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Stewart to shed offending bracelet


"You can figure out how to get it off. It's on the Internet. I looked it up." Martha Stewart on her monitoring bracelet, to Vanity Fair

Martha, my dear, thank you for not prematurely hacking off the modern offender supervision device also known as an electronic monitor bracelet. We know you wanted to. We know it itched and, in your words, "the rigid rubber and wire band" irritated and generally was a pain in the ankle.

But you stuck it out - except for the undisclosed violation that added three weeks to your home confinement - and tonight at midnight, the federal government, which you were convicted of lying to about a relatively measly stock trade, allows you to remove the monitoring bracelet as your five-month house arrest ends.

You will now be free to move about the country.

Come pitch, hit, catch or manage for the Orioles. Yes, the baseball season has come to this: Martha-referenced cheap shots. Come film a cameo for a future John Waters movie - although the usual I'll-play-along Waters said yesterday, "I don't feel strongly enough about Martha Stewart to be funny." Which is kind of funny in itself.

No strong feelings about Martha? This from the same filmmaker who put Patricia Hearst in a movie? OK, even Waters gets a pass now and then.

But we have strong feelings about Martha and her bracelet. Powerful feelings. An ankle bracelet, even if court-ordered, emits a low-rent vibe and, thus, is perversely appealing on someone so high rent. This level of analysis can get pretty sophisticated, so let's just say a braceleted Martha has that bad-good-girl thing going on.

Until this past week, we never thought much about Martha. When other enlightened men folk would say, Have to admit it, dude, she's good-looking, we would smile politely and concur telepathically.

We would then quickly banish such thoughts because we feared Martha could somehow hear our private observations, track us down by transmitter bracelet, and crochet a prison poncho out of our hides. Fear of Martha - or Marthobia, as experts call it.

We are now ready to come out of the armoire. At a news conference last week in New York, Martha Stewart, the 64-year-old founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, hiked her brown dress pants to show off her monitoring bracelet - a surveillance anklet, if you will. In photos seen 'round the Internet, Martha showed a little leg! And there, the rigid rubber of a monitoring bracelet shackled to a Martha ankle.

The bracelet "has had no impact whatsoever on the production of the shows," she told the press in announcing her daily syndicated show Martha and The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, both beginning next month.

Maybe the bracelet didn't impact her television productions, but we felt something. For Martha, this might as well have been a full-court striptease.

We did have a preview last month, when Martha was spotted riding horses at her Bedford, N.Y., estate. "The transmitter was firmly tethered to her ... leg, peeking out from a pair of form-fitting khaki jodhpurs," reported the New York Daily News.

Then came last Thursday, when Martha completely extended her leg to brazenly exhibit the bracelet, as TV producer Mark Burnett looked on and down. You go, home girl!

But all sexy, criminal accessories aren't meant to last.

At midnight, Martha can lose the monitor. There was "no statement" yesterday from a company spokesperson when asked if Martha had big plans for her liberation (although 18 months of probation now begin). Whatever she does, it won't be like that tacky Robert Blake, who, moments after being acquitted of murder charges, reached down and cut off his bracelet right there in the courtroom. Not special at all.

No, Martha will find a tasteful way of shedding that pain in her ankle. She will not miss her modern offender supervision device. But we will miss her bracelet - and that day in late August when Martha Stewart, of all people, showed a little leg.

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