Stare.
 
2001 Notebook: Weak VI
 
   
gratuitous image
5 February 2001
Happy Wine
I love starting the day with a smile, as long as the smile is not mine.

The smile that greeted me this morning wasn’t the one I’ve loved for over a decade. In fact, this morning’s smile was of the inanimate variety. When I stumbled into the lab’s galley to fire up the generator for the espresso fountain, there it was. Two loving eyes hovering above a silly grin that exposed the tip of a wine-red tongue.

In fact, the eyes were the precise color of red wine, since this morning’s smile was formed by three dry puddles of red wine. Bacchus lives on my counter.

Very nice. Very nice indeed.

6 February 2001
Lori the Alphabetizier
I met a woman named Lori at the party tonight; she introduced herself by asking me to stand to the left of Bryan.

“With pleasure,” I replied with what was apparently a quizzical expression.

“I’m terribly sorry,” she apologized, “but I’m an alphabetizier.”

“It could be worse,” I offered. “At least you’re not a photographer. Anyway, what does an alphabetizier do these days? I thought computers would have made your skills redundant, mostly.”

“I’m not a professional alphabetizier,” Lori explained. “It’s more of ... well, I guess it’s a personal obsession, sort of.”

She went on to explain it bothered her to “read” David before Bryan. She then displayed the alphabetized contents of her purse.

“I think I would have put the red lipstick before the notebook—L before N—instead of under R,” I suggested.

Lori blushed, snapped her purse shut, muttered “Please excuse me,” and headed for the door. I never saw her again.

I guess the life of an alphabetizier is fraught with peril.

7 February 2001
Freedom from Facts
Seth told me he’s unhappy with my anecdote about the Jacques Cousteau Theatre. Specifically, he claims my account of our conversation is somewhat inaccurate. Or, in Seth’s words, “Everything you wrote just wasn’t true.”

I like the story I told; it’s much more entertaining than a transcript of whatever we may have actually said. Life’s too short to be a slave to facts. And, most importantly, the past can always be improved.

8 February 2001
The Speaker versus Ms. Frog
I went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art last night for a free dinner. (Although the Museum of Modern Anything is an oxymoron that’s slipped into unquestioned usage, I couldn’t help but notice that there didn’t seem to be any works made in this century under the institution’s prestigious roof.) Of course, there’s no such thing as a free dinner. In order to dine on the usual buffet fare of pita bread and hummus, dolmas, and other cheap Mediterranean food, I had to attend a presentation on “new media.”

Since this was a hip and trendy presentation, the organizers of the event hired a woman with the nom de noise of “DJ Little Frog” to play annoying background sounds while a speaker gave a less than scintillating presentation on her work. Or, it my have been a less than scintillating speaker giving a presentation on her work, or perhaps speaker giving a presentation on her less than scintillating work. I’m not sure, and, anyway, it really doesn’t matter.

My point, if I have a point, is that the annoyance of the background noise was more or less canceled out by the lack of interest in the presentation. I couldn’t clearly hear the speaker’s droning because of the grating noises the dour Ms. Frog was sending out of her speakers. On the other hand, the speaker’s monotone canceled out some of Ms. Frog’s aural excesses.

My grandmother may or may not have been right when she postulated that two wrongs do not make a right. On the other hand, one tedious thing often cancels the other, just as making a montage from two or three mediocre images usually results in only one mediocre image.

Anyway, the stasis between the artist and Ms. Frog was too good to last, and it didn’t. I don’t know if this was a case of cause and effect, but at the point when the artist started talking about work I liked, Ms. Frog turned up the volume and broadcast a recording of someone saying “Hello?” over and over again.

I left. There’s only so much one can stomach for a free dinner.

9 February 2001
Avoiding ePrison
“I guess you screwed up big time,” Todd opined after we’d dispensed with the formalities of not having seen each other in several years.

“And what screwup might that be?” I asked.

“You were telling me about all this Internet crap seven years,” he explained without really explaining anything at all.

When I didn’t respond, Todd continued by pointing out that although I could have, in theory at least, made lots of money by taking advantage of greedy speculators, most of the sheep have already been fleeced.

“Are you crazy?” I asked. “While almost everyone else who knew their HTTP from their HTML was imprisoned in an office for seventy or eighty hours a week, I enjoyed an untethered life of aesthetic indulgence and creative sloth.”

Todd paid for lunch. I like Todd, even if he sometimes can’t differentiate between a screwup and a strategic deployment of critical assets.

10 February 2001
Uncheap Red Wine
In my never-ending search for free sustenance, I recently found myself at an art event that promised free drinks. I was impressed when I walked in and saw a well-stocked bar staffed by three serfs in tuxedos.

“I should like a large glass of your cheapest red wine, please,” I requested.

“Actually, sir, all of the wine here tonight is of rather high quality,” a waiter replied.

“As you may have guessed from my old tshirt, I’m just a worthless artist who can barely tell wine from vinegar,” I admitted.

“I think you’ll enjoy this, then,” the waiter assured me as he passed me an unfashionably full glass of uncheap red wine.

“Cheers,” I replied, and stuck a dollar in the tip jar. I felt sorry for the waiter, who seemed like too nice of a person to be forced to wear such a ridiculous outfit. I could see the tuxedo boys chattering among themselves as I left; I guess they thought artists didn’t tip.

Later I ran into Babalou, and discovered that the drinks weren’t free, and that I was supposed to have paid five dollars for a glass of wine. Five dollars for a glass of wine?! That’s more than I paid for the liter and a half bottle of Italian merlot I’m drinking!

I guess the tuxedo boys were as smart as I thought they were. At least they knew that, because I’m an artist, the world owes me a living. Or, at the very minimum, an unfashionably full glass of uncheap red wine.

11 February 2001
Hoosier Hoser
Just after midnight, I received an email note from an anonymous reader in Indiana, who wrote that my work represented “the most boring website I’ve ever visited February 11th 2001. You have taken full advantage of the fact that the Internet allows anyone the chance to express their selfish, spoiled, and self-centered views to whom ever [sic] may chance by.”

(As a linguistic aside, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, reports, “The first recorded instance of Hoosier meaning “Indiana resident” is dated 1826; however, it seems possible that senses of the word recorded later in the Dictionary of Americanisms, including “a big, burly, uncouth specimen or individual; a frontiersman, countryman, rustic,” reflect the kind of use this word had before it settled down in Indiana.” That certainly sounds like my secret admirer!)

The correspondent went on to assure me that he’d perused my site enough to conclude that, “even though you claim to have extensively traveled, you don’t seem to have learned anything more than how to continuously bolster your own ego to compensate for your apparent insecurities.”

Wow!

I love the Internet, who wouldn’t? Just put up a site, and get free psychiatric counseling! I appreciated the writer’s attempt to enlighten me, but I already knew my site is a waste of time. What I still don’t understand, however, is why someone would voluntarily spend an hour looking at what I’ve done, then write an angry missive damning me for wasting their time.

Upon a closer reading, it turns out that the praise rang hollow. I note that the silly Hoosier still had well over twenty hours of Sunday to go when he commended me for publishing the most boring work of the day.

I guess there’s not much to do in Indiana on a Saturday night.

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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart