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Comments: Week of July 10, 2017

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1. In New York’s latest issue, Frank Rich laid out the case for how “the parallels between Watergate and now run deeper than you might think” (“Just Wait,” June 26–July 9). Slate’s Michelle Goldberg responded, “The most salient parallel between the Trump-Russia scandal and Watergate might lie in the frustrating, stop-start way it is unfolding and the collective uncertainty about who it will ensnare … It’s worth remembering this in the twitchy interregnum between revelations when people on both the right and the left are arguing that the Trump-Russia scandal is an elite preoccupation distant from the concerns of the electorate.” Leonard H. Gordy asked, “Why would Democrats want to replace Trump with someone more competent and doctrinaire? Would the Watergate aftermath have turned out differently if Agnew was still VP rather than Ford?” And the Nixonian image of Trump on the cover had Twitter user @pleasebekind2 wondering if “Trump still has that hobby of collecting magazines with himself on the covers.”


2. Adam Platt penned an ode to the vanishing New York City diner that filled readers with nostalgia (“What’ll It Be for the New York Diner?,” June 26–July 9). “This article nearly broke my heart,” wrote commenter lem326. Another reader, an apparent Hemingway fan, tweeted, “Diners are some of the last ‘clean well-lighted places’ where you can eat solo without feeling lonely.” Philip Winn, a vice-president of the Project for Public Spaces, spoke to this point: “Of all commercial establishments, diners have a degree of public-ness that is hard to match — so their declining numbers in New York represent a true loss. Like the best public spaces, they are open and welcoming to almost everyone almost all of the time. And both the consistency of their presence in a neighborhood and the basic human needs they seek to meet create an invaluable ‘third place’ where crucial connections across social, racial, and class lines can be forged, or at least considered.” Nick Kindelsperger at the Chicago Tribune offered a dissenting view: “Unpopular opinion: I wanted to love New York diners, but I never ate at one that wasn’t overpriced and mediocre.” Not surprisingly, readers came to the defense of many establishments that weren’t featured. “How could you not include the Silver Star on Second Avenue and 65th Street?” asked Matthew Katz. “I visit regularly for the best shrimp salad sandwich in New York.” Marcia Epstein wrote, “I can’t believe that Adam Platt never mentioned the three thriving diners on the Upper West Side, all owned by the same family. There’s City Diner on Broadway and 90th Street, Manhattan Diner on Broadway and 95th Street, and the Metro on Broadway and 100th Street. Heck, Mr. Platt, come up and visit us sometime.”

3. “Why are so many privileged people feeling so sick?” asked Amy Larocca in her examination of the booming wellness complex (“The Wellness Epidemic,” June 26–July 9). Harold Burstein, a Harvard Medical School professor, tweeted, “Good take on the ‘wellness’ craze and its socioeconomic basis,” and Emeran Mayer, author of The Mind-Gut Connection, responded, “[There’s] no need for those expensive treatments from businesses capitalizing on [the]wellness epidemic to obtain optimal health.” Some readers, though, argued that the phenomenon was more nuanced than the article suggested. “I get the overall narrative but I’m a bit leery about how it feels like those with chronic illness are just wedged into this story,” tweeted @kelseyhardin_. Carly DeFilippo added, “My concern is that your article speaks about the whole of the wellness industry as if Goop and SoulCycle were the standard-bearers in the field. In truth, they are just the extreme one percent of the industry. Beyond these privileged peers are hundreds of bloggers, entrepreneurs, and survivors of chronic illness who have practical, personal experience dealing with these issues. They were activists well before ‘wellness’ went mainstream, and their efforts should be applauded. Ignoring their existence, and thereby lumping them in with the opportunistic commercialization of the industry, risks to discredit the validity of alternative approaches to health as a whole.” And Dana Logan, who has studied the connection between religiosity and the wellness industry, elaborated on the spiritual dimensions of the trend: “It’s religious because companies like Goop appropriate Eastern religion and New Age spirituality, but the Goop version of wellness is also religious in the sense that, to them, shopping has become indistinguishable from spiritual practice.” 


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