L.E. Don and painting

Caricature of L.E. Don by Mr. X.

At the word "money" she gave a glance which passed
like the flash of a cannon in the midst of its smoke.

-- Honore de Balzac, Cousine Bette

Greetings Mr. L.E. Don, I hail from Santa Ana, California, that bastion of neo-con confreres, and I have a disturbing story to tell about the first time I "gifted" someone.

It was a child running a sidewalk lemonade stand in our neighborhood. I gifted the small, female "entrepreneur" who knew where I lived (I refused the lemonade). I asked the child to hold the gift envelope up and took a photo of this"gifted" child. The child was delighted, of course.

But the next day a fascist-looking, Latino member of the local constabulary knocked on my door inquiring why I was approaching young children and giving them money and taking their photo? Whose money was it? Was I a creepy pedophile or what? Was I going to put that kid's photo on a porn website, or what.? He (under pain of arrest!) warned me not to give any kids money these days. A sad commentary on our society, n'est pas? Warn your other "gifters" of this police state reaction to a perfectly legal activity. I am attaching a jpeg file of the photo, altered to remove the identity of the kids depicted.

I have traveled far and wide in this world and this only appears to be happening in the so called ''civilised western countries''. In Egypt, India, Turkey I am able to take photos of children without fear.

mmmmmm-- J.B., Santa Ana, CA

Dear J.B., Yes, people have been watching too many episodes of "Law and Order: SVU" and have become identified with Detective Elliot Stabler's breach of police procedures during his over-the-top emotional war on sexual creeps. Of course, this is just what the powers-that-be-want: to raise the paranoia quotient ever higher among the middle-classes so that violations of suspects rights, etc. are considered acceptable.

So naturally, your experience is was to be expected. Make this a part of the artwork: if a police report was filed, ask for a copy and send it to us, as all this ancillary activity is considered an important aspect of this art piece.

Be prepared for a paranoid reaction among some people who cannot conceive of someone giving away money without some kind of hidden "hook" inside. Yes, this artwork tends to reveal very interesting social issues constellating around it.

Keep up the good work. Remember, that the A.C.L.U. will back your right to gift anyone and to photograph those people in public spaces. Yes, if you want to be on the safe side, we suggest cropping the "gifted" person's head out of the photo.

However, may we recommend a provocative act in retaliation? Wear the following T-shirt when you "gift" a local police officer and see how he/she deals with the seeming contradiction:

mmmmmm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I just had to write you about my attempt to impliment your gift-giving strategy here in Wausau, Wisconsin. I approached an elderly, yet vigorous, woman and started to gift her. She refused to accept the envelope. When I finally broke down and told her it contained twenty dollars, she, in a huff, still refused to accept! So I turned around and gifted another elderly woman walking just behind her who was delighted. What goes?
mmmmmm-- A. L., Wausau, WI

Dear A.L., Paranoia. Some people are so used to being scammed by advertisers, politicians, etc., to being taken advantage of, to being used as objects, that they can't grok the spirit of genuine gift-giving. I think our live in a very sick society, a place where people have been conditioned not to relate to people in a broader social sense. Only immediate family is to be trusted (and that a bad trust if we are to believe the extent to spousal and child abuse reported in the media). This assures the powers-that-be that folks will be less likely to come together, to organize and see their common oppression, hence, less to likely to challenge authority. My fan club in Schamburg, IL addressed this phenomenon in a wonderful poster (see attached file):

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Sir, I love your idea! I'm starting to gift folks down here in 'Naw Lans' as the area is very distressed now. So due to the high gas prices I thought it would be wonderful to gift folks as they were filling up their gas tank at the pump.

I attempted to do so to a young woman and tried to cajole her into holding the gift up for a photo. She refused and only took the envelope I offered when I insisted, walking off quickly so she couldn't return it. I still wonder what she thought when she opened it.

mmmmmm-- N. K., New Orleans, LA

Dear N.K., If she opened it! She might have just tossed it out.

Very admirable idea idea to focus on those being gouged by corporate greed at the gas pumps! This girl you mention, she probably thought you were trying to put the hustle on her. Yet may be she felt bad about how she treated you after she (let's choose the less pessimistic option) opened the envelope. On the other hand, if she had that typical 'Lutheran-look' about her, most likely she's so chronically uptight one could sharpen a pencil with her sphincter muscle (personally, I've found that Catholics are easier to gift than Protestants).

But seriously, in a society that values money of all else, giving the stuff away is the supreme absurdity; it threatens the very foundation of people's entrenched belief systems. Yes, they may be delighted to receive the money, but they are also disturbed by this kind of precedent too. Conflicted feelings.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Kind Sir, I have a suggestion for your project. Judging from the hostile to paranoid responses your "gifters" have experienced, you should advise your "gifters" to wear a "Fear No Art" T-shirt when doing this activity. Kind of placate them, you know.

mmmmiimm-- D.-K. W., San Francisco, CA

Dear D.-K. W., Hell, I would amend that T-shirt's statement to read: "Let Art Make You Uncomfortable." What one should FEAR is advertising.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Donny Boy, Just ran across your weirdoish website. May I comment even if I haven't gifted anyone? (Rhetorical question, buddy, 'cause yer gonna hear the good news anyway!)

Well . . . here it is! Money! It's sold to us as just a neutral thing about "consumer choice" but everybody knows it's about power. People just don't think there's another way. Anybody can see there is when you think about it, it's just that we have trouble thinking about it.

All governments rule because they are the most powerful criminal organization in their nation.
Only "Bob" can free you from that which has enslaved you.Now this is the Word of "Bob": J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, that LIVING GOD WHO WALKS THIS PLANET EARTH IN HUCKSTER'S SHOES. Send ALL your fetters, chains, and MONEY to Church of the Subgenius, P.O. Box 140306, Dallas TX 75214!!

P. S.: I’ll never forget a Peanuts cartoon where Linus said something about wanting to be a philanthropist, but with somebody else’s money.

mmmmiimm-- I. S., Cleveland Heights, OH (Ordained minister in The Church of the Subgenius)

Dear I. S., My twenty bucks are in the mail. Sorry about having to give it to you in pennies! Or would you prefer Monopoly money?

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear L. E., We have really enjoyed seeing the growth of the L.E. Don project, Gratuitous Giving. Some of the early responses are really interesting. It's a great twist on the "Pay it Forward" concept, except this really goes further and addresses so many other issues beyond just the generosity of the gifting. Trust seems to be a major issue for the recipient; to be able to accept a gift from someone just wanting to give without any attachments. Oh the suspicious mind! Then the paranoia sets in when asked to be photographed. Not to mention the issues of the guy wanting to photograph the lemonade children! I think you have hit on a project that will grow beyond its initial intentions, "An Anti-Capitalist Gesture." Brilliant! Brilliant!

