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Comments: December 28, 2015

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1. Topping this year’s list of 59 reasons to love New York, featured in our 11th annual love letter to the city, was a profile of the world’s oldest person, Susannah Mushatt Jones, who is 116 and lives in Brooklyn (“Reasons to Love New York Right Now,” December 14–27). Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten tweeted, “Okay, there are only two people left on Earth who were born in the 1800s, both in 1899. Disconcerting, no?” Plus, he added, “This story asserts a remarkable fact: That the lady is so old her decades-white hair has turned brown again.” “Saw it with my own eyes,” tweeted back the story’s author, Christopher Bonanos. “A beautiful life,” commented Michael_Emmett. “Not just because of its duration.” The 36th reason to love New York honored Harlem’s Schomburg ­Center, a library and de facto museum exploring black history. “The library is a treasure trove,” said commenter ­Fortheloveof­you319. Readers also responded to No. 2 on our list, an ode to the enduring New York accents of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Marji80 wrote: “I think the assumption that the rest of the country finds the NYC–Long Island–North Jersey accents charming is not necessarily true, but it’s cute that New Yorkers think so.” In his appreciation of Deborah Kass’s bright-yellow ­public sculpture OY/YO (No. 26), Jerry Saltz called out what he referred to as “sterile, user-friendly, cleansed adult playgrounds” like the High Line, a comment that sparked a lively debate online. Commenter StarryEyed agreed with Saltz: “I’m glad I’m not the only one to see the lifelessness of the High Line.” But commenter ­Adam.­Forman defended the park: “In the spring and summer, an hour before closing, the High Line is quiet, romantic, and magic. ­Contrary to Jerry’s conceit, I’ve had some great kisses there. That’s the paradox. These amenities can be both sterile, precious, extravagant, overly programmed, saturated with tourists and ardently rooted in day-to-day city life. People who live here know how, when, and where to use these amenities to enhance and nourish their lives — not allow them to be soulless distractions. In these days of excess, real New Yorkers don’t just know the best, cheapest, most authentic spots off the beaten path, they also know the idyllic refuges on that path as well as those glorious (if infrequent) periods when the path is clear.” To reason No. 19, the story of a corporate-event planner who is riding his Citi Bike across the country, Brian Lantier responded: “Is there a more millennial story than the one about the kid that is riding a Citi Bike cross-country? He’s quoted as saying, ‘Yeah, they billed my credit card $1,200 but it seemed fair.’ For $1,200 he could have purchased a real bike!” For reason No. 7, we taste-tested pizzas from around the city with rats as critics. Some readers felt the food could have gone to better use. “Please take whatever you spent on that pizza and make a donation to City Harvest,” wrote commenter dangleparticiple. “They bought 4 pizzas with their own money, chill,” responded boblombardi. “Not every piece of wasted food is an affront to the homeless.” Readers were surprised by reason No. 30, about the ride-sharing app Via that is used mostly by seniors. “This is fabulous,” tweeted GemmaKBarlow. The staff at DNAinfo were just happy to have a new list of reasons to love the city. “[The issue] contains several things that should help remind you why paying more than $1,000 a month to live in a basement might be worth it after all.”


2. “Norman wanted to do more than pass,” wrote Jada Yuan and Aaron Wong in their story on the first black trans model, Tracey “Africa” Norman (“The First Black Trans Model Had Her Face on a Box of Clairol,” December 14–27). “She wanted to excel in the most scrutinized realm of femininity.” “What’s most amazing in Jada Yuan and Aaron Wong’s piece is Norman herself,” wrote Out’s Les Fabian Brathwaite. “That a black trans woman can be ‘Born Beautiful,’ could grace the pages of Italian Vogue and catwalk the showrooms at Balenciaga — in effect, that a black trans woman could be a standard of beauty 40 years ago — is amazing.” Bustle’s Georgina Jones felt the piece drew an empathetic portrait of a woman fighting for acceptance and success. “What is arguably notable about Norman’s story,” she wrote, “is not just her successes, but her knockbacks. From landing a Clairol contract for six years to being expelled from the New York fashion scene altogether once her secret was out, Norman’s modeling career was a series of ups and downs.” “I wept reading this. Thank you #TraceyAfrica for paving the way and sharing your story,” tweeted Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox. She added on her Facebook page: “As a black trans woman, I have a rich history of hardship, achievement, resilience and excellence. Tracey Africa is an example of that history.” “The humanity of trans model Tracey Norman brings me 2 tears!” tweeted Wyllisa Bennett. Many readers felt Norman’s story warranted a film adaptation. “Some smart producer should option the hell out of this,” tweeted BuzzFeed News’s Shani O. Hilton.


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