A Letter to the Editor

Graydon Carter
Vanity Fair
New York, New York  10036

Dear Mr. Carter,

I know I haven’t been in touch, but after reading February’s issue I felt I must drop you a line.  I enjoy reading Vanity Fair as its superior, snarky, devil-may-care content makes me feel like a gal in the know.  However, A. A. Gill and his perspective of the Creation Museum was a stand-out.

I’m not from Cincinnati, but I have visited there a few times.  Being from the midwest, and not knowing better, I found the town delightful.  Truly embarrassed now I have corrected my thinking and realize “they have meager pickings to boast about.”  Referring to the pilgrims visiting the site arriving in their “surreys with the fringes on top” is a particularly clever and fresh way to describe – ha! have you heard this before – the “flyover states.”  And, you sly dogs, making fun of people for their clothes and weight, it’s so fresh!  So amusing!  I simply cannot get enough.  But then again I am from “Nowheresville” myself and do find the thought of being in the presence of an English actor startling.

To that point, flying Paul Bettany to Cincinnati to take the pictures does seem a wise move.  The overweight woman on the stool!  Poetry!  With ad pages down a mere 30% or so it’s just the kind of thing to hook new readers.  A justifiable expense, no doubt.

It’s just terrific that you are using your pages to show the right people, you know, the ones on the coasts, a true picture of what goes on in the middle.  Thank heavens I have your magazine to show me the real New York as well.  It helped so much when the gypsy cab driver yelled, “Fuck YOU!” in my face at the Gift Show last year.  If I hadn’t known better, I might have assumed that all New Yorkers were rude.  Or worse, provincial.

Do give Mr. Gill my best.


Mrs. Blandings

p.s.  The Monkey Bar does look fabulous.

I have no personal beef with Mr. Gill or his take on this attraction.  I am not fat.  I do not wear bib overalls.  I am not a creationist.  In fact, I’m not a member of any organized religion and while I do not believe in the creationist doctrine it doesn’t seem any more far-fetched than the religion of my youth.   We, here in the middle, just get enough of this nonsense.  Sure, we’ve got some wingnuts; it’s just not a reflection of our entire town/state/region.  Any more than Jersey Shore is.

I apologize for my language.  It seemed fitting.

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82 thoughts on “A Letter to the Editor

  1. *makes mental note – don't mess with Mrs. Blandings*

    but seriously, a thoughtful and beautifully worded response to an poorly executed pile of arrogance.


  2. I can just imagine if the piece had been about Tennessee. And, yes, the language was fitting. Great commentary.

  3. Yes, that's A.A Gill's style right enough (I assume he's the same A.A. Gill from the UK Sunday Times). All about him, in a rather pained way, although purporting to be about something else. Amusing in small doses, but quickly gets a bit samey.

  4. Bwahaha! Oh Patricia… this made my morning! You stuck it to him and yet it's the most eloquent piece of writing I've seen all week. lol… I cancelled my Vanity Fair subscription two years ago. It was too heavy, literally, from all the ads. Meh!

  5. Good job, ditto for the trash job C.Hitchens did on Gore Vidal-VF has always been the intellect's STAR but- it now borders on on out and out slander and smut. Way to go.

  6. Thank you, all, really. Gill's piece on the museum is mildly amusing, not all that funny, frankly, but fine. I'm just oh-so-over people dismissing truly lovely cities in an effort to appear superior.

    And, mise, I'm quite aware of Mr. Gill and his style; I've read his pieces before. I was all prepared to love the Sex and the City tour piece and that, too, fell flat. I have not read his cooking or restaurant stuff. Perhaps it is better.

  7. Great letter. Well done! I gave up on VF a few years ago because of their tiresome coastal mentality. There are more interesting things to read, such as the backs of cereal boxes, the list of ingredients in Cool Whip, and bank statements.


    it is so true. as if we midwesterners have been sent out to pasture and do nothing but shove handfuls of corn (syrup) in our faces and shuffle about with our fat hinneys swaying slowly back and forth. that we have no real knowledge or sophistication. just shows their myopic vision of this country — as many midwesterners know there are not too many easterners who dare to migrate west past the mississippi river.

