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Comments: Week of April 30, 2012


1. Benjamin Wallace’s cover story on the booming business of handmade goods in Brooklyn (The Twee Party,” April 23) earned its fair share of praise. “Absolutely killing it. It’s the best thing ever,” wrote Choire Sicha at the Awl. “I ­really like that this piece gets at the hideously annoying steampunk and Victoriana underpinnings of Brooklyn twee.” Some commenters were equally excited, if for less complicated reasons. “Bravo to these artisans! They are revitalizing neighborhoods, creating stuff, and providing jobs,” lauded one. “Want. To. Be. So. Snarky. But can’t. These guys are doing some cool stuff, and hopefully fostering a new economic ­model,” wrote another. They weren’t the only artisan lovers. “Most of these people pay fair-market value for high-quality supplies and make an effort to keep things local and put money back into their surroundings,” added another commenter. “That’s not twee—that’s paying the people what they deserve, which is something that an overwhelming number of huge corporate manufacturers sadly do not do.” Then there were the artisan haters. “I had a twee-allergy overload so intense that I am presently trying to declog sinuses of cross-stitched granola bars and locally brewed marmalade-flavored session mayonnaise,” wrote Tim Donnelly at Brokelyn. “I respect these people for their passion for what they do, but I find their anti-­pretentiousness so pretentious it’s nauseating,” argued one commenter at “All this ‘handmade’ shit and fresh food existed forever, made by the real locals who immigrated here in the beginning of the century. The ones who got pushed out by these useless, pretentious bearded phony fucks.” “For it to have any value for me as a consumer, ‘artisan’ does not equal hobbyist,” wrote another commenter. “Back in my Brooklyn day, there were tinsmiths, cheese-makers, bakers, and more. No one called them artisans, though they were. Their pride was in their products and business success.”

2. Jason Zengerle’s long, freewheeling talk with outgoing Massachusetts representative Barney Frank (In Conversation: Barney Frank,” April 23) won attention from both sides of the political spectrum, though for different reasons. “An epic interview,” wrote Out magazine’s Popnography blog. “One of this week’s best reads,” concurred Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog. “Given the interviewee, it’s not surprising the piece is always interesting, often funny, and occasionally startling in its, well, ‘frankness.’ ” “It’s impossible to read this extraordinary interview and not sense that something genuinely important is being lost with Rep. Frank’s retirement,” wrote Noah Brand at the Good Man Project. “The fierce intelligence that comes through, the deep sense of principle, is inspiring. What gets me is how little he talks like the bland, TV-coached politicians we’re used to. The mixture of principle and pragmatism, of righteous anger and rueful acceptance, is what makes me call Barney Frank a good man. That and arguing with his interviewer. I like a Democrat who fights.” From the other side of the aisle, the National Republican Congressional Committee seized on the interview, reading into Frank’s remarks on the affordable-health-care act and interpreting them in a press release to mean Frank laments the passage of the law. In a comment to Talking Points Memo, Frank clarified that he was unhappy about the timing of the passage, not the law itself, saying, “Yes, they’re twisting my words.” He grouped the NRCC statement with “the consistent distortions we’ve come to expect from the other side.”

3. American yogi-mogul John Friend, recently embroiled in a sordid sex-drugs-and-financial-fraud scandal involving his Anusara-yoga empire, granted an exclusive interview on the subject to Vanessa Grigoriadis (Karma Crash,” April 23). “Perhaps the first quality, real piece of journalism to cover the John Friend scandal,” wrote Waylon Lewis at Elephant Journal. Others had more mixed reactions. “Provides extraordinary insight into the mind of the accused and ostracized John Friend,” wrote the blogger at YogaDork. He added, “With the first one-on-one interview, we’re just a bit disappointed in the opportunity here to bring balance to an otherwise one-sided conversation with John Friend talking about himself. This is where we see the tear in the fibers. And it seems that John still doesn’t quite get it.” Commenters on offered personal views on Friend. “My reasons for leaving had more to do with an overall tightening of control in several major areas: Body, Heart, Mind, and Livelihood,” wrote a self-identified former Anusara teacher. “I felt that I could not in good faith remain in a system in which one person had such control over so many.” “I attended a John Friend workshop and thought he was a wonderful teacher whose goal was to encourage students to feel warm, open, invigorated,” wrote another commenter. “That said, it’s not surprising that the result of building a ‘yoga empire’ and brand is a complete crashing down of the ego eventually.”

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