Thursday, January 31, 2008

Go Kate!

Pretty Lady just received a note from one of her favorite Renegade Musicians, Kate Schrock:

Invocation was an absolute labor of love but it tapped out all my resources. A majority of the promo for this record has relied upon word of mouth and has been positive but slow going. However, I have just received some very good news: the record has made some inroads, and there is now enthusiastic interest coming from 2 prominent national radio promoters who, on the strength of the record as a whole and, despite my being an independent artist on a small budget, want to work the album's first single this Spring in the AAA market with us. We are so excited - as this is a crucial piece of the puzzle to bring the album into the world and to make it possible for myself and band to perform in regions outside the northeast US. This is the first time, in all my releases that I will have professional help with a radio publicity campaign.
Pretty Lady has a few observations:

First of all, if there is any independent musician walking the earth today who has Paid Her Dues, and deserves a break, it is Kate;

Second of all, it is High Time that Quality trumped Mass Media Manipulation With Huge Sums of Capital, and the Internet is the medium which makes this quixotic goal fall within the range of remote possibility;

Third, Pretty Lady herself knows a thing or two about being a Renegade Artist, one who lives and works outside the establishment, with little official encouragement or recognition of any kind, and she knows how soul-weary this can make a person. After a decade or two, no matter how powerful one's compulsion to create, how stringent one's discipline, how true one's inner guidance, how exacting one's quality demands, one starts to wonder--is this worth it? Is there any point at all? If I cannot touch people with my Art, if I cannot even support myself and my family, why am I continuing? Perhaps I should Capitulate, and let the forces of chaos, egotism and insipid taste carry the day.

This is why Pretty Lady STRONGLY encourages you to go to Kate's website, download some music, buy her album, post a review on your blog, or on her website, and tell everyone you know. Your soul, or at least hers, may depend on it.

On Consciousness

Sometimes it seems to Pretty Lady that no matter how simply she explains herself, her ontological epistemology is chronically misunderstood. At any rate, whenever she brings it up, in however flowery or truncated a form, the more college-educated of her friends generally respond with the standard collegiate Cartesian Sum-Up, and subsequent dismissal. They utterly fail to perceive that the contents of Pretty lady's consciousness are anything but Cartesian; Pretty Lady does not exist because she thinks, and nobody else does either. Dear René missed the point entirely.

In fact, this business of 'belief,' in Pretty Lady's view, is an enormous Red Herring which, over literally millennia, has been tested in the empirical laboratory of the Human Mind and found wanting. For, as ought to be perfectly obvious, the contents of consciousness have nothing to do with the substance, or existence, of consciousness itself.

This is quite a relief, as if Pretty Lady were to be assessed by her beliefs, nobody would know what to make of her. Beliefs, in Pretty Lady's world, are little more than tools for consciousness-testing. She has been known to believe twelve impossible and mutually exclusive things before breakfast, without batting an eyelash, just for the fun of it. What interests her about beliefs is not so much their objective veracity, as she more than suspects that 'objectivity' is a fundamentally untenable concept (the reason why will be discussed presently), but their results, when applied in a puckishly sincere manner.

No, Pretty Lady's serious endeavors in the matter of consciousness consist in the experiment she makes, when she temporarily attempts to cease thinking entirely. As the sages attest, this is by no means an easy experiment. Try as she might, thoughts will arise. At the very least she may observe these thoughts, and simultaneously note that a thought which may be observed is not the Observer.

For, as she said, the contents of consciousness are not consciousness itself. To get to the bottom of what consciousness is, then, we must remove those contents, and see what's left.

And Pretty Lady is very pleased to report that on the very few occasions when her experiment appears to have succeeded, she was able to confirm what millennia of sages have attested. The fundamental nature of consciousness is:

1) Infinite.

2) Undivided.

3) Loving.

It is most important that it be understood that belief has nothing to do with this; Pretty Lady is speaking of direct experience. You are perfectly free to believe whatever you like regarding her experience, including that she is a batty fruitcake of a lady who took too much acid in college; you would of course be wrong, since Pretty Lady was renowned for her distressing conservatism at that point in her life. But she has no real objection to your beliefs, as they are mere temporal whims in any case.

