Friday, October 31, 2008

Dashing Associations

Well, at last. Pretty Lady has been struggling, lo these many weeks, to articulate her exasperation with persons who continually harp on 'terrorist associations,' as though this were something to be leery of. Now, Iowahawk has put things into context:
As for his so-called radical ties, who among us hasn't sent dinner party invitations to Gore Vidal and a leftwing terrorist or two to enliven the postprandial conversation? Leonard Bernstein loved hosting all manner of Weathermen and Black Panthers and Symbionese Liberation Army celebrities at his Park Avenue pied a terre, but it didn't mean the Maestro wasn't in favor of low taxes. On the contrary; I know for a fact he itemized every cent of the catering bills for his famous terrorist cocktail parties.
Those of you petty bourgeois who shy away from associating with persons with radical viewpoints, obviously know nothing about persons with radical viewpoints. The fact is, most radicals: 1) make fascinating party conversation, and 2) couldn't organize their way to the Beer Barn and back without help from a more grounded associate. To know a radical is to understand the nature of the Radical Threat. Most of the time, this threat consists more of Bumbling Incompetence than Dastardly Conspiracy.

Furthermore, imagine this scenario: We find, somewhere in the suburbs of Kansas, a good Christian citizen with an IQ of exactly 100, who has, all his life, only associated with other good Christians of the same stripe. He has forcefully repudiated all persons who drink, swear, leave work at ten till five on Friday, or let their lawns go scraggly. We cry, "Eureka! At last!" and summarily elect this paragon of purity to the highest executive office in the land. Then we send him out to negotiate with Putin.

How well do you think that is going to work out?

The fact is, a person who understands nothing of the Seedy Element, by virtue of having avoided all contact with such, is by far the most likely of all persons to cause an International Catastrophe, by virtue of both rigid intolerance and total cluelessness. In order to effectively lead people, one has to understand how people think. A true leader must have both a thorough understanding of the mentality of lizard-brained despots, and the ability to transcend his own lizard brain. Someone who has never acknowledged the existence of his own shadow self is bound to be hopeless at grappling with that shadow in others.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


[The Finger: Model: Bonnie Quick, Clothes: Rose Sylvester/ The Farmer's Daughter © RA Friedman]

Pretty Lady has discovered something! She is Intimately Connected with at least two seminal members of a major aesthetic, philosophical, and sociological movement! And she had never heard of Steampunk before last month. When she attended a Steampunk fashion show last weekend, however, she found that she has probably been one all a long.

Here, then, is an in-depth interview with Joe Rosato, director of Nimrods Theatre, who also happens to be Pretty Lady's Gentleman Friend:
...Not interested in politics. Most people cannot engage in critical thinking. This is not an insult or an attack, just a painful realization. There are too many terrified ignorant men doing violent things in the name of willpower (which is motivated by fear), and the result is that many people never get the chance to build up their brains with language, which will then allow critical thinking. The world is still ruled primarily by physical force. We tend to feel that thought is emasculating and that a real man would punch someone to gain power vs. using a legitimate path to power. There is so much cowardice in what we call physical bravery and honor. But this is changing....Killing over an idea is stupid. As Clément Rosset says in his book Joyful Cruelty - "A convinced Marxist pays little attention to the theses set forth by Marx, a convinced Stalinist little attention to the historical reality and psychology of Stalin. What counts is the purely abstract idea that Marxism is true or that Stalin was right, ideas that are quite independent of what Marx wrote or Stalin did". Politics is wrapped up in triumph, which is a small-lived emotion that dies right after you feel it. We need something that is sustaining, not childishly triumphant.
In the same issue, an interview with photographer RA Friedman, aka Pretty Lady's long-term friend and partner in crime, Jake. Pretty Lady has long been an enormous fan of Jake's photographs; indeed, they are all over her house. Not the one up top, however; she has long maintained that some images are suited for Everyday Life, and others for books, museums and galleries.
...I look at the state of governments, the environment and peoples' (un)consciousnesss and it's a huge mess; it feels like the only way things will ever improve is if people start to engage on a real level with their surroundings, their neighbors and themselves--if they "step back" so to speak. To feed myself into the common artist's paradigm just perpetuates the fool's game. I have to ask: "Where's the art in all this? When does one get the chance to contemplate one's craft, imagination, beauty, creativity, or just have some fun?"
Egophobia Magazine is available in five languages.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Vagaries of Economic Opportunity -or-How Things Actually Are

Ladies. Pretty Lady is particularly addressing you today, because she more than suspects that what she is about to say goes counter to your upbringing, your deep intuition, and your sense of Right and Wrong. This is not entirely your fault; however, these erroneous intuitions must be addressed, because they are shooting all of us in the foot.

