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Comments: Week of May 24, 2010

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1. In last week’s cover story, Will Leitch and Ira Boudway presented fourteen reasons LeBron James should seriously consider becoming a Knickerbocker after his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers expires in July—among them the money, the fame, and a commemorative sandwich at the Carnegie Deli (“Dear LeBron, We Need You. But You Need Us, Too,” May 17). The list caused quite a stir in basketball-starved New York. Josh Alper at nbcnewyork.com applauded the “love letter to James,” endorsing reason No. 5, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, noting, “The man might not know how to draw up a defense, and he might be a bit more gruff than you’d expect with such a friendly mustache, but [Cavs coach] Mike Brown isn’t exactly putting on a clinic out there in Cleveland.” Jane McManus at ESPN got a little farklempt over the Photoshopped images of James in Knicks blue and imagined championship banners hanging from the Madison Square Garden rafters: “Don’t mind me, that’s just my allergies.” Others were less optimistic about James’s future in the city. “It’s a fun read,” said Yahoo Sports’ Ball Don’t Lie blog. “No matter your feelings on LeBron to New York, you really should check out the whole feature. Not to mention, this will be very funny to read when LeBron re-signs with Cleveland.” “You can call it desperate,” piled on Tom Ziller of the NBA FanHouse blog, “but you have to admit it was also pretty darn cute.” And on nymag.com Cleveland fans started to sound a little nervous, explaining why James would never leave them. “Get real. He doesn’t need to play in a bigger market then Cleveland,” argued one. “He already has the world’s attention. He already has the sponsorships. He has hometown roots, pride, and loyalty. Yeah, it’s not New York, but Cleveland is not that bad.” “If LeBron wanted Cleveland to rename the city LeBronland, I guarantee they could make that happen,” promised another. “Sorry, NY, I don’t think you’re even in the running.” The man of the hour remained tantalizingly coy, but it was hard not to deduce that our pressure was obviously getting to him, causing him to choke in Game Five and then see the Cavs ousted by Boston in Game Six. One final clarification: While Darren Sukenik scouted out the perfect pad for James’s in-city home (reason No. 4), Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Sherri Shang is who James should call to hammer out a deal.


2. Jesse Green’s exploration of the mysterious fate of Annie Moore, the first immigrant to pass through a newly opened Ellis Island in 1892 (“Immigrant Number One,” May 17), resonated with readers, who found it “fascinating and romantic,” as one put it. “I’m sure to most of us, Annie’s life would seem dismal. Burying one child alone now is a tragedy beyond understanding. Burying multiple children in turn-of-the-century New York was just a matter of calculated odds. I’m sure in her own special way, she was happy for where she was.” “This article has it all,” the Ancestral Archaeologist blog wrote. “Tall tales, hard-luck immigrant stories, plus top-rate detective work. Green presents it all in fascinating detail and poses interesting questions about how we Americans like our popular legends served up.” Another commenter offered up some historical tidbits about Moore’s Lower East Side home (and the diseases that felled many of her children): “The area along Monroe St., Madison St., and Catherine St. was historically known as the ‘Lung Block’ due to the epidemic incidence of fatal disease from TB, pneumonia, and other respiratory illnesses.” And in a blog on the Huffington Post, genealogist Megan Smolenyak, whose detective work Green followed, tied Annie’s story to modern concerns about immigration: “Annie … has become something of a poster child for the immigrant saga, that most vital of chapters found in so many of our family histories … I suppose it’s both ironic and fitting that some of Annie’s descendants now reside in Arizona.

3. Bryant Urstadt’s report on Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo, whose brightly colored basics have become a New York fashion staple (“Uniqlones,” May 17), sparked a debate about the much-vaunted customer service among those who frequent the chain’s outlet in Soho. “This service ethic sounds impressive but was not my experience at all,” complained one shopper. “The salespersons acted as if I was bothering them. Hardly welcoming.” “Have you been to Uniqlo on a busy Saturday afternoon?” asked another. “You can’t move! There’s no way for employees to keep up with smiles and six standard phrases to every person. I think the company or the customers expect too much.” A commenter who had been to Uniqlo on such a Saturday chimed in: “Despite hordes of shoppers, the staff’s attitude was outstanding. We were very impressed at the friendly and relaxed approach of everyone who worked there.” A salesperson also came forward to defend his or her comrades: “Most of the employees are also full-time college students. Forty hours a week at work, 18 to 24 hours at school—that’s tough. Can you really expect us all to always be so cheerful? Especially since you tend to have eight customers at a time asking you to do something while you’re expected to finish folding an entire wall. I don’t think any of us mean to be rude, but we are indeed very busy.”

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