Comments: Week of April 2, 2012

1. “If the nineties were the decade of Prozac, all hollowed out and depressed, then this is the era of Xanax, all jumpy and edgy and short of breath,” Lisa Miller wrote in her cover story on America’s love affair with the anti-anxiety drug (Listening to Xanax,” March 26). Some readers thought that the article itself was too smitten: “I think this is tragic to tell people who can’t cope to pop a pill. Would you tell someone to take a drink if they were ‘worried’ or ‘anxious’? No. Xanax works on the exact same neurotransmitters as alcohol. So in effect, you told someone to just have another drink.” The article did discuss Xanax’s dangers, but some readers wouldn’t let Miller off easily: “Only at the very end is there even a mention of another treatment for anxiety.” Wrote another: “Just because they’re legal doesn’t make them legit. If you think because they’re FDA approved that it makes them safe, then I have a bridge named Brooklyn I need to sell you.” But plenty of positive testimonials poured in as well, thanking Xanax—and Miller for defending its use. “While it may not be right for everyone, the drug kept me from becoming a full-blown, shut-in agoraphobic,” wrote one Xanax user. “Nothing else has helped me get my life back, become productive, and not cry uncontrollably every five minutes or feel like I’m about to die of a heart attack,” wrote another. “On Xanax, I don’t feel like a zombie at all. In fact, I feel calm enough to cope with life instead of running away from it and crying into my pillow.” Another reader, who moved west to drop the habit, thought running away from it was, actually, the best possible solution: “I lived in New York for nearly three years and left an addict of Xanax and Valium … In the end, my benzo addiction was a reflection of my profound isolation … in New York City. I will love it for what the city is and can be for so many, but I will never regret the understanding that it was never meant for me.”

2. After former Goldman Sachs executive director Greg Smith published a fiery resignation letter as a New York Times op-ed, charging the firm with alienating clients by callously taking advantage of them, Jessica Pressler found precious little evidence that the company’s cockiness had damaged its standing at all (Goldman Is ­Rubber,” March 26). Most readers agreed with those Pressler interviewed that Goldman’s reputation was intact, and actually well earned. “People can take a wee-wee on Goldman all they want, but unless you have been a client, you have no idea what it is like to deal with them. Versus other investment banks, they are at a different level,” one reader wrote at “Other banks? They seem to be [too busy] sitting around talking about how much they hate Goldman to ever get back to their clients.” Another agreed: “The ­clients aren’t dumb. If they are being ripped off, they jump ship. [At Goldman], they rarely do.” And some sick–of–Wall Street readers argued that to debate distinctions between banks was to miss their common villainy. “It’s an evil, corrupt business that had a large hand in destroying the American economy,” wrote one skeptic, waxing apocalyptic. “Make no mistake: Goldman Sachs will eventually destroy its clients, itself, and the United States.”

3. Fans of punk rock combed closely through a series of idiosyncratic top-ten lists by the late Johnny Ramone included in an excerpt from his upcoming autobiography—favorite punk bands, favorite Elvis movies, favorite baseball players of the eighties (Becoming ­Johnny Ramone,” March 26). One reader was positively inspired. “I need to make a top 10 of everything ever,” tweeted @adamjclarkson. “Hilarious that he put his own band at the top,” tweeted @­cecurran. “All wrong,” wrote @jj_gould. “Esp: Clash one spot too low.” A couple readers dissented from the general Johnny hagiography. “The Ramones were a fun & authentic NYC band, but Johnny was one major a**hole,” wrote one. About his little-known conservative politics, another added: “Johnny laid down some great power riffs in his time, but the guy was a bit of a chicken hawk.”

4. In a profile of Will Ferrell, film critic David Edelstein studied the “large-spiritedness” of the actor he called “the most centered exhibitionist in modern comedy” (Butts Below the Border­,” March 26). The outpouring of ­Ferrell-love was practically unanimous. “I rarely agree with your taste in movies,” wrote one Edelstein reader. “But I can agree with you on a deep love and admiration of what Will Ferrell does.” At Splitsider, Hallie Cantor also swooned. “I know you’re exhausted by all this news about how fun and well-­adjusted Will Ferrell is and how none of us will ever measure up to his stratospheric levels of humor and/or mental health. But here is more of it anyway!”

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Comments: Week of April 2, 2012