Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pretty Lady Inaugurates the Fall Art Season!

'The Disappointments,' archival digital photo print, RA Friedman, 2008
more at Philly Magic Theatre

As may be obvious, darlings, Pretty Lady has been suffering from the Summer Art Doldrums. She's not sure what it is, but heat and humidity tend to induce in her a certain ennui, even pessimism, about her central passion--the explication, illustration, and Lifting Up of the Human Condition through the creation of useless aesthetic objects.

However, Autumn is upon us, and Pretty Lady is Perking Up. She has updated her Art Blog with a short paean to the lovely works of Los Angeles artist, Lisa Adams. Additionally, she attended the opening of A Cabinet of Photographic Curiosities in Philadelphia this weekend; she and her Gentleman Friend took part in the initial Curious Photo Shoot, which was great fun! See if you can spot a floating Pretty Lady and her constrained Gentleman Friend in the photostream that Philly Magic Theatre has so expeditiously posted online.

Upcoming, Pretty Lady will be attending Nancy Baker's opening at Denise Bibro Project Space in Chelsea this week, under threat of a Jewish Voodoo Curse. Assuming she survives, she will then proceed to Jennifer Coates' exhibition at Kinz, Tillou and Feigen on September 9.

Since Pretty Lady is, to put it mildly, aesthetically picky, she cannot guarantee that she will show up anywhere else, but if you think you can make the cut, please feel free to send her a press release. Tally-ho!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Let It Be Known

that if some wealthy, elderly, besotted fool so far forgot himself as to ask Pretty Lady to be his Vice Presidential candidate, she would have the good sense and humility to decline the honor, being, as she is, thoroughly unqualified for such a responsibility.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How To Overcome Shyness

Pretty Lady has received this heartfelt query:








Dear D,

First of all, your instincts to avoid statements like "What's good mummy" are sound. This is crass, vulgar and disrespectful; a lady who responds to statements like "What's good mummy" is not likely to be a person with either penetration or quality of character. Really, what does "What's good mummy" even mean? Pretty Lady is At Sea.

You declare your central problem to be Shyness. Pretty Lady does not doubt that you are shy. She has suffered from shyness herself, and her heart bleeds for you. Shy persons must be very careful about the situations in which they place themselves. They must not bite off more than they can chew; they must take things slowly and deliberately, so as not to plunge themselves into a situation they cannot handle.

The trouble with being shy is that your own shyness becomes like a giant boulder in front of you, everywhere you turn. All you can see is a great hunk of granite, blocking your view of earth, water, sky, and other people; it must be surmounted with Herculean effort, every time you speak. This being the case, unfortunately, when shy persons manage to climb this boulder and open their mouths, they tend to think that the hard labor is done. All their energy has been consumed in getting over the boulder; there is virtually none left for actually attending to the social circumstances surrounding them--let alone the personality, nature, interests or preferences of the person with whom they are speaking.

Let us take, as an example, your initial attempt. "I find you very attractive; I'm just wondering if we can get to know each other." Pretty Lady understands that it was immensely difficult for you to work up the nerve to say this. The statement is succinct, blunt, direct, and truthful. Unfortunately it was too blunt. It does not leave the lady any wiggle room. If she responds in any other way than "sorry, that won't happen," she has committed herself, probably to a lifelong relationship, because she already knows that you will never get up the courage to say that to anybody else, ever again.

This is Too Much Pressure.

So Pretty Lady advises you, for the time being, to Back Off. This may seem counterproductive; it may seem as though you are so far Backed Off that further withdrawal is impossible. This is not the case; ladies are very intuitive, and they can sense your need, your anxiety, and your interest without you saying a word. Pretty Lady advises you to Back Off completely, most particularly within your own mind. Forget about hitting on ladies. Get centered in your own being, and grounded.

Next, pay close attention to your personal hygiene. Wash daily. If you have any teeth which are rotting out of your head, get them fixed. Wear clean clothes which fit you. Dressing like a gangster attracts ladies who want to date gangsters; these sorts of ladies tend to be fickle and demanding. Aim at an appearance of casual confidence which is nevertheless not enslaved by fashion. If you have any trusted female relatives, ask them to help you fine-tune your Look.

