Martha, Martha, and more Martha
I’m definitely not crafts-inclined, and years ago met a true Martha fan, who actually looked forward to the next installment of the TV show. She encouraged me to watch the program. I watched once, and Martha’s lineup for the week (as advertised in the program) was
Monday: How to make your own belt. Build your back yard treillage
Tuesday: How to raise your own chickens
Wednesday: How to make your own wedding cake
Thursday: Bake your own brioche
Friday: Martha carves her own totem pole.
Since I firmly insist on buying my belts at Coach, arranging for the wedding cake to be baked by someone else, and getting bread at McCaffrey’s supermarket (and I won’t be ruining my manicure with any treillage, chickens or totems, thank you) the appeal was lost on me. I don’t buy celebrity ego magazines (such as Oprah) either. Call me a snob. Or a lazy klutz, if you want.
I do admire that Martha has made herself immensely rich from lending dignity to women’s work. Yes, that is a sexist phrase: women’s work. Deal with it. It’s a good thing she has. Her stylists (hair and home designers) also do a nice job.
Unfortunately, Martha would have saved herself a lot of money and pain if, back in early 2002 she would have paid a fine (after arranging for her attorneys to make a totally non-committal statement of non-guilt). Remember, back then we all were seriously worried about much worse matters, such as the World Trade Center attack, the anthrax letters, and several other weightier subjects. Martha instead decided to fight, and fight she did, in court, where her arrogance led her to carry $5,000 handbags every day. No matter what her crime was, if it was a crime, she ended up in the pokey. It wasn’t the first time a woman was sent to jail for being obnoxious, as Leona Helmsley could attest.
Of course the media’s covering Martha 24/7, and I certainly wish I’d get $5 for each time anyone mentions Martha, but the stock in plummeting. Myrna Blyth has a couple of reasons why:
But the architect of that strategy, Sharon Patrick, a former McKinsey M.B.A. who had once been head Sea Maid at Sea World — and was, in her own way, as tempestuous a personality as Martha — left the company a couple of months ago. For years, Sharon — who had met Martha when they had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro together and was the one who had convinced her she could take her company public — had been Martha’s closest business associate and best friend.
Another former loyalist who seemed to have disappeared like an obsolete appliance during a kitchen redo is Suzanne Sobel, who was the magazine’s publisher during the good times and has soldiered on during the bad times when the company’s advertising revenue fell more than 50 percent.
In their place is Susan Lyne, a skillful Martha look-alike and now her official boss. Lyne has been performing like a “stunt double,” reassuring Wall Street that the magazine’s circulation is solid, that advertising will return and that the two fall television shows that will feature Martha will be resounding hits.
I sincerely wish Martha well. But I won’t be watching.