Love Earth, Torture Animals?

Because glossing over or turning away from Facts, does not take them away. 

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Love Earth, but Torture Animals? The irony of “celebrating” Earth Day & torturing for Easter on the same weekend

New York. ‘Good Friday’. 22 April, 2011. One of the strangest contradictions of life is when you have Earth Day and Easter on the same weekend. “Be green”, “Care for our Earth,” “20 ways of ‘eco-living’ to impress your friends,” “Save the polar bears,” “Save our animals from global warming, big bad corporations! – oops, wait a minute! Starbucks goes “green” – while the ‘save the earth’ meeting was being conducted there! Wal-mart goes “green”(my ass!)! While one was buying that made-in-China pot-roast deep dish!” Slogans, articles and cute animal-faced smiley cartoons and much cheesy marketing that goes on “Earth Day” – that’s today. And in the very next instance be bombarded with more slogans and tips and suggestions telling “20 ways to welcome spring by baking the best new-born lamb for Easter,” “Celebrate Easter weekend with baby lamb, roast chicken, suckling pig,” “The way to your man’s heart this Easter and to get a ring before the Royal Wedding and the cuddliest bunny soft toy is to cook the most delicious baby bunny rabbit in the world, ladies! after of course, you have impressed him with your Green Nature-conscious skills on Earth-Day! Yea!

Ah, the irony! No more words today. Just pictures. And a film I’d been planning to place for a while.  Not to induce guilt. Just to inject Truth. Unfortunate. Objective. Truth – ah sweet, sweet, bitter, brutal Truth. To me, ‘God’ is not in the skies. Truth is ‘God’. Love is ‘God.’ And Reality is Reality. Those soft-toys on the store shelf – bought for giggly-cosmo-obsessed-girlfriends and innocent kids……My words from a poem written years back as a kid : “Soft-toys are subjected to affection, while REAL animals face butcher’s knives.” 

You see, all those pretty smiley, emoticorny escapism, rationalizations, ‘religion’izations will not take away reality, the truth, the way, the unfathomable, cruel, unnecessary, savage, evil, psychopathic way those animals will be treated, will be tortured, will be killed, and areevery single day – all across the world – be they dogs and cats and so many other species in China and elsewhere, or lambs and calves and much more in the West – but tortured, skinned, killed, cut-up, shipped, cooked and then placed under the soft lights of a fancy meal – the ambiance and music ‘wishing away’ the reality of how their life really was led……while that toy filled with fuzz, or at times the furry toy made from the fur of some cat or rabbit skinned alive somewhere in China is handed over as the great gift of ‘love’ to that naive, innocent child – who, if he or she knew how cruel the world is, would perhaps never be able to eat lamb again. Or then be given enough ‘rationalizations’, and ‘desensitizations’ to do so. Or better – told those happy, smiley stories and fairy tales that say that after brutal, bleeding, tortuous death – they – like ‘Him’ – in all their original intact forms will ‘resurrect’ and live happily ever after in a cloudy, pearly Heaven.

Ah – the Truth is so hard to take – fables are made to heal the heart and self-soothe. But alas, Truth remains Truth. Reality – Real. And perhaps only Real, Truthful Love is what is needed more. So Empathy can overcome greed and gluttony. To remember the eyes of an innocent in its last breaths of life. To have enough Love for life to have the courage to say “No – I will not partake in the suffering of sentient beings with advanced nervous systems that feel pain, that feel excruciating physical pain just like you and me, who are tortured in this fashion in reality and then given the ‘glamour shot’ while they lie in cut up little pieces on my plate in that candle-lit table.”

I am not against humane death and a humane free life, but against such unnecessary, unfathomable inhumane cruelty when in our present day and age, and even before, we do have many, many other choices.

I am not against the taste of pleasure , but against this mind-blowing hypocrisy. And I have far greater respect for the person who truly lives off the grid and hunts for his own sustenance in the wild, using every part of his kill, than those who tout ‘go green’ cliches while sitting dandily eating the meat from a slaughterhouse.

I am not against the ‘tales’ and stories we say to protect children from harsh reality, but against those consistent ever-present countless immeasurable Lies we hear even adults preach to one another and pretend to believe for self-protection to hide the face of Truth. Or to deny the Truth of their own inner reality that allows and justifies cruelty like this to occur and look the other way with apathy and cowardice.

So I will still stare without taking my eyes away at the 360-degree reality of Truth.

I will still walk that way which is often a road of solitude, but one I have taken many times before, and will never stop from taking again. And I will walk on that road, no matter how few or large its takers.

I will walk on it – if just for my own truth and empathy and nothing else.  No matter how much the ridicule, no matter all the economizations, intellectualizations, rationalizations, confabulations to mock another being.

And I will follow only for that Trinity which to me is real freedom: The simple trinity which needs no book, nor leaders, no tales, nor followers.  Just a long hard look at life, reality, knowledge and the choices we have and the choices we make.

The road, the trinity of:   Truth * Love * Integrity.

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Happy Earth Day! Happy Easter! Whatever those terms mean. I studied in a Catholic Convent – of course I know what those ‘terms’ mean. And yet, they are but words – because true integrity is not in words, but what lies within and is practiced consciously through our actions.  (Though I came from a family of Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and more so – a dad who was a scientist and a mother a philosopher/mathematician, I am a non-believer of any God in the skies.)  

(p.s. I am a vegetarian, not a vegan. I eat eggs from freer-range free-running hens. With regards to milk – I don’t buy dairy milk after knowing how the dairy industry treats cows and their babies, so I buy almond milk. I only drink cow’s milk when in India, where you can actually meet the cow and they live with their calves. And if you get a chance, do watch ‘Fast Food Nation’.)

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And the truth of the process of how they end up in that last picture…here. This film. The sad fact of life is that turning your face away will not take truth and reality away, nor the pain of billions of mammals and birds who are treated this way or the heinous crimes and greed of the owners of slaughterhouses and users who support this system:

“Mercy for Animals” – a film. Narrated by James Cromwell. Now watching the truth – that  is having real kindness for our Earth. 

We do have a choice. Yes we do. We do not have to endorse cruelty.

All it needs to make that choice – like all other ethical choices in life is – Love. Truth. Determination. and above all, Integrity.

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Related posts:

1. This too shall pass.

2. Saltationism of Silliness

3. Red December – Part 3

4. Truth or Dare

5. UNFETTERED

 

Saltationism of Silliness

September. Sepian. Septimenal.  Saccadic. Sapphism. Salinger. Sequela. Saccular. Secular. Secund. Sideral. Sidewalks. Silenus. Silly.

I’d read somewhere a while back, a thought that often crosses my mind on the virtues of silliness, but more eloquently written by this lady: “Too often we give up our wonderful childhood dreams and silliness that is an inherent aspect of the true self because we believe that it serves little purpose or is at odds with the role modeling and indoctrination we experienced as we matured. We might play, yet we fail to lose ourselves in the process. Our imaginations no longer has free reign because we regard the product of carefree creativity as being of no value.” Dr. Neddermeyer goes on to add : “Unabashed silliness is nourishment to our vitality and youthfulness. We take in this nourishment by giving ourselves permission to lighten up and embrace silliness for silliness’ sake. Silliness constitutes a vital aspect of human existence on a myriad of levels. Ethereal bliss is often a consequence of our willingness to dabble in what some might deem outrageous, nonsensical, or absurd.” So true….er, I’d simply summarise it as ‘ Silliness is  Sublime.’

Do you remember the time when we’d skip and carouse or pirouette on a sidewalk for no apparant reason?  Don’t know about you – I certainly did. Even as a grown-up along with two of my best girl friends from architecture school when for no reason all three of us would break out into a silly jig and shuffle  sideways on a snowy sidewalk ‘stead of walking straight and proper; or swing from a tree for no other reason than the fact that it exists. and therefore must be climbed; or whistle a silly ditty in a midst of a dead-serious meeting; or randomly let out barnyard animal noises – a bleat or a quack – in the midst of a rabid crowd….(ok – I confess, I have done all this and then some. And still do.  Silly, silly stuff, but oh-so-liberating!)

Perhaps that’s why I’ve always loved the genius of Monty Python so much. Or The Little Prince. Or comedians and artists who dare to be ridiculously silly on the surface yet are  so profoundly clever and insightful underneath.

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(CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE) The FACT behind FUR somewhere in China which lands on the glamorous catwalk in that fur coat in NYC. "One by land & two by sea" -indeed - as the trapper would say. http://www.furkills.org/

(CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE) The FACT behind FUR somewhere in China which lands on the glamorous catwalk in that fur coat in NYC. “One by land & two by sea” -indeed – as the trapper would say. http://www.furkills.org/

As I trot along the sidewalks of this sultry, ‘sexy’ city, the saliferous air of September’s Fashion Week that has turned parts of the city’s sidewalks into an ultra-chic-conscious catwalk, as Vogue magazine’s senescent Anna Wintour gushes about why her cause of Fashion’s Night Out should be supported, as she hosts her dinner at ‘the most happening romantic resto of town’ named One if by land, two if by sea an event for which, I end up getting a facebook invite and choose not to attend (mostly out of laziness, my quasi-schizoid-crowd-free-joys and the fact that classic-narc Wintour  supports and glamorizes fur in fashion indirectly means endorsing the skinning alive of mammals), as a stream of stanchion and super-gorgeous superlicious supermodels with  steely uber-serious stoic Zoolandress expressions catwalk around the city (the poor girls are told how to pose, mind you, it’s not their choosing and often times they are too young to oppose the anti-smile look) – all I can think of, for the silliest of reasons, is the giraffe-legged John Cleese in the Ministry of Silly Walks. Why bother for exorbitantly priced outfits where fur is seen as ‘fun’ in the name of some sinister ‘sexy’ silliness when I have me good ‘ol legs to entertain in silly joy?

Masters of the stream-of-consciousness style narratives, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stream_of_consciousness_writing) Monty Python is timeless. This is the second MP sketch I’ve placed on this blog. The first is The Architect Sketch– with John Cleese once more. Some claimed to see in this sketch a satire of government projects. But in the book The Pythons, members of the troupe indicated that they considered the whole scene nothing more than pure silliness. There is a certain type of people who get the genius of Python. Mostly these are the ones who barely watched the series Friends and found it rather witless, but enjoy Seinfield and Curb your enthusiasm.  And I must admit too that I’m in that second group. My cup of tea has always been Pythonesque.

The only complete version of this sketch available on youtube is with Spanish subtitles….hopefully that’s not too distracting.

Sidetracked Alert: Hey, did you know there is actually a word –squatterarchy? It means : ‘government by squatters; squattocracy.’ Sounds more like the beauracracy joke to me. I am also suddenly gripped by the alarming thought that perhaps my reluctance to party comes from the following condition:  ‘ scopophobia‘ or ‘scoptophobia‘ = a fear of being looked at.

Not to be confused with scopophilia which means ‘obtaining sexual pleasure from seeing’  ;-)

(Go ahead, ogle below. I’m not judging you….I’m rather for those who can appreciate the sensuousness of a genuinely real  gorgeous woman in all her beauty than those who think that wearing fur of animals skinned alive is a source of pleasure or status. *shudder*)

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Perhaps, SHOWING SKIN IS BETTER THAN WEARING SKIN. One does not need clothes made of animal products, and especially fur, to feel sexy or secure or even silly. One doesn’t need fur to appreciate the stunning beauty of a woman. Support cruelty-free clothing as fall and winter approaches. Boycott stores and brand names that sell fur and boycott cruel unempathetic women and men who wear fur or think it’s sexy. Endorsement of farmed-fur-for-fashion is akin to endorsing murder in the most brutal way. We live in the 21st century for goodness’ sake and there are tons of options available for winter clothes!! We do not need to endorse these barbarian practices! Support REAL beauty and the beautiful beasts of the wild not the bestiality of humans who skin innocents alive for wearing their skins in voguish vanity. Don’t endorse cruelty. Don’t endorse psychopaths be they male or female. There is NO excuse; no rationalization for these heinous acts of torture.

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of  weakness or despair but manifestations of strength and resolution.” Kahlil Gibran

or in my words: “I’d rather be ridiculously silly and kind, than remarkably ‘happening’ and cruel. And I’d rather strut around in a metallic home-made bikini than flaunt ‘fall-fashion fur.” [Okay – I may not look like Yamila Diaz-Rahi (who also studied Economics – and is no dumb beauty but a smart, classy woman in real life), featured above in her metal straps, but a metallic bikini sure fulfills my inner geek Star Wars Princess Leia fantasy ;-) ]

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P.S. A dose of Blunt Truth: I think that shit-brown and yellow huge Louis Vuitton logo handbag that I see many women tout because it was so in vogue is absolutely hideous. I’ve never bought one, even when I made a six figure salary and I will never buy one. I’m a designer myself, who had her own firm in my very early 20s and then as a consultant with the man who recently won the Order of Canada (among 50 other awards) for his artistic sensibilities and architecture – so I do know what I’m talking of, should you question my aesthetics. I also designed an entire 16 sq. mile eco-city a few years back in West Palm Beach and many other design works, so I do have some wisdom of the world to say the following, sensitivities be damned : That LV/ YSL bag is awfully ugly – there I said it – had to get that out of my call-a-spade-a-spade truth-serum system. The ONLY reason women spend hundreds and thousands to buy it blindly is because those who endorse the skinning alive of animals endorse it and like herds it is bought without questioning because ‘everyone has it!’. It’s ordinary. Ugly. Extremely inelegant. Frumpy. HUGE. Same for those leather and skin Gucci bags. UGLY. There I said it! (And what a relief after years of politically correct silence.)  Yes – that bag emperor has no clothes – only blood and the skin of deer, crocs, foxes, rabbits, dogs, cats and many other inncocent animals. And marketed to insecure women to make them feel ‘special’ like clueless accomplices to murder.

Give me Cleese’s silly walk any day. I’ll take that over that bag any day. I’d rather laugh than carry that massive elephantine bag and look as though I’m a depressive in an anti-smile mode. (Actually the price and the weight of that bag is bound to lead to depression – so it figures.)

Not murder? Check this out (warning – not for the squeamish…disturbing reality) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rhFj2NfBsI

The 2010 Gucci bag. Disguised murder.

2010 new YSL bag. More murder.

Fur from an animal skinned alive is ‘sexy’, no? The pinnacle of monstrosity disguised as ‘chic’.

I have no idea why or how this shit-coloured monstrosity of a Louis Vuitton bag and its variations became so popular and ubiquitous. Were they testing to see how a brand name could be used to market this visual and ethical garbage? There I’ve said it – as a say-it-as-it-is-emperor-has-no-clothes pointer can. This by far is the most popular yet the ugliest bag. ever. I’d prefer buying a lifetime supply of toilet paper than buy this piece of overblown kitsch. If you want to feel ‘French’ bellas, don’t buy this shit-brown bag; learn about Rene Magritte or read Rene Descartes. Or even Blaise Pascal if you know some math

Is there an alernative? Yes. Buy purses and handbags made by your LOCAL artists, small business owners, that kind girl in the farmers’ market who makes her own handicrafts – purses made of man-made materials, tie-and-dye fabrics. Or even those spectacularly beautiful handbags of spangles and ethnic cloth that are self-sustaining, women-empowering handicrafts made by resident women in the villages of Kutch and Rajasthan – a centuries-old tradition which was revived in the past century after the colonists had crushed the trade to sell their factory-mill-made cloth. Now supporting, buying and endorsing those products is really cool. And truly beautful. And above all, far more ethical. Or else, buy from the discount store, a smart no-nonsense man-made-material purse. But DO NOT endorse this skin-and-fur cruelty.

It’s a simple equation : Not succumbing to intoxicating glossy adverstising + No demand = No supply = No slaughtering. Show kindness and love to the REAL furry animals instead of gushing over fake soft toys, often made out of the fur of the real ones skinned alive.

Beauty is found in many things – in the sunset, in flowers, the magnificence of a forest, an act of kindness, genuine love, moving music, a baby’s smile, a puppy’s eyes, the blowing seeds of a dandelion in the wind, the pleasure of eating delicious fruit, the endorphins generated from a good run……why do you need a handbag made of a tortured, abused animal’s skin and fur to feel ‘beautiful’? That’s not beauty – that’s cruelty and ugliness, no? The sad eyes of the fox and raccoon that is skinned alive is not much different than the eyes of your own dog or cat. It’s so logical, so obvious – why is it so hard to see? The halogen lamp above a glass shelf on which that bag rests in a chic boutique on 5th Avenue is just an illusion to hide the gut-wrenching truth of its making. Does omission of facts take away reality? No it doesn’t. Truth remains truth. Objective. Hard. Real.

Do you know what carrying a $900 – 3500+( goes up to ridiculous prices of $10,000 ++) hideous oversized brand name handbag really tells about you? It says – “Look at me! I’m an insecure girl/woman whose sense of self-worth is derived not by who I am but by the stamp of approval needed by what some brand name gives me! Even if I may become a ‘celebrity’ or just another party girl, I am a nobody without endorsing what is considered ‘cool’ by the Hiltons and Lohans of the world! I am so crazy about looking ‘cool’ and ‘hot’ before my friends and strangers that I don’t care if I’m carrying the skin and fur of animals cuter and gentler than my teeny lap dog! No, boys and girls, all I care for is your approval, your validation because on my own I am nothing without my brand name items. And I’m willing to let millions of animals die for me. So that impressed by my status symbol my girlfriends will adore me and some equally clueless guys will fuck me!”  That’s what it reads as before objective Truth. And the truth is more than 32 million mammals are killed for fur alone each year.

Go ahead – watch Stella McCartney give the inside story of where or rather how that fur trimming that you hold in your hands comes from :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rhFj2NfBsI Or this: http://www.freewebs.com/shawtyxli/furisdead.htm.  Really. Do your life this favour.

The following video shows Unfathomable cruelty (actually showing a skinned animal alive with his eyes looking on in pain and trying to lick his blood, and how the animals are hit on the head to knock them out before the skinning). This video has been removed from youtube and many other places due to extreme pressure from very high authorities of the design world. They do not want you to see this. I’ve managed to track one of the very few places that still has a copy, though it might be soon removed. 

Here is the video, and a link to an article containing it https://features.peta.org/ChineseFurFarms/

 

Any men reading this post, next time you think buying a fur coat/hat/bag for your wife or girlfriend is a sign of ‘love’ please show this video to her first. Good luck and good night.

Excuse me, for I have to go for a silly walk now. To clear my head from the remarkable ridiculousness of the world we live in. To find solace in unabashed silliness. Where a ministry of silly walks makes far more sense than the mega-mall-endorsed senseless slaughter of innocents.

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If you want to see what ten years of unbridled shallowness does to you, look no further. Here’s the end result of a decade of purse-crazy ‘fabulousness’: https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2010/05/30/sweatshops-for-your-sex-the-city-too/

Next.

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UNFETTERED

“I have confronted my mortality on many occasions. And If I die tomorrow, at least I could say I’ve LIVED.” –  Independent film maker, animal rights activist & adventurer Tim Gorski.

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Cambridge, MA. June 16, 2010. No enormously drawling lengthy post today or for the rest of the week. Swamped with work and other commitments. (Though I’m looking forward to meeting Christopher Hitchens this evening as he gives a talk at the Harvard Book Store.) Instead a video today of a friend who in my opinion is one of the bravest men I’ve come across in life and one with a remarkable level of integrity.  As I write  this,  images of the massive oil spill in the Florida Gulf and the innocent wildlife victims who paid the price flash through……I had canoed in those waters during my stay there and it is so incredibly sad what the incompetence and lack of accountability of BP has brought about. It was in the state of Florida some years ago that I first met the animal activist who would become my friend.

Through my work  over the years I’ve often come across many environmentalists, most of whom are genuine. But I’ve also sadly come across quite a few who do it more for the publicity or funds and to get their name in the papers; or conversely there are animal rights activists who get rabid about protecting crocodiles and pythons and other wild creatures while being  active consumers of the usual meat industry through the local supermarket. (I’ve always found the second kind rather interesting and hypocritical in the sense how can you tolerate the cruelty of the slaughterhouses that remove newborn calves from their mothers and a list of many other brutal ways in which many other animals are raised, handled and killed, yet take a moral stand with placards about the lives of crocodiles in the wetlands? At least the latter are having free lives in the wild!)

