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."

20 comments:

Sue George said...

It's a shame his website is so hard to read though, verging on the incomprehensible. Someone should give it a makeover.

Madame Arcati said...

I agree, it looks a mess, and with all those huge gaps. Most surprising.

Anonymous said...

This is not really an item worthy of inclusion in Madame's site. At first one thinks, what is the TRUE reason for the chap's departure. Some scandale for sure. By piece's end we're told it's because he was too GRIM.

How exciting....

Madame Arcati said...

I don't agree at all. Though not a scandal, it proposes an explanation for Lutin's exit. And why should the stargazer - hired to foretell what he sees - be axed for being depressing when VF's editor was nothing but depressing as he rained insults on Bush for the duration. The story points to a possible absurdity.

The late Nostradamus said...

Lutin was simply wonderful in VF and was one of the reasons why I bought it. I never imagined such a fuss over a few predictions. Perhaps Graydon Carter thinks astrology a branch of showbiz and has no business being serious.

This all reminds me of the stories of Tiberius having astrologers thrown off a cliff on his island home of Capri. Then he encountered an astrologer named Thrasyllus who probably had heard of the fate of his peers. Tiberius led him to his tower and ordered him tell the future. Thrasyllus gazed at the stars for some time, and finally said: "You, Tiberius, are sure to become emperor, but I am threatened with a great danger!" Pleased by this answer, Tiberius allowed the astrologer to leave the tower unharmed.

Lutin may have much to learn from this Thrasyllus - get the good news out first!

veritas said...

An odd conclusion Anon-this is quite a fascinating piece for inclusion on the old broad's site. Lutin was so spot-on with his 2007 piece that it is a BIG mystery why he had to go.

Perhaps the USA was in the grip of such pure hysteria at the time that even the normally sane VF that often ran anti-"establishment" pieces thought his gloomy predictions were a little tooo much for a country where most live in the Dreamtime.

Perhaps it's a repeat of the psychic Helen Duncan saga who ended up behind bars in WW2 for telling mums their sons had gone down in ships that the War Ministry insisted had yet been sunk. She was always correct.

Maybe Lutin's been employed as a CIA agent-that would be the sensible thing for US authorities to have done.

The late Eva Petulengro said...

I heard lutin was just too out there even for vanity fair, and they couldn't deal with his weirdness any more.

Anonymous said...

Eva-check out VF's list of contributing editors for weirdos.

Mrs Trefusis... said...

I adored Lutin's horoscopes for VF - he once told me not to bother getting out of bed, which was sound advice as it turns out. I liked his spiky tone, and I thought his astrology very sound.
The horoscope for the US makes for depressing reading with or without Lutin - the Pluto transit is ghastly, and pulls in various other tinderbox countries which have sensitive points at the same degree.
Coming to think of it, I haven't read VF since 2007. Lutin is probably the reason.

Madame Arcati said...

VF has gone off so you're not missing much. It recently ran a book extract from the late Dominick Dunne's last novel - atrocious rubbish. Just a shopping list of thinly disguised character sketches of NY society figures: every name is followed by a who or a whom, as if you have to qualify for a starring or walk on part. And now they've got Tiger Woods pics - great timing. You just sense the mag's staled - like the Sunday Times in fact.

Anonymous said...

Time for Graydon to get Cartered off then?

Madame Arcati said...

Oh yes, he grew very pompous and full of shit a long time ago. Hard to imagine he once ran a satirical mag. The only thing I'll say for him is that his anti-Bush diatribes were spot on ferocious, indicating the patient may yet come round once he's taken off life support complacency.

Anonymous said...

Interesting...I always thought Michael Lutin's Vanity Fair horoscopes were pretty accurate. Last night, I got a blast of really negative energy (after dreaming that I was about to be murdered by farmers(?)), and it hung around for a while before I was able to get back to sleep. While checking out astrological sites this morning for any clues, I came upon your post about Mr. Lutin. I wondered why he disappeared from Vanity Fair, and I'm glad to know I can find him on HuffPo. I think that Obama is a vast improvement over Bush, and certainly speaks from a much higher place, but I'm bewildered that he seems unable to get anything done. I guess Pluto is a reasonable explanation, if not an encouraging one.

Madame Arcati said...

Interesting dream about the farmers...

Yes, Pluto, the planet of elimination, sometimes the grim reaper; but actually a planet marking fundamental change and regrowth. Whether Lutin is too pessimistic remains to be seen: certainly VF is too featherweight a place to take anything too seriously, unless you're a pompus atheist like Hitchens or the pompous editor like Carter.

Those farmers - do you have fears as a provider (beyond the usual concerns)?

Anonymous said...

Well, yeah, the company I work for was just sold, so everyone is in limbo right now. Interesting...thanks! (I think an article about the firebombing of Dresden that I read right before bedtime might have been an influence as well. Next time, it's Winnie the Pooh.)

Toni said...

The only reason I bought VF was to read Michael's Column . . . we miss him!

Toni said...

The only reason I bought VF was to read Michael's comments. All of my friends miss reading VF but don't bother because Michael is not there!

Cheryl said...

I'm in Australia, bumbled across Lutin's website... So glad I did!! Many talented astrologers 'get it right', but Michael 'tells it like it is'. No pats on head, there there now. Fantastic. Reality check peoples!! Long overdue.

Jonathan King said...

Talking about Tiberius, did you see that wonderful actor George Baker, who portrayed him so brilliantly in the BBC series, died today aged 80?

Madame Arcati said...

By sheer coincidence I am rewatching I, Claudius so it was especially sad to hear of Baker's death. His Tiberius is highly credible - a mean-hearted cur embittered by aborted love.