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Comments: Week of June 17, 2013

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1. Claire Hoffman’s interview with Will and Jaden Smith in our “Summer” issue let the subjects digress about parenting styles, Cartier watches, and the Smiths’ interest in the underlying patterns that influence all things (Will Smith and His Fresh Prince,” June 3–10). The consensus seemed to be that the Smiths’ responses were … eccentric. “Even if After Earth is the worst movie ever made, its promo campaign will have already justified its existence,” suggested Amos Barshad at Grantland. “Warning: This might change your life forever.” And here’s ­Caity ­Weaver at Gawker: “A very bonkers interview in which they espoused wondrous theories of high-level imagimathematics previously published only on the ­wrinkled insides of fast-food takeout bags in a frantic, crayoned hand. Based on the examples they provide in the interview, the Smiths’ definition of ‘a pattern’ would appear to consist of literally any object, concept, or behavior that exists or hypothetically could exist … At times, the interview felt less like fun chat with Holly­wood stars and more like a social worker delicately assessing two friendly schizophrenics.” Duana, at Lainey Gossip, called the exchange “weird and way too buddy-esque and not based in what looks like a parent-child relationship. I have a vibe that someone who checks his own bank statements at 14 (what?!) will have nothing to rebel against. How can you be your own person when you are so literally grown in your parents’ image? I still think they might be robots.” Or maybe just ­robotically promotional, suggested Sarah Fonder at Flavorwire. “[It] quickly becomes a collection of vague intellectual sound bites and deadly serious ­descriptions of the Smith family’s many projects.” Daniel D’Addario, at Salon, added that it was “revealing of just how hermetic is the bubble the Smith family occupies. It doesn’t seem anyone’s told Will Smith ‘no’ in a very long time.” A lot of the nymag.com commentariat, ­however, was simply impressed with Hoffman’s ability to get the Smiths talking: “Wow … just … Wow!!” wrote MRSRebel. “Now that was entertainment and it didn’t cost me $8.”

2. “As we celebrate the forward velocity of gay rights, I think we must glance backward as well,” wrote Frank Rich as he ­recalled (and tried to track down the story of) Clayton Coots, a closeted gay man who acted as his surrogate father and mentor (Ancient Gay History,” June 3–10). Readers on nymag.com were touched by Rich’s remembrance and poured out their own stories about a very different era, one not far removed from our own. “There are Claytons in my past,” one commenter recalled. “In the grand scheme of things that is about all we can hope for: to be ­remembered.” Others shared their own stories about struggles with sexual identity. “A generation younger than Mr. Coots, I came out post-­Stonewall. However, growing up in the sixties and early seventies, I felt the need to hide my true self from family and friends,” remembered one reader. “I hadn’t thought about this struggle ­within myself for many years. Apparently, it lies deeper than I thought.” “I’m so thankful for all of those who have gone before me and fought so hard for our civil rights!” added a younger commenter. “Let us rejoice in our forward progress, but never forget we owe it all to the brave men & women who had had enough on a steamy night in 1969 and decided to fight back!

3. In his profile of chef Adam Fleisch­man, whose Umami Burger chain is ­expanding from Los Angeles to New York, Adam Platt declared him fit to contend on New York’s competitive burger scene (What Does Los Angeles Know About Hamburgers?,” June 3–10). Commenters on nymag.com took less kindly to ­Fleisch­man’s jabs at local favorites like Shake Shack. “I was really looking forward to trying it, but now I’ve already got the two-star Yelp review half-drafted in my mind,” wrote one commenter. “I’m personally ­offended this joker thinks he can be in the same article as the Minetta Tavern burger,” fulminated another. And a third had a helpful tip for Fleischman: “If you’re moving into NY, respect what’s already here. If your burgers are as good and ­innovative as you claim, you shouldn’t have to [criticize] anyway.”

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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