Stare.
 
2001 Notebook: Weak XXVIII
 
   
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9 July 2001
Jacques Yenhi, Artist of the Air
I’m over ten kilometers from Earth, and things are getting unpleasant high above the North Atlantic Ocean. (I’m not talking about the cheap Kinky Love Motions merlot, either; bad KLM wine is a given.)

I was in the middle of dictating a notebook entry when I had an uneasy feeling that I was being watched. That’s because I was.

I looked up and saw an oily little man in torn jeans and a dirty black-and-white, striped t-shirt making a sketch. Of me.

“What are you doing?” I asked rhetorically.

“My name is Jacques Yenhi,” he replied, “and I am an artist of the air.”

It turns out Yenhi was walking around the plane making drawings of passengers then triying to sell them the “original artwork.” Yenhi asked me for a hundred dollars; I offered him five.

He took it.

I didn’t want the amateurish illustration, but I figured it was worth five dollars to keep it out of circulation. Tomorrow, I shall write a letter to KLM administraitors complaining that the sanctity of the first-class cabin was violated by an unkempt artist who intimidated me into giving him a hundred dollars. If my luck in shaking down fat corporations continues, I should net ninety-five dollars from my unpleasant encounter with the pitiful Mr. Yenhi.

10 July 2001
Where’s Jim?
I haven’t heard anything about Jim Morrison recently. On one hand, that’s not surprising: the musician and methamphetamine poster-boy has been dead for over thirty years. On the other hand, the fact—some would say allegation—that he’s been dead for thirty years was the reason I was expecting some news.

Some time ago, I listed to an interview with Ray Manzarek, one of Morrison’s collaborators. Manzarek said the thirty-year lease on Morrison’s grave at Cimetière du Père Lachaise expired on 6 July of this year, and that the Parisian authorities were eager to send him packing, so to speak.

Although I’m not particularly fond of Morrison’s music, I am impressed that death did little to inhibit his ability to serve as a catalyst for mayhem. I’ve passed by his grave a couple times; it’s a memorable sight. His not-so-final resting place is covered in flowers and empty wine bottles; drunk and stoned kids continue the thirty-year wake that even successive waves of baton-wielding gendarmes can’t seem to terminate.

I hope Morrison stays where he is. He’s doing such a fine job of annoying the French that I’d hate to see him stop after only thirty years. Moving is never fun, especially once you’re part of the community. And there’s another familiarity factor, too. Should Morrison remain at Cimetière du Père Lachaise, it will remain easy to find him: just follow the arrows labeled “Jim” that thoughtful volunteers have spray-painted on tombstones throughout the cemetery.

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11 July 2001
The Beauty of Football
I’m not quite sure what to make of the game of football, or, in American, soccer.

I like the shape of the field. I know from previous research (Forty-Eight Sporting Areas and Their Variance from phi) that it’s only .24 from phi, which is pretty good as such grids go. Add the rectangles of the two goal posts extending well into the third dimension at either end of the field, and football provides a pleasing retinal aesthetic experience.

Unfortunately, the players ruin the beauty of the game. Football matches are almost always played by teams comprised of either only men or only women, usually the former. I think such segregation is a big mistake.

And then there are the ugly uniforms. The professional players wear costumes covered with the logotypes of corporate sponsors. Who wants to watch twenty-two human billboards run around an otherwise lovely field?

I think the answer to my question is between one and three billion, but I’m too lazy to narrow it down.

12 July 2001
My Nice Big Mouth
It turns out there are some food residues that even Newcastle Brown Ale can’t dissolve. And so it was that I went to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned today.

“My, what a nice big mouth to work in,” the cute, young dental hygienist said. (I’m sure there are dental hygienists somewhere in the world who aren’t cute and young, but for some reason none of the dentists I’ve seen over the years have chosen to employ them.)

