Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nicholas Coleridge: Distressed by his dangler and a 33% over-write

Yet another Nicholas Coleridge novel due in the US of A!

Pride and Avarice - out Feb 2 - consolidates the annexation of lucrative Jilly Cooper territory (her next 600-pager's out in October). Distressingly, and as I write, the arm of Amazon has no plot details of his latest 496-page epic which first came out as Deadly Sins in the UK last year: set in the OK Corral of, er, Hampshire. So I am forced to visit the .com arm and learn more, courtesy of a Publishers' Weekly's review synopsis reprinted there. "While funny and smartly conceived, [it] could stand to lose a good 150 pages," it sniffs between attempts at enthusiasm for his novel.

"As the narrative progresses, the ever-increasing chains of coincidences and shifts of allegiance begin to feel like a piling-on. Sometimes less is more."

Oh dear. That's about 33% of the wordage adjudged superfluous to requirement. Put another way, if the book's about 200,000 words, about 66,666 of them could go. Put another way, if he produced 2,000 novel words per weekend (as he told the Indy once) at least 33 weekends were a waste of writing time. Makes you think.

In any case, the Publishers' Weekly review is an odd item to plonk on your online sales stall. And the Cooperland genre - which put the mittel into the england of shires bonkerama - requires a fat wad of book for its 50-something bottled blonde-in-pipe-jeans audience. What to do?

Coleridge (a sensitive Pisces), the much-adored Managing Director of Condé Nast in Britain - with Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair etc ever eager to help push book sales as disinterested fiction lovers  - may also be left unamused by the misleading claim of Macmillan's PR puff for Pride and Avarice: "Hailed by The New Yorker as 'wickedly enjoyable', Nicholas Coleridge's newest novel is..."

Anyone would think the Condé Nast magazine found Pride and Avarice "wickedly enjoyable" and that it had got hold of a very early review copy. But the ringing praise was actually for Coleridge's earlier novel Godchildren. I'm sure this can't be a deliberate misrepresentation. I would refer Macmillan staff to the perils of dangling participles and misplaced modifiers and how to avoid them. Still, nearly 200 other online media have happily cut 'n' pasted the slip-up, so there's a comfort.

I would also question the use of "newest novel" - does this mean his old novels are permanently new? As in, "Have you read my new novel which was published 10 years ago?" But I'll let that pass. Wouldn't want to be called pedantic.

Here's an excerpt from his newest novel - tell me what you think.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

'Jeremy Paxman offered Independent editorship'

Well, that was the rumour at Groucho's last night. No idea if true or whether Paxman is even interested. But it's said Alexander Lebedev is impressed by the crashing snob.

'Demure' Jean Simmons gets the recycling treatment of hackery

Demure. It's the adjective du jour. That's because Jean - "thought she was dead already" - Simmons has just died. If you write "Jean Simmons demure" into the Google search box you get 4,210 results (as I write).  All those cut 'n' paste jobs drag-netting "demure" into the catch as thousands of hacks worldwide try to encapsulate the long celebrated life of someone scarcely on their radar. Mention Spartacus, the mental light bulbs flash.

Thanks to Google and other search engines Jean Simmons gets confused with Gene Simmons, the KISS vocalist and bassist, who according to the search has never abused alcohol while poor old Jean did - because she became "depressed  by the lack of quality parts", a phrase that recurs word for word in thousands of obits. Lest we forget, Jean was a "British beauty" - a phrase used in over 30,000 lifts.

Jean Simmons "starred in films with legendary actors Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando...": this xeroxed formulation pops up on the BBC, USA Today, India Times, Metro Radio and hundreds of other places. She "sang with Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls" - another 24,000+ cut 'n' pastes.

She was, after all, the "Guys and Dolls actress". Etc.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Psychic Michele Knight: 'I did predict William and Kate will get engaged ....'

Michele Knight makes a nonsense of time: she glimpses the future for a living. UK celebs (and the anonymice!) can't get enough of her Tarot readings and astrology, and her psychic brand bestrides just about all media but Hollywood feature movies. Russell Grant, she's comin' at ya! Madame Arcati probed the queen of sixth sense cool...

