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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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12 November 2017

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No. 3,522 (cartoon)

Why don’t you have any children?

Contraceptives are cheaper than parasites.

13 November 2017

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Robert Frank and the Three Stooges

I just read R J Smith talking about his latest biography, American Witness, The Art and Life of Robert Frank. Reading such reviews is most efficient, now I don’t need to even glance at the book.

Although I think Frank is brilliant—and what thinking person doesn’t?—I’ll certainly never open the covers after reading Smith’s comments.

[Frank] was fascinated by and obsessed with America. He wanted to throw himself into it and come to terms with it. Along the way it became clear that [my] book is just as much about what America did to him, and how it transformed him; what America does to all artists, really. The kind of hardship he was willing to live with, and to court and to seek out. He came to think, and I would assume he still does think, that to be an artist, to be creative and to live with yourself, means to pay a big price, in all kinds of ways.

I’m sure it’s the best Frank biography available, if only because it’s the only one. Still, life’s too short to read the musings of an armchair analyst. “... to be creative and to live with yourself, means to pay a big price, in all kinds of ways.” All that suffering artist rubbish, what a load of bilgepiffle!

At least Smith revealed that Frank’s first commercial assignment after arriving in the United States from Switzerland was to photograph the Three Stooges. Why have we never seen what may have been Frank’s best work? Without it, will we ever truly appreciate who Moe, Larry, and Curly really were?

14 November 2017

La Grande Mort et Les Petites Morts

Benjamin Franklin was only half right when he wrote, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I pay about the same in taxes as a large, multinational corporation: almost nothing.

On the other hand, I know I’m going to die, just not when and how. I have a preferred scenario for breathing my last breath, or, more accurately, I did.

Sumeet Chugh and a bunch of killjoy researchers published a paper in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology that concluded that sex in general and orgasms in particular are almost never fatal.


I told Nico that I’ll probably die from something really stupid and banal like a terminally ingrown fingernail, but she was positive.

“The French refer to an orgasm as la petite mort, the little death,” she said. “If you’ve already had thousands of great deaths, who cares about the last one? You won’t live to regret it.”

15 November 2017

The Problem With Chairs

Josephine wanted to know why I never showed my films to a live audience. I wanted to tell her that it was silly to go to a specific geographic location at a specific time to watch something that one could see anytime on a billion different screens, but that was too complex of an argument. Instead, I opted for a more interesting answer.

“I’m afraid that will never happen,” I replied. “The seating logistics problem is insurmountable.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked. “The Internet Archive’s auditorium seats hundreds and it’s all of five meters away from your studio.”

“That’s exactly my point,” I confirmed. “There aren’t enough chairs in the world for people who don’t want to see my films. It will never happen.”

At least the last four words were true. I’m more candid with Josephine than most people.

16 November 2017

Smart(?) People

I don’t understand why some people are considered smart. That’s probably because I ain’t.

I’m certainly not very smart if intelligence is measured by financial wealth, but I think that’s a bad idea. Warren Buffet has eighty billion dollars, but if he’s so smart, why is he still living in Omaha, Nebraska?

And then there’s Bill Gates, who just invested eighty million dollars in a so-called smart city near Phoenix, Arizona. I don’t think it’s all that smart to build a municipality in an environment with no sustainable water supply in a brutal environment that’s sometimes so hot that modern aircraft can’t use the nearest airport. On the other hand, I do appreciate that any town near the wretched desert hellhole that is Phoenix has to look relatively good.

I just mentioned the theory of relativity; that’s quite enough of being nominally smart for one day.

17 November 2017

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Ephemeral Anonymous Earthworks Triptych
(Temporary Internet Archive Installation)

I discovered three fresh mounds of sand (the Sans Frisco equivalent of dirt) in the narrow band of grass on the south side of the Internet Archive. I photographed them immediately; I knew they wouldn’t be there long.

I’m undecided whether Ephemeral Anonymous Earthworks Triptych is my work, the groundhog’s (groundhogs’?) work, a collaboration, or all of the above. I ask myself this question every time I see a great photograph: who really made it?

18 November 2017

The Answer is Suicide

Applying for a job is very different than it used to be, or so Jana tells me. I’ll have to take her word for it; I haven’t engaged in such a degrading act in over forty years.

Jana told me that humans never review a job application until computer programs have rejected almost all of them. In any case, no one has ever commented on one of her standard answers. When asked why she left her previous position, she always types, “suicide.”

That sounds like a plausible answer to me. Although I’ve never thought of it as a suicide prevention plan, not having a job has been very good for my mental and physical health.

19 November 2017

Riveted to Their Seats

I’m amazed at what entertainers can see from the stage. I always thought all they could see was blackness and spotlights, but I thought wrong.

“I noticed you left before the end of my show last night,” Jasmin noted dryly.

“I wasn’t feeling well,” I explained. (I diplomatically failed to add that I was getting sick of the performance.)

“It’s your loss,” she replied. “It was a great night, and toward the end of the evening I had everyone in the audience riveted to their seats.”

“How prescient of you!” I explained. “It sounds painful and expensive, but I’m sure it was a good investment.”

She scowled. Until then, I didn’t know it was even possible for someone to glower over the phone.


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©2017 David Glenn Rinehart

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