Friday, January 25, 2008

How to Choose a Healer

Mitzibel has chimed on in with a request of her own:

Here’s the thing. This past weekend I costumed a play that I got roped into acting in, as well. Basically, in the course of two days I spent about 20 hours strapped too tightly into an ill-designed “costume” corset (I mean like, “goth girl playing dressup” costume, not “I worked two weeks from a pattern from 1834 to make this right” costume) and in ballet slippers on a concrete floor. When I woke up on Sunday I could hardly move; turns out I screwed up the little vertebrae that connects your spine and your pelvis, the iliac-something.

So the doctor that I went to gave me good drugs, but also scheduled me for therapy—massage, deep heat, sonogram---and when I showed up, they gave me to the office chiropractor.

Now, I’m not a big fan of alternative medicine—the last chiropractor I went to had one arm and offered me a discount on hot oil full body massage lessons if I brought in one of my “co-ed pals” to practice my lessons on. This topic was brought up while I was lying topless on his table while he massaged me with Icy-Hot. Yeah. These days I stick to “legitimate” doctors.

But this one . . . well, he was awfully convincing. If the X-rays of my spine put up next to X-rays of normal people didn’t convince me, the difference in my range of mobility before and after he cracked my spine and neck certainly did.

But I’m still wary of quack-itude, especially since he’s prescribed a weeks-long regime of adjustments and massage.

So I think it would be spiffy if you could post a guide to choosing a good body-worker. I’ve had massage therapy in the past, and most of it was BS. I’ve also had quite a few friends who’ve been trained as massage therapists who left me feeling worse after their work than I did before.

Pretty Lady's recommendation is very simple: Ask. Your. Friends. Not the lousy bodyworkers; the ones who may have received good bodywork. She guarantees they're out there.

Also, put a query on local Internet message boards and forums; people who have had an excellent experience with a bodyworker are frequently eager to talk about it.

This is the short answer. Now Pretty Lady will elaborate.

You see, alternative healthcare practitioners fall into three rough categories; the Quacks, the Functional, and the Gifted. Functionals, with sufficient study and practice, can occasionally rise to almost-Gifted efficacy; and of course there are many, many people out there who are Gifted at Quackery. This is why it is paramount to rely on testimonials from persons whose character is known to you, plus a heavy dose of Gut Feeling.

Above all, you must listen to your own body, both when assessing the results of a session, and when choosing a course of treatment in the first place. Do not take your chiropractor's word for it that you need to come in three times a week for the indefinite future or risk permanent disability; Pretty Lady used to work for a chiropractor like that. His professional advice had a great deal more to do with the fact that he was scrambling to pay the rent on his Wall Street digs every month than with actual concern for his heavily-insured clients. Pretty Lady was doing all the work, anyway. Shortly thereafter she went into business for herself.

What Pretty Lady tells her clients is that they are the experts, both upon their own health and their own finances. She has no real objection to the self-indulgent person who wants three massages a week, except that it's boring to work on them, but it isn't usually necessary except when a person is recovering from a toxic infection so massive that it precludes doing yoga, and when this client is a purist who refuses to take painkillers.

Pretty Lady herself sees no reason at all to choose between 'alternative' methods of therapy and 'traditional' ones; these modalities, in her view, can and should be used in a complementary manner. One does not see a shaman for a broken leg, any more than one goes to a brain surgeon for depression. One simply proceeds in a scientific manner; try something, and assess the results. Repeat until dead or better.

When choosing a practitioner, one should additionally be skeptical of extraordinary claims. Chiropractors who assert the ability to Cure All Ills, including asthma and cancer, are delusional. For that matter, so are the M.D.s who talk like this. However, Pretty Lady's very own Mommy recently informed her that after two visits to her friend's chiropractor in Denton, the hip and back pain that has plagued her since the birth of her third child has abated to the extent that she is giving up painkillers. This, after twenty-five years of scoffing, "Chiropractic. Piffle." The yoga classes three times a week have helped a lot, too.

It is perfectly possible for one form of therapy to be of monumental assistance at a crucial moment, and later, not so much. In the course of healing her own chronic malleolar tendinitis, Pretty Lady visited an acupuncturist three times. The first time was useless, but since it was a free swap, she returned. The second time, the acupuncturist stuck a needle in her right wrist, and her left ankle felt better. This event triggered a cascade of psycho-emotional insight, which put a whole new complexion on the deeper significance of dragging one's left malleolar tendon upstairs; the third time was fine. After that, it was back to yoga class. Needles aren't much fun.

