Society Scene –

Visit to Mar’s House

Society Scene
by John Burgeson
May 30, 2006

It’s time for an update on Mar Jennings, Westport’s style guru — who’s hoping for a shot at going national.

Chatterbox stopped by his house in Westport the other night for an impromptu party, celebrating his new linkup with Northstar Productions, a media production company that’s seeking to have his home and garden style show on HGTV, or a national cable network like that.

Does he have a shot? In a word, yes. Martha Stewart has gone on to other things — realty shows and what-not. She’s drifted so far from the days of her Christmas wreath made or cranberries, that I doubt if anyone still looks to Martha for style ideas.

Yes, Martha had her day, but her reign as the nation’s glue-gun goddess is rapidly receding in the rearview mirror. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ashamed to say that I loved her ideas back in the 1980s and 90s. They were badly needed, given in an age when everything seemed to be made out of plastic, and the art of being a good host was lost. She offered, through her shows and her magazine, some great tips on entertaining guests, cooking the old-fashioned way, making your guests feel at home and not-too-labor-intensive tips on decorating, gardening and observing nature.

When Chatterbox arrived at Mar’s house, he was playing the part of the mad chemist, making “Lemontinis,” or martinis for his friends that tasted a little like a Margarita, but with a lemony, not orangy, flavor. This all was taking place in his garage/potting shed, where a lot of his creative energy seems to spring from. Like the time I saw him take a couple of sticks, an old flower pot and a ribbon, and turn these things — things that were one step away from the dust bin — into something you’d want in the living room.

And with Martha gone — as far as Chatterbox is concerned — there’s a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum. Someone will fill that vacuum. That person might as well be Mar.

A postscript. About 13 years ago, at a party, I met the two women who actually made the famous cranberry Christmas wreath that appeared on the cover of a December Martha Stewart Living. They explained to me the laborious process of taking fresh cranberries, sticking a pin into each one and then sticking the cranberry-with-a pin-stuck-into-it on a wreath form. “Good thing cranberries are red,” one said. “That’s for sure,” said the other artist. “Because when we were finished, it was covered in blood.”

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