Comments: October 1, 2007

Photo: Joan Marcus/Courtesy of Jeffrey Richards Associates

1. Lovers of the old “Letters” column, this is your lucky week! We start the “Comments” section with not one but two letters. First we heard from Duncan Sheik, the composer of Spring Awakening, responding to Boris Kachka’s interview with Jonathan Franzen, “Spring Allergy” (“Books,” September 24), who is publishing his translation of the original play, which he contended has been bastardized. Wrote Sheik:

“The dexterity [Franzen] displays in simultaneously riding our coattails and stabbing us in the back certainly proves him quite the limber ‘populist.’ Though his apparent conflation of Chloë Sevigny and Avril Lavigne drew a chuckle, it serves less as a critique of the musical than as evidence that, very much like all the adult characters in Spring Awakening, Mr. Franzen is hopelessly out of touch, mired in his own self-interest, and just doesn’t get it. His confusion about pop culture aside, I’m delighted it’s now a matter of public record that not only is Franzen a world-class curmudgeon, but he’s a baldly opportunistic one at that.”

We couldn’t resist asking Franzen to defend himself and got this remark: “It is Mr. Sheik’s and Mr. Sater’s production that is riding on the coattails of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening. Whether the musical also stabs the play in the back is up to theatergoers to decide.”

2. Here’s the second old-fashioned letter (actually, it was an e-mail, but it has the literary style of an old-fashioned letter), which came from Matthew Katz of Manhattan in reply to Sam Anderson’s Exorcising the Dodgers (September 24): “I grew up on the corner of Crown Street and Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn, and honoring the Dodgers was the eleventh commandment we lived by. The Dodgers broke my 11-year-old heart in 1957 and that’s a fact. Today, when I read Sam Anderson’s article, the same old lump, composed of pride, nostalgia, and pain, grew in my chest … My Brooklyn, the iconic one, will be remembered long after we baby-boomers are gone because it is mythic and people need myths. Ask anyone: Who can trust Rudy Giuliani, a Brooklynite who grew up rooting for the Yankees? Feh!”

3. Last week’s cover story, Pop Goes the Real-Estate Bubble, But Not in New York. Not Yet (September 24), elicited contradictory responses: Too wishy-washy, said some; too decisive, said others. Also, there were attempts to remain calm—the blog Escape Brooklyn wrote, “According to their numbers, I could lose 8 percent in 2009 or gain 4 percent, but, just like stocks, how can anyone know? In the meantime, I need a roof over my head either way, so it’s not like I’m going to panic and sell my co-op now.” Brownstoner stood up for newly gentrified areas of Brooklyn, where prices were characterized as particularly vulnerable: “It seems a little premature to predict that demand and prices in Williamsburg are about to take a serious nosedive.” Finally, blogger Sam Miller faulted the magazine for its inexact description of the Case Shiller Index, which, he noted, “doesn’t include co-op and condo sales, which is 96.9 percent of the Manhattan sales market, nor does it include new development and foreclosures.”

Correction: In “Best Bets” (September 24), the cleat (pictured), available at Soccer Sport Supply, is made by Puma, not Adidas.

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Comments: October 1, 2007