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Envy Me

Getting ahead of the Joneses

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Jealousy. Covetousness. The green-eyed monster. "Screw him and his Porsche." It's referred to in various ways, depending upon what text you're reading and when it was written. Wanting what another possesses and resenting both oneself and the other for it, is an archetypal weakness of the human condition. The wages of envy are a popular and perennial subject in mythology, folklore, literature and entertainment, from Cain and Abel up through The Silence of the Lambs.No one is immune. Those who appear totally without jealousy are more than likely repressing it in a deep and fundamentally unhealthy way. The repercussions of such a failure to deal with personal issues can vary wildly, from insanity and murder to repellent lack of hygiene and never owning any really cool shit; anyway, it's hardly ever good.

Once we recognize and accept the fact that we feel envy, we're halfway to coping. From here, there are numerous ways to attempt to come to grips with your own jealous impulses.

One might spend a hot, muggy day inside an air-conditioned public library, reading psychological literature or self-help books to further understand the foible. (Or try a major book retailer: Those guys never kick you out, even if you don't buy anything. And there's biscotti.) One could confront one's emotions in the hope of wrestling and subduing envy. One may even attempt to exhaust one's jealousy by, oh, I don't know -- locking myself in my apartment and watching DVD after DVD of pornography until the size of those dudes' units doesn't even bother me anymore.

Whatever the method, the important thing is that you're dealing with your emotions in a constructive, healthy way.

Of course, you don't want to deal with your emotions in a healthy, constructive way. You don't want to make yourself better adjusted by dealing with your personal issues. What you want is to make yourself feel better about your own envy by doing, having or being something that makes other people envy you. It may not be healthy, but it sure is fun.

Case in point: Most people these days have a computer with a halfway decent photograph-manipulation program, or they know someone who has PhotoShop and likes to fool around with it. If you've got a couple of hours, you can create a forged one-of-a-kind conversation piece that'll drive your hipster friends mad with envy. Well, OK, probably not that mad with envy, but hey, even if you screw it up, they'll be jealous that you did it first. Think of it as techno-arts & crafts for a lazy summer day.

We've all received digitally doctored photos from friends via e-mail. So why not insinuate yourself into a picture of a famous person or event and see how many people you can con with it? You'll be surprised to find out exactly how closely the average person pays attention, or doesn't, to such things.

The Internet is packed with hi-resolution photos of celebrities, and you'll need a hi-res image if you want to print out something big enough to frame.

Pick a nice, big image with room on either side to slide yourself in, and download it. Then either find a suitable photo of you and scan it at dimensions comparable to those of your star, or take one with a digital camera and save it to your computer. Open both images in the pertinent program, and begin the process. Compare the photos. Manipulate the photo of you until it resembles the lighting and texture of the celebrity photo as closely as possible. Depending upon your level of experience and attention to detail, this can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to the rest of your life. The less bright and detailed the images you begin with, the easier it will be -- getting yourself standing somewhere in a candid snapshot is a whole lot less work-intensive than putting you in a publicity still with your arm around its subject.

When you can't stand fiddling with it anymore, print it on some quality photo-printout paper or take a disc down to Kinko's and have them do it. If you're a fairly adept computer-diddler, chances are good you'll have something that'll fool more of your friends than you might think. If you're not, just do what everybody else does -- write to a studio requesting a publicity photo of some obscurely interesting personality, and sign it yourself with the most personal inscription you can conjure.

JUNE11WEDNESDAY
Folks considering trying out Scott Harrell's Zelig-like idea in the preceding article would do well to get some basic camera skills under their belt; to that end, The Light Factory is offering Basic Digital Camera classes through much of the summer. Requirements are your own digital camera, the $125 nonmember fee ($100 for members), and a desire to learn about such important photographic topics as color balance, printing solutions and f-stops. Classes will be held from 6-9pm Wednesdays June 11, 18 and 25, and again on Thursdays August 7, 14 and 21. For details, call 704-333-9755.JUNE3TUESDAY
Anybody interested in trying something different this summer - something that'll make your friends envious -- might want to check out the Belly Dancing Classes being offered at Phoenix Rising, Suite 130, 9215 Monroe Road. A course that will offer an introduction to the basics will be held for six weeks beginning today; cost is $90. For more info, call 704-849-2021.

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