  9. I usually read Vanity Fair cover to cover but I have learned to skip over some of their articles especially the political ones because they are so biased and yes, snarky. I skipped over this one but now I want to go back and read it.

    Very well said and I commend you for sending it to the editor.

  10. A rare, yet perfectly executed "F. You"… love it, made my day and yes… if given the "perfect" opportunity today, I'm letting one rip too!

    PS… I'm a Brooklyn transplant who has lived in KC since 1971. Your postscript regarding all of us being lumped into some sort of ultra conservative wingnut cult was spot-on! I do however wish our cabbie's were just a little more colorful; who doesn't need a good F. You in your face once in a while to spice things up?

  11. Thank you for sticking up for those of us "in the middle" or as I was watching American Idol last week I was particularly interested to see how they portrayed the South (but's that nothing new). Maybe I should send them a letter.

    I respect your voice and using it. There are so many times I have wanted to say just that. And, language more than fitting.

  12. Amen! I live about 20 minutes from the Creation Museum and while it is not my thing and I have no intention of ever going, I have friends that have gone and loved it. They are neither fat nor stupid — they simply have differing beliefs than mine. Such is their right. But Gill is not alone as portraying Midwesterners as laughably dumb. "Parks and Recreation" anyone? I know it's meant to be humorous, but to someone who grew up in small-town Indiana? Not so much.


  13. I too am really tired of the complete misconceptions of Kansas City and our surrounding. I mean we even have to deal with the snobbery of of St. Louisan's much less New Yorkers. When my friends in San Diego learned I was moving back to KC they were flabbergasted, had visions of cow pucks and tumbleweeds in their heads!!

  14. I feel like I am just getting to know you as I recently discovered your blog but this letter makes me feel like we are already friends.
    I kept hoping you would also add a comment about their other recent attempt at selling a few extra copies, by rushing to put a photo of Tiger Woods (sold to them by their darling Annie Leibovitz, who found it in her files from four years ago)on the cover. Desperation is so unattractive. You'd expect more from Vanity Fair.

  15. Way to go Mrs. B. Perhaps a reader revolt of all of us trapped between in the flyover states is in order. Voting with our checkbooks, even here in the great wasteland, does have its rewards.

  16. Well said indeed Mrs. Blandings. I applaud your candor. Now here is my less than polite analogy…Like any pile of crap, it needs to picked up, bagged and tossed out quickly!

  17. Did you read their interview with that boy who had a baby with Bristol Palin. They let that boy spew crap that you could tell was half bullshit with no fact checks. I only bought the mag for an article on Jackie O and the Russian oligarchs. But that interview could have been in the Enquirer it was so pitiful. The last time I will buy the mag no matter what. Typical New York elitist crap to portray everyone of faith as ignorant, cultists.

  18. I just would hate to think Mr. Gill is benefiting this 'attention' in any way. Obviously a reputed provocateur but isn't it so predictable? The Brit goes to the Midwest (with another Brit) and makes some observations and sweeping generalizations that we've all heard before.

    Maybe a better point is that I guess VF is struggling like most print media and needed to lower the bar a bit. Too bad we took the bait.

  19. When did VF suddenly abandon humor for mean-spirited drivel? Perhaps they have been watching too much of Bravo. Gill could star in his own version of the Fishwives of London!

  20. Nice use of the pen. What is it they say??? The pen ( keyboard ) is mightier than the sword??

    All I have to say is KARMA …

    Hopefully the editor will never need the help of a midwesterner, they may be unable to "figure" out how to help him!!

    Well said, written & spoken
    Mrs. B !!!

    ( midwestern resident )

  21. good girl!!! I thought the same thing when I read his snarky article. I am an east-coaster and not a creationist, but the last time I checked part of the beauty of this country is our diversity – something that I thougth Graydon appreciated. Apparently not. Thank you!!!

