Comments: Week of May 27, 2019

Photo: Stuart Palley

1 In New York’s most recent issue, deputy editor David Wallace-Wells wrote about how, in the age of climate change, Los Angeles’s fires signal “the end of normal” (“Los Angeles Fire Season Is Beginning Again. And It Will Never End,” May 13–26). Environmentalist Bill McKibben called it a “masterful piece … on California’s unending — and unnerving — wildfires,” and @Nick_chem tweeted, “This is a great, long read. For many of us, Southern California is where we were born and raised, and for that reason, among others, we find it hard to leave. The threat of a devastating wildfire has always been in the back of our minds. Now, thanks to #climatechange, it’s at the front and seems more inevitable with each passing year.” Washington governor Jay Inslee, who is running for president on a climate platform, wrote of the story, “It’s easy to think climate change is just a chart or a graph. But it’s affecting real people, right now. In Los Angeles and communities across America.” And Matt Ford at The New Republic posed the question, “How different would our climate-change discourse be if the bulk of the national media and political infrastructure switched coasts?”

Photo: Alex Welsh

2 Director Stacy Title is paralyzed and cannot speak, but she’s racing against the progress of a debilitating disease to make her final film (“Walking Time Bomb,” May 13–26). The profile by Amy Wallace touched many readers. Laurie Gorham wrote, “The story of Stacy Title’s struggle with ALS, her determination to direct one more movie, and her husband’s unfailing love through it all, inspired me like nothing I’ve ever read before … Thank you for publishing their story. Stacy probably doesn’t have much longer to live. May her story shine on forever.” Entertainment One television executive Debra Curtis wrote, “My friend Stacy literally and metaphorically embodies the concept of tenacity and determination,” and actor Jason Alexander tweeted, “This horrifying and amazing story is about my extraordinary cousins. No words.” Stacy’s husband, Jonathan, shared the story, writing, “This captures Stacy’s incredible courage and our extraordinary (that’s one word for it) situation beautifully. We so appreciate Amy’s care and talent. Kind of amazing to be the subject of such a piece. Hopefully it will help raise awareness of ALS (May is ALS Awareness Month) and will excite some investment in the movie. Never bet against Stacy.” Dr. Robert Kalb, director of the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine, wrote, “ALS focuses a person’s drive toward an important goal and dispenses with trivialities. For Stacy Title, it is to complete a film to which she is devoted. ALS was first described 150 years ago, and despite the huge amount we have learned about the progressive disease, we still lack truly powerful medications or other interventions that blunt it. Only through steady support of the research mission will we achieve the goal desired fervently by patients, families, and physicians alike of the day without ALS.” Ady Barkan, who was recently called “the most powerful activist in America” by Politico and also has rapidly progressing ALS, responded, “Many of the paragraphs in Amy Wallace’s gripping portrait of Stacy Title could just as easily have been describing my life. Learning the details of another person’s experience with ALS inevitably leads me to a compare/contrast exercise. But I will not impose those gruesome details upon you here. My word count, and my time, is too short. Instead, I will simply say that Stacy and her loving family are a welcome reminder of the incredible capacity of the human will to persevere and the nourishing power of purposeful work.”

3 “National Interest” columnist Jonathan Chait argued that Joe Biden’s enduring popularity illustrates how overhyped the rise of the activist left has been (“Life of the Party,” May 13–26). Robert Abbott agreed, encouraging Chait to “keep telling ‘activists’ what the rest of the world is thinking because they seem to be very absorbed in their own ideas.” Cornell historian Lawrence Glickman tweeted, “Chait is right to note that the Democratic Party remains a broad coalition. But what’s striking about this piece is that he doesn’t highlight one positive thing that nonprogressive Democrats stand for; it’s all about what they reject (the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, etc.).” Media Matters for America founder David Brock said Chait “did a great job examining how the Democratic party has been caricatured by right-wing media, cynical No Labels types, and people who see Twitter as real life. The far left is important and valuable, but it is not the whole party.” And Vox’s Ezra Klein wrote, “This … is the sharpest thing I’ve read about the Democratic Party in a minute. It may be moving left, but it’s not as left as Twitter, cable news, and podcasts would have you believe.”

*This article appears in the May 27 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

Comments: Week of May 27, 2019