Now, do some soul-searching. Who ARE you, D? What do you like to do? What are your interests? Pursue them. If you are interested in cars, work on them. If you like the outdoors, go hiking. If you like swimming, swim. Learn woodworking, welding, entomology, or political organizing, if these things float your boat. Immerse yourself in these things.

Once you are clean, dressed with quiet good taste, and engaged in an activity which absorbs you, you will be comfortable in your own skin. You will be more At Peace. You will, then, be able to turn your attention to an attractive female in your vicinity and ask her, calmly, with no particular agenda, "So, what's your story?" Or, "What are you into?" You will be capable of paying attention to her.

You have nothing to prove; you are your Own Man, warmhearted, interested, engaged. She will, if she is the sort of female you are seeking, respond to your inner comfort by becoming comfortable. She will be able to talk freely about that most fascinating subject, herself, without fear of being sucked into an abyss of Desperate Need. If she is at all civilized, she will, after speaking of herself for long enough, ask about you.

And you will have something to tell her.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Drug War: License to Kill Your Pets

Friends, the War on Drugs is not about stopping drug abuse. It is about providing an excuse for government-employed thugs, jumped up on testosterone and adrenaline, to kick in the doors of innocent family homes, shoot their dogs, handcuff them to the table in their underwear, and bloodily ransack the house.
Cheye Calvo tried to tell the armed men who were holding him and his mother-in-law hostage, who had just assassinated the family's pets, that he was the mayor. They called him crazy and left him handcuffed in the living room for nearly two hours. "They" were police officers who never bothered to inform the local Berwyn Heights police of their planned operation. Tracking a drug ring, Prince George's County Police intercepted a package addressed to Calvo's wife, Trinity Tomsic, a finance officer for the state of Maryland. That package, that Mayor Calvo unwittingly brought into his home, was full of marijuana, part of an elaborate scheme that used the addresses of unsuspecting victims to help deliver the goods. Several days after the raid, authorities arrested several men, including a FedEx delivery man. And County Police Chief Melvin C. High finally admitted that "Ms. Tomsic and the Calvo family were innocent victims of drug traffickers."
This, for a package of marijuana. For those of you more innocent than Pretty Lady, marijuana is an herb that, when smoked, makes people annoyingly spaced-out, and philosophical in an exceedingly banal way. It does not provoke violence, destructive addiction, or ruinous gambling habits; it does not kill the soul; it eases pain, glaucoma, and nasty chemotherapy side-effects. It is in no way sufficiently dangerous to justify the violent shooting-up of a household; it was originally declared illegal in order to sustain the timber empire of Randolph Hearst. (Hemp makes excellent, durable paper, rope, and fabric, and additionally preserves ancient stands of valuable forests while doing so.)

Pretty Lady hates to obsessively point out the obvious, but the obvious fact is that we are paying for this. Taxpayer money goes to support these thugs, these raids, these guns, these criminal prosecutions, these violations of life, liberty and privacy, while children in need of education, good nutrition and access to quality healthcare go ignored.

Send the testosterone-filled thugs to Afghanistan and Darfur where they belong. Keep them out of our homes.

Why Pretty Lady's Healthcare Plan Makes Sense

Sometimes, Pretty Lady thinks that everybody thinks she's joking. Or possibly they simply don't take her seriously, which is not quite the same thing. But she continues to insist that her healthcare plan is the BEST healthcare plan, because it carries inherent, structural checks which obviate debacles like this:

Oversupply of Medical Resources Results in Ineffective, Costly Treatment

A major cause of high health care costs is treatment that does not result in better outcomes for patients. No matter who pays for this care, it does not help patients live better or longer, and thereby drives up health care costs without providing any corresponding benefit. In some parts of the state, patients are, on average, hospitalized too often and for too long, leading to unnecessary tests, procedures and specialist visits.

  • Unnecessary care does not result in better health: patients who live in regions with above-average spending are not any healthier as a result and are less satisfied with the care they receive.
  • Ineffective, costly care is driven, in part, by Medicare and private insurance payment policies that encourage doctors to order more tests and procedures. The greater availability of specialists and hospital beds also leads doctors to send patients to specialists or to the hospital more frequently than provides any value for patient health.
Do you see? When people do not have a vested interest in controlling the money spent on themselves, money gets spent uselessly. You see how the problem is with BOTH Medicare AND with private insurance companies; the problem is that the money is not in the hands of the consumer.

