Stare.
 
1999 Notebook: Interval XIX
 
   

21 June 1999
Hilarious Rich Bastard Situation
I'm in the Rich Bastards Lounge at the airport, drinking as much as I can before I'm canned inside a 747 for another trip across the Atlantic.

Better pickled than canned! That's my motto!

There's a man next to me talking in a studied business voice about schools in Dayton and Canton, Ohio. In every conversation, he alludes to hitting the academic big time in Cleveland! I then learn he's from Farmerville, New Jersey!

Somehow this strikes me as the funniest thing I've heard this year, and I laugh aloud. I never laugh aloud, but I'll make an exception for the New Jersey administraitor working in small Ohio schools.

22 June 1999
Pressing Beer Message
The guy next to me on the plane is holding an unopened can of beer against his face. He's had the beer on his tray for at least half an hour, so I know that the aluminum can of beer has to be the same temperature as the aluminum can of human freight we're packed in.

He keeps pressing the can against different parts of his face; I think he's seeking a message. That's silly. If you want to hear beer's message, just drink it.

That's all.

23 June 1999
My Good Time
I always carry a little piece of time with me; I've had it since I was a teenager. I've played with it for so long that I've memorized each of the forty-three unique angles, every tattered flare, every follicle on its dimpled hide. I stretch it into a shape resembling--but perpendicular to--a plane, then use it as a mirror to turn the oxy-carbon elements back into themselves, but without repetition or redundancy. I shape it into a cylindrical ball and bounce it off sideways shadows. I wrap little tidbits of salty venom in it, then fold it forty-three times--always at the log inverse of the forty-three unique angles, but in reverse order--until there's nothing left but a harmless green flame for cooking brown rice.

I have a good time.

24 June 1999
One-Word Review
Dorothy Parker wrote a brilliant two-word critique of "I Am a Camera." (At least, that's the title I remember.) Here's all she wrote:

"No Leica."

Today, I just read an even more succinct aesthetic commentary. Although he did in fact use three more characters than Parker, Bill Bornstein managed to compose an even briefer essay on Philip Tempton-Roth's recent exhibit, "Nautical Watercolours."

Here's the text: "Unseeworthy."

gratuitous image
25 June 1999
Richard Collier (snaportrait)
Richard is a friend of mine.

26 June 1999
An Imperceptible Metamorphosis
When I was a teenager in art school, I acted strange. It was only an act, and not a very convincing one. If my friends are to be believed, I suppose I now am strange, really and truly strange.

I wonder when the metamorphosis took place? I think it must have been one of those fuzzy logic changes.

27 June 1999
Eric Clapton Undrugged
Eric Clapton says that he's not too excited about being a musician any more; he seems more interested in not being high on drugs or alcohol.

    "I know I touch people with music and I know that in some cases it may have been to the point of saving somebody's life, maybe. But there's nothing quite like what happens between one alcoholic and another--that's somehow a deeper thing."

Clapton's giving interviews telling everyone what a reprehensible person he was as a drug-addled drunk. "There were times I took sex with my wife by force and thought it was my entitlement." Admitting to rape is probably the most nauseating thing I've ever heard anyone I've even vaguely admired say.

Even if he was a disgusting cretin, I'm still glad he never pulled the trigger all those times he had a loaded shotgun in his mouth. I particularly liked his suicide avoidance strategy. "Yeah, but if I did this then I'd not be able to have another drink."

During his second attempt to dry out, Clapton concluded:

    "... being a musician was not going to save my life. In fact it could destroy me, because if it meant that in order to write a song I needed to drink, then perhaps being a musician was not such a great idea. So I slung that away, I got rid of that and I thought, 'What am I? What am I, really?' And, on the record, I'm an alcoholic and that's where my identity is."

Eric Clapton says that he's no longer a drug addict, he's no longer a musician, and that he's no longer a drunk. I wonder, then, what he is? A publicist and fundraiser, I suppose. He's giving hacks headline-ready quotes to raise funds and publicity for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic he's setting up in Antigua.

I've had friends who've screwed up their lives--and the lives of those around them--under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. Remembering those tragedies, I suppose Clapton must be commended for his evangelical commitment to sobriety.

There's one thing I must add, though. It's a tired cliché, it's a horribly cruel and selfish thing to say, and I fear that it's true. Eric Clapton produced his finest work when he was using three thousand dollars of heroin a week and drinking two bottles of vodka a day.