  22. It's rough for Graydon Carter since our beloved Dominick Dunne has passed on. Even a resident of middle America like me realizes that snakey swipes at the fly-over zone won't fill DD's void. Time for the Vanity Fair group to think outside the box.

  23. Even before I finished the post, I knew you couldn't just walk away from the F-word, so apology for bad language accepted!

  24. Nicely said.

    I grew up in Houston and quite like it. But people love to dog it and be surprised about the new mayor, Annise Parker, being openly gay. Like the fouth largest US city is somehow not diverse. I'm fond of the Midwest and the South as well. Some people on the coasts just don't know what they are missing–more for us!

  25. Mrs. Blandings,

    Good for you. You vowed to enter the year with courage and we're not even out of January. Well done. I once adored VF, but there is no mistaking its tasteless decline, nor exaggerated hubris.

    Nevertheless, I feel certain your letter will make it to the next publication.

    From a coaster sans the attitude and arrogance.

  26. Don't feel singled out. According to the Wikipedia article on him:

    "His essays are known for their humour and satirical content, but have caused offence to various groups, including the Welsh, Albanians, and Germans."

    "Gill has also been critical of the English describing them as 'embarrassing' and an 'ugly race' as well as a 'lumpen and louty, coarse, unsubtle, beady-eyed, beefy-bummed herd.' "

    "His best known running feud however has been with the Isle of Man."

  27. "You flew in from the Middle West/ And certainly impressed/ the population hereabouts…"

    Of that I have no doubts. It's not the coastal sorts. I've had New Yorkers shudder when I tell them I'm from Richmond. Bless their hearts. It must be difficult to be that superior. Exhausting really. And when people get tired, they get cranky.

    As a friend of mine pointed out to a Frenchman, "we have more people in our country and therefore a higher percentage of a**h#%$s." Unfortunately popular culture applauds poor behaviour as amusing.

    Your letter was spot on. And, as a copywriter, I can vouch for the need to speak to people in language that they understand. It's the only way the message gets through.

  28. I experience the same living in a 'lesser' capital city. Australia is very Sydney-centric & the whole country seems to start & stop there. AAG writes a regular travel & dining piece in our Gourmet Traveller mag. & he generally gets it right. However lately I've noticed a certain jaded & irksome tone to his work. In the VF 'rant' he's so off the mark it's cringeworthy. Time for a retreat to the mountains of Bhutan Mr. Gill to regain your lost perspective.
    Millie ^_^

  29. i'm a born and bred creationist and hoosier. and now your die-hard fan. love your response, my dear. gill must be an ass.


  30. As a person that grew up in Kansas and spent most of my young professional life in L. A., and the last 11 years outside the U. S., I commend you for your comments. I have often had the same thoughts myself about various situations and similar comments made across the years by others disparaging the midwest. Thank you for putting into the written word what I so often have felt.

    Your written word is fabulous by the way.

  31. With many friends and family from New York, I can assure you that most New Yorkers are actually provincial – they have everything they need within a 4 block radius, and so never venture out, gaining no sense of the greater city and what other 4 block radii have to offer.

  32. Fabulous, as you are always are. Although a coastal person myself, my father harks from Oklahoma, and you can imagine what a time I have defending the Sooner State! Bravo Mrs. Blandings.

  33. Oh Mrs Blandings,
    You are truly at your best when you apply your incredible gift of the word to issues beyond those of decor.

  34. Interesting that you would take offense at someone making fun of the fly over states when I've heard you make fun of lots of people.

  35. Anonymous – I don't know who you've been talking to, but this is not true. I do not make fun of "lots of people." And anyone who knows me would say the same.

  36. Wonderful! We live in the midwest and a few summers ago were vacationing on the east coast. A clerk at a gift shop in the resort town we were visiting asked, after seeing from my driver's license we were from Missouri, if we swam in swiimming holes!!

    I enjoy Vanity Fair but felt that the monthly stories on the Madoff fraud was getting a bit tedious.