This is not a public/private dichotomy, then; it is a consumer-driven versus large-unwieldy-system-driven dichotomy. Just because you, the consumer, purchase a private insurance plan, does not mean that your healthcare is consumer-driven. It is driven by large, totalitarian forces that then have you at their mercy.
Excessive Administrative Expenses Drive Up Costs

Many administrative costs within California’s health care system are the result of efforts to shift costs from one payer to another—from the insurance company to a hospital, or from a physician to a patient. This paperwork increases total costs without improving outcomes for patients.

  • Complex billing and insurance requirements raise administrative costs. For example, the process by which physicians have to demonstrate to insurance companies and others that they are capable of providing high-quality care is time intensive and duplicative. On average, physicians submit 17 credentialing applications annually to insurance companies, hospitals, and other health care facilities, and completing each application requires nearly 90 minutes of staff time.
  • Researchers have estimated that billing and insurance-related activities consume at least 5 percent of health care dollars in California, or more than $9 billion annually. This estimate excludes costs related to oversight and management that directly improve patient care.
Again, this is just stupid. If healthcare were truly consumer-driven, meaning that consumers could choose any doctor whatsoever (as Pretty Lady, with her brand-new Perfect Health HSA can), and there were unlimited consumer feedback accessible in a venue similar to, say, the Internet, patients could simply do word-of-mouth research and go to the physician, hospital or alternative care provider with the best prices and the best results. Costs which are the insurance company's responsibility versus costs which come out of the HSA would be clearly delineated; both the insurance company and the consumer would have incentive to go over every bill with a fine-tooth comb, to insure they are not being scammed. Inflated cost-dumping would thence cease very quickly, with minimal administrative costs.

Prescription Drug Marketing

Californians spend millions of dollars annually on prescription drugs that are no better than cheaper alternatives or that may have dangerous or unrecognized side-effects. Heavy marketing to consumers and to physicians by pharmaceutical companies is a key reason that these lucrative, if not always beneficial drugs, get prescribed.

  • Drug advertising generally encourages the use of newer, more expensive medications, even if they are no more effective than existing ones, because new drugs remain under patent protection and produce strong profits for pharmaceutical companies. The side effects of new drugs are less well understood and therefore patients who take them are exposed to greater risk.
  • For example, Merck heavily promoted Vioxx as a superior alternative to other anti-inflammatory medications, despite a lack of evidence that it was more effective. Roughly 25 million Americans took Vioxx, bringing huge profits to Merck, before it was discovered that Vioxx causes heart attacks and may have killed 50,000 Americans.
Prescription drug marketing used to be illegal. It should be illegal again. The prescription drug industry will no doubt sustain the blow; it might even drive down costs of prescription drugs, since all those TV ads must be terribly expensive.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Emergency! Federal Government Moves to Crush the Most Brilliant Internet Radio Concept of All Time!

Friends, this is no laughing matter. Totalitarianism is rearing its ugly head. Pandora is about to be destroyed by 'obscure' federal regulations:

"We're approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision," said Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora. "This is like a last stand for webcasting."

The transformation of words, songs and movies to digital media has provoked a number of high-stakes fights between the owners of copyrighted works and the companies that can now easily distribute those works via the Internet. The doomsday rhetoric these days around the fledgling medium of Web radio springs from just such tensions.

Last year, an obscure federal panel ordered a doubling of the per-song performance royalty that Web radio stations pay to performers and record companies.

Traditional radio, by contrast, pays no such fee. Satellite radio pays a fee but at a less onerous rate, at least by some measures.

For those of you who have not yet experienced the wonders of Pandora, let Pretty Lady be the first to tell you--it is wondrous. You type in a band that you are particularly fond of, and Pandora spews out all sorts of music that you Really Really Like, much of it music that you never even heard of! At last years' Halloween party, Pretty Lady put on 'Guadalcanal Diary Radio' and the evening was magical, in tenor and tone! At least until somebody cut an artery with a pumpkin-carving knife. But never mind.

