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October 17, 2005

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Ladies First
Women aren’t mere accessories or useful pawns to their high-powered husbands in the hiring game [“Freakonomizing: The Class of 2005,” by Noam Scheiber, October 10]. I’m biased because Ailsa Röell is my sister—and she’ll kill me for writing this—but I resent reading about her as some sort of a perk of Patrick Bolton’s new job: “Columbia was able to offer his wife, Ailsa Röell, a position.” Ailsa had a tenured position in the highly rated economics department at Princeton University, and before she met Patrick she was teaching at the London School of Economics. She is very highly regarded herself, and Columbia was very lucky to get her.
—Sophie Röell, Manhattan

Husbands and Wives
I found it an interesting juxtaposition to read about the venality of those involved in the “kidnapping” of Dr. Herbert Hofmann [“Hijacking Dr. Hofmann,” by Mark Fass, October 10] and the poignancy of Joan Didion’s reflections on her late husband [“When Everything Changes,” by Jonathan Van Meter, October 10]. My husband died suddenly last year—a heart attack at home—so my sympathies are with Didion. Everyone involved in the Hofmann mess—the wife, lawyer, his daughter, trustees—should go find a life of his or her own and stop acting like a petty, greedy jerk.
—Mary-Ellen Banashek, Manhattan

After reading “When Everything Changes,” I immediately drove out to my local Barnes & Noble to buy a copy of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. While there, I was enraged to overhear staff talking slightingly of her: “Did you see how horrible she looked in that picture?” said one. “I don’t understand why people feel the need to air their dirty laundry in public,” she continued. Didion’s belief that “nothing is critic-proof” is, unfortunately, true. However, I was happy to discover that her book had sold out in 24 hours. I admire her courage to relive a painful journey for all of us who appreciate her and her talents.
—Laura Spector, Fairfield, Conn.

Tail Chasers
I’ve been a loyal New York Magazine reader since my days working with Milton Glaser a long, long time ago. This is the first time that I have written, and it was at my sheepdog Bo’s insistence. We’re deeply disturbed by “Man's Best Wingman” [“Intelligencer,” by Allen Salkin, October 10]. Protests Bo: “I’m one of many single stud pups in this city and find that the mongrels you pictured don’t even come close to the quality of single dogs that reside here. I’ve wooed numerous beautiful women, both of the four- and two-legged kind, with wonderful results. And, I’m very proud to say, I have never exploited an ailment or handicap to draw sympathy from females, unlike Rudy, the three-legged mutt.”
—Stephen and Bo Bufferd, Jericho, N.Y.

If one wants to troll for women with dog bait, a bulldog is clearly the way to go. The only fear I have regarding my marriage is that my wife will run off with a bulldog owner.
—Bruce Stasiuk, Setauket, N.Y.

Showdown
What an entertaining article about Conan O’Brien, the oft-marginalized “Man of Late Night” [“Conan on the Couch,” by Vanessa Grigoriadis, October 3]. What has marginalized him is not his time slot, but rather the thoughtfulness, intrepidity, and outright hilarity of Jon Stewart. Several years ago, Conan and his cadre reentered adolescence as their audience matured to adulthood. I’m afraid Conan will have to grow up in order to win over a far more discerning 11:30 p.m. audience that won’t accept gimmicks in place of content.
—Brian Dubin, Manhattan

Conan licks the camera, has on-air staring contests, strips, over-gesticulates, and insults Canadians. All in lieu of comedy. Seems to me the emperor has no clothes.
—Eellen Burgher, Pleasantville, N.Y.

If Conan dares morph into a bland, lame humorist for Middle America once he takes over the Tonight Show, I’ll be sure to get at least a few more hours of sleep at night.
—Beverly Rice, Charlotte, N.C.

Correction
In “Home Design: Hoop Dream” (October 10), the name of the project architect, Thomas H. Vail, was inadvertently omitted.

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