OlMMONs .vt VllUSnLife as Junk: A DuologuenJean Stein: Edie: An American Biography; Alfred A. Knopf; New York.nby Gary S. VasilashnWhen Henry Geldzahler and I went to visit Andy [Warhol]nat the Factory we talked for a while about the Sixties. … Inasked him about sin. Andy sat quietly staring at the table: ‘Indon’t know what sin is.’ He paused, then turned to Henry,n’What is sin, Henry?’nJean Stein, quoted in Edien[Andy Warhol] was really the unconscious conscience of thensixties.nHenry Geldzahler, quoted innThe Scene by Calvin TompkinsnIVeading fashion magazines is a task that few people with anserious interest in culture do unless they have a specific reasonn(e.g., they like to be well dressed and composed) and to whichnstill fewer will admit. Rather, they read The New Yorker,nHarper’s, The Atlantic, Time, Newsweek, National Review,nNew York Review ofBooks, and the like. It is, in a sense, unfortunatenthat fashion magazines go unread, because their influencenon American culture is significant. They determinenwho’s who; what’s what (“in” or “out”); which foods shouldnbe eaten, when, how much, and how; the type of “look” fornwhich one should strive; what constitutes beauty in any givennseason; and much more. While the law as given by these glossynmagazines may seem as if it is limited in its effects to but anratified few, that is simply not the case.nTheir influence is pervasive. Why doesnK-Mart aim to hang designer clothes onnits racks if not because it has been advisednthat it is important? The pages of anynSunday newspaper in a major city arenfilled with display ads from departmentnstores that tout names: Halston, CalvinnKlein, Saint Laurent. Hollywood has anninsatiable need for new faces; fashionnmodels, the cover girls in particular, feednthe screen: Lauren Hutton, BrookenShields. Pettier didn’t become a popularnbeverage simply because people suddenlyndecided that club soda tastes better in angteen bottle from France; the beaunmonde in America’s fashion center. NewnYork, led the quaffing, and the outlyingncontinued on page 9nMr. Vasilash is associate editor of thenChronicles.n6 ^m^^H^^iinChronicles of Culturennnby Mary Ellen FoxnIn the mid-60 ‘s, authoress Jean Stein and the eponymousnprotagonist of this book were as close as sisters. Stein relatesnthis fact in Women’s Wear Daily, the trade publication ofnthe fashion industry which has become the bible of thosendedicated to achieving the chic and affluent existence of the socalledn”beautifiil people” chronicled in its pages. Stein stillncan’t believe her own naivete toward Edie. “She was just… sonpoetical… so magical,” she maintains. So when Edie, comatosenwith drugs, accidentally set herself and her apartment onnfire, Stein invited her to stay as houseguest in her posh Manhattannapartment. Stein looks back on her ignorance of the realncause of the fire, her obliviousness to the reasons why her frequentlynstocked refrigerator was perennially empty while Edienwas there (“She was too slender to have eaten all that food”),nand why Edie was in constant panic when her doctor didn’t calln(“So I thought, well this is sort of strange”). Today, Steinntealizes that her guest was bulimic, gorging herself on inhumannamounts of food and then forcing herself to thiow up in ordernto maintain that delightfully fashionable gauntness. She nownknows, too, that Edie was totally hooked on an incrediblengamut of drugs prescribed for her by one of the many “Dr.nFeelgoods” so much in demand in the 60’s. “Of course, if I hadnknown, I would have found some way to shelter her but awaynfrom my two young children. . . .it’s hard to believe I couldnhave been so innocent,” an older butnwiser Jean Stein asserts today. “The lastnthing I’ d ever want to do would be to exploit.nNever, never, never did I want tonglamorize that period. … I don’t thinknthere’s one seamless, intact truth, andnthis book gives the reader a chance tonmake his or her own interpretation.”nThe parallels in attitude betweennStein and the German population of thenyears between the First and SecondnWorld Wars when confronted with a certainndynamic, charismatic personalitynbear mention. In the last 40 years it hasnbeen repeated countless times that ignorancenof evil—and this ignorance itselfnstrains one’s credibility—is not art excuse.nStein refers in a self-deprecatingnbut flattering way to her “innocence.”nCountless Germans have done the same.nDr. Fox advises a high-fashion boutique.n