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Comments: Week of May 28, 2012

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1. Our third annual television issue, celebrating the recent wave of TV experimentation—in programming and broadcast platforms—was candy to some readers (The New New Tube,” May 21). “The TV issue of @NYmag is kind of like coffee ice cream topped in chocolate syrup: so much awesome in one,” tweeted @curlycraze612. “So good that I temporarily forget I’m on the train with coughing strangers,” wrote @sarahZWexler. ­Others got particularly excited about the roundtable chat with TV’s new female showrunners. As the blogger at Constantly Changing Places put it, “If you love TV and funny women, read this.” But a few found our claim of a television “revolution” a little much to take. “I love the current state of TV as far as availability,” wrote one commenter at nymag.com. “What I hate is the damn awful quality.”


2. A posthumous profile of the fearsome comedian Patrice O’Neal by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc prompted comedy fans to wrestle with the meaning of his confrontational, conversational standup (The Comedian Comedians Were Afraid Of,” May 21). “Beautiful, tragic, touching, exhaustive, necessary,” said Jesse David Fox at Splitsider. “There aren’t many comedians I can say killed every time I saw them onstage. Not even some of the greats. But O’Neal’s mix of straight talk, racial uneasiness, and interaction with the crowd made him a rare talent.” Another wrote: “He was just so honest about everything. I hope I muster up the courage to be as honest as him someday.” Not everybody was so impressed with O’Neal: “This guy was not funny, he was just a vehicle for twisted man-­children to vicariously live out their fantasies of being able to verbally act out their basest and most cynical impulses and get away with it,” criticized one commenter. “Patrice seemed to forgo any sense of humanity in an attempt to dissect humanity,” argued another skeptic. “He didn’t see people as people; he saw them as fodder, as guinea pigs for his social experiment.” Another also focused on O’Neal’s cruelty: “Steve Martin once ­famously said, ‘Comedy is not pretty,’ and Patrice O’Neal was a walking, talking, breathing testament to that fact.”

3. “The nifty thing about old-wine cons is it is almost impossible to prove anything,” Benjamin Wallace wrote in a story tracing the downfall of wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan (Château Sucker,” May 21). “An excellent if somewhat horrifying read,” wrote Edith Zimmerman at the Hairpin. “It is fascinating,” agreed John Tilson at the website the Undergound Wineletter. “Not just for the wine story, but for the story of egos, arrogance, outrageous statements and behavior, ignorance, and gullibility.” But wine writer W. Blake Gray couldn’t help but admire the gumption: “Rudy Kurniawan deserves to go to prison. But reading this outstanding story I cheered for him all the same,” he wrote. “There are no victims in Kurniawan’s crimes who don’t deserve a comeuppance. These are not wine lovers. Wine lovers have a great bottle of Burgundy they love with a friend or two and savor every sip; they don’t go on a website and show off the vintages they own just to make others jealous. These braggarts are the perverts of the wine world, treating wine as pornography to be ogled and airbrushed and pumped up to perfection.” And wine critic Robert Parker, who at one point praised Kurniawan’s seeming generosity in sharing rare wines, wrote in to clarify: He never actually attended a Kurniawan event or tasted his wines.

4. When Joe Biden went off-script and endorsed gay marriage on Meet the Press, he may just have given his boss a reelection boost, John Heilemann wrote in a column on Obama’s reluctant coming-out on marriage equality (Gay Wedding Crasher,” May 21). And some thought the veep had earned the real credit. “I don’t think President Obama deserves any kind of recognition,” wrote one activist on nymag.com. “Vice-President Joe Biden does.” But maybe Obama’s more cautious, evolving approach to the issue merited applause, too, some wrote. “Biden has been trumpeted as the true hero here, ­forcing Obama’s hand with his guileless reactions. But what if guile makes sense?” asked one commenter at nymag.com. “Allowing the time to find the best way to frame the embrace of same-sex marriage translates into a ‘delay,’ of course, but perhaps it also translates into better results.” Another commenter agreed: “Being strategic does involve self-interest, but it can also involve the interests of others. Planning for gain is not, in this understanding, a shameful act.”

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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