Martha’s offices remain dark. All around the world, the sane breathe a sigh of relief.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Why, oh why, do you continue to subscribe to Martha’s missives given that you neither follow her advice nor drink the Kool-Aid she ladles out from the tasteful punchbowl in her lofty perch atop the domestic goddess pantheon?”
Thank you for asking.
In response to your question, I have to say I’m not sure. The most obvious answer is that Martha’s busybody newsletters, narcissistic epistles, endless TV shows and rat-ass crazy magazine provide easy fodder for a slattern such as myself. They, in effect, help me position myself as the anti-Martha and define my world, albeit in negative terms — no crafts, no fiddly recipes and most importantly, no fucking Halloween parties. As I may have mentioned, the woman makes my ass ache.
Perhaps it’s the illicit thrill of getting something for nothing from Martha’s mighty Omnimedia empire that keeps me from hitting the unsubscribe button. I neither buy the mag, nor shop at K-Mart, nor order online, and still I get her product delivered, as if by magic and for free, to my shabby little inbox on a fairly regular basis. I worked in marketing long enough to see that this represents a poor return on advertising investment, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy being a drag on the queen’s bottom line.
Both answers are plausible, but it may be that the real truth is a bit darker and more sinister. Mayhap, there’s an element of Stockholm Syndrome about my relationship with Mrs. Stewart. Certainly the specter of the jailhouse hangs over her empire, even now. Yes, I loathe her and despise her fun-destroying, make-work approach to doing everything from changing a roll of toilet paper to making a ham sandwich and decorating the inside of your junk drawer, but somehow it delights me that she still encourages me to participate, to buy her line of crap if you will. In the words of Cheap Trick, “(Hey Martha) I want you to want ME.”
I don’t know, I guess the main reason I stay on the mailing list is probably that the ratchet-jawed old so and so is just fun to mock. In any case, I’ll be sure to let you know when the lights come back on. Hopefully there’s still time to salvage Thanksgiving.
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Hey folks, in all seriousness, Hurricane Sandy has devastated many lives and communities here in New York, and though the lights are slowly coming back on, it will be a very long time before this city and its people are whole again. I guarantee that anything you can do — a donation, a prayer or a message of support — will be most appreciated.
Once again I have sought a way to break through my now chronic writer’s block, and once again Martha has delivered, this time not a mimsy little hand drill, but a great big motherfucker of a sledgehammer to blast through the creative dam. In the form of this:
As you might have guessed, Martha thinks crafting vastly improves the al fresco dining experience. I, however, beg to differ. So let’s just take this apart, shall we?
In the above image of picnic bliss — as well as all the others in the feature article — we see lovely refreshments in pristine natural settings where comfy pillows, tasteful linens, frosty beverages and delicious treats await the arrival of well-heeled, scrupulously upholstered guests for a glass of perfectly chilled rosé accompanied by lighthearted, yet penetrating discussions of the great books, the events of the day, and Martha’s supreme wonderfulness. Heaven on a beach.
Here’s what we don’t see:
- The army of cooks, sommeliers and stylists who provisioned the picnic over the course of three long, hellish working days
- The legions of domestic staff who humped all the aforementioned picnic accoutrements and food across approximately six miles of burning sand to a properly secluded spot on the beach
- The team of photographers, gophers and fluffers (for the pillows, people) required to get the one perfect snapshot of the perfect beach party setting
- The raging inferno of citronella candles necessary in any outdoor situation that entails humans and food
- Whiny kids who don’t want cucumber sandwiches for lunch, and even if they did, wouldn’t eat them because they’d be full of sand
- Sunburned adults being driven to madness by mosquito bites, the horror of appearing in a social situation in swimwear, and the insufferable domestic drill sergeant at the center of their party universe
- The exhausted host and hostess throwing this shindig who have already had about six knock-down drag-out fights in the run-up to it and are well on their way to getting absolutely blind drunk, disappearing behind a dune with someone other than their spouse and eventually filing for divorce.
I hate picnics.
Quite simply, there is not enough vodka in the world to make a picnic — or any outdoor dining event — worth your while, especially if you have to hand paint the picnic basket, waterproof the blanket, make special cocktail glass flowers and create a collapsible dog bowl to do it. This kind of event requires staff, people. And pharmaceuticals, which can be carefully blended for each party guest’s particular emotional needs, then distributed in colorful origami baskets that have been personalized with decorative name tags! Now that’s crafting with a purpose.
There are perfectly good reasons why I subscribe to virtually everything Martha Stewart puts out — for free that is. As I have chronicled, the woman makes my ass ache; however, I have found tremendous inspiration in her works. For the snark-minded, she is the gift that keeps on giving.
So the latest epistle from Martha suggests making a button necklace. I’ll spare you the details, but it looks like this. According to Martha, you’ll need 60 buttons to replicate the dazzling item in the photo. So I checked out Chichester, her suggested source for the buttons, and my suspicions were correct.
Abalone buttons range from $1.75 to $6.70 apiece depending on size. Now I’m assuming you wouldn’t opt for the saucer-size three inch buttons, but let’s say you go for the half inch ones. At $2 a pop, you’re in for $120 bucks before shipping, handling and tax. Then you have to buy the string, and after that you’ll need about three days to put the goddamned thing together (it requires approximately 125 knots by my count), plus a large vat of Bag Balm to treat the open sores on your fingers. (About $8 for the 10 ounce tub, and if you don’t keep it around the house, you should. It’s miraculous.)
All in then, I’m guesstimating this little DIY extravaganza will run you about $150. That’s three bottles of Veuve Cliquot or an entire case of Ten High with a few bucks left over to throw at your bail for those of you who prefer the liquid measure. And all so that you can proudly sport a necklace that looks like a mentally-challenged, eight-fingered six year-old made it at Y camp, and which you will then have to fess up to having created yourself. Believe me folks, you’re better off with the whiskey.
All of which begs the question, Is it ME?
This month’s Martha Stewart Living cover: “folded tissue-paper blossom heart decoration” made for a four year-old’s Valentine’s Day sock hop party!? According to the notes it measures four feet across! “Show your love” with a craft-induced aneurysm.
Level with me. Do people really do this stuff?