Visit The Pantry each month for a closer look at the cover subject of Martha Stewart Living Magazine with insightful articles that broaden the scope of the cover topic, written by Andrew Ritchie.

Neuhaus Nirvana
By Andrew Ritchie
The latest in celebrity indulgences comes in a small white box. Tom Cruise buys them by the pound, Al Pacino can't resist them and actress Marcia Gay Harden is on a two-month waiting list to receive the imported goods. These are not diamonds or sapphires, but the best in Belgian chocolate truffles: Neuhaus! (Read More)

Shepherd Herding Her Career into
the Chasm with "Martha Inc."
by Andrew Ritchie

Cybill Shepherd must be desperate indeed if she's playing Martha Stewart in a low-budget television movie of the week. Shepherd has been playing the good Samaritan lately, raising awareness about women's health issues like menopause and breast cancer, but has not been seen on screen since CBS cancelled her self-titled television show in 1998. (Read more)

Point Blankets by Andrew Ritchie

Of Martha Stewart's numerous collections, perhaps none is more warm and cozy than her collection of historical point blankets. Point blankets originated more than two-hundred years ago during the North American fur trade. European settlers produced the blankets using a fine blend of wool and traded them with the Native indians in exchange for fur pelts, such as the much sough-after beaver pelt. (Read more)

Holiday Plants by Andrew Ritchie

Did you know that a poinsettia plant can grow up to 10 feet tall, or that there are 400 kinds of holly? Find out some surprising facts about our most beloved holiday plants: where they come from, how to care for them and why they are used during the holidays. (Read more)

Giving Thanks
By Andrew Ritchie

Imagine yourself on the northern coast of Canada, on Baffin Island, in the year 1576. The land is harsh, the wind is cold and there is nary a hint of human settlement. It was here that Martin Forbisher, an English explorer, celebrated the first recorded Thanksgiving on the North American continent, a full 43 years before the pilgrims of Massachusetts at Plymouth Rock. (Read More)

The History of Halloween
By Andrew Ritchie

The air is crisp. The leaves have left a crunchy carpet on the sidewalks and pathways. The moon looms larger with each passing evening and children across North America find it increasingly difficult to sleep, in anticipation of one of the most festive nights of the fall season – Halloween, of course!

But how did Halloween actually begin? Where did it originate? And how has it evolved over the years?

(Read More)

The Beauty of Murals
By Andrew Ritchie

Decorative murals have been part of households for centuries and an expression of culture for even longer. Nearly every culture in the world has expressed its historical evolution through the creation of murals, using chalks, paints, inks and pencils to recreate a dramatic event in history or preserve, on the very walls of civilization, the essence of a cultural ideal.

The techniques for creating murals vary from place to place and have evolved over time to include some fantastic new ways of decorating the walls of a room, or the exterior of a building.
(Read More)

Deconstructing Byron
An exclusive Save Martha serial by Andrew Ritchie

Vol. 1 – The Prologue

In the prologue to Martha Inc., Christopher Byron introduces us, only summarily, to the two faces of Martha Stewart that he has glimpsed over the years. There is the warm, personable millionaire with a heart of gold who supports local businesses and uses her status to help others pursue their goals. And, in direct contrast, is the manipulative, shrewd capitalist with a disregard for friendship and tact in matters of business, the woman who storms out of charity luncheons and throws coffee mugs at the wall in fits of rage.
(Read More)

Vol. 2 – Nancy Drew and the Case of the Hidden Childhood

No childhood is perfect. No child grows up with ideal parents or escapes the sometimes-hurtful experiences that come with emotional growth in a family unit. And there isn’t a child in America who doesn’t imagine beyond his own surroundings, with hopes and dreams of future prosperity.

And yet, Byron makes the very typical mid-20th century family life Martha grew up with seem like a uniquely depressing experiment in dominance and submission, anger and bitterness, when in truth it was probably quite ordinary.
(Read more)

Vol. 3 – A Model Life

Amongst all of the sordid chapters of Martha Inc., chapter two ranks among the better ones. It is a brief reprieve in the midst of an otherwise exhausting barrage of editorial hearsay. In this chapter, Byron seems to remember that he is no longer the acid-tongued columnist at the New York Post, but is, instead, wearing the hat of biographer and succeeds in fulfilling that position relatively well here. (Read more)

Vol. 4 – To Wall Street

Getting her hands on a lot of money. That’s what Chris Byron says was the major subplot in Martha’s life in her late 20s when she found herself working on Wall Street in 1968. Rather than describing it as ambition, as he would have if Martha Stewart had been a young man, he colors her desire to be wealthy with shades of greed and sneakiness, making it seem as if Martha should have been ashamed of pursuing wealth and a career in a financial domain.
(Read more)