But Timothy Gorski is a film maker and animal activist who walks the walk and talks the talk. There is absolutely not one shred of hypocrisy about him, neither in the products he uses, the food he eats, the life he leads or the causes he defends. And this is very rare to find and see put into practice in the real world. Very rare indeed. His first film ‘Lolita – Slave to Entertainment’ which he had written, directed and produced went on to garner 11 awards and was his campaign to highlight the conditions of whales in captivity. He has also done innumerable works and projects to aid, rescue and heal domestic, wild, captive, stray and abused animals through the years and had made videos to highlight the killing of dolphins years before the documentary ‘The Cove’ was released last year. One of the most down-to-earth and humble people I have known, a couple of years back I’d attended the premier of the documentary ‘At the Edge of the World‘ with him at the Toronto International Film Festival for which he was the cinematographer and had spent several months in Antarctica on board a ship with the crew of Sea Shepherd and Captain Paul Watson. The documentary would go on to win eight awards in various festivals including  the Haskell Wexler best cinematography award for Tim. At the TIFF screening when his name was called out he literally sank into his chair and gave a tiny wave, because he didn’t want to attract the audience’s attention as the applause broke out. Tim’s reward has always been in the eyes of the animals he could help and in the doing, not the human awards, though he knows the reality of marketing in this world if you wish to get the facts across. The man is an utter realist.

Anyone who has watched a video on how whales are slaughtered – literally slashed a piece at a time  and  killed-while-alive – will know why this cruelty is quite senseless and preventable. Yet it is not; and just this year, the US lifted the ban on whale hunts for Japan and Norway, as the ‘exchange’ of Japan’s forgiving some financial debts the US owed it. I have traveled up a few times to the north of Canada in the protected waters of the Tadoussac region to watch the magnificent whales from a zodiac and I still cannot fathom why these mammals are deliberately put through this torture  in other parts of the world when so many other options of food are available to people. During those northern trips, while the larger whales kept to themselves as you watched their gigantic backs and dipping tails from a safe distance, the white beluga whales were so friendly and naive, they would swim alongside you when you kayaked on the waters.

But the tale in Antarctica and the illegal whaling operations that go on there are quite another story….. The reason Paul Watson takes preventive action and had broken out from Greenpeace which he had co-founded, is because he felt that  many organizations would collect millions by showing slaughter footage but nothing was being done to actually save their lives. Only by being in the arena and in the mouth of the lion could slaughter truly be prevented or lives be saved. Something like those working for Doctors without Borders who actually go and do instead of simply talk or ‘pose’ for publicity. Here’s an interview of Tim on board the Farley Mowat in 2006 as part of the Sea Shepherd crew. At its end there are questions that speak very deeply to anyone who listens. It certainly did to me.

What I like most about Tim Gorski is his humility in person and his steely determination and zest for life. He has real life stories of adventures that he may quietly reveal over a glass of beer ranging from days lost in the Amazon (where he had to eat a rat at one point to ward off hunger); spending New Year’s eve amongst the Shan State Burmese rebels who oppose the Burmese Military Government, after he and his crew got lost in the jungles  and caves between Thailand and Burma; when he rushed to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina but stories  there he doesn’t wish to talk about; getting swept away literally during the tsunami in Thailand and many more incidents. You know those explorers and film makers you see on some National Geographic show who are quite simply not afraid? And you wonder if they’re crazy to do the things they do or choose the places they go off to? And then when you meet them, you’re even more surprised for they seem to be the most humourous, humble and humane people you’ve come across? Well, Tim is one of them and I am proud to know him and those like him who are not afraid to defend rational ethics. There are many animals and birds big and small across the planet who I’m sure silently thank him. And I thank him personally for being who he is and as a living testament that men with unshakable and inspiring integrity still survive on this planet.

Here is a promo video of a documentary ‘How I became an Elephant’ currently in production and in search of financial help (since his company is a non-profit based on those who wish to help freely.) While horrendous facts of torture of Southeast Asia’s elephants are a reality, it is heartening to know that there is an elephant sanctuary in Thailand which tries to get the gentle mammals away from poachers and traffickers who put them through an unfathomable amount of torture to ‘break’ and capture them and either kill them for ivory or put them into hard relentless labour. Tim has been able to fund the rescuing of one of those elephants and help the sanctuary through one Hollywood donor, but much, much more work remains to be done, as acts of murder and brutality against these gentle giants still continue.  What is very grounded about Tim is that he understands the complex issues of poverty, trade and survival linked to animal exploitation and is not a clueless anarchist-type activist. But a look at the following video shows the risks he takes and the heart-wrenching torture the elephants are put through. When I watch this I truly wonder how some people can salivate over spending thousands on Blahniks and Fendis and Hummers and fur coats when there are so many more realities and ethics to be aware of. Or just simply know as facts that exist, if even out of a curiosity about the world and its many truths. And even more I wonder at grown-ups who fawn and squeal over fake soft toys on Valentine’s day and Easter and other occasions while real animals are tortured everyday both in the wild and in slaughterhouses. (Warning: contains disturbing footage although most has been edited out of this clip.)

Updated 2013, as the film has already been completed

A link to his company Rattle the Cage below. Feel free to pass this link, videos or this post on to those who genuinely care for the way animals are mistreated in this world and for those who would like to get involved in his film projects.

http://www.rattlethecage.org/

And here is a link to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the film that took him to Antarctica. (do check it out….absolutely worth it.)

http://www.attheedgeoftheworld.com/

Keep up the good work, my bro! You really are an inspiration of what it means to truly live in this world….

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)

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At the edge of the world


Sweatshops for your Sex and the City Too

My blog stats are showing that this post has been getting thousands of reads  from both sides of the Atlantic (and a trigger to launch a secret movement by straight men in the west called ‘no more wussification!’ & its sister movement ‘Greater Dignity, Fewer Shoes! more self-reliance, less Choos’  – kidding on that bit but it would be nice!) But thank you readers! – GG.

SWEATSHOPS FOR YOUR SEX & THE CITY, TOO.

(UPDATED Post – with a Super Sweet 16 video to show the end product of your ‘fabulousness’ and the link to a video showing the heart-wrenching heinous reality of brand-name Fur products that our fab-four have touted throughout the series and in the first movie.)

(OR)

HOW ABOUT A REALITY CHECK?

Warning: This is a post written for those with a blunt or INTJ sense of humour and those who don’t mind seeing the harsh reality behind consumerism without sugar-coating. Readers who might be offended for calling a spade a spade, or a boob a boob and don’t get the humour or a reality-check, proceed no further. Same applies to those who blindly think that SJP  has the same sex appeal as Marilyn Monroe or Grace Kelly. Stop right here. (This is very hard to explain  to many women, but something only straight men and women who are artists will understand – it’s something evolutionary that we can’t explain – on the same line as the ingrained biological differences between men and women…like the attraction to a certain waist to hip ratio for instance. So those women, please don’t confuse gender equality – which I’m 100% all for – to gender ‘sameness.’)

This post is suited more for straight men and for women who are individualists and had enough with the consumerism/shallowness touted.

Others, you’ve been warned ;-) and I’m not going to engage or deal with Miss cyber-bully-with-BPD (you know who you are – although you’re using different names, your IP address is the same.) Amusing how you spewed full force for my tiny photo at the end, and the fact that placing a mouse on it enlarged it. Deal with it, lady. I’ve done 7 years of architecture (a B.Arch & a M.L.Arch) & 10 years of work on the field.  And have slogged  very hard in life (since you’ve been sending me those vitriolic e-mails). And if my sarcasm or the fact that I’m a woman architect ‘upsets’ and ‘offends’ you, well, too bad. This is my personal blog – and you are free not to read it. (To those women – I’m  that girl you used to bully back in school for being the nerd who was good in studies and music. And doubled the bullying even more  ruthlessly if she happened to look nice.) Also, can the other miss cyber-bully (who has claimed to be a feminist,) give a logical explanation of your claim that my photograph on a site ‘kills feminism’??? I’ll state it directly lady – what you mean is that I should  look ‘manly’ and/or hate cooking in order to qualify for your concept. And you’ll defend me only if I shed all traces of femininity. Or walk around with an utterly misconstrued sense of ‘entitlement’ based on gender alone, without any hard work or self-reliance like that horrendous sense of entitlement with which the women in this film plodded on.  Sorry ma’am- ain’t happening here – I’m too objective – and think BOTH genders are EQUAL and being a woman does not ‘entitle’ me to be pampered. Nor would I look for ways to enhance myself at the cost of unfair man-bashing based on sweeping generalizations. Please take your notions elsewhere.

It is ironic that empathy is not reserved for bonded laboureres, child sweatshop workers or  the real victims of misogyny in rural villages, but truthfully calling shallowness -”shallowness” is seen as ‘not having empathy!’ Oh Rationality, where art thou?! Those wishing to spew ‘stead of humour, here’s a bit of Monty Python to lighten up: The Architect Sketch or chill out on my ‘Jazz’ page. And for those girls wishing to get  more upset by more sex and  women in architecture, go here: Sex & the Starchitect.

Next.

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So I went to see the movie Sex and the City 2  mainly to write a post about it. At a theatre near Cambridge, MA, for a matinee show and a ticket price of five dollars which I think is just about what I would pay during this recession to not partake in the overindulgence of consumerist frivolity that this movie endorsed.  I went alone as I have never ever dragged any man nor ever will to watch chick-flicks. Deliberate man-torture is not my style and I’m happy to say that I have also never dated any man who was into chick flicks. As for my other girl friends they are not the groupie-type either, so for that matter I have never watched any chick flick in my life with a gaggle of girls either. And here,  I don’t know if it’s because it was Cambridge or Harvard or just the student population around Sommerville theatre…..but surprisingly the main movie hall contained only 11 other women, all alone, watching the film and the only group was of two girls. Later I would read that in many cities this was a huge girls’ night -out event.

And oh my! Oy vey! Holy moly! I have only one reason I can think of why they made this movie: The cast and crew badly needed the money. A TV series that had started off as witty and sassy, despite all its sometimes funny, candidly open yet mostly frivolous messages, has sadly demised into an orgy of stuck-in-time ogresses touting consumerism and navel-gazing shallow, selfish ‘pain’ over trinkets and trivialities.

March of the Aunts : Part 2 of the Trilogy Lust of the Ring

Where should I begin? Perhaps it is best I write my peeves and pondering as an analytical list, and the rather unsubtle and unsettling messages the movie sent. Those in doubt, may go see the film to truly understand where this analysis is coming from. Really :

Message no. 1 : “We are preening, privileged princesses”: Let’s start at the beginning….the cheesy fairy-tale ‘once-upon-a-time’ opening line was already a dekko of what was to follow for two and a half hours of this ‘orgy of excess.’ Or a ‘greedfest’ as the Independent rightly called it. A story that prefers the omission of facts and the gritty underbelly of the world that makes your consumerist luxuries possible, ladies. To create a ‘magical’ fairy tale world of fantasies far removed from the reality of the sweatshops from where a lot of your shoes and bags come from.