Michele Knight, guru to the celebs! You're everywhere! Always on the telly - you're the new astrologer on ITV1's This Morning, I hear - you're on Twitter, MySpace. You're on My Spirit Radio - you've even got your own psychic dating site Psychic Knight and website with a superstore range of psychic services. Open a magazine, there you are. Just how rich are you? How many houses have you got? Is your pension sorted?

“How very direct and straight to the point! I’m rich with abundance, but then I’ve always felt like that, even when I was living in a squat. My son remembers our early days when we would have to hide when the electricity man came and me diving down the back of the sofa to see if I could find any loose change to buy him an ice cream, but I’ve never felt any sense of lack. I’ve never felt poor, even when I probably was. I really think it’s important not to confuse success and happiness with money. And no, I don’t have any plans for retirement whatsoever. I couldn’t imagine not working. I love what I do.”

Which one public prediction are you most proud of? - the one that beyond any doubt might impress a smart-arse secular, literary intellectual who thinks they know it all - y'know a Francis Wheen or Christopher Hitchens type (or if we're slumming it, non-literary division, Derren Brown).

“I’m not sure that a smart-arse, secular, literary intellectual who thinks they know it all, as you call them, would allow themselves to be impressed by anything! How uncool would that be? I’m actually most proud when I get emailed by people who had readings from me when I started out, and they write to me now and say, remember me? I had a reading from you twenty years ago and I didn’t believe a word of it at the time, and it’s all come true since then. I get really touched by that.”

I read your rather harrowing autobio Touched By Evil - mother Italian (mine too), father an English soldier (ditto). You were often abused, the person who helped you get you through these experiences was a spirit guide called Lucy. Could you see her? Did she have an independent, sentient, personality? How do you know she wasn't some sort of projection? Why didn't she take you out of harm's way?

“I felt and heard Lucy. She was very much her own being. Remember that she was with me throughout my very early life and we don’t tend to think about things in such sophisticated terms as projections when we’re children. I wouldn’t have known what a projection was! I just took it as being my normal/abnormal life.

“Lucy did try to take care of me and guide me, but we all have to go through our own learning experiences. She couldn’t take me out of harm’s way. It was down to me to find my own way out. It’s very easy to think that being psychic somehow gives you diplomatic immunity or acts as a barrier between you and the ups and downs of life. It doesn’t. It’s quite possible to be psychic and too stubborn to listen to good advice, as I was when Lucy was around!”

Is there life after death without a shadow of doubt in your mind? Is the afterlife as real to you as ... well, Ivana Trump?

“I have no shadow of a doubt that there is life after death, but you sort of accept that and then get on with your life here. There’s far too much to do now. I also have known who I was in a past life from the age of 10 and had the most bizarre 'proof' later on in life and no I'm not going to tell you! I’ve caught Ivana Trump on Celebrity Big Brother and what a delicious cougar too, so I’m sure she exists!”

You're often filmed giving readings to the slebbies - do politicians, royalty and blue chip company bosses consult you? The Windsors love their seers ....

“I might have read for someone you’re having dinner with tomorrow night, but I couldn’t possibly say. I’m never even tempted to air-kiss and tell. Just call me Heidi Fleiss! Seriously though, I’m aware that we live in a celebrity culture, and there’s a lot of kudos to be gained for dropping any household names you’ve read for, but I won’t do that. I’d rather build my reputation by providing an exceptional service to everyone. Once you break that trust by talking out of turn about who you’ve read for and what you saw, you’ve had it. Quite rightly, too. Many people from all walks of life have been kind enough to recommend me. I’d rather let them do the talking.”

I couldn't believe you have a son in his mid-20s. You look so young! Now you're married to a woman. Was the transition from cock-cunting to cunt-cunting an effortless segue? Did it seem the most natural thing in the world or did you resist the inevitable for a while?

“I think love is the most natural thing in the world. I’ve never resisted it and I don’t make rules about what it should look like. I believe that we are all a shard of God, unique in our expression of divine creative potential, here to manifest through the process of cocreation and contrast our soul’s desire to know itself and elevate the whole. If I could do one thing to make the entire Western world happier tomorrow, it would be to just allow people to find out for themselves what makes them truly happy without having to call it anything. And yes, falling in love with my breathtakingly gorgeous wife was effortless.”