To wit, as Will Wilkinson explains, equality of opportunity based upon things like Merit, Discipline, Intelligence, and Being A Good Girl is an unobtainable pipe dream. The real determiner of opportunity is social networking:

First, what little I know of economic sociology tells me that access to economic opportunities is deeply network-relative.

Take two college grads of similar intelligence and discipline, Anne and Betty. Anne’s best friend has a brother who just started a small technology company. He figures Anne would be a phenomenal project manager, and it turns out to be true. The company has a huge IPO and Anne ends up a rich executive in what turns out to be a glamorous firm. Betty doesn’t happen to know anyone whose brother runs a promising start-up. Does she have anything approaching an chance equal to Anne’s to get something like Anne’s highly desirable position? Obviously not. But how could she.

Second, desirable positions aren’t just boxes out there waiting to be filled. They are created, sometimes by the people who occupy them. And they may depend on contingencies of technology.

Persons in positions of Economic Dominance--i.e., men--have known these facts for millennia. People like Cleopatra and Hillary Clinton also have an excellent grasp of them. It is those of us talented, intelligent, disciplined, moral persons, who disdain to make Unfair Advantage of our nepotistic connections and personal charms, who end up perennially screwed. Or else, and simultaneously, we end up screwing each other, innocently or not.

For Pretty Lady has been in many situations where her best friend had a brother, an ex-boyfriend, an employer, a dealer, a collector, or a grandmother, who was starting a small company, an art magazine, a gallery, or an art collection, and her best friend, for reasons best known to herself, diffidently chose not to mention Pretty Lady's name, talent, intelligence, or discipline in the presence of this person. This demure behavior may go under the heading of Ethics, Tact, Courtesy, Fairness, or any number of other things, but over the years Pretty Lady has come up with another blanket heading for it. That heading is "Being a Passive-Aggressive A**hole."

Because there are Perfect Utopias, and then there are Facts. In a Perfect Utopia, one would submit one's cover letter, résumé, portfolio, statement of intent, and grade point average to a neutral committee, and one would be issued a congenial, well-paid job and a gallery exhibition in return. In the Real World, however, this never, ever happens. One can expect total indifference to one's economic survival from the vast majority of neutral committees; when one's friends exhibit this same indifference, to the extent of wilfully closing all doors of opportunity in one's face, one's friends are not one's friends any longer. They are Decorative Luxuries.

This is not to say that one should recommend a friend for an opportunity for which they are clearly unqualified. These situations come under the heading of "Sticky, Awkward Problems", and should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. As ladies, our minds are constantly alive to the social horrors inherent in these situations, which is perhaps why we so frequently wish to avoid all possibility of ever getting into one, by drawing a firm boundary between Business and Friendship.

But we must be aware that when we draw that line, we are also in danger of condemning our friends, our daughters and ourselves to generations of economic dependency, subservience and obscurity. We are far better off employing our natural social and networking abilities as though our very survival, and not just our parties, depended upon them.

Postscript: It now occurs to Pretty Lady that Social Class may have a lot to do with this. Working class women have never had the luxury of pretending that they don't have to work for a living; thus they are much more forthright about the relationship between Connections and Solvency. Thus, tacky working class women openly stab other women in the back, while the decent ones over-promote their friends to the point of embarrassment. It is upper-middle-class women, largely, whose tactful diffidence threatens to turn our careers into so much wallpaper.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

On the Clothing Issue

A commenter at Salon makes a Larger Point about thrift, even better than Pretty Lady could have done:

As for Palin's clothes, I think it's worth noting (as at least one other poster has) that the issue isn't whether she needed or was entitled to a somewhat better wardrobe. Palin's income level (which is higher than mine, but not by an order of magnitude) means that she should be able to shop in the kinds of places I can afford -- Ann Taylor, Coldwater Creek, etc. What's noteworthy is that the same campaign that sneers at the idea that people who make "only" $250K can afford a tax increase really is so full of truly rich people that they have NO IDEA that you can get nice enough clothes at places other than Neiman Marcus. It's not that McCain's professional handlers don't "get" a working class lifestyle (they obviously don't); it's that they don't even "get" an upper middle class/professional lifestyle.