So we have close –ups of the Chrysler building in the opening shot. Many, many of those till you scream internally – ‘I get it, I get it. New York City.’ Yes – we know it is New York City. A city which does have a few other buildings too, you know. Perhaps the ‘Abu Dhabi’ part of the movie was in tribute to the fact that  90% of the Chrysler building is currently owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council? Those in doubt – can wiki ‘Chrysler building’ to verify this fact. I felt like saying – yeah, go ahead bellas- ignore the 10% women architects who ARE doing something silently and unconsciously for gender equality so your Blahniks and Choos can walk over our designs.

Just to insert some reality check about the Chrysler building here’s an interesting fact (from wiki) about the man who designed it:

Architect William Van Alen had failed to enter into a contract with Walter Chrysler when he received the Chrysler Building commission. After the building was completed, Van Alen requested payment of 6 percent of the building’s construction budget ($14 million), a figure that was the standard fee of the time. After Chrysler refused payment, Van Alen sued him and won, eventually receiving the fee. However, the lawsuit significantly depreciated his reputation as an employable architect. His career effectively ruined by this and further depressed by the Great Depression, Van Alen focused his attention on teaching sculpture.

I had to insert that geeky fact up there just as a brief respite to clear my head from the frivolous ‘fabulousness’ that paraded for more than 2 hours before my eyes yesterday afternoon. I’ll try to keep the rest of the post geeky-free.

Message no.  2: “We are super-sexy Fabulous femmes even with our saggy boobs as long as we display them fully flapping – I mean fully drooping – I mean fully propped up – I mean…..we ARE beautiful, aren’t we? Validate us! Please, please validate us!:” Ok – I should clarify here (for my lynch-prevention by SJP fans) – I think the actresses (SJP & co.) who played the parts in their REAL life are nice ladies who went along with the script and fashions, and I am also sure that in real life they would have touted more relevant values and causes had they been made more aware. (Though an article in a UK newspaper details how the main character took home all the clothes and accessories for free and her nexus with the store that uses the movie for marketing its products; and some of her online interviews are so navel-gazing at one point going off for 15 minutes on David Letterman about her facial mole removal and not one word about the world except “I, I’m like, I, I, me?me?me!” Really. Give me Charlize Theron or Hilary Swank any day – those ladies came up in even harder ways in life – or the more privileged but smart Amanda Peet – and still are some of the most grounded, truly intelligent, outdoorsy and aware-of-the-world actresses in real life.) In any case, my take is more on the characters depicted in the movie, not the actresses in their real lives. So here goes:

We are greeted by the ‘fab-four’  and by the time the film ends you wish the scriptwriters had looked up the dictionary to find that there are more adjectives than ‘fabulous’ – a word that is flatulently repeated ad nauseum by every character. The original series, despite its unrealistic lifestyle-on-a-columnist-salary and $800-a-pair-shoe-buying message which ended up teaching many a young woman to have bad financial acumen and go into debt and look for sugar daddies to support a forced fairy-tale lifestyle (and as Gov. Spitzer’s former escort Ashley and actress Lindsay Lohan have confessed that the series were the ‘inspiration’ to their lifestyle), at least had some wit and sass, a refreshing sexual openness and candour not seen before on television and some hilarious scenes and dialogues. (one laugh-out-loud-line of Samantha outlining how oral sex felt paradoxically ’empowering’ to women: “You may be on your knees but you’ve got them by the balls.”)

And though I was younger than the age group the women portrayed in the series, I am told that it captured to some degree the reality of the dating and party-girl world of NYC in the late 90s, and early 2000s city life. This film unfortunately is like a female version of watching four retired flabby-bellied male Casanovas trying to recapture their old glory days and womanising with limp, tired, flaccid members. Only, here it’s 4 females in some sad effort to lubricate their labia with a vaginal Viagra version of nagging and complaining.

When I Googled Sarah Jessica Parker, Google’s  autocomplete popped up the sentence next to her name ‘looks like a —-’. I’m not kidding. It’s a dark humour site, and though disturbingly hilarious is a bit mean, though its profits go towards retired NYC city steeds. I began to wonder if Google had some inside joke with the South Park creators who had recently made an unkindly funny spoof about the star. In the looks department, I have to confess, that though SJP maintained a killer pair of legs, her other ‘pair’ needed some props, to say the least. (And whatever else, kudos to her for not having gone the silicon way.) Only Charlotte looks appealing on the big screen and Kim Cattrall, once so gorgeous, would do better to dress more age-appropriately. No offense,  she still looks ‘fabulous’ for 52, but a little dignity goes a long way. I don’t care so much about fashion details and embroidery, girls. I judge beauty more the naked way – skin, body shape, perkiness and facial bone structure. If that makes me like a man, can’t help it. I do have a mildly-aspie-male math brain and am a painter of the female form.

Should looks be important here? Yes – Only because ‘sexy looks’ and ‘fashion’ ARE what have often been the selling points of the SATC series so I think an objective appraisal should be made however politically incorrect it may sound. (Meryl Streep, unconventionally beautiful, for instance is naturally and uniquely sexy and dignified in every role and at every age precisely because she has never promoted herself as a sex icon but as an actress of exceptional abilities, which she is. And therefore she will never and absolutely rightly so, never have to contend with the objective criticism that the fab-4 have brought upon themselves. At the other spectrum, at 51, Madonna who has promoted herself as a sex icon always lives up to that image and does look unbelievably sexy and photogenic even now, and therefore can never be, and rightly so, never be criticized because she has lived up to her status without disappointing. Unfortunately our fab-4 failed to be both Madonnas or Meryls and yet are demanding the same adulation without the work – and I think that is what is so disappointing and feels forced for most rational people to accept. That is why the truth has to be spoken.)

I hate to say the truth for what it is: But the only visually redeeming breasts in the movie are definitely the Irish nanny’s.

Perhaps Carrie and Samantha should gracefully let the next generation take over when it comes to revealing exposed bosoms. I think women in their late-40s and 50s look more elegant if they wear tight turtle-necks with a bra underneath that could show the shape of their breasts and waists or perhaps V necks- that enhanced some parts instead of displaying full blast tired cleavages and droopy pears with sun-ravaged skin? Unless of course, you do have great skin and a real ageless bust like Monica Bellucci and some real natural beauts.  Ladies, with all due respect, the art of ‘sexiness’ is revealing sparingly with some element of mystery. When you have every body- part propped up or hanging out there in middle age, it just looks, well, sadly desperate. As though you are unable to gracefully pass the torch on to younger girls, rather than entering into some competition with them.(The same applies for men too – those Dorian Gray men who refuse to grow up.) Your ‘sexiness’ would be so much more appealing with some dignity, you know?  It would have presented such a better image of mid-aged women and not turned the real and far more grounded ones into jokes now. Take a page out of the glamorous yet superbly dignified and sexy Sophia Loren’s book – she and other older actresses like Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn and some others aged so gracefully without losing their sense of style. Perhaps there is a reason why Mr. Big is watching 1950s black and white films – wondering when did the woman’s sexual-freedom movement end up losing feminine dignity and mystique? (Or perhaps, he is figuring out that he should pull some hedge-fund investment scam  to continue supporting his royal smugness and her royal nagness in their over-priced lifestyle?)

Message no. 3 : “We don’t want men for husbands, we want rich whipped-wussies”: I saw a cartoon last year: “The road to economic recovery: Gay marriage registry.” In light of that perhaps the scriptwriters decided that an exorbitant film version of a gay wedding was exactly what we needed. Or perhaps because SJP largely owes her ‘fashion icon’ status immeasurably to gay men rather than straight men. So we are put through a 30 minute over-the-top wedding at the movie’s start with a dilated eyed-Liza Minnelli cavorting around with many gay chorus men. Really – girls who have dragged their boyfriends to watch this film, please, I repeat PLEASE see it as a sign of their selfless love for you. Had I been born a man, I’d have refused to be bamboozled into watching 2 and a half hours of this self-absorbed nasal-nag-shag-entitled-hag-torment. (The irony is that straight men live and have relations with straight women in real life. Yet gay men have decided to lay down the rules of engagement in heterosexual relations. and have promoted it through the films. Does this sound illogical and ironic to anyone else, too?)

The wedding scene is more relevant for eerily realising that the gay men seem to have more chutzpah than the straight men in the scene, because – lo and behold! the straight men in the form of the docile husbands of three of the women have invisible signs stamped on their foreheads: ‘Operation wussification complete!’ To think that these have become the new ‘representatives’ of manhood! There seems to be a silent competition of which husband can outdo the other in wussified docility to their nagging wives. Mr. Big takes the cake – his wussification and metrosexualizing has been so severe over the years, he has resigned to the finality of life with his long-faced, entitled, insecure and jealous wife. (The scene with his brief conversation with Penelope Cruz is a pointer to Carrie’s insecurity.) I don’t know what I preferred more: His past smirky smugness and indecisiveness or his present mildly abused persona grappling for some freedom by asking his wife if  he can take two days off his marriage every week…now why do I keep remembering captions and photos from the hilarious satirical site Unhappy Hipsters? (it’s on my blogroll those who wish to take a gander – absolutely worth it.) 

And boy – to think that Carrie is seen as some ‘unique’ woman in today’s world??!! Which the scriptwriters remind us a few times through the film. To think this consumerist complainer with her closet full of shoes and chain-smoking past habits (which has obviously taken a toll on her skin) and someone who in the series had cheated on her grounded nice-guy boyfriend with the then married Mr.Big and had displayed shallowness on many occasions even back then is seen as some ‘role model’??!! The reason she is so popular is because unfortunately she is so ordinary and there are so many women like that  who hoard excess, that to make them feel ‘special’ and justified for their consumerist overdose and self-centredness, this movie has been made. That’s what you get when you have a book written by a former party girl picked up for a TV series – although Candace Bushnell’s novel had some literary class and sassiness and it was a critique to this brand-worshipping man-chasing lifestyle as being ultimately hollow, not a glorification as the series turned it into.

