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Comments: Week of November 3, 2008


1. Most New Yorkers are concerned about what the financial crisis will do to the city, but there’s a split between those who believe something positive can eventually result from it and those who see it leading to extended hard times for everybody. That tension was aptly summarized in an exchange on over Kurt Andersen’s essay about his obsession with tracking stock-market indices and Barack Obama’s poll numbers (Whiplash City,” October 27). One commenter took the optimistic view: “Of course NYC is changing. Without all that extra money from Wall Street bonuses, it won’t be such a happy time in the city and out in the Hamptons next summer. However, the city can recover and change for the better. Artists can start to create art for self expression and to advance our culture, not because some bigwig donor gave millions to a museum. Fashion can experiment and create new and exciting styles from the club scene, not just from what trophy wives want to wear or for the mass mall markets of middle America. Our music scene can finally break out of its dreary complacency. Fun and scary times ahead. My money is on New Yorkers rising to the fill the void left when the Wall Street dollars disappear.” That vision did not sit well with another reader, who offered personal evidence: “Yes, those will be the days. But first real-estate prices would have to fall by … what? More than 40 percent? Or someone is going to have to figure out a way to colonize all those pretend loft buildings and turn them into artsy SROs. I left the city four years ago, lost my rent-stabilized apartment, moved to Miami, bought a house, and then, after three years, lost my job. And now I’ve lost my down payment, because my house is worth 30 percent less than what I paid for it, 43 percent less than it was worth at its peak. I can’t find a job in Miami, and I can’t sell my house, even at a spectacular loss. And guess what? I can’t afford to live within 60 miles of New York City either.”

2. So what about that grittier, more invigorating city of years past? Well, we covered it in last week’s magazine, too, in our story marking the 30th anniversary of the death of punk-rock icon Nancy Spungen, Sid Vicious’s girlfriend, at the Chelsea Hotel (The Day Punk Died,” by Karen Schoemer, October 27). On, a couple of readers offered the theory that Spungen was killed by an angry drug dealer, not Vicious, and another declared that he agreed with Johnny Rotten’s demonization of Spungen, rather than Schoemer’s gentler assessment. In general, the story inspired a kind of sentimentality—compared with current worries, the whole era seemed almost wholesome. As rude and unkempt as they were, at least the Sex Pistols didn’t bankrupt the country with toxic paper. But there were others who felt anything but nostalgic. Melissa Diamond of Westport, Connecticut, wrote in to “express my disgust at the article about ‘Sid and Nancy.’ It is a very sad story about sad people in a sad time and nothing good can come from it—except perhaps satisfying prurient curiosity. Given the issues that New York and the rest of the world are dealing with, why not take a higher editorial road?”

3. We were rightly scolded by several readers for letting Martha Stewart get away with saying her first apartment was on 114th Street between Broadway and West End (NY:40,” October 6). Reader Jonathan Smith wrote: “West End Avenue terminates at 106th Street. Not that it’s important where or how or if she lived in a particular place. It is important, when you call yourself New York Magazine, to get stuff about New York right.”

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