for 11 July 1996. Updated every THURSDAY.




In the days when I was a sparkling
girleen who did everything her
parents told her and not a single
thing more, I took lessons -
swimming, ballet, piano, riding, and
tennis. Without my lessons, I was
warned, I would become a graceless,
troglodytic social moron with
nothing interesting to say. With
them, I would become a Well-Rounded
Person with a decent backhand, and
eventually, a subscription to the
symphony, a seasonally updated
wardrobe, and an endless array of
sporty and arty anecdotes with which
to amuse my friends at dinner
parties. Self-improvement and
personal growth were a social
Clearly, though, their fingers were
up their noses instead of on the
pulse of the next big thing. As time
has shown, the future of
Self-Improvement is now, and it has
nothing to do with feeling at home
on a clay court. Self-Improvement
and Personal Growth and Fulfillment
are about healing, nurturing,
supporting (non-financially),
empowering, reclaiming one's inner
child/psychic wounds/bliss, and
contacting the dead. At least in San
Francisco they are.
A perusal of my neighborhood cafe's
community bulletin board revealed
this fact. Always a good barometer
of an economy's health, the paucity
of used computer equipment for sale
and the bumper crop of self-help
courses means that multimedia hacks
and new age gurus alike are still
successfully transmuting hot air
into gold. Or at least higher credit
While there were no printers for
sale, there was a five week course
on "Positive Thinking," which
promised to clarify thoughts and
feelings, remove unnecessary
thoughts, exchange positive for
negative, increase memory, improve
relationships, (teach me to)
experience cheerfulness and joy,
(provide pointers on) more efficient
work and fulfillment of life, and
(help me) develop strength and
willpower. Now there's stuff I could
use! Negative thoughts are,
apparently, as simple to remove as
unsightly warts, and with the help
of this course, I could expect to
spend more time experiencing
cheerfulness and joy. Good thing, as
the only Cheer and Joy I come across
on a regular basis are under my
I also found a flyer for a course in
"Hypnotherapy and Sandplay." Through
what is doubtless a highly
innovative approach involving
shovels and plastic starfish, this
course promises a change in
self-destructive habits, guidance in
discovering past lives, releasing
creative blocks, healing hurt and
anger from the past, enhancing
energy, self-confidence, and hope.
And to think I'd ever considered
wasting my time on guitar lessons,
when the solutions to life's
greatest mysteries could be
purchased for a mere thirty dollars!
Who were these Buddhas of the
corkboard? On what Mount did they
obtain the knowledge that would
eradicate suffering from the human
experience? Why had they not
revealed themselves to Woody Allen
or Schopenhauer?
Poor Schopenhauer - a lifetime of
tedious schooling and the best he
could do was to argue that the human
will is not free, that it has no
ultimate purpose, that it is
all-consuming, pointless, and
negative, and that there is also no
escape from it? It only takes a
cursory glance at "The Learning
Annex (The People Who Make Learning
Easier)" or "Open Exchange (Bay
Area's Magazine of Classes and
Services)" to realize that the human
will is, in fact, all-powerful, easy
to use, and comes with simple
operating instructions. For a
nominal fee, all traces of nihilism,
despair, and somber meditations on
the human condition can be
eradicated or transformed into "the
natural optimism and emotional
freedom that affirms the purpose and
worth of life."
Indeed, I'm happy to report that
happiness and total fulfillment are
available to all those with $60
worth of credit on their
VISA, Amex, or MC (sorry, no
Discover cards).
Reading through "The Learning Annex,"
it becomes apparent that we've been
looking at problems backwards all
along, tending to simplify and
underplay their source and origin,
while complicating and obfuscating
their solution.
Take illness, for example. As
everyone knows, doctors have a
"simple" explanation for everything.
But when it comes to solutions,
things suddenly aren't so simple
anymore. You're feeling a little
under the weather, you go see your
doctor, and before you know it,
extensive (and expensive) tests are
being run, surgery is being
discussed, pills are being
prescribed. Who needs the
aggravation, when "all of us have
the ability to heal (through a)
wellspring of inner energy and love
that can be channeled using the
techniques of Holoenergetic Healing
developed by Dr. Leonard Laskow"?
For only $24, you can learn to
"release the energetic power of
illness at its source; reform a
positive energy pattern using
energy, intention, imagery, insight,
forgiveness, and love." And no
adverse side-effects! It's just that
Or say you're healthy, but poor. Why
go through the trouble and expense
of obtaining an MBA or a law
degree, when you can simply marry
rich? For $39 you can enroll in "How
to Marry Rich (The Rich are Going to
Marry, Why Not You?)" Taught by Gini
Sayles ("She is married to the heir
of a rich oil and ranching family" -
as if you needed proof), "you'll
find out where the money is, how to
attract it, how to recognize it, how
to look and dress rich and more!"
And if you're not ready for that
kind of long-term commitment, maybe
you can procure a sugar daddy/mama
by signing up for Gini's other
course "Learning to Flirt." Wary?
Let her credentials dispel your
doubts: "Gini Sayles has a dynamic
flirtatious attitude. She has
demonstrated her flirting skills on
Joan Rivers and Vicki, where she
was co-featured with Zsa Zsa Gabor."
Gini and Zsa Zsa are collaborating
on a new text: "Learning To Flirt
With Cops."
Now, I'm not going to add to my
"emotional debt" or increase my
"toxicnostalgia" by harping on my
parents' misguided efforts at
turning me into a well-adjusted
individual, but why for the love of
Pete was I spending entire summers
perfecting my serve, when I hadn't
yet been taught to properly breathe?
Thankfully, I can now rectify that
situation by enrolling in "Learning
to Breathe Right!" Not only will
increase the oxygen flow to my
brain, but I will "eliminate
confusion, tension, and stress;
overcome deep-seated fears; and
transform negative energy into
positive." And it's so basic. Who
knows, if I finally learned to
breathe, blink, pee, and transmit
neurons... "right!", I might do
anything. I might "Bend a Spoon With
My Mind (with the proper training,
anyone can do it!)" I might "Learn
to Write a Book on ANYTHING In 2
Weeks or Less!" I might "Learn to
Develop Charisma." I might annex
Well, if picking a workshop becomes
too overwhelming, I can always sign
up for "Contacting Your Guardian
Angels and Having an Angelic
Encounter" first. "Your spiritual
guides can," after all, "help you in
your personal, business, and social
relationships." Angels are
internationally known for their
business acumen and sexual prowess.
Either that, or I can enroll in the
Shamanic Intervention Workshop, and
"invite the plant world to share its
wisdom with (me)."
I hear that broccoli, by the way,
talks a big line, but the
rhododendron's got the skinny on the
really good stuff.

[Zero Baud Archive]

courtesy of
Happie Funball