Sunday, September 30, 2007

Civics 101

Pretty Lady is disgusted. She is not disgusted about the self-evident racism embodied in this story; she has made her position on racism, she hopes, extremely clear. What disgusts her is the wilful, mulish, self-aggrandizing stupidity of the police department representative who could make this statement with a straight face:

“Where there are more police, expect more police action,” Major Levins said. “Some people think ‘I can just hang out with this gang member as long as I don’t do any crime.’ Well, expect to be talked to. We can’t ignore them. In fact, we kind of want to figure out the relationship between all these gang members and their associates.
Let us leave alone the fact that it is difficult to have an open, productive, informative conversation with a person who has just been seized without provocation or warning and is face-down on the pavement with hands cuffed behind his back. This point, Pretty Lady feels, has been made. Not attended to, but made.

Pretty Lady must, however, answer this officer's implied question. Gang members in a community are the community authority. It is as simple, and as obvious, as that. Members of said community must deal with this authority in the exact same way that Pretty Lady must deal with a police officer who pulls her over because she was accelerating the teensiest little bit, not having seen the 'school zone' sign. One must be agreeable, and polite, and apologetic, if one does not wish for trouble. It is a universal paradigm.

A police officer who does not understand the community in which he is policing, enough to acknowledge its obvious structure, can never be the community authority, no matter how many innocent bystanders he throws to the pavement. He is not part of the community. He will not be attended to, he will not be obeyed, he will not be respected. He has no authority.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Please Ignore This Woman

Pretty Lady specifically requests that all of her lovely adored readers do nothing at all to help an extremely special friend of hers, who requires a miniscule amount of financial assistance to solve a mimimal blunder that she inadvertantly performed while visiting and caring for a seriously ill friend in need.

No, this lovely lady does not deserve a second thought from any of you. She never thinks of herself; why should you? She is continually preoccupied with appreciating the underappreciated, understanding the misunderstood, defending the helpless and clarifying wrongs, so that they may be righted. These unimportant and self-indulgent activities are clearly deserving of no attention and support from the rest of us.

Although Pretty Lady has inside information which suggests that small contributions, in the two-digit range, from an equally small number of contributors, could completely alleviate the embarassments in which this beloved friend finds herself, she requests that you withhold your assistance. Particularly as making Paypal donations is so simple, rapid and painless.

For what, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter if a loving, generous, selfless, brave, insightful, stoic, kind, wise, brilliant soul loses the precious home for which she has striven a lifetime, for want of a small contribution from you? You will forget about it quickly. It won't bother you at all, after awhile. Go look at videos on YouTube; there! Forgotten already.

See how easy that was?

UPDATE: Not quite so miniscule. You see what Pretty Lady means about the insight.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Come the Stones

Pretty Lady has said it before, but unaccountably, no-one has stoned her. She suspects it is because they didn't believe her; or, more likely, they weren't paying attention. So she will say it again. Pretty Lady is racist. Racist, racist, racist. A veritable bigot. Prejudicial, jingoistic, agoraphobic, narrow-minded, unempathic, and uninterested in the problems of others.

Just so we're clear.

Perhaps the reason that no heavy, jagged objects have yet emerged through Pretty Lady's windows, despite the above confession, is that she lives in New York City. She has often noticed that native New Yorkers, of any color or creed, are up-front about their bigotry. Naive as she is, she had never heard the term 'towel-head,' used to describe a cab driver of Islamic extraction, before moving here. She had not been the subject of open contempt, due to her inferior goy nature, from a gentleman wearing a top hat and side curls. She was unaware that, in certain quarters, the expression 'stoopid f***ing Pollacks' is standard, particularly when referring to the wiring schemata of formerly Pole-occupied apartments.

Despite this pervasive racial pejoration, however, the streets of New York seem remarkably free of riots, marches, sit-ins and Unfortunate Incidents. In fact, in Pretty Lady's psychically sensitive experience, the level of Fraught Tension is considerably lower than her experience of the liberal, progressive, Consciousness Raised Bay Area, where she spent a good many of her formative years.

For in New York City, a group of young black males boarding the train is simply a group of young black males boarding the train. In the Bay Area, a group of young black males boarding the bus is an opportunity for all of us to Remain Calm, Now, and not get all anxious that this group of young men who are not necessarily thugs is about to Cause Trouble, no, we mustn't jump to conclusions, despite their downright aggressive demeanor, and the fact that one of them just swiped your wallet.

Indeed, in the liberal, progressive Bay Area, nobody is racist at all. Everybody has a black friend, an Asian friend, and a Hispanic friend, and they all walk down the street together. Everybody is exactly the same; the same age, the same socioeconomic bracket, with the same interests and pastimes and vegetarian tendencies. Only skin color varies. Everybody is bisexual, too.

