Comments: May 12, 2008

1. Joe Hagan’s story about the firing of Wall Street executive Zoe Cruz (Only the Men Survive,” May 5) stoked a serious debate about women and power. The sides were split along ideological lines, between those who saw Cruz’s demise as an inevitable component of high-paid executive life and those who believe it had everything to do with her being a woman. The former view, however, was far more powerfully expressed on “Crying sexism in this case is sour grapes of the worst kind,” wrote one commenter. “Anyone of any gender, race, religion who enters the corporate world is subject to be fired when the currents turn against you. It was her or [Morgan Stanley CEO John] Mack. Mack chose her. No shock there.” Another chimed in: “Zoe Cruz is no different from the men who aspire to her position. The same skills that drive most people to success on Wall Street are often their undoing. Just look at Eliot ‘the Steamroller’ Spitzer. Drive and ambition are a double-edged sword.” A reader reported on her own experience at Morgan Stanley as evidence that the deck is stacked against women there: “During the three years I worked for MS, my boss called me ‘foil’ and told me to attend a meeting to serve as the ‘pretty shiny wrapper’ to distract management from what a dog of a deal we were trying to get done. The worst part was, he thought it was a compliment. He forgot that I graduated cum laude, served as V.P. and president of my student body, and was the top-recruited analyst of my class. My boss also said I should change the intonation of my voice, because department members mentioned I sounded like a ‘ditzy Valley Girl.’ ”

2. The Augusten Burroughs fan club weighed in on Sam Anderson’s profile of the serial memoirist (The Memory Addict,” May 5), its members howling with outrage at what they saw as Anderson’s mistreatment of their hero. Did everybody get to the end of the piece, where Anderson reconsiders his doubts? In many cases, it did not appear so. Several commenters on simply wished to express their intense love of Burroughs and his work, often employing all capital letters, as in “AUGUSTEN IS AWESOME.” One commenter decided to take on the herd of admirers: “I don’t get all the defensiveness of Mr. Burroughs’s ‘fans’; if you like his stories and his voice, why do you need to believe they’re true?” And Anderson was not entirely without supporters: “It was his job as a critic to emphatically not be a fawning fan of the guy’s claims and work. I think he did it well, clearly establishing the bounds between total recall and merely prodigious memory.”

3. We received a letter from Yale art instructor Steven Henry Madoff seeking to clarify his remarks in Brett Sokol’s article about the opening of a new art school in Miami (Art: Miami Art Machine,” May 5). “I never said that art students don’t need to learn how to paint and sculpt. What I said was that those skills are unnecessary for a postgraduate program like ours. It’s like saying that physicists at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton would need to take Physics 101 and first-year trigonometry. That’s ridiculous. The emerging artists we’ll host in Miami will have already convinced us during the selection process, and now we’re going to give them time to think and work.”

4. Last, we have a comment of our own: Congratulations to Rob Patronite, Robin Raisfeld, Michael Idov, and Emma Rosenblum, whose Cartography: The Complete Road Map to New York City Street Food(June 25) took home an elephant (or “Ellie,” more crudely) at the recent ASME awards. We assume you already have this authoritative and, frankly, appetite-stoking guide stuck to your fridge for easy reference; if not, you can find it here. Happy eating.

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Comments: May 12, 2008