I read somewhere that you once read for a 75-year-old woman and you could see she'd had 3 lovers in her life. Can you tell how many Madame Arcati has saddled up beneath her faux Queen Anne quilt? Alternatively, how does the information reach you - by impressions? pictures? words?

“I think you’re very brave to put your reputation on the line like this. Very few of us could really stand up to that kind of public scrutiny. Too many lovers and you’re promiscuous, too few and you’re inadequate. Thankfully, I’m more broadminded than that, but I am shocked to hear you sleep under a faux Queen Anne quilt. What’s wrong with a nice bit of Egyptian cotton?

“I actually can’t describe how I know things. It’s like, if someone asked you to describe how you know what your name is, you couldn’t. You just know it. When I’m doing readings, I use Tarot cards, or I can look at someone’s astrological chart, but that’s just the starting place. They are tools to focus my intention, and then things just come.”

The obvious thing to say about you is you're turning out to be the next Russell Grant. Do you want that? I like Russell but his horoscopes can be a bit harsh - not for me to suggest that he wants the reader to consult his psychic phonelines for some reassurance after such a battering. How would you characterise your approach?

“I think life is what you make of what comes your way. So yes, the planets can have an influence on what’s going on around us, or we may be fated to meet certain experiences along our path, but we write the story. I have a tendency to bang on about many things, but I believe that tools such as astrology or Tarot cards can be amazingly useful to look at what’s going on, and what’s likely to happen if we stick with a particular course of action, but I think that part of the reason we’re here is to wake up to our own power and potential. If I’d gone through my life being scared or thinking that there was nothing I could do at certain points, I literally wouldn’t be here now. I want to help people to make informed choices and make them feel uplifted so that they can deal with the challenges that we all face and so that they can create their own future.”

Do the Derren Browns and James Randis annoy you with their claims that all divination is a fraud? Orson Welles shared their view too, but then admitted he was so good at pretending to be a medium he had to stop because what he said was true!

“I could hardly object to people having the right to hold an opinion or express a view. I think Derren Brown is fascinating, an absolute genius. He’s a really interesting person to watch, actually. He is so skilled and the effects he can produce are absolutely mind-blowing. I believe that he describes what he does as mentalism. If you reduce what he does to a set of skills, that would suggest that every single person has the ability to do what he does, and I’m not sure that’s true. I couldn’t. But I also can’t help wondering if he’s using abilities that even he doesn’t realise he’s got.

"I know the legacy of empiricism means that we’ve acquired a drive to reduce everything in this world to concrete measurables, where we can explain everything within a neat loop of cause and effect, but if you fall into that model too far you can limit yourself. Throughout history and across many indigenous cultures today, Shamen of all kinds have understood and used the power of a belief in magic and I encourage people to reclaim that power.

"What’s wrong with life being magical? All children believe in magic, and look at the joy and wonder it gives them. Most of us have it kicked out of us as we grow older. I think when we lose our ability to see the miracles that surround us every day we are robbed of something very precious. The very fact that we are here is a miracle of creation. I never stopped believing in magic. If you believe in magic, you’ll see magic everywhere, and then magic will happen.”

And finally, my sweet, can you answer a question out of the blue without cards or charts - for instance, will William really marry Kate? I'm not so sure. The things I've heard about William ...

“I’ve never met him, but I think it’s worth considering that it’s easy to see him as being a privileged young man when we can never understand the pressures he’s under. I think also that, given what happened to his parents’ marriage, he is being very wise in waiting until he’s absolutely sure that he is ready to make any commitment that is strong enough to withstand the inevitable media furore, speculation and rumour it would generate. When Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, I think they were quite bewildered at the absolute frenzy of public interest and hoped that it would die down over time. It didn’t. We can’t know what effect that had on them as individuals or as a couple. Most of us are fortunate enough to live our lives outside of the enormous level of scrutiny that falls on every action William does or doesn’t take.

"I think it’s interesting that you ask if William will marry Kate. Perhaps she has her own ideas about the issue. I did predict they would get engaged so we'll see!”

Michele Knight! Thank you so much for your time. For some reason I foresee yet more success for you in ... Russia.