I am waiting for John Edwards’ mistress to write a new book to launch another tsunami in the name of ‘women’s sexual freedom.’ You already have Gov. Spitzer’s former escort writing a sex column for the New York Post (not that she shouldn’t, or that they should be judged – it’s their life, but it’s funny sometimes the road to media notoriety that suddenly makes someone an ‘adviser’ in this country. Will that be filmed into a future series to ‘educate’ young women? Is it possible to get any more confused in the name of ‘sexual freedom’?) For once both film critics at the UK Telegraph & UK Guardian seemed to agree. That in a nutshell, this movie is so popular among many women because mediocrity in intellect and looks packaged as ‘special’ sells as it does not incite jealousy and therefore has more mass appeal. Period.

Except for a last somewhat redeeming act of a little generosity to a hotel staff in Abu Dhabi, throughout the entire movie Carrie comes across as the shallowest, naggy-est, most self-absorbed person of the foursome. (Miranda has the smarts, Sam has the humour, and Charlotte still seems sweet-though-overwhelmed, though you have to wonder what mother cries more over her ‘vintage Valentino’ skirt on the phone than be understanding  of her daughter’s playfulness.) Carrie instead gloats over her huge closet and an Imelda-Marcos-shaming shoe collection. She shows no gratitude to the husband who has paid for their lavish Manhattan apartment and for those shoes and clothes. No. Not at all. Instead, when the husband comes home tired after a beating in the stock market she nags and laments and uses guilt-trips to drag him to a movie premiere, only to whip him back the minute a lovelier woman talks to him. How about a back-rub to that husband who pays for your Choos, honey? She shows a lack of empathy bordering on clinical NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) as she fights with him for feeling tired after a long day of work. She raps him for placing his feet up on the expensive couch. She refuses to cook even one home-made meal reminding that she is more ‘Coco-Channel’ than ‘coq-o-vin’. Looked more ‘croc(odile)-o-whine’ to me, hon. She complains like it is a great tragedy that he has bought a flat screen TV as her anniversary present and not ‘some jewelery.’ Finally she does get some jewelery as her ‘reward’ after she has hurt said husband by smooching an ex.

So, husband gets a third degree at home for conversing with a bank president played by the beautiful Penelope Cruz and missus gets a giant diamond ring from husby for inciting his insecurity by smooching her ex and reporting it to him on a work morning with not one statement asking him how his work is going or if he is stressed out for the economy. Really, what kind of message are you sending women out there who are your fans precisely because they can identify their own shallowness, selfishness and materialism in you? To say that I found a lot of this sense of entitlement and self-centredness disgusting is an understatement. Sorry fans of the foursome – to me, that doesn’t come out as some woman’s ‘liberation’. That comes out as husband-abuse and narcissistic selfishness.

Message no. 4 the oft-repeated lesson of the series in general. “Crazy sex and skin exposure is the only road to girl-‘power’: Was women’s sexual lib necessary? Absolutely. 100% Absolutely. Yes. Yes. And it did exist in many ancient pagan cultures in the form of goddess-worship centuries  before Judeo-Islamo-Christianity masculinised religion. (Take a look back at the kamasutra and the romps of Greek and Roman goddesses.) But the past century’s  woman’s lib movement was necessary especially after many male-dominated centuries when women were suppressed and discriminated against. Does a woman have as much right and privilege to sleep around and enjoy sex and many sexual encounters the same way as a man? Yes. Absolutely. Undoubtedly. Without being judged and only if she wishes to. NOT  due to peer pressure or because media messages in the present age influence her to.

But is this sexual-romping the only route to women’s ‘power’ as this movie and series has tried to endorse? ‘To have sex like a man’ – which was the slogan of the series to begin with? Perhaps this is where I raise the voice of reason. And concern. And raise rational questions. Because to me ‘to have sex like a man’ is such a superficial skin of real strength or girl-power. Isn’t this on the same level as the line ‘dress like a man’ which was one of the bra-burner messages? Only now instead the ‘act like a man’ or ‘be tough like a man’ has been replaced by ‘have indiscriminate sex like a man with hundreds of partners because the TV tells you to.’ To me personally, I would feel more powerful if I could rather have ‘sex like a self-assured woman’ and choose NOT to sleep with any man or random stranger who wants to. Nor give it so easily and indiscriminately. Don’t get me wrong, I am an  imaginatively erotic person in exclusive relationships. But the man has to be worth it for me to go that distance. If you spread yourself so thin,  as the series promoted, doesn’t sex lose its value and become just some ubiquitous meaningless act?

In her recent book  ‘Enlightened Sexism: The seductive message that feminism’s work is done’ a scathing look at the messages that became rampant starting in the late 90s, professor and cultural historian and critic Susan Douglas makes a similar argument that in an orgy of the over-sexualised facade of ‘girl-power’ the over-sexualisation of girls, young and old,  is now seen as harmless and funny and in some weird way feels like a ‘creepy triumph.’ In a sarcastic ending she ‘dreams’ of the day ‘baby thongs’ and ‘baby pole dancing classes’ will become a normal practice. To quote from the closing lines of her ‘Sex R Us’ chapter which takes an objective assessment of the impact of Sex and the City and other TV series on contemporary culture, she concludes:

“So the question of whether the sexualisation of our culture is good or bad for females may not quite be the right one. More important is how girls and women have been sexualized, how that’s different from the way men have been, and what the consequences might be. Because while an increased frankness about sex in the media might indeed seem to be a liberal, even progressive advance from the days when the Catcher in the Rye and Lady Chatterley’s Lover were censored, the content of this media, the way girls and women appear in them, may often be as sexist as it ever was. The new hedonism and the sex-positive talk to, about, and among women in the media, which seemed so fresh, new, and controversial, was the shiny cellophane that helped mask a Mars-Venus discourse about men and women being fundamentally different – and thus maybe not equal. It also deflected our scrutiny away from the under-lying message: women were nothing without Mr. Right and so they had to do anything they could to land him. This is sexual liberation?”

I couldn’t agree more. Basically now the ‘new improved’ cultural reality of the message taken by many women in North America is :  70 years ago modesty was the value promoted to find Mr. Right. Today immodesty is the value promoted to find Mr. Right. What is my peeve with this?  The fact that the ‘means’ have changed but the ‘goal’ a.k.a Mr. Right remains the same! The fact that the  misguided message  sent  is  that a woman’s personal happiness is not tied with a strong sense of self of her own, or self-confidence, self-reliance and dignity, but more with actions directed to finding that Mr. Right to ‘complete’ yourself rather than finding yourself first before seeking ‘completions through others’ and/or obsessing about complementing another and then obsessing about ‘changing’ him/’holding’ him/ ‘wussifying’ him. My point is that a woman’s feeling of security (and sexiness) should  come from within – through a grounded sense of Self – whether without OR with a man; independent of the frequency or presence of  penises popping in. Mr. Right is not the goal, but should be rather the person who sees and appreciates you for who you really are and joins you in life for the Right reasons.

Message no. 5: “We have the kitschiest taste in books.” A book on faking your body clock written by dazed and confused new-age Hollywood quack Suzanne Somers makes an appearance early on in the film as Samantha’s inspiration for pill popping to stay young and the book pops up again in the finale touted by other women. Enough said. I do not even wish to get into the pseudoscience being promoted by Somers. People – prepare to see many pre-menopausal women shooting up oestrogen injections through their vaginas in the coming years thanks to the free-promo the movie provided.

I’m not the only one who has a complaint against her book. Newsweek wrote two articles on the craziness and questionable safety standards of the pseudoscience promoted by Somers. “Doctors who specialize in treating menopausal women feel they’re fighting a tsunami of misinformation. Highly sophisticated, unsubstantiated and downright dangerous marketing is leading women to go in and make demands for these bioidentical products, believing them to be effective and safe.” And here’s more from that article since Somers has been claiming how ‘successful’ her treatment is: “If you feel compelled to read Somers’s book, do so carefully. You’ll find lots to question. For example, she says bioidenticals kept her slim but then later complains about weight gain. She says she feels great but then later acknowledges that after years on bioidenticals, she was bleeding so heavily every day that she recently had to have a hysterectomy. That’s the kind of success we can live without.”

http://www.newsweek.com/2006/10/30/a-blow-up-over-bioidenticals.html

http://www.newsweek.com/2009/05/29/live-your-best-life-ever.html

What is so sad is that these women had such a loyal following and such a strong influence on millions they could have used it to promote 10,000 better and more ethical things and causes  I can think of – environmental sustainability, green design, frugality, moderation, organic gardens, a self-reliance sans penis-count or jewelery-negotiations, the horrors of sweatshops or the skinning alive of furry mammals for the fur fashion industry – and instead they chose to promote the most vapid, superficial, materialistic means of refusing to grow up gracefully and wanting to remain caught in a time-warp like female Dorian Greys. (Also anyone in doubt to what extent consumerism and hedonism in the US has increased need look no further than the nauseating reality shows – My super sweet 16, and the Real Housewives series which, alas, our ‘fab-4’ mention in the movie.) Infrastructure sustainability planners are up against an unbeatable tide and a losing battle crying out in vain that if this consumerism continues, a tipping point of no return will  be reached; that Americans have to stop the propaganda of excess that has become the dream-standard of other women in other nations too; that this lifestyle is just not sustainable for the planet- financially, environmentally, and I think I should add – even in the self-esteem department.

Message no. 6: We alone are emancipated women. All other cultures have backward, suppressed, fully clothed women. And because the radicals among Islamic men are conservative and dangerous and we can’t teach them a lesson without getting killed, we’ll make the American men pay the price for their crimes, by default that they are ‘men’ and hence should pay for the sins of other brethren of their gender:Hard to believe, but this is certainly one of the most illogical messages sent out in this film. In fact Sarah Jessica Parker in a gushing promo interview compares the plight of women in the Arab world to the ‘struggle with traditional roles of women right here in New York City.’ Puh-lease!!!! As a person who has traveled widely and seen and worked in many places of the world (including the Arab world) and as I have often retorted – you CANNOT, I repeat cannot, compare your ‘suppression’ or ‘misery’ of non-matching-purses-with-shoes and no-dinner-appointment-at-fancy-resto to the very real suppression that goes on in some other parts of the world. Materialistic self-absorbed selfishness like that is just SO appalling, I do not even know where to begin! For a reality check, the movie is banned from theatres in Abu Dhabi, so don’t compare your ‘crisis’ of which boyfriend you get to shag to the choices of public expressions of affection women have there.

