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  A Lifetime of Inspiration

(a cylinder 5,145.267 millimeters in diameter by 8,853,500 millimeters in height)
(ten 500ml breaths per minute for seven decades)
 
 
 

 
 
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30 July 1997
A Lifetime of Inspiration
I read that everyone breathes so much that it's probable that at some point in my life I'll have an atom or two in my lungs that was or were once in [name your favorite example]'s lungs. Based on this story, I decided to calculate the volume of air I may breath in my lifetime and figure out what geographic area that would cover. I imagined I'd discover that a lifetime of breath would cover a large city, a small state or perhaps even a small country. I was off by many orders of magnitude, and ended up with a five-meter-wide cylinder as tall as Mount Everest.

My favorite discovery during the project was learning that inspiration is a scientific description of breathing.

A Lifetime of Inspiration is available in the PDF format.

31 July 1997
Another Government Program
There's another government program to help the poor, which, as usual, means a windfall for consultants and not much for the least affluent. Joey Potter, an unemployed father of three, said, "It's like they told me they'll replace my old slow half-dead mule with a picture of a fast racing horse."

1 August 1997
Nothing Better To Do
Patricia Walsh spent around $6,000 to accouter a rock to resemble the late Douglas MacArthur. According to the story I heard, some people with nothing better to do criticized her for having nothing better to do. She replied with a quote worthy of any artist: "I'm an old lady, and I can amuse myself doing whatever I like."

2 August 1997
Two's a Crowd
Jane said I shouldn't publish stories about my dreams. I asked her if she had some metaphysical motive for giving me that advice, but she said it was only practical. "Dreams are written and performed for an audience of one; two's a crowd."

I told her she was right, but I didn't tell her that I rewrote all my dreams to enhance their entertainment value.

3 August 1997
Procrastination: Blast It!
William Burroughs died yesterday, which, of course, generated a lot of obituaries today. I learned that Ralph Steadman did a piece with William Burroughs a few years ago that involved Burroughs shooting Steadman's prints with a gun. I've been meaning to do a similar piece with a rifle for years but haven't gotten around to it.

Similarly, I received an invitation in yesterday's mail to see an artist named Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun blast something he didn't like with a shotgun; I was also planning on doing that for years.

I'm reminded of the Latin proverb attributed to Ælius Donatus: "Pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt." (A pox on those who have declared our bright ideas before us.)

4 August 1997
Drinking: Wow!!!
Everyone always talks about getting drunk, but no one ever really talks about the essence of getting drunk.

The essence is this: you drink an alcoholic beverage and your mind works differently.

Wow!!!

5 August 1997
Aerial Feng Shui
Korean Airlines Flight 801 crashed today "for no apparent reason." The reason is obvious to me, though: 801 is police shorthand for a suicide attempt. Korean Air Lines lost another 747 in 1983 when it "inexplicably" strayed hundreds of kilometers off course and was shot down after flying over Siberia. There were rumors at the time that the plane was spying for the United States, which may or may not have anything to do with the flight number: 007.

I don't believe in numerology, but, on the other hand, you won't find me on Korean Airlines Flight 013.

6 August 1997
Looks Like Photographs by Martin Parr
I received an illustrated invitation to a show of photographs by Martin Parr. The photos looked exactly like photographs by Martin Parr, which explains both why he took them and why the gallery exhibited them. Martin Parr's ability to make photographs that look they were made by Martin Parr is a marketable skill.

7 August 1997
I Like Alex
Alex looks like a hippy. I don't know him very well, but I don't think it would be very inaccurate to describe him as a hippy. Alex wears a button that says, "Never trust a hippy." I like Alex.

8 August 1997
Dreaming Strategies
I think the position in which I sleep has something to do with my dreams, but I can't figure out the relationship because there are too many variables, too many unknowns.

Are dreamt thoughts lighter or heavier than the organic matter in my head? Let's assume that I'm sleeping on my left side and that my dreams are lighter than the rest of my brain: that means they'll rise, and I'll dream with the right side of my brain. My dictionary tells me that the right the side of the brain is the half used for "spatial and nonverbal concepts."

On the other hand, if I end up using the other side of brain's "specialization for language and calculation" then I dream about dreary business plans and wake up more tired than when I went to sleep.

I've been unable to establish any cause-and-effect relationship because I sleep in different positions during the night, because I don't remember most of my dreams, and because I have no idea whether dreams are heavier or lighter than brains.

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9 August 1997
Wine Drinking Time
Paul Masson California Red Wine comes in a liter carafe, which makes drinking a real pleasure. First, there's the obvious benefit of having from thirty-three to forty-three percent more wine than is delivered in an ordinary bottle. Also, the wide mouth makes it easier to pour quicker, so there's less time wasted on waiting for refills. And, even when the wine's all gone, there's no empty bottle, just a brand new carafe!

Paul Masson's advertising slogan is "We will sell no wine before its time." (They even paid Orson Welles a lot of money to say it with a serious expression.) I respect such corporate integrity, and have responded with a personal credo: "I will drink no Paul Masson wine before it's time (to get drunk)."