28 June 1999
Ugly People in Old Paintings
I've been looking at a lot of old paintings recently. I've been plagiarizing too much contemporary art, and I figure it's about time that I stole some ideas from some old dead guys.

Here's what I found in the old paintings: lots of ugly people.

Why?

I've come up with several explanations. Human aesthetics have changed a lot in recent centuries. I'm told by People Who Know These Things that, once upon a time, anorexic teenage girls were not considered to be the epitome of female beauty as they are today.

(And in some parts of the world, they're still not. A lithe friend of mine married a delightful man from the Ivory Coast; he's trying to convince her to gain a hundred pounds.)

And then there are the old guys. A lot of the subjects of the portraits are quadruple-chinned portly. My knowledgeable sources also tell me that rolls of blubber--not trying to look as young and lean as a teenager--were signs of wealth and success.

And then there are the faces: they're ugly too. It could be that facial aesthetics were different back then, too, but I think there's a more plausible reason. I suppose a lot of people were actually triple-ugly, and the portrait painters earned their shillings or guilders by making their patrons look merely ugly.

Page through any current business magazine and you'll see a lot of triple-ugly corporate types looking singularly ugly. I'm not against the approach; I use the same techniques to make myself appear singularly ugly in my self-portraits.

29 June 1999
Successful Failure
I like my recent portraits of Richard and Jyothi, at least in comparison to some of the piss-poor "portraits" I made earlier this year. (It took me a few months to remember that it's usually a good idea to make more than one exposure then pick the best one.)

Some of those alleged portraits are embarrassments, as are some of the notebook entries I've made over the three and a half years. I've written some real stinkers. But that's fine; I'm used to public embarrassment. The premise of a notebook isn't to make three hundred and sixty-five brilliant pieces a year. The notebook is intended to be, well, a notebook.

I haven't failed to succeed; I've succeeded to fail.

30 June 1999
Bad Statistical Data Poetry
I've been working on this notebook for exactly three and a half years. My one thousand two hundred and seventy-seventh entry seems like one of those artificial milestones that provides a welcome and convenient excuse to review what I've done.

These notebooks, in their various manifestations, have always had "(an artist's notebook of sorts)" in the title. It seems, however, that I spend a lot of time rambling on about interests and pursuits that are, at best, only tangentially related to art.

I'm too lazy to do a thoughtful analysis, which would involve reading one thousand two hundred and seventy-six entries. Who's got time for that? (I will ignore the obvious response, "Then why bother?")

Instead of providing a comprehensive review, I will instead present a number of numbers, data masquerading as insight. Here are the thirty-eight words I looked up, the number of entries in which they appeared, and the percentage of the total entries those occurrences represent.

friend

 190

 14.87%

good

 185

 14.48%

alcohol (all flavors)

 163

 12.75%

art

 153

 11.97%

old

 150

 11.74%

photography

 140

10.95%

bad

90

7.04%

beer

66

5.16%

computer

65

5.09%

wine

65

5.09%

young

60

4.69%

age

48

3.76%

camera

47

3.68%

beauty

34

2.66%

painting

34

2.66%

sex

33

2.58%

aesthetic

32

2.50%

animal

21

1.64%

drug

21

1.64%

whisky

21

1.64%

whiskey

20

1.56%

dog

18

1.41%

cat

15

1.17%

ugly

14

1.10%

wife

12

 0.94%

Duchamp, Marcel

11

 0.86%

alien

9

 0.70%

Leica

9

 0.70%

vodka

9

 0.70%

lover

6

 0.47%

orgasm

6

 0.47%

Weston, Edward

6

 0.47%

scam

5

 0.39%

Adams, Ansel

4

 0.31%

drawing

4

 0.31%

administraitor

4

 0.31%

Hasselblad

4

 0.31%

lust

3

 0.23%

It looks like I talked a lot about art, just under once a week. I suppose that may be enough to avoid being sued for false advertising. I thought I would have talked about something more than 14.87 percent of the time, but I guess I didn't. About the only thing to come out of this is the beginning of a bad poem.

friend good alcohol art,
old photography bad,
beer computer,
wine young age,
camera beauty painting,
sex aesthetic animal,
drug whisky whiskey.

Actually, that may be an entire bad poem. It's clear I know very little about poetry or poets; they were only mentioned fourteen times over the last three and a half years.

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©1999 David Glenn Rinehart