“How exciting! I quite enjoy travelling and I hear St. Petersburg is the place to visit at the moment. Marvellous architecture! Thank you too. It’s been a pleasure.”

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rod Liddle and Suzanne Moore slug it out on Facebook

Sorry to go on about the Independent but... well, this is too delicious. I have just come across a Facebook row today between Rod Liddle (rumoured to be the next Indy editor) and Suzanne Moore, the Mail on Sunday columnist and my preferred candidate for the Indy job.

The exchange takes place in a thread started by someone called Claire Khaw who appears to defend Liddle against the racism charge in today's Mail on Sunday. Suzanne mocks her (and others') hopes that by supporting Liddle they will land jobs under his editorship. She also appears annoyed that he's called her middleclass ...

Rod responds [unedited] to Suzanne: "what your thrid division reporter wrote in the MoS today was a perfect example of fascism, a tirade of lies. He attempted to attribute racism to me by quoting a)things which I had not said at ... See Moreall and b) quoting me using a direct quote in SUPPORT of a black footballer who had been allegedly subject to racist abuse. Your paper is morally and politically despicable, Suz, and better still - you know it. But what will you do about it? Just pocket the cheque, pocket the cheque."

Suzanne: "Rod you can message me direct. I never go into the office. So I cant comment. Pocket the cheque for my column? Yes I will just as you pocket the cheque from Murdoch. If the MOS story is a tirade of lies i guess you can sue? As for Claire's question i dunno I have never got a job by sleeping with anyone. Quite the reverse."

Rod: "A journalist sue a journalist? You really have no morals, do you? And it's pointless waving Murdoch at me - I didn't put myself on a high horse . I didn't say I wouldn't work for you because you were a reactionary. I am well aware of who I work for and wouldn't be hypocritical about it."

Suzanne: "Yes please Rod do give me a lecture on morals. I am all ears."

Rod: "You should be, Suzanne. I know principle and truthfulness when I see it. You don't."

Suzanne: "Rod you sound like Tony Blair or something! Obviously I disagree. I dont think you know much about me at all. I Am gonna make my amoral children some amoral dinner if thats OK....

Later Suzanne writes: "Meerkats are the liberal choice surely Rod? I promise if you promise to stop challenging us with your base racist and sexist assumptions which hardly make us see the world anew.... Rod Liddle CANNOT become editor of The Indy. No no no."

Oh and it goes on and on. Doncha love the chattering classes? And Liddle has much to learn about seemly behaviour becoming a newspaper editor.

Suzanne Moore for editor: She's Independent, are you?

Make this woman the new editor of the Independent and stop pissing about.

She's a liberal-leftist icon and she makes lots of money from Lord Rothermere by offending him every week in one of his own newspapers. She's proof you don't have to become a rightwing 'mare to coin it in journalism.

And she's no Labour lapdog. When last year the New Statesman made Alastair Campbell guest-editor she resigned from the magazine on highly publicised principle. How could a publication which opposed the Iraq invasion get cuddlesome with one of the war's chief mongers? She's of the left but no apparatchik. Just what we need as virtually every British newspaper right now takes dictation from Andy Coulson.

She's indie down to her legendary fuck-me shoes. She is Madame Arcati's most interesting choice.

Her name is Suzanne Moore. Google her.

(Meanwhile, Rod Liddle's skin colour problem)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Founder of the Rod Liddle/Indy Facebook protest replies ....

Dear Madame,

Came across your blog post while Googling around and wondered, as the founder of the Facebook group, 'If Rod Liddle Becomes Editor of the Independent, I Will not buy it Again' if I could briefly respond to the points you made?

"I don't recall a Facebook campaign against the Indy's present editor Roger Alton..."

A couple of things to say to that. If I'd thought of the idea back then and thought that a Facebook group might actually be able to block an editorial appointment (as it may do in this case...), I probably would have tried to prevent the job going to Alton for exactly the reasons you mention.

Protests don't just happen by themselves - they require someone to actually do it and work themselves ragged in the process - even with all these easy-to-use online tools. And they require sufficient people to feel aggrieved enough to take part in it (which sometimes requires repeated insults). So it doesn't really make much sense to argue against a protest on the grounds that the protestors should have protested something else as well. Maybe they should have?

