November 27, 2006

What Fate May Come
In your rundown of the best hospitals [“Doctors’ Orders,” November 20], you write, “Sadly, a lung-cancer diagnosis is usually a death sentence.” But sometimes a death sentence can be delayed. I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1991. I was operated on at Memorial Sloan- Kettering and was in remission for twelve years. In 2003, the cancer returned. Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Valerie Rusch performed a second resection three years ago. Recently, an irregularity in my lung was found on a cat scan. I am now on watch-and-wait. I have had fifteen good years. I saw my grandchildren grow up. I am grateful to my doctors. Que será, será.
—Lore Kramer, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

The ranking of hospitals, like the ranking of physicians, is a misguided marketing ploy that fits nicely with our screwed-up health-care system, which is dominated by businessmen, not doctors. I am particularly disgruntled by your ranking of emergency rooms—as if anyone might pick the ER they end up at. The foundation of medicine—the doctor-patient relationship—is discussed nowhere in The New England Journal of Medicine, or in the marketing brochures of the best hospitals. Yet it’s what drives my work as a solo practitioner—and deserves more interest than it gets. Sir Osler’s creed that medicine is an art based on science should get its due.
—Peter Pasley, M.D., Manhattan

Upper East Side Alive and Kicking
I am glad to report that the “Death of the Upper East Side” [by Jay McInerney, November 20] is greatly exaggerated. One needs to walk east of the Fifth/Park Avenue “graveyard” to find a vibrant, young, and family-oriented area along York, First, Second, and Third Avenues. We have excellent public schools. Fathers are spotted at school pickups. We don’t have hip and trendy bars—but they are just a taxi ride away.
—Robert Altman, Manhattan

Those Old Double Standards
I agree with Adam Sternbergh that the evening news has lost its relevance [“Slow Death at 6:30 P.M.,” November 20]. Regardless, I thought his criticism of Katie Couric conformed to the old double standards: He commented on her “raccoon eye makeup,” that her inflection reminded him of “calling a parent-teacher meeting,” and that “she’s in there dirtying her hands … just not her clothes.” Whereas Charles Gibson and Brian Williams are evaluated as newscasters, Couric seems to be judged as a suburban wife who broke into television.
—Craig Libman, West Orange, N.J.

From Truth to Broadway
I enjoyed the review of Grey Gardens by Jeremy McCarter [“Theater: The East Hampton Star,” November 13]. He accurately describes Edie Beale as “lucidly nutty,” “elegant and monstrous.” I knew Edie for 22 years while I was married to her nephew Chris Beale. So I was excited to make the trip to New York to see Grey Gardens. Christine Ebersole is indeed transcendent. However, the show made me sad and angry all over again that these two beautiful, artistic women were so abused by the misogynistic culture of the time and place in which they lived. The story is more worthy of a tragic opera than a trivial Broadway “hit.”
—Pamela Beale, Oakland, Calif.

Regarding Hillary
Last summer, I interviewed 148 women nationwide; to my surprise, few of them said they would support Hillary Clinton for president [“The Woman in the Bubble,” by Chris Smith, November 13]. Many preferred John Edwards or Evan Bayh. When I mentioned that I liked Al Gore, most responded, “Me too.” Like millions of Americans, I loved Bill Clinton in office; Hillary’s another story. While the idealist in me wants a female president, the practical side says it’s more important to win back the White House.
—Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Lost It in the Third Season
Thank you for Adam Sternbergh’s on-the-money analysis of Lost [“TV: Never-Ending Stories,” November 13]. I’ve been addicted to Lost since the beginning. Now, well into the third season, I’m saying good-bye to the castaways. Maybe the writers will take Sternbergh’s advice and give us a few answers (black cloud monster, numbers, da plane!) instead of endless mysteries.
—Bonnie Burton, San Francisco

November 27, 2006