  37. It does irk when people discount a place when they have never been there. (You would think that people might have at least heard of Sacramento, being the capital of the 7th largest economy in the world…..but it is not L.A. and it is not San Francisco….so I get "Sacramento?….Where is that exactly?")Irksome is what it is.

    So again….BRAVA! Where exactly do they think all the people in NYC originally come from anyway?

  38. You are so good, Mrs. B!

    I was thinking of renewing my VF subscription, but after reading this, probably not.

    And for the record, I've read you since near the beginning of your marvelous blog, but I've never experienced the snarkiness referenced by a previous "anonymous". He/she is sadly mistaken. And perhaps a coastal resident.

  39. Brava, Mrs. B!!! Well said on all accounts. I'm glad it was a fat lady on the stool rather than a fat lady covered in stool, though. That' would have been very poor taste, indeed.

  40. I try not to be mean-spirited, really I do, but I just can't help wishing for one brief moment that Mr. Gill will leave this earthly realm without ever having tasted Gates' Bar-B-Q.

  41. I was born in Missouri, raising in Columbus, Ohio and have been in Cincinnati for the past 21 years. We are used to being maligned in the media. But if it keeps people with opinions like A.A. Gill away, we are alright with it.

    We lived in L.A. for 5 years and moved back to Ohio when we realized that we belonged in the Midwest- an area of the country with great people, strong values and affordable living.

    I have not read VF in years and don't plan to read this article but it appears I haven't missed anything.

  42. It's such a good thing that those not from 'the fly over states' are so blissfully unaware of their own country to in fact make them, well…. provencial an naive.

    Because, if they knew what beauty and rich history {not to mention affordable, estates and turn of the century mansions} were available, they'd all be flocking.

  43. A.A. Gill should do more research. The ATP tournament is played just a short surrey drive away in Cinicinnati. The town he claims is ignorant of tennis. I also would like to add that even though he is not an actor Peter Frampton is a Brit, and has happily called Cincy home for 10 years. We love him! We also love Northern KY other native son George Clooney. I doubt Mr. Gill would dare to call George provincial. Thank you for your wit and wisdom, I so enjoy your blog.

  44. LOVE IT!! Had to jettison VF over a year ago. Couldn't handle Mr. Carter et al anymore. Happy to spend my money elsewhere.

  45. I have read your blog for a long time and have never commented before. I always enjoy the content but this is simply brilliant. Brilliant. I laughed so hard I cried. Thank you!

  46. I haven't read the article, but good for you! However, as a New Yorker, I have to take issue with some comments in the thread, because they are every bit as stereotypical as the comments we are accused of making. I assure you that, at least in my experience, MOST of the people who end up in Manhattan are originally from elsewhere, particularly the Midwest and South. I am sure there are New Yorkers who do shudder at the idea of certain areas, but most of us do not. My best friends are from a tiny town in Nebraska, Detroit, and LA (okay, not the Midwest).

  47. Though I'm from Cincy, I now live in Brooklyn and love it. But nevertheless I was also deeply offended by that stupid VF Creation Museum article. The author didn't even recognize Amish people, just made fun of their clothes and haircuts. I am not a believer of any sort, but golly, the photos really turned my stomach. There would be plenty of interesting implications to write about the Creation Museum, but the author just went for shooting imagined fish in a barrel. This is a fine example of poor, petty journalism that completely missed an opportunity. Vanity Fair is so out of it, their idea of hip and current is usually something like putting a dozen already-has-been Hollywood starlets on the cover…boring! Love your blog!

  48. I am not from the midwest or the south, but I bristle every time a person tries to show his/her sophistication by slamming areas of the country that are somehow "universally" acknowledged to be inferior. Same with issues of faith. I'm not a Creationist nor have I have I ever been, but I find it insulting and politically suspect when the media singles out certain religious beliefs/ their followers and deems them ludicrous. Shame on Mr. Gill and shame on the pudgy Canadian Graydon Carter.

    Mrs. B: One of the things I love most about your blog is that you demonstrate that it's possible to have lovely taste while never, ever sneering at those who do not. And really… isn't that the truest essence of elegance?

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