Really, just about any experience one has when visiting a healer, however out there, can be put to good use, provided one has the proper perspective. Pretty Lady has received invaluable insight regarding the mind-body connection, the nature of personal responsibility, and the nuances of codependency, by the simple expedient of visiting as many gypsy psychics, neurotic homeopaths, masochistic shamans and student massage therapists as she could find, even if this insight was merely 'never, never, never DO that again.' We attract the lessons we need until we've learned them. Life is marvelously efficient, that way.

Literary Award

Pretty Lady is shocked. She did not, truly, believe it to be possible.

But she must give credit where credit is due. Ladies and gentlemen, she gives you Vox Day, who in his recently released little tome, The Irrational Atheist, has proven himself a greater Master of the Footnote than David Foster Wallace himself!!!

Indeed. Vox plays his footnotes like a veritable fugue, striking an insouciant balance between formidable scholarship and a fey, swashbuckling sarcasm that never overbalances into the sort of ramble that makes a person seriously wonder if Mr. Wallace forgot to take his ADD meds today. Pretty Lady read Vox's entire book in two sittings, and she never once got a headache from the tiny print, or skipped over entire sections of the sorts of tedious statistics that may be consumingly fascinating to persons with hacker-brains, but merely give her Integrative Mind constipation paralysis.

Incidentally, Vox has also left a smoking hole in the turf where Sammy Harris used to stand, whining, and for this, Pretty Lady is profoundly grateful.

For Vox applies his pesky statistics with wit, pacing, and aplomb, dismantling false assertions and spurious logical constructs with an implacable thoroughness worthy of The Grand Inquisitor. He disproves the puling Harris on factual grounds, logical grounds, ethical grounds, political grounds, spiritual grounds (Buddhism is too a religion!) and aesthetic grounds. If Pretty Lady were to wake up, suddenly, in the body of Sam Harris, she would instantly get a name change, a nose job, and a ticket to Coquimbo, where she would spend the rest of her chastened existence doing geological surveys in the Andes.

Those other abrasive little twerps (Dawkins, Hitchens, and Onfray) don't get off lightly, either. Vox's accordance of a certain jocular respect to Mr. Dennett only serves to underscore the total contempt with which he exposes the twerps' egregious commission of precisely the same errors of logic, ungrounded assertion, wishful thinking, and post-hoc rationalization of which they explicitly accuse the Benighted Theistic Masses.

Moreover, he compellingly indicates that the content and tenor of said rationalizations is not nearly as benign as a mere belief in unicorns, but, when combined with a inordinate Will To Power, can be distressingly lethal to both man and society. Simply, a theistic sociopath may kill thousands, but is usually sorry afterward. An atheistic sociopath kills millions, and doesn't regret it one bit. Such are the fruits of Applied Materialism on a global scale.

These boys ought to be ashamed of themselves. They didn't do their research, and Voxy did.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Creative Parenting

Pretty Lady has received this query from Magpie Girl:

Do you have any advice for the mother-artists in the world? Is it at all possible to have three jobs: parent, artist, and civil servant for instance? Any or all PL readers with serious, proven tell!
Pretty Lady, first, invites her readers to make substantial contributions to this subject, particularly Boysmom and Chris, and any of you other, actual creative parents out there. Not being, yet, an actual parent, Pretty Lady approaches this subject with unaccustomed humility.

Her humility does not extend so far, however, as to prevent her from making an observation or two.

For Pretty Lady has traveled far, and known a lot of very interesting people. Some of these have been parents; some single parents, some bohemian parents, and some have been single bohemian parents who were very singular indeed.

And her central observation is this: Children who have one stay-at-home parent, particularly a stay-at-home parent with a healthy sense of creativity, ingenuity, and wonder at the myriad miracles life has to offer, tend to become extraordinary human beings. Children who don't--well, some of them do just fine, she guesses.

Case in point: when Pretty Lady met the three adolescent offspring of her French boyfriend's uncle, she expected them to be Horrible. She did not attach any special animus to this expectation; it is, simply, normal for astonishingly good-looking and preternaturally bright adolescents to go through an extended phase of believing that they are The Cheese, and everyone else is nada. So she philosophically braced herself.

Imagine her surprise, then, when these three stunning teens demonstrated themselves to be real, honest-to-goodness Sterling People. Not content with being merely polite, they actually liked non-teenagers, and treated them as equals. They demonstrated open affections, humanitarian initiative, and playful creativity. They passed from blithe childhood to responsible, lively adulthood with seemingly no Awkward Phases at all. The evenings spent in their household were some of the most memorably Dickensian of Pretty Lady's life.

