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."