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Comments: Week of September 10, 2012


1.Frank Rich crept into the minds and hearts of every person who loved, grieved, and will always miss Nora Ephron,” wrote Clayre Haft in one of an unusually large number of letters we received about Rich’s remembrance of the writer, which doubled as a meditation on her decision to keep nearly all of her many close friends in the dark about her illness (Nora’s Secret,” August 27–­September 3). “Your piece about Nora Ephron was absorbing,” wrote Suzaan Boettger in another. “But it didn’t get at a central disturbing aspect of her secrecy about dying. While it is her right to go as she wishes, by not sharing this crucial fact of her experience with those who considered themselves long-standing good friends, she essentially refused a final intimacy with them: It was emotionally rejecting.” Readers at were a little more understanding. “While all of the explanations Frank Rich cites are valid, there’s one potentially incriminating one he fails to mention: Perhaps Ephron kept mum on the issue because she didn’t trust others to react to her illness with the tact and dignity that were her second nature in reacting to the illnesses of others. Terminal cancer is the source of all sorts of misplaced sentimentalism. What made Ephron so remarkable was her reassuring knowledge of self. Who can blame her for opting out of a foreseeable farce?” And one friend wrote in to strike a similarly warm note: “I was on the list of people who got the call two days before Nora died, and I was as blown away as anyone, but I envied her courage and her ability to live in the lives of all she knew until she was (almost) gone. She remained vitally Nora. While we may have been cheated out of an opportunity to say good-bye or share last thoughts, we were not cheated out of six years, or one year, or months, of the essential Nora.

2. “The battle is over, and Bruce Ratner won it,” Will Leitch wrote in a story on the future of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, finally set to open this fall—“so, now what?” (Game Time,” August 27–September 3). “It’s surely legitimate to ask how well the arena might sell tickets, which is the ultimate question … But to mostly dismiss the history, the ongoing controversy, and the current challenge of operating the arena is just a little myopic,” wrote Norman Oder at Atlantic Yards Report. At, commenters weren’t so ready to move on, either. “Forgive me, but wasn’t Atlantic Yards supposed to be about Jobs, Housing, and Hoops?” asked one. “Well, sure, we’ve got hoops and the rest of the glitz, but … 2,250 so-called affordable [housing] units? Not a one. So while it may be hip and cool, or whatever you want to call it, to be a part of ‘that Brooklyn thang’ (which btw is a caricature), it isn’t hip and cool to be played for suckers.” Another might’ve taken issue with that “glitz”: “It is not ‘gleaming’ or ‘modern’ or ‘shiny.’ It is hulking, misshapen, and dark. It is a huge rusty handicapped toilet seat, plopped into the worst traffic snarl of Brooklyn.” But one reader charged arena opponents with hypocrisy: “It’s one thing that you guys don’t want traffic and wind tunnels in your little Jane Jacobs Utopia, but the really insufferable thing about the anti-arena crowd is how you feign concern for the people you spent the last ten years running out of the neighborhood. Capitalists and real-estate developers may not be the best friends of poor people of color, but hipsters are just as bad, if not worse. At least there will be a few more jobs now. Yeessh.”

3. “If television were liberal, it would be a lot more feminist and have a lot more diversity,” wrote one commenter about Jonathan Chait’s essay (The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Is on Your Screen,” August 27–September 3) contending that liberals have triumphed in the culture wars, with Hollywood movies and prime-time television carrying subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) progressive messaging. “I hate to throw facts at a Jonathan Chait column, but if his contention is correct that over the past few decades Hollywood’s liberal bias has made the culture more liberal, then why is it the Dems have held the Senate, the House, and the White House simultaneously for only four years since 1980?” asked another. “Jon may be wishfully thinking that the American people are dopey ‘flyover’ types who can be easily brainwashed from the 212 and 310 area codes. But the population seems smarter than that, to the point that … they can simultaneously find Cam and Mitchell entertaining but also question whether Barack and Joey actually have their act together.” Added another: “If the Hollywood elites are so inclusive, why is it black people are still complaining about the lack of blacks in major, behind-the-scenes roles in the industry? Quick question for you: Who has had more black presidents, the major Hollywood studios or the United States of America?

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