Comments: Week of November 20, 2023


“What Erewhon Knows,” November 6–19

New York’s latest cover story by Kerry Howley traced how a 1960s Japanese sect birthed a hippie L.A. grocer that has reshaped the way Americans eat. Taylor Weik wrote, “I knew a Japanese family was behind the original Erewhon, but assumed it was your typical mom and pop grocery (spoiler: it’s not). A must-read if you live in LA and/or have visited an Erewhon.” Scientist Vineeth Surendranath said that “in tracing the history of a brand, this is a damning critique of how and what we choose to put in our mouths.” The Reason Interview host Nick Gillespie urged his followers to read the story and “then scrounge up a copy of You Are All Sanpaku,” a nutrition book written by one of the founders of the movement behind Erewhon. He added that it “reads like it was written by a character in Vonnegut, Pynchon, or Robert Anton Wilson.” Toronto-based food writer Karon Liu observed that the story “reminds me of how Yorkville was formerly hippie central before it turned into fancy-ville.” In a Substack post, Phiya Kushi, the son of Erewhon’s founders, wrote that he has “received more than one communication from macrobiotic friends asking me if I had read it and to let me know how offended they were at the misrepresentation of macrobiotics as a cult.” But he praised Howley’s report as “a humorous and intentionally satirical take on a slice of pop culture history that includes the macrobiotic movement through the lens of the ­phenomena known as ‘Erewhon’ … The fact that Erewhon today has become such a cult and social media icon worthy to be ­reported about in the mainstream media is something worth celebrating, or at least ­enjoying fully with a great laugh at our ­collective ‘cultish’ ways.”


“The Rookie”

Andrew Rice wrote about how Steve Cohen’s time as Mets owner and casino bidder is teaching him the limits of his fortune. Gothamist remarked that his “attempt to get a casino license in Queens makes it seem really hard to get a casino license.” However, Rebecca Pryor, executive director of the Guardians of Flushing Bay and a member of the fed-up coalition, wrote to the magazine, “I was disappointed to see no direct mention of groups who have been actively organizing in opposition to the casino proposal and in support of a community-driven vision for the parkland site, which includes members of the fed-up and Save FMCP coalitions. I appreciate Rice’s tongue-in-cheek account of Cohen’s claim that there could be nothing ‘great’ on this land unless it’s a ­casino. Of course there is a choice. fed-up chooses to invest in a vision for public parkland that connects our communities, is resilient to future storms, and serves the needs of all Queens communities.”

“Slap Me, Choke Me, Love Me”

For the latest issue’s “Culture Pages,” Nate Jones took readers inside the making of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea’s twisted love story. Of note to many readers was the revelation that Aubrey Plaza had been ­living with a certain theater mainstay on the Upper West Side. “I would 100% pay to watch a reality show of Aubrey Plaza living with Patti LuPone,” Michael Salerno said. The detail received press coverage in outlets from Entertainment Weekly to House Beautiful. The I Love the Upper West Side blog called LuPone and Plaza the neighborhood’s “own odd couple” and speculated, “As for exactly where on the Upper West Side this future boardinghouse/acting school could be, ­ILTUWS believes it’s off Central Park in the West 80s, according to a contractor.” Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, meanwhile, called the setup “a never-­ending sleepover designed to excite gay ­theater nerds like myself. Obsessed!”

In Other News:

In September, a joint investigation by New York and ProPublica revealed how Columbia University ignored years of warnings that OB/GYN Robert Hadden was abusing his patients and even allowed him to continue seeing patients after he was arrested for assaulting one (“Protecting a ­Predator,” September 11–24). In November, the school, along with its medical center, announced a sweeping response to address “the circumstances and failures” that enabled his crimes. In addition to finally commissioning an external investigation, Columbia said that it would notify all of Hadden’s patients and set up a $100 million settlement fund. Evelyn Yang, one of Hadden’s victims, responded to the news, “This is not perfect, but it is tremendous. Grateful to everyone who fought to make this happen … Columbia has done the least they can do by relieving that burden.”

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Comments: Week of November 20, 2023