"What standards in the British press?"

Well, quite. That's the point of making a stand for them! Liddle isn't just about to be given another column in which to be loathesome but actual control over the content of a major national newspaper.

Support us!

Best wishes,
Alex Higgins

Dear Alex

Thank you for your letter. You are to be admired for your derring-do (ie, for going to the bother) but I take the view that newspapers by and large have outlived their usefulness, are generally bullying and vulgar, and do more harm than good in their present form.

Liddle perfectly fits the spec of a national newspaper editor: a red-faced boor whose insular perspectives are unrelieved by the slightest sign of big-heartedness or reflection. Like the many excitable clowns whose fat arses occupy the leather-bound swivel chairs of newspaper editors' offices, he has created a personality caricature of himself which to complacent reader-gigglers and -hoppers is (in his case at least) digestibly entertaining. Provided he plays up to their humdrum prejudices, that is.

If Liddle's rumoured appointment has the effect of speeding up the Indy's closure then let it be. Neither it nor he serves any useful purpose.

But my best wishes to you and your idealistic Facebook protesters.

Madame Arcati

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rod Liddle and the Indy: A rather daft Facebook campaign

The Facebook campaign against Rod Liddle's rumoured appointment-to-be as the next editor of the Independent amuses me. Over 3000 people have signed up to the protest so far - amazing really, considering Liddle's rumoured champion, Alexander Lebedev (the Russian oligarch presently burying alive the London Evening Standard), has yet to buy the paper.

It amuses me for many reasons. For instance, I don't recall a Facebook campaign against the Indy's present editor Roger Alton at the time of his appointment - he'd war-mongered for Blair on the liberal/leftist Observer during the Iraq invasion just because the government paid court to him and one of his ignorant sidekicks.

"Make a stand here for standards in the British press," say the Facebook petitioners. Yet Liddle has made his plastic name writing silly posturing things in The Sunday Times, the Spectator and elsewhere. What standards in the British press?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ivana Trump: OK, she wipes her arse but what about her website?

We know she wipes her own arse because her effervescent London PR (and bff) Liz Brewer said so on Big Brother's Little Brother this weekend as Ivana settled in the Celebrity Big Brother house.

Does Ivana wipe her bottom? loyal Liz was asked by the nondescript male host, the latest incarnation of shouty laddy cool (under 30). "Of course she wipes her bottom," she said quickly before chiding Ivana's fellow giggly housemates for discourtesy to her client and telling us Ivana's looking for a new life direction now she's getting divorced (again), etc.

She may Andrex herself but in one respect at least she needs a helping hand - updating her dusty website. As a self-confessed global icon she really must set a better example (if only to other icons) and follow the template of her face with more frequent nips and tucks to her online visage.

Take her Current Activities page, for example. This was clearly written around the time of the engagement of daughter Ivanka to Jared Kushner, in mid-July last year, which she crows about. "The happy couple are keeping their plans a closely guarded secret until nearer the date they want the world to know," she reveals. Well, they married in late October, should you care. Surely Ivana could have posted her congratulations and a few pics! Very lax.

Her Public Appearances page fails to mention CBB and her Ivana Haute Couture has the faint whiff of neglected potpourri: a few of her posing portraits would not disgrace a Wham! album  - I mean, Ivana Eau De Parfum was launched in 1995, a relatively modern item: some Basenotes critic bitches claim they can't get this scent any more.

On the Reality TV Show page we are touchingly invited to watch her show Ivana Young Man - on Saturday, April 29th.


Excitedly I click to the Barrier Reef Project which Ivana promises will push back the "boundaries of luxury and opulence in a condominium development" on Queensland's Arlie Beach. Alas, a link for more info proves to be dead. It seems that as recently as 2005 this project faded into the PR grave - rather like Ivana's $150 million La Residence tower plan for glamorous Beirut.

Now, if she'd added the words "archive" and "dreams" to describe her website, I wouldn't have said a word.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Iris Robinson: A 19-year-old cock sexes up dreary Northern Ireland

Yes, Mrs Robinson. Kirk, below

Thank God Himself for a 19-year-old cock and the role it is playing in possibly liberating the wife of Northern Ireland's First Minister from the hideous straitjacket of evangelical Christianity.

