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Comments: Week of November 5, 2012


1. “Such disgusting, entitled, oblivious economic royalism,” wrote one reader of AIG CEO Bob Benmosche, who, in a profile by Jessica Pressler, expressed frustration that he hasn’t gotten more credit for helping stabilize (with the aid of $182 billion in government aid) the insurance industry at the depths of the recession (The Randian and the Bailout,” ­October 29). “Now you can learn all the secrets of AIG’s comeback and enrichening schemes!” wrote Choire Sicha at the Awl. “Well, ‘secret.’ It’s just be a huge dick about everything (and do some insane accounting and quiet selling-off, basically).” Few readers had much more sympathy for Benmosche. “This guy is angry because some of the people who bailed him out involuntarily had the gall to utilize their First Amendment rights about it,” wrote one reader at At Daily Kos, Colorado is the Shiznit sounded a similar note about the self-conception of the one percent. “Excellent article about the unique tone deafness that seems to inflict all those who do now, or whoever have, worked on Wall Street,” she wrote. But one reader, at least, believed that the CEO deserved the appreciation he feels he was denied: “Benmosche took over AIG in August 2009 after the collapse. He had nothing to do with anything the company did before that. All he has done is turned a $20 ­billion profit for the U.S. Govt. in three years. He has a right to say you’re ­welcome.” And another was just as turned off by those commenters villainizing Wall Street: “The reality is this: Individuals made a decision to take out mortgage loans that they could not pay back. Can we finally stop this ­anti-business bullshit and take some ­responsibility for what really caused this–unpaid debts. I have dealt with credit-card debt, and I take full responsibility for it and have lived with the ­consequences. I don’t blame MasterCard’s CEO.”

2. A reader at called Boris Kachka’s profile of New Journalist turned Social Novelist Tom Wolfe “a wonderfully perceptive appreciation of the good and the bad in Wolfe’s fiction” (Life on Mars,” October 29). Others were ­especially eager to talk about the second category. “Wolfe is exhausting,” wrote one. “I can’t get through a single paragraph of his without requiring an Advil. Furthermore, it’s difficult to treat the claims that this is all satire seriously when he so obviously lionizes his characters.” Wrote another: “This profile is as entertaining as Bonfire! I don’t believe for a second that he didn’t read the [unflattering] New Yorker piece on him and his book!”

3. “A medium is just a medium … good and hack works are made in oil, intaglio, and computer,” wrote one commenter in response to Jerry Saltz’s review of a Whitney exhibition of Wade Guyton’s “paintings”—in which Saltz argued that technique fetishists should drop their objections to Guyton’s laser-printer process and embrace the results (Respect the Inkjet,” October 29). “Jerry, I may have softened my outlook but arch wallpaper is old hat,” wrote a second reader. “I see this as akin to the Moog synthesizer—or Auto-Tune.” A third argued that technique wasn’t the issue—what was important was what Guyton brought (or didn’t bring) to it: “What is a gimmick? If your work is the product of an x+y=z formula, one that involves the digestion of intellectual information, historical references, and catchy use of material, I would call it a gimmick … I expect art to do more than just ­reiterate ‘things as they are.’ ” And another argued that the show was more nostalgia trip than daring step into nonhuman technique: “The way in which the work is made also seems nostalgic. Technology improves very quickly, and these works already seem dated (in terms of how they are made) … That this review and others seem to revel in the fact that Guyton’s work utilizes Epson printers feels a little bit like when one’s grandparents discover the Internet or Facebook for the first time.

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