April 24, 2006

Sex and Raw Food
Besides the prank calls and a decline in profits at Dan Hoyt’s restaurants, what does raw food or vegetarianism have to do with public masturbation [“Onan the Vegetarian,” by Russell Scott Smith, April 10]? Was the person who said, “I don’t think he was eating totally raw” suggesting that if he had more live-food enzymes in his system, he might not have been inclined to whip it out on the R train? If so, then I applaud all the lesser New Yorkers who, despite being strung out on junk food, somehow manage to keep theirs in their pants.
—Laura Neilson, Manhattan

Digital ‘Times’
James J. Cramer’s “Stop the Presses” [“The Bottom Line,” April 10], exhorting the Times to abandon newsprint and force everyone to the Web, ignores two realities. The first is that many people—millions each weekday—like to hold the Times in their hands. And while that group is not growing as fast as it once was, it is still increasing. The second reality is that those educated and engaged readers are valued by our diverse group of advertisers, which is why revenues are increasing both in print and online. We’re building a bridge to our digital future. It sounds like Cramer would have us jump off the cliff.
—Catherine Mathis, VP, Corporate Communications, The New York Times Company, Manhattan

MoMA Revisited
Mark Stevens reinforces the misconception that the Museum of Modern Art chose as its first exhibition “a showcase of the corporate UBS collection” [“MoMA in Middle Age,” April 10]. The exhibition was shown to recognize an important gift to the museum that originally came from the PaineWebber collection formed by art collector and connoisseur Donald B. Marron. The gift itself was chosen from the larger PaineWebber (now UBS) collection by two of the museum’s most distinguished curators: the late Kirk Varnedoe, then chief curator of painting and sculpture, and former chief curator of drawings Margit Rowell.
—Robert B. Menschel, ChairmanMarie-Josée Kravis, PresidentBoard of Trustees, the Museum of Modern Art, Manhattan

Despite its whopping $858 million renovation and expansion, MoMA still needs more tables and chairs in the Sculpture Garden and padded benches in the galleries (for visitors with flat feet like me). And architect Yoshio Taniguchi should be reprimanded for allowing bathroom stalls smaller than broom closets and washbasins the size of yarmulkes.
—Les DreyerM, Manhattan

‘Lysistrata, Or the Nude Goddess’
Peter G. Davis decries the appearance of erections beneath soldiers’ tunics in a production of Adamo’s Lysistrata as a cheap vaudeville turn for director Michael Kahn [“Classical Music: No Peace, No Sex,” April 10]. But in fact, noticeable erections are clearly specified by the text of Aristophanes’ millennia-old play on which the opera is based. In a college production of Lysistrata that I was involved with 30 years ago, for example, actors followed the text by strapping on blown-up balloons. To not indicate erections in a production of Lysistrata would be a surrender to a new Victorianism.
—Peter Homans, Manhattan

Correction: In “Vu: The Duke of Windsor Played the Drums Here” (April 17), the design of 998 Fifth Avenue should have been credited to the architecture firm McKim, Mead & White rather than to Stanford White himself.

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April 24, 2006