The cute, young dental hygienist was the first woman to ever comment favorably on the size of my mouth, so I tried to strike up a conversation. I didn’t get very far; she always had a miniature ice axe or whirring electronic gizmo stuck in my nice big mouth. I can still remember everything she said to me, though.

After a couple minutes of poking around, she said, “Rinse and spit.” A couple minutes later, she again advised, “Rinse and spit.” Finally, she took off her rubber gloves, threw them in the trash can, and said, “See you in six months.”

I can’t wait! What could be more pleasant than a visit to the dentist’s office?

13 July 2001
Predictable Animal Behavior
Clare was telling stories about public relations people at dinner tonight. Since Clare could get laughs from reading a grocery list, and since public relations drones are always amusing, she couldn’t go wrong. And she didn’t.

Her last story involved a tale about an attractive woman employed by a London charity to promote a fundraising event. For weeks, the consultant wandered around the organization’s offices dressed in jeans and a t-shirt as she organized press coverage. And then came the day of the event.

Clare was in a room full of men from the press as well as the men who ran the charity. (If there was another woman in the room, Clare failed to notice her.) And then the public relations woman walked in, “wearing a dress that barely covered her breasts and not much else either.”

Clare reported that all the men stopped talking, then just stared and drooled. Imagine that!

I, for one, don’t have to work very hard to imagine such a scene. The men in the room reacted not just as typical men, but as typical primates. I know this based on stories other women have told me about working with gorillas.

The women worked at a research facility where scientists were attempting to communicate with the gorillas. (For reasons that are too bizarre and too complex to explain, only one man worked at the site.) The gorillas were housed in a strong complex built on top of an earthquake fault. And even though the welded steel bars could withstand the tremendous strength of a gorilla, no one could accurately predict whether the bars would remain intact after a strong earthquake.

The women working at the facility had special instructions on what to do in case of an earthquake that resulted in the escape of a male gorilla. If a male gorilla was spotted outside his compound, the researchers were instructed to remove their blouses and bras. That’s it.

Apparently the researchers knew the sight of female breasts was enough to capture the full attention of a male primate. I have no idea whether the researchers based their scheme on empirical evidence or on a priori knowledge.

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14 July 2001
The Perfect Yellyfish
I’ve seen a zillion yellyfish in the oceans and on the beaches. But I never saw a yellyfish like the one I saw today on a Scottish beach.

I saw the perfect yellyfish.

The dead yellyfish was perfectly flat, and perfectly circular. The circle was twice bisected by perpendicular straight lines, like a pizza divided into four equal quarters. Every other yellyfish I’ve ever seen has been a globular blob, with no lines to speak of let alone straight lines.

I saw the perfect yellyfish.

15 July 2001
Unpromising Arts Research
I ended up sitting next to an arts researcher on the train from Edinburgh. I know this because he presented his card.

Claude Winston Whittaker-Campbell
Arts Researcher

I didn’t have much to say to him, so I made polite small talk.

“Tell me, Claude,” I began, “do you think you’ll ever figure out what causes bad art?”

Claude stared through me, blankly.

“How ’bout a cure—or maybe even a vaccine—for bad art?” I continued. “Anything promising on the horizon?”

Claude continued to stare through me, blankly.

“I suppose I couldn’t possibly say,” he finally replied after a long silence.

And that was the last thing Claude Winston Whittaker-Campbell ever said to me.

16 July 2001
A Fine Party, Barely Remembered
I had a great time a few weeks ago at Martin’s party. I vaguely recall talking to some kids, although I don’t remember any of the details except a joke about the princess and the glitter that’s too bad for even me to repeat.

And today, I found even more evidence of what I can’t remember. I stumbled across some notes I made at the party buried in the electronic doodad that translates my handwriting into text, and this is what I read:

    - cooks you first, then cuts you up

    - lots of water from the children who were dead

    - beeper to alert people who didn’t want to die from water of dead kids

What was I thinking? Who cares; it was a wonderful party.

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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart