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Comments: Week of April 15, 2013

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1. For this year’s annual yesteryear issue, we took a nostalgia tour of childhood in the city (Childhood in New York,” April 8). “There are as many New York childhoods as there have been New York children, but New York magazine’s collection of reminiscences charmingly pastes rescued fragments from bygone days into a mosaic that suggests a teeming collective city that may well never have existed—any more than it ever did, outside the galvanizing purview of artistic creation,” wrote Richard Brody at his New Yorker blog. “The whole, paradoxically, is the transformatively parochial view of artists, and there’s one entry in the bunch that, for me, stands out as a bolt of literary lightning. It comes from a perhaps unexpected source: Mel Brooks. His recollections of Williamsburg feature an ode to the egg cream that, in its delight in the daily ­meticulous ­details, is a small-scale version of Philip Roth’s tribute to the glove-maker’s ­exacting craft in American Pastoral. Brooks, ­endowed with a speaking voice that veritably sings with comic invention, ought to do the world a favor and talk his memoirs out to someone who, like New York’s interviewer, would serve as a friendly but noodging interlocutor.” At Curbed NY, Hana R. Alberts wrote, “You get the sense that the old times were very different, sometimes better, and always colorful.” Many readers wanted to add their own memories to the mix. “Who knew mid-century New York was so vicious?” asked one. “I did.” Another took a warmer view: “I ran around outside for hours at a time without any adult expecting me to check in. No scheduled play dates. Spaldeens aplenty, and certainly no bike helmets. Most injuries we dealt with ourselves, as you’d be considered a ‘wuss’ if you ran crying to mom. I see kids now and am so glad I grew up when I did. It was heaven.” Even the brother of Larry David, whose memories of Sheepshead Bay were featured in the issue, wrote in with a few supplemental memories of his own: “And every Sunday night it was ­either ­Lundy’s, where you found a table that was on dessert and stood behind them, coughing and talking loudly to ­encourage them to leave (there was no hostess greeting you), or else Kwai Fong, for Chinese food. In the winter Larry and I would collect, in our bedroom dresser drawers, Borden’s Ice Cream Elsie wrappers, because each ten with a quarter would return a grandstand seat for any game at Ebbets Field (except the Giants). Our mother would scream about how we would be invaded by ants, but that was merely a distraction.” At ­Jewish-culture site Tablet’s Scroll blog, Adam Chandler noted the roundup wasn’t exactly representative: “A power panel of famous figures in sports, art, culture, and politics to reminisce about their childhoods in New York. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that a number of the chosen were … chosen.” And one cynical commenter at nymag.com protested more ­genuinely: “Doesn’t the NY Media ever get tired of interviewing the same old people 600 times in one ­decade? ­Barbara Walters, 6,000 times? Exactly what have you not asked these people that can ­justify giving them more free, pointless, boring publicity?

2. An update of Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight’s 1933 classic New York children’s storybook Eloise by Joana Avillez (I Am Eloise. I Am 6. I Live at the Wythe Hotel,” April 8) got special love on Twitter. “Eloise, city child, moves to Brooklyn,” tweeted @JLCascio. “Confirms my long-standing theory that we are the same person.” Hayley Bloomingdale agreed: “Eloise in BK > Plaza Eloise!”

3. The childhood issue was also the first to appear on our new iPad app, and we’ve been eagerly following the response online. “New York magazine took its time readying an optimized edition for the iPad, the Apple tablet device that first arrived in U.S. stores three years ago, but it may well have been worth the wait,” wrote Lauren Indvik at Mashable. “The app arguably brings together the weekly magazine and its website better than any other magazine app that has attempted the same.” There was a bit of a bug downloading the new issue at first, and we scrambled to address it. “When I woke up this morning, I found the problem was fixed,” wrote one iTunes reviewer the day after launch. “The app is fabulous.” We were relieved to hear it.

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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