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April 12, 2004

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The Passion Of Atkins
In the absence of any long-term study on the benefits of a low-carb diet, Dr. Atkins himself was the only body of evidence we had. After he died, and news spread of his excessive weight, clogged arteries, weak heart, and other medical problems, followers of the Atkins diet felt like victims. Steve Fishman’s title, “The Diet Martyr” [March 15], is wrong; we should be the ones labeled as martyrs. In the end, we will have died for his sins.
—James Dimac, Forest Hills

Prime Time
Diets, diets, everywhere! When is the American Medical Association going to start publishing warnings to the public? People, wake up! We are a sedentary society. If you want your kids, parents, friends, or yourselves to lose weight, you have to actually do something—anything except sit in front of the TV. Everyone is obsessed with finding the weight-loss answer, but no one ever stops to consider that it may just be more obvious than they think.
—Stephanie Young, Manhattan 

Happily Hard-Hearted
Dr. Atkins lived to be 72 years old, all the while eating like a king. How many happy 70-plus-year-old vegans does anyone know? I much prefer a diet that leads to a happy life, and in my 52 years, it has been only the humorless advocates of diet-as-self-flagellation who have impeded the joy of my gustatorial quests.
—Rick Brown, Augusta, GA.

Faux Fad
Amen to Steve Fishman for exposing the frightening downside of Dr. Atkins’s seemingly easy miracle diet. In twenty years, I’m afraid, after an upsurge in heart disease and obesity-related health problems, we will look back and wonder how our culture ever got sucked into something so obviously damaging to our health. My hope is that we finally give up fad diets and just learn to eat meat, bread, or whatever we want in a balanced, moderate, and mindful way.
—Susan Albers, Columbus, Ohio

Hiccup And Shape Up
Why, in the midst of all this controversy over the Atkins diet, has there been no mention of the Drinking Man’s Diet, which is basically the same thing and appeared about ten years before Dr. Atkins?
—George Whitney, Kiln, Miss.

Ciao, Kurt
It was interesting to read about Kurt Andersen’s New York friends’ fixation [“The Friends of Martha Stewart,” March 15]. If his friends here are the only reason he hasn’t moved to Hanoi or Umbria, he needs to go out and see the city more on his own.
—Desmonde Printz, Manhattan

Whipped Dream
After all the often unbalanced coverage of her legal troubles, I think it’s important to remind people, or perhaps inform them for the first time, of the incredible level of success that Martha Stewart has achieved. She has had such a significant and positive impact on American culture that one unfortunate lapse of good judgment should not overshadow a lifetime of unprecedented accomplishment through dedication and hard work. Martha Stewart is the American Dream.
—Scott Porter, Brookline, Mass.

Martyr Stewart
After reading Kurt Andersen’s “The Friends of Martha Stewart” and Steve Fishman’s “The Diet Martyr,” maybe I am lucky that Martha is not my friend. Would you want a friend who gives you a carbohydrate-laden plum pudding for Christmas?
—Eric W. Schoen, Yonkers, N.Y.

The Reliving Show
As one of the millions of Martha Stewart supporters, I feel one word describes her conviction—overkill! I miss her daily Living show, and I hope that some day in the not-too-distant future she will regain her status in the field of “good things” and make a wonderful comeback.
—Barbara Lewis, Woodland Hills, Calif.

Rat Pack
How smug of Christopher Mason [“The Loyalist,” March 15] to refer to Doug Faneuil as a “jittery Judas” for testifying against Peter Bacanovic. Apparently, Mr. Mason has never had to testify against a boss. I have. When my boss was indicted for billing clients for work that was never done, the District Attorney’s office put it to me bluntly: If I didn’t testify against him, they would prosecute me. My choice was clear. I can only imagine how the prosecutors pressured Mr. Faneuil. I sympathize with him completely.
—Phyllis Hirshorn, Manhattan

Pas De Deux
Christopher Mason’s loyalty to his friend Peter Bacanovic is honorable. But common sense might have stirred some skepticism where Peter’s stories about Doug Faneuil are concerned. Mr. Mason writes that Doug went to the ballet on Peter’s dime the day Doug came forward. The truth is, Doug did not go to the ballet that night. On Wednesday, June 19, 2002, Doug and I had dinner at the Bread Bar at Tabla with our friends Dana and Maggie. Peter, who’d planned to go to the ballet with his friend Keana, a popular D.J., called the office earlier that day to tell Doug that something had come up and that he should tell Keana to bring a friend instead. Keana passed, so Peter told Doug to offer the tickets around the office, or to use them himself. The seats remained empty that night.
—Rob Haskell, Manhattan

Dougie Do-Right
Loyalty is a cardinal virtue, but what, exactly, did Doug Faneuil owe Peter Bacanovic? By demanding that his assistant lie, Peter showed contempt for Doug's integrity and for his future. And yet Doug is labeled the betrayer. He was devoted to Peter; Peter knew it, and he took advantage of it. Christopher Mason describes Doug as a person “not to miss an opportunity,” but in disclosing a false story, what opportunities did Doug seize? The opportunity to lose his career in finance? The opportunity to put his life on hold for two years; to gain a criminal record? Doug seized one opportunity alone: to reclaim his dignity. It’s a shame the other players in this sad drama didn’t care about theirs.
—Jill Kargman, Manhattan

Fare Hikes
Thomas Beller’s “Closing Times” [“Intelligencer,” March 15], about the demise of our favorite restaurants, asks “Is it our fault?” Hell, no! It’s the fault of greedy landlords who charge neighborhood food joints nearly $30,000 a month for rent. My two personal favorites that were lost to the upscale real-estate invasion were the Cookie Bar on Hudson Street, an old maritime bar and restaurant that made the best charcoal-grilled burgers, and the original Sloppy Louie’s, where diners sat together at long, old wooden tables and ate the most delicious seafood in New York City. Nope. We are not to blame.
—Joyce Spector, Manhattan

Model Ford
After viewing Tom Ford’s fashion classics [“Collectible Gucci,” by Amy Larocca, March 15], I must admit that I don’t get it. Most of Miuccia Prada’s current designs eclipse this nine-year selection of Gucci in creativity, beauty, and style. Ms. Prada’s designs have been almost unfailingly inspired and brilliant, but she is shy and self-effacing, whereas Mr. Ford is a media celebrity and a savvy self-promoter. What he accomplished at Gucci is indeed impressive, but people forget how far Gucci had fallen, licensing hundreds of products, most of dubious quality. It is not that his creations are so great in themselves; it is more that they contrast so radically with the pre-Ford Gucci. No matter what the fawning fashion editors say, there are only three great designers today: Miuccia Prada, Marc Jacobs, and Karl Lagerfeld.
—Alan Vives, Manhattan

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