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first, about looking better: sure wish we didn't need to, but it will also make you feel better to keep those kindly incandescent lights glowing. they glow, not glare, like those that supposedly save the planet. blight is more like it. only incandescents are bio-degradable. the municipal arts society lighting forum is unlikely to acknowledge that; to my knowledge, they've never recommended using darker-colored sidewalks that show soil (gum spots!) far less than light-colored ones do. as for electric lighting, moderate the oppressive excess. and enlighten otherwise astute leaders, like state sen. liz krueger, whose office uses not only too much wattage, but light derived from merciless cool-white fluorescent tubes, rather than the less combative warm-whites tubes.

now i'm a greener from way back, but not when it does harm, like also using vulnerable small cars and hybrids that are too quiet. instead, lower the speed limit and go all out for mass transit, especially aboveground rails, which don't displace homes and neighborhood stores (support the second avenue merchants!).

as for looking good, celebrated home designer michael taylor's most obvious but rarely advised truth is found in the may architectural digest: "never choose a color that is unflattering to your skin tone." i say, "apparel too." yup, warm, not cool, colors flatter, especially skin that is no longer new. unlike minimal or stark designs, traditional or country design also enhances. but above all, it's the lighting-and without great and organized protest, we may lose the kind that best serves humanity.

granted, in our unregenerate culture, women especially are still inordinately judged by their outward appearance. but come the revolution, we will overcome all that, and value instead how people behave and communicate. communication skill classes will dominate curriculums from pre-school until life's most derniere class.

related is an empathy-related easter greeting article from civic activist friend lynn g. about everyday, often unhelpful parlance, like, "how are you?" and the stock reply, "ok," or, "fine"-even when the respondent is anything but. there's much more, but for now, here's to the late and greatly missed civic activist friend phyllis rycroft's empathic "how's it going?" query, which encouraged a more forthright reply. that in itself is therapeutic. ah, and so was phyllis' habit of sharing the talk. like lynn, phyllis was as concerned with the well-being of the individual "activist" as with the overall community group endeavor.

and, like lynn, she wholeheartedly believed in "music to beat the devil," the title of my first column about the new amsterdam boys' choir, 20-some years ago. now in 2010, there are girls in the choir that was founded and directed by james backmon ( they really need us to be there-standing room only (if we are able)-at their spring benefit concert, saturday, april 17 at 4 p.m. at church of the heavenly rest, 4 e. 90th st. it's worth infinitely more than the $10 suggested contribution (academic tutoring is part of this program for youngsters). there may be a rap song or two, but nothing devil-sent surely. it will be music to bring generations together, and so dear to the heart of this "share the singing" columnist is that pete seeger is the choir's honorary director. as you know, this man, now in his 90s, has done more than anyone to help us all to chime in. and don't we need that-in general, but right now, we need to be there at the new amsterdam boys and girls choir's spring benefit concert.">

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