December 25, 2006

Chasing Cool
Why leave the state to find the next cool neighborhood [“If You Lived Here, You’d Be Cool Right Now,” by Adam Sternbergh, December 11]? Twenty-five years after returning to my native New York City after going to school at SUNY-Buffalo, I’ve moved back to Buffalo, a town with enough cool bars, shops, and galleries to fill ten Jersey Citys. The real-estate values are amazing in this recently bottomed-out town. Downtown nightlife is growing, and many recent graduates, who in earlier decades would have been in a hurry to leave after graduation, are staying. With a dynamic new mayor (from Queens!), and with developers falling over themselves to convert downtown buildings, Buffalo is on the verge of a moment. It should last at least the 75 minutes it takes to fly here.
—Wayne Geist, Buffalo, N.Y.

Adam Sternbergh’s article reminded me of a novel about a similar wave in Jersey City in the eighties: Bill Gordon’s Mary After All. The narrator, Mary Nolan, a Jersey City lifer, ends up in real estate, trying to take advantage of a market upswing after the town’s post-sixties decline. But “the turnaround died off.” Nevertheless—and this might be good news for those now plunking down millions for a townhouse—she remains optimistic at the book’s end, in 1999: “Maybe I wasn’t lying when I sold those houses, just hoping.” Perhaps Jersey City’s time has finally come.
—Michaela Vilhotti, Fort Lee, N.J.

No Return
Some years ago, my positive impression of Mayor Bloomberg was bolstered when, on his weekly radio show, he told listeners to look him up in the white pages if they had a problem that couldn’t be resolved using normal channels [“His American Dream,” by John Heilemann, December 11]. In August 2005, my husband, the New York City–based journalist Steven Vincent, was kidnapped and murdered in Iraq. For days his body lay in a Basra morgue while our embassy in Baghdad gave me excuses as to why he was not being returned. Finally, in desperation, I called Bloomberg. I got an answering machine; I began by apologizing for bothering him and then pleaded for help to bring Steven home. By the end, I was sobbing into the phone. I never got a courtesy call back. I lost faith in Bloomberg, the man and the mayor, at that time.
—Lisa Ramaci, Manhattan

Absentee Vote
I agree with most of your selections for the best TV of 2006, including picking Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke as No. 1 [“The Year in Culture: Television,” by John Leonard, December 18]. However, I was disappointed that there was no mention of HBO’s The Wire, even after Hugo Lindgren named it “HBO’s best series” in this year’s “Fall Preview” issue [“Fall Preview: Television,” September 4–11]. The Wire is an incredible show with excellent acting, and it provides raw social commentary—rare in television—relevant to urban centers all over the country.
—Michael Elovitz, Manhattan

New York does a fine job covering theater, movies, television, and pop music, but I was disappointed that there was no mention of jazz in your culture issue. There were many great 2006 recordings: Branford Marsalis’s Braggtown, or Ben Riley’s pianoless tribute to Thelonious Monk, for example. What about releases from vocalists Nancy King, Peter Eldridge, even Diana Krall? Don’t forget jazz, especially in a city with so much of it to offer.
—Richard Kamins, Middletown, Conn.

Looking After One’s Own
After reading “Bonfire of the Puggle” [by Jonathan Hayes, December 4], I was sent back in time to when I lost my dog Spencer. I identify with Cricket’s emotional crash: There were no words to express my grief. I too posted a huge reward and didn’t give up, and it paid off: Spencer was found safe and sound 200 yards from our house. Unfortunately, bad decisions cost us $16,000 in rewards and a new fence. Was it worth it? Of course.
—Jennifer Handler, Water Mill, N.Y.

Correction: In “Intelligencer: It Happened Last Week” (December 18), it should have been reported that Anthony Marshall, not his son Phillip, was ordered to return $11 million to his mother, Brooke Astor.

December 25, 2006