Stare.
 
2003 Notebook: Weak XIV
 
   
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3 April 2003
No. 7,547 (cartoon)
I’m so very, very lonely.

Could I borrow you car?

4 April 2003
Between the Bottom and the Peak
I’ve always maintained that the artist’s life is free and easy. There’s a reason for this: the life of an artist is, in fact, relatively free and easy.

Of course, things are never as simple as they appear, and so it is that there’s a rub in the artist’s ointment. This hiccup manifests itself in the form of two questions. The first question is public: “What have you done lately?” The second, and more troubling question, is never spoken aloud: “Have I peaked yet?”

In an extraordinary turn of events, someone asked the filmmaker Pedro Almodovar the latter question. I’ll remember Almodovar’s response for the rest of my life, Rainier Ale notwithstanding.

“No one likes to think they’ve already peaked,” Almodovar admitted. “I prefer to think I have touched bottom.”

5 April 2003
Smoke American
I recently learned that the U.S. government will soon discontinue the “public service” advertisements that purport to link the use of illegal recreational drugs to international terrorism. That’s too bad; I found the amateurish propaganda very entertaining

One ad features Saddam Hussein lighting an opium pipe, then using the flame to light a fuse to a bomb that blows up New York skyscrapers. Another advertisement shows Osama bin Laden offering the viewer a vial of white powder (cocaine? heroin? crystal meth?) and saying, “Without your support, I can’t go on.”

I’ve heard the silly program was embraced by American marijuana growers who launched a clandestine campaign urging their patrons, “Be Patriotic, Smoke American.”

As usual, marketing and propaganda are more amusing than persuasive.

6 April 2003
Orville’s Aviation Museum
Don’t ask me what I’m doing in Dead Horse Bend, Nevada. I’m not sure why I’m here myself. Nevertheless, here I am.

I decided to take advantage of my relocation and visit Orville’s Aviation Museum. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, since I was bored and admission was free. I’m glad I did; the museum was unlike any I’d ever seen.

There wasn’t a single aircraft in Orville’s Aviation Museum. One room was devoted to the story of a button from a Luftwaffe pilot’s uniform found by a farmer in his filed in Skowsberry-under-Shatton. The curators went to great lengths—and used many diagrams, maps, and authenticated statements from expert witnesses—to prove that the button could only have come from a Nazi flying over England during the Second World War.

The main hall featured a three-meter tall reproduction of a receipt from Jordan’s Lumber Yard, 751 East Genesee Street, Corolla, North Carolina. The 2 February 1901 receipt documented that “O. Wright” spent three dollars and seventy-eight cents for some lumber, wood he purportedly used to build the Wright brothers’ first plane. Curatorial aids informed me that the original receipt was kept in a large safe in a cool, underground bunker. The exhibit also featured a photograph of the current site of the store (now the home of a fast-food restaurant), as well as a very lengthy interview with Duane Jordan, the great-grandson of the store’s 1901 proprietor.

I was deeply underwhelmed.

The seventeen other exhibits were of similar depth and quality. I particularly enjoyed examining the seat from a Pan Am DC3 that once made contact with Charles Lindberg’s derrière, albeit when the distinguished pilot was a passenger en route to a Havana.

I look forward to returning to Orville’s Aviation Museum the next time I’m in Dead Horse Bend, Nevada.

7 April 2003
Democracy, Whisky, and Sexy
The American and British invasion and conquest of Iraq killed hundreds of civilians, and yielded in at least one good anecdote.

When a reporter asked one of the Iraqis who survived the attack what he wanted, he replied, “Democracy, whisky, and sexy.”

I’m sure many of the dead Iraqis would have appreciated democracy, whisky, and sexy.

8 April 2003
A Prize, a Kiss, and a Punch
After John Adams won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Music, he responded with “a kiss and a punch.” I liked his attitude. Even though I’d never punch a person, institutions sometimes cry aloud for a big punch.

“Every year I continue to be disappointed that the Pulitzer has stayed stylistically within such a narrow bandwidth of mainly academic music,” Adams said. “It doesn’t carry much prestige amongst the composers that I know.”

In the unlikely event I ever receive an award, I shall try to emulate Adams’ combination of appreciation and contempt.

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©2003 David Glenn Rinehart