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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak I


1 January 2020

No. 2,343 (cartoon)

You’re a sick pervert.

I’m a healthy pervert.

That’s sick.

2 January 2020

Where’s the Hindsight?

Here I am in 2020, so where’s the hindsight? Or maybe I got it all wrong? Hindsight is always 2020, but perhaps 2020 isn’t always hindsight.

It’s going to be a long year; we shall see.

But probably not.

3 January 2020

Divine Scam

I’m fascinated by the way good scammers take advantage of ignorant people since it always raises the rhetorical question, how can anyone be that stupid? And when it comes to con artists, the godly are almost always the most perfidiously nefarious.

The latest swindle is “health-sharing ministries.” The chump is offered faith-based help with medical expenses for low monthly payments cheaper than the cost of real health insurance. That’s because it’s not insurance. According to Samaritan Ministries in Peoria, Illinois, “... there is no coverage, no guarantee of payment.”

The organization advises, “Just trust God.” Their literature doesn’t mention the second half of the sentence, “... but send your money to us.”

The program works fine until someone gets sick. Regulators in Washington State punished Trinity Healthshare with a large fine for doing business as an unauthorized insurer. The Texas attorney general sued Aliera Healthcare for scamming the public with “unregulated insurance products” after the company sold Trinity ministry “coverage” that left a couple with over a hundred thousand dollars in unpaid medical bills.

So much for trusting the God; there’s no legal way to get redress the holy pettifoggers.

“God is on our side,” pResident Drumph recently proclaimed. Since he represents swindlers, cheaters, liars, and religious organized crime, this is one of the few times I find myself in agreement with the abhorrent scoundrel.

4 January 2020

My Improbably Charmed Life

Molly and I were looking at photographs of the nightmarish fires in Australia. Unlike most horrific stories in what passes for the news, the tragedy resonated when I remembering choking on the dense smoke from fires a hundred clicks from Sans Frisco in 2017. It was the first time I’ve been deeply affected by a reported tragedy since the 2004 and 2011 tsunamis that killed hundreds of thousands of people, presumably including many of the people I’d met in Thailand and Japan.

Conversely, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have my village bombed, see masked vigilante police killing my neighbors, et cetera. I can only relate to such atrocities on an intellectual level, not a strong emotional one.

The unimaginable remains just that, and this year is virtually unchanged from the one that preceded it. I continue to enjoy my improbably charmed life while it lasts. I thought I had more to say, but apparently not.

5 January 2020

John Baldessari

The list of living artists I admire got noticeably shorter when I learned that John Baldessari died.

There’s nothing to say about his work; it stands alone and speaks for itself. I have no higher praise than that.

“I am making art. I am making art. I am making art. I am making art. I am making art.”

That’s my favorite quote of his. And that’s what he did: over four thousand pieces at last count, and that was five years ago. There’s not necessarily any relationship between quantity and quantity, but in his case there was.

Eighty-eight years; great run, John!

6 January 2020

When in Oakland

The people I meet here on the streets of Oakland, California, are a friendly lot, at least superficially. Almost everyone I pass on my long walks greets me with the query, “Whassup?”

I used to reply, “The opposite of what’s down,” but no one appreciated my attempt at a witty reply. I later discovered that “Whassup?” is a rhetorical question and that the proper response is another rhetorical question: “Howzitgoin?”

Having learned the proper etiquette, I now speak to everyone I meet without talking to anyone. When in Oakland, do as the Oaklanders do.

7 January 2020

Uncomfortable Birthday Considerations

Polly promised to tell me “by Monday at the latest” whether she wanted me to catsit for her in a couple of weeks. I need to know today if the answer’s yes in order to get an affordable plane ticket, but I can’t call her. I suppose I could call her, but it would be awkward and problematic because today’s my birthday.

I’m not one of those pathetic people who refuses to admit that they’re getting chronologically older every year, as if that somehow alters the aging process. I don’t celebrate the annual milestone, either, but Polly does. And given the lack of fanfare from her, it’s clear she forgot it. Or, perhaps more accurately, hasn’t checked her calendar recently.

If I call her about catsitting without mentioning it’s my birthday, I know in the next few days I’ll get a wild message full of self-flagellation for her forgetfulness and reprimands for my failure to remind her when we talked on the seventh.

Conversely, if I mention in passing that it’s my birthday it might look like I’m fishing for birthday wishes, and in any case I’ll have to endure an overly enthusiastic stream of birthday platitudes.

Now that I think about it, I’ll call her tomorrow. Even if I pay more for the trip, it will be worth it.

8 January 2020

Beyond Reasonable Doubt

I made the photograph on the corner of Fourteen Street and Valencia Street in San Francisco. I didn’t manipulate the image except to make the converging lines perpendicular, just as I would have done with my view camera decades ago. In other words, it’s a straight photograph, but that doesn’t make any difference.

I would have liked the piece just as much if I’d added a computer-generated billboard to a photograph. Some people are talented enough to do that so skillfully that only forensic experts can detect the manipulation, but I’m not that skilled. And that doesn’t matter either.

I like Beyond Reasonable Doubt because that’s never been true of a photographic image and never will be.


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©2020 David Glenn Rinehart