Comments: Week of July 12, 2010

1. Logan Hill’s interview with Oscar winner and stone-cold fox Helen Mirren (“Madam Helen,” June 28–July 5) was a hit with readers across the Internet (thanks in no small part to the photographs, by Juergen Teller, accompanying the piece). “The interview reminds us just why it is that Mirren, at 65, does notorious better than most women half her age,” wrote Liz Kelly at the Washington Post’s Celebritology blog. Others were more focused on the photographs. “Surprising yet sensual. She seems totally comfortable in her body and her gaze is unwavering as she looks directly into the camera,” admired blog PopEater. “It’s the Mirren the world has come to know and love over the years.” “There are so few images in our culture of natural-looking older women owning the sexy—cheers to Helen for blazing that path so unabashedly,” added the writers at Dame Helen herself commented on the runaway popularity of the snaps on Tavis Smiley’s show on PBS: “I think it’s weird. Because I’m old. It’s only because I’m old. There’s a weird, prurient fascination … The photographer was actually a very high-level art photographer. So when I’m working with someone like that, I give them artistic freedom because I want that for myself when it’s my turn to do my work.”

2. Jason Zengerle’s article on how the Deepwater Horizon disaster is emerging as a rallying point for environmental groups stymied in the fight against global warming (“More Heat, Less Light,” June 28–July 5) stimulated discussion online about America’s environmental priorities. Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic recommended the piece and argued that the oil spill hadn’t generated nearly enough outrage: “Two months after the Deepwater Horizon rig first exploded, where are the marches on Washington? Where are the phone calls lighting up Capitol Hill switchboards? Even a scaled-back climate bill could make a difference. But the existing pressure doesn’t seem strong enough to make it a reality.” “Certainly [the oil spill has] given greens a welcome PR jolt,” wrote Bryan Walsh on Time’s Ecocentric blog. “But as greens get mad, I wonder whether public rage over the oil spill can really form the foundation for lasting movement on climate change.” “To enact substantial change in the behavior of Americans, you have to convince the most adamant opponents and deniers to switch sides and get onboard,” argued a commenter on nymag .com. “That entails depoliticizing the message and incentivizing change in ways that will directly impact the everyday lives of the average consumer. The climate/environment message doesn’t even need to be the heart of it—just saving money, which no one is going to fight against.”

3. Ben Wallace provided a field guide to New York City’s boomlet of affordable lobster rolls and the rivalry among their purveyors (“On a Roll,” June 28–July 5). “A fascinating breakdown of the economic, environmental, and ethical factors that have helped to create our current glut of crustacean-filled buns,” wrote the Village Voice’s Fork in the Road blog. Commenters on hotly debated their own favorite rolls: “Love Ben [Sargent]. Love his rolls. I have them about once a month.” … “Where is the lobster knuckle sandwich, from Braeburn? It rocks.” … “The very best lobster roll I ever had was from a little restaurant outside of Lake Winnipesaukee.” Some, like reader Mike Farrell of Kennebunk, Maine, were more concerned with the plight of Maine lobstermen: “The converse to this article is the hundreds of fishermen who pulled their boats out of the water (some permanently) because they could not afford to lobster anymore due to a crash in price in 2008. So debating who has the best lobster roll seems kind of silly in the grand scheme of things.” Others were outraged at Wallace for revealing Dr. Claw’s tricks of the trade. “I thought the article was fairly interesting (and loved the competitiveness of the new kids vs. the old guard),” wrote a reader on Chowhound. “I was really annoyed by the ending, though. Even if the author told Ben Sargent that everything he said was fair game for the article, Wallace comes off as a real jerk for printing what Sargent asked to be a secret.” Wallace went on to answer criticisms, noting, “Ben [Sargent] knew in advance that I was going to report anything I could taste or see. Paprika visibly sprinkled on top is not exactly classified material. I suspect my article barely scratched the surface of the occult techniques and ingredients underlying Ben’s delicious roll.”

4. Prolific musician-producer Danger Mouse gave Logan Hill a 170-song soundtrack for the summer (“Danger Mouse’s Endless Summer Playlist,” June 28–July 5). Readers and bloggers were ecstatic: “Finding the Builders & the Butchers on this list made me very, very happy and also quite impressed with the different music that has made its way through Danger Mouse’s brain.” … “If a summer playlist includes George Harrison, Blondie, Brigitte Bardot (!), Ghostface Killah, and Supertramp, then I’m all about that summer playlist. Now all I need is a creek and a Corona.” … “The depth and breadth of this list. It’s amazing. I plan to go through the list and purchase all of the songs I don’t already own. Regardless of the vendor.”

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Comments: Week of July 12, 2010