Vol. 5 The Page Turns

In chapter 4, Chris Byron sinks his teeth and claws into that pesky media prototype of Martha Stewart that has become so tired and overdone by just about every desperate hack in media today; the domineering control freak, the ill-tempered perfectionist, the evil wife from hell. It all rings so superficially shallow that it’s difficult to get through the chapter without yawning. He reduces this incredibly individualistic woman, yet again, to the caricature we’ve seen on countless tabloids, countless times in countless shades of yellow journalism, repeated like some celluloid recurring nightmare. (Read More)

Vol. 6., A Nascent Empire: the Martha Moment is Born

What Chris Byron is itching to say throughout Martha Inc., but never actually does, is rife with all the ugly misogyny that has afflicted his generation’s "Old Boy’s Club" since American women first entered the workforce. It goes something like this: "Martha is an uppity, greedy bitch who forgot her place as the dutiful housewife. She eats men for breakfast and uses their bones as floss, all the while plotting how to conquer the world, bent on a little girl’s fantasy of the perfect, doll-house life."

The sentiment is there, throughout the book, in all his references to her as the "alpha male," as the frigid mother who never had time for Alexis, as the wretched wife who is more interested in bank books than caring for her husband’s every need.

What Chris Byron has done in the process of writing such tripe, over and over again, is undermine the legitimacy of his biography on Martha Stewart, reducing it to a puffed-up tabloid rag on par with its predecessor, Jerry Oppenheimer’s Just Desserts, which will remembered not for its balanced research but for its nasty tone and cruel intent. (Read More)

Vol. 7 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?
"I went to a lot of trouble to be fair and I’m sure the portrait in this is complete, three-dimensional and accurate," Christopher Byron said in an interview with MSNBC.com last April about his book on Martha Stewart.

This comment is almost laughable after one reads the book in its entirety, and certainly so when reading various passages in the book that are tainted with Byron’s acidic language and biased opinion. The fact that Byron was burned by Martha when she refused to take part in his book indicates that his requirement to be objective when writing this biography was traded in favor of vengeance and spite.
(Read More)

Vol. 8 –Making the Best-Seller List
In the process of publishing her first best selling book Entertaining, and building a media empire, Martha's marriage to Andy Stewart was sacrificed, which is not surprising given the strain such success would place on any union. But what she did to fill the void left by a troubled marriage was reinvent the homemaker to give thousands of women fresh hope while also rediscovering the industries and businesses which facilitated the workings of the home. She made the homemaker cool again – an oversight that far too many of Martha's detractors are guilty of. (Read More)

Vol. 9 --Kmart Calls
In Chapter 8 of his book Martha, Inc, Christopher Byron does a good job of presenting the reader with relevant information about how the Kmart deal was done, naming his sources and conjuring a coherent account of the deal. He includes many details and provides some interesting insight along the way. But Byron’s continuing commentary on Kmart and Martha Stewart in his NY Post column, however, has completely undermined the supposed professionalism of his business bio of Martha Stewart. Resorting to calling her "Main Mama Martha" in a recent article about her lucrative liaisons with Kmart, he has proven that he is more interested in name-calling than any kind of balanced reportage. This only clarifies his original vision for Martha Inc.: "…the story of a little girl who never got over what life never gave her…" For what it’s worth, we hope that the story of a little boy who never got over being snubbed by Martha Stewart ends with the eventual flowering of his maturity. (Read more)

Vol. 10: How to Negotiate a Contract
Greed. One of the seven deadly sins. According to Chris Byron it was greed that spurred Martha ever forward in her business pursuits. It was not ambition or an inner yearning to accomplish something worthwhile. It was not a desire to create a product and share ideas that would be inspiring to millions of people. No, it was greed. In chapter 9 of “Martha Inc.” – How to Negotiate a Contract (a title dripping with sarcasm) – it is Martha’s greed that takes center stage in Byron’s ludicrous drama. (Read More)

Vol. 11:Strategy: Get Others to Pay
With a title reeking of contempt for Martha, Chris Byron begins a descent into unabashed criticism and nastiness that peaks during the next three chapters of Martha Inc. Her business strategy, he asserts, has been to get others to pay for her success, often using sneaky and devious methods to worm her way into the best possible deal for herself. As an example, Byron cites Martha’s purchase of the Adam’s house up the street from her home in Connecticut, a purchase that totaled $535,000. But as we will see, Martha’s “strategy” was to simply ask a question. (Read More)

Comments? Write to Andrew

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