We have yet to do our gifting, but be sure we will be participating! Note the gifting envelope in the background of the shot of me doing some welding.) We are also going to pass along this info to my Photographers' Exchange group and see if we can get them involved. This down hill train has lost its breaks...and is gaining momentum!!! Watch Out!!!

mmmmiimm-- Best always to you, L. V., Oceanside, CA

Dear L.V., Thanks for the encouragement. You are a true gift in a crazy world.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear L. E. Don, I suggest you encourage people to send their stories about giving gifts in general. For instance, at Christmas once, us kids played at joke on our stamp collector father by wrapping up his very thick, large stamp catalogue and placing it under the tree. He thought he was getting a fabulous gift and was both amused and crestfallen when he opened it. Thereafter, we kids always wrapped up the catalogue (and I mean this when on for every Christmas until we grew up and left the home nest) much to his amusement. In other words, it became a family tradition. We still laugh about it today.

mmmmiimm-- Warmly, L. H., Providence, RI

Dear L.H., A wonderful story! Anyone else out there with interesting tales to tell?

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Mr. Don, I would say that your global artwork's approach is a perfect blend of Karl Marx and Douglas Huebler. Huebler, a conceptual artist from the 1970s, was not only a generous man, but exemplied the conceptual approach to photography that most countered the modernist, fetishistic paradigm of academic photography of that day. Every time he clicked the shutter of his camera I heard sweet music like: "Damn Szarkowskian Modernism," or "You won't like this David Travis" [modernist curators at major museums, webmaster]. What say?

P.S. Say did you know that the complete text of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter" was published for the first time in a journal whose title was simply The Gift?

mmmmiimm-- Wishin' ya well, L. T., Carbondale, IL

Dear L.T., Excellent observation. Yes, I used to have Doug over for dinner when I lived in the L.A. Basin while he was teaching at Cal Arts. I even wrote a catalogue essay on his work once. Weirdly, he was the spitting image of my favorite uncle.

Click image

That tidbit about Poe's story is amazing! Thanks.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Mr. Don, You're one of the 'radicalest' folk I've come across over the years. I'll make an image for you but shall send the information and lovely bill to another for they can use it more than yours truly.

The potlatch has always been of interest. Some families literally gave all they had away. The trust, which to them would be innate, is something we cannot see or know today ... even midst friends.

You mention Christian ideas and sources in your web site information. I was raised by the do unto others as you'd have them do to you, and, it is better to give than to receive, credos. It has aided me overall in good stead.

I believe one's best teaching is that element known as the gift. Much of my teaching has been based upon a Latin class when freshman and sophomore (13 & 14 yrs. old) in high school. The teacher "gave" us a huge amount of information, thereby making it a history cum language cum morality cum English cum what-it-is-to-be-human class. I use that approach today. Those who take the information and run with it and do their work, which then springs from their mind and heart have received a gift. The others cannot see the present (read gift) for they live in the past.

The envelope was a surprise and I surmise the next recipient will feel the same.

Okay, I have taken quite some time to even take a snap of yours truly but it is now done.

Time has been spent as well attempting to do one of the following:
1. Gift you in return;
2. Just go out and 'gift' another person and add a few shekels to your $20;
3. Buy some cocktails and relax.

It has been tough overall and more time will be spent on the above. In the meanwhile I hope you are well and rich in spirit if poor in wallet.

So, you've spent your money wisely lad and for it I'm not sad and shall hand it on to another so my persona will not be a cad and perhaps that giving will become a fad. Howz dat dad?

Cheers to you my friend . . . cheers.

mmmmiimm-- J. F., San Rafael, CA

Dear J. F., Thanx 4 your heap supportive comments, my man!

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Sir, I've taken inspiration from your website, especially the mode of anonymous gifiting. I am a very shy person (see my attached portrait) and find that that technique is more to my liking.

I particularly like to do the gifting that counters someone's parking ticket fine. Screw the meter maids!

Also, I had much fun with using a revolving office door (please put the image I've attached on your site) as vehicle for the gift envelope. I perservely enjoyed watching people trying to look at or grab the envelope as they twirled around inside the door! Of course, I placed the envelope on the side of the glass away from the pedestrian! Har-har!

mmmmiimm-- C. G., Chicago, IL

Dear C. G., You sly devil you.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, Being nosey, I've found a way to enhance the play element inherent in your Gifting project (see attached jpeg file):

mmmmiimm-- A. C., Chicago, IL

Dear A. C., Ya really "nose" your stuff, kiddo!

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

My Dear Mister Don, I send you great photograph of my class students at school in Fukuoka playing hide 'n seek with gift envelope. Like doing tricks with gifts? So here it be:

mmmmiimm-- Y. M., Fukuoka, Japan

Dear Y. M., How long did it take for one of these girls to find that envelope? Five seconds?

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Hola! Senor Don, I am in Barcelona, viewed your web project, and decided to gift anonymously at our famous Joan Miro Museum on Montjuic. I did prop the envelope against one of my favorite Miro's. The artist would be liking that, I think. Please see attached digital file of the photograph. Please put it on your web page. Gracias!

mmmmiimm-- E. R-V., Barcelona, Spain

Dear Senor E. R-V., Muchas gracias por su ayuda. I just now added your photo to our site. How about doing something like this at a Gaudi site, maybe Parc Guell?

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Donner ('n Blitzen), Excuse the wacky informality, but I've got a hot idea and have to share it with you and your webmeister; it's called "The Do-It Decimal System," and consists of this: after 5 gifts of $20 each (adding up to $100) you have your gifters make the next gift a whopping $100, printing on the gifting envelope the designation "The Big One!" in bold red type, of course. Ya got the nerve to do it big guy? Just seeing photos of $20 bills in hand after hand is getting tres boring. D'accord?

I'm enclosing a shot of me at work.

mmmmiimm-- G. H., New York, NY

Dear G. H., Hey, it ain't a matter of nerve, mon ami, but diminishing financial reserves. But I think this could be done, say every 50 giftings we find a very deserving giftee. Merci beaucoup for brain-storming for us.

[View our first "Big One" gifting].

To quote from Marcel Mauss' The Gift: "Yes, you are right; there is no sweeter pleasure than to surprise a man [sic] by giving him [sic] more than he [sic] hopes for."

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Herr Don, Please find enclosed a digital photo file of my anonymous gifting here in Munchen at a bookstore where I met my wife. Herr Don, Don uber alles!

mmmmiimm-- D. G., Munich, Germany

Dear D. G., Danke. I will put the photo online soon. Check our site in three days.

By the way, I always wanted to open a German restaurant (catering to morbidly obese gluttons) named Die Gross Munchen. Ja, ja, your reward my son is a bad, very bad, pun.

