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Comments: Week of January 30, 2012

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1. In a profile of disgraced state senator Carl Kruger, the former Albany power broker told Geoffrey Gray his side of the story, detailing his devotion to a proxy family whose upscale life he’d bankrolled with the help of bribes taken while in office (King Carl of Canarsie,” January 16–23). “Clearly he lost his way,” wrote a commenter who claimed to be a former member of Kruger’s staff and took time to praise Kruger’s service to his community. “The tragedy is that in becoming a state senator he had fulfilled his dream. He had what he always wanted. He was respected, feared. I wish he could have left it at that. But he didn’t, and he’s going away for it.” Another self-described former associate was less moved by the “tragedy”: “The family ‘history’ is interesting, but I wonder if any of it is true … Should we really care about this admitted felon’s motivation? I have known Carl Kruger for almost 40 years, and he was a nasty, vindictive, ­despicable p.o.s. from day one. And I hope no one believes … that this is a ‘good man’ who became a corrupt politician. This is a bad, bad man who finally got caught.” A third reader with ties to Kruger chimed in: “A cautionary note to the guy/gal who works up the probation ­report: Be skeptical, be very skeptical.”

2. When a 19-year-old Army private from Chinatown killed himself in Afghanistan last October, he became a symbol of military hazing and anti-Chinese prejudice, Jennifer Gonnerman wrote in a story tracing the path from honor student and model son to Army enlistee and ­tormented private (Pvt. Danny Chen, 1992–2011,” January 16–23). “This story brought me to tears,” wrote one commenter. “I heard being in the military is tough, and it is not made for everyone, but superior ranks have the obligation to protect the weaker soldiers, not ridicule them.” Those in the military were also horrified by the story. “As a soon-to-be officer in two short years (after I commission from West Point ’14), I am absolutely disgusted and saddened by the treatment of Private Danny Chen,” wrote one. “This makes me very angry, and though it may be out of character to say, I hope that these poor excuses for human beings and soldiers are punished to the max and never allowed to serve again!” But another commenter thought the fuss over hazing was totally overblown. “If you join combat arms, you are probably going to be serving with some people who are innately very violent … Sometimes you do get treated like shit; welcome to being a private in the military … There are certainly racist people in the Army, just as there are everywhere else … If you’re a minority, you gotta go in hard and show them that you’re just as good and better than them at everything. We’re all big enough boys to carry a gun, wear the uniform, etc., so don’t go to ­pieces over some harsh names. It’s the military, not summer camp.”


3. In our “Workplace Confidential” cover story, anonymous insiders shared secrets of their lives on the job—a cop, a Today show producer, a trans­sexual escort, along with eighteen others (The Classifieds,” January 16–23). “The firefighter’s insanely obnoxious,” wrote one commenter on nymag.com. The boozing police officer, on the other hand, was a favorite—“of all these little insider vignettes this is the most heartrending,” wrote another. “My father was a cop in NYC from the late sixties to the nineties. And I think that is pretty close to his story as well,” wrote a third. “Drunk all the time with other drunk cops. Got sent away to the farm, struggled with drinking on and off until he retired.” The bikini-waxer item was also much discussed (“WTF grown adult women get vajazzled?”), as was the rant of an anonymous Met, which prompted a guessing game about his identity (“Maybe the bullpen catcher?”). One reader, though, thought most of the inside dope was old news: “Already heard it a million times.”

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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