Pretty Lady's idea of a Clothing Splurge is paying full retail markup at the Gap, instead of plumbing the Clearance rack. This is what she does when the party is this evening, and when literally none of the clothing in her closet will meet around her middle. She supposes that, were she to be campaigning for Vice President or interviewing for a job downtown, she might go so far as to purchase a nice little suit at Ann Taylor. But everyone, even a Texas Heiress, knows that Neiman Marcus is exactly what its initials declare--Needless Markup.

It is time that Success, in the United States, became defined as something other than being able to casually drop the price of a house on clothing and accessories. Pretty Lady has shopped at both Neiman Marcus and the Salvation Army in her time, and she has to say that the Salvation Army days were a lot more fun. She hates to sound like an old blowhard-ess, but really, it's time for a recession.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Extreme Dissonance

Hello darlings! Pretty Lady has been Nesting all week. She is now sitting in her beautiful new office, with a garden theme, overlooking Manhattan--and what is wonderful is that she didn't even have to find a new apartment! The Fabulous Office was here all along. It just needed a little tweaking.

Now, from this situation of power, she overlooks the national psychological landscape, and casually notes that a good percentage of us are in a state of Total Panic:

Thomas Sowell’s got a book I’m told is quite worth reading called Knowledge and Decisions. I’m afraid his latest remarks on Obama threaten to make both impossible — scrambling the first so badly that the second are twisted into crippling knots. Unless, of course, what we know is that the sky is falling and what we decide to do is freak out.

"There is such a thing as a point of no return," Sowell says. If Obama wins the White House and Democrats expand their majorities in the House and Senate, they will intervene in the economy and redistribute wealth. Yet their economic policies "will pale by comparison to what they will do in permitting countries to acquire nuclear weapons and turn them over to terrorists. Once that happens, we’re at the point of no return. The next generation will live under that threat as far out as the eye can see."

"The…vision [of Barack Obama] is really an elitist vision," Sowell explains. "This man [Obama] really does believe that he can change the world. And people like that are infinitely more dangerous than mere crooked politicians."

Please, folks, can we exercise the discipline necessary to criticize Barack Obama coherently?
Yes, please, can we? All over everywhere--at The Corner, in the comments sections of the New York Times, in allegedly 'conservative, right-wing' blogs, Pretty Lady is finding no coherent criticism whatsoever, simply an enraged, paranoid sputtering. She could bother to go through these sputterings at excrutiating length, addressing whatever minimal content she can discover within them, but she suspects that this process would only increase the panic.

Because what she suspects is that we are now witnessing an epidemic of cognitive dissonance on a national scale.

Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. Ideas may include attitudes and beliefs, and also the awareness of one's behavior. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors...

Dissonance can be experienced as anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, stress, and other negative emotional states. When people's ideas are consistent with each other, they are in a state of consonance. Under these circumstances, people are content and relaxed, and less likely to experience aversive emotions. When dissonance is present, one of the conflicting ideas may be a fundamental element of the self-concept, such as "I am a good person" or "I made the right decision." This can result in rationalization when a person is presented with evidence of a bad choice. It can also lead to confirmation bias, the denial of discomfirming evidence, and other ego defense mechanisms.

It seems to Pretty Lady that 'anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, stress' have all been bypassed, and that what she is witnessing can be more properly termed as 'sheer existential terror.' Persons in this state of terror are not amenable to reason; they need, primarily, a bucket of cold water in the face.

So Pretty Lady has something to say to you, and that is: STOP IT THIS INSTANT. CALM THE F*CK DOWN. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT.

The reasons things are going to be all right:

1) We are still living in a democracy. We ALL get to vote. We ALL get to write our Congressmen, publish our blogs, and criticize our government. The worldwide network of communication is so decentralized, at this point, that it is virtually impossible for any centralized, malignant entity (that is, a government run by Barack the Elitist, Terrorist Socialist) to shut it down completely. Thus, even if your worst fears are confirmed, it is Not The End Of The World.

2) Mistakes aren't the end of the world, whether they're yours or not. Pretty Lady didn't vote for Bush in 2000 or 2004, but she had to live with the consequences; SHE'S STILL HERE. No doubt you will still be here as well, four years from now.

3) You won't die if you try to consider things from another perspective. I.e., you could consider the perspective that Obama is not, in fact, either a terrorist, Stalin, or the Antichrist. This perspective could even prove to be a comfort to you; it could, moreover, prove to be true.

4) If we are in God's hands, we're in God's hands. Duh. So the only reason you could possibly be so terrified is if God is a malicious, vindictive force, bent upon destruction. Perhaps this is also a perspective you might want to reconsider.