This household, by the way, consisted of a stay-at-home Daddy who spent his time building the house by hand--including splendid inventions like a combination stone fireplace/spiral staircase, and boys' loft bedrooms fitted out like a sailing ship--inventing and playing fanciful musical instruments, and managing local bands from home. Mommy was the village doctor. She was exceedingly popular, if a bit over-worked.

Then there was the twelve-year-old Canadian girl that Pretty Lady tutored briefly in Mexico. Her mother was not only single and insolvent, but borderline--well, Pretty Lady has sworn off gossip. The daughter was The Stuff. Pretty Lady considered kidnapping her, so wondrously balanced, charming, and free from guile was this child. She had been knocking blithely about the world with her erratic parent since birth; what she lacked in formal education she made up for in enthusiastic Worldly Experience. There were some rocky days when she turned fourteen, but the last word is that she's in college now, and doing fine.

However, the single mother who parked her three-year-old, sometimes for days at a time, with the maid and her family while working an uninspiring university job was obviously well on her way to raising a self-destructive, rage-filled delinquent. It did not help that the maid's son was a child molester.

This brings us to Pretty Lady's only semi-informed and anecdotal, but nevertheless strong opinion: Working a civil service job, parking your child in day care, and spending your evenings in the studio is the worst possible thing you could do. It communicates to your child that absolutely everything in the world is more important to you than his or her company. This strikes Pretty Lady as a veritable recipe for spawning a homicidal maniac, or at the very least a hopeless drug addict. Do anything else before you do that.

Instead, if at all possible, figure out a way to work from home, and engage your child in some creative way. You might form a home-schooling co-op. You might expatriate to a cheaper country, and teach World History, Geography, Economics and foreign languages on location. If you have a supportive, employed spouse, engage your creativity in living thriftily on a single salary.

Also, it is Pretty Lady's observation that children who interact regularly with a sizable number of different, creative adults, provided those adults are not child-molesters, tend to become more balanced and self-confident than those who are overly sheltered. Experience of a diverse community allows the child to 1) observe that all adults are different, and that's perfectly fine, which is not necessarily obvious to the cosseted mama's infant; and 2) find an adult or two with whom there is a temperamental resonance. It is infinitely comforting, particularly to the developing adolescent mind, to feel that one is not the only alien freak of one's kind.

Pretty Lady now opens the floor for suggestions.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

How to Survive, Financially, as an Artist

Some days it seems as though Pretty Lady is the last person in the world to be cavalierly dispensing Financial Advice. Indeed, it seems as though she has spent much of the last twenty years in biting fingernails, tearing out hair, nursing ulcers, counting pennies, and slinging accumulated debt from low-interest credit card to lower-interest credit card. However, when Pretty Lady looks around her, she notes two things: she's still here, and she's still making art.

So if you, darlings, wish to be here and making art in twenty years, you could do worse than to listen to Pretty Lady.

The first thing to bear in mind, when contemplating a career of artistic semi-solvency, is that there is no one-size-fits all method for coping with the problems inherent upon artistic survival. For instance, when Pretty Lady was on the brink of graduating, for the very first time, with an honors art degree and no obviously marketable skills, the word in the halls was, "Drive a UPS truck!"

This advice filled Pretty Lady with deep horror. Paint-stained overalls may be a badge of lapsed patrician honor, forgivably eccentric, but once a person dons a pair of chocolate-brown shorts and matching shirt, all hope of re-admittance to the global cultural aristocracy is closed forever. It seemed a fine thing, at nineteen, to wallow in brotherhood with the underclass, but when the reality of endless double-parking on hectic avenues loomed before her, Pretty Lady, sadly, faltered.

Fortunately, driving a UPS truck turned out to be neither Pretty Lady's best nor only option. Which brings us to our principles.

1) Play to your strengths.

One must never lose sight of one's goal, which is to spend as much time as possible in the studio, creating Great Art. To do so, one must have 1) a studio and 2) time to spend in it. Thus, one's financial objectives must center upon earning the most money in the least possible amount of time, preferably legally.