The rationale for this blighting of Halloween parties everywhere is "It's For The Artists." Faugh. Artists benefit when people who love Guadalcanal Diary can hear songs by obscure bands that sound like Guadalcanal Diary, and rush right out and buy the albums, not when Pandora has been crushed by excessive and discriminatory royalty fees.

Friends, this is bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Pretty Lady can think of nothing to do right now but wring her hands; there doesn't seem to be a Congressman to write to, who concerns him or herself with obscure telecommunications panels. What shall we do? What shall we do?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pretty Lady's Wellness Review

Guess what, darlings! Pretty Lady has Gone Commercial! She has begun a new blog wherein she is bribed to test things, and give her Honest Opinion about them! Modern entrepreneurs are very brave.

Her inaugural post is a long-winded but sprightly account of her experience with ordering a hip, avant-garde pair of spectacles (perish the thought) at the Lenscrafters on Fifth Avenue. Much deep insight occurs. Blessings, darlings!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Paris Hilton Rips Off Pretty Lady

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Goodness knows that Pretty Lady has never particularly approved of Paris Hilton. Indeed, the few times that she has bestirred herself to notice Miss Hilton's existence at all, the phrase 'taking vacuous vulgarity to new extremes' has veritably surged to mind.

However, she must admit that in this instance, Paris has mastered her Elite Femininity Technique #7: Demonstrating Ironic Mastery of Complex Policy Issues While Retaining One's Feminine Essence.

The only quibble that Pretty Lady has with Miss Hilton's most elegant effort is that she has gotten her timetables a wee bit mixed up. Offshore oil drilling (with stringent environmental constraints, of course) will not produce any appreciable difference in oil supplies within the next decade; alternative energy sources, such as inexpensive, mass-produced solar panels, are much farther along than people think.

(Pretty Lady has Inside Information that this is so. Paris, for all her cosmopolitan pretensions, does not apparently run in nanoengineering circles.)

Unite for the Constitution!

Two of Pretty Lady's dear friends, Edward Winkleman and Franklin Einspruch, have alerted her to Strangebedfellows:
Strangebedfellows is a unique and diverse left--right coalition which has come together to put a stop to the eradication of civil liberties in America. Modeled on a similar group in Britain, the initial Strangebedfellows group encompasses Ron Paul supporters (, Rick Williams and Trevor Lyman), leading bloggers from the left (Glenn Greenwald of, Jane Hamsher of and many more who share the view that warrantless surveillance, telecom immunity and other such outrages of the lawless surveillance state MUST END—AND END NOW.
Despite her extended vacation, Pretty Lady notes that there are still two days left before the August 8 deadline for dropping a moneybomb on behalf of civil liberties; please hasten over, all ye semi-solvent, and sign your pledge!

Of course, Pretty Lady's personal opinion is that we should be far more concerned about the wholesale licensing of torture than about a bit of wiretapping; she has long known that privacy is an illusion, and is only obtained within the secure knowledge that nobody out there cares all that much, whatever embarrassing information is published about oneself on the Internet. But she thinks that this coalition is an excellent start. It is time that we did away with these pettifogging partisian allegiances, and started addressing abuse of power, period.

UPDATE: At least dear Cintra is paying attention to the thugs behind the curtain:
Yoo, and the elusive Mr. Addington (referred to by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank as "Cheney's Cheney") were subpoenaed in order to answer questions about the Bush administration's interrogation rules. Yoo and Addington are, ostensibly, the last human shields protecting the executive office from the full weight of accountability for these policies.

The two men, who have arguably performed more radical and bizarre leaps in legal interpretations of the Constitution than an entire Federalist Society full of crackheads, made their case by being snide, nasty and rudely dismissive on the stand in a way that seemed melodramatically excessive even for archetypal Scooby Doo villains.

"Think of Addington as the id of the Bush White House," wrote Milbank.
"Though his hidden hand is often merely suspected -- in signing statements, torture policy and other brazen assertions of executive power -- Addington's unbridled hostility was live and unfiltered..."