By the way, I bombed Munich during WWII (see attached jpeg). No hard feelings, I hope.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dag Mr. Don, I send you photo of my gifting in our Stedelijk museum of the gift envelope (printed off your website) which be then stuck by me with double-side tape to a famous Piet Mondrian painting, Composition in Red, Yellow, and Blue (1920). I put it there and run like hell (all ass 'n elbows as you Americans put it) out an emergency exit, its sound blaring!

mmmmiimm-- R. F., Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Dear R. F., Jeeze, you got balls my friend. Lucky you were'nt shot.

An approprite gifting! Hoarding money is a form of anality and ol' Piet was, if anything, anal. So hilarious to use his canvas for this projejct. Yes, I love how the evelope just fit the composition, but could you do one such niffty gifting trick to a Bart van der Leck canvas? Personally, I prefer him to Piet. By the way, your photo would make a nice poster for our project. Your flick will be put on our website soon.

By the way, during my WWII bomber missions into Germany, we overflew Holland many times.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Hey Mate, I hail from East AnGlia in the U.K., but live in London. My favorite letter is G (so I always Capitalize it), my favorite expression is "Gee!" And now I run across your web project on Gifting (with a capital G). So I Get this Great idea: take a map of our London tube system and inscribe a big G over that map of the stations (connecting the proverbial dots) . Then I Go out and place an anonymous gifting envelope at each station (dot) making up that large G. I imagine at least one bloke finding the Gift will be stunned into saying "Gee!" when opening it.

mmmmiimm-- S. B., London, UK

Dear S. B., Gee, nice. You might consider sending Scotland Yard a copy of this map, but do this anonymously and without explanation. Given the terrorist threat to the underground there, you could expect an interesting response.

This circular G-form is akin to the circular gifting known as "The Kula Ring," the circular gifting patterns of necklaces and armshells that circulate in the Massim archipelago where these artifacts are exchanged in opposing circles over hundreds of miles within their island group located near Borneo (see Lewis Hyde's The Gift, p. 14.).

By the way, my B-17 bomber squadron was stationed in England, at Rattlesden in East Anglia. Here is Nicolas Trudgian's famous oil painting Return to Rattlesden.


mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Hola! Senor Don, I am a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru and I always carrying my trusty Rolleiflex camera. During my vacation with friends, on our way to Machu Picchu, I took the following photograph at another fabulous Inca site. A week later, surfing the web in a Cuzco cybercafe, I ran across your web project, loved it, so I got a brainstorm and decided to have a friend help me scan and do this composite photo, which I think you will delight in. Kind of catches the spirit of your gifting project, I think. Money (mana) from heaven!

mmmmiimm-- J. F., Cuzco, Peru

Dear J. F., Yes it does. Thanks! Reminds me of Ansel Adams's famous photo: Moonrise, Hernandez, NM (1944).

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, Are you, indeed, a don, a professor? I am a psychoanalyst (and a good photog. for an amateur) and I find your project to be extremely interesting from a psychological point of view. So decided to encourage you to put online my poster (see attached file) that expresses what I think about the significance of your gifting project. I changed the color of your logo to match the type on the wall and my outfit. Okay?

mmmmiimm-- M. Z. N., Milwaukee, WI

Dear M. Z. N., I wish we had a photo of me in that location. Yes, I do like the orange color, but (yee gods!) what's that monstrous, dripping effusion around your neck?

I would like to use your image in an unannounced, informal "poster contest." Okay? I would encourage other visitors to the site to send us their poster designs to this contest.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear L . E. Don, I teach eleven year olds in Silicon Valley area. Your project has found many enthusiasts among our students and faculty alike.

I liked the poster idea as broached in your e-mail reply to that Milwaukee woman, so here is our 6th grade class's attempt at winning your informal contest. I gave this design project as our art assignment for the week. This is the best of the lot.

mmmmiimm-- O. M., Palto Alto, CA

Dear O. M., I was impressed with your student's work and his or her efforts will go as an entry into our informal contest here.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. L . E. Don, Great idea to run such a poster contest. Here's my entry, using a scavenged image as grist for my modest PhotoShop skills:


mmmmiimm-- S. B., Los Angeles, CA

Dear S. B., I really like your piece! A bit of Lacan's Mirror Stage, heh? Say, isn't that image a painting by Lena Cronqvist? I think it is improved by your efforts.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, Good idea to run this contest, my man! Hey, so when my new Art in Amerca came, I got this brainstorm to screw with their cover. Thus, my entry gives you national recognition for your marvelous project:

mmmmiimm-- H. T., Stony Brook, NY

Dear H. T., A fun piece! I'm flattered. Moreover, David Smith's expression is exactly what I'd expect from him in this wacky situation. So entry accepted!

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, As you can guess from my entry into your poster contest, I'm an unrepentant punster:

mmmmiimm-- K-R. A. Z., Buffalo, NY

Dear K-R. A. Z., What a Warhol! Quite appropriate. Thanks for your entry.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I thought George W. Bush should get into the gifting spirit too. Shot this at a local Circuit City and doctored it for the poster contest.

mmmmiimm-- B.J., Naperville, IL

Dear B. J, Very nice, but you should have used our red color, but blue on that monitor. Thanks for your entry though.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I reside in Siena and thought this poster to be an appropriate appropriation (detail of Sienese artist Ambrogio Lorenzetti's Allegory of Good Government) for the poster contest.


mmmmiimm-- G.C., Siena, Italy

Dear B. J, Great idea. I've seen this fresco in person too. One of my favorites.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Donny Boy, I thought you'd enjoy an entry from the Punk community. Hope ya like! May be this will pierce the heart of the ungenerous, heh?

mmmmiimm-- B.S., Chicago, IL

Dear B. S, Good God! For a moment I thought you'd tatttooed that text on your face.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, After reading about the problems with gifting children, I decided to find a safe, fun method: place the gift envelope on a toy in a toy store; see attached file of Sponge Bob ready to gift a delighted child..

mmmmiimm-- S. Z., Detroit, MI

Dear S. Z., Excellent suggestion! I wonder if that cartoon series's executives might write an episode based on your idea. I'd write them.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I think you will find this gift I made a real find: a pure blood Cheyenne Shaman. Of course I didn't know that when I gifted him. He, in turn, gifted me with a healing, curing me of a persistent foot fungus! In the photo, his wife holds the gift. I also shot a short video clip, but it was way under-exposed, hope it is acceptable.


mmmmiimm-- T. G., Stevens Point, WI

Dear T. G., What fantastic fortune! I love the dogs too! The still I can put on our site, but the video will appear on a special CD-ROM I will be producing in the near future about this project. Video is dark but okay for our purposes though, thanks.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, Thanks!! In the spirit of anti-capitalism, I am subjectively "regifting" this.

mmmmiimm-- R. C-D., Chicago, IL

Dear R. C-D., Cool T-shirt, my friend.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. L. E. Don, We had a freak freeze last week up here in Goodnews, Alaska (and that's bad news!) that covered the boats with ice, so I decided to gift (that's good news) one of the owners with "The Big One" ($100); see attached jpegs: me in my room and the gifting site and where we are located.

Oh, where the hell is Goodnews Bay, Alaska you ask?

Our community is located on the north shore of Goodnews Bay at the mouth of the Goodnews River. It is 116 air miles south of Bethel, 110 miles northwest of Dillingham and 400 miles west of Anchorage. It lies at approximately 59° 07' N Latitude, 161° 35' W Longitude (Sec. 21, T012S, R073W, Seward Meridian). The community is located in the Bethel Recording District. The area encompasses 3 sq. miles of land and 2 sq. miles of water.

mmmmiimm-- J. B., Goodnews, AK

Dear J. B., At least that boat's owner won't get a totally cold reception! By the way, I took a fabulous cruise up the coast of Alaska back in 2000 on a Dutch ship, Veendam (see attached photo).

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. L. E. Don, here's a good one for you: temporarily changing a racial slur (Jap) into jad(e)!

mmmmiimm-- S. W., New York, NY

Dear S. W., I hope whoever picked up the envelope wasn't of Japanese descent!

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Mr. Don, Love you project. When I go to gallery openings I wear this name tag thingamjob:

By the way, have you thought about having a US stamp made to advertise your wonderful project? Please find enclosed my suggestion for the stamp design. Note that the man has written "Have a heart, Gift" on his arm with a felt tip pen. I think it exudes enthusiasm, yes?

mmmmiimm-- C. W., Rochester, NY

Dear C. W., Your idea is as good as your Photoshop skills are bad. I do like it better than the American Flag motif on the current roll of stamps though. By the way, your name tag sticker is redundant, you write "I'm" twice! Or do you always stutter?

I think we should have a stamp to put on our gifting envelopes when they are mailed. Here is two versions of webmaster's design:

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Mr. Don, Don't try this trick at home! I'm a side show performer. Here's a gift envelope going up in flames, a sort of symbol for what your project entails (i.e., you have money to burn).

But Bush must think we ALL have such money to burn:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has estimated that the "burn rate" -- his words -- for our little exercise in Mideast nation-building is currently running $3.9 billion a month, or nearly $48 billion a year.

That's a highly conservative figure. It doesn't include the cost of replacing damaged vehicles and equipment, or the cost of munitions used in daily skirmishes. Some experts say the annual war cost is actually closer to $60 billion.

Just for the sake of argument, though, let's take Rumsfeld at his word.

At $3.9 billion a month, that means the nation's 105 million households are each ponying up $37 every four weeks to cover the cost of the war.

That doesn't sound so bad, does it? OK, let's look at this another way.

The average middle school teacher in the United States earns $43,570 a year,

according to the Department of Labor. If all households coughed up an extra $37 a month, we could have 1.1 million more teachers.

Or we could have:

-- 1.3 million more firefighters.

-- 1.2 million more police officers.

-- 995,000 more registered nurses.

-- 2.8 million more child care workers.

But we don't pay more for such things because most Americans believe they're taxed heavily enough already. We aren't being asked to pay an additional war-in-Iraq tax for just that reason.

mmmmiimm-- F.S., Sarasota, FL

Dear F. S., I see you've seen the film The Illusionist! But you did get the gist of our project right, we love to burn money, but for better purposes than Bush, et al.:

FYI: Burning Money Chemistry Demonstration:

This is a neat 'magic trick' that illustrates the process of combustion, the flammability of alcohol, and the special qualities of the material used to make currency.

Scientific Concept behind Burning Money

A combustion reaction occurs between alcohol and oxygen, producing heat and light (energy) and carbon dioxide and water.

C2H5OH + 4 O2 -> 2 CO2 + 3 H2O + energy

When the bill is soaked an alcohol-water solution, the alcohol has a high vapor pressure and is mainly on the outside of the material (a bill is more like fabric than paper, which is nice, if you've ever accidentally washed one). When the bill is lit, the alcohol is what actually burns. The temperature at which the alcohol burns is not high enough to evaporate the water, which has a high specific heat, so the bill remains wet and isn't able to catch fire on its own.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I have a sorry story. I attempted to gift a woman who works in our AVTV department. I've known her tentatively for over ten years, even freakin' photographed her with her great group of friends once, but despite this my gift was really rudely rebuffed: "I didn't ask for this muckin' money," she tersely retorted. "I don't want anything to do with this!" she screeched when I told her it was a global collaborative art work and she proceeded to push the obviously opened gift gruffly right back into my face as if I had offered her a pile of damnable dog shit. Fellow office workers were every bit embarassed and looked at her as if she was nutso. Waaaa happen? I'm enclosing a photo of the refused gift.

mmmmiimm-- L.D., Bloomington, IN

Dear L. D., These gifting episodes can be likened to a Rorschach test, very good indicators of psychological make up. This woman is obviously a Borderline Personality.

By the way, I like the alliteration.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Gifter, Here's a photo of my brother just before he boarded a plane for Iraq. He was very surprised to get it 'n says he'll turn some of his fellow troops on to your wonderful web site.

mmmmiimm-- F.J., Vallejo, CA

Dear F. J., Sorry to hear your brother's got to witness the various forms of human sacrifice practiced in that country (thanks Mel Gibson for that quip). Much obliged for the flick.

My son was stationed at Travis AFB during the Vietnam War.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Previet, Comrade, I have weird story: My brother, a Moscow policman has a wife and she finds herself in a privately owned jewelry store as sweep up maid, you know; and she was to take care of the private residence of the owner too. Occasionally, sweeping the floor, she would sweep from under the bed stones — they turned out to be precious stones, i.e., rocks. And then, ultimately, the owner of both places would come home; usually it was about 5 o’clock in the morning, dead drunk from whatever casino. And he felt grand about everything and about himself. And he would casually give her one to two thousand dollars just because he was feeling the way he was. And one day she would tell me in her way, I would never begin to imagine that dollars looked so much nicer than rubles. Now my brother, being policman thought it better to be moral and pass on some of this good luck (like in Russian subtitled movie, Pay It Forward). So here in Moscow is my brother the policeman in picture is him dangling gift before motorists who do not stop for fear, yes.

My brother ends up having to keep all money of jeweler's gift for his wife.


mmmmiimm-- V. L., Moscow, Russian Federation

Dear V. L., This could be a scene from a short story by (see attached photo) my favorite contemporary Russian writer, Victor Erofeyev, da?

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Don-the-Gifter, If you were an artist in L.A. you've probably been to that famous joint, Barney's Beanry, huh? Interior view below:

Well, I was there in July and gifted a young lady. Didn't have an envelope, but managed to slip her a $100 "Big One" gift when she went to the restroom.

Like a good gifter (note my iconic directions design below) I fled the scene:

mmmmiimm-- C.O., Venice, CA

Dear C. O., Sure I've been there! I once saw pop artist Ed Ruscha bum a cigarette therefrom chain-smoking, booze-guzzling photographer Robert Heinecken (now deceased).