The message here is the same illogical one that just because women elsewhere are suffering, we Blahnik-crazy shopaholics will bash the men a little bit more here, in NYC. This skewed logic is the same as how some people in relations treat the guy/gal in their present life like dirt to pay for the sins of a past lover. Doesn’t make sense, does it? But no – in this movie where our fab-four cannot think beyond their own problems, they look to the Middle East to draw parallels to their own lives. Miranda complains how she lost her job because she was a woman. How they can’t be more ‘free’. Can these gals think of anything or anyone beyond themselves and the mantra ‘me, me, me, buy-Blahniks, me, me, me, poor-me chicks, me, me, me, ogle-at-men’s-dicks?’ I will not mention it here but a certain quote of Nietzsche came to my mind halfway through the movie. And it had nothing to do with the resemblance of a certain actress to……

The eastern ethnic ‘man-servants’ at the luxury hotel are of course shown like genies to our princesses in an excruciatingly painful-to-watch colonial attitude and we begin to suspect that the hag-four will not be satisfied till they have whipped their own husbands back in Manhattan into servants in the future – all  in the name of women’s lib, of course.

Ok – I have to hand it though that the scene in the finale of Samantha flicking off ultra-conservative Islamic men surrounding her was a funny one. I rather enjoyed that, having seen firsthand the suppression of women that does go on in some of the rural parts of those countries. I think in that one redeeming act, Sam did echo the sentiment that many women feel of being enraged at the overtly (and sometimes criminally) patriarchal system of misogyny that goes on in rural areas there. Now that was a cathartic scene. One that touched a personal note to me, as well, as I recalled the time on a construction site long back in a certain conservative country these  really nasty men  had beaten an innocent girl falsely accused of being ‘immodest’. I was so enraged, I had picked up a bull’s balls from a butcher shop and (without revealing its source) had shown it to  those men and swung the balls around saying that if any man dared touch her or abused any other woman in their community, I’d snip his balls off. I was playing on the ‘eye for an eye’ dictum that works in certain rural areas. They let me be and backed off from the girl and the women thanked me later. I did have a couple of guards with me, I must confess, so I didn’t get torn to pieces myself. Those Americans wishing to know more about the condition of rural Islamic women can look up blogs written on the  Doctors Without Borders website, or even the recent TIME magazine issue.

But other than that, the condescending way in which the foursome talk about Arab women and their dresses is quite patronizing again. Agreed that dress codes are very strict there, but in desert climates (and I’ve been there) the sun is so scorching and the sand so fine that to protect your skin from premature wrinkling and even skin cancer, being covered is often the best option. But of course, in the movie the four  dames were shown as proponents to ‘woman empowerment’ through – well, human rights causes? No. Investigative journalism? No! Going to rural villages and setting up schools or encouraging/buying the textiles made by local women there to help them financially? No!! They were shown as ‘empowering women’ by – get this – singing karaoke. Yes. Really. By singing ‘Woman’ just before picking up a man at a bar.

I wanted to yell out – Hey ladies, the world’s greatest and most futuristic woman architect who has built many ‘fabulous’ fantastic contemporary buildings all over, including in Abu Dhabi and won architecture’s highest prize in the world, is a British Iraqi Muslim woman – Zaha Hadid. She is the only woman amongst the top 10 all time greats of architecture. (And just so you know has designed possibly the sexiest pairs of shoes, chairs and cutlery,other than buildings, too. Read my ‘Sex and The Starchitect‘ post) And she is such a powerhouse of true strength, all four of you together couldn’t even hold up a matchstick to her. And hey, just so you know, there are many countries of the world other than America which have had woman presidents and prime ministers since the 1950s. Here’s a list. How’s that for a reality check? Could it be that in some countries women just choose not to translate their power or liberation through rampant sex but rather in more substantial ways – such as ruling entire countries (and some of them are Muslim, just so you know.) And the longest ruling woman leader in the world of course was a secular Hindu (i.e. Indira Gandhi. Maybe she didn’t wear tube tops in public to show her freedom, she just was free to become the elected leader of the world’s largest democracy.) Here’s a list, just for some FACTS and not fairy tales for instance:

List of women Heads of State: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_elected_and_appointed_female_heads_of_state_and_government  

And talking about the U.A.E and our foursome’s take on ‘freedom’ I had to write the following incident because their premise on thinking they were so ‘powerful’ while being slaves to their own insecurities just seemed so misguided. Last month at a long infrastructure sustainability conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the closing ceremony’s main speaker was a brilliant remarkable architect, planner and engineer who is the Director of Sustainability for building an entire 3 sq. mile eco-city in the U.A.E. and has a doctorate from U.K’s top school and graduated from UAE’s Engineering University. This person is a grad from Harvard Business School, a former deputy Director of the Abu Dhabi Police Force AND has scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro. And guess what – she is an Arab WOMAN, who wears a head scarf in public. She has spoken on panels invited by President Clinton himself, Brad Pitt apparently gushed on meeting her, and she is in charge of building the world’s first zero carbon footprint eco-city in the middle of the Abu Dhabi desert. Sorry to say, but in the U.S. in the sexist culture of architecture, for a woman to reach that level of leadership and power in engineering is still far away. I heard her speak at the conference and was blown away by her intelligence, sharp wit and the amount of work she has done. She spoke to me later (without the head scarf, which she only wears on the stage) and I was  so inspired by her beauty, confidence and strength in person. Here’s a link on a newspaper article about her before her Harvard stint (check it out):

http://www.abudhabiweek.ae/component/content/article/54-movers-and-shakers/1706-a-view-from-the-top-nawal-al-hosany?directory=69&Itemid=69

Why do I feel, ladies, when I read this, that I want to shake her hand and say she has done more for women’s freedom without losing her femininity than the parade of frivolities I saw you present in the movie where kissing some ex was seen as a ‘highlight’ and ‘crisis’ in your life. How sad. I must say Miranda, this lady in the news, Nawal Al-Hosany, is much more ‘liberated’ and a greater trailblazer and true pioneer who has battled sexism and come out with flying colours much more than even you have. You judge her by the scarf on her head, and not by the brain in her skull or the courage in her heart. I’d like to see how you would behave on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. From what I saw, you had to all carry an entourage of ‘slaves’ for just an afternoon in the desert and at least a dozen suitcases EACH for a week of vacation. I weep for the way you have stereotyped femininity, and especially stereotyped N.American women, for the masses.

Oh, and guess what, she and others like her I have met, treat the men in America as equals and with grace and respect without indulging into the power plays and wussification-whipping-and-complaining that your foursome parades as ‘girl-power.’ I also must confess that in my group of friends when we meet we talk of global affairs, design trends, the economy, ethics and tons of other things and keep our private sex life details private. I am not a Muslim and neither are my four best friends who were raised in N. America, although one of them is originally Lebanese (and a doctor). For those who wish to argue that SATC represents only privileged white  women, let me say that those best friends are white, educated, middle class and one  of them was born extremely privileged. And yet I can say that hardly any professional/non-professional, grounded, intelligent AND truly liberated women, regardless of their colour or ethnicity or financial status, really have the time of the day to get together for gaggly lunches 4 times a week and obsess about men or analyse every inconsequential statement they made. They’re too busy for that. And there are far more interesting things happening in the world than man-obsession. Really.

Message no. 7: “We crave for consumerism and have no clue of what goes behind, nor global realities.” Hey – girls, how about the sweatshops that make your purses or the bonded labourers who work on the construction sites of Abu Dhabi which created the hotel you salivated over?

There will be many bloggers and female reviewers who will gush about the fashion, the hair, the makeup and yada yada yada. I might be having some girly chip missing – I was born without it. Sure, I do groom myself well, and like keeping fit, but I will never, repeat NEVER understand the appeal of garish overpriced designer clothes and shoes and purses (the cost of which could literally save many lives of street children). Last year on a trip to India, I saw the sweatshops where many Italian companies manufacture their sunglasses and purses before they are shipped off to Italy to get the ‘made in Italy’ stamp and then sold in NYC boutiques. We can argue that these provide the locals with jobs. True. But the money you spend ladies to buy those Fendi purses would fund the education and food of 30 street children per purse. I kid you not. 

I’m writing this here because I do know from personal experience and application how little it costs to sponsor those children due to the currency exchange rates. And I support birth control methods too, because I do strongly believe that people should first think of the reality of the quality of life they will offer their children before making them. But regardless, omission of facts does not take away the reality of the sad manufacturing process of luxury items that are touted as ‘status symbols’. The sweatshops are in many other countries too. So, since pictures speak better than words, I decided to include here instead a behind-the-scenes imagery of what or who lies behind the making of your shoes, purses and clothes that grace your arses. And the appalling conditions under which the construction workers who build your luxury hotels in the U.A.E live. Just a reality check, madames. Omission of facts does not omit the truth about the world. And your fake fantasies do not obliterate the realities behind your royalty:

Sweatshop labourer for designer shoe, Vietnam

Gucci purse worker. Earns $1 an hour.

Awareness ad showing the the reality of the Apple I-Pod worker

Designer fabric beading sweatshop, India

United Arab Emirates – the beds of tired construction workers

Here’s an article on  child labourers used in a GAP sweatshop:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/oct/28/ethicalbusiness.india

On the condition of sweatshop workers for Gucci, Prada and your overpriced status symbols.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/sunday-mirror/2007/12/02/designer-labels-sweatshop-scandal-98487-20191613/

And here’s an article on the human rights watch of the construction workers who made your $22,000 a night suites.

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2006/11/11/uae-workers-abused-construction-boom

And hey, Miranda – maybe you could have represented the real tragedy of these girls instead of Samantha’s ‘pain’ of not being kissed in public.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UNqiqm3L90&feature=related

And do you really want to know what goes on behind the fur industry of brand name products as well as cheaper stores? Fur, that Samantha you laughingly wore in the first movie, to feel sexy, and that Carrie and Co. have consistently touted since day one of their TV series that brought back a revival of fur products into city stores through the free advertising they provided? Take a gander with Stella McCartney here who shows the torture and literal anal electrocution of innocent animals whose fur is used for many designer (and non-designer) label clothes.  But perhaps it will make you consider how truly evil women who see fur as sexy and fashionable really must be to knowingly adorn this.  (Unless you’re into bedding those who knowingly endorse the skinning alive of mammals.) There are many alternative warming products available instead of fur.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rhFj2NfBsI (And this has been long known in the fashion industry and still continues! and is furthermore promoted by our ‘fab-four’ throughout the series and in the first SATC film and their star-struck followers. Remarkable, truly mind-rapaciously remarkable!)

