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Comments: Week of June 13, 2011


1. Robert Kolker’s cover story about the murdered prostitutes whose bodies were found on a beach in Long Island and their families’ distraught search to understand what happened (“A Serial Killer in Common,” June 6) disturbed many readers. Some commenters, while upset by the young women’s fates, thought it important to point out that they did put themselves in harm’s way. “This is exactly why you don’t want to get mixed up in prostitution and hard drugs in the first place … I’m not saying we should blame the victims, but it’s less shocking that women that didn’t take care of themselves and didn’t lead safe lifestyles were the ones who ended up killed,” wrote one. “I think it’s horribly sad that a girl can make seven grand a week ‘partying’ with creepy men, and only $14 per hour doing something legit,” wrote another, sensibly adding, “but no amount of money is worth putting yourself in danger.” Another commenter, who was so affected by the story that she felt “compelled to get up mid-article and chain my door,” made the point that “the fact that I don’t advertise myself on Craigslist does not make me any more safe in this society than these women. Ask a hotel maid or the inebriated woman who sought the assistance of two NYC police officers … if they feel safer than these women—I promise you they don’t. This is an endemic problem, and the fact that people keep drawing attention to these women’s profession as opposed to what happens when women are placed in vulnerable situations in this society means these problems will undoubtedly persist.” Others focused their sympathies on the women’s families and their struggle to get attention for the murders. As one put it: “If losing your daughter or sister at the hands of a killer isn’t hard enough, let’s pile on judgment and feet-dragging. But, unfortunately, these women might have been picked by this killer just for that reason: that because they were prostitutes, their deaths wouldn’t be taken as seriously by authorities.”

2. The blog Curbed called Justin Davidson’s review of Renzo Piano’s design for the future downtown home of the Whitney Museum of American Art (“An Out-of-Tune Piano,” June 6) an “epic smackdown” that was “so epic that it was hard to narrow down our list of favorite zingers.” The blog Museummonger’s choice for best epithet was Davidson’s dismissing the design’s sterility as “MoMA south.” (For good measure, the blogger added “Justin Davidson = SuperHearts.”) The MoMA observation found purchase among many commenters as well. “MoMA is absolutely joyless. The whole place feels like the lobby of some international corporate giant,” wrote one. Another derided the new museum as looking, of all horrors, like a “suburban office tower, bland and boring … One would expect massive amounts of cars parking outside and an Office Max across the street.” Clearly, some observers would have preferred something splashier. “I laugh at the PR bubbles surrounding Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, but their buildings at least have some visual pizzazz. This building looks like it wants to metastasize into the Fortress of Solitude but can’t figure out what crystalline structure to emulate.” A few commenters were sympathetic to Piano, however. “Not sure if it’s fair to criticize a Renzo Piano project before the foundation is even poured,” wrote one. “What is disheartening is to find architecture critics who are not licensed architects and have never designed or built a project themselves failing to realize that true architecture does not lie in how appealing the crystalline box is to the onlooker’s eye. You need to realize that projects are only as good as the client … Maybe Davidson’s critical focus should be aimed more at the Whitney board than at the servant.” Another pragmatic commenter thought it didn’t matter much anyway, since “I have never, ever, gone to a museum because of how it looks on the outside. I go for what’s in the building.”

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