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Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 2000 / 24 Kislev, 5761

Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly
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Consumer Reports

The next Martha Stewart -- JUST IN TIME for last-minute shopping, I received this week a mail-order catalogue from Dianna Brochendorff, of Salisbury, Conn. This was not just any catalogue because, as Ms. Brochendorff writes, there is nothing in this catalogue that I do not keenly want or, in most cases, already have, and because Ms. Brochendorff is possessed, as she frankly admits, of a deep and joyful appreciation of the beautiful, the brilliant, the pure, the laughter of creativity, craftsmanship and good work, and also because all the items in the catalogue are very fine, special, limited-edition opportunities.

What Ms. Brochendorff keenly wants or, in most cases, already has includes a cashmere blanket that has accompanied Ms. Brochendorff from the Class 5 rapids of the Bio-Bio to trekking in the Himalayas, and which she is willing to part with for $1,180, which, Ms. B. correctly notes is a remarkable pricea bargain compared with the $2,400 charged for the same blanket by a certain French establishment. There is also some nice jewelry made by a friend of Ms. Brochendorff whom she admired at the christening of a magnificent sailboat for dancing with an infectious joy, a generosity of spirit, a fresh creative energy. Also some knick-knacks from a store in Salisbury run by some other friends of Ms. Brochendorff, ladies of distinction from the worlds of high finance and fashion; some picture frames from another dear friend and maddening tennis buddy; a CD of jazz and blues that Ms. B says IS MY FAVORITE ALBUM!; and some $60 stuffed cat-dolls that Ms. B enjoys intently playing with in the company of her great friend and fellow world adventurer of have-danger-will-travel note, Clare Stone.

Ms. Brochendorff is, I think, on to something. Why should Martha Stewart be the only Martha Stewart? Inside each one of us, buried under those relaxed-fit sweatpants, is our own little Martha, screaming to get out and sell superfluous stuff reflecting our exquisite taste to gullible people at unbelievable prices. And, as Ms. B notes in her breakthrough concept, most of this is stuff you already have.

I am myself offering this year some exceptionally fine, special, limited-edition items.

One thing I dont think you will find in anyone elses catalogue is my wifes extraordinary collection of free T-shirts from political campaigns, mall openings, 5K races she did not run in, campus keg parties, summer camps and other events over the course of four decades.

My wife has never thrown away a single T-shirt in her life. There are probably a couple hundred of them in our spare bedroom closet alone, some of them dating back to when Love, American Style was on the air.

My wife says that one day they will be worth a lot of money, especially the ones from the Dukakis for President campaign.

I say they are worth a lot of money now$1,943, to be exact, for the whole lot, and thats plenty less than a certain French establishment would charge you (if they even had any Dukakis for President T-shirts, which they dont, because they are French). A very limited-edition opportunity may be found in the purchase of a bird that my sister Meg and her husband have. It is apparently some sort of parakeet.

It is apparently neurotic. It makes an incessant racket, day and night.

I am sure my sister and her husband would be happy to part with it ($790) and tell the kids that someone left the cage door open and it flew away to be free and happy in Gods great outdoors.

In the same vein, I am confident in offering my sister Kates dog, Ellie, and also my parents dog, Poppy. These dogs are both of that smallish, fluffy, clueless type, and they dont have a full brain between them.

Neither one of them is remotely housebroken, both are sent into fits of hysterical yapping by the passing of any vehicle within half a mile of their little, little heads, and they steal astonishing amounts of food, sometimes right from your hand as you are eating.

One of them is known to bite, although not very effectively. An even $1,000 the pair. There is lots more, each item more special than the next. My wife has a watch her grandmother gave her that looks like a string of small metal bananas.

I have, inexplicably, eight full sets of encyclopedias dating from the period between the two world wars.

My mother-in-law has every gift-package box she ever received. In our attic there is a one-of-a-kind stuffed owl that some animal, I hope a squirrel, chewed the head off. It came with the house.

I am afraid to touch it, but I will if someone will pay me money for it. More goodies available. Please write for catalogue today. Please.

Michael Kelly is the editor of National Journal. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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