Stare.
     
 

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  Twenty Deodorizing Mints Scattered in Five Seemingly Random Gangs of Four in the Urinal of the Edinburgh Pub "The Cumberland" on St. Patrick's Day 1998
 
 
 

 
 
P E R I O D  IV  1 9 9 8
 
   

17 March 1998
Twenty Deodorizing Mints Scattered in Five Seemingly Random Gangs of Four in the Urinal of the Edinburgh Pub "The Cumberland" on St. Patrick's Day 1998
The title Twenty Deodorizing Mints Scattered in Five Seemingly Random Gangs of Four in the Urinal of the Edinburgh Pub "The Cumberland" on St. Patrick's Day 1998 might imply some sort of cultural or political sentiments, but it doesn't. After several pints of ale, I wasn't thinking about anything except how or why the smelly little tablets came to be arranged in seemingly random gangs of four. (This is also available in the PDF format.)

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18 March 1998
My Kind of Place
After seven years as a pseudo-nomad, the idea of having a box I call home has a certain appeal. I saw such a box--two of them, actually--on an Edinburgh street. It's the kind of stealth mobile home that might not attract a tornado.

19 March 1998
A Rich Artistic Tradition
It seems like every generation laments art's failure to shock. If I remember correctly, Luis Buñuel ended his lovely autobiography My Last Sigh with an anecdote about how sad it was that people had become shockproof. I suppose the Cubists used to piss and moan that they were unable to upset people as thoroughly as the Impressionists had. So it goes.

Kurt Andersen provides the latest version of this old lament: "In an age when characters on a CBS prime-time series can say 'asshole,' annoyance is probably as close to outrage as anything artists can incite in people who aren't members of the Christian Coalition. It's become almost impossible épater les bourgeois."

A good artist is still shocking, it's just harder to do these days because people are more numb and dumb than ever. And besides, annoying someone isn't a bad consolation prize.

20 March 1998
The Speed Art Museum
I just read a brief announcement that the Speed Art Museum has opened in Louisville. The Speed Art Museum? I wonder if it features work done with Maseratis or methamphetamine? I'd guess it's the latter; the last time I was in Loiusville was to photograph The Valley of the Drums, 20,000 drums of toxic waste that a redneck dumped in his back forty instead of dealing with all that bothersome government paperwork.

If the Speed Art Museum is for the chemically creative, I should tell Gregory Green. He may have new work to show along the lines of 10,000 Doses (first state), his memorable lysergic acid diethylamide piece.

21 March 1998
Henri Cartier-Bresson, at Ninety, Is Far From Death
For years I've expected to see the name Henri Cartier-Bresson when ever I come across the obituary pages. There's no particular reason except that he's one of the few people I know who's ninety, an age most people never see for one reason or another.

I saw a documentary on Henri Cartier-Bresson, and the old codger looks anything but decrepit. In fact, the aging imp seemed quite sprightly and animated. He came across as more human than French, the opposite of the way I've found him in print.

My favorite part of the show was the ending, when the interviewer asked him what he thought of being called the greatest photographer of the century. He looked bothered for a moment, then smiled and whispered in the interviewer's ear "shit" just loud enough to be heard. He then turned to the camera, grinned, and said in a loud voice "Bullshit!" He beamed, shook hands with the interviewer and the sound person and the camera person then floated away. Liberty, equality, fraternity!

With any luck at all, it should be a while before Henri Cartier-Bresson has his decisive moment in the obituary pages.

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22 March 1998
Three Types of Dangerous People
I saw a diagram in the newspaper that showed how tell whether a person was more likely to be normal, a murderer or a serial killer. That's the kind of information I can use; those are the kind of people I want to avoid.

23 March 1998
Anthrax Alert
Her Ludicrous Majesty's Government issued a warning to all United [sic] Kingdom customs cops to be on the lookout for Iraqi anthrax being smuggled into the country in duty-free liquids. And of course this happened just before I landed with my 1.14 liter bottle of duty-free whisky.

To make a tedious story brief, I was told to prove the whiskey was free from anthrax, so I drank half the bottle in front of the customs police. A lieutenant told me he thought I was acting strange, but I assured him I was under the familiar influence of alcohol, not anthrax.

The good lieutenant said "I'll be the judge of that"" and helped himself to the rest of the bottle. A half hour later we were both laughing, telling ridiculous stories about how much we loved Great [sic] Britain, and sharing a thin drunken camaraderie.

And now I have a headache: it must be the anthrax.

24 March 1998
Where's the Craft?
Sculptor Anthony-Noel Kelly allegedly received stolen body parts from the Royal College of Surgeons to use as the basis for his molds. That was a problem for some people, including Laurence Martin, Her Majesty's Inspector of Anatomy, who reported Kelly to The Authorities after seeing the work. (Initial reports that the gentleman in question was the Inspector of the Her Majesty's Anatomy were incorrect.)

At Kelly's trial, the Royal College of Surgeon's surgical resource manager Brian Eaton admitted that there'd been "resource" problems in the past, like the time a woman inadvertently saw a consignment of fleshy thigh bones being burned next door. The woman, who was quite upset, was given a box of chocolates as compensation.

I think that's a good precedent for the punishment Kelly should receive: he should buy chocolates for everyone who's upset. Yum yum!

Although chocolates could let him off the legal hook, he's still got a problem. Where's the craft in cloning dead people's bits in metal?

25 March 1998
Candiru Attack!
All the divers I know worry more about candirus than sharks. A shark will chomp you in half; it's usually over faster than you can say "shark shit." The tiny candiru, though, swims up the human urinary tract and other available orifices, spreads its spiky fins, sucks blood and dies.

Ouch!

Ask any diver, ask any surgeon: a candiru assault almost always hurts more the next morning than a shark attack.

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26 March 1998
Garlic All the Way from China
Today I bought garlic that came all the way from China. When I was a boy, my mother me told to finish all the food on my plate because there were hungry people in China. And now tonight I couldn't finish my dinner, including the garlic I bought from the hungry people in China.

27 March 1998
International Flipper Day
I hereby declare that 27 March is International Flipper Day. I celebrated the new holiday by listening to Flipper and lamenting that Will Shatter did.

28 March 1998
God's Not on Channel 18 in Dallas
God didn't announce his arrival on earth on Channel 18 in Dallas this week. I never thought s/he would, but Chen Hong-Min did. He and 150 people who believed him came to Dallas from Taiwan to catch the broadcast.

That sounds reasonable to me; that's less than twice the distance a friend recently traveled to see a solar eclipse. And hearing what god's been up to recently sounds a lot more interesting than seeing the sky go dark for a bit.

God kept the cards close to the chest, and Teacher Chen, to his credit, decided his predictions were "nonsense ... I would rather you don't believe anything I say. Regrettably, it appears that everything I have preached to you over the past four years has turned out to be shit. I give up."

29 March 1998
Puppy in a Can
Once upon a time I provided professional propaganda services for an animal shelter. The shelter was a place where unwanted cats and dogs were kept a while before being euthanized. It sounds cruel--and perhaps capital punishment is a bit harsh for being unwanted--but the number of cats and dogs born each year outnumbers the available homes for cats and dogs by tens of millions. There's not much of a humane alternative to putting the kitties and doggies "to sleep."

That's not true, of course; the alternative is to prevent cats and dogs from ever making unwanted cats and dogs. My job was to create an advertising campaign promoting spaying and neutering. My best idea was to use the slogan "Park It In Neutral!" Since that was rejected, don't blame critter overpopulation on me.

What should be done with all the unwanted dead animals? I want to market a product called Puppy in a Can. It's the perfect pet for people in small apartments, kids with allergies, et cetera. I've even come up with some ad copy: "Fine carpets aren't a problem with Puppy in a Can!"

The idea's so brilliant that it might even be better for promoting spaying and neutering programs than "Park It In Neutral!"

30 March 1998
Sneckra Flommelgation
This is ridiculous. The sneckra outside my window has been flommelgating all night at an estrendiphorous pitch. I gave up trying to sleep at dawn, but now the squeal's imtopulent pitch is so aggravating I can't even type. I give up; there's just no way to stop a determined sneckra from flommelgating.

