
- Film Director With No Antigravity Belt
I accidentally met a film director at an opening. (He came over to talk
with the woman with whom I was standing; she saw him coming; she got away;
I didn't.) I was uncomfortable talking with him since I'd never seen one
of his films (although I later found I had seen one but didn't remember
it.) That wasn't a problem; I don't think it occurred to him that there
was anyone who hadn't seen all of his films.
I told him the problem I had with science fiction films--that was more
or less his genre--was that the future was always shown as being fully developed.
In a century or two it always seems that everything's been perfected, nothing's
experimental. I told him he should have a scene in which some rich middle-aged
men are playing with expensive prototypes of, say, antigravity belts that
they bought after work from a science boutique. I suggested he show them
fiddling with all the dials, knobs and switches but being unable to get
them to work, unable to get more than a few millimeters off the floor.
The film director stared straight through me looking for someone more
wealthy, interesting or attractive to chat up; I thought he didn't hear
a word I said. As it turned out, I was wrong.
Ten minutes later he was yelling at two of his assistants: he didn't
care if it was Saturday night and everything was closed, he wanted an antigravity
belt and he wasn't going to wait. At least I guess he heard a few words
of what I said.
The film director stormed out in a covey of assistants, sycophants
and gold leeches.
- 6 July 1997
- The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
I had a talk with a painter over not a few bottles of wine. I told him
that since almost every medium in which I work in infinitely reproducible,
I couldn't imagine making a painting, selling it, and never seeing it again.
He said his paintings were like his children ...
"In a couple years my four year old daughter will be 'replaced'
by a more mature six year old. I can't hang on to a four year old just like
I can't hang on to an old painting."
It wasn't a persuasive argument, but I didn't argue; it was a better
line of reasoning than most painters make.
- 7 July 1997
- Turpentine Intoxication
I thought I knew most of Marcel Duchamp's best one-liners, but I was
wrong. In the mid-1930s, he suggested that the attraction to painting was
based on "turpentine intoxication."
He was, predictably, absolutely right. That's how all the cute young
artists smelled during my brief art school stint. Even today, I find women
who smell like paint much more attractive than those who don't.
- 8 July 1997
- Gary Winogrand Lives In Me
If I remember right, Gary Winogrand left behind a couple of hundred thousand
exposed--but undeveloped--frames of 35 millimeter film when he died.
(I thought that number must certainly be wrong, but given that he was
two years behind on his developing, that works out to just under eight rolls
a day, every day. But I digress; I mustn't let facts get in the way of a
If I remember right, Winogrand's theory was that he waited two years
before developing his film so that he wouldn't have any emotional connection
with the images. By forgetting the circumstances under which the film was
exposed--if not the subject matter--he was able to look at his work as objectively
and dispassionately as possible.
(It's time for an anecdote break. When Mason Resnick asked Winogrand
if he felt bad about missing pictures when he reloaded, Gary replied, "No,
there are no pictures when I reload.")
I thought of Winogrand after developing two or three years of film--nine
rolls in all. I was surprised at how many of the frames seemed completely
unfamiliar. Gary Winogrand lives in me.
- 9 July 1997
- The Lubricant of Run-On Sentences
Bradley reports that when leafing through an old reference volume
I think it may have been an encyclopedia
he ran across a tutorial titled Punctuation, the Lubricant of Language
Although he shares my love of punctuation
I like it because it holds my run-on sentences together
he was disturbed by the title and said
I will never punctuate again
I think he was being a bit hasty as I'm sure you will agree
Or perhaps not
- 10 July 1997
- A Tough Act to Follow
Brendan Macpherson died yesterday. He died as he lived: quite drunk.
I read one of the last interviews with him; he seemed like a sad old
man. "I always thought I'd be remembered for my plays, not my drinking.
I guess I was wrong."
At least he was right about being wrong. I saw "The Potatoes of
Auchtermuchty"--arguably his best play--several years ago, and can't
remember a thing about it. I can't even remember the plot, or if it even
had one. I never even heard about some of his other works like "Seven
Drams of Hate" or "Oatcakes With Porridge" until I read his
Ah, but his drinking; that's another story. Who can forget the time he
drank two bottles of whisky between breakfast and dinner then picked a fight
with Fitzgerald by taunting him with his famous "bollocks for brains"
jibe? Or the time he stuck the princess's finger in his mouth instead of
doing something as passé as air-kissing the back of her hand?
Brendan Macpherson is a tough act to follow.
- 11 July 1997
- Museum of Improbability
A friend in Vienna told me there was a lucrative four-week guest curator
opening at the Museum of Improbability. I asked her if she thought I had
a chance of getting it.
She thought about it for a moment, then replied "It's improbable."
- 12 July 1997
- My First Painting
For the last couple of decades I've had an idea for my first painting:
"PAIN-" on the top of the canvas and "TING." on the
bottom. I haven't gotten around to it yet.
- 13 July 1997
- My Second(?) Painting
After thinking again about the "PAIN-TING." painting I've been
thinking about for a couple decades, I thought maybe I should think about
doing a second one (even though I haven't done the first one).
I came up with "A SQUIGGELDY LINE AROUND THE EDGES," but I'm
not too sure about it. I guess that's the difference between thinking about
something a lot and a little. Maybe I'll like it, maybe I won't; it's hard
to say. I think Tadashi Kiyotani has the best perspective on the discomfort
of the new: "Everything new looks strange for the first 200 years and
then it's fine."
- 14 July 1997
- Surly As Ever
I got a letter from an old high school friend; it was the first time
I heard from her in literally twenty years. (There are a number of friends
I haven't heard from in figuratively twenty years, but literally is of course
She closed her letter by saying, "Hope this finds you healthy, happy,
and as surly as ever." What a nice thing to say! I always thought all
my efforts at acting surly as a teenager had been wasted, but it turns out
- 15 July 1997
- Refusing the Tie
Someone murdered Gianni Versace today: it doesn't pay to be famous. And
I don't think it pays to be a fashion designer, either, except in terms
of cash. I'll let Jean Cocteau provide an obituary ...
"Art produces ugly things which frequently become beautiful
with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which
always become ugly with time."
- Still, Versace left behind something I'll always enjoy, a lovely little
quote: "I refused the tie many years ago."