April 17, 2006

Loved, loved, loved “Up With Grups” [by Adam Sternbergh, April 3]. I almost passed out with joy when I saw the cover line, forever youngish. I am not alone! As a single mom of three with a “serious,” well-paying career, I too wonder when I will “grow up” (as do my parents and younger siblings). I fear my 14-year-old twins will surpass me. Dating for me has been a challenge, too: I’m happy to sit at the Philharmonic in Central Park, but I don’t find too many men who want to accompany me to the Bowery Ballroom or spend the weekend surfing at the Jersey Shore.
—Sharon Ames, West Orange, N.J.

Being a Grup seems less about aesthetics and passion and more about unconscionable narcissism. Children are not custom-made dolls designed to look and dress exactly like their parents. They are people who should be encouraged to ultimately develop their own tastes and personalities. I’m 35, have 2.5 kids, long hair, and a creative job. But, good God, all I want is to be a good father, not a cool one.
—Michael Schreiber, Holliswood, N.Y.

How ironic that today’s so-called rebels become tomorrow’s fashion police. How quickly the codes of subculture become the tools of yet another kind of Fascist conformity. Woe be to the freethinker who does not look, talk, think, or act like the congenitally cool, or listen to what they listen to, or eat where they eat. And how offensive that such an aggressively enforced hegemony of “cool” could confuse a passion for fashion with that of life. These people can’t tolerate diversity—it’s way too threatening to their rules of cool. It’s no surprise they all live in Bobobama, er, Brooklyn, since subgroups must congregate among the converted in order to survive. The old saying about California applies to Park Slope: “That’s where people who’ve failed at least twice in their life go and reproduce.”
—Leslie Friedman, Manhattan

Thank you for your article on Grups. My husband and I are in our late twenties, and we are looking forward to officially becoming Grups in the next few years. I am devoted to being “forever youngish.” We figure punk rock will keep us young. The alias we’ve given ourselves is “puppies,” a.k.a. punk urban professionals.
—Alaina Paciulli, Brooklyn

As a 35-year-old Manhattan professional, I sit squarely in the demographic Sternbergh attempts to profile. I’ve always embraced the energy, diversity, and independence the city offers; however, the individuals discussed in “Up With Grups” may want to reconsider their state of suspended adolescence. Although the breakdown of the generation gap is an encouraging development and the evolving family structures of the 21st century should be celebrated, there are diseases to cure, children to educate, and poverty to fight. Will the Grups be up to it?
—Tim Reilly, Manhattan

I don’t dispute Sternbergh’s contentions regarding a new generation of parents, but his use of the band Death Cab for Cutie’s latest album is clearly based upon the band’s name. Had he actually listened to Plans, he’d know the double LP (also on CD) undermines his thesis.
—Michael Fremer, Wyckoff, N.J.

I envy the Grups. Not because of their affluence (I could never fathom paying $450 for ripped jeans) but because they seem so confident in their talents and abilities. To illustrate this, they should all have been wearing no fear T-shirts.
—Laura Locurto, Seaford, N.Y.

Cheers to the Grups for defying the pleated-front trappings of white-bread parenthood. Damien Jurado is my 4-month-old daughter’s preferred bath-time soundtrack, and she develops her grip while clutching my muttonchop sideburns. Hell, I even gave a good friend the i can kick your baby’s ass onesie when his son was born. Thank God we Grups are nothing like those red-faced suburban parents screaming from soccer-game sidelines, forcing piano practice and French lessons on children who will compensate for our own unsatisfying lives. Hey, wait a second …
—Jay Ferrari, Washington, D.C.

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April 17, 2006