Addington has long been legendary for being able to emit nearly lethal malodorant toxins from his personality glands, but both he and Yoo seemed to be resorting to the time-honored teenage male technique of being unbearably personally unpleasant in order to wear down their opposition, in an apparent effort to make the authority figures in the subcommittee throw up their hands and stomp into the kitchen in frustration from a desire to strangle them.

These people, Pretty Lady feels compelled to remind you, are running our government. Have we no shame?

Monday, August 04, 2008

How to Balance the Federal Budget, Provide Universal Healthcare, and Solve Our Economic Woes

Pretty Lady, frankly, is fed up with being patient. She understands that Basic Logic is inaccessible to the vast majority of humans; she knows that learning curves vary widely. She knows, furthermore, that Pain and Suffering are sometimes the most effective teachers of essential Life Lessons. This is why she is generally content to allow events to unfold as they will, unmolested.

But some days, Pretty Lady feels that humanity has suffered enough from its own stupidity. Thus, in consummate exasperation, she provides The Answer, whether you are ready or not.

End the War On Drugs.

It must be understood, by those citizens who are slow on the uptake, that Pretty Lady is no fan of drug use. Pot makes people absurdly boring; cocaine makes them insufferably narcissistic, and heroin kills their souls. (Ecstasy is fine, done every five years or so; hallucinogens likewise, except for the occasional unfortunate case of permanent derangement.)

This is one of the reasons that the drug war must end, for as every student of life and/or the Course in Miracles understands, attacking things only makes them stronger.

Isn't it obvious? The U.S. Government has spent billions, if not trillions, on attempting to eradicate the international drug trade, with the result that drugs are purer and more widely available than ever, and drug addiction is at an all-time high. The drug war is directly responsible for driving up the prices of drugs, thus providing irresistible incentive for the underprivileged of all nations to produce and distribute them, killing indiscriminately to preserve this golden opportunity.

Half a millon U.S. citizens are languishing in jail for non-violent offenses, abandoning their families to welfare. Addicts are afraid to seek treatment. Clean needles are difficult to come by, resulting in more-rapid spread of disease.

Can we not cease this madness?

The solution is extremely simple: Just Say No. No to drug raids, SWAT teams, inspectors, detectives, stings and busts. No to helicopter surveillance. No to imprisonment of non-violent offenders.

We take the billions of dollars saved and invest it in universal healthcare and excellent education. We increase revenue by taxing the bejeezus out of the now-legal drug trade. We return drug dealers to their families and employ them as skilled business managers. We tax their salaries and invest the revenue in rehabilitation.

Rest assured that those who get their jollies by beating up on the underprivileged will still have plenty of opportunities to do so; DUI laws, zoning laws, child abuse laws, tax evasion and general Being A Bad Person laws will still be fully enforceable. You may retain your Puritan Morality, your contempt and your sense of existential superiority. The only change that will occur is that more citizens will be free, healthy, educated and employed, your civil liberties will be protected, and, if you so desire, you can enjoy the occasional paranoia-free high.

Is that really so bad?

As a postscript: Pretty Lady is having a terrible time getting people to pay attention to her very sensible healthcare plan. She went to a Democratic Platform meeting last week, and the Extreme Leftist who was heading the discussion edited out the most brilliant portions of her program in the Final Report. Would all of you darlings very kindly forward her plan to your representative, whether he or she be Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or Independent? Please and thank you.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Basics of Boundaries

Hello darlings! Pretty Lady has had a lovely vacation, thank you so much for asking!

She hopes that none of her dear readers will take offense at the notion of her offering a wee treatise on the subject of Boundaries. Rest assured that all of Pretty Lady's friends have a solid and intuitive understanding of the concept; she has taken good care that those who do not, are no longer part of her intimate circle. She still feels, however, that a clear delineation of the subject, with examples, might assist in providing a modicum of Peace and Greater Understanding in the world; at the very least, it could enlighten those of you who are still wondering why Pretty Lady never returned your phone calls.

So. Pretty Lady has often thought, as she grows older, that there are two types of people in the world; those who respect the boundaries of others, and those who simply Have No Clue. The clue that they are lacking is this:

Every human being is entitled to basic sovereignty over certain crucial aspects of Self.

