Comments: November 12, 2007

1. By now, many readers know that the movie American Gangsters, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, is based on a story from this magazine by Mark Jacobson (The Return of Superfly,” May 21, 2005). The anticipation for that movie, as well as Jacobson’s new interview with its real-life subjects, former drug kingpins Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes (Lords of Dopetown,” November 5), inspired a lively debate among readers on our Website. The upshot: Nobody loves a snitch, even 30 years after the fact. A reader identifying himself as Casper Alaimo, “the Canadian Gangster,” wrote, “Frank Lucas was only a flunky for Bumpy Johnson and all the things portrayed as what Frank has done are really things that Bumpy had done and Frank always wanted to do. Frank … didn’t have the brains or the nuts to even come close to the stature of a man like Bumpy Johnson.” MissyB added that Frank “just wanted everything for himself and did not believe in giving anything back,” while Frederocket had nothing but disdain: “Why is this piece of shit not still in jail?? Better yet, why is he still breathing air???”

2. Annsley Chapman’s post for Daily Intelligencer about a mass eviction in Brooklyn (Bushwick Hipsters Left Out in the Cold,” October 26) caused deep offense for her use of, yes, the H-word. “This is a great example of ‘weasel words,’” wrote Jomo, “something any first-year journalism student learns to avoid if their intention is to write an objective story.” But wait, there was more, much more. “Why are people so obsessed with the term ‘hipster’?,” wrote DConcerned. “Imagine if this situation was about a primarily black/Hispanic building that suddenly was evacuated without warning. Would this author attach a snide label to the homeless residents?” A reader named Samantha then tried to put a stop to it. “So what—they said ‘Hipster,’ ” she wrote, “is that really so offensive? put a bottle in your mouth and quit your crying, you freaking babies. NY Mag did a good thing by writing about this at all.”

3. Geoffrey Gray’s story about the fate of a notorious skyjacker who escaped by parachute in the Pacific Northwest in 1971 (Unmasking D.B. Cooper,” October 29) drew many compliments on the Web and in print for its storytelling pleasure. But had Gray fingered the right man, the late Kenneth Christiansen, as the real D.B. Cooper? The Columbian, a newspaper based in Clark County, Washington, quibbled with a number of Gray’s findings, notably his characterization of the local topography and plant life—apparently, the area is populated not with pine, as Gray described, but Douglas fir, and the town of Bonney Lake sits on a plateau, not technically in the Cascades, which are fifteen to twenty miles away. The paper then goes on to quote an FBI spokesman, who says that Kenneth Christiansen was dismissed as a suspect because he did not meet “the threshold of the basic physical description” of the skyjacker. Really? While thanking the paper for correcting his inexact physical description of the area, Gray responds, “One of the FBI’s primary eyewitnesses to the crime, stewardess Florence Schaffner, told New York that of all the suspects the FBI has ever shown her throughout the years, the suspect that looks the most like D.B. Cooper is Ken Christiansen. Why would the FBI discount the observations of their own witness?”

4. Jane Rainwater of Andover, Connecticut, wrote to complain of an unjust exclusion from our Design issue (The Design Revolutionaries,” October 29): “How could you possibly do a New York design issue without honoring Milton Glaser? Glaser was the designer of the I ♥ NY logo, and he and Pushpin studios raised poster illustration to a high art!” Our excuse is that Glaser, as the founding creative director of this magazine, is family. But he certainly belongs in the company of the designers we wrote about.

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Comments: November 12, 2007