So if you have a knack for computer systems administration ($80-$150/hr) or stripping ($100-$500+/night), it is both foolish and masochistic to contemplate a job making espresso ($7/hr, plus minimal tips) or working behind a desk at a gallery (free-$10/hr) just because people who make espresso and sit in galleries project a hipper-than-thou attitude while doing so.

(In fact, it is important to remember that anyone who puts on such an attitude is doing so because this attitude is literally their only asset. A word to the wise.)

2) Prioritize.

Pretty Lady has lost count of the wannabe artists she has talked to who 'hoped to be able to afford a studio, someday.' Hello?

When Pretty Lady graduated from art school, her high-priority list was as follows:

1) Studio space.
2) Food.

Her no-priority list included, but was not limited to:

1) New car.
2) Fancy neighborhood.
3) TV, and all cable permutations thereof.
4) Any newly invented or newly available electronic gadgetry.
5) Haircuts.
6) New clothing, except insofar as that required to produce income, and to prevent public nudity.
7) Eating out.
8) Drugs.
9) Health insurance.

Of course, these lists have changed radically over time, and as Pretty Lady's experience has expanded, so have her priorities. However, she continues to execute a simple cost-benefit analysis every time she contemplates a purchase: to wit, "Is this item worth the number of hours I will have to spend working to pay for it?" If the answer is 'no,' she does not need a Palm pilot.

It is important to make these sorts of priority lists, and use them to calculate exactly how much income is required to meet one's priorities. Then make a calculation as to the minimum wage one must earn in order to spend at least 20 hours per week in the studio. If a job does not meet this minimum, the job is not acceptable, at least not in the long term. Period.

3) Civil service.

It sometimes seems to Pretty Lady that the arts and the civil service were made for one another. A civil service job requires no initiative, no overtime, and no mental energy to speak of. It provides benefits, and is nearly impossible to get fired from. If artists do not take civil service jobs, they will be filled by vaguely malicious drones with the intellect, imagination and humanitarian goodwill of a fruit fly; an artist will at least put in the requisite hours of bureaucratic drudgery with a bemused smile and a colorful wardrobe. It is a win-win situation.

4) Healthcare.

When Pretty Lady was considering study in the healing professions, some years back, she took a look at the cost/wage ratio in several fields. She noticed at the time that Registered Nursing required a large amount of expensive schooling, with an inexcusably low annual salary at the end of it. So she went into massage therapy instead.

Since then, there has been a nursing shortage of epic proportions. RNs now make upwards of $65K a year, and the schools are jammed. You had better reserve your spot now.

5) Familial supplementation.

At last, the Sordid Truth arises. If you have a Trust Fund, please go away. Hit the "Rent Fund" button on your way out.

If, however, you have a decent middle-class family who is honestly concerned about your welfare, treat them kindly. Do not be asking for handouts in order to flush it away on silly things like rent. You can earn your rent yourself.

Instead, consider asking for a loan of a down-payment on a piece of real estate, or a co-sign on a mortgage. Real estate is very rarely a bad investment, when one considers that even if the selling price goes down, for some insane reason, you would still have lost more by renting.

6) Expatriation.

There are still countries in the world where U.S. currency is worth a great deal more, in purchasing power, than the local one. These countries are growing fewer every day, so you had better go to South America, Indonesia and Thailand while you still can. While you are abroad, tell everyone you are Canadian. For obvious reasons.

7) Self-employment.

A few things you can sell, online or on the streets of foreign places: jewelry, clothing, fancy lotion, soap, CDs. Only sell this last if you are the performer on the CD, and if you are good. It is easier to make a living, singing in small-town bars in foreign countries, than by Getting Discovered in centers of world capitalism, by the way.

8) Blue-collar employment.

Do you have any idea what competent carpenters, electricians, plumbers and housepainters make, these days?

9) Grants.


Pretty Lady must offer a very serious caveat. If you are young, and brash, and brilliant, and optimistic, and confident, and you look at NYFA Source or various Arts Council websites and think, "There are TONS of grants out there! I'll just apply for them!" you will be flipping burgers and waiting tables for a very long time.

Go ahead and apply, of course. Just don't predicate your future existence as an artist upon the receipt of one.

10) MFAs.

Don't. Just don't.

You will note that in the above list, Pretty Lady has said absolutely nothing about dealers, gallerists, art fairs, teaching jobs, government assistance or other Art World paraphernalia. This is because it is her fixed, experiential conviction that if artists in general maintain a state of emotional passivity and financial dependence upon these things, the condition of Art and Artists will continue its dismal and precipitate decline into decadence, inanity, and Fatuous Pandering. This is not to say that there are not honest dealers with Taste out there; it is to say that there will be more of them if the lousy ones stop getting away with it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Art Blog: Still Alive

Pretty Lady's latest completed work, plus a screed about Spirituality in Art, plus a description of her new collaborative enterprise, has recently appeared on her not-quite moribund Art Blog. Cheerio!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Virtues of Socialism

Aha! you say. Pretty Lady is coming out of the closet; she is a Vile Socialist! She is Irrational and Totalitarian! Stone her!

Ha! says Pretty Lady. Hold your stones! She has Scientific Evidence on her side.

...if you mine all the databases of universities and research centers, you'll find that the happiest place on earth is ? Denmark. Cold, dreary, unspectacular Denmark.

...Danes do have one potential complaint: high taxes. The happiest people in the world pay some of the highest taxes in the world -- between 50 percent and 70 percent of their incomes. In exchange, the government covers all health care and education, and spends more on children and the elderly than any country in the world per capita. With just 5.5 million people, the system is efficient, and people feel "tryghed" -- the Danish word for "tucked in" -- like a snug child.

Those high taxes have another effect. Since a banker can end up taking home as much money as an artist, people don't chose careers based on income or status. "They have this thing called 'Jante-lov,' which essentially says, 'You're no better then anybody else,'" said Buettner. "A garbage man can live in a middle-class neighborhood and hold his head high."
Now, Pretty Lady realizes that it fills her red-blooded American friends with deep horror, this notion of living next door to garbage men, and treating them as equals. Even more does it cross the grain of all that is decent, to think that this garbage man has healthcare just as good as anyone else's.

But consider; Danish people are not happy because of their jobs; they are not happy because of their health insurance; they are simply happy because they spend a great deal of time with their friends and families--nattering, concocting splendid meals, and not worrying overmuch about either status or survival.

Meanwhile the freedom-loving U.S. of A has the worst ranking on preventable deaths in the developed world, which can be directly traced to 47 million uninsured individuals, Pretty Lady among them. She has been researching health plans today, in fact, and is in a bit of a testy mood therefrom. 'Bankruptcy without accountability' appears to be the principle upon which these plans are structured.

As a dear friend of Pretty Lady's puts it:
It's true that people can become fabulously wealthy and influential in the U.S. in a way that they can't in Denmark, but the thing is, fabulous wealth and influence doesn't make a person happy or good. In the U.S., many of our smartest people with the most to offer become miserable stockbrokers and suicidal lawyers, because that's what our culture tells us is the highest calling. When maybe those people would be excellent teachers, or artists, journalists. But most people don't go into teaching, or art, or journalism, unless they're absolutely driven to do it, because to do so is to sacrifice so much financial security and social status compared to working at a high-paying prestige job. And then, unsuitable people wind up in those jobs rather than, say, going into law because they love working with law, or stockbroking, or whatever.
And lest you say that Pretty Lady's friend is a deluded Pollyanna sort, let it be known that this friend has actually lived in Denmark for an extended period of time, and is still very fond of it.

The Revelation of Self

Pretty Lady has occasionally been accused of being a tad self-involved; and it is true that she does have a tendency to maunder on a bit. But there is a reason for Pretty Lady's self-involvement which extends beyond the self, as dear Cary so eloquently puts it:

It may be presumptuous of me to mention it, but there is a class system in America, and there is a system of brutal power relations, and a system of repression and of hateful discourse, and this system is not benign, but has a purpose, which is to make sure that no one sits in the owner's booth but the owner and his friends. Lack of self-knowledge is truly a luxury of the self-absorbed, and the truly self-absorbed are not those who reveal themselves in publication but those who hold all the cards and yet reveal nothing. It is a luxury of power to avoid introspection, to merrily skip out on the self-interrogation that leads to humility.
This, Pretty Lady thinks, nails it. It is why she so injudiciously reveals herself, in streams and streams of profligate verbiage, on the World Wide Web for everyone, even ex-boyfriends, to read. It is why she gets the heeby-jeebies when smug, complacent individuals grunt the exact same intonation of 'Hey, how's it goin?' every time they see her, even if they see her three times a day; it is why she will first say increasingly provocative things to these people, to find out if anybody is home, and then duck into doorways to avoid them, when she finds there isn't.

