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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak III


15 January 2010

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No. 5,405 (cartoon)

I hate dogs.

You’d like mine.

When did it die?

16 January 2010

Obesity Through the Floor

Obesity is a serious health problem that exacerbates a plethora of illnesses; it ravages and shortens lives. There’s nothing funny about it.

Recently, calamity struck when some twenty members of a Swedish Weight Watchers group assembled for a meeting in Vaxjo: the floor collapsed beneath them.

“We suddenly heard a huge thud; we almost thought it was an earthquake and everything flew up in the air,” recounted one of the victims, none of whom was injured.

Obesity is a serious health problem that exacerbates a plethora of illnesses; it ravages and shortens lives. There’s really nothing funny about it; stop snickering.

17 January 2010

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An Eternity of Time

There are interesting ideas everywhere one looks, as long as one looks everywhere. For example, take the old colonial hallucinations in the Tarzan stories.

Inwardly as well as outwardly Tarzan had reverted to beast and in the lives of beasts, time, as a measurable aspect of duration, has no meaning. The beast is actively interested only in NOW, and as it is always NOW and always shall be, there is an eternity of time for the accomplishment of objects.

(That’s from the first chapter of Tarzan the Untamed, an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel published in 1920. Part of this, the seventh book in his Tarzan series, was previously serialized in Redbook as Tarzan and the Huns.)

I pride myself on being able to rationalize almost all of my stupid behavior, so I’m delighted to have yet another way to justify my procrastination, as well as running around in a loincloth.

18 January 2010

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The Price of Cheap Electronics

A few years ago I mentioned that my studio reeked of toxic chemicals after I unpacked some new equipment from China. I was reminded of that when I heard about violent protests at the factory in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, that makes some of the electronic tools I use. Workers there went on strike after four of them died from hexane poisoning.

“The truth has been hidden from public view. There are people dying from long-term exposure to the toxicant used in the factory but no one is paying attention to that,” claimed one worker identified only as Zhu. “What we feel angry about is the company authorities’ apathy to our workers’ health.”

Vicious protests seem to be the first and last resort for maltreated employees.

“In most cases workers are forced to resort to violence in order to gain public attention since we do not have an efficient legal system,” explained Sun Suiqin, a lawyer in Shanghai.

As for the Suzhou strike, I read that it’s now over. The owners bought off the workers with financial bonuses; the story didn’t mention anything about the hexane. I fear that my next new electronic gizmo will be as stinky at the last ones, and that part of the price for my new technology will be paid by nervous system failure in some of the workers.

19 January 2010

No More Good and Bad?

My learned friends tell me that humans can’t really do more than one thing at once, and I believe them. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop me from listening to recorded interviews and radio news broadcasts while I work on personal projects.

It’s all too common for me to hear a report on an earthquake or a bomb blast, then realize a minute or two into the story that I have no idea what city, country, or even continent is being discussed. And so, I was surprised to have something Merce Cunningham said command my attention while I was working on a new film.

“One only has to get one’s mind out of the way about deciding that something is good or bad, and rather allow for different kinds of things to take place, so that you are or I am constantly on the point of discovering something I don’t know about, rather than repeating what I do know about.”


Ever since I was an embryo, my family, then later my teachers, taught me the difference between good and bad, and lovingly demanded that I strive for the former and have nothing to do with the latter. But now, a dead dancer has given me permission—no, encouraged me—to investigate and discover without regard to traditional values. Thanks, Merce!

I predict the result of my newfound freedom will be even more bad art, except now it won’t be labeled as such. I think. Or, more accurately, I don’t think.

20 January 2010

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Harrington Avenue Fountain

It’s raining a lot these days as one huge tempest after another blows in from the Pacific. As a result, the ground is saturated and the storm sewers are overflowing with rainwater runoff from the Oakland hills.

This phenomenon created a beautiful, bubbling fountain in the middle of Harrington Avenue, a few blocks away from where I spotted the grease river last spring. I appreciate this found public art much more than the ostentatious “art” dropped into airports and other public spaces.

21 January 2010

(Not) On Drugs

I avoid drugs. When I suspect I might be infected with some deleterious germs, I neutralize them with a glass of whiskey. Blam, gone! And I prefer to eat oatmeal instead of grilled cheese sandwiches—rather than take expensive pills—if that’s what it takes to make my cholesterol “normal.” I think the pharmaceutical companies are ruthlessly proficient at addicting and enslaving people, and I fear them.

Take Tikosyn, for example, a drug that the pusher, er, manufacturer, Pfizer, claims “is indicated for the maintenance of normal sinus rhythm.” Forget I said that; please do not take Tikosyn. Pfizer officials are legally required to list some of the drug’s potential side effects, which include, “fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; fainting; heart attack; pale stool; paralysis; pounding in the chest; stopping of the heart; sudden death,” and so on.

I may be démodé, but I prefer an abnormal sinus rhythm to sudden death, even though the latter is a guaranteed cure for the former.


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©2010 David Glenn Rinehart