If This Doesn't Scare You...

I must confess to a dirty little secret: I am a regular and avid reader of Vanity Fair. It's not something I like to trumpet. Even my kids bug me about my "girlie magazine," and I must admit that when I'm on the bus, I try to hide the front cover. It's not just the glossy pages of fashion ads that are disconcerting; it is the general bourgeois, "high-society" glitz that VF perpetuates (Graydon Carter and Dominick Dunne can be such whores to celebrity sometimes). It's a bit like my passion for Oscar Wilde: part of me knows the quasi-socialist in me should hate this stuff, but the other part of me would like nothing better than to have been a part of late 19th-century "society." (Someone once asked Wilde why he wasn't a socialist, to which he replied: "I prefer to keep my evenings free.")

But I was attracted to VF for the articles (gee, where have you heard that line before?). In particular, it's one of the places where I can regularly read Christopher Hitchens, including some of his best pieces later collected in Love, Poverty, and War. James Wolcott also regularly contributes some good stuff, including an excellent piece on the skewed coverage of Iraq. And there usually some decent interviews to boot, including a memorable one with Vigo Mortensen (quoting Kant!).

But the August issue included a cover story on poor Martha Stewart's house arrest that included this disturbing little tidbit: Martha chose to spend her confine at a new farm in Bedford. For this project, she was committed to a very simple, but scrupulously uniform color scheme: all the buildings would be a washed gray (now "Bedford Gray" in the Martha Stewart line), and all the accents would be black. Included in the black accents are all of the animals on the farm--including the dog! In fact, her horses, if left in the sun through the day, tend to take on a reddish sheen that upsets this color palette. So Stewart has directed the handlers to keep the horses inside all day in order to preserve the appropriate black accents for the environmental decor. Quite a microcosm of economic power manipulating nature for ridiculous ends.