When the late, great House & Garden magazine was abruptly shut down last November, Conde Nast made subscribers like me an offer: Send in the card for a refund or we’ll finish out your subscription with Domino magazine instead. I took the passive route, slightly curious about what was supposed to replace H&G editor Dominique Browning’s obvious passion and interesting taste.
I got my first issue of Domino this week, and I can assure you, it’s not about passion or taste. I’m kind of puzzled as to what it’s about. Given the tone of the writing and the tame, childish graphics, it seems to be directed at really young people…like ten year-olds who aren’t too interested in houses or gardens.
I do have an idea, however, what the editors are gunning for… jobs at Glamour. There is much more about beauty and fashion here than there is about anybody’s domestic arrangements. We have a puzzling travel diary from Lauren Bush (who? and what’s she ever done?) about when, on a flight, she applies lip balm. We have pages and pages of photos of eco-friendly fashion designers and shopkeepers and their boring brown clothes. In a section called "Nesting," we not only have a full page about the "perfect 10" beauty products, we also have another page of advice about cleaning our make-up brushes and neatening up our make-up drawers. This last article, I think, might prove particularly useful to the Rant’s perfectly groomed readership, who like to keep their tools in tip-top order. Now, get out there and dig in the dirt….but do not fleck your make-up!
And this is in Domino’s "green" issue. Well, here is what’s NOT green and what’s NOT sustainable: treating the house like fashion and redoing the joint as often as you change shoes.
Here’s what else is not sustainable: Laura Turner Seydel’s gaudy 6,200-square-foot house in the Atlanta suburbs that appears in a feature called "3 Green Houses." Could Domino possibly be more clueless? I don’t care how many hemp bedspreads the woman buys or how well-meaning she is, Atlanta is the world’s capital of thoughtless sprawl. I guarantee you that every moment Seydel is not in the house, she is in her car, and that is not sustainable. I guarantee you that the air conditioning blasts half of the year, straining to keep that giant box cool in Atlanta’s sweltering heat. And that is not sustainable.
Of course, the most irritating piece of all is by Cynthia Kling, who decides to go Barbara Kingsolver one better and rough it by spending two weeks eating entirely locally–stuff produced within 100 miles of wherever it is that she lives "right here in upstate New York." The very idea! She has to enlist an actual cooking friend "to show me how the farmers market really works." The tone is so breathless, you’d think she were describing some Anthony Bourdain-type lizard-eating spree in the mountains of Southeast Asia. The real laugh is that Kling’s column is actually called "The Adventuress."
Give me a break!!! It’s freaking Europe here in upstate New York! These days, you cannot swing a cat without hitting a fantastic open air market, or somebody making incredible cheese or delicious wine (Hosmer Dry Riesling, yeah!), or another cute college-educated 24 year-old farmer dying to introduce you to a new vegetable variety. The revolution’s already happened, years ago, and only somebody with little interest in food or wine could have missed it. Yet this kind of thing is somehow supposed to reconcile us to the loss of House & Garden’s fantastic "Larder" page and Jay McInerney’s wine column.
Replacing House & Garden with Domino is all about driving out the sophisticates and crowning a bunch of silly naifs in their place. A slap in the face of every adult really interested in food, home, garden, and the state of the planet. Dear Conde Nast, I want my money back now.