September 6, 2004

The “Joel Steinberg, Free Man” cover [August 16] is completely appropriate. When a creature like Steinberg come out from under his rock, the only exposure he deserves is of him with a frightened stare. Was it the same frightened stare Lisa gave her “parents” when they beat the life out of her?
—Pauline Bandolik, Brooklyn

The cover shot of Joel Steinberg peering out from behind a door makes him look like a long-lost cousin of the Marx Brothers.
—Lynn Somerstein, Manhattan

Who cares about his “exemplary military record,” that he was a “brilliant strategic lawyer in his earlier career,” or that he had done a “good” seventeen years in prison? Lisa is dead, and now Joel Steinberg is a cover story [“Defending Joel Steinberg,” by John Lombardi, August 16]. Nothing could be sadder, or more inappropriate.
—Mary-Margaret Philpot, Mt. Laurel, N.J.

The death of a child is life’s cruelest tragedy. When that death occurs at the hands of her parents, whether adoptive or biological, it carries a heinousness that is impossible to ignore. Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that the only chilling remnant of this most disturbing case is that Mr. Steinberg and Ms. Nussbaum have been granted a right so viciously taken from their daughter: the right to breathe.
—S. J. Noaz, The Bronx

Congratulations. You seem to have found the one person in New York—indeed, on the planet—who could make Joel Steinberg look good by comparison: Darnay Hoffman. Just how does he figure that picking up his client from prison in a white limo will generate sympathy? Mr. Hoffman is a first-order publicity seeker, which would not be a problem if he weren’t also a bad lawyer who was attempting to rehabilitate a psychopathic monster in the media. Shame on you for letting him do it, instead of giving him the ignominy he and his client so richly deserve.
—Jocelyn Jackson, Rockville Centre, N.Y.

Joel Steinberg and I have never met and thus did not have the conversation he seems to recall. My book, What Lisa Knew, was largely based upon four months of daily attendance at his trial. I wrote to him once, following his conviction, requesting an interview; he replied that he would grant me one only if he could control what I wrote. I did not contact him again. As for Mr. Steinberg’s scurrilous allusion to my “backseat” appearance in Kerouac’s On the Road, I was still in grade school during the period of Kerouac’s cross-country trips and did not meet him until ten years later.
—Joyce Johnson, Manhattan

So many compliments, where to begin? Congratulations to cover photographer Neil Decrescenzo, who really captured the new cute and playful Joel Steinberg. And thank you, Darnay Hoffman, for so selflessly providing Mr. Steinberg with top-notch, pro bono legal aid. Oh, and special congratulations to Joel Steinberg for the five minutes he was honest and humble when he marveled why anyone would want to meet “a piece of shit” like him. Why indeed.
—Diane Lipman, Manhattan

Apocalypse NYC
Paranoid comments like the one in James Atlas’s “The Fear This Time” [August 16]—“Living in New York is like a terminal disease: You start awake in panic every morning, your stomach knotted, your heart plunging in your chest”—are the last thing those of us who choose to stay in the city this summer and live our day-to-day lives need to hear, especially from someone who fled the city to Vermont while the majority of New Yorkers are getting ready for the Republican National Convention.
—Jarred Kirsch, Manhattan

Kudos to James Atlas for having the courage to utter sentiments every New Yorker has thought since 9/11. As we each trudge forward on the paths of our daily grinds, we’re forced to repress the omnipresent possibility of Armageddon. Thank you for helping to alleviate the self-consciousness of my own personal paranoia.
—Whitney Hedman, Manhattan

The rantings of an emotionally unstable writer are supposed to be taken as political wisdom? James Atlas’s article about living with terror threats turns out to be nothing but an anti-Bush diatribe. I was under the impression that I subscribed to a magazine about the City of New York, not the Democratic Digest.
—Alan Abrams, Manhattan

Base Men
Thanks for the article on Brian Cashman [“The Yankees’ Most Valuable Player,” by Chris Smith, August 16]. For years, I felt sorry for the guy because of the way George Steinbrenner treated him. But now I realize that any adult walking around calling people “Dude” and saying things like “Fuck me, hard!” deserves to work for a jerk like George.
—Chris Marzuk, Greenlawn, N.Y.

Wine Country
Dreams of a Napa by the Sound” [by Lawrence Osborne, August 16] reminded my wife and me of our honeymoon in San Francisco, where we spent several days in Napa Valley visiting various wineries. Wise Long Islanders would do well to mimic the success of the West Coast. The economic returns in jobs, tourism, and land preservation are a taste worth savoring!
—Larry Penner, Great Neck, N.Y.

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September 6, 2004