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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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24 September 2017

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No. 6,786 (cartoon)

You were too drunk to remember.

That’s not true.

I can recall every time I was too drunk to remember.

25 September 2017

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Painting and Preserving Wildlife

I don’t know why I continue to whinge about crappy journalism, but I do, especially when I see it in a periodical whose lazy editors should know better. I’m thinking about the nonsense headline in The New York Times, “David Shepherd, Who Both Painted and Preserved Wildlife, Dies at 86.”

Shepherd never painted wildlife. He made schlocky, sentimental paintings depicting allegedly wild animals, but he never put so much as a daub of paint on any of them.

But I did.

A third of a century ago I participated in a Greenpeace publicity stunt; that’s about the only thing Greenpeace ever did. Four of us chartered a helicopter to take us to the ice floes off Newfoundland, Canada, which was lousy with newborn harp seals. We got there before an army of thoughtful hunters arrived to help them take off their lovely fur coats. We painted the seals green to make their pelts commercially worthless, and it worked: the Newfies only killed a couple of million of the cute little buggers and we saved perhaps eleven of them.


Shepherd never preserved a single wild critter, either. No one will ever know why he didn’t get a huge vat of formaldehyde and throw in a few elephants, belugas, and other assorted critters and plagiarize Damien Hirst, but the fact is that he didn’t.

With at least two lies in one headline, I don’t know whether to believe that Shepherd is alive or dead, or whether he made all those crappy paintings himself or bought them wholesale in Taiwan.


26 September 2017

Kalashnikov and the Sturmgewehr

Unless one considers setting the record for the number of deaths from alcohol, Russians haven’t accomplished much in the last century or so. Except for Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, that is.

After Kalashnikov decided, “There are many bad poets out there without me,” he went on to create the eponymously named AK-47. Assuming no one gets hurt, I think the sound of an assault rifle spitting out ten rounds a second is some of the best poetry ever.

Meanwhile, back at the plot, the Russians built a huge statue to honor the father of a hundred million automatic weapons in use from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The monument was a monumental fuckup. The sculptor included a Sturmgewehr 44. Salavat Shcherbakov, the artist might be forgiven for his blunder; most of the Russians who saw Hugo Schmeisser’s StG 44 were looking down the barrel of the Nazi’s favorite rifle and never lived long enough to describe it.

Nevertheless, I can’t understand why Shcherbakov got the half-million-dollar commission. He’s the same idiot who made a sculpture depicting a Soviet soldier headed to war with a German Mauser 98 rifle.

I don’t know what to make of the Russians: they can rig an American election but can’t seem to build a ludicrous agitprop statue.

27 September 2017

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Imbecile Alert!

I’ve never been on a submarine when the depth charge alerts started blaring, but I’m guessing it’s a lot like the situation in the Internet Archive’s engine room this morning. In the middle of the morning, everyone’s phones sounded an ominous a-whoo-gah alarm as if the Japanese First Air Fleet had just steamed under the Golden Gate Bridge and that the aircraft carrier strike force was about to do a Pearl Harbor relaunch.


The overpaid and undereducated nanny state apparatchiks issued a heat alert emergency broadcast—with the weather station on the roof of the Archive reporting a pleasant twenty-four degrees—urging Sans Friscans to drink water, check on those living nearby, and bone up on heat safety.

I ignored the morons’ advice and continued to sip ale. Obviously, I survived, but I have no idea how many of my neighbors perished in the temperate climate. I suppose if the bureaucratic annoyance was worth it if it saved even one life.

I’m tempted to apply for a lucrative civil defense contract with the city administraitors, but I won’t. They couldn’t pay me enough to work with imbeciles, even on a nice day like today.

28 September 2017

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High-impact Art

Brewster Kahle, who founded the Internet Archive, is my most generous patron, and not just because he’s my only patron, either. I’m in my sixth year as artist in residence in residence here, and I’m not planning on leaving unless I’m in a body bag.

It’s important to please one’s patron, so I paid attention when Brewster suggested that I might consider making some “high-impact art” instead of my tedious conceptual crap. I was tempted to cite Brian Eno’s remark, “The tedium is the message,” but decided to take a more positive approach.

I’ve been thinking of working in other media for some time, so I appreciated Brewster’s nudge. Painting seemed like one possibility, but certainly not oil painting; that was relegated to the purgatory of art history long ago. Aerosol art is so last millennium; I needed something different.

I bought a high-powered Chinese army slingshot. Instead or armor-piercing ammunition, I grabbed some leftover paintballs from my recent piece, P Is For Paint. I took Brewster to the boiler room and let him make the first painting.

He only made one painting, Untitled 2017. He was pleased with the high-impact art, and so was I. A happy patron makes for a happy artist.

29 September 2017

Hugh Hefner Was a Feminist

A few days ago I once again lamented the sorry state of what passes for journalism these days. And so, in fairness, I must acknowledge the brilliance of Monica Hesse writing in The Washington Post. Here’s the headline: “Hugh Hefner was a feminist (if you believe feminism is pretty women having sex with you).”

Hesse noted that Hefner “liberated women by putting them in rabbit costumes,” and/or “matching pink flannel pajamas.” Submission will set you free!

Still, I can’t take any solace in the death of the old sexist pigdog when so many of his reptile-brained spawn still stalk among us.

30 September 2017

Death Texas Style

When you build houses on a flood plain, you shouldn’t be surprised when torrential hurricane rains turn your Texas home into a swimming pool. And when you live in the American south, you also should not be surprised when those fetid waters contain flesh-eating bacteria in addition to the usual sewage and toxic waste.

No one knows whether Nancy Reed, a seventy-seven-year-old flood victim, was surprised when necrotizing fasciitis—more popularly known as flesh-eating bacteria—ate her alive; she’s dead.

Ah, Texas! There’s no state quite like it, and that’s most fortunate for the rest of us.


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©2017 David Glenn Rinehart

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