1. Our annual year-end tribute to New York offered 42 valentines to the city (“Reasons to Love New York,” December 19–26). “Whew. I’m still Loved,” tweeted Roots drummer and Late Night band leader Questlove (reason No. 32). “Was worried for a second.” (Some of his fans were a little jealous: “In compiling a list you had to poach one of Philly’s greatest music icons?” griped one commenter on nymag.com.) Most readers took the opportunity to offer their own reasons. “Knishes, bagels, black and white cookies,” proposed @samanthalasky. “Because every walk through NYC’s neighborhoods is a real-life fashion show,” tweeted ijcblog. “Because when I lived in a 5th floor walk-up the local deli guy would deliver a coffee & a ciggie on Sunday mornings,” wrote @britmummynyc. And from @gfnk: “Because it’s the real-life adult Hogwarts: ever changing, ever magical.”
2. On the other hand, Jessica Pressler’s short profile of “homeless billionaire” Nicolas Berggruen, his attention now focused on solving the world’s fiscal problems, really brought out the haters (“102 Minutes With Nicolas Berggruen,” December 19–26). “Bleccch! What an absolutely conceited blowhard this guy is,” wrote one commenter on nymag.com. “A big can of loser,” wrote another. Not all comments were snide, but even the polite readers couldn’t manage to take Berggruen seriously. “Mr. Berggruen’s plan calls for middle-class Californians, schoolchildren, and public services to sacrifice themselves, but billionaires like himself can continue to hoard their cash,” summarized one. “He also proposes an unelected board of ‘experts’ be selected and empowered to place ballot initiatives whenever they see the need. California already makes it far too easy for any badly conceived fever dream to get on the ballot, but collecting signatures is too much a burden for Mr. Berggruen and his fellow billionaires.” Added another: “Only in New York could anyone suggest seriously that a globe-trotting European billionaire whose daddy is an art collector should have a seat at the Save-the-World discussion.”
3. “Fame is for crazy people,” Diablo Cody told Willa Paskin in a short profile of the screenwriter, in which she complained, notably, about the peculiar bell jar of celebrity (“The Devil and Brook Busey,” December 19–26). Most readers were not sympathetic. “One of the reasons her movies get funding is ’cause it is her project and she can bring free publicity to it,” wrote one commenter on nymag.com. “Giving interviews raises your visibility, so it’s insane for her to say she wants to reduce her visibility in interviews whose purpose is to do the opposite,” wrote another. “If she wants to ‘not be recognized,’ then she can stop giving quotes for profiles like this one, and the ones running in a ton of other places.” A third was even less charitable: “Please. Stop. Talking.”
4. The journalism preservationists at Longreads.org compiled a list of their favorite longish magazine pieces of 2011. Dan P. Lee’s “Travis the Menace” (January 31) was No. 1—congratulations to Lee! Longform.org picked a number of New York stories in its 2011 roundup: in arts and culture, Roseanne Barr’s feminist-auteur cri de coeur (“And I Should Know,” May 23); in crime, Robert Kolker’s reporting on the Long Island serial killer’s victims’ families (“A Serial Killer in Common,” June 6); in essays, Wesley Yang’s study of “the bamboo ceiling” and the cultural contradictions of the Asian-American work ethic (“Paper Tigers,” May 16); in politics, Gabriel Sherman’s portrait of Roger Ailes (“The Elephant in the Green Room,” May 30); and in sex, Lee’s narrative of the love affair—and ensuing legal battle—of Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall II (“Paw Paw & Lady Love,” June 13–20). We feel flattered!
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