If you also wish to see the unbelievably evil skinning-alive-for-fur video that Vogue and other high-fashion authorities have tried to bury please read this post, where there is the facebook link of the video that fashion houses do not want you to see: Literal skinning alive of innocent animals. Warning: That video is too gut-wrenching especially the end. Do NOT watch if you are squeamish. https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/saltationism-of-silliness/

If anyone has some sense of ethics or humanity and rationality in the world, I challenge them to read these, watch the links and then go and watch the movie and then realize just how nauseatingly hedonistic and heartless it seemed. I will be writing a separate post one day on the purse sweatshops I saw run for Italian designers. I want to say to the ladies in privileged countries: we cannot change many conditions, especially for those who were born due to their bad luck into poorer and sadder places, but what many  women in N. America CAN do, is nag and complain a little less, be more aware of global issues instead of their ‘princess attitude’, and stop this hedonistic consumerism that subsists on a slave society of letting the less fortunate slog for your luxuries. And unless you’re so heartless that you endorse the skinning alive of animals not much different than your dog and cat (and including dogs and cats in many countries), STOP buying fur! And shopaholic women – stop wishing  your husbands to become man-servants and instead make them more aware of realities other than your whiny dinner cancellations. And most of all, stop using sex as a negotiation game.

[If you really want to see the end product of what you are promoting here – Charlie Brooker looks at the mini-narcissist ‘princesses’ who have been produced by their mothers in the show Super Sweet 16.

Perhaps you will now see how this ‘harmless fun’ & ‘biased misogynistic reviews’ as some rabid women defenders of the film termed this hedonism as is nothing more than a new form of globalized slave society. I would feel more enraged that real misogyny and torture of child workers is not considered by these so-called ‘defenders’ but calling these heartless women out on their emptiness is seen as wrong??!! Wow! ]

Message no. 8: “Male architects are sexy beasts”: Oh boy, the past few years seem to be the comeback era of ‘architect sexiness.’ I had actually written a post on it way before this movie came out: https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/sex-and-the-starchitect/ The only somewhat masculine man (who has not been wussified) featured in this movie is a Danish architect who captivates Samantha’s desires. I actually know quite a few sexy Danish architects in real life and their girlfriends are all introverted non-consumerist grounded women who prefer camping and the outdoors to shoe-a-holicism; my ‘sexy Danish architect’ friends said that Samantha is really ‘not their type.’ That those women embody everything about narcissism and consumerism that Danish urban planners and their current culture has tried so hard to veer away from in the last few decades, leading to their present culture of post-consumerist moderation, eco-sensitive planning and an emphasis on happiness based on less, not more. In fact they were a bit embarrassed by ‘the sexy architect’ stereotype that they get stuck in. “It’s just a fantasy for the American ladies” said one. “They would find us too quiet and frugal if they knew us. And that we don’t want to change to fit into their unrealistic expectations.”  “The reason the architect in the film wanted to fuck her on the beach is because, as a Dane, spending $22,000 on a hotel suite would seem just too much of a waste,” said another. There you have it ladies – your ‘Lawrence of the Labia’ as Sam gushes out doesn’t crave for you enough to pay for even a bed for your booty.

Sorry ladies, I’m not done with my dose-of-reality yet. The sexiest Danish architect by far, creator of the Sydney Opera House, Joern Utzon was happily married to his childhood sweetheart till his death. And a recent extremely popular ‘young sexy Danish architect’ (who shall remain unnamed here for his privacy) had a long-time very sweet, beautiful and highly intelligent girlfriend who makes documentaries to outline human rights injustices and prefers bicycles and camping to anything that remotely resembles the activities Sam & friends partake in. And he is a fan of some really good literary works, reads the philosophy of Nietzsche and is a fan of film maker Charlie Kauffman and Christopher Nolan, all several cuts above the Suzanne Somers book you read and the movies you promote. So there ladies – I’ve given you a reality check of what the sexiest amongst male architects really prefer. Most male architects are quasi-schizoid and are so darn busy with work, they are lucky and grateful when they can maintain one steady relationship and are quite faithful to their partners. The same applies for the ‘sexy women architects’ too ;-) Selfish consumerist Casanovas are not our cup-of-tea either. Perhaps it is a telling message when the above mentioned Danish architect in the movie reminds Samantha that sometimes it is more alluring when a woman waits and shows some restraint.

AFTERTHOUGHTS: Ok – so the series was quite funny and the first film had some ‘girly-bonding’ substance. (Sorry – I’m not the girly-bonding type– never was, never will be, and my girl friends are individualists, but I can understand the necessity of female-bonding for most women. (Unfortunately  I belong to the INTJ personality-type on the Briggs-Meyers, only 0.005% women are. To the woman who found this ‘offensive’ (?) and sent me personal attacks on the comment section of my post, please know – we were the introverted girls in school who were bullied and left out of groups (and double if we looked nice). Finding our ‘type’ was probably one of the first steps to feeling normal for many INTJ girls. Here’s a link – so you know where our ‘self-confidence’ comes from : https://www.16personalities.com/intj-personality ) But as I looked at these ladies grinding out on their over boiled franchise, I thought there is something called the last bow, you know….. it was better to gracefully take the last bow when the going was good than to end up as the ‘last ho’.

And hey – to those supporters of this clueless consumerist propaganda who might think I am some angry ungroomed  unfashionable radical ‘feminist’ – here, pictures speak louder than words. And yes, I have lived and worked in many cities of the world and am not some clueless backwoods girl. London, Paris, Milan, U.A.E – seen it all. As for my knowledge of the U.S. – I lived in Miami for two years, I’m in Cambridge for two years, and will be in Chicago for this summer and then am moving to NYC’s upper east side this fall for the next several years.  And have traveled extensively around many states of this great country, my Canada’s southern neighbour. So I do speak from experience and am not doing any illegitimate lashing at the superficiality promoted in the film. (And also, to that girl who had ‘issues’ against all posters, and while ignoring the 10 pages of sensible stuff I wrote, got belligerent at me  for posting my photo on my own personal site – deal with it.  I refuse to engage in your cyber – ‘challenging’. Lady, if  I really wanted publicity I’d have used my actual name and much better photos since I’ve also done print modeling. And I’d have name-dropped my forefathers well-known in  the poltical histories of  Britain & Sweden. I rather enjoy this anonymity. Have been the silent-behind-the scenes-politically-correct-do-gooder far too long to keep silent and invisible any more, and probably the consumerism touted in this film was the last straw on this camel’s back to speak up.)

You know what feels rather “empowering” to me, Fab-4 ladies? That there are other roads too. When you have made it in a traditionally man’s field through your own hard work and education & because you love your work; When you walk on a site as an architect and conduct yourself with dignity and rationality, in a way that every construction worker and site engineer treats you with RESPECT and not as some easy sex-object; and when you have not discarded femininity in appearance even as towers that define a city’s skyline based on your drawings get built. When you are aware of the inequalities that occur in the world and do your best to help in small ways. How’s THAT for women’s lib, eh? And hey- you DON’T need any overpriced designer-wear nor  indulging-in-male-bashing nor hundreds of lovers  for that.

(Those who wish to know more about what women architects go through, click here: where sexism is part of the architecture Just to know how tough it is to get to the point of building towers. And if you think the problem is men, you’re wrong. As strange as it may sound, the truth is, it’s not men, it’s also women in various self-righteous ‘councils’ and even radical feminist groups who neither promote, nor write about nor let women architects or engineers be more visible in the media : Sex and the Starchitect. In fact, a sincere thanks to the brilliant Christopher Nolan – that for the first time someone (he) wrote and created the character of a smart self-assured woman architect in a movie: Inception. I still have to see any woman screenwriter write of a woman engineer or architect.)

I’ve always questioned – Why should femininity be compromised for feminism? And I think femininity goes far deeper than touting overpriced garish outfits. I do love to cook, and see nothing demeaning about it at all. Yes, I do know how to make coq-o-vin, Carrie.  And speak French too. And think that when a man I love comes home tired after a long day at work, just as he sometimes likes to give me a foot rub on his own when I’m tired, I like to massage his stressed neck and back too instead of whipping him to pamper every whim of mine or accompany me to parties where you can have fun but he cannot even talk to another beautiful  lady because of your insecurity. Because, real love and caring comes with empathy and genuine warmth and being secure and confident at an intrinsic level– something all the ‘vintage Rolexes’ and designer couture and giant-diamond-bribes can’t buy. And Ms. Carrie & Co.– I am OK being a no-nonsense person. Both when with and without a man. Without the need for brand labels. And knowing not just what makes stunning interiors and tall buildings, but what goes on behind the scenes in the lives of the construction workers, the stone quarry workers in far out lands where the granite you walk on comes from, the math behind structural engineering that hold up the towers you show in your opening scenes, and the intricate cycle of production and consumerism and economics and infrastructures. It’s called being a REALIST. And I salute  all the grounded, hard working,  rational, kind-hearted, self-assured, realist women in N.America and around the world, ’cause to me – that’s undeniably  authentically sexy.

Stick that up your labia, for a change ‘stead of those hormone creams. And you’ll realize that perhaps the key to sexiness comes from within. And needs only its own validation of authentic self-affirmation and self-acceptance to operate and bring intrinsic pleasure and joy. Whether your vagine’s virginal or ‘vintage’ (to use Carrie’s ‘in’ word).

Dig Dignity, you know. Often, that’s what represents the It, the je ne sais quoi, the Sexiness that is timeless.

And hey, just for the record – you got that from the mouth of a ‘sexy architect’. I’m sure even the sexiest of Danish architects you lust after would agree with all the facts and realities of life I’ve outlined here ;-)

*  *  *

Sidetracked Alert: To get that consumerist fantasyorgy out of my head, I just watched once again the Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy Before Sunset– probably the most realistic, romantic, grounded beautiful and dignified sequel ever made by an American independent film maker. And just to remind myself that there are still some women out there who can decipher fakeness from authenticity, I read these two witty, grounded, and oh-so-true articles written by Dr. Palmatier – You are Not a Princess (click here) & Blahniks for Selfish Chicks (click here.)

Finally – Some Sense in this City, indeed!