"Every human being," in this instance, means every human being. Not "every human being except my children," or "every human being except the ones who have something I want" or "every human being with the same beliefs, tastes and traditions as myself" or "nobody except me." Or, come to think of it, "everybody except me."

Note, further, that this sovereignty begins and ends with the Self. It does not extend to others, because those others have it in the same degree as oneself. This, of course, seems perfectly obvious to those who have a grasp on it. Unfortunately...well, on with the particulars.

Crucial aspect #1: Every individual has a right to regulate access to his or her physical self.

This means that if you happen to be a police officer monitoring a Critical Mass demonstration, you may not tackle a bicyclist, fling him to the pavement, handcuff him and prosecute him for disturbing the peace, unless he was actually blocking traffic and trying to run you down, instead of attempting to veer out of your way as you moved aggressively into his path.

This means, similarly, that you must wait until your girlfriend is at least partly awake before attempting to copulate with her comatose form. "If you're in bed with someone you must have sex with them" is not a valid assumption. Sexual intercourse is an act of mutual participation, not a game of boink-the-corpse.

Crucial aspect #2: Every person has the right to his or her own religious and/or spiritual beliefs.

Evangelicals everywhere, Pretty Lady has some news for you. If we do not subscribe to your beliefs wholesale, it's not because we don't know what those beliefs are. Most human beings, in this day and age, are literate. We have access to the Bible; we have heard about Jesus Christ. We have had hundreds of pamphlets thrust into our hands on busy city streets, and have answered the doorbell to innumerable Jehovah's Witnesses. We have caught snippets of holy music while spinning the radio dial, and have flipped our TV channel past Falwell and Robertson. Moreover, we have the minds God gave us, with their diverse faculties for assimilating and assessing this information.

The states of our souls are thus our responsibility. Not yours.

Crucial aspect #3: Every person has the right to manage his or her personal relationships, with a modicum of privacy.

If one is living in unavoidably close quarters with another person, one must at least pretend not to be listening in on their phone conversations; still less may one stand over her roommate babbling, "Is that Lulu? I want to talk to Lulu! Give me the phone!" One does not assume that one is included in all social plans made in one's vicinity; one does not read emails over a person's shoulder uninvited. One does not interrupt phone or email conversations with trivial blather without explicit encouragement to do so. One does not read other peoples letters or journals until after their demise.

Crucial aspect #4: Every person has the right to his or her own opinions, tastes and preferences, independently of motive for holding them.

In vain, Pretty Lady has continuously argued in favor of separating the fact of one's holding an opinion, with the surmise of one's reason for doing so. Facts may be acknowledged as such; surmises are merely that. If one persists in mistaking one's casual imputation of motive for another person's actual character, the potential for grave slander exists.

For example; it is a fact that Pretty Lady prefers cats to dogs. She has no particular animus against dogs; she just likes cats better. These are the facts.

It is an unsupported surmise that Pretty Lady is therefore an immature, immoral, anti-American Satanist who is plotting the downfall of all God-fearing dog-lovers on the planet. Satanism, immorality and anti-Americanism may be linked in your mind with affection for cats, but there is no intrinsic, objective, causal link among these things, when the matter is placed under scientific scrutiny. One may not say with certainty that Pretty Lady's liking cats means anything more than that she likes cats. Period.

Moreover, affection for cats is an ethically neutral opinion. Pretty Lady is not a Bad Person for liking cats; she is not a Good Person for liking cats. Liking cats is simply an inconsequential but probably inalterable nuance of her scintillating personality. Get over it already.

In conclusion: It seems to Pretty Lady that the most egregious boundary violations occur when one person mistakes another for an object, to be manipulated on the behalf of a private agenda, instead of a mutual and sovereign entity. All the former friends, acquaintances, stalkers, and roommates-from-hell who had to be forcibly ejected from Pretty Lady's life due to their demonstrated inability to follow these simple rules had one thing in common--they seemed to dwell in a miasma of Roommate-From-Hell-Land, wherein the entire universe was colored with the needs, desires, opinions and perceptions of their particular Hell, with no inkling of the existence of other perspectives.

In fact, this inability to perceive the sovereignty of others was so pervasive that Pretty Lady isn't sure why she bothered to write this; it is certain to go unregarded by those who require it the most.