Vanity Fair paints a new portrait of Courtney Love

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Recently, I vowed never again to muse on Courtney Love in this column. The punky grunge diva has been iconized by every popular magazine this side of Seattle since she became a power widow. There was nothing left to say. OK, but I can't resist an angelic Miss World on the cover of June's Vanity Fair, the same magazine that accused her of shooting heroin when pregnant with daughter Frances Bean.

Strangely, the new VF contains not a single mention of the 1992 article, which Ms. Love has viciously and repeatedly attacked as untrue, claiming it robbed her of all her happiness.

Instead, we get smarmy Rockwell-meets-rocker images of a ragged but heroic supermother. "Frances, be careful," Ms. Love is seen warning her daughter, who's playing with a needle and thread. "That's a needle. It can hurt you."

Did somebody sell out here?

For all her brazen honesty ("Heterosexually, I'm a full-out bottom," she confesses), Ms. Love seems so swept up in the high-powered Vanity Fair culture that she's losing her precious edge.

"When I accompany Jessica Lange to the 'Pulp Fiction' party at Chasen's to continue celebrating her Oscar win, we run into Love," boasts writer Kevin Sessums, who introduces Ms. Love to Barbara Walters. "Barbara Walters knows who I am," raves Ms. Love. "I must be famous."

Euthanasia

The New Yorker for May 22 has a powerful piece on euthanasia, in which writer Andrew Solomon chronicles both the assisted suicide of his terminally ill mother and the AIDS-fueled velocity of the euthanasia movement. Mr. Solomon moves through euthanasia circles, getting lots of insight and good quotes -- "Euthanasia is the abortion debate of the next century," says a Hemlock Society representative. One woman describes waiting for her mother to die: "She'd heard my first heartbeat, and I wanted to hear her last. I waited more than an hour with that stethoscope, but I heard her last breath and her last heartbeat. . . . It was the most intimate time I've ever had with anyone."

But the most riveting material is the drama of Mr. Solomon's mother. As soon as she acquires the Seconal she'll later swallow to end her life, she gains a certain radiance. "Everything that had been intolerable to my mother was made tolerable when she got those pills," writes Mr. Solomon, "by the sure knowledge that when life became unlivable it would stop." Because she chose the hour of her death, she was able to say goodbye to Mr. Solomon, his brother and his father, and Mr. Solomon takes us step by step through those last heart-wrenching hours.

No thriller

The rip-off of the week is Vibe's June and July double issue, whose cover features Michael Jackson doing the Bing Crosby boy-next-door-going-to-play-golf sort of thing. Don't expect much of anything inside, however; only more pictures of the

Wan One with buddy Quincy Jones, who also happens to be the founder of Vibe. There's no article, but next to the photos are a few testimonials about Mr. Jackson, including an odd one from his wife, Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson:

"I can't wait for the day when all the snakes who have tried to take him out get to eat their own lunch and crawl back in the holes from which they came." It's all easy promotion for Mr. Jackson's coming greatest hits album, which has the modest title of "HIStory."

More of Melissa

The cover of Rolling Stone for June 1 makes the ubiquitousness of Melissa Etheridge official. This rocker is everywhere, her silky yell issuing forth from radio stations, her mug all over the video channels, particularly VH1, for whom she has become a sort of legend. Rolling Stone hangs out a bit with Ms. Etheridge, her "longtime love" Julie Cypher and their friend Ellen DeGeneres, for a sweet and superficial gander at Ms. Etheridge's progress from Leavenworth to L.A.

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