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, Since you and yours are gifting with $20 bills, did you know about this?

RFID Tags in New US Notes Explode When You Try to Microwave Them:

Want to share an event with you, that we experienced this evening. Dave had over $1000 dollars in his back pocket (in his wallet). New twenties were the lion share of the bills in his wallet. We walked into a truck stop/travel plaza and they have those new electronic monitors that are supposed to say if you are stealing something. But through every monitor, Dave set it off. He did not have anything to purchase in his hands or pockets. After numerous times of setting off these monitors, a person approached Dave with a 'wand' to swipe why he was setting off the monitors.

Believe it or not, it was his 'wallet'. That is according to the minimum wage employees working at the truck stop! We then walked across the street to a store and purchased aluminum foil. We then wrapped our cash in foil and went thru the same monitors. No monitor went off.

We could have left it at that, but we have also paid attention to the European Union and the 'rfid' tracking devices placed in their money, and the blatant bragging of Walmart and many corporations of using 'rfid' electronics on every marketable item by the year 2005.

Dave and I have brainstormed the fact that most items can be 'microwaved' to fry the 'rfid' chip, thus elimination of tracking by our government.

So we chose to 'microwave' our cash, over $1000 in twenties in a stack, not spread out on a carasoul. Do you know what exploded on American money?? The right eye of Andrew Jackson on the new twenty, every bill was uniform in it's burning. Isn't that interesting?

Now we have to take all of our bills to the bank and have them replaced, cause they are now 'burnt'.

We will now be wrapping all of our larger bills in foil on a regular basis.

What we resent is the fact that the government or a corporation can track our 'cash'. Credit purchases and check purchases have been tracked for years, but cash was not traceble until now.

mmmmiimm-- J.K., Dallas, TX

Dear J. K., I hate to foil your plans but this sounds like a hoax to me! But you might want to rent or buy this film: Burnt Money (2000) by Marcelo Pineyro:

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear L. E. Don, Here's story worth passing on to you:

One month, Dr. A., of the Youthful Tooth dental office, calculated that he could give a two hundred dollar bonus to each member of his staff. But Dr. A. knew that if he just added two hundred dollars to each of their paychecks, his staff members would have been excited about it for a little while, but then they would probably use the money for something “practical.” So he invested a bit more time, energy and creativity, and found a playful way to use the bonus money — a way that had a much more lasting effect.

Dr. A. closed down his office for two hours one afternoon, and took all thirty-five members of his dental practice to a shopping mall. He gathered the staff around him in a circle, and handed them each an envelope containing two hundred dollars in cash.

“This is not your money,” he told them. “This is my money. But anything you buy for yourself with this money, in the next hour, is yours to keep. Here are the rules: You have to spend all the money on gifts for yourself. You have one hour to spend it, and you have to buy at least five different items. Any money you haven’t spent in the next hour comes back to me. Go get ‘em!”

Dr. A. reported that his employees spent the next hour dashing wildly from one store to the next, yelling back and forth to each other about the treasures they’d found. “If I had just given them the money, they would have put it in the bank or spent it on paying bills,” he said. “This was a real treat for them—and it gave me a great feeling, watching them having fun.” At the next staff meeting, everyone brought the presents they had purchased for themselves for a show-and-tell session with the group.

Interesting, huh?

mmmmiimm-- M.W., Berkeley, CA

Dear M. W., I can up that story my friend:

One day, Patrick Combs in San Francisco, California opened a piece of junk mail and found a letter promising that if he sent money to their company he would soon be receiving huge checks in the mail just like the sample enclosed. Patrick stared at the junk check, made out to him for $95,093.35, with an authorized signature. In one sense the fake check was a depressing reminder of how broke he was, but Patrick saw an opportunity for some bleak fun. He thought it would be a funny joke to deposit it in his account, giving bank employees a laugh when they discovered that some idiot had tried to cash a junk mail check." So he giggled as he typed in the amount of the deposit, 95,093.35. "I didn't think I was sticking money into the machine," he says. He didn't even bother to endorse the back.

Much to his shock, the check cleared ten days later. (As he later learned, the check met the nine criteria of a valid check and the words "non negotiable" printed on the front did not negate it. The junk mail company had succeeded in making the check look real. Additionally, the bank missed its own legal deadline to notify him that the check had bounced as a "non-cash" item.) With "money" in his account, Patrick became obsessed. "The excitement of that much money was offscale," he says. "It was an addiction. For two months I obsessed on whether I should take the money or give the money back. I put my bank on speed dial and dialed it every ten minutes. I worried constantly that it would go away."

As the summer passed, Patrick did not spend the money -- he couldn't decide whether or not it should be his. Eventually, he had the bank issue a cashier's check for the exact same amount, which he put in a safe deposit box. He had converted the electronic money to something more real. Shortly afterwards, security people from the bank began harassing him to give the money back. By this time, though, Patrick was getting advice from everyone. He had put his story on the Internet and was getting letters from people daily, telling him to keep the money. "I realized that a lot of people were willing to set their values aside if the sum was large enough," he says. One guy said, "So what if you lose all of your friends. You'll have 95 grand and you can get new ones."

The money that had started as a joke became two new problems. First there was the ethical problem: was the money really Patrick's? And second, there was the legal problem: was it legally his? Ethically, Patrick couldn't ever quite justify keeping the money. "I kept coming back to the Robin Hood concept," he says, "I hate banks. How about if I take the money from the bank and give it to the needy? That's righteousness!" Still, the more he thought about Robin Hood, the more he was convinced that Robin Hood was wrong.

When the bank served him with legal papers to try to keep him from cashing the cashier's check, he realized he needed to stop playing and make a decision. "What had started as a joke had become standing up for my rights," he remembers. "But it turned out that these bank people didn't like jokes." The bank didn't even want to admit that it had made a mistake when it put the money in his account.

Patrick, though, still had another card to play. He took his story to the Wall Street Journal. When the story came out, he was asked to be on "Good Morning America", "NBC Nightly News," "ABC Nightly News," "Montel," "Donahue," and "Hard Copy." He spent weeks ping-ponging across the country doing TV appearances. Everyone told him to keep the money. There was even a precedent for keeping the money -- a car dealer in the Midwest had advertised coupons which would entitle the bearer to $500 off a new car. When a woman came in with a pile of coupons and asked for the car for free, a judge said they had to give it to her. (They had failed to write "one per customer" on the coupon.) If Patrick kept the money, it would be through a similar legal loophole. Patrick decided he didn't want to be the "loophole guy." "There was no way I was going to be that guy. Why can't common sense rule?"