(These liberal, progressive, homogeneous Bay Area attitudes are very stringently enforced; anybody who deviates from them by so much as a whisper, however misinterpreted, is universally ostracized without explanation and never mentioned again. Pretty Lady can't fathom how those Rodney King riots ever took place. )

Perhaps the reason that New York retains its veneer of abrasive intolerance is that in New York, there are simply too many races to keep track of. To be properly non-racist in New York, one would have to have an Ethiopian friend, a Nigerian friend, a Hasidic friend, a French friend, an Irish friend, an Orthodox friend, a Polish friend, a Russian friend, a Puerto Rican friend, an Ecuadoran friend, a Syrian friend, an Iranian friend, an Afghani friend, a Slovakian friend, a Cuban friend, a Japanese friend, a Chinese friend, a Filipino friend, a Thai friend, a Hindu friend, and an Indonesian friend. People's schedules are simply too busy for maintaining all these friends, not to mention the cost of all those language classes. It is much easier to remain insular and unenlightened.

Surprisingly, however, everybody gets along, most of the time. Perhaps this is because we all have to work so hard just to pay the rent. Economic desperation transcends mere bigotry; New Yorkers, by and large, are able to say "I don't like your kind, but maybe we can work together."

In fact, it is Pretty Lady's inchoate theory that 1) deep down, we are all racist, for the very good reason that survival of the species demands that we be wary of funny-looking strangers; and 2) racism suppressed does far more damage than racism openly and cheerfully expressed. When a person is busy defending herself against charges of bigotry, however justified, this allows little energy left over for actually getting to know people, in an open, honest, organic way.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pretty Lady Has a Brilliant Insight

Hello sweeties! How long has it been! Pretty Lady's life is All Chaos, but she is nevertheless bringing order to it, particularly in the corners where the dust bunnies tend to collect. She is proud to report that several areas of Stagnant Energy in her household have been well and truly Cleared, and more shall be forthcoming. She cannot tell you the peace she feels, when walking into the walk-in closet and discovering that this is, in fact, possible.

(Confidentially, she is engaged in this de-stagnification process on account of her Gentleman Friend, who is taking the gargantuan step of Moving In. As she told him, one's own personal chaos may be marginally tolerable, but Chaos Squared is not. So a new era of Orderly Adulthood is dawning in our lives.)

However, Pretty Lady had to take a break from purging closets and packing Christmas ornaments for storage in order to share with you all her groundbreaking, revolutionary, life-changing Insight. This Insight, if properly understood by the majority, could save the world; at the very least it might preserve a number of arcane friendships. Listen closely:

A boundary is not the same thing as a judgment.

Pretty Lady must pause, here, to allow the ramifications of her genius to sink in. Then she must paraphrase herself:

Setting a personal boundary in no way implies that another person is being judged.

It is possible that some few of Pretty Lady's readers may not yet fully understand the wide-ranging implications of her statement. Thus, she must illustrate:

When Pretty Lady declines your very tempting invitation to: engage in a threesome with you and your dear husband; accept you as a full partner in her fledgling business plan; vote the way you do; subscribe to a similar theological philosophy; repeat nonsense syllables over and over in her head because you told her to; or any similar activity--she is wholly and merely declaring that such activities are not for her. She is not, by any stretch of the imagination, stating that you are a Bad Person for being polyamorous, casual with money, politically extremist, theologically rigid, or Buddhist. She is merely claiming personal sovereignty over territories wherein she is the undisputed expert--her own preferences--and leaving the territories of others entirely untouched.

Pretty Lady understands that to the six well-adjusted individuals upon this planet, this statement may come across as a complete tautology. You six were obviously born wise; let Pretty Lady alone to continue enlightening the rest.

There are many well-meaning persons that take the statement, 'Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged' a wee bit Too Far. Pretty Lady has been one of these persons in the past, which is why she knows. These persons can be spotted by their calm, understanding demeanor when their then-lover declares, "I'm going to travel through the world, leaving a trail of bastards behind me." They betray no hint of personal indignation when their desirability as a monogamous, committed mate is thus casually impugned; at least, not until they snap, and end up on the police blotter of the Post.

The trick is that these codependent little ladies are, indeed, judging someone. They are judging themselves. They are judging themselves for, deep down, not particularly liking the idea of casual abandonment by cavalier impregnator. Thus, in remaining silent, in failing to state their preference for a more reliable brand of mate, they are desecrating their own souls in the name of non-judgment.

Similarly, persons of a more rigid bent may choose to follow every Biblical law to the letter, except for the abovementioned exhortation. They, subscribing wholesale to a transcendent Moral Law, feel perfectly comfortable in excoriating others for failing to do the same. That is the definition of 'transcendent,' isn't it? 'Transcendent'='Applies to everyone'?

