Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunset saved me!

Ebey's Landing c. 1997
Oh thank GOD my Sunset mag finally arrived!  I was feeling so lost without it! I had completely frozen up in confusion and indecision: What should I plant this spring?  What wine should I drink?  Oh... dear god... if you love me at all pleasepleaseplease make Sunset arrive!  I'm a lost wretch without it.  I need Sunset, my life depends on it, to tell me what to do, to try, to eat and where to go.  I can't figure it out on my own!  Oh!  Help me!  oh god....

Sunset's calling is to tell us all what is hip and how to be hip. That they ever mention anything specific in Portland baffles me. All they need to say is "Portland." Check out this Portland cupcake nook in Portland. This Portland store has the Portlandiest aprons.  I feel so Portlandy in these recycled underroos.  Portland is so Portland that the last time I was there (less than a year ago)  I ended up at a nudist co-op, hot-tubbing under the stars, in the middle of the city.  And that's only because the Queer Square-dancing was cancelled (queer: in ALL it's possible meanings), so my host jogged us a few blocks over for relaxation among strangers-in-the-buff.

In this issue, Sunset dictates to me that they've, "Found your new hometown!"  Oh yes! Yes!  Did you find me a job there too? Or are you saying they've got a tiptop homeless shelter? They also have a series of stereotyped "Westerners" in cartoon format, unironically called "rugged individuals".  Fleece vest, black lab, designer kicks.  Thanks.  We're all just caricatures now.

St. Edwards State Park grotto
My loathing for Sunset is also about how they reveal all my sacred spaces to the world.  It feels as if this beautiful glossy rag shows up, you open it, and some how it's all close-ups of your vj.  It feels invasive, shocking, insulting.  St. Edwards State Park (where we had our unofficiated, unrehersed, unplanned, improper unwedding), Ebey's Landing, Taft Beach, and Ainsworth Hot Springs.  I'll never get a good room there now!  It's disgusting. All the Northwest secrets spots, EXPOSED. Is nothing sacred?

But here's my favorite: "5 Sparkling Wine Customs That Must Die".  Coming in at Number Five is this very helpful hint:   "The mason jar: serving sparklers in canning jars was fun for five minutes in the '80's. Get over it."  Sweet!  Personally, canning jars are kinda expensive and I would never risk chipping one in the hum drum daily grind of champagne quaffing, not when I can get perfectly good glasses for $.50 at Goodwill.  But snarky Sunset!  shit!  And that comment comes after a little montage of readers' favorite things about the Northwest including: no one cares who your Daddy and Mummy were, people who don't worry about ironing their clothes, friendly people who make eye contact and positive attitudes, and ALSO people who are very concerned and critical about how others drink their bubbly.  Yes, my favorite thing about the Northwest is that I have Sunset to save me from my quirky self by telling me just what not to drink out of. Where once I was lost, now I am found, twas Sunset that saved a wretch like me.

Wedding cake with shaggy friends
Why do I get Sunset?  It was a gift I requested: Gardening Porn.  That's the main point.

With fashion magazines, I'm impervious to the usual, well-researched malaise and self-loathing that most women experience after their first five minutes of perusal.  I had this experience when I was a teen where I was looking for an article in my stack of Seventeen's.  After an hour, I hadn't found the article, but I did have an entire page listing beauty products I absolutely MUST HAVE.  After criticizing myself in the mirror for a while, I suddenly realized that before I read those magazines I felt okay.  And the only thing possibly responsible for the shift was the magazines.  They are advertisements designed to make you unsatisfied with life as it is and, like all good proselytizing, they then have a handy solution for the problem they just manifested.  Just $10 for the right mascara!  After that, I regarded them as a nuisance or a joke.  And they have little to no affect on me...I think...for the most part...except they're part of this larger cultural thing that does affect me.

Taft Beach (that's my sister; I'm taking the photo)
Sunset does too. It deals in envy. After just 15 minutes of gazing at orderly walkways, burgeoning flower gardens, ecstatic garden art, impossibly kept vegetable rows, I can get really down on my weedy plot of chaos, my less than organized house, my un-white walls, my un-crisp lines.  A mowed weave through the weeds is my path.  Just like the before/after photoshop pictures of models circulating these days, I'd like to see before Sunset-photo-set-up-crew photos too.  These gardens can't be pristine 365 days a year, right?

How about this article? How Does a Family Manage to Produce Only Two Handfuls of Trash Per Year?
Answer: by being insane and lying and then making you feel like a hog who wantonly lets their children use our world's precious resources to make ART, of all the useless things.

Sunset's Next crass exposure: Cashmere
I actually do like their loco-vore angle.  And how they make superstars out of sustainability and DIY foodiness.  Their healthy, quick recipes are good for a spin and I can usually find one vegetarian/gluten free thing in each issue that replaces a worn out regular on our menu.

Sunset: I love you.  I hate you.  You are a hot mess, as they say.  But you can't save me from myself.  I'm going to have some beyond-Portland homemade hard cider in a mason jar now, just to watch you freak with envy and angst.

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