Only last year Protestant Iris Robinson, 60, quoted bibilical scripture in her condemnation of homosexuality as an abomination (I must recommend Paul Golding's masterly novel The Abomination, btw). Now we learn she had an extra-marital affair with gorgeous, strapping Catholic Kirk McCambley, 21, but 19 or 20 when they commenced the abomination of extra-marital cock-cunting. And in a cruel irony for Mrs R, Kirk has become an instant gay pinup, with Attitude eager to book him as a cover boy.

If Iris has any sense at all, she'll embrace her sin for its bleaching effect on her foolish prejudices and thank her God for the opportunity to join the rest of the human race at long last.

Kirk's young cock has even given Northern Ireland a sudden Gok Wan-style image makeover. After decades of terraced housing drear, it at last sounds interesting, enticing, beguiling. Sexy even. The moral corsets have been snipped at, the eternal Mondayish image yielding to a snap of Friday Nights. Iris and her 19-year-old cock are just the tip of the iceberg. One hopes. His cock has also done what the churches failed to do - united Catholics and Protestants in stunned surprise if not horror. So that's Cock 1 God 0.

Meantime, do visit Kirk's now notorious cafe - which Iris helped finance. The Lock Keeper's Inn is doing a roaring trade as natives flock to catch sight of the young cock fully dressed. As the Belfast Telegraph reports, "While the lure of hot drinks when temperatures were as low as -4C made a seat in the small cafe an attractive proposition, many of those who thronged it were lured by something more than cappuccinos and muffins." Such as one Janice Richards (33), a full-time mother from south Belfast, who said to the paper: “It is just such a surprise, to think with someone so young.”

What the darling means: "It is just such a surprise, to think with a 19-year-old cock." Here, I'll save you time.

The story of Iris and Kirk ....

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Reality TV: Jade Goody could have been the next Tutankhamun

Leafing through a recent copy of Kindred Spirit magazine I spot a most intriguing ad headline, "Would you like to donate your body for science?" Not really, But I read on: "In a unique science project, conducted with leading academic institutions, a group of scientists have [sic] been studying how the Ancient Egyptians mastered the process of mummification which has long been a mystery."

A volunteer is needed, "someone with a terminal illness prepared to donate their body after death." Apparently the secrets of mummification have now been "solved": the corpse will be "preserved - potentially for hundreds or even thousands of years." Benefits for modern medical science are assured. Meantime, all this to be recorded for a TV show.

Although not named in the ad - placed in Kindred Spirit presumably to interest the reincarnationists - behind this are reality-meisters Fulcrum TV, Channel 4's science department and National Geographic Television. A C4 notice elsewhere explains further: "We want to explore our present-day attitudes to life, death and the afterlife. Our supposition is that these attitudes and ideas may not be so different to those of the ancient Egyptians."

An odd supposition in these secular times. Even I, explorer of matters other-worldly (as well as worldly) have yet to meet anyone who believes that post-death their spirit will cross a wide river and pass through a gate guarded by monsters before indictment for 42 crimes in some astral court, as the Pharaohs believed. And the project is scarcely unique: back in 1994 the first human mummification in 2000 years was performed at The University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore. The volunteer was some old cock who'd died of natural causes and never had a serious illness - he is now called Mumab I. He came from Baltimore, natch.

After some Googling about I see this new project is not so new and has been in-planning for quite a while: Fulcrum was advertising for a suitable mummy-to-be three years ago. Now, Fulcrum's Head of Production, Adam Berman, emails me, "I’m afraid that this project is on hold for the moment," despite the current ad. Mummified even.

Oh dear, I wonder what the problem is? It's not as if the world lacks for people with terminal illnesses. The late Jade Goody would have made a perfect volunteer - her earth-time Big Brother TV profile would have drawn a large aud, and she believed in heaven. Also, her mother Jackiey Budden has since been in touch with Jade via a medium (as reported by a UK tabloid), so she could have furnished us with detail of the afterlife for a comparative analysis of the Book of the Dead, the Ancient Egyptian Sat Nav for what lies beyond. Jade would have become the Tutanhkamun or Nefertiti of the Fifth Millennium - what a missed op.

