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Comments: Week of October 19, 2015



1. “When much of New York was sleazy and dangerous, nowhere seemed sleazier or more dangerous than 42nd Street. And when Times Square came to feel too touristy, it mirrored a parallel worry that New York itself was losing some of its intrinsic grit,” wrote Adam Sternbergh in his cover story on the area’s “new phase — perhaps the strangest, most inscrutable one yet” (“Live Nude Girls,” October 5–18). The story prompted a discussion among readers about which version of Times Square — and, by extension, the city — they liked best. “Anyone who says they prefer the Times Square of the late ’70s and early ’80s over what is in there now certainly never visited it before,” wrote doctordave77. “I used to walk through the Square every evening on my way back to Penn Station. As I approached 47th and Broadway, I had to adopt my tough, aggressive, ‘don’t you dare bother me’ walk and attitude. Anything less would invite attention by the lowlife denizens who inhabited the neighborhood. Hookers, pimps, muggers looking for a weak victim, vagrants encased in their cardboard boxes, and anything other than a police officer. It was horrible, scary, and an eyesore.” “I agree,” responded Canaduh. “I first knew Times Square in the early ’80s, and even though I was a bit of a downtown-type punk I felt wary walking through it in the middle of the night.” Readers also responded to the cover, which spoofed the classic Times Square kiss photo from V-J Day, with Elmo smooching a lightly clad woman covered in body paint. “@NYMag is the only publication I still get in hard copy … partly for covers like this,” tweeted Kelly L. Davis, “#nailedit.” Many readers couldn’t resist a joke. “How did New York Mag find out my exact fetish,” tweeted The Late Show With Stephen Colbert writer Daniel Kibblesmith. “My 5 year old son had a lot of positive feelings about your cover that features both ELMO and a BUTTCRACK,” tweeted actress Rachel Dratch. “Perfect Venn diagram for boys.”

2. In her story on how African-Americans view Obama’s racial-justice legacy, Jennifer Senior wrote that many feel in exchange for his historic achievement as the first black president, “the price that Obama has had to pay, and, more important, that African-Americans have had to pay, is one of caution, moderation, and at times compromised policies: The first black president could do only so much, and say only so much, on behalf of other African-Americans” (“The Paradox of the First Black President,” October 5–18). The media mogul Rupert Murdoch set off a storm after reading the story and tweeting: “Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else.” He continued: “Read New York Magazine for minority community disappointment with POTUS.” “I am thrilled to learn Rupert Murdoch was appointed the guy in charge of deciding who the ‘real black’ people are,” tweeted MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh. “Can you please regularly advise black Americans on which of them is ‘real’ so they’ll be free of doubt?” asked Harry Shearer. Senior herself responded, writing: “He didn’t read the story. (A) If he did, and that’s the conclusion he drew, Heaven help us all. (B) That tweet was part of an extended series, which, when read together, makes up a love sonnet to Ben Carson.” Vox’s Dara Lind agreed that Murdoch missed the point of the article entirely. “What Murdoch actually did was insert himself into a debate within black America about whether Barack Obama has done enough for black people as president … Murdoch might be straight-up trolling; he doesn’t want any president to do what Obama’s critics are asking for. But if he truly believes Carson would be a better choice for Obama’s critics, he doesn’t understand the debate he’s waded into at all.” Plus, Lind added, “the policies the New York Magazine piece faults Obama for not doing more on — voting rights, policing — are issues where Carson is much less willing to admit there’s a problem.” Readers also weighed in on Obama’s record helping the black community. “His 8 years eviscerated black progress — took us backwards,” tweeted Charles V. Payne. Others felt that Obama did a lot of good for black Americans, especially given what he was up against. “The average African-American understands the difficult road President Obama has to tread being the first Black President,” wrote commenter Mollie100. “Look at how the media reacted when he said the cops acted stupidly when they arrested Dr. Gates in his own house — they (the media) literally turned it into a racial crisis. Look at the negative throwback when he said Trayvon Martin could have been his son … African Americans have benefited from his policies: healthcare reform, education initiatives to improve failing schools, financial support to black colleges, taking on racist policies in the criminal justice system, ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative … Pres. Obama can’t cure the racial disparities in this country by himself, but the notion that he’s done nothing for Blacks is a fallacy.”


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