Culture: It's a Good Thing

Roy Romer doesn't know who Martha Stewart is--and it's a good thing, too.
The high priestess of high-class living is a menace to women everywhere, and particularly here. That by-the-book (her book) lifestyle is precisely what people move to Colorado to avoid. After all, hydrangeas are not xeriscape-approved. And how can you host a quaint clambake when your most plentiful local seafood is the Rocky Mountain oyster?

Bull's balls were not on the menu at the recent Washington, D.C., dinner party that had Romer eating crow, however. The chair of the Democratic National Committee, who moonlights as Colorado's governor, started the evening out by introducing himself to the woman seated beside him.

She said she was Martha Stewart.
"Martha, just what is it that you do?" Romer asked.
For starters, she rakes in millions as the gospel of good taste--and "good things," as she says. Making your own candles is a good (and economical!) thing, but only when you do it from the purest bee's wax. Creating herbed olive oils is a good thing, but only when you use your own, home-grown herbs. And writing your own column is a good thing, particularly when, in your debut piece, you justify (as Stewart did last year) your emphasis on time-consuming and totalitarian tastefulness by pointing out that what with all the really icky, unaesthetic things in the world--famine, war, that unpleasantness in Bosnia--there's certainly no harm in surrounding yourself with a little beauty.

After he failed to recognize Stewart's high-profile name, Romer--the man who, having left his wallet back home, relied on his own recognizability factor to panhandle his way to D.C.--asked the name of her syndicated TV series and monthly magazine. The same, she said.

It's a good thing Martha was in a friendly mood that night. Otherwise, she might have strung Romer up on one of her handmade trellises. Or written him a note like the one she sent disappointed fans who couldn't get their books signed at a Buffalo charity event: "I promise I'll think long and hard before I accept another invitation to your chilly and downright unfriendly city again."

Next time the governor sits next to a pop-culture icon, he might not be so lucky. Matt Lauer could bite him with those pearly whites. LeAnn Rimes could give him a sugar overdose. Robert James Waller could put him in his next book.

And so, as a public service to Colorado, I offer the governor a true Pop-Culture Pop Quiz. (After passing this test, solving the legislature's welfare puzzle should be a breeze.)

Multiple-Personalities Choice

1. What does Martha Stewart suggest you put dishwashing soap into?
a) Your maid's hands
b) An antique cut-glass decanter
c) Neither. Use paper plates.

2. Besides her own syndicated series, on which TV show does Martha Stewart make a regular appearance?

a) Beavis and Butt-head
b) CBS This Morning
c) Designing Women

3. Who did Martha Stewart reportedly date?
a) Her gardener
b) Her chauffeur
c) Her daughter's ex-boyfriend

4. What organization is Martha Stewart currently pitching for?
a) Tiffany's
b) Kmart
c) The Westport, Connecticut, Cornish Game Hens

5. Finish this lyric by gubernatorial favorite Bruce Springsteen: "Baby, we were born to...."

a) Can
b) Run
c) Die

6. What TV star was Bruce Springsteen once married to?
a) Martha Stewart
b) Julianne Phillips
c) Jennifer Aniston

7. Everybody knows Bruce Springsteen is the Boss. Who is the Big Man?
a) Roy Romer, sometime governor of Colorado
b) Roy Bittan, pianist
c) Patti Scialfa, wife and background vocalist
d) Clarence Clemons, saxophonist

8. What is Tommy Hilfinger known for designing?
a) Women
b) Underwear
c) Sportswear
d) Bomber jackets

9. What did Michael Jackson name his kid?
a) Elvis
b) Tito
c) LaToya
d) Janet
e) Marlon
f) Prince

10. Which national publication has not recognized the brilliance of Paul Romer?

a) Time
b) Newsweek
c) Martha Stewart's Living

11. Who is Dr. Laura?
a) The hot love interest on General Hospital
b) Some kid's mom, but not Paul Romer's
c) This year's Dr. Ruth

12. What are the X-Files?
a) The DNC documents that President Bill Clinton has not released
b) The record of porno movies rented by Clarence Thomas
c) The Roy Romer for Senate support list
d) An inexplicably popular Fox TV show

13. Finish this phrase made popular by Cuba Gooding, Jr.: "Show me..."
a) The Academy Award
b) The money
c) Tom Cruise's Church of Scientology membership card

Essay Questions

14. Who is more famous, Martha Stewart or Tiger Woods? Explain.

15. What is the difference between the Lippo Group and liposuction?

Extra-Credit Question:

16. Notorious B.I.G.: fat or phat?

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun