Comments: July 30 - August 6, 2007

1. Thankfully, last week’s explosion in midtown turned out to be a faulty steam pipe and not, as many feared, a climactic dust-up between Eliot Spitzer and Joe Bruno. After reading our recent profile of Spitzer (“The Steamroller in the Swamp,” by Steve Fishman, July 23), though, some readers found themselves newly rooting for his sparring partner. “Our favorite parts were when Bruno was interviewed,” the blog Gothamist wrote, “because he drops references to how he grew up poor and how he’s a fighter, versus Spitzer with the silver spoon in his mouth.” Others suspect Spitzer’s temper, not his pedigree, will prove his undoing—and a lesson to other successful legislators. “The article might provide a warning to other state attorney generals as well as former state attorney generals in higher office: Success in one job doesn’t guarantee success in another,” wrote the blog Law and More. “Actually, it could undermine it, as seems to be the situation with Spitzer.”

2. In keeping with the gubernatorial mood, our readers weighed in, a month later, on the fate of Governors Island. “Your article of June 4, ‘Fantasy Island’ [by Alexandra Lange] showed five concepts for a so-called urban paradise,” wrote Ralph Casado. “Sadly, very little thought has been given to celebrate the 200-plus-years-old American military history associated with Governors Island and the city.” Reader Stephen Quandt of Manhattan offers a less sentimental plan: “Provide lots of restaurants and lots of shopping—and all of it tax-free to the consumer—and they will come in droves.” And we received this multigenerational letter. “My father and mother lived on Governors Island back in the day, and I was only born after my mother took a ferry ride to the mainland, seeing as there were no hospitals on the island. Please see below my father’s response to your article,” wrote Jessica O’Byrne, in preface to the following: “Hi. First, it will always be a black day for me when the USCG gave up the island; a terrible, terrible mistake was made that day. The USCG was right there, right in the center of everything, sitting on one of the great jewels of N.Y. There was no place like it, and now, there never will be again.” Mr. O’Byrne suggests keeping the island free of housing, and out of the hands of the rich, then adds, “My heart will ache every time I drive within sight of it. It really was an oasis in the city, and we felt special living there.”

Photo: Eamoon McCormack/WireImage

3. “I really enjoy your magazine but have to point out an error in David Edelstein’s review of the latest Harry Potter movie” (“Culture: Not Another Teen Movie,” July 16), wrote Sharon Lawless of Dublin. “In listing the supporting cast as ‘the usual embarrassment of British riches,’ he includes Brendan Gleeson and Fiona Shaw. Both of these fine actors are unapologetically Irish. In a city and country where the Irish have been welcomed and appreciated for so long, I would have thought that our significant contribution would have been recognized, particularly in a publication like New York.” Agreed. Now if only someone around here would organize an annual parade in their honor.

Now and again, we will call on readers to tell us what they think of the magazine. We spoke with subscriber Thomas Keefe, 28, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, about the July 23 issue.

I always flip to “The Approval Matrix.” Sometimes I get angry at myself for missing something. … I hadn’t heard about the 77 drummers. The Look Book” often gets on my nerves, but I thought it was clever this time. Using the Strand bookstore employees was a good idea. Some of the people they choose seem a little too proud of themselves. Of the features, I liked the Spitzer article best. And I am a big John Waters fan, and I agreed with David Edelstein that the most offensive part of the remake is casting John Travolta. I think it’s a travesty.

The Approval Matrices

On November 1, 2004, New York unveiled its “Culture Pages,” along with “The Approval Matrix.” (Or, as it’s sometimes referred to, “that grid thingee” and “the page with the boxes.”) The idea of plotting the week’s highlights and lowlights on a four-quadrant grid was not new—the page was inspired by similar charts in Wired and Spin, and surely this rough technique for graphing information has been popular at NASA and MIT for ages. Since then, several other familiar-looking gridlike thingees have appeared—fifteen that we know of, including one in the Danish men’s magazine Euroman. Here are some of our favorite flatterers, highbrow and lowbrow, brilliant and despicable.

Comments: July 30 - August 6, 2007