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Comments: Week of December 6, 2010

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1. Jason Zengerle profiled New Jersey governor Chris Christie, whose aggressive approach to budget cuts and outspoken manner have bewitched the GOP (“The Answer Is No,” November 29). Some readers voiced their distaste for the governor’s ideas. “Failing to spend money on infrastructure while the country is on the verge of a depression is a demonstrably failed economic policy,” wrote a commenter on nymag.com. Others objected to his methods. “What interests me far more [than his YouTube videos] is his strategy for buying off local Democratic Party bosses,” wrote Tim Fernholz on The American Prospect’s Tapped blog. “For all his promises of shared sacrifice, it looks like Christie has just replaced one patronage system with another. It’s really fascinating that Christie’s budget-cutting strategy has been successful because of his willingness to play the same old game.” Still others took exception to both. “Taking glee in shouting down your own state’s citizens who are attempting to express their concerns about jobs, public services, and education and then turning around and exploiting them on YouTube is not the sign of a future president but of a current bully,” wrote a commenter. The governor had his defenders as well, on both sides of the aisle. “Is Christie looking for fights so he can get clicks and views? The answer is—absolutely, why not?” argued right-leaning blog Save Jersey. “Christie knows that his style is a direct, blunt approach. He knows what conservatives like, and he doesn’t give a rip about what the liberal media thinks of him.” “I actually voted for Corzine,” wrote one commenter. “However, I have no qualms about the things Christie has done. He inherited this budget deficit from those who came before him. He didn’t complain or point the finger, he did what he had to do to make things right. To me, that’s commendable.”


2. Jesse Green’s cover story about Julie Taymor and U2’s long-delayed and extravagantly expensive Broadway reimagining of the Spider-Man comic had some readers panting for the curtain to go up (“A Web and a Prayer,” November 29). “Cataloguing Taymor’s obsessive devotion to the task and the huge financial risks involved,” noted Andy Morris at GQ UK’s music blog, Green’s story “made us more excited than ever to see the final result.” Felix Salmon echo“I hope this show turns out to be great and magical and groundbreaking,” wrote a commenter on nymag.com. “And not ’cause I’m a Marvel fanboy (which I am) but ’cause I buy into Taymor’s concept of theater as ritual.” Not everyone was feeling so optimistic. “I found The Lion King to be curiously unmoving, all style and no substance,” wrote one commenter on nymag.com. “I have huge misgivings about this production. I have always preferred the human-drama aspect of graphic novels, and it seems like that isn’t even being touched upon amidst this circus of lights and nets and U2.” “Taymor’s work is certainly innovative, yet oftentimes her ambitions result in shoddy craftsmanship,” wrote another. “She has amazing vision, yet somehow loses a sense of detail in her work. Best sum-up of her endeavors: beautifully mythic and imaginative, yet somehow general and unprecise.”

3. Logan Hill’s use of the word genius in the title of his compendium of all things Kanye West polarized readers (“Demented Genius,” November 29). “Places Kanye West in the intellectual bull’s-eye of an unfolding global pop culture. Hill explores West’s creative genius, which we embrace, while putting him in the same breath with Bob Dylan,” wrote the website Anne of Carversville. “We’re there.” “He can sell records. Isn’t that the name of the game?” asked a commenter on nymag.com. “And I ain’t talking ’bout an MP3—an actual CD. I bought one. And brilliant it is! He wins.” “The genius is in his ability to break the mold of the typical rap artist,” argued another commenter. “Kanye just brought rap to another level in his artistry, production, content, and how an album is promoted.” Others were less enthusiastic: “Kanye’s music is great, but the ‘genius’ label seems a bit hyperbolic at this point when one considers that in the past for Picasso, Einstein, Whitman, etc., to be labeled geniuses, they had to have a transcendental, earth-shattering impact that changed the rules of their field completely.” “I do like some of his songs, but I don’t think he’s a brilliant musician,” added a commenter. And another wrote, “Let the historians writing about pop-culture history 50 years from now decide whether to call him a genius.”

4. Several readers objected to one of the selections in our holiday-gift guide (“Boldface Secret Santa,” November 22). Gym owner David Barton’s Secret Santa gift for photographer Todd Selby—a schnauzer puppy in a basket—could have been sourced from an adoption organization rather than a pet store. Barton told us schnauzer, and we filled in the pet store; so blame us, not him. And by all means, if you’re looking for a pup of your own, check out local adoption agencies, like New Jersey Schnauzer Rescue Network (732-920-8242; njsrn.org).

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