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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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15 October 2023

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No. 632 (cartoon)

Life keeps getting harder and harder.

Lucky that we’re living longer!

16 October 2023

Sumo Publicity Scam

I’ve spent years in Japan. No, months. No, actually just a few weeks, but a week is more or less the same as a year only shorter, no? Having established my Japan expertise, even I am confused by the new Japanesque news (as opposed to old Japanesque news).

Twenty-seven sumo wrestlers bought tickets on a recent Japan Airlines flight, or one-sixth the number of seats on the Boeing 737-800 jet in the story. The porky athletes weighed about a hundred and twenty kilos each, and the airline said that since plane didn’t have enough fuel for such a heavy load, a second flight was added to accommodate the wrestlers.

That story sounds fishy to me. (As an aside, I know that, given my previously mentioned Japanese expertise, that they eat a lot of fish over there.) I’ve been on the same model of the plane on recent domestic flights, and although I didn’t conduct my usual rigorous research, I’d say that at least one out of every six passengers was blubbery enough to weigh as much as a sumo wrestler, yet I’ve never heard of not enough fuel for too many fat passengers.

I figger the fictitious story was just a publicity stunt, and I have proof: I just wrote about it, didn’t I?

17 October 2023

A Brussels Affair Revisited

Half a century ago today the Rolling Stones put on a show at the Forest National Arena in Brussels; it was one of the band’s better performances. The recording was released as an album, A Brussels Affair.

The lads are still performing the same songs now, and I’m sure the group will still be doing the same thing in another fifty years, although by then it will just be Keith Richards in a wheelchair and a gaggle of holograms.

In The Business, that’s known as, “a heritage act.” Perhaps the they will steal Leica’s line, “A century of tradition unhampered by progress.”

18 October 2023

Alfred Stieglitz photo

The Urinal in Purgatory

As William Shakespeare never wrote, “Shall I compare thee to a urinal? Thou art more lovely and less odiferous.” And so it’s on to Lisa del Giocondo.

Anyone who’s heard of oil painting has almost certainly heard of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Similarly, anyone who knows the first thing about conceptual art is familiar with Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, an ordinary urinal signed R. Mutt 1917.

But if you, unlike me, dismiss the premise that stealing, er, appropriating someone else’s work is an acceptable artistic practice, then apparently Duchamp’s Fountain is someone else’s baby. And that brings us to Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

Duchamp claimed he bought the readymade at the J L Mott Iron Works in Manhattan, but the company didn’t make or sell that model. It had to have come from Philadelphia where the German Dada artist lived. (Duchamp wisely never set foot in the City of Brotherly Love.)

And that brings us to the two smoking brushes.

The “R. Mutt 1917” signature is painted in Von Freytag-Loringhoven’s distinctive handwriting. That same year Duchamp wrote to his sister that “a woman friend” had entered “a urinal as a sculpture” to an art show.

Case closed. But ...

I wonder what the relationship was between Duchamp, his “friend” Von Freytag-Loringhoven, and Fountain? I may find out someday. For now, reading one piece on art history is more than enough for the month. And that leads me to conclude with one of Duchamp’s observations, one he may have actually said.

“No painting has an active life of more than thirty or forty years—that’s another little idea of mine. I don’t care if it’s true, it helps me to make that distinction between living art and art history. After thirty or forty years, the painting dies, loses its aura, its emanation, whatever you want to call it. And then it is either forgotten or else it enters the purgatory of art history.”

19 October 2023

Cooler Than We Thought

Well dang, everything seems ephemeraler than usual these days. Yesterday it was Fountain, and today it’s body temperature.

A normal, healthy person’s body temperature is 37 Centigrade, no?


Carl Wunderlich came up with that number a hundred and fifty years ago after making a million measurements of twenty-five thousand people. A century and a half later experts concluded (I love that line!) that the true normal is almost half a degree cooler.

At last report the sun still rises in the east, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

20 October 2023

Hot Stuff

For the last ten years or so, the Carolina Reaper was the hottest variety of chili peppers one could buy. And then came Pepper X, which is some sixty percent hotter.

One might expect Ed Currie, who engineered the Carolina Reaper, to be perhaps a bit saddened his pepper has been knocked out of first place, but he’s elated. That’s because Pepper X is his creation too.

Currie suffered from “horrible cramps” after ingesting a minuscule sample; the capsicum is so hot that it’s not fit for human consumption. No one can eat it and no one will be able to buy the pepper itself either in order to prevent it from being copied and cloned, so what’s the point?

From my perspective the point is that it’s pointless; it’s horticultural conceptual art!

21 October 2023

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Four Fecund Taters

I have several skills, but potato management is not one of them. Every other year I find a stash of forgotten potatoes that have fulfilled their potato destiny by trying to grow their progeny.

I found four such spuds a few weeks ago, put them in a dark storeroom, then pulled them out today and made Four Fecund Taters. The tubers did all the work but I’m taking the credit; it’s a nice arrangement that’s always served me well.

Coming next weak: more of the same.


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©2023 David Glenn Rinehart

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