*  *  *

(1) For a post on the lack of role models for young girls in the media today : https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/racqueting-on-a-grass-court/

(2) Do architects think of sex too much? Sex and the Starchitect : https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/sex-and-the-starchitect/

(3) For THE “ART’ OF COLOURING THROUGH RGB COMPOSITES OF LANDSAT7 & TERRA SATELLITE IMAGES click  here

(4) Thoughts on the relativity of happiness….This too shall pass.

(5) I’d rather go for the Monty Pythonesque Silly Walk than endorse the hideous YSL/Gucci/Prada Vogue-endorsed deigner purses made out of skinned alive animals for their fur : Saltationism of Silliness

*  *  *

NOTE: I’m non-religious (and more a scientist & rationalist) and do not think ‘values’ of rationality or ethics are tied to religion per se.


This Too Shall Pass….

Written in Woodstock, NY and Boston, MA. April 12, 2010. Abstract : The good thing about growing up and gaining experience through the years is that when either ecstasies or sorrows and pain get too overwhelming, we have the internal wisdom to know that ‘this too shall pass’ (or ‘gam zeh yaavor’ in the original hebrew)

FROM HIPSTERS TO HIPPIES: For the early part of last week, April 5th to be exact and two days before its record-breaking hottest day, I was in New York City but by mid-week left for a cabin in the Catskill Mountains near Woodstock to wind down. And pretty much lived off the grid till my return back to Boston. I will be writing a new post more on it some day. There are so many thoughts, so many reflections from what I saw in NYC. My hotel window 50 floors above at the Millennium Hilton directly looked over into the World Trade Centre construction site for the new Freedom Tower and adjoining buildings and it was an unbelievable sight – which evoked so many different emotions. The ‘whys’ that arise when you wonder how psychopaths can cause so much destruction knowingly in the name of fundamentalism.  The repercussions that followed with more deaths and more wars in the aftermath. And also, all the questionings that were evoked of injustice and the absence of ethics in certain other parts of the world too in some tribal communities near a bauxite mountain  when I recently heard an extremely heartfelt and tumultuous talk given by architect-turned-writer-turned-social-activist Arundhati Roy at Harvard for her book promotion.

I have seen both parts of those worlds, and many many other parts as well, in depth; in substance; in smells; in sweat; and in their sweetness and  their sadness. And the brutal truth is that in all the wars for religion, resources, ideologies, inequalities the ones who die are mostly the innocent….be it the children in a day-care in building 5 on the WTC site, or the everyday workers,  or the firemen on that fateful day. Or the soldiers and civilians who died during the war that followed. Or the journalists including the one who was beheaded. Or the people in certain unrelated tribal areas who are being killed and bulldozed off through twisted politics of industry and a greed for wealth for forcefully obtaining the raw resources the mountains in their rural land contain. It is always the innocents who suffer and die………

From here..

..and here…

To Here.

But I am here now, and a calm serenity has overcome every conflicted questioning of the early part of last week. I do not know if this is escapism, or treating yourself once in a while to utter, unadulterated calm and peace, but it certainly feels wonderful. And renewing.


lamb and daffodils

RANDOM THOUGHTS THAT PASS ON: The mountain air, far from the madding crowds, does something to clarify the signal to noise ratio in favour of the former. Perhaps somewhere, deep inside, rather than our analysing, questioning minds, our bodies ‘sense’ much better that the simple joys of life often arise from the simplest and most serene of little pleasures – a good cup of tea, a beautiful sunset, a little 400 square foot cabin, the warmth of a fireplace, the smells of the fresh earth of springtime, the chartreuse green of the new leaves, the skipping of a happy baby lamb full of joy to be born. (Just so you know I have never eaten lamb or veal or for that matter any baby animal in my life. There is something too unfair and macabre about that act. I also believe that any person who hugs a newborn lamb, or caresses the soft skin of a gentle calf or watches the toddling steps of a suckling pig will be unable to think of snuffing out its innocent life and letting that life end up as human poop.)

How much do we really need to be happy? How much is too much?  Where do we separate ‘need’ from ‘greed’? Where do you draw the line for personal ethics?

I do not want to end this on a sad note.  A man I had once met who had traveled around the world on returning back home to Canada had rightly observed : ‘We all have the right to feel sad at times, but we do not have the right to feel ungrateful.’ How true! I often wonder how some people squabble and fight over petty seemingly trite problems which seem so trivial in comparison to so many horrific problems and disasters that life could have thrown at us by accident, by luck or worse, through the intended malice of psychopaths – be they in the form of venomous and manipulative men and women, or larger organized death cults and clans. We have to learn to be careful – blindly forgiving psychopathic behaviour in some magical wistfulness of a misplaced naïveté of ‘eternal optimism’ is a sure way to self-immolation. But at the same time, we have to be objective about the degrees of ‘pain’ in the world and where our own ‘problems’ fit within it. Emotions are funny creatures. While poems are written about them, they after all are still a product of our thinking, of our hormones and enzymes and the neurotransmitters in our brains. But an act of consistent wisdom (as any person who laments how much better life can be viewed in 20/20 vision when you look back) would be to not let overwhelming emotions – especially if they are negative– dictate our actions. Actions that arise out of fear, anger, extreme sadness, wrath, malice, hatred, hurt are always counterproductive in the long run. We do not have to turn into consistently logical Mr. Spocks (nor his evil opposite which would be unfeeling empathy-devoid sociopaths) but knowing that overwhelming negative emotions can well become momentary time-bombs is an important step towards growth.

My mother had once written to me in a letter: “Constant pristine permanency is an impossible phenomenon. Happiness consists simply of a collection of sporadic beautiful tangible and intangible moments in life and in their experiences and memories. It is a state of mind and a choice dependent on our internal concept of our present being, not some external future elusive goal.” Or in other words, Happiness (at least if you are in a place or relation where you are not living under constant threats of being shot, killed, hacked or abused) is a state of mind dependent on our ways of perception and self-reflection as well as an acceptance of our present reality and not some ‘goal’ that can be obtained by chasing rainbows. The second method never works in the long term because when those who have that mindset once ‘reach’ something, they raise the bar and are on to chase the next elusive illusion that they think will ‘make’ them happy, and thus become eternal chasers, who miss the flowers to be smelled and noticed in daily life.

The ‘state of happiness’ in any case always evolves, always comes and goes and explodes or recedes through the day and years within a certain continuum or within a stable mid-point of equilibrium if one is mentally  healthy.

In the same token, all negative emotions also pass and it is even more important to remember that; and therefore not hurt others in that moment of wrath, weakness, sadness or anger. Justifying it later through rationalization and excuses does not work. Would the lasher do the same if the recipient of his wrath was standing before him holding a gun? I guess not. Except of course if the lives of his loved ones or children were at stake, he might have braved the gun. So I have observed in life that we (humans) victimize only those who we can. As horrific as it sounds it still is the truth in so many ways be it those civilians who were killed in war in far-off lands,  or the people who were murdered that day in September, abused lovers who receive rage-filled threats and rants in relations, or even those baby animals who are killed and cooked just when they have opened their eyes into life and do not know how cruel the world can be. It is always the innocent who are the real victims.

Like the change of seasons, a healthy mind knows the ephemeral nature of emotions. Some remain steady and stable and this requires practice – in fact it is worth stabilizing our feelings of love, compassion for the truly innocent, our integrity, courage and a quest for peace, truth and practicality without compromising objective ethics. For other feelings, especially the bad ones, it is important to remember that ‘they pass’ and to wait till the heat is over instead of burning those in its vicinity. There are no two ways about it. Like springtime renews the earth each year in northern climates, each season passes in the garden of our thoughts and either scorches or hardens or rather renews and rejuvenates. It is a way of life and the more we fight against the laws of nature, the more we stagnate, caught in the detritus of rotten leaves and cold snowstorms. There are those who cannot neurologically overcome sad and crazy thoughts and they are literally mentally ill, but for those who have the capacity to think, reflect and live in healthy ways, I honestly think it is ignorance, laziness, false pride, or a refusal to self-improve that holds them back from experiencing joy and love in the simplest things life has to offer. Or refuse to welcome ‘Springing’ back to life. And to love.

This is why I like that Hebrew saying : Gam Zeh Ya’avor or This Too Shall Pass. The phrase has featured in the fables of Krishna, of King Solomon and has been used by quite a few including Abraham Lincoln in an 1859 address:

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! – A.L

Gam zeh yaavor. There is so much wisdom packaged in those three little words that even chunky books on psychotherapy and neuroscience aimed towards healing mechanisms in the brain would finally come to similar conclusions as the summary of their research, unless there is irreversible physiological damage. My great-grandfather had found that the Hebrew word for the ‘spring blossom of renewal’ was the same as the Pali (Buddhist) word for ‘the possessor of wise understanding.’ He always believed that it was no coincidence. That the one who has mastered the art of self-renewal and welcomes spring each year (or for that matter each day) of his life in fact understands and possesses true wisdom.

And as I recalled the gigantic construction site back in the crater that once held the twin towers and its surrounding buildings, and the thousands of workers who have found jobs in this economy as they rebuild once again the tall towers and its new gardens, I felt that in many ways that site represents renewal, regrowth and above all,  a most symbolic resilience  of the human spirit. (But then my neurotic mind wonders where the steel for the construction comes from? Could it be from the bauxite ore of a mountain far away – and a string of thoughts about another post germinates….)

So here’s something to celebrate Renewal and Passing. And just to see how great videos CAN still be made without CGI effects, here’s an absolutely brilliant, goofy and incredibly ingenious video made by the alternative rock group OK – go. In many ways, our lives are like dominoes too – one event leads to a chain of others and triggers many more within or without our control over them. We cannot undo the past. Or at times get out of a mess created through our own or someone else’s  accidental or deliberate mistakes. But what we can do is at least to have the wisdom to say ‘This Too Shall Pass.’

Is this a form of escapism? Could it be that confronted by the horrors of the world we fall into some self-preservation  mode and escape into music or ‘escape’ like the hippies in Woodstock or say ‘this too shall pass?’  Or one has to be always angry and angsty  like Arundhati Roy? Where is the middle ground? Where is it? I know where that point of balance and peace  is in my own mind- but I don’t see it out in the world……  And if this is a post on recovery from personal pain and not the pain-in- the-world, then for the former indeed ‘this too shall pass.’ For the  cycle of pain in the world – well, that’s another post. Another day….

Be sure to click on the ‘full screen’ button!

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