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Comments: Week of January 16, 2012


1. In an essay on the Republican presidential field published before the caucuses, Frank Rich marveled at the reluctance of conservatives to rally behind likely nominee Mitt Romney (The Molotov Party,” January 2–9). “Leave it to an effete liberal snob like Frank Rich to tell Republicans how their party is screwed up,” snarked one commenter at “Grab your favorite beverage, sit down, and prepare to laugh out loud, a lot!” applauded bobswern at Daily Kos. “You really have to read the entire piece by Rich to appreciate just how brutal this guy can be when he puts his mind to it.” Other readers weighed in with explanations for why Romney hasn’t been able to cross the 25 percent threshold. “Plenty of Republican voters who are unsure about Romney feel that way not necessarily because he is insufficiently wild-eyed for their tastes, but also because he simply rubs them the wrong way, is hard to relate to, or seems less than entirely sincere,” wrote The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis, reporting from Iowa. Commenters at also saw the voter calculus quite clearly. “The GOP Establishment cannot fathom why Mitt can’t get the other two legs of the conservative stool? [It’s] ­actually quite simple: The social conservatives … will not vote for a Mormon. ­Period. The law-and-order types will not vote for someone that has in any manner shown restraint concerning immigration or health care. He may get the nomination by default, but I sure would like to see it go the full Monty and end up a brokered convention.” And why, asked one commenter, use this primary election to lambaste the extremism of the Republican Party? “You just spent 30 or 40 paragraphs berating a party that is about to nominate a center-right (but mostly centrist) ex-governor of Massachusetts as its nominee,” wrote another commenter. “There is plenty to attack the GOP on: a huge expansion of government under Bush, an almost complete jettisoning of the Reagan growth agenda, as well as the mishandled war in Iraq. But to call the GOP a bunch of right-wing zealots is so 2002.

2. In his colossal, quixotic, once-every-six-years ranking of New York’s finest restaurants, critic Adam Platt named Eleven Madison Park the city’s best place to eat—and called the project itself “possibly insane” (The Platt 101,” January 2–9). “All in all, it’s a solid and thoughtful effort, with some head-scratchers (Picholine at 26, Franny’s jumping from 97 to 48, Gordon Ramsay and The Four Seasons clocking in in the fifties) and some fun surprises (Seäsonal above Babbo, for one),” wrote Amanda Kludt at Eater. “Here is a substitute for cooking school,” wrote blog Shef­zilla: “Move to NYC, work for someone in the top 101 for a year or two, and you will be able to handle working anywhere.” Other readers took shots at the list, of course. “It’s too nice to the Old Guard. In particular, it seems like a few Brooklyn restaurants were thrown in at the end just to throw Brooklyn a bone. And even then, the ranking of the Brooklyn establishments seems haphazard,” griped one commenter at, echoing other complaints that the list seemed a little Manhattan-heavy. Others felt it was a little haut. “I appreciate Platt including some Asians on this list, but let’s try to get some real authentic Asian places on this list,” wrote another. And a third: “If you’re not a meat lover, this list is useless.”

3. In a piece of gonzo arts journalism, classical-music critic Justin Davidson spent a semester auditing Juilliard’s conducting course, then actually picked up the baton, directed an orchestra, and wrote about it (What Does a Conductor Do?,” January 2–9). “Bravo for your courage!” wrote one commenter at ­ “No one who has not been up there can imagine how hard it is to make music with a stick that makes no sound.” “Truly, I think there is no other way to truly appreciate something [than] by just doing it firsthand—and what better way to learn than with the Juilliard School’s conductor program,” wrote Jason Pano at Musings of a Composer blog. “I think it’s great that you did this,” wrote another commenter. “Nothing is ever as easy as it appears from the other side. Watching the pros make it look so easy, we wonder if we could do the same.” The blog What Blag was as impressed by the writing as by the boldness of the stunt. “What makes this piece great: You can hear the music ­Davidson describes.” And one commenter credited that quality to the exquisite pleasure of the undertaking. “Conducting is certainly an addictive thrill, especially considering the dedication poured into a piece long before it becomes reality through the stunning music-making of those in front of you.”

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