So in October 1995, on the day of the O.J. Simpson verdict, Patrick gave the money back and in return got a letter from the bank stating that after Patrick's mistake of initially depositing the check, the bank had made a string of mistakes and was at fault. When Patrick left the bank, there were no TV cameras. "It was so perfect. So flat. There was no reward whatsoever for doing the right thing. It was like I was winning something by giving away the prize." He laughed when he saw a sign held by a homeless guy, "My dog needs a sex change," and gave him $5. The next morning, some media people left messages on his answering machine saying they were "disappointed" that he didn't keep the money. Patrick had become famous because he represented a perverse American dream of getting money for free. When he gave back the money -- the ethical thing to do -- he became a disappointment.

To Patrick, the whole episode was a lesson in the power of money. "Now I see how bad I wanted to keep that money," he says, "but in the end I'm really happy I had such a hardcore experience with this drug called money. I don't fantasize about large amounts of money anymore." He's decided to become "more playful" about money so that he can reach his goal of never feeling bad about it. "The less attraction to money, the less pain," he says. "The more neutral I can be about money, the better."

Since depositing the check, Patrick's money problems have mostly gone away. His motivational speaking career has grown to the point where he now does between 30 and 35 gigs a year bringing home "just over $100,000 a year."

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear L. E. Don, I've been following your run of e-mails on weird money stories, so here's an interesting tidbit:

8th April - Maundy Thursday - it is the last day of Lent and the "maundy" means command and refers to when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper and commanded his disciples to be humble and do likewise. Traditionally English kings and queens have washed the feet of the poor on this day and given out gifts of clothing and food. The English Queen nowadays gives out special silver Maundy coins in purses to as many men and women as there are years in her age.

mmmmiimm-- J.U., South Pomfret, VT

Dear J. U., Greatly informative, thanks. And now we launder money (snicker, snicker)!

By the way, I've got an old war buddy whose married daughter is named "Monday Thursday" (she was born on Monday, hence her first name, and wed a guy whose last name was Thursday). And yes, her favorite dessert in sundays.

Check out these links for fun brain-teaser tests concerning money: test #1; test #2.

FYI: Out and around the Trobriand Islands women make their own money. Fresh banana leaves are scraped against a board that is engraved with the family seal. Strips of the impressed leaf are bundled into hundreds and are worth about one Kina/one dollar. Long hours needed, but it's a sure way to make a buck.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr.. Don, I'm in the Foreign Service, working at the U.S. Embassy here in Bangkok. According to the Buddhist monastic code here in Thailand, monks and nuns are not allowed to accept money or even to engage in barter or trade with lay people. They live entirely in an economy of gifts. Lay supporters provide gifts of material requisites for the monastics, while the monastics provide their supporters with the gift of the teaching. Ideally — and to a great extent in actual practice — this is an exchange that comes from the heart, something totally voluntary. There are many stories in the texts that emphasize the point that returns in this economy — it might also be called an economy of merit — depend not on the material value of the object given, but on the purity of heart of the donor and recipient. You give what is appropriate to the occasion and to your means, when and wherever your heart feels inspired. For the monastics, this means that you teach, out of compassion, what should be taught, regardless of whether it will sell. For the laity, this means that you give what you have to spare and feel inclined to share. There is no price for the teachings, nor even a "suggested donation." Anyone who regards the act of teaching or the act of giving requisites as a repayment for a particular favor is ridiculed as mercenary. Instead, you give because giving is good for the heart and because the survival of the Dhamma as a living principle depends on daily acts of generosity. The primary symbol of this economy is the alms bowl.

mmmmiimm-- S.K., Bangkok, Thailand

Dear S. K., Thank you for your synopsis. I've been to Thailand and know what your talking about from personal experinece.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr.. L. E. Don, I just read the note from the guy in Bangkok. I live in San Francisco and work as a beer taster (see attached jpeg).

I propose that we license beggars and issue them numbered medallions, much as we do for taxi drivers. Each medallion will display the owner's name and a small image of his face, and will be welded to a handsome brass begging bowl, the size of a half-cantaloupe. Coins dropped in these brass bowls will make a distinctive clang, an aural marker of charity: "the bells of almsgiving" to honor the almsgiver.

The bowl's medallion will certify the owner as legally registered. The registration system will enable the City to allocate beggars equitably among neighborhoods. Residents of a neighborhood can know by the medallion numbers which holders were assigned to their area (for example, #311 to #320 for Glen Park.) Thus, almsgivers can discriminate in favor of "their" neighborhood's beggars, and against those not in their assigned areas.

Medallion-holders will gain by caring for their neighborhood in little ways. They can pick up trash, remove graffiti, help drivers avoid parking tickets, tend to street trees, and so forth. They can be "street concierges", helping the neighborhood keep its public areas clean and safe. To the extent they did these jobs well, they will find local almsgivers more generous.

The great gains for the beggar are the dignity and privileges conferred by possession of his bowl and medallion, with his name and face proudly displayed. Among these privileges could be a personal storage locker, vouchers for brief use of a place to clean up, an assigned mailbox at the local post office, and automatic voter registration at the local precinct. These privileges could help him stay cleaner and less obtrusive, which would further increase almsgivers' generosity.

The great gain for the rest of us is that the begging population can be allocated fairly among the whole of San Francisco. Soon enough, the idea will commend itself to the rest of the country, and the entire mendicant citizenry of America can be equitably allocated.

mmmmiimm-- M.C., San Francisco, CA

Dear M. C., Very interesting idea! And great photo of you too. I like beer and my cousin just sent me this gift


mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear L. E., Hey, money "answer-man," why did you choose $20 as your basic unit of gifting and not $10 or $50?

I'm enclosing our family portrait taken at Sears where I love to gift unsuspecting folks.

Love your proejct and website!

mmmmiimm-- M.C., Rutgers University, NJ

Dear M. C., Very good question. Two reasons: 1) ATM machines provide such; and 2) A dollar in 1913 (the year of my deceased elder sister's birth) would purchase what in 2006 would cost $20.18. Get it?

FYI: The CPI inflation calculator uses the average Consumer Price Index for a given calendar year. This data represents changes in prices of all goods and services purchased for consumption by urban households. This index value has been calculated every year since 1913. For the current year, the latest monthly index value is used. In 2002, for example, it took $17.89 to buy what $1 bought in 1913, $20.18 in 2006.

I assume baldness doesn't run in your family, huh?

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, us uns down here in Mobile, AL just been challenged to gift by our pastor:

And after a week of intensive gifting -- we was all tuckered out 'n stuff -- we had these T-shirts (we call 'em "G-Shirts) made up from shirts that had said: "I Survived Katrina."

Thanks for inspiring us.

mmmmiimm-- J-B. E., Mobile, AL

Dear J-B. E., Great idea. Thanks for the image. Katrina victims could sure use some gifting!

