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April 10, 2006

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Grups
Thank god for your story on Grups [“Up With Grups,” by Adam Sternbergh, April 3]. I am a 34-year-old woman who is trying to reconcile her day job as corporate lawyer with her hipster existence. I spent the past weekend (1) in the mosh pit and stage diving at a 30 Seconds to Mars show, (2) trying to decide if the Silver City Pink color No. 405 lipstick was the same shade it was in 1986 (it isn’t; it’s much more orangey now), and (3) wondering if my idiotic behavior means I’m in the throes of a midlife crisis. Good to see that if I am, I’m having one with everyone else in the city.
—Melissa Shaw, Manhattan

I am a 60-year-old male, and I wear jeans and band T-shirts: To draw demarcation points regarding age-specific behavior is absurd. I don’t have a particular craving to regain nor relive my youth but do view music as evolutionary. And personally, I’d feel more self-conscious wearing a Rolling Stones logo than a brown Brotherkite tee. I suppose if I really wanted to be rebellious, I could go to the Continental in a J. Press suit.
—Ted Connor, Manhattan

Kudos to Adam Sternbergh for a truly seminal article about New York Grups. It is a rare breed of writer (I would include Douglas Coupland in this) that can step back from his own generation and see the forest for the trees. I am 29 years old, and Sternbergh made me question my sanity and, in equal measure, made me proud to be part of a generation that cares more about being passionate than about conforming, in all areas of our lives.
—John Pullos, Manhattan

While Sternbergh did cover a wide swath of the Brooklyn Gen-X experience, I must say there are quite a few of us within that sphere who think the new Death Cab for Cutie album is lame, will never spend more than $40 on a pair of jeans—let alone $400—and believe that a dressed-down yuppie is still a yuppie. Otherwise, I guess we’ll see him at Southpaw for the next TV on the Radio or Evan Dando show.
—Henry Mena, Park Slope, Brooklyn

Art-Market Crash Course
The overall gist of Marc Spiegler’s “Five Theories on Why the Art Market Can’t Crash and Why It Will Anyway” [April 3] is sound, but there is a key difference between art and other markets. The product can become invisible (unlike real estate, which becomes a white elephant), and it can stay on a wall in the owner’s home, even if there is no market for it (unlike financial instruments, which have a half-life and will crash to zip at some time if there is no buyer). So the worst “falls” in this market are never calculated, because no one is measuring the value when people just stop buying. The work and the artist’s name just disappear. The downside risks in art are therefore much higher than most other “investment” markets. Your only mitigation is the value you assign to having it hang on your wall when everyone else has deemed it worthless. Which brings us full circle, because that should have been your reason for buying it in the first place.
—Ian Charles Stewart, Trustee, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, England

Prenups
While reading Geoffrey Gray’s entertaining article on the Perelman and Barkin divorce [“Tough Love,” March 27], I was shocked to read about the outlandish sums he’s paid out in settlements to his ex-wives over the years. With the money he’s blown on bad marriages and lawyers, he could have done something truly memorable: He could’ve helped disadvantaged youths, the homeless, or even less-wealthy individuals like Andrew Cuomo who so badly need to hold an elected office.
—Goldie Goldberg, Bayside, N.Y.

I find it interesting that Gray’s story failed to mention that in between lying about, gazing at Lichtensteins, fetching tea for Perelman, and turning down film roles her husband didn’t approve of, Ellen Barkin took a job teaching M.F.A. students at the New School University. She was a demanding and intense professor who was difficult to please but always struck me as someone who was incredibly passionate about her craft. Her most powerful acting lesson? That the most important work you do in acting is what you do alone, before you even walk onto the stage. I’m sure that will remain true for her now.
—Kate Wallace, Austin, Tex.

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