Comments: Week of February 23, 2009

1. For a relatively new social-networking company that doesn’t have nearly the reach of Facebook, Twitter sure does have its evangelists. The commenters on Will Leitch’s story about Twitter’s executives (How Tweet It Is,” February 16) were all about love. Like: “I love the reach of Twitter, the potential of one Tweet, the ability to also stay in the background when you want. It’s the place to find immediate interactive common ground.” Or “I consider Twitter to be a fantastic flow of new ideas and information.” We were also happy to see that some praise was reserved for the story itself: “This is the best all-around piece on Twitter so far: accurate and perceptive, but also a great piece of storytelling. It’s a shame it will lose so much in the 140-character rewrite. The biggest conundrum for mainstream media and breaking news is the battle between being first and being right. Twitter is a tip service that is—by definition—not necessarily reliable but is definitely instantaneous.” But there were also some who felt the story didn’t go far enough to help them understand just how Twitter works. “If someone could actually tell me how to set up and use my damn Twitter page, then maybe I actually would use it. Technology makes me feel old and worthless.” That’s why there are still magazines.

2. Last week’s article about the economic pressure on the city’s small businesses (Freakoutonomics,” by Michael Idov, February 16) drew a mostly optimistic response. “All this means is that the preposterous rise in commercial rents driven in part by bank expansion will have to be reversed,” wrote one reader. “Plenty of businesses can still thrive if their rents are reduced to a reasonable rate.” Other readers offered minor corrections, such as the fact that “every last shoe store on 8th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue did not close; there are still two or three at least.” Another reader helpfully pointed out that while the Chocolate Bar is no longer open in the East or West Village, “you can still fill your cup at Chocolate Bar at Henri Bendel, located on the third floor on Fifth Avenue at 56th Street.” Good to know, as is the news that there may still be plans afoot to resuscitate the beloved Jefferson Market on Sixth Avenue. Good luck to all those involved. Finally, we did outrage a couple of Philadelphians who were none too happy to see the City of Brotherly Love slighted in the story’s last line. (For the record, here’s what Idov wrote: “The very fact of living in this city means our life is guided by pleasure rather than value. Otherwise we’d be living in Philadelphia.”) Philly, here’s your turn: “Okay, that last sentence was completely gratuitous, but we’re not angry. We feel bad for New York. How could you not be bitter? If you did live in Philadelphia, you’d still have some money to spend on your great coffee, which, if you’re lucky, is Philly-made La Colombe.” Actually, we know all about La Colombe. They have a very nice café just a few blocks from our office, and we hope it keeps thriving.

3. Demetri Martin, the comedian who was the subject of Adam Sternbergh’s profile (Timing Is Everything,” February 16), did not quite get the Twitter treatment. Apparently, his high-minded sense of humor does not sit well with some of our readers. “He should have stayed at NYU Law,” wrote one. Wrote another one: “Turning Mobil into Limbo is not a sign of comedic genius. It’s a sign of dyslexia.” One liked his comedy but didn’t think he could maintain a large TV audience: “Big fan of this guy’s stand-up, but I’m predicting Important Things will flop. I simply don’t see Martin as dynamic enough to carry a show week in and week out, because his material is at its best when it’s ephemeral. Ironically, I see him fitting much better in a sitcom, where he can play the kooky, Kramer-esque sideshow.”

4. Another thing New Yorkers are passionate about: drinking on their stoops. A Daily Intel update on a criminal case against a man who was drinking a beer on his own stoop that couldn’t proceed because no judge wanted to hear the case (Stoop Drinkers Infiltrate the Criminal Justice System,” February 11) precipitated a wild chorus of stories about how New Yorkers get around the law: “I just go to McDonald’s, pay for their largest Coke, which is basically a plastic bucket, and tell them I want it empty. Then I fill it with liquor”; “I like to go the Lindsay Lohan route and drink my vodka out of a Smartwater bottle”; “A bottle of that dragonfruit Vitaminwater that’s two-thirds Svedka and one-third Vitaminwater”; “No one seems to mind if you drink on your fire escape”; “Go to 7-Eleven, get a partially filled Slurpee, fill it with the good stuff.”

5. Meanwhile, the Cut fashion blog on mostly failed to convince readers with its assessment that Michelle Obama Looks Awkward on Her Vogue Cover (February 11). “Michelle O. looks chic and understated on the cover, and that’s fine with me. I really don’t see where’s the problem with her expression”; “The First Lady is obviously a fascinating subject to photograph, and I am intrigued each time I see a photo of her. Bravo, First Lady!”

Comments: Week of February 23, 2009