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Gifter Guy, Back in the 1970s I was a fan of German conceptual artist Hannah Darboven, who filled notebooks full of mathematical calculations, remember? So I've done something similar, but as a chastisement to get me to gift more often; took me several days (which, ironically, prevented me from gifting during that time); so then I had to use my little Opus Dei whip to flagelated myself.

mmmmiimm-- T. W., Lexington, KY

Dear T.W., I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief. I promise to suspend disbelief.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear L. E. Don, I hereby submit to your astonishing website a photo of my anonymous gifting at the famous Wat Arun (The Temple of the Dawn) in Bangkok, Thailand where my architectural studies have taken me. Thought the locale very appropriate to your project.

mmmmiimm-- C. L., University of Seven Seas student (hometown, Boston, MA)

Dear C. L., I commend your selection, thanks. I was in Bangkok in 1968 for a week. I imagine it has changed considerably.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, On vacation to Shanghai, in front of the famous Chinese Art Museum there, I gifted two young Chinese women visitng (they said) from the city where Tsingtao Beer is produced. In the spirit of the gift, they then took me to (and paid for) a traditional Tea Ceremony where I bought highly overpriced cartons of exotic teas and ended up paying for their tea purchases too. But the fun was worth it.

I also left a gift envelope at a Chinese Architecture Diorama in Shanghai's Urban Planning Exhibition Center. Some tourist probably picked it up or a paranoid guard.

mmmiimm-- D. K. W., San Francisco, CA

Dear D. W., As the saying goes, caveat emptor! Those gals probably got a good kick-back on that transaction, buddy.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Senor L. E. Don, My brother, an artist, does inform me about your project, so he has me perform with one of your gifting envelopes in the bull ring here in San Miguel Allende, Mexico. My brother takes the photo of this event for your website, amigo. [Click thumbnail for enlarged image, ed.]

My friendship to you.

mmmiimm-- J. A. S., San Miguel Allende, Mexico

Dear J. A. S., As this is the most unusual use of our gifting envelope so far, we are sending you a certificate to honor your contribution.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. L. E. Don, we have run a free notice in our "ETC" section of Afterimage concerning your very interesting project.

mmmmiimm-- The Editors

Dear Editors, thanks much.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. L. E. Don, One of your representatives gifted me on my first night in my thursday art history class. I just wanted to thank you for the gift and let you know that I included it in my own donation for a diabetes benefit that we did on the following Saturday. Thanks again! [Click thumbnail for enlarged image, ed.]

mmmmiimm-- S. B., Schaumburg, IL

Dear S. B., What a wonderful interpretation of our project's goals. Yout photo will appear on our Gallery of the Gifted webpage. My warmest regards.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, O great generous one! Please find attached a jpeg of me presenting your concepts of random giving to members of a break-out session at a conference on the importance of Marcel Mauss's legacy to various disciplines held at the University of California, Santa Cruz. [Click image to see larger verson, ed.]

mmmmiimm-- J. T., Portland, OR

Dear J. T., What an honor. Do you have a copy of the conference program with your presentation listed? We'd like to include it on our site.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I've chosen the first Friday on each month (I'm an ex-Catholic!) to do my gifting. I find some worthy individual and lay a fifty on said gal or dude. But that's not why I am writing. I just ran across two pertinent quotations for your website; one from the short story "The Locked Room" found in Paul Auster'sThe New York Trilogy (2006) and another citation from Martin Amis's novel, Money (1984). Hope you dig the scans:

Thanks for the inspiration to start me on this fab project!

mmmmiimm-- E. P., Northampton, MA

Dear E. P., What a great find! Many thanks. Keep up the gifting, my friend. Any more of you book worms out there? Please send us relevant material.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I'm a big name New York photographer and caught this scene after dropping an anonymous gifting envelope on the side walk near my studio. But please don't use my name, only my initials, okay?. [Click thumbnail for enlarged image, ed.]

mmmmiimm-- M. E., New York, NY

Dear M. E., What a coup, getting someone of your stature to contribute to our project and our site. Thanks!

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Hola Senor Don, I am an engineering student attending university in Lima, Peru and ran across your website project. So when on vacation at the ruins at Tucume, in the Lambayeque Valley on the north coast of Peru, with its 540 acres of remains of some 26 ancient enclosures and pyramids, I saw an opportunity to gift a tourist. I hiked all the way up to the Mirador, or lookout point, and used my chewing gum to stick the anonymous gifting envelope (stuffed with 70 Soles, equivalent to 20 Dollars US) on the large site map there. Here's the proof, senor:

[Click thumbnail for enlarged image. ed.]

mmmmiimm-- J. B., Lima, Peru

Dear J. B., Wishing you the best on your studies and many thanks for such an adventurous placement of one of our anonymous gifts.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I'm a postmodern writer in New York City and was turned on to your project by one of my friends; so at my last book signing, I gifted one of the attendees. Here's the digital file for your website. [Click thumbnail for enlarged image, ed.]

mmmmiimm-- P. A., New York, NY

Dear P. A., I recognize you! I've read your New York Trilogy and loved it.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I'm a social worker and at our national conference at the Swissotel in Chicago (the conference theme was "The Examined Life") we invited the cartoonist Lynda Barry to inform and entertain us after our group dinner. I managed to get her to work in a plug for your project as it seemed to fit the theme of our gathering! Here's the photo our official photographer shot of that wonderful moment. [Click thumbnail for enlarged image, ed.]

Many best wishes.

mmmmiimm-- M. S., Chicago, IL

Dear M. S., I am speechless! What an honor. My warmest wishes to you.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear L .E. Don, I was passing through Wyoming (oh my god!). Here’s a New State Motto for Wyoming: "Nothing That a Little Soap and Penicillin Couldn’t Fix." I wish someone would have told me that Wyoming had been hit with a nuclear bomb, I could’ve brought supplies! I feel bad. I could’ve done something to help all those packs of dirty people gathering in the blown-out truck stops and deer meat drive-thrus. God …all those mutated children, those marauding mustaches … but they may be able to breed Wyoming back to life. I think I saw some women … but they may have been shaved woodchucks. Or inflatable shaved mailorder woodchucks. I can never tell the difference. Anyway, I did find one sympathetic-looking soul and gifted him as he sat in his red pickup truck. Reminded me of that character named Ennis from that awful movie Brokeback Mountain. (I heard a sequel is being filmed called Return to Sore Butte). Thought I'd be "arty" and capture the gifting envelope as reflected in the dude's mirrored sunglasses. [Click thumbnail for enlarged image, ed.]

mmmmiimm-- A. D., Seattle, WA

Dear A. D., I don't agree with your assessment of Brokeback Mountain, but I like your photo very much. Watch for it online soon.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear L .E. Don, I find the act of gifting to be difficult, not the generosity part, but who to gift. So I've tended to prefer the anonymous gift envelope approach, but then I have to decide where to put that large manila envelope: on a bookshelf at my favorite bookstore, on a table at my local greasy spoon, in an art gallery during an opening, taped to a condom dispenser in a restroom, what? So as a cathartic gesture I created the attached self-portrait to express this anxiety. I'll bet many other gifters also suffer this indecisive syndrome when approaching that most wonderful of gestures, The Gratuitous Gift [Click thumbnail for enlarged image, ed.]. It just might make a good poster too. Feel free to use it.