5) If you voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, you are still a perfectly decent person, even though the Bush presidency brought us to a state of bankruptcy, panic, depression, and international disgrace. Please consider that persons voting for Obama are as decent as you are, and amenable to rational discussion.

Now, proceed, if you can, rationally.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mr. Brooks Gets A Clue

Pretty Lady occasionally hesitates to disclose her real opinion, on the subject that is uppermost in so many of our minds. She has already experienced the dangers of Getting Political, much less the minefield that is Mixing Spirituality and Politics. But her inner impressions are so strong now as to be unavoidable; moreover, even a prominent conservative seems to agree with her.

Obama...grew up with an absent father and a peripatetic mother. “I learned long ago to distrust my childhood,” he wrote in “Dreams From My Father.” This is supposed to produce a politician with gaping personal needs and hidden wounds.

But over the past two years, Obama has never shown evidence of that. Instead, he has shown the same untroubled self-confidence day after day.

There has never been a moment when, at least in public, he seems gripped by inner turmoil. It’s not willpower or self-discipline he shows as much as an organized unconscious. Through some deep, bottom-up process, he has developed strategies for equanimity, and now he’s become a homeostasis machine.
Pretty Lady, in great trepidation, and with the full understanding that she might be wrong, dares to give a name to this 'deep-bottom-up process': transcending the ego. In other words, she believes that Mr. Obama demonstrates a greater level of spiritual maturity than the vast majority of human beings.

She is fully aware that you are all sick of hearing about this from her.

She suspects, however, that few of you have yet grasped what she is saying, so doggedly she repeats herself. Transcending the ego is not the same as denying the ego; it is not about self-effacement, self-abnegation, or climbing a mountain and meditating alone for the rest of one's life. It is perfectly possible, though not at all common, for a person to transcend his or her ego, enter politics, and become one of the most powerful people in the world. It is possible because this 'transcending' process, this seemingly ethereal, esoteric, annoyingly New-Agey sounding thing is, in reality, a process for facilitating the flow of energy.

In other words, it creates astonishing power. Power greater by far than simple brutal self-aggrandizement. The key thing about this sort of power, moreover, is that its very essence is disarming and harmonizing, not destructive, because it derives from a source much greater than any individual perspective can contain.

Look, darlings, at the salient characteristics of Mr. Obama's temperament, as elucidated by Mr. Brooks. Equanimity: check. Ability to see the Big Picture: check. Detachment from personal attacks: check. Non-neediness: check.

These are all signs of a mind that has ceased to wholly identify with its small-s self, and become aware of the tranquil, timeless, indestructible, universal Self. It is impervious to personal attacks because it is not That Person. It is capable of listening deeply and sincerely to others, because it acknowledges those others as an integral part of itself, not as a threat. It can grasp the Big Picture, because it IS the Big Picture.

Pretty Lady is certain that there are many of you who will claim that she is going Too Far; there are more of you who will claim that a liberal socialist cannot possibly have transcended anything, because liberal socialism is the philosophy of the Devil. She would endeavor to pre-address these arguments, but she is looking forward to a fun discussion, so instead she invites you to have at it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


SELLOUT lives. It is a good thing that Pretty Lady has been too lazy to update her sidebar link list in the last 8 months.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Free Radical

Pretty Lady is not a Single Woman anymore. But she has spent enough of her life as one to vouchsafe that Spatula's description is not so far off the mark:
Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's all in my head. Maybe when I get introduced to other women at parties, they don't often grimace and refuse to acknowledge my existence. Maybe there is no pattern to party invitations in the first place, wherein I get about 1/3 of those extended to couples. Maybe I only perceive the fact that my married female friends don't always want to be around me, so as not to expose their husbands and marriage to a corrosive environmental factor: a woman on the loose, dangerously unclaimed.

Maybe when people ask me whether I am married, and I say "No", they don't judge me. If the questioner is male, and he asks me out, and then fails to hear and understand "No thanks" at least 4 or 5 times, he is not treating me as fair game, he is just demonstrating social acceptance. And I should be thankful to be asked whether I am married or not, because it's nice for people to show interest in my life.
Pretty Lady, in her single days, often felt that when she received invitations from married friends, that she was like television. They would sit at their kitchen table, earnest in their stolid, comfortable Togetherness, and listen agog to her Stories of the Outside. She felt like an exotic animal, a free creature, a glamorous sojourner--anything but a Regular Person, with regular problems and concerns, just like everybody else's.

