1. Readers tweeted about Jessica Pressler’s cover-story profile of Emma Stone (@MeghanButler: “Emma Stone is my spirit animal/future BFF”) and Mark Harris’s interview with Aaron Sorkin (@sarahashley: “unreal. So good. The man is fascinating”), but by far the most talked-about story in our annual summer issue was Dan P. Lee’s immersive profile of Fiona Apple, for which Lee spent several long, late nights with the reclusive, effusive singer (“I Just Want to Feel Everything,” June 25–July 2). “Let’s just gush here,” wrote Bryan Hood at ArtInfo. “The author delves into the stories behind the new album, but more than anything he provides an unprecedented look into Apple’s world. Besides providing an illuminating portrait of the mercurial Apple, the piece also stands as one of the weirder examples of magazine journalism in a while, a personal account that illuminates the subject and writer at the same time.” At Gawker, Rich Juzwiak called the story “as brilliant a companion piece to its tie-in album as ever there were. The article co-signs a lot of Apple’s lyrical claims, as well as the outside interpretation that Apple’s m.o. is to transmit the signals in her head … I can’t remember the last time I wanted to reread an article immediately just for the pleasure of it.” Many other readers were simply thrilled to spend so much time with someone they admire: “One of the things I like the most about Fiona Apple is how she’s totally unafraid of opening herself, to show all the mess, confusion, ridiculousness, and beauty inside her. It’s not just her music that is gorgeous; she also is.” But not everyone found the story so illuminating. “I’ve spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what bothered me so much about this piece, and it’s that the whole thing reeks of adolescence and melodrama, as much on the part of the author as the subject,” wrote one commenter at nymag.com. “It made me uncomfortable.” And another went further: “Could this possibly be more self-indulgent on the part of the author or the singer? I think not. Just goes to show that even supertalented people can be real immature a**holes in real life. Grow up, Fiona, and go to bed on time. Stop smoking pot if you are so depressed.”
2. Barack Obama’s ads targeting Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital may have provoked criticism on cable TV, but going negative is legitimate, effective, even noble, Frank Rich wrote in an essay on the long history of attack ads and what Obama can learn from it (“Nuke ’Em,” June 25–July 2). “Bravo, Mr. Rich,” applauded one commenter at nymag.com. “I only hