Comments: Week of July 11, 2011

1. When the New York Post caught wind of Molly Young’s investigation into why the stretch of Broome Street between Allen and Eldridge is such an insult to the nose (The Smelliest Block in New York,” June 27–July 4), it dispatched a reporter who “was able to quickly confirm the findings, as people who spend time living and working on the block agreed with the putrid putdown.” Gothamist, meanwhile, “placed a fruitless call to 311” to discover “other blocks that have received odor complaints,” before relying on “an informal poll” that also brought up Crosby Street near Broome, as well as “Canal Street all through Chinatown.” ­ commenters suggested Chrystie at Stanton (“Smells like the sewer is open right under the sidewalk”) as well as the Bronx in the summer (“smelling [of garbage] big time!”). Others savored the pungent language of the story, with the Village Voice’s Runnin’ Scared blog saying that “we know exactly what Young is talking about here—we can almost feel it in our noses, sharp and putrid, even while sitting here safely in our non-stinky offices.” Sam Anderson praised the sentence “It was ripe and outlandish in a way that made a person feel perverted” on the New York Times Magazine blog, explaining, “I like the word ‘perverted’ here—it’s unexpected but right. Because that is what a horrible smell does to you: It violates you, enters your body, and yet (because you have to breathe) you can’t stop taking it in, over and over. You need the horrible smell … you become a semi-voluntary participant … Which makes you feel perverted.”

2. There were sharp disagreements among commenters over Robert ­Sullivan’s story about the ethics of urban avian-wildlife management (Who Cries for the Goose Killer?,” June 27–July 4). Some were happy to see the geese wiped out. “Wish he could come by my home, parks, streets, now even parking lots, to exterminate these overpopulated birds,” wrote one, explaining that “they are mean, poop all over, and do not migrate as they were intended to do!” The commenter did express the wish that they could be eaten after they’re slaughtered, not sent to landfills. But where some saw dinner, others saw horror. “According to witnesses to roundups,” wrote a reader, the gassing of the geese is hardly as humane as the wildlife-control people would have it. “They have heard banging and thumping from birds trying to escape the gas chambers. They burn from the inside out and will trample one another to get to the top of the available breathing space. They do not go to sleep and have peaceful dreams.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, some bird defenders winged into hyperbole. One wrote that “gassing geese to death using taxpayer money, and maintaining contracts to ‘dispose’ of wildlife, is cruel, disrespectful of nature, arrogant,” especially in light of cutbacks in education, and cast doubt on the “alleged protection of air passengers” goosicide provides by comparing it to—yes—the Holocaust. Still, not everyone had goose empathy. “Sorry, boys and girls, the geese need to be gassed,” wrote one commenter. “That’s just how things work. Call me heartless, but you can’t worry about every single living thing in this world. I don’t see anyone crying over the removal of rats or any animal of that sort. It’s quite annoying when the underlying reason for all this defending of animals such as geese is because they’re cute .”

3. Nitsuh Abebe’s review of Beyoncé’s latest album (Beyoncé Settles Down,” June 27–July 4) inspired a vigorous commenter debate around his assertion that “ballads have not always been Beyoncé’s strong suit.” “I mean, that would be like saying that Mariah Carey’s post-Mottola strong suit has never been wearing shorty-shorts. Come on,” wrote one fan dismissively. Asserted another: “Ballads are definitely one of her strong suits, and she has tons to choose from. Beyoncé is beautiful, graceful, and classy, and, on top of it, the best talent and one of the best voices of this generation.” Abebe’s position had its defenders, however. “Eh, I think it’s quite clear that ballads have never been Beyoncé’s strong suit. She too often ­ventures into milquetoast adult ­contemporary with her ballads and midtempos … But at the end of the day, do I want to remember Beyoncé for (the great) ‘1+1’ and (tripelike) ‘If I Were a Boy,’ or do I want to ­remember her for ‘Crazy in Love’ and ‘Get Me Bodied’? The answer, to me, is obvious.”

4. Some commenters disputed the results of Adam Platt’s report on the yummiest-ice-cream-in-town, which his daughters helped him judge (So Long, Mr. Softee,” June 27–July 4). “How could you have missed the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory?” asked one. Another declared, “No love for Cones Ice Cream Artisans on Bleecker? Not an accurate list then!” ­Others wrote in to give the scoop on “Cap’n Crunch Gelato at Mia Chef Gelateria in Kips Bay” and “Chinatown Ice Cream Factory,” which “filled a void in my heart when the East Village Ice Cream factory closed down.”

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Comments: Week of July 11, 2011