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Comments: Week of November 19, 2012


1. Last week, Hurricane Sandy walloped the city, wiping out power in much of lower Manhattan and devastating low-lying areas in the outer-boroughs and New Jersey, and New York devoted a special package of stories to the storm and the battered metropolis it left in its wake (The City and the Storm,” November 12). From the moment we first published the cover online, a photograph of lower Manhattan in near-total darkness by Iwan Baan, the image was passed excitedly around the web, accumulating tweets and retweets all throughout the week. “A breathtaking picture of Manhattan divided between light and darkness,” wrote Jacob Kleinman at International Design Times. At Gizmodo, Jamie Condliffe called it “perhaps the most iconic record of Sandy.” “We were going to include the latest New York cover in our weekly Cover Battle on Thursday, but that wouldn’t have been fair, because this cover is just too good,” wrote Chris O’Shea at FishbowlNY. “Hands-down one of the most striking magazine covers in recent memory,” wrote Janelle Zara at ArtInfo. One dissenting voice lamented the photograph’s Manhattan-centric view of the storm: “Where’s the rest? Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn clearly bore the brunt of the storm, but I guess they’re not as iconic as Manhattan … This image is awesome (in the true meaning of that word), but one wonders if the editors thought about what else it is saying and not saying about the city.

2. Many readers used the issue as an occasion to reflect on their own experience of the storm—many of them having witnessed the destruction firsthand and still reckoning a week later with its meaning. “We have all seen the devastation and feel for all of those so drastically affected,” wrote one. “Having just driven back from distributing supplies in the Rockaways, Far Rockaways, and Breezy, and seeing the devastation firsthand, I can only stress that all these communities—rich, poor, black, white, private, public—are severely devastated,” wrote another. On this point, one reader was especially struck by Steve Fishman’s evocation of the devastation at Breezy Point (Fire Water,” November 12): “In tears reading this article as I ride the Metro-North back to the city … Many folks in the Rockaways lost everything at the hands of this storm, and many of those folks keep our city safe and great. All my love goes to them. I hope your families only grow stronger and you find peace soon.”

2. The issue began with John Homans’s account of “the powerless capital of the world” (What We Saw When the Lights Went Out,” November 12). “Wonderful opening essay by @JHomans,” tweeted Adam Sternbergh, a former New York editor now with The New York Times Magazine. “Truly great post-Sandy issue.” Readers seemed to agree with Benjamin Wallace-Wells that, with the storm, Chris Christie had found his moment to shine (Christie’s Apocalypse,” November 12). “I think he did a great job,” wrote one reader of the Jersey governor. “If I were a Republican, I would vote for him if he ran for president. He’s really smart and he’s a no-bullcrap person.” Wrote another: “Christie, like Obama, was pitch-perfect. Both left Romney in the dust fiddling with cans of beans.” Many took Justin ­Davidson’s essay on the changing relationship of the city to its waterfront as a morality play, with Sandy as a kind of comeuppance (Lapping the Sea,” ­November 12). “Moral of the story: ­Nature will win in the end,” wrote one. “Nature created those floodplains,” wrote another. “Just like Florida’s sand dunes, build on it, but remember, you are on borrowed time. The 40-foot sand dune was created by storms, and future storms will move it. Just learn to live with it. Same with New York and all coastal cities and cities along rivers. Coastlines are constantly changed by the forces of nature.”

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