Comments: Week of September 21, 2009

1. One’s taste in late-night television is like religion—people believe what they believe and are rarely looking to be persuaded otherwise. And so it was Peter W. Kaplan’s argument that David Letterman has finally and rightfully ascended to the throne of late-night television (Couch Warfare,” September 14) resonated with his fellow Lettermanites—and was derided by others. First, Kaplan’s choir on “I’ll watch Dave over Jay every time. He is smart, well read, funny, and can hold a conversation with anyone”… “Dave is downright magical. I am grateful for every night I watch him.” Blogger Kyle Smith set the tone for the opposition: “I watched Letterman virtually every night for many consecutive years in the nineties, but have lost interest in him in the last few years. There are times when you want your comedy to be ‘funny’ rather than ‘an inquiry into and deconstruction of the nature of comedy.’ Leno’s homey style may be broad and middle-American, but it also makes you laugh.” Some commenters concurred: “If you asked a group of random people on the street who they’d rather have a beer with, they’d say Leno. Letterman is the guy at parties you try to avoid. I like sarcasm as much as the next person, but he has ventured into the territory of cranky, bitter old man.” … “Letterman’s been phoning it in for years. He won’t even stoop to do ‘Know Your Cuts of Meat.’ ” … “I used to be an unabashed Letterman fan, but then I grew up.” A few were miffed that their late-night favorites had been excluded from the story: “What about Jimmy [Kimmel]?” … “Craig Ferguson is the funniest man on television.” And then, of course, sentimentalists pined for the good ol’ days: “It’s been a downhill slide since Carson. Letterman hasn’t been funny for many years. As for the new guys, they’re hardly worth mentioning. If Cavett were honest, he would have to admit that during his heyday, Fallon would have had just enough talent to be the boy who brought him his coffee.”

2. Jacqueline Tamaklo’s efforts to save her home in a Rockaways neighborhood hit hard by foreclosures, as detailed by Jennifer Gonnerman (Last Home Standing,” September 14), garnered much sympathy and support. “I applaud her tenacity and her desire to make good on a situation that is so horrible,” said one commenter. “In a healthy society, buying a home should never be a game of roulette,” said another. The effect of widespread foreclosures on the community concerned another commenter, who noted, “The end result of neighborhood-specific foreclosures is the decimation of communities. Even homeowners who aren’t facing foreclosure are hurt if half of their neighbors are.” However, at least one commenter dispensed some tough love: “It takes two to make a contract. Nobody put a gun to Jackie’s head and forced her to do anything. Many people took out unaffordable mortgage payments—like Jackie admitted she did—thinking that the market was going to go up forever. But the very idea that any market just goes in one direction is crazy.”

3. Sam Anderson’s celebration of the pleasures of solving Dan Brown’s novelistic riddles (Intelligence Service,” September 14) failed to convince many readers. “Sherlock Holmes is fun precisely because nobody can actually solve the mysteries until Holmes explains them. We take pleasure in following his logic, and by seeing that the solution is simple enough that we too could have figured it out if we were there,” fumed one commenter. “I would find it excruciating to solve the problem myself and be forced to listen to the supposedly intelligent characters fumbling for the answer for 30 pages.” Another chimed in with, “What a fantastic apology for this hideous novel! You gave this semi-elitist reader a new perspective on Dan Brown. I have to admit I couldn’t get past the first chapters, but there’s room for everyone at the library.” But at least one reader appreciated Anderson’s analysis, agreeing that “what I most like about his writing is that all the answers are right in front of your face, yet most you do not see. Those who claim they saw the answers without reading much of the book are either lying or they’ve studied the subject matter.”

4. Amy Larocca’s inside peek at the world of Vogue editor Anna Wintour (68 Minutes With Anna Wintour,” September 14), as she prepped for her much-ballyhooed trip to the Elmhurst Macy’s, animated the fashion crowd. “I think it’s a good thing that A.W. is out and about with the community. It shows her sense of style and business in and outside of Vogue. You go Ms. Wintour,” cheered one commenter. “I saw The September Issue and loved it. In the documentary, it seemed as if it almost pained her to open her mouth, whereas here, she seems to chat on. She comes across very positively here. Chat on, Anna, my dear, chat on,” encouraged another. Others were a little more cynical. “The idea of Anna Wintour at a Macy’s in Elmhurst is just too, too funny! And since she promises to actually shop, I would love to peek inside her shopping bag when she leaves,” said one commenter. “I love the fact that she is desperate enough for marketing dollars to go to Queens,” said another commenter. “There are cool places in Queens, but I’m sure Anna will be just horrified, because that mall is hell on Earth.”

5. Sports coverage has always had a home on, but now there’s a designated spot for it. The Sports Section, edited by Will Leitch, launched last week; it will keep you up on all the New York teams, as well as major happenings from around the sports world.

Comments: Week of September 21, 2009