Sunday, January 30, 2005

I'm Not Martha

As I was mixing up a batch of chicken manure, alfalfa pellets, and bone meal this afternoon, it struck me that everything I’d done today was the sort of thing that would be listed on Martha Stewart’s monthly calendar.
  • I pruned the largest rose bushes in all of Portland, which just happen to be on our property.
  • I mixed my own customized blend of organic fertilizer (patent pending) and fertilized the no-longer-largest rose bushes in all of Portland with it.
  • I knitted a couple of afghan squares.*
  • I made a cauldron of ham-bean-kale soup from scratch.
When and how did I become so Martha-esque?

I should say that I really know very little about Martha Stewart. My introduction to Martha occurred as I was driving out to my dad’s house a few years back, and Martha was speaking to the National Press Club on NPR. She was gloating in the most repugnant manner imaginable over how much money her various enterprises had made her. She went on to describe some frivolous craft project that required wasting vast quantities of natural resources. I developed a very powerful dislike for her that day. Fast-forward a few years. B and I came home one night to find our neighbor’s copy of Martha’s magazine on our doorstep. Before handing it over, we feloniously flipped through a few pages. I came across the notorious calendar with all its reminders about truckloads of manure being delivered and so forth. (“Truckloads of manure is right,” I thought to myself.) And, of course, I am aware that Martha’s in jail now for some sort of insider trading hanky panky and that orange isn’t her color. That’s the sum total of my Martha knowledge.

It may be that I’m all wrong about Martha and what she gets up to, but my initial and shocking impression was, as I stood there with a trowel full of chicken shit in hand, that I have become indistinguishable from Martha’s millions of disciples!

This just can’t be true! Let's be rational. Martha did not invent organic gardening, crafting, or cooking, although I’m sure she’d like to claim she did. People have been doing all of these things since the dawn of time. It’s only very, very recently--in the past 50 years or less--that technology and "disposible income" have allowed some people to do away with growing own their gardens, making their own clothes, and cooking meals from scratch.

All Martha and her minions have done is co-opt these basic human skills and put some sort of marketing spin on them to make them seem new and exciting. It’s clear that she’s got a brilliant marketing team and some very creative people on her staff. What’s sad is that a lot of people who feel the need to be creative pick up a copy of Martha’s magazine and carry out one of her projects to the letter, never tapping into their own creativity. That’s tragic.

OK. I only had to think about it for a few minutes to realize I’m not a Martha clone. (Huge sigh of relief.) I learned organic gardening from my mom and from books. My friend PF taught me to knit, and I learned to sew in 4-H (how unMartha can you get?). And no one needs Martha to tell them how to cook. In fact, my impression is that cooking the Martha way means spending more money than you need to, wasting time and fuel driving here there and everywhere for exotic ingredients, and then spending at least double the time on insignificant details that no one will notice or appreciate. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that Martha is doing her best to push middle-class women back to the year 1954, when they stayed home domesticating and wouldn't have dreamed of having a career or thinking (much) for themselves.

Wow. I've really gotten on a very high horse about all this. I didn't know I was that pissed off at Martha. In fact, I don't know that I am. I kind of feel sorry for her now that she's in the pokey. But not sorry enough that I'm going to delete any of the above paragraphs!

*I've finished all the emerald squares (21 of them!) and have moved on to knitting the sapphire squares. Progress!


Blogger thequeen said...

I absolutely HATE martha Stewart, she is obnoxious and I do not feel sorry for her that she is in jail she got five months for doing something that anyone else would have gotten much much more time for and she is in a facility that allows her to do many of the things that she wants to do, like cooking and such, BS I say she did the crime she should pay in real time like anyone else.I don't like it when any one of a famous nature gets special treatment just because they are famous and have money.They are people too. I love roses and have the smallest rose bush known to man!!
I cant seem to grow the damn thing.Maybe it needs some of your special fertilizer.


7:17 PM  
Blogger Cagey said...