mmmmiimm-- L. K., Madison, WI

Dear L. K., I hadn't thought about the existential aspect of the gifting gesture too much, but your assessment and photo was very elucidating. Thanks for your struggles over such issues. We might have used your high res. jpeg for a poster, but the word "quandary" is misspelt.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, please find attached my "detourning" of a Baldessari artwork; since his method is quotational, I thought I'd use his appropriation strategy at the behest of your giving project. [Click thumbnail for enlarged image, ed.].

mmmmiimm-- T. K., Santa Monica, CA

Dear T. K., I think your idea is fabulous. I'm sure Baldessari would love it. We will use your poster for advertising our project. Many thanks.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear L. E. Don, please find attached my entry for your poster contest. I fucked around with an image by that overrated photographer, Jeff Wall. It's dedicated to Michael Fried.

mmmmiimm-- J. H., Seattle, WA

Dear J. H., think your idea is witty and I can't stomach Fried's over-valuation of Wall's work either, so thanks!

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, every year this wonderful dog lover and her husband raise money for Scottie Rescue and medical research to improve the health of Scottie dogs. On their large tract of land in Bailey's Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin they host a Scottie Rally and Parade which has become a new tradition in her town. So impressed was I with their charitable work for canines, I thought this woman would make an ideal candidate for Gratuitous Giving. As the attached photo shows, she was surprised to no end over the gift. Please post on your site.

mmmmiimm-- F. S., Egg Harbor, WI

Dear F. S., I think you have caught the essence of the spirit of my project with this particular gift.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I'm a real estate broker in the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles. Yes, it would seem I would be the last person to become involved in this type of project, but I'm fascinated by it. The real estate market is a lucrative biz for me and I want to share the wealth. So here's three folks I've gifted this past month. Enjoy.

Woman Selling House to go into an Elder Home, West Hills, CA

Photographic Artist, Ventura, CA

Student at Starbucks, Woodland Hills, CA

mmmmiimm-- D. E., Encino, CA

Dear D. E., What a superb group of gifteesI Diverse and interesting types. Thanks.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I'm an American freelance photographer, travel the world. Love your project! Here's a nice shot of a sleeping fellow I decided to gift (an even used the Spanish language envelope). Waited around for a nice opportunity to get an interesting image as well as document the gifting. The guy didn't wake up while I was there! Hope no one copped his gift while he snored.

mmmmiimm-- G. S., Quito, Ecuador

Dear G. S., Yes, nice image!. Thanks. By the way, I used to listen to the major shortwave radio station broadcasting from Quito when I was a teenager.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Sir, please find enclosed photos of my giftings on the campus of Williams College in our beautiful town of Williamstown, MA and one image from our local best kept secret, the Clark Musuem where they have a great collection of British Art. Keep up the important work.

Students at Williams College,
Williamstown, MA

Biology Major at Williams
College, Williamstown, MA

Art Museum, Williams College,
Williamstown, MA

mmmmiimm-- B. K., Williamstown, MA

Dear B. K., Fabulous contribution to our project. I thank you much.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, I love to bicycle through Vermont during the change of seasons. This trip I splurged and took a night in a wonderful bed 'n breakfast in Weston, VT. The place had a superb restaurant where meals are accompanied by a portly, older man named George who was most enthusiastic restaurant pianist I've ever encountered. For two night he and I closed up the place as we discussed the music of Erik Satie and Les Six while he played the tunes. I just had to gift him! Unfortunately, he didn't want his face shown, only his talented hands.

mmmmiimm-- S. P., Boston, MA

Dear S. P., Interesting story. I think I wil ltry to visit that B & B sometime in the near future too.. Tthanks for sending us the flick.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Mon Cher M. Don, Your name means The Gift in French! I love your project and have spent time altering your gifting materials into French and doing both personal and anonymous gifting, producing a CD-ROM for you with a good number of digital files for you (which is now in your mail). Merci for your inspiration on me here. Here's my submission too for your poster contest if you accept foreign entries. 'A plus.

mmmmiimm-- J.-F. D., Paris, France

Mon Cher J.-F. D., Salut! Merci beaucoup pour votre cadeau! Tchin, tchin.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, Minimal Art (I Judder at the thought!) ain't my bag; dislke it as much as Hans Haacke does, so I did the attached poster, hoping it meets your exacting standards for publication on your site.

mmmmiimm-- S.Q., New York, NY

Dear Mr. Don, My dog and I love to gift on our strolls. I had my daughter snap a photo of me on one of my gifting expeditions with Sparky on lease and gift envelope in hand. I don't like to ask people to take their photograph, so I'm just sending this document of my activities in behalf of your project.

mmmmiimm-- T. F., Milwaukee, WI

My Dear T. F., I understand your reluctance to ask people for their photo; but I must stress that it would immeasurably add to the project if you could have photos taken of the gifted. Thanks.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, Thank you for your "The Big One" gift of $100 (via one of your many representatives); please click on the photo below that your rep. took to view my Blog on yourn amazing project.

mmmmiimm-- J. M. J., Chicago, IL

My Dear J. M. J., I got a kick out of your initials, as "J. M. J." was what we Catholic school kids had to write on top of our school papers (it stands for "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph"! I am very pleased with my representative's choice for "The Big One": a community photo exhibition Honorable Mention winner. Happy clicking!

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Caro Signor Don, I am student of philosophy in Milano. Paolo, my girlfriend who majors in arte, makes me aware of your project. I get excited and do it to. So, this is my privilege to send you my CD of gifting strategies in Northern Italy and my image holding gift envelope and in a mask of Giorgio Baffo, notorious Venetain poet and politician of days past. I have been telled that my photos aren't often good and that I am shy person and so my picture is my disguise and I use this mask when doing personal gifting of which I include several; most are anonymous giftings.Each gifting envelope contains 20 euros. When gifting an individual, I would initiate contact with: "Buon giorno, questo è il suo giorno fortunato."
(This is your lucky day.)
Grazie mille for your inspirating help. Ciao!

P.S. Paolo insist I also send photo of her telling you her likes you to.

mmmmiimm-- Gianni B., Milano, Italia

Dear Signor Gianni. B, What generosity! Your efforts on our behalf are overwhelming. Love the Baffo thing. Keep up your study of English though. Grazie Paolo, you are molto bela!

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don

Dear Mr. Don, Your has sparked my interest (I'm a MFA candiate at Cal Arts, Valencia, CA) so when I saw this amazing person playing a baby grand piano out in the Mojave Desert, just north of Highway 14 out here, I had to gift this fellow. Later that night, the group camping set the piano on fire and sang songs! Anyway, here's the flick.

mmmmiimm-- D. H.., Valencia, CA

Dear D. H., What a magnificent gifting! This is the most unusual gifting image I've seen yet.

mmmmiimm-- L.E. Don