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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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17 July 2012

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No. 9,351 (cartoon)

You wouldn’t know love if it bit you on the neck.

It did and I do.

A rabid bat is not love.

18 July 2012

Bedroom Tales

Freddie and Evelyn enlisted my help in moving a heavy armoire into their bedroom. I’ve known them for decades, and they recognize that one of my greatest skills as a photographer is my ability to schlep heavy equipment thither and yon.

After the move was done, I asked them if they always slept on the same side of the bed, or if they ever traded places.

“Nope,” Evelyn replied, “I’ve slept on the same side of the bed for decades, always on my left side. How do you sleep, Freddie?”

“How could you not know?” Freddie asked. “We’ve been sleeping together for almost thirty years!”

“How should I know?” Evelyn shrugged. “I always go to sleep first and wake up last.”


“I propose that we concoct cocktails to celebrate the rearranging of the furniture,” I said.

So we did, and enjoyed a nice conversation about everything except what goes on in the bedroom. I should have known better than to have brought up the topic in the first place.

Alas; far too many of my sentences begin with, “I should have known better ...”

19 July 2012

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Gratuitous Photo of the Weak: Ansel Adams

I made this photograph of Ansel Adams when I visited him at his home in Carmel, California. This is obviously not a recent image; I made it a year before he died in 1984. I’m publishing this instead of a contemporary photograph because there are no new photographs this weak. My plastic Nikon—both the body and the lens—are being repaired. It’s the first time in forty years that I’ve had a camera die.

I suppose it’s not surprising; I didn’t buy Chinese plastic for its durability. (The brass and steel camera with which I made this photograph still works just fine.) Still, I’m not complaining, even though I am. The reason I use a cheap, plastic camera is because it’s light enough to take everywhere. More to the point, it makes better pictures than its predecessors did because of technological advances.

I now rely on shoddy thousand-dollar cameras that make images far better than their exquisitely engineered predecessors that Ansel and I used to use. I suppose that’s a current definition of progress.

20 July 2012

Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov

I only know two stories about Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov, the hombre who conducted business as Peter the Great. He was over two meters tall, and accentuated his height by surrounding himself with short people. When his wife had an affair, he beheaded her lover and put his head in a glass container of alcohol beside her bed. I suppose one doesn’t become a czar by being a nice guy.

Both of those tales appear to be untrue, but that doesn’t concern me. Some people let the truth get in the way of a good story, but I’m not similarly encumbered.

21 July 2012

Another Day, Another Massacre

Yesterday a lunatic walked into a crowded theater in Colorado with an assault rifle and proceeded to shoot seventy-one people, killing a dozen of them. Predictably, apologists for the gun lobby are defending their industry. The spokesperson for the American Association of Machine Gun, Bazooka, and Flamethrower Manufacturers pointed out the suffering would’ve been greater—and the mortality rate higher—had the killer used a potato peeler. After all, being skinned alive is a horrible way to die, and not one of the seventy-one people would’ve survived long without their skin.

Similarly, a Fox News [sic] pundit pointed out that the carnage would have been even worse had the attackers used a paring knife to inflict what the ancient Chinese referred to as “death by a thousand cuts.” Even a millennium ago, the culture that invented gunpowder recognized that a knife was a much more cruel and painful weapon than an assault rifle, even though assault rifles had yet to be invented.

Nothing’s going to change. American politicians decided years ago that an occasional massacre was a small price to pay for the reëlection support of the gun lobby.

22 July 2012

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Pinus longaeva Does Not Care

Bristlecone pines don’t have the stature and gravitas (can a plant have gravitas?) of the redwoods. I think they’re much more conceptually interesting, though, because they’re the oldest living things on the planet. With a lifespan of over four thousand years, I imagine cataclysms such as the Black Death and world wars are relatively insignificant to a bristlecone pine.

That’s what was going through my alleged mind when I made Pinus longaeva Does Not Care. Here’s the text that goes with one of the nine unremarkable photographs I made.

The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine does not care about your malignant growth, poisonous distress, or overwhelming agony.

The bristlecone pine is 4,071 years old.

Pinus longaeva does not care.


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©2012 David Glenn Rinehart

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