In Spatula's case, as in Pretty Lady's, the social problems of single femalehood are (and were) compounded by the subtler problems of single female artist-hood. This is the real kicker. Simply, nobody knows what to do with you. They can't relate at all. They make wildly inappropriate business suggestions (you could start a salsa company, and draw your own labels!) set you up with wildly inappropriate people (my cousin Vinnie is an artist. He paints seascapes, and drives a school bus!), and stare blankly when you speak about issues of central importance, such as the kinesthetic impact of a Tamayo, and the need for universal, subsidized health savings accounts.

More insidious are the subtle manifestations of what Pretty Lady, after years of resistance and denial, can only describe as envy. It seems dreadful even to speak of it; surely this could not be so! For single lady artists are not so much at the bottom of the economic food chain, as entirely outside of it. We exist on very little but faith and willpower. Most of us have no health insurance, no IRA, no steady income, and no safety net. We wake up at 3 AM in a cold sweat. We look at our life's oevre of unwieldy aesthetic objects, and at our empty bank accounts, and wonder why on earth we cannot imagine ourselves doing anything but this. Surely any life path would be easier by far than this one.

To then be subjected to the petty sabotage of those citizens who do possess such luxuries as jobs, homes, insurance, retirement accounts, spouses, and children, seems the height of unjust absurdity. But so it is. They talk you into 'loaning' them a painting, crow with delight over it, then stop returning your phone calls. They demand 'friendship discounts' on bodywork. They exclaim "you're making out like a bandit!" when you actually sell something. They treat your basic requirements (I need time to paint, and a place to do it) as trivial, coy evasions. They forget to mention your name to their friend who is starting an art magazine, their relative who collects art, and their coworker who runs a gallery. They leave your manuscript in their trashpile and your portfolio unopened. They cannot attend your opening or pay market value for your work, but recommend you for jobs involving humiliating, insecure, badly paid labor. "That's about right for her. Take her down a peg," you can hear them thinking.

Gracious. Pretty Lady is actually getting worked up.

What she chiefly learned, over a decade or so of this, is that the world changes very, very slowly, and most of the world is not ready for ladies like herself and Spatula. They cannot yet conceive that a single woman could have a core priority that is unrelated to breaking up marriages, engaging in kinky sexual behavior, finding a sugar daddy, cossetting losers, doing other people's dirty work, and generally being immature, hubristic, and irresponsible. One must be like Barack Obama; infinitely easygoing, forgiving, agreeable, but with a core of ironclad resolve and unflappable self-esteem. One must be prepared to jettison former friends like the Reverend Wright, who prove untrustworthy in the event. One must be able to cope with the occasional Massive Betrayal, without losing the will to continue.

Most importantly, one must nurture one's True Friends, and be on the lookout for more of them. Pretty Lady's True Friends are more than she can name, but they know who they are. Thank you, all of you.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion

You can now view Pretty Lady's most recent painting series, complete with sound track and nifty zooming features, on The sound track is not a random annoyance (although it may, indeed, be annoying); it is what Pretty Lady was listening to for much of the time she was painting.

Also, she is a Feature Artist on this week. She has no Personal Connection with this website at all; they just randomly decided to feature her.

Also, she is leaving for an Internet-free vacation now. She will see you on Monday. Cheerio!

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Rolling Stone Article on John McCain

When she reached the end of it, all Pretty Lady could think of was the aphorism, "Never do business with a man who makes a point of telling you that he is honest. Truly honest people never think to mention it."

The Magic of Acupuncture

No, darlings, Pretty Lady's Wellness Review is not defunct; Pretty Lady has, until now, been doing more Research than Review. Now, she is pleased to announce that her interview with Laura Gabbé, Licensed Acupuncturist specializing in Women's Health, is ready for your perusal, along with a Preview Of Coming Attractions, and some Big News in Pretty Lady's personal life. Get thee thence, and thrive!

The Freelance Society

Well, Pretty Lady is fit to be tied. She didn't get up early enough to read the New York Times before breakfast, and now the comment thread on Mr. Krugman's editorial on health insurance is closed.

So she will just have to put in her two cents right here.

Mr. Krugman rightfully points out that Mr. McCain's proposed healthcare program is no such thing, for the vast majority of persons. It would force employers to pay taxes on health benefits for employees, while providing those employees a $5000 tax credit to buy insurance on their own. Hunky-dory!