Unashamedly, I like Martha in the same vein that I like Madonna. Too many women are bashful about their successes. I am not going to waste space with the usual arguement on how men are congratulated for being strong, but women aren't etc. etc. We've all heard it before. Anyway......

While I don't watch Martha religiously and I found her magazine tedious, her website is quite useful. I do enjoy catching her show periodically for the mere knowledge of "how did they do that?" For example, I hate marshmallws, but was fascinated to see how they are made.

I, too, am glad that she is doing her time! She should, she was guilty. I also respected her more for just going ahead and serving her time while she was still appealing (she could have delayed jail time even further, if she chose). I am looking forward to when she gets out and she can start doing interesting things again.

Congrats on the afghan squares! Are you tired of the garter stitch yet?

7:51 AM  
Blogger Cagey said...

Also, I don't want to start a major controversy, but I don't think Martha's jail time was that out of line. We have a family friend who committed MAJOR financial fraud - a Ponzi scheme that involved over a 100 million dollars - she was selling fake stock during the Internet boom. She was making major bucks out of this and living high on the hog. She got sentenced in November and received just over 3 years.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

The thing I wish I had done was to pick up all the OLD jadite items at garage sales, etc. at the prices Martha got them back when she did go to garage sales. When her kitchen was being viewed by millions, the price of old jadite went out of sight for my pocketbook.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

The great thing about blogging is getting everyone's perspective on a topic, which then makes me reevaluate--a good thing esp. since I'm likely to go off somewhat half cocked when I launch into a rant!

I guess why I feel a little bit sorry for Martha is because the media seemed to so relish vilifying her. I think a lot if it had to do with the fact that she's a woman. There are plenty of men out there who committed crimes as bad or much, much worse (Enron) who weren't subjected to the humiliation Martha had to deal with. The media seem to be getting more and more misogynistic along with getting less accurate and less objective.

That said, I'm really not hugely sympathetic to her plight. Martha has been in this from the start to make a giant pile of money for herself, and while she's at it I think she's robbed (at least some people) of their own creative instincts, not to mention whatever money they may spend on Martha products. I guess I have no real quibble if people look at a Martha project and use it for inspiration to do their own thing, but I fear that there are a lot of people who subvert their own creativity to do a Martha project instead.

And, as Sharon pointed out, she's made it more difficult to get bargains at garage sales. That hardly seems right! And Cagey--a Ponzi Scheme! That seems so film noir, somehow. To think that you actually know someone who plotted one and got caught. And no, I'm not sick of garter stitch yet. Thanks for asking!

12:30 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I do agree they were quicker to vilify Martha and send her off to the pokey, leaving lots of the "other" gender still flying high and not close to being brought down because of the good old boy club.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Cagey said...

re: the Ponzi Scheme - when it was all going on and our family friend was making piles of money, something did not seem right. It was SO SURREAL as it all went down and when she got sentenced last November. I've never known anyone who went to jail before.

re: Martha - I think where she really messed up was just not 'fessing up in the first place. If she would have just said "oops, my bad" instead of trying to cover it up, I don't think the Justice Dept. would have hounded her as badly.

re: Insider trading - not to belabor the point, but it is so much more common than people know. I believe more people are doing it than they themselves realize. Sprint is headquartered here and there is always news going around about what's going on there. Sprint is one of my husband's major clients, I have friends that work there, in fact, they were one of my own clients for awhile. How many times have I have heard about things going on? Tons, over the years. Do I buy their stock? No. But you know there must be loads of people in this area selling/buying Sprint stock left and right just based on gossip/hearsay they hear around town. That is insider trading for sure, although they may not see it as such......

1:03 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...


The good old boy club will probably never go out of business (sigh).


I'm certain you're right that plenty of insider trading goes on undetected. It just stands to reason. Lots of people can't keep their mouths shut and lots of people would love to make a killing in the stock market (or save their asses if the stock is about to take a nosedive). You put the two together and voila--insider trading. And I think you're right that people who get these "tips" probably never think they could get in a heap of trouble for it.

8:36 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home