1 For New York’s latest issue, the magazine transformed into a self-isolation instruction manual with 44 suggestions for getting through uncertain times (“How to Survive This Plague,” March 30–April 12). The cover featured a photograph by Jeremy Cohen of a lone man playing a double bass on his Bushwick rooftop. Many readers praised the cover for capturing our current moment. On Instagram, @evagrayzel wrote, “Thank you … for changing the norm and addressing our … situation with such grace, beauty, and emotion in the photo.” And on Twitter, @groovyhil called the cover “a bit of sunshine in the midst of #CoronavirusPandemic.” Of the contents, Frank Samperi wrote, “This issue encapsulates everything I love most about New York Magazine—your absurd, authentic, critical yet hopeful everything.” Another reader said, “I am 24 pages into the issue and immediately went to renew. This is the balm for my soul that I need right now. This issue reads the room and delivers exactly what’s needed.” This was the first issue in New York’s history to be created entirely remotely, and on Instagram, the magazine offered readers a limited number of free copies to be sent to their shelters. One of the recipients, Laurel from Honolulu, wrote us, “Thank you so much. My heart is aching for NYC (everywhere, but NYC) and you all have kept me in the loop like no other magazine has.”
2 On the issue’s opening pages, Andrew Sullivan wrote about life during a plague, comparing the current crisis to living through the HIV/aids epidemic of the 1980s (“Slow Down,” March 30–April 12). Investigative reporter Walt Kane noted, “This essay … is one of the sharpest, best written pieces I’ve seen in a while. Surprisingly inspiring.” Author Diana Butler Bass described it as a “brilliant, heart-aching, vulnerable piece of writing about who we are and might be.” Barack Obama praised the story, writing that it has “less to do with the very real medical or economic aspects of this crisis, and more with how we take care of each other as a human family during all crises.” Others took issue with Sullivan’s track record during the AIDS crisis and chastised the former president for elevating his work. @heimaeyus tweeted, “No thanks to either of these two. Remember when Andrew Sullivan told gay people to shut up during the AIDS crisis and was a Thatcherite and a Reaganite?” To these voices, Slate’s Will Saletan responded, “To the people who are on Twitter bashing Obama for promoting a wise, insightful, and helpful essay by someone you might otherwise disagree with: Try to be more like Obama.” And the author Rebecca Makkai, who wrote a prizewinning novel about AIDS-era Chicago, added, “I feel equivocal sharing an Andrew Sullivan piece, but this is genuinely worth reading.” @suebegay3 tweeted, “I just wanted to express how much it meant to me to see in writing what I have been thinking myself.”
3 While many are worried about how to keep their children learning away from the classroom, filmmaker and writer Astra Taylor suggests parents may do well to take a hands-off approach (“Or Don’t Teach Them Anything,” March 30–April 12). Many other “unschoolers” seconded the strategy. Krile commented, “My four kids were unschooled for large swaths of their K–12 lives (they also dipped in and out of traditional school and early college classes as nonmatriculated students). It was a wonderful childhood, and each graduated from her first-choice college.” In early April, the singer Alanis Morissette discussed her experience with unschooling her children and told Health.com, “Unschooling, for me, is child-led education. So if there’s some agenda like, ‘Let’s play with these magnet tiles,’ and my daughter is like, ‘F— those tiles. I want to put glitter on that thing and cut the tree and put the thing,’ boom—we do that. I basically get inside their eyeballs.” And Jessica Gutteridge shared her own list of unschooling activities: “What my kids have been doing: writing novels, composing satirical songs, designing apartment buildings, screening Dr. Strangelove, starting seedlings. I’m pretty good with that as education this term.” Other parents wavered on the benefits of giving up typical learning. Fabiana Saba wrote, “I don’t think my kids can take that much TV and iPads right now.”
4 Lisa Miller’s ode to the sense of peace and normalcy that she gets from walking her dog also resonated with many readers (“Walk the Dog,” March 30–April 12). Mariat753 wrote, “As a health-care worker quarantined at home, thank you for this beautiful piece … I wish we had managed to adopt a dog as planned prior to all of this but the cats give us love and snuggles.” Hanknapkin said, “For those humans still stuck on notions of ‘purpose’ let me offer that nothing is finer for your being than the care and feeding of dogs.” @liv_harlow added, “I just read this for the second time today and cried. It’s a must-read for anyone who is super thankful to their dog(s), now more than ever.”
*This article appears in the April 13, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!