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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak VII


12 February 2021

gratuitous image

No. 2,915 (cartoon)

Everything’s so wonderful; my life seems perfect.

Everyone says that when they’re about to die.

13 February 2021

The Perfect Conceptual Artist

Juanita bet me that I’d never heard of her favorite artist. I was tempted to respond by asking her how stupid she thought I was, but then thought the better of it when I realized she might jabber on for hours with a comprehensive answer.

I never gamble on anything unless I’m virtually certain to win. For example, I’ve won a lot from people who just couldn’t believe that you can buy previously-worn schoolgirls’ underwear from refrigerated vending machines in Japan. (If David Mikkelson says it’s true, that’s good enough to win a bet.)

As for her wager, I spent most of my time cocooning in my studio bubble breathing my own fumes even before Coronarama. I’m not very interested in what other artists are doing unless it’s something worth plagiarizing, er, appropriating. I’m nothing if not polite, so I asked her to tell me about her genius of the day.

“Where can I see the work?”

“You can’t; no one can.”

“What’s the name?”

“I don’t know; no one does.”

She explained that the artist made extraordinary work that no one else ever saw, then destroyed it without a trace and made no photographic or even written documentation.

“How can you possibly know about unknown work by someone who’s completely anonymous?” I asked.

“With almost eight billion people on the planet that has to be true,” she replied. “And even if it’s not true today, it will be soon.”

That was even too stupid for me to debate, so I didn’t. And even though I’d never admit it even though I’m about to do so, I rather like the idea of the perfect conceptual artist.

14 February 2021

My Cheesy Besheret

Today is Valentine’s Day, perhaps the most contrived and artificial “celebration” ever concocted by commercial conglomerates. That didn’t stop Juanita from calling this evening to ask me if I’d found happiness yet. I steeled myself for one of her earsplitting shrieks of joy before telling her that I took her advice and had discovered my besheret.

“Mazel tov!” She yelped. “Tell me about the lucky woman!”

“I’m talking about a frozen pizza,” I replied, “what are you on about?”

“I’m talking about your soulmate!” she protested.

I reminded her that she told me that “besheret” meant “my destiny,” and that certainly describes the pizza. I was tired of brown rice with this, brown rice with that, and brown rice with the other thing. So when I opened up the freezer to get some ice for a martini, I spotted the cheesy platter as if for the first time, even though it had been there my whole life. (Well, not exactly, but I put it in there well over a month ago.)

I went on to explain that it provided a tasty dinner rich in salt and fat, and that it was nice to have the oven on with the temperature outside headed down to twenty below. If that wasn’t my destiny and meant to be (as hippies like Juanita like to say to my great annoyance), then you can roll me in acacia sap and fresh mimosa leaves and feed me to the giraffes. (Thanks to Max Cannon and Ted Johnson for the idea!)

“You’re such a mashugana, David,” she chided.

“I found my besheret and you haven’t,” I concluded, “so which one of us is crazy?”

I was relieved when she declared that she was the only sane person in our conversation. I’ve worked hard for decades to be this preposterous, and I’d be deeply disappointed if that accomplishment went unrecognized.

15 February 2021

All I Need to Know About Mars

It seems like anyone who can cobble together and launch a rocket these days is sending a probe to Mars. Here’s a relevant headline from today’s news: “NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance landing: Everything you need to know.”

I skipped the article since I already know more than everything I need to know about Mars: it’s easier for humans to create something on an uninhabited planet than to deal with the ongoing ruination of this one.

As for me, when it comes to exploring unknown worlds I doubt I’ll ever complete my journey to the center of my mind before I die. And that’s probably just as well; I have better places to go.

16 February 2021

Who’s Nan Porter?

Samantha told me that my story about the talking courtroom kitten a week ago was obviously false, and cited an observation by Nan Porter: “If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.”

There’s something very unusual about that quote: you can find it in tens of thousands of places on the Internet, but I can’t find a single reference to Nan Porter. The violates one of the rules of popular sayings: they must be attributed to a famous person. In the unlikely event I say something both original and popular, by the time it’s repeated for the millionth time it won’t be ascribed to me.

I made a note on my calendar for 16 February 2031 to see who came up with, “If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.” I bet it won’t be Nan Porter.

Let’s check back in a decade and see ...

17 February 2021

A Shaky Story

Finn owns Roxanne and that’s that. Now before I mention that they live in San Francisco and you get an image in your head of Roxanne walking around wearing a collar, I have a word of advice: don’t. (Is the contraction “don’t” one word or two?) They do indeed love each other and frequently sleep together, but Finn’s the one who saunters around her apartment wearing nothing but a collar. There’s nothing wrong with that in San Francisco or anywhere else whether or not you’re a cat like Finn.

Meanwhile, back at the anecdote ...

Roxanne told me that Finn’s veterinarian reported that he has a loose tooth, something she’s been unable to see for herself to her great consternation.

“Poor boy,” she wrote, “he won’t let me look in his mouth.”

I tried to assuage her concerns by pointing out that I too wouldn’t let her stick her fingers in my mouth and try to pry my jaw open unless she at least bought me a few drinks first.

She told me later that she heeded my advice—first time for everything!—and that Finn was more amenable to cooperating after a couple of tuna water cocktails.

This story—that was never really a story to begin with—ends inconclusively, as is tradition on a Coronarama Blursday. Finn is fine—albeit with a shaky fang—and we’re all getting older.

18 February 2021

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Two Good Is Not Too Good

Last Friday I dusted off my tripod and meandered down Encantado Loop to photograph a small vertical rail by the side of the road with two and a half traffic reflectors mounted on top. I made a couple of photographs two minutes apart, but they looked quite different because of lighting variations—the sun came out—as well as using different lenses at different apertures.

I looked at both of them together and couldn’t decide which one I preferred since they were both pretty good photographs. It took me a while to realize that that’s all they were. I’m a good technician and I know the rules for making a pretty good photo; I could make a dozen “pretty good” photographs a day if I wanted to do so. But life’s too short to piss it away on anything that banal and predictable.

I concluded that two good photographs are not too good photographs, so I reproduced them here in low resolution as a cautionary tale before banishing the highly detailed originals to the purgatory of my archives, where they’ll never be seen again.

19 February 2021

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Snowy Encantado Fence (Sextych)

I’m tempted to photograph something I see every day, and I’m also tempted to avoid doing that for the same reason. It’s great that I have a variety of temptations from which to choose.

A year ago I made, Encantado Fence (Sextych), and exactly three hundred and sixty-six days later—2020 was a leap year—here’s a variation with snow: Snowy Encantado Fence (Sextych). I don’t know if I like either or both or neither, but it doesn’t matter since anything with “sex” in the title is a keeper.


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