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May 1, 2006

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Brangelina Baby
A month ago, columnist Kurt Andersen predicted the inevitable eclipse of “the increasing celebrotropism of general-interest magazines,” diagnosing the current dire situation thusly: “The jonesing for any speck of celebrity pixie dust can have a crack-whore quality” [“The Imperial City: Celebrity Death Watch,” April 3]. A couple weeks later, New York runs an Us-worthy cover article on the media frenzy surrounding the Brangelina baby [“Not Since Jesus,” by Jason Zengerle, April 17]. A week after that, it’s Julia Roberts on the cover, accompanied by a breathless appreciation by David Edelstein [“The Close-up Is Her Voodoo,” April 24]. I guess even uptown girls can be crack whores.
—Bruce Dickson, Manhattan

The sheer brilliance of the editorial and art staff at New York has been proved once again by the recent dynamite Brangelina cover story. I’d love to have seen all the newsstand browsers who saw it, freaked out, and bought it, only to discover the pictures were a hoax. So clever.
—Devon Powers, Brooklyn

Was dragging in Jesus really necessary? I have never written to a magazine regarding an article but felt compelled to do so by your bad taste. “Not since Jesus has a baby been so eagerly anticipated”—what you assumed was pithy writing is an affront to Christians, especially during the season of their holiest day, Easter Sunday. While I wish Pitt and Jolie a healthy baby and commend them on their various humanitarian efforts, I can’t help but think that even they would be offended by having their biological child referred to as Christlike.
—Kate Gold, Manhattan

Steroids
I’d like to congratulate John Heilemann for his column about the use of drugs in sports [“The Power Grid: Let Juice Loose,” April 17]. Drugs have always been used in sports and should be legalized and unregulated. As a former Olympian, world-record holder, and erstwhile “World’s Fastest Human,” in the fifties, I discovered very early that drugs were widely used, and many of those who used them were Olympic gold-medalists and world-record holders. Most are still alive, several in their eighties, many also fit, healthy, and well.
—Mike Agostini, Sydney, Australia

I read John Heilemann’s pro-steroids argument with open-mouthed stupefaction. Heilemann argues that if performance-enhancing drugs are dangerous for kids who emulate professional athletes, the antidote, as he blithely informs us, is “better parenting and coaching, not a steroid ban.” But that’s oversimplifying it. And exactly which arguments can these better parents and coaches use if steroids are okay for professional athletes? For Heilemann, there seems to be no such thing as cheating, lying, or integrity—merely “entertainment.”
—Allen Barra, South Orange, N.J.

The Paper
After reading and listening to James J. Cramer’s rants for some time, I must respond to his recent column “Stop the Presses” [“The Bottom Line,” April 10]. First, I am no Luddite: I have a powerful computer on which I managed $37 million for a California public-health division, and I do all kinds of computer research, construct complicated spreadsheets, send correspondence, and plan and track investments. Does that mean I want to read the Times or any other publication hunkered down in front of the screen? No. Please just leave me in bed with fluffy pillows, a cup of coffee, the cat, and the Times, and I will be thrilled.
—Pamela Palmer, Ashland, Ore.

Grups, Transcendentalists
Your recent cover story “Up With Grups,” by Adam Sternbergh [April 3], was highly entertaining, but this is not the first generation to redefine adulthood. The Grups’ own parents attempted it in the sixties; the Beats tried it in the forties and fifties; the Modernists gave it a shot before World War II. Even Thoreau’s Transcendentalists experimented with “successful” living long before then. It’s an American tradition to try to reconcile the unadulterated joy of childhood with the societal responsibilities. Although Grups aren’t innovative, and can sometimes be more annoying than the kids who patrol the Lower East Side, kudos to them for keeping the spirit alive.
—Kathleen Brennan, Manhattan


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