The only problem is that insurance for a family costs, on average, $12,000 per annum. Pretty Lady is thrifty, but paying for a $12,000 plan with $5000 is beyond even her capacities. And the private insurance market, further deregulated under the McCain plan, categorically refuses to provide coverage for anyone who actually needs it.

Of course, in Pretty Lady's world, this whole question is risibly hypothetical--it ventures, in fact, into the realm of Complete Fantasy. For when Pretty lady was employed, she never made enough money to pay $5000 in taxes, let alone get that much back. And for the last ten years, like so many of her peers, Pretty Lady has worked freelance.

Freelance employment, for an increasingly large percentage of our generation, is becoming less and less of a choice, and more of a necessity. Ever since Pretty Lady graduated from college she has observed that Large Employers, being careful of their Bottom Line, have avoided paying benefits by hiring workers on a temporary and/or contract basis. Additionally, as we have seen, Large Employers are increasingly going belly-up. Pretty Lady herself has one good friend, the sole breadwinner for a family of four, who recently declined a contract job in order to remain with Lehman Brothers. For the security.

Employers, you see, are fast becoming a Thing Of The Past. The modern economy is based more and more upon fluidity, mobility, flexibility, Quick Turnover, and any other term you can think of for eradicating the 1950's model of Steady Jobs with Benefits and Pensions. More and more, working people are entirely on our own.

Of course, there is always Freelancer's Union, as well as Fractured Atlas, for which Pretty Lady is profoundly grateful. But she must vent a bit of frustration with this everlasting reference to Employers. Employer this, employer that, who is your employer? Direct deposit, from your employer! Get it through your employer!

WHAT freaking employer? GET A CLUE!!!

Why Pretty Lady Supports Obama


Letter from Obama dated March 22, 2007.

Dear Chairman Bernanke and Secretary Paulson,

There is grave concern in low-income communities about a potential coming wave of foreclosures. Because regulators are partly responsible for creating the environment that is leading to rising rates of home foreclosure in the subprime mortgage market, I urge you immediately to convene a homeownership preservation summit with leading mortgage lenders, investors, loan servicing organizations, consumer advocates, federal regulators and housing-related agencies to assess options for private sector responses to the challenge...


It was 1988, and Mary Andersen was at the Miami airport checking in for a long flight to Norway to be with her husband when the airline representative informed her that she wouldn't be able to check her luggage without paying a 100 surcharge:

When it was finally Mary’s turn, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.
-You’ll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.
Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.
-I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.

As tears streamed down her face, she heard a "gentle and friendly voice" behind her saying, "That's okay, I'll pay for her."

Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.
-He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?
Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.
-He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.
She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.

Who was the man?

Barack Obama.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The World Is In Front Of You

Pretty Lady just got back from Chelsea, and is delighted to report that the show she went to see was every bit as splendid as she thought it would be. She will review it on her Art Blog, soon.

However, she is not quite so delighted to report that as far as the persons hosting the show were concerned, Pretty Lady might as well have been invisible. Nary a cordial 'hello' or 'how are you'? or 'do you have any questions?' did she receive; not once did anyone working there so much as glance in her direction, although she was the only visitor in the room.

Now, although this is, unfortunately, standard behavior for persons who host shows in Chelsea, Pretty Lady remains eternally shocked by it. All the more so because lately, she has been the recipient of an avalanche of Press Releases, Publicity Materials, and Obsequious Schmoozing by hosts of art exhibitions who have sussed out the fact that she hosts a minor Art Blog. Some of these shameless promotional attempts have emanated from the selfsame persons who have repeatedly, overtly snubbed her when she appeared at their galleries In Person.

She is here to inform these people that they are wasting their time and money by continuing to court her. Press releases from galleries which cannot maintain a modicum of civility when she takes the trouble to visit them go straight into the circular file, unread.

Pretty Lady suspects that this sort of crass, self-defeating behavior stems from the mythic fantasy that Somebody Out There is responsible for the success or failure of one's endeavors. It is never the lady standing in front of you who is going to write a rave review of your exhibition, purchase a painting, tell her high-powered Art World friends all about it and whisper into the ear of the Whitney. It is That Figure Off In The Distance.

No wonder the vast majority of the Art in these places is not worth a hill of navy beans. For Great Art, in her book, is about True Perception, and the art dealers of Chelsea do not seem to be able to perceive the world that is right in front of their noses.

However, Pretty Lady has no wish to penalize genuine Artists for the poor behavior of their representatives. So she will write that Rave Review anyway.

But she rather suspects that, particularly in the current economic climate, the eBay model of art sales and marketing is the one to bet on.