NB: Mummification was in essence a method of post-mortem transportation, not a TV gloop-fest for jaded Body Worlds freaks - I do hope the godless scientists behind this project remember that.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Did Michael Lutin's USA horror-scope stick in Vanity Fair's Uranus?

Michael Lutin

One of the minor mysteries of our time is why Vanity Fair dumped its esteemed and popular astrologer Michael Lutin back in 2007. For nearly 25 years he wrote for the mag: his monthly Planetarium page nimbly balanced seership and edgy wit to please reader hopers and staff cynics alike: then he was gone without explanation - such bad manners! He was the one stargazer who impressed those of my friends who think my studies in astrology a sign of lunacy.

Lutin himself appears to have been nonplussed by his apparent dumping, judging by a message he left on his Where's The Moon? site in 2007:  "I can't personally answer the thousands of people wondering what happened to the VF Planetarium so all I can say is maybe you should ask them [the mag]." Thousands? And yet not one letter published in VF on the matter. There's journalistic democracy for you.

Lutin now can be found on the Huffington Post and one of his postings last year perhaps contains a clue to the reason for his departure: do remember, if the first and second parties do not explain, a third party is entitled to speculate.

Back in 2006 Lutin wrote an alarming piece for VF titled Special Alert: Horoscope USA. Alas, it failed in many respects to be as breezily optimistic as its editor Graydon Carter never was while Bush was in power. Lutin, as latterday Nostradamus, foresaw a parlous and dark future for America: "We've gotten fat and we've gotten lazy," concluded Lutin. "So don't blame George Bush [as Graydon Carter did every month - MA's note] or Bill Clinton or any of the elected officials in Washington. A country gets the leaders it deserves, and when we're ready to rise from the ashes of a fallen empire, we will find the leaders to help us do so. It will happen, but not in 2008. We have to go through the Pluto transit first."

Now I notice that Lutin used his Huffington Post blog to tell us of his problems in getting the piece published in VF in the first place, though he was a contributing editor. Was the article too dark? He writes: "That's what my editors at Vanity Fair thought when I submitted the piece... [it was] finally published... after it had been thoroughly edited 'for size'." Ah, does he mean toned down? Censored? His quote marks. Lutin adds: "Just as the issue was going to press, I told them how important I believed the piece was, and they should drop out my regular column if space were the problem, and replace it with the Horoscope USA. They did, but afterward I received a note from the editor-in-chief [Carter], saying, 'I hope you're wrong.'"

With evident relief, Lutin writes: "Thank God for the Huffington Post. Now I can say what I've been trying to say for going on three years," before regaling readers with more talk of revolution in the Cancerian US as Pluto does its worst in Capricorn, despite Obama. I am sure Carter would not have wanted to read in his glossy: "People are funny. Just before the catastrophic explosion, they get lethargic, apathetic and goofy, almost catatonic, crippled by shock into denial... "

Is it possible Obama-adoring Vanity Fair let their very own John Dee go because they preferred a toothpaste smiley view of the future, expected to be reinvented in 2008? Would they have preferred Lutin to spin some upbeat guff for their Pluto-fearing readers? Aren't stargazers just expected to be giggly? I don't think VF has ever replaced Lutin: one hopes the magazine is not getting, er, "goofy, almost catatonic, crippled by shock into denial."

Friday, January 01, 2010

Madame Arcati gives its first best read of 2010

What a delightful way to start the year. My exclusive story on Prince Philip and Molly Parkin found its way onto the Telegraph's website and was this morning its most viewed read. At the time of writing, its second most viewed read. The delightful Tim Walker moves the story on a bit: Molly's "strip-lighting" sex toy, as improvised by her lover James Roberston Justice, has become a light bulb: I think it most unlikely that anyone would place a light bulb up her cunt, but I suppose anything's possible. Also, author James Hogg confirms the truth of my report: of course it's true, Molly Parkin told me! I think this is a story waiting to be treated with bigger fanfare, don't you? It's certainly the most interesting of the stories kicking off the New Year, amid the fake predictions, dreary look-backs and -forwards and yawny posturings of the political parties.

(Telegraph ups the ante: When James Robertson Justice told Prince Philip and others of his buggering at Marlborough)