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Gusts of 35-mile-per-hour winds and a bitter cold didn't stop John Small and his two compatriots from their mission on Saturday: They were there to save Martha.
It was "national" Save Martha Day, which Small's website, Savemartha.com, organized to galvanize fans of the beleaguered recently resigned chief creative officer, homemaking perfectionist, and convicted felon Martha Stewart to purchase her products at Kmarts across the country. The trio acknowledged that there are more pressing issues in the world, but protesting the injustices of the Guantánamo Bay prisoners isn't as sexy: You can't get a cute new set of dishes at a political protest.
Small and his friends Ida Kellebrew and Sandy McKenna stood outside of the Kmart on Astor Place wearing chef's hats and Save Martha T-shirts, brandishing happy, multi-colored signs that read, "Save Martha: If her stock sale was legit, you must acquit."
They looked a little silly and a little lonely standing on the corner, with a few police cars nearby keeping watch-presumably to make sure they didn't get crazy with soufflé recipes. But as the hours passed, passersby stopped to offer their support and occasional disapproval for their cause.
Rosanna Davis arrived wearing a hat "Martha's signature color green" and displayed her own sign, featuring the iconic W WII-era Rosie the Riveter with the slogan "Enlist: Save Martha." Also on the scene were camera crews from Fox 5 and CNN. (An affiliate of Fox erroneously reported that the event organizers hadn't bothered to show up.)
The real action could be found inside on the upper level, where an array of Martha Stewart Everyday products are located. Shopper Susan Whitney loudly asserted in a heavy New Yawk accent, "Martha Stewart did nothing wrong. This is not Enron, she didn't take people's pensions. She didn't invade another country. She sold her stock!" Berton Ridley, a tall black man interjected, "They are crucifying her!" Ridley said he's is a huge Martha fan. "I watch the show. I have so many of her products at home," he gushed. "She's amazing!"
In another aisle, a hip-looking young woman with long, blondish hair had a shopping cart full of Martha stuff. When asked if she was there for Save Martha Day, she sheepishly admitted she was. "I feel like women have the tendency to be [more] villainized in [the] corporate office than men," said the woman, Celia Hirshman. She should know: Hirshman runs a record company called One Little Indian, whose roster includes Björk.
"I think it's more to do with a woman who's created one of the most significant corporate structures," she speculated. Hirshman's cart contained three clocks ("I am doing a London, New York, L.A. theme"), a shower curtain, some glasses, and plates. She estimated that she planned to spend $150. "I'm not a Martha Stewart fanatic. I don't own her stock," she said. "Even though I understand that circumstances are less than politically correct, I feel that far more people have done far worse. [The] number of people who will be unemployed because of sending her to jail is more detrimental than the $40,000 that this is over. .... I think it's the right thing to do. It's more of a love letter than anything. Like saying thanks."
Not everyone was there to save Martha. Daniel Chao said he was "just trying to get by," adding, "I'm here. It's convenient. I actually believe Martha Stewart should be put in jail: the fact that she cheated on ImClone and that was a cancer drug of all things. It's just horrible what she's done," he said, and got back to picking out kitchen and bathroom necessities.