It is why she rails against the purveyors of platitudes. It is why she seeks out and befriends the freaks, the damaged and the inconveniently brilliant. It is why she avoids suburbs.

And in case you wonder, sometimes, in the dim recesses of your pedestrian brains, what Pretty Lady thinks of you--all you discreet, laconic persons who look upon her with suprise, bewilderment and more than a tinge of disdain--well, confidentially, she thinks you're dull as dirt.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Pretty Lady's author got a glowing half-sentence in a review in an obscure art publication! Hooray!

Pretty Lady got an oblique, catty insult in the self-same review! Controversy!

Is this the start of Schizophrenic Notoriety, or what?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Whither Literature?

Pretty Lady's friends always have been a diverse lot:

I love your writing style. Have you had any books or anything published? and if you haven't why not?

Trust me, I won't bother in the future. I perused some of your posts and while some of them are entertaining, the same arrogance and critical attitude permeates them all.
Ah, the simplicity and optimism of extreme youth. Pretty Lady remembers it well.

First of all, in answer to the first lovely question: No. Pretty Lady is getting right on that; frankly, she is stuck for a subject. Would you all prefer Pretty Lady's first book to be on the subject of Ontological Epistemology, or Christian Blowjobs?

You see, as Pretty Lady sees it, her primary problem is one of Staying On Message. She has always had this difficulty. She maunders along whither she will, changing focus too frequently for the casual reader to develop a 30-second sound bite on What She's About, much less pitch her to an agent, publisher, or syndicated publication. As every good graffiti artist knows, Simplicity is the mother of Notoriety, and Pretty Lady, sadly, is anything but simple.

Also, as Pretty Lady's sitemeter statistics can attest, the average reader has an attention span of 00.00 seconds. This is the length of time it takes for the average reader to ascertain that Pretty Lady is wearing clothes, in her profile photograph, and moreover that her post on Christian Blowjobs is not illustrated. And thus they move on.

This does not worry Pretty Lady overmuch, for she has always taken the Long View when it comes to career issues. She sees her work as a fine wine, or even a cognac, rather than soda pop or beer; she saunters along with the languid certainty of Sade (the chanteuse, not the marquis), not the tawdry interchangeability of one of those blonde girls who are always going into rehab. Pretty Lady, being timeless, has all the time in the world. Which is a good thing, because she fears it will take the world a good long time to catch up with her.

In response to the second charming comment: Of course, dear. Your point?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Another Fashion Post

On the subject of Winter Boots: make certain that the top of the boot reaches at least as high on the shin as the bottom of one's coat, preferably several inches higher. Otherwise your legs will freeze. All else is subject to Personal Taste.

Pretty Lady is sorry to be so unwontedly terse, but indeed she has so bored her intimates upon the subject of Boots that she genuinely fears to discuss them. When Pretty Lady opens her closet, she is greeted by an embarrassment of boots, from Curly to Combat, these being the only item of footwear which flatter her feet, or at least camouflage them. The day Pretty Lady is reborn into a body equipped with size-five feet and Balanchine insteps, is the day she goes hog-wild over frivolous high-heeled sandals; until then, she thumps around like Nanook of the North, and is content.

No, Pretty Lady is not here to rail about her feet; she is here to rail about Old Navy. The price marker-downers at Old Navy must have peeped into Pretty Lady's closet, and read her mind; they must have noticed and remarked upon the dearth and dire necessity of three-quarter sleeve T-shirts with curly, fanciful, obscure slogans on them. At any rate, Old Navy provided a gloriously chaotic mountain of these necessary shirts, and Pretty Lady tried on almost all of them. Eventually she narrowed them down to six or eight. (Tragically, the one with the Damselfly on it only came in XXL.)

And they weren't marked down at all.

The outrage! Every other miserable, pedestrian, flimsy item of clothing in the place was 50% off! Old Navy knows upon which side its bread is buttered; it knows the score. It knows that for the most part, it sells humdrum clothes that fall apart after one season. For the most part, this is fine, because the price and style are right.

But $16.50 is still a little steep.

Nevertheless, Pretty Lady curbed her impulse to toss her pile of groovy T-shirts atop a rack of uninspiring white pants (what are they thinking? Nobody who shops at Old Navy takes Caribbean cruises, at least not the ones who shop on Flatbush) screwed up her wallet, and paid for three of them. Champs Elysees, Cafe de la Cité (yes, she's actually been there) in bright yellow; LILLE 29, Olympic Training, in pink and white; and Be(ar) Aware, Safety Comes First! Cleaning Your Campground After Every Meal Will Help Curb The Interest Of Bears, in chocolate brown.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled, esoteric matters.

Situational Update

No, friends, this is not an Impressionist painting. It is the ice which has formed on the inside of Pretty Lady's studio window.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Severe Winter Fashion Emergency

Pretty Lady hereby declares a State of Emergency in Winter Outerwear, starting this very second. Please cease and desist wearing all full-length quilted nylon coats, in shades of Newcastle Black, Dirge Navy, Olive Drab, and Destitute Dun, immediately. Life is too short for this travesty.

For nobody ever nestled into a four-horse sleigh with seven of their closest friends, laughing all the way, wearing a black nylon overcoat. Nobody bursts through a doorway, lightly frosted with new-fallen snow, and declares, "Hark! It's time to put on the mulled cider!" sporting one of those things. Quilted nylon overcoats reek of dank, dire, grinding, lightless days without a spark of mitigating romance. They speak of endless slogs through gutters knee-deep in gray slush; they whisper of office coffee that tastes of burnt dishwater. Don a nylon quilted overcoat and you are donning an early, desperate middle age, of faded dreams and hopeless drudgery.

Pretty Lady turns a deaf ear to all your pleas of Poverty and Practicality, because she knows you bought those horrible things at Brooklyn Industries, which has perpetrated a most lucrative scam, in selling knockoffs of 1975 Salvation Army bin scrapings at designer prices. Shopping at Brooklyn Industries does not make you Hip and Edgy, it merely alerts the world that you are an immature poseur with no taste or originality, whose parents are still paying your bills.

And furthermore, those full-length quilted nylon atrocities would be no earthly good on either a ski slope or a farm, being too long for the former and too flimsy for the latter. If you want practicality, go to L.L. Bean, and stay there.

No, you must boycott Brooklyn Industries and go to the REAL Salvation Army, where you are assured of finding a range of cheerful and classic wool coats for under $75, half of what you paid for that hideous nylon rag you're wearing. As Pretty Lady looks through her own coat closet, she notes that she has a most attractive and deliciously snuggly coat or two for every occasion, none of which cost her anywhere near Brooklyn Industries prices. To wit:

• Vintage black cashmere lady coat with brown mink collar: purchased at the San Francisco Urban Outfitters in 1998 for $50. Worn to Sunday Brunch, the MOMA, and expeditions to photograph the windows at Bergdorf's.

• Royal blue full-length down coat in sueded microfiber with fur-trimmed hood and embroidered piping: purchased at outlet store on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, for $129. Frigid casual.

• Blue-gray wool army coat: a gift from the girls who moved out downstairs. Punk casual.

• Black microfiber three-season lined raincoat with black velvet hood: gift from Beloved Sister, who worried Pretty Lady might be cold. All-occasion.

• Black leather hourglass jacket with fake fur lining, cuffs and lapels: purchased at going-out-of-business sale in aforementioned Polish district, $50. Warmer-than-frigid casual.

• Antique mink three-quarter length coat: most generous gift from the mother of a very dear old friend. Pretty Lady hasn't quite figured out what to do with this one yet, but she'll wear anything in Chelsea.

• Mink jacket: ditto. She has experimentally been wearing these to brunch; they draw quite the looks in Brooklyn.

• Floor-length white alpaca coat with gargantuan white chinchilla collar and cuffs: inherited from Glamorous Aunt. Pretty Lady really can't wait for the occasion which merits the wearing of this; perhaps a Whitney retrospective is in her future. Or maybe she'll throw it over jeans and cowboy boots and go fake out some pretentious Chelsea art dealer.

• For the gentlemen, all that is necessary is a leather bomber jacket for casual, and a long black wool for formal. As Pretty Lady's Gentleman Friend understands, being an Italian who knows about these things.

With all these myriad options, Pretty Lady has not yet even purchased any of the Satirical Plaid or Artsy Brocade numbers which she regularly finds in thrift stores; there are plenty left out there for the rest of you. Indeed, warm winter outerwear which expresses Wit, Cozy Good Cheer and Edgy Originality, and does not include nylon, is nearly infinite. Pretty Lady trusts her words will be heeded, or she may have to go through the streets with a loaded sautering iron. Please do not force her to such extremes.