Pretty Lady's reply: No. Not in that way.

Because in order to transcend the individual self, one must first differentiate. That is, one must set a boundary. 'All is One' does not mean 'We are all the same.' It most particularly does not mean 'We are all the same, and if you are not the same as me, then obviously there is something incorrigibly wrong with you, which must either be immediately altered, or eliminated completely.'

Thus, in order to attain the inner Peace which passeth all understanding, it is first necessary to know oneself, and to be fine with that. Then one may begin to know others, and be fine with them, too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This is 'Politicians Are Disgusting' Week

Pretty Lady asks you to watch this video.

She then asks: Why was the gentleman arrested before he was asked, courteously and decisively, to be brief?

Why did the arresting officers feel a need to pull a gun on an obviously unarmed gentleman, when he was already outnumbered four to one?

Why does a former Presidential candidate have insufficient presence of mind, ethical clarity and personal charisma to request that the police desist from brutalizing the person with whom he is currently conversing?

Why do some citizens of this country feel that it is Irrational and Out Of Line to resist, when a group of police officers come up out of nowhere and attempt to cart you off to who knows where, for no reason, while in the midst of an interesting and non-violent conversation?

Why do the vast, vast majority of citizens of this country sit passively by while the police randomly brutalize an individual in their midst?

Pretty Lady must repeat herself: icky-poo.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Pretty Lady has been telling you and telling you. Rudy Giuliani is No Good. Although she perfectly understands the reasons that a Career Politician might forgo the opportunity to inform himself about crucial matters affecting his potential constituency, in order to scoop up a few hundred thousand grand, that doesn't mean she approves of it. But what really chaps her hide is that this person is totally unable to perceive an ethical paradigm which does not include the arbitrary Taking of Sides and doing egoistic battle unto the death to defend them, right or wrong:

When the group's report came out last December, Giuliani offered a different reason why he quit, saying he didn't think it was right for an active presidential candidate to take part in such an "apolitical" panel. Giuliani also took pains at the time to distance himself from some of the group's findings.
In other words, Truth and Justice and Appropriate Action mean nothing to this man; Presidential Candidates, in his stated opinion, must avoid such dangerous things.

Pretty Lady Needs No More Vacation

She has had Plenty. And it has been splendid; the up-close tickets for 'Wicked,' the strolls in the Botanical Garden, the fancy Birthday Party, the trip Up North for the annual Apple Fling. Splendid. Excellently so.

And now Pretty Lady is home, and the bills are overdue, and the landlord cashed the rent check and forgot to write it down, so she has to go through all her bank statements to prove she paid it, and she is facing suspension at the food co-op, and her clients have probably found other bodyworkers by now, and she cannot get into the closet, and the front door lock needs either a locksmith or a good dose of WD-40, and Pretty Lady is so stressed out that she just read every letter to the editor at Salon instead of getting down to work.

Enough vacation is enough. Please kick Pretty Lady in the behind.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Art Blog Update

Pretty Lady, happily accompanied by a Surge of Inspiration, has updated her Art Blog, after an unconscionable silence. She was hoping to be able to unveil her splendid new Website as well, but the Cascading Style Sheet issue has utterly confounded her. So she is giving you darlings a Sneak Preview. Cheerio!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Daniel McGowan Update

Long-time readers of Pretty Lady's may recall that she has expressed concern for a gentleman in her community who was Disappeared for alleged 'eco-terrorism.' Although she is still less than pleased with the method in which his arrest and detention was handled, she is most impressed with the manner in which the gentleman has taken responsibility for his actions:

This plea agreement is very important to me, because it allows me to accept full responsibility for my actions and at the same time remain true to my strongly held beliefs.

I hope that you will see that my actions were not those of terrorist but of a concerned young person who was deeply troubled by the destruction of Oregon's beautiful old-growth forests and the dangers of genetically modified trees. After taking part in these two actions, I realized that burning things down did not fit with my visions or belief about how to create a better world. So I stopped committing these crimes.

This last year has been a very trying time for my family and I would like to extend my deepest love, admiration and appreciation to them for standing by me through a very difficult time. I would also like to apologize to the workers of the companies I targeted. I never intended to hurt people, so when I read about things like family photos being destroyed, I felt great remorse. I am truly sorry for the harm that I caused.

Your Honor, after May of 2001, I put myself back on the path of open and positive activism. Since then I have focused on helping victims of domestic violence, campaigning for the environment, and advocating for prisoners. While my commitment to pursuing a better world has not and will not change, I have changed the way I am pursuing those goals. My agreement with Mr. Paul, Mr. Block and Ms. Zacher to come together and resolve this case by taking responsibility for what we did is an important step in moving forward to have what I hope will be a positive impact on my community.