“In the grand tradition of Martha Stewart Living, and paid escort services, Goop is offering us precisely what we want—a genuine piece of you that we can call our own.”
Welcome to Rhapsody In Cool. Since this is our very first post, you may want to pop over to the “About Me” page, and while you’re doing that, I’ll freshen everyone’s drink. (And because I’m a serious rule-follower, I want to tell you there’s a photo credit for the above, all the way at the end.)
Ready? All right. We’re going to dive right in with a rare and exclusive interview with Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s so exclusive that she was not actually invited to take part in it, but no matter. Let’s get started!
Gwyneth, today I want to talk about a subject dear to your heart, and mine: your lifestyle newsletter, Goop. Because, let’s be honest, Goop has not had the serious critical attention it deserves. Rhapsody is going to fix that, and fix it today.
You describe Goop’s raison d’être as “curating the best of lifestyle.” Well, can I just say Amen? Before you started this thing, Gwyn, lifestyle was a mess, tossed about in disorienting and unlabeled piles like a teenager’s dirty laundry. Now it is curated into “an indispensable resource for all who love to make, go, get, do, be and see.”
That’s where some say that Goop is confusing; it wants us to do so many small-verb things at once! But the classic origins of Goop are obvious to any who will simply stop going, being and getting for one moment and think.
In the grand tradition of Martha Stewart Living, and paid escort services, Goop is offering us precisely what we want—a genuine piece of you that we can call our own. And if I’m the absolute last person on earth to take a swing at—I mean interest in—your newsletter, it’s because I thought we had nothing in common.
But before I reached the end of your introduction to issue #11, I knew how wrong I was.
You begin, “Dedicated to anyone who loves oysters as much as I do, this issue chronicles a totally dreamy trip through the shores of West Marin, California, where the oysters are in glorious abundance. Any takers? Sigh.”
First of all, thank you for being the first actress brave enough to write about a topic that many have avoided: oysters, and how much we all love them. I don’t know why I’ve hesitated to put these affordable, slippery delights on my own table. Farewell, chicken nuggets; hello, Oysters Rockefeller! And from here, it’s a seamless transition from oysters to your plug for the latest cookbook by “cheeky, lovely” Jessica Seinfeld, a book you hail as the “definitive guide on how to put down your fear, and pick up a knife in the kitchen.”
Definitive? Really? We cannot even imagine the possibility that Mrs. S will write another book on the same topic, to go with the first three? But go on: “The book humorously holds your hand through preparing its delicious and accessible recipes.” Well, if the billionaire-girl-next-door says I can cook by putting down fear and picking up a knife, who am I to say that past experience indicates otherwise, and that this is a good way to loose fingers?
Also: books that humorously hold my hand are a must with me. If a book doesn’t have hands, it has no place on my bookshelf.
You bring it home with this not-at-all-awkwardly-constructed sentence: “My old friend [BIG FASHION NAME DROP] was referencing how essential vintage fashions are to modern designers, so we got to thinking it would be of service to round up some of the best of the best and ask the proprietors/curators for their favorite in stock looks.”
I’m certain this conversation happened while the two of you sat cross-legged on the floor of your walk-in shoe closet. How else could it sound so unbelievably real? (Later, let’s talk more about what it means to be “of service” in a world of typhoons, starvation and such.)
And the closer of #11’s intro is a little firework: “P.S. Oh, it’s definitely your f@$*ing city.”
All right, I have no f@$*ing idea what that means. But that’s the point, isn’t it? It’s for some to know, and the hapless majority to wonder what in the f@$*ing world you’re talking about. But even if I can’t grasp that pearl with my cloven hoof, I still admire you for having the rocks to end your intro with an obscure and profanity-laced post scrip. F@$*ing hell, woman: you are good!
In your fluid prose, I hear echoes of my own careless—I mean carefree—on-line persona. You manage to sound like you dashed off the whole thing while driving yourself to a yoga retreat (Juan’s day off), without worrying over things like grammar, content, or audience. The words tingle with immediacy, as if a frightened intern had called to say, “Uhm, Ms. Paltrow? We told the advertisers we’d have another issue up, like, three weeks ago? Could you write the lead column?” And you graciously did so, at the same time that you fired her, and merged onto the Hollywood Freeway.
But it was your “Sigh” over the dreaminess of oysters that got me. I am forever having to type out the word for when I exhale meaningfully or do any other lung-related thing because if I don’t, people might not grasp my meaning when I groan, flare my nostrils or make huffy sounds.
Now that’s we’ve established our common ground, let’s dig into this interview. I’ll provide both questions and answers, so you can concentrate on all that aspirating you need to do over the oysters and stuff.
[Sigh. Gurgle. Ah-HEM.]
Why a “lifestyle newsletter?”
So glad it’s not another “blog” or a “website.” Any loser can create one of those. “Newsletter” has an antiquarian feel that people of taste can appreciate. (When you are ready for your first rebranding you might want to consider going for something even more retro like “papyrus scroll” or “hieroglyph.”)
I imagine the genesis of this project was simple. You and your executive team were sprawled about your living room one day, giving each other pedicures, and someone said, “You know what? As busy as you are, G.P., there’s still an awful lot of you leftover. Instead of letting all that extra Gwyneth lie around, not generating any positivity, pleasure or cash for anyone, why don’t we spread some of you around the internet? Like some kind of delicious… GOOP!”