31 March 1998
Cheesy Nudes
I recently read that Francis Picabia sat out World War II painting cheesy nudes (my phrase, not his). There's a good reason that the paintings look like photographs one might expect to see in old French porno magazines: they were "appropriated" from 1930s periodicals.

The examples I saw were pretty straightforward translations of black and white photographs to color paintings, an approach consistent with Picabia's aesthetics: "If the work of another translates my dream, his work is mine."

Picabia was sixty when World War II started; if I'm that old when World War III starts I might also spend my days making cheesy nudes. That's what I'd tell Francis to his face had he not died forty-five years ago. Picabia's one dead person about whom I'm reticent to write, for it was he who said "My ass contemplates those who talk behind my back."

1 April 1998
Puter This, As Usual, Is Point
Oh. Dear, it seems I am. The victim of some, one's April.

Fool's joke. I'm trying to, write more. Or less as I normally do, but some. One has instal-led corrupted punctuation and capitalization engines in my com. Puter this, as usual, is point.

Less.

2 April 1998
Too Clever By Half
I just read a scathing review of my work, Too Clever By Half, by Glenn Trahenir. I won't go into all the embarrassing details, but I was thoroughly trashed for "glorifying the artist as an inebriated idiot savant, a moronic idea that was a cliché long before Rinehart was born," rubbished for repeating news stories as "alleged notebook entries," put down for "petty spiteful pieces about other artists," and dismissed for presenting "dauntingly tedious 'conceptual' art work that wouldn't receive a passing grade in a third-rate academy." And so on.

I know this is just about the worst possible review I could receive; I wrote it.

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3 April 1998
A Negative Error
I read today that an inept Romanian counterfeiter was arrested for selling imitation Newcastle United shirts. His mistake was obvious: he had black stripes where there should have been white stripes, and vice versa.

4 April 1998
A Close Shave
I spent four decades on this lovely planet without hearing a word about Ockham (or is it Occam?) or his razor, and now Ockham's Razor is everywhere: in the alleged novel I just read, an airplane movie, newspaper editorials, software reviews, et cetera. (In case you're wondering; the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines Ockham's Razor as "A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known. Also called law of parsimony.")

William of Occam (or is it Ockham?), was a fourteenth century English monk and one of the first minimalists. He's also noted for saying "It is vain to do with more what can be done with less." But then a monk would say that, wouldn't he?

So why the sudden interest in Ockham's (or is it Occam's?) Razor?

  1. God uses Jodie Foster's lips to speak.

  2. Occam's (or is it Ockham's?) Razor is a successful meme.

  3. We're all repeating what everyone else is saying.

  4. Ockham's (or is it Occam's?) Razor is a useful weapon for slitting Emotion's throat.

I don't need Occam's (or is it Ockham's?) Razor to find my answer, which, not atypically, is "Who cares?"

5 April 1998
Baking a Cake of Myself
Ewald Mataré, a teacher of Joseph Beuys in Düsseldorf, said "Sculpture must be like a footprint in the sand. I do not want any more aesthetic art work; I am making myself a fetish."

I liked this quote, and it was only after I copied it that I realized the sloppy translation meant it could be interpreted two ways. When I first saw it, I read "I am making myself a fetish" in the same way I'd read "I am baking myself a cake." It was only later that I realized that it could also be read as "I am making a fetish of myself." After making too much sterile art, I like my first interpretation but I wouldn't go so far as to emulate the second. (Yet.)

I wonder if perhaps the translation was entirely accurate; perhaps Mataré intended it to be read both ways. I don't have either the original German or much interest in clarifying the ambiguity, so today's investigation ends here.

6 April 1998
Tempting Fate
I will not die today.

This is cheating; I'm actually writing this last Saturday night, not today. I know this is tempting fate, but since it's only for a couple of days I trust fate's got something better to do than to strike me down for a minor act of insolence.

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©1998 David Glenn Rinehart