Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Lo-Jack City

This past weekend I went up to an SCA event in Milbrook, Duchess County. The SCA chapter up there is called “The Shire of Frosted Hills” and the name definitely fit this weekend. It was beautiful. It had snowed the night before but the sun was out all day. To get there we drove north from New York City though Westchester County, which looked just as beautiful. With a fresh blanket of white snow, rolling hills topped here and there by a barn or a farm house, it looked like an endless series of picture post-cards flashing by outside the window, and I thought to myself: “Wow! What a wonderful place to be under house arrest for five months!”

Lest we weep for Martha, realize that she is under house arrest on her huge estate in Westchester, and she can leave for 48 hours each week to go to work. The Westchester compound is a 153 acre estate in Bedford, NY. The house is 10,000 square feet. The whole place cost about $16,000,000. She could get lost going to the bathroom. The first picture we saw of Martha after she had returned home was of her frolicking in the snow with her huge horses (which for some reason made me think of Catherine the Great). She strolled her estate, played with her dog, complained that her cappuccino machine didn’t work, and got back to normal. Now she is stuck out there in this beautiful place where she can garden, ride, hike, cook, all the things she loves to do. This is the (incarceration) life.

Let me clear something up here: I think Martha got screwed. I think the feds went after her maliciously, and she didn’t really deserve to go to prison. But I really object to the fuss that’s being made over her now.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Martha on the job!

Apparently, prison is kind of like a crafts fair. Who knew?

As she was leaving prison, one of Martha’s new “friends” presented her with a lovely hand crocheted shawl. Martha was quick to note that it had been made in prison out of yarn purchased from the commissary, and that her company would be getting the pattern as soon as they could. So the inmates are knitting shawls. I’ll bet they are creating decorative hand made Christmas ornaments too. Martha says that prison changed her but, I’ve got to wonder, how much did Martha change prison?

It was Martha’s first day back on the job and she hit the ground running. She is singing a new tune since she got sprung. Her magazine and TV shows will no longer be dedicated simply promoting elite decorative arts and high-end homemaking. She is now going to dedicate her life to helping people build personal relationships. Today’s New York Times quoted her as saying “I sense in the American public there is a growing need to preserve human connections…the need to honor many, many kinds of families. It’s not just moms and dads anymore. I’ve seen that.”

…which leads us to ponder, exactly what type of family relationships did Martha encounter while in prison. Or, to put it more bluntly, who was her mommy?

Martha’s new goals are laudable. Anthropologists and sociologists have long been aware that a need for community, a sense of belonging to a group, is inherent to humans, and how new models of communities are built in a postmodern world has been a serious study of inquiry for quite awhile. In fact, Martha is a bit behind the curve with this particular brand of theory. New types of urban tribes—sub cultures and counter cultures from gays to Star Wars fans to bike messengers—have been held up as examples of how people are seeking association and “family” when the traditional communities to which they once belonged—church, family, Rotary club—no longer suffice. In “Bowling Alone” Robert Putnam wrote about America’s declining social capital, bemoaning the fact that membership in traditional social organizations, from bowling leagues to Shriner’s temples, had declined since the 1950s. Other scholars have noted, however, that new, non-traditional social groups have sprung up to take the place of the old ones. Martha is only now realizing he importance of this need for connection and community.

“Our passion,” the Times reports her as saying “is and always should be to make life better.” Naturally for Martha, the solution for this is home based. Everybody deserves a comfortable home, a roaring fire, a home cooked turkey at Thanksgiving.

Of course what she failed to mention in her little speech is that the Cult of Martha itself is one of those new postmodern tribes. Her legions of adoring fans are bound together in a love for Miss Martha and a belief in the transformative power of homey crafts.

But I still keep coming back to that question: what kind of new family groups Martha is promoting. Does it include gay couples? Polyamorous groups? Pluralistic marriages? S&M clubs? And if so, how will this play with her happy homemakers in Ohio?
Perhaps this is a clue: her stock was down a whopping $2.78. That’s 9%. Apparently it’s true: good deeds do not go unpunished.

Jon Stewart Rips Martha

I am almost embarrased enough to shut this blog down. I cannot compete with the evisceration Jon Stewart gave Martha and the Martha Media Sharks last night. It was amazingly funny. Watch it tonight. There will be more.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Free At Last

Back in the day I used to drive cab in Sacramento, California. If I was driving at night, after the bars had closed and before the AM commute came in, and if I hadn't made my gate yet, I would work the 4AM release at the county jail. It is a desperate grab for existence, worse then working the north-side Greyhound depot, waiting on a dark street at 4AM in hopes that a criminal will walk up and get in your car. Usually it was drug addicts and DUIs. They were always pathetic, embarrassed to have been in jail, and sat quietly as I drove them home. But it was a good gig. Often they would have a long way to go, and their cars were in impound. It wasn't the first scene from "The Blues Brothers," but it also wasn't Martha's release. I saw picture this morning of Martha and her daughter walking together as she left prison, waving to the crowd as they boarded the private jet that was whisking her to freedom. Martha says that prison was "life altering." That she is now going to champion prisoner's rights. Come on! She was at a club-fed for girls, not Pelican Bay. Not a lot of prisoners I know leave jail on a private jet. When I was driving cab we also had the contract to ferry prisoner's wives to and from jail for their conjugal visits at Folsom Prison. This was desperation. These were people who were in hell, for years, women who had to submit to humiliating searches just to be able to have sex with their husbands once or twice a year. Martha knows nothing of that kind of embarrassment and pain. Jail is supposed to be humbling, but it's hard to be humble when you have adoring fans, paparazzi waiting at your release, a private jet to take you home and a huge estate awaiting your arrival, not to mention the new TV show.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Welcome to the He-Man Martha Haters Club

Announcing the formation of the He Man Martha Haters Club.

Today the queen of all Media was released from prison and gay men and housewives the world over breathed a sigh of relief. Martha Stewart was sent home (for seven months) at just after midnight. Martha’s legion of anxious fans are hungry for news of her terrible ordeal in the big house. Was she raped by a renegade prison guard? Who’s bitch was she? Was her cell color coordinated? Perhaps the most burning question of all, was she made to stand naked with a hood over her head while prison guards threatened her with guard dogs and pointed at her genitals? And what kind of centerpiece do you put on the cafeteria table?

We celebrate Martha’s release with the launch of our new blog, Mike’s Guide to Manly Living or, as we like to call it here at Mike’s, “The He-man Martha Haters Club” (you can visit our more general blog, Mediagrouch, at Right now we are at Blogspot, but we will probably move to a new host and our own URL before long.

In addition to being a stone cold bitch, Martha Stewart is the antithesis of masculinity. Her soft, pastel, frills and flowers lifestyle has been draining this country of its virility for too long and, like a dose of Cialis, Mike’s Guide is here to inject maleness back into America. We stand for everything Martha does not: honest stock trading, bold colors, fast cars and loose women. In other words, manliness.

Of course we will attempt to fill the void Martha has created. Watch this space for helpful decorating tips for men, excellent recipes for barbecue and how to spice up canned foods, what cigar goes best with what whiskey and updates about NASCAR racing.

Men of the world unite! Martha Stewart and her myrmidons have been emasculating you for far too long. This space is the Fight Club of the internet. We are taking our masculinity back starting today.

Congratulations on your release, Martha. Welcome home.