During my last few liters, I've been studying the patters made by the wine on the lid of the carafe. On one there were a number of dried splotches; that bottle had obviously been on the shelf a while before I decided to open it. Another lid shows liquidy blobs that resemble Gondwanaland breaking up. I apparently opened that one soon after sloshing it back from the store.

Paul Masson California Red Wine represents excellent entertainment value.

10 August 1997
Imprecise Music
I was walking down the street when I heard some loud music coming from a beer garden. I could tell it was live because the musicians were a bit out of tune. It's a sad day when musicians are supposed to sound as precise as machines.

11 August 1997
So I Read Her My Rights
When I was a teenager I told my grandmother about my friend Linda, a divorced woman with two young children. "You stay away from her," grandma cautioned, "widow women only want one thing."

It's been almost a decade since my grandma died; she went to her grave without telling me what the one thing was that widow women want. (I asked Linda, but she professed innocence, but I suppose she would, wouldn't she?)

"What do widow women want?" has been on my mind recently after I was forwarded a note from an Elaine Adams, who wrote to me, "For and on behalf of Scottish Widows."

    We are the advertising agency for Scottish Widows and I have been passed a copy of your diary entry for December 2nd 1996 in which you have used a picture of the Scottish Widow.

    We do not have 'internet' usage rights for the photography and being a photographer you will understand the implications of usage without negotiation. Could I ask that you do not use her image.

    In anticipation, thank you for your cooperation.

    Kind regards

    Elaine Adams
    For and on behalf of Scottish Widows

I replied ...

Dear Elaine Adams,

Thank you for your note regarding my notebook entry "The Polish Scottish Widow" <http://www.stare.com/9612/961202.html> that includes a picture of "the Scottish Widow." (Since I haven't given anyone permission to reproduce that piece, I assume the copy that was passed to you was a pirated copy.)

Speaking of protected works, I can and do understand the implications of commercial usage without negotiation, or, more to the point, additional use without additional payment. As my friends in the south might say, I'm agin it. I believe in lavishly remunerating artists for their work and in intellectual rights, copyrights, trademarks, mother and apple pie.

As you may have guessed by now, I'm an American. And although my notebook contains references to various places on the planet and is available internationally since it's on the Internet, it's "published" in the United States. (The files are on a server in California, which shares a small room a few miles north of San Francisco with a coffee pot, a small refrigerator, and a ping pong table.) I mention this not for legal purposes--since you didn't take a litigious attitude neither shall I--but to suggest there may be some relevant cultural differences.

Although your country and mine have signed the same international copyright and trademark agreements, Americans have perhaps stronger protection to quote, cite, and even parody--no, make that especially parody--copyrighted words, images and ideas. The 1689 British Bill of Rights mandates that no Roman Catholic shall rule England; the 1791 U.S. Bill of Rights mandates that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ..." This legal, and, more importantly, cultural premise was confirmed in 1994 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of 2 Live Crew in the case of Luther R. Campbell aka Luke Skyywalker [aka 2 Live Crew], et al., Petitioners v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. Even though 2 Live Crew had used copyrighted excerpts--or, in rap parlance, samples--from the Roy Orbison/William Dees song "Oh, Pretty Woman" in a commercial release; it was ruled to be "fair use."

It was from this cultural perspective that I included the relevant visual detail from your advertising campaign when I wrote about "the Polish Scottish Widow." Although your advertising agency has successfully turned the photograph of the model into an icon in Britain, she's understandably unknown elsewhere. As I cited, such "fair use" is probably legal even in a commercial venture, although we'd probably have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers to confirm that. I think the issue becomes even more unambiguous legally, financially, morally, and ethically when seen in the context in which I used it.

My Internet site is a noncommercial venture. You don't have to pay to visit it, no one pays me when you do, it doesn't have advertising, et cetera. The site is designed as an "open studio" where you can see what art work I've completed, what I'm planning, and leaf through my notebook. To put her into perspective, "the Scottish Widow" was one of three hundred and sixty-six notebook entries for 1996; she's only one of over ten thousand pages on my site.

Even though I believe that what I've done is well within my rights, I would nevertheless like to address your concerns. You said, "We do not have 'internet' usage rights for the photography." I'll resist the temptation to suggest you obtain them before the client finds out, and instead suggest that you provide contact information for the photographer and/or model; I'm sure I can work out something. At the least, I can credit him/her for the work. Also, I'll be happy to add a disclaimer to my notebook entry saying that the image of and/or words "Scottish Widow(s)" are registered trademarks (even though such wording doesn't appear in your ads as it normally would in an American campaign). In addition, I'm willing to reproduce more of the newspaper advertisement to show the reproduction in context so that no one thinks I photographed the model, or that I am the model. (It's unwise to make too many assumptions in San Francisco.)

I enjoyed the tone and lack of belligerence in your note (another cultural difference?); I hope I've responded in a similar manner. I look forward to your reply.

Cheers,

David Glenn Rinehart

cc: Joseph Landweber, Batlan, Landweber, Fishler & Yeager

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12 August 1997
The Long Arm of Fish and Chips
I was just walking down the street minding my own business when I suddenly found myself lured into a fish and chips shop. It would have been pointless to resist.

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©1997 David Glenn Rinehart