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Comments: Week of October 15, 2012


1. “Is rock stardom any way to make a living?” asked Nitsuh Abebe in the cover story on indie gods Grizzly Bear, living modestly in the new post-iTunes universe, even when selling out Radio City (Down and Out in the Top 10,” ­October 8). “Great article on a band that deserves every bit of ‘hopefully’ more success that comes their way,” wrote one reader at “Well written and interesting. Makes me question my Spotify subscription.” That was the mainline of response to the story—regret that our desire for free music means those making it are left out in the cold. “If you care enough about the music to want to listen to it, then please care enough about it to pay for it and allow its creators to survive and continue. Actions speak louder than words,” wrote another reader. A third argued that the Grizzly Bear parable was bigger than pop music: “What Abebe points to in music applies to all the arts in an era of fragmented markets and digital freebies. You used to be able to make a comfortable living as a mid-list writer, too.” Others disagreed that times had changed things all that much. “To an extent, these economic problems have always been there,” wrote one reader. “After Einstein on the Beach was staged at Lincoln Center, Philip Glass still drove a cab—one of his passengers even asked if he knew he had the same name as an important composer. These guys are in a great band doing important work that is exactly what they want to be doing. Sure, they deserve more, but how many people can say that?

2. “Polling is garbage,” wrote one reader at about Jason Zengerle’s tour of the booming, possibly broken industry of polling in the month before the presidential election (The. Polls. Have. Stopped. Making. Any. Sense.,” ­October 8). After voicing familiar political-survey gripes, readers seemed most interested in debating one obscure point in the story—Nate Silver’s use of New Hampshire primary data to explain his regression model. “Attempting to use New Hampshire as a thermometer will get you very interesting results,” wrote one. “The Republican Party in NH has very strong libertarian bends, at least when it comes to the economic aspects … It will continue to change that landscape even more so, slanting the old ‘NH as weather vane’ metric.” Another agreed: “New Hampshire is a world unto itself (a beautiful one, but politically it’s like a family in the 1970s—you’ve got the old-school, conservative, gun-owning dad & traditional ma + the radical hippie daughter & son). I think of NH as a cross between Alabama & New York City (yeah, ponder that one),” he wrote. “And yet, the mountains there are so pretty.”

3. “Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong with the 2012 New York Yankees’ season did go wrong,” wrote Will Leitch on the team’s playoff prospects. “And they still have to be considered one of the favorites to reach the World Series, again” (The Yankees Are Dead. Long Live the Yankees,” October 8). “Cashman and Girardi are totally underappreciated by the media and, to an extent, the fans,” wrote one commenter at “We have been incredibly spoiled these last fifteen years, and for a fan old enough to remember the dark days, this era has been amazing … Cashman gave us the depth to survive the loss of Gardner, A-Rod, and others, and Girardi has run a tight ship.” Another reader took issue with him: “Cashman knows what he’s doing. Girardi? Jury’s still out.” Responded the first: “Three out of four years he has been manager, we have had playoff appearances.” That’s when the argument picked up. “Judging an individual player or manager by his team’s record is ridiculous. Statistically speaking, a manager is not particularly valuable compared to a player. Which is to say that you need to dig a little deeper than team success to prove that Girardi is a good manager. It’s not a huge stretch to say that you could manage the Yankees to the playoffs 3/4 years—year in and year out, there is a ton of talent on that team.” But his adversary wasn’t convinced that dollars explain the team success more than management. “My reality-challenged friend, you ignore several teams with monster payrolls that performed, well, monstrously this year. The Sox, the Phillies (until it was too late), and the Angels had extremely bad years … Analyze closely what really matters in sports: the ability to manage through adversity, and the ability to win rings. Concentrate on the championships. And repeat one number to yourself over and over: 27. After a while, the fog that envelops you will dissipate.

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