free (and worth it) subscription

An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

Last Weak  |  Index  |  Next Weak

Weak III


15 January 2020

gratuitous image

No. 5,395 (cartoon)

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be dead.

That’s because you can’t imagine what it’s like to be alive.

16 January 2020

Right Time, Wrong Airport

I thought I made it to the Oakland Airport yesterday in plenty of time to catch my plane, but I made one critical miscalculation: my flight was leaving from San Francisco.

Oops, and then some.

I spent over an hour on the subway going from one side of the bay to the other; that was an appropriate opportunity to contemplate my disconnect from what’s colloquially known as the real world. I could have spent days doing that, but it was a good start.

I bought the ticket weeks ago, but I didn’t see San Francisco mentioned on every related document I received, including the boarding pass, because I’ve only flown on this airline from Oakland. In other words, I believed what I knew to be true without bothering with a reality check.

The incident was yet another reminder that I shouldn’t believe everything I believe.

Fortunately, my amazing good fortune essentially negated my astounding stupidity; I arrived less than an hour late. That could ultimately be unfortunate. Since the only negative consequence of my thoughtlessness was a seventeen-dollar subway ride, I suspect I’ll soon forget about my folly and repeat it again, as I’ve done before.

17 January 2020

Poor Judgment, Bad Decisions

Gareth showed me a recent article from Judgment and Decision Making, “Bullshit Makes the Art Grow Profounder.” I have no idea why any periodical except Things Everyone Already Knew Quarterly would publish such redundant research.

In case anyone reading this was born yesterday and/or just fell off a turnip truck from Hatchechubbee, Alabama, here’s an abstract of the authors’ abstract.

The researchers tested three options for giving an abstract painting a title, “pseudo-profound bullshit titles (e.g., The Deaf Echo), mundane titles (e.g., Canvas 8), and no titles.” They concluded, “Mundane titles did not enhance the perception of profoundness, indicating that pseudo-profound bullshit titles specifically (as opposed to titles in general) enhance the perceived profoundness ...”

The academics know how to play the foundation game, so they left room for further investigation, i.e., another grant, by noting, “... the potential for these results to be integrated into a larger, new theoretical framework of bullshit as a low-cost strategy for gaining advantages in prestige awarding domains.”

Translation: the “art” world rewards pretentiousness in general and pseudo-profound bullshit in particular. Hell, Antonio da Correggio or Hans Holbein the Younger could have told you that half a millennium ago.

I was too polite to ask Gareth why he read such a worthless rag, especially since I knew the answer: he obviously makes bad decisions based on poor judgment.

18 January 2020

gratuitous image

Channeling Joseph Beuys

Buzz claims that he’s not channeling Joseph Beuys, but that’s only because he’s never heard of Fluxus in general or the German artist in particular.

I had lunch at his place today, and he was lamenting the sad state of industrial engineering. He was particularly irked that he spent almost two thousand dollars on “the best” German clothes dryer, but it stopped working reliably after a few weeks. Never at a loss for dramatic excess, Buzz wondered aloud if he wanted to live in a world where he couldn’t trust Teutonic engineering.

I had a look at the latest in industrial design and quickly discovered the problem. Apparently, my not so learned friend was unaware that, advances in technology notwithstanding, the contraption still relies on humans to clean the lint filter.

I pulled out a mammoth piece of felt; it was thicker than any quilt I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if it was by chance or supernatural intervention, but the spirit of the late entertainer was alive and well in Buzz’s clothes dryer. It sort of makes sense: what better place for the German artist reappear than a German than a machine made in Düsseldorf, the city where he died?

I carefully put the felt sculpture, Channeling Joseph Beuys, in an acid-free archival storage box, and urged Buzz not to touch the lint trap again until spring. Even if he spends a small fortune on electricity and has to live with damp laundry, that’s a small price to pay for great art.

19 January 2020

Remembering Barry Tuckwell

When I was fifteen, I knew with certainty that one day I would be lauded as the best French horn player in the world, if not in the history of the instrument. I was clearly destined—through hours of tireless practice—to be the successor to Barry Tuckwell, the musician universally regarded then as the finest horn player of the era.

I believed that was the destiny I’d create for myself, but no one else did. As is usually the case, when only one person on the planet believes something, s/he’s usually wrong.

I overcame my fantasy of competence within a couple of years when I discovered the jouissance of art, women, and wine; I continue to live happily ever after.

As for the horn? Good riddance. Frank Zappa was absolutely right when he described orchestra musicians as mechanics. I’m so glad I didn’t piss away my life in some mediocre orchestra following the written instructions of some composer who died centuries ago. (And it certainly would have been a second-rate ensemble because I was a merely competent horn player at best, delusions of adequacy notwithstanding.)

My life would have become almost as bad had I been the brilliant musician I hallucinated I’d become. When he recently died at eighty-eight, Tuckwell hadn’t performed in decades. I’m so fortunate I’ll be able to push a shutter release and tappety-tap tap on a computer until I pop my clogs, no matter what shape my lips are in.

And with that, I shall pour myself a glass of Bunnahabhain and listen to a recording of Tuckwell playing Richard Strauss’s horn concertos while I process some new photographs and allow myself a little bit of schadenfreude over the path not taken.

20 January 2020

Immortal Pepperoni

Annie is a lovely friend, and I was quite pleased when she invited me over for lunch and a kitchen cleaning party. I love helping people get rid of all the “inedible” food in their reefers; I take it back to my studio and eat it. I’m certain that lawyers, not scientists, decide that food has a so-called expiration date.

I look up to her, even though she’s rather untall, so I was happy to clean off the top of the icebox for her when she asked. And that’s when and where I found the thing.

Once upon a time, the thing was a frozen pizza hermetically sealed in plastic. But that was apparently a very long time ago. The thing I discovered was a transparent body bag full of rotting, fermenting primordial ooze, except ...

Except for the pepperoni. Little circular islands of fatty processed meat floated on the sea of slime. I wonder why people claim that the allegedly beef and pork sausages are fattening? Even millennia of gastrointestinal evolution could not have prepared humans to digest such Frankenfood.

Annie was underawed and then some by my discovery.

“I guess I forgot about putting it up there to thaw on Halloween,” she remarked. “Please toss it.”

And for once, I agreed. Despite what my friends say, there really are some things that even I won’t eat.

21 January 2020

Thinking Outside of the Glass

I never tire of stupid discussions, and Wanda and Joel never disappoint. They were having a “philosophical” donnybrook over whether my glass of wine was half full or half empty. I suffered through listening to them trot out cliché after hoary cliché before I had to end it with a variation on another cliché.

I told them that they should think outside of the glass instead of thinking outside of the box. I pointed out four other glass containers near my wine glass, each of which contained a magnum of cheap wine. I told them they’d missed the most important thing about my wine glass: it’s refillable.

They agreed that my persuasive argument was not without merit, as if they had a choice. Wanda uncorked another bottle, and after that there was no further debate about the state of my glass.


Last Weak  |  Index  |  Next Weak
©2020 David Glenn Rinehart