And then everybody started giggling like crazy and your housekeeper spent days scraping spilled nail polish off the rug.
Seriously, I can understand why a person like you would need a project like Goop. People who lead a very public life in one sphere need other arenas where they can to showcase their lesser-known gifts and interests. Steve Martin has a bluegrass band. Roseanne Barr has a hazelnut farm. The mayor of Toronto has a crack habit. What harm is there in you taking up a sideline to fill the lonely hours when you aren’t acting, cooking, or making a damned fool of yourself at the Grammy Awards with Cee-Lo and a bunch of Muppets?
Why is it called Goop?
I’m so proud of myself for working this out that I had to share it: Goop is the word you get when you put “oo” between your initials, “G” and “P”!! So clever!
You know what else is fun? When you put the word “hi” between the letters “S” and “T.”
But I’m being unfair. Goop would not be the success it is today if it were just a website on which you advertise a new product—pardon me, “collaboration” –of your own devising every bloody week. It’s not just some monetizing piece of tripe (oh: recipe idea!!). Goop is about the transubstantiation (look it up) of material indulgence into spiritual practice.
Even a slob like me can understand that style matters. For example, this maxi dress I’ve got on right now is very like the one you are peddling on Goop, draped over what at first appears to be a coat hanger but on closer inspection is actually Keira Knightly. My maxi dress is neat too, because it’s full length, made out of fleece with a little belty, tie-y thing in the front, and it’s a perfect partner for the flannel pajamas and slippers I’m wearing.
No, really: why is there such a robust cottage industry based on hating you?
The Internet is brimful of nasty Gwyneth critiques, and while I enjoy them thoroughly, I don’t happen to agree that you’re the antichrist (unlike this person and this one and possibly this one) or that all regular people with good taste and a sense of proportion need to be your sworn enemy.
Yet, I have to admit that making gentle fun of you is as easy as whipping up a batch of your Buckwheat Chocolate-Hazelnut Crêpes (takes me right back to Paris and the gluten-free crêpe makers of old!). And I’m sure taking a lot of pleasure in it, a word that comes up with rather aggressive frequency in Goop.
[CHOKE. I guess there’s a reason you didn’t call those “Single-Bite Crêpes.” Oh, dear.]
It seems that your real gift—other than boosting the ratings of Glee and worldwide sales of glitter-encrusted evening bags—is in creating powerful feelings of tribalism in precisely those people who are least like you. Meaning: me. I’m the lowliest Girl-Nerd at the high school who talks trash about the most popular cheerleader with impunity because I’m simply beneath your notice.
Face it, Gwyn: you can’t demote me. And all your weak defenses of your self, your petty awfulness, make me want to stand up for my people. Do you know who we are? The People Not Like You? The Non-Oyster-Buying Public, about whom you do not care one prosciutto-wrapped fig?
[Hic. These Insane Dirty Martini’s from the summer issue sure go down easy.]
Why am I so angry?
I’m not asking you, Gwyneth, I’m asking myself. Does everything have to be about you?
Reading so many issues of Goop in preparation for this non-interview has caused me to do some soul searching. Why can I not simply embrace your world of oysters and sunshine? Why does seeing you excel at so many things, watching you go scissoring through the world on those perfect, 9-foot legs make me feel so less than? You’re only trying to remind us to treasure the little things—the handbags and summer linens and Bloody Mary’s of this world. Those trifles we take for granted if all we ever do is march off to our jobs at Walmart, never stopping to see and go and buy and get the bounty that is all around us.
But here’s something I think you and the Exec Team at Goop should take up on your next all-staff retreat in Fiji: the more you try to appear all down-home and regular-folks, the easier you are to mock. You’re an advertisement, a cartoon—a billboard of yourself and I’m drawing a mustache on your face because it’s fun, it’s easy, and frankly, you’ve earned it.
[Pardon me. That recipe for Duck Cassoulet is giving me the butt sighs.]
And here you are, married to the humbly, mumbly Chris Martin. I think it’s fair to say he’s enjoyed a bit of his own success in the entertainment business. Seven Grammys. Not too shabby. And that aw-shucks posture works as well on stage as it does when he’s passing trays of appetizers at your house parties.
Yes, he’s cute and talented and mega wealthy, but ask yourself this: can your perfect husband design and build an autonomous underwater robot?
Well guess what, Gwyn? Mine CAN. Nerds always win. So put that in your mini-Cuisinart and puree it.
Are you mad at me, and what does that look like?
Goop is such a happy place, a world so free of shadows that I can’t help wondering what you are like in a fit of apoplectic rage. I bet it’s spectacular. Like watching a star collapse into its own gravity field.
I bet that staff members charged with bringing you bad news take time to update both their resumes and their estate plans before they call your cell.
[Deep shivery breath.]
Goop’s legal counsel is good, isn’t it? And they might quibble with the way I’m using the word “interview”? Do you know that I actually read an article about copyright infringement before I posted this? I’m not kidding. I imagine that pre-trial mediation with them would be less like Glee and more like Reservoir Dogs.
[Cessation of breathing………..Slow inhale.]
It’s not like I’m going to run into you on the streets of my suburban town, where oysters are not sold and no one, but no one, is wearing a maxi dress. But if we do happen to meet, I’m going to do exactly what you and Jessica Seinfeld told me I could:
I’m going to put down the fear, and pick up a knife.
photo: By Lord Mountbatten (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons