Stare.
 
2001 Notebook: Weak XLIV
 
   
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30 October 2001
Misfortune Cookies
Brad and Chuck sympathized with my lament about the state of so-called “fortune” cookies by sending me a box of misfortune cookies. I was delighted to discover the stale, bitter confections contained real fortunes, not truisms. For example:

    “The spots you will discover are caused by a sexually-transmitted disease.”

    “One of the people you trust the most will betray and embarrass you.”

At last, cookie news I can use!

31 October 2001
Another San Francisco Halloween
It’s Halloween, and time for more San Francisco fun.

As far as I can figure, the main purposes of Halloween is to allow repressed adults to act out their fantasies and for children to eat candy until they vomit. None of my friends here have kids, and San Franciskites are famously unrepressed, so what to do until November?

I decided to put on a chain mail helmet, grab my ice ax, and head down to Fisherman’s Wharf. There, I walked up to tourists, laughed, and complimented them on their outrageous costumes while I slapped my leg. “You look like you just got off the boat from Wisconsin!” I guffawed.

The tourists usually ignored me; they knew a San Francisco weirdo when they saw one. I was pleasantly surprised, though, to discover that an improbably large percentage of the tourists were, in fact, from Wisconsin.

1 November 2001
The Best Work I’ve Seen This Millennium
I went to Nina Katchadourian’s opening tonight, and experienced the best work I’ve seen this millennium. Talking Popcorn, a piece involving Morse code, was absolutely brilliant. I can’t believe how long I’ve listened attentively to Rainier Ale and ignored everything popcorn was saying.

Indecision on the Moon was perfect conceptual art; I had no idea what was going on until I came back to my laboratory and looked up her explanation on the Internet. And Eight Years of Sorting Books was full of puns, gags, and contrivances. Most artists aren’t confident enough to entertain their audiences; I’m glad Katchadourian chose to exhibit both opaque and transparent work.

Katchadourian’s work was so good that I don’t think I can plagiarize it, but I may nevertheless try.

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2 November 2001
I Shot Richard Avedon
For some reason, several well-known New York photographers are in San Francisco today. I assume they’re here for the burritos, but I forgot to ask them.

Actually, Elliot Erwitt’s the only photographer I talked with. He’s as charming in person as he is in print, so it wasn’t hard. I was tempted to photograph him, but couldn’t think of anything visual to say about someone who’s made so many great self-portraits. And besides, how could a cat-loving chromophobe like myself do justice to a pink, dog-bone tie?

I had no compunction about shooting Richard Avedon, though; it’s a headhunter thing. My camera malfunctioned, but such technical matters are of little concern to a headhunter.

I was struck by how small Avedon was. I guess he’s one of those people who shrinks when they get old. On the other hand, I’d always thought of Avedon as a small person; an unkind remark that I shall now explain.

Almost twenty year ago, my late friend Morrie Camhi wrote a brief review of Avedon’s work for a small publication that wasn’t widely circulated outside of San Francisco. If I recall correctly, Morrie began the short critique by pointing out the smug contempt many people have for small-town photographers who force all their subjects to fit into a few conventional visual molds. Morrie concluded by asking rhetorically if Avedon might not be doing more or less the same thing.

Some days I agree with Morrie’s assessment, other days I don’t.

According to the reports Morrie heard, though, Avedon was completely unequivocal: he was livid. I guess Morrie hit a nerve, albeit a small nerve.

3 November 2001
An Overlooked Confession
As I was filing away the model releases from last month’s I confess piece, I came across a confession I’d overlooked before. I didn’t notice or photograph the person who wrote this disclosure.

    A long, long time ago, I decided that I was going to do something wonderful. I still think that. I just hope I haven’t done it already, and missed it.

How pleasantly depressing! That’s just the inspiration I needed to keep peaking.

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4 November 2001
Between NextMonet and NextDali
On our way to catch the train, Gareth pointed out a feature of some art marketing company’s parking lot. He said the three managers’ parking spaces had their nicknames stenciled on them.

Gareth went on to explain that all the bureaucrats considered themselves to be fine artists. What’s more, they each chose a nickname that they felt represented their place in the art pantheon. And that’s why NextPicasso parks between NextMonet and NextDali.

I don’t think people should take brand names or labels too seriously.

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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart