November 7, 2005

From the Editors
Before there was fashion, there were clothes. Then, suddenly, what we wore became who we are—or who many of us wanted to be—thanks in part to some rather savvy branders. Such a transformation is happening right now in real estate. Whether or not the bubble bursts, something has changed in New York’s real-estate landscape for good—these days we talk about architects (even developers) the way we once talked about fashion designers. Those who reinvented the aspirational, fantasia zones of nightclubs and hotels (André Balazs, Ian Schrager) have brought their imprimaturs and reputations to bear on … apartment buildings. What they’re offering is all-encompassing, 24/7 luxury—residence as identity. Lifestyle sells; the pitch is explicit. And this age of the glass tower has brought with it a new kind of window-shopping.

With this issue we introduce an occasional section called “Vu.” It spans modernist buildings and nineteenth-century townhouses. And 99 percent of what’s featured in it is for sale, from a $75,000 studio in Riverdale to a rare $42 million property on Sutton Square. The inspiration for “Vu.” came to us from Richard Pandiscio, a former magazine man who well understands the shifting culture. He became a brand mastermind, moving from fashion to art to, now, real estate—an evolution he views as “inevitable.” We agreed, and saw an opportunity for a new kind of design journalism about real estate. Pandiscio served as a consultant to the project, but, to avoid conflicts, was not involved in the assigning or editing of its contents.

“Vu.” merges our interest in home design and fashion with our interest in the speculative calculus of the market. The age-old New York preoccupation has become far more complicated of late. The world of real estate is more beautiful, more agonizing, more insane, more volatile, more all-consuming than ever before—and, frankly, much more fun to watch. Let “Vu.” be your binoculars.

Passing Grade
Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein’s responses to a failing school system (high-stakes testing; a standardized curriculum; smaller schools) are reminiscent of Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Depression [“The Chancellor’s Midterm Exam,” by John Heilemann, October 31]. Some worked (the Works Progress Administration); some didn’t (packing the Supreme Court). But no one can criticize these leaders for lack of imagination. One would wish for more collegiality, but this should be measured against how quickly reform needs to take place.
—Jerrold Ross, dean, The School of Education, St. John’s University

A Good Egg
In response to Sarah Wildman’s “Stop Time” [October 17]: I’m married, a feminist, and a successful professional with multiple degrees from elite universities. I spent two fruitless years at a major New York City infertility clinic, with a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, spending $50,000 on multiple rounds of increasingly complex treatments that produced more than two dozen healthy eggs but no pregnancies. Emotionally devastated and physically exhausted, I gave up, did a series of self-designed relaxation and alternative therapies to clear my head, and to my surprise, naturally conceived a healthy child. It became clear that the accomplished reproductive specialists (most of whom were quoted by Wildman) weren’t infallible. I should have taken that $50,000 and spent it on therapy to understand why I was burying myself in my career instead of attempting to balance it with a happy relationship.
—Anne Wolfson, Manhattan

The attitudes of the doctors quoted in “Stop Time” are extremely paternalistic. Theoretical questions about whether women will be too tired to have children at 45 or whether they will live to see their grandchildren should not hinder the development of this technology. We shouldn’t restrict women’s fertility, whether by limiting access to this technology or to emergency contraception and abortion.
—Gina Duclayan, Brooklyn

In “Stop Time,” Wildman seriously understates the effects of “hyperstimulation.” I was being monitored by the best fertility specialists at NYU when my ovaries hyperstimulated. On day 10, both ovaries had seven slowly ripening follicles. Next day, each ovary released more than a dozen eggs, causing me to double over in pain, vomit incessantly, and rapidly develop a buildup of fluid around my ovaries and liver that could have spread to my heart. I spent ten days in the hospital, gained fifteen pounds of fluid, had to be narcotized around the clock because of severe pain, and developed intractable nausea and life-threatening electrolyte imbalances. But I was lucky: I didn’t develop permanent kidney damage or blood clots in my lungs. And after that I was even luckier: I adopted a wonderful child.
—Karen L. Greenberg, Long Island City

No Slump Here
If the numbers are indeed in, as “The Tide Turns” [“Real Estate,” October 24] suggests, they show a residential real-estate market that continued to grow in the most recent quarter, rather than retreat. It is only the rate of growth that has slowed. S. Jhoanna Robledo pointed to an 11 percent drop in average prices but omitted that per-square-foot prices are at their highest point in history. The change in per-square-foot prices is due to a shift in the mix of sales that happened to close last quarter, with many more smaller apartments selling than in the quarter before. To suggest that this indicates an across-the-board price drop is disingenuous at best.
—Lisa Maysonet, senior vice-president, Prudential Douglas Elliman

The Real LeRoy
Over the past two years, I’ve become friends with JT [“Who is the Real JT LeRoy?” by Stephen Beachy, October 17]. He has a predilection for animated e-cards, burns only soy candles, and loves baklava. To be a hoax, he would’ve had to fool Vanity Fair, the New York Times, BlackBook, Interview, Paper, Index, I-D, Spin, 7X7, Viking Press, Bloomsbury Press, Last Gasp, Zoetrope, Dave Eggers, Bono, Zadie Smith, Gus Van Sant, Tom Waits, Lou Reed, Arthur Bradford, Mary Karr, Carrie Fisher, Jerry Harrison, Madonna, me, and my mom. And anyway, JT could never perpetuate fraud—he’s totally disorganized.
—Litsa Dremousis, Seattle, Wash.

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November 7, 2005