1. Emily Nussbaum’s article on the nail-spa industry (“A Stranger’s Touch,” December 3) prompted a posting on the blog Jezebel, which in turn sparked a spirited discussion that ranged from crusty feet to Karl Marx. Here’s an edited snippet:
→ I don’t feel guilty about manicures and/or pedicures. The women who do my nails probably make more money than I do. I tip more than fairly since they have to hunch over my crusty feet for 30 minutes, but for what the salon charges for a very basic pedicure, it’s likely no one is getting too screwed when payday comes.
→ It’s likely no one is getting screwed? Only if your salon is a workers’ co-op, believe me.
→ To completely misappropriate Marx: The wage masks the exploitation. A very low percentage of that $7 is going to the brown woman who was on her knees digging dirt out of your toenails while you flipped through O magazine.
→ True story: The last time I got a pedicure, the tiny adorable (and yes, Asian) woman was about 15 months pregnant. She put my enormous Anglo foot on her bulging tummy and just pumiced away … and I went home and cried for an hour.
→ The U.S. is a capitalist society. Pretty much the only thing that’s gonna change that is revolution. In the meantime, I will continue to get my nails did ’cause gazing upon a fresh manicure brings me great happiness and, should that take-to-the-street day come, I want my hands to look good while I’m holding up the torch.
2. Not all our commenters are impartial, if opinionated, observers—sometimes they’re the subjects of the stories. Justin Berry commented at nymag.com on “Saving Justin Berry” (by David France, November 5), about Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald’s efforts to extricate Berry from the online sex trade: “Kurt Eichenwald was God sent, and helped saved my life. Praise God. In our hearts we know the truth (and so does our Lord above).” And Piotr Uklanski, an artist mentioned in Jerry Saltz’s review of Urs Fischer’s “You” at Gavin Brown’s gallery (“Can You Dig It?,” December 3), wrote to clarify a point. “I did not ‘defect’ from Gavin for Gagosian Gallery. I left GBE on Gavin’s suggestion after we mutually realized that we had grown apart. At least six months elapsed before I was approached by Gagosian.”
3. In the spirit of the holidays, some readers took jolly umbrage at our festive tips. Christine Smallwood of Greenpoint noted, “I really learned something from the New York ‘Gift Guide’ [November 26]. I hadn’t realized that men and women are so neatly divided between those who venture out in the world and catch a sweet wave and those who merrily await their hero’s homecoming, dusting the picture frames. The ‘high-intensity boyfriend’ and ‘home-obsessed girlfriend’—a match made in 1954!” (Our chastened response: The bike-chain bottle opener or Jack Spade travel Scrabble would work just as well for a high-intensity girlfriend or home-obsessed boyfriend, respectively.) Tirsit Asfaw of Manhattan wrote, “It is very interesting to note that in “The Globalist’s Thanksgiving” [by Gillian Duffy, November 12] you chose to reinvent the traditional Thanksgiving menu in Italian, French, Chinese, Mexican, and, gasp, ‘African’ cuisines. The last time I took a geography class, the continent of Africa consisted of approximately 53 countries, most of which have their own extremely different cultures, spices, and cuisines.” And Victor Graham of Brooklyn wrote, “While David Edelstein criticizes the new Dylan film for being muddled and puzzling [“It Ain’t Me, Babe,” November 26], I found the review itself confusing. For instance, what is a ‘woo-woo conceit’? And what is a ‘schnorrer’?” To which we say: Get thee to Google, man! You’ll discover that woo-woo means “concerned with emotions, mysticism, or spiritualism” and schnorrer comes from a Yiddish term for “beggar” or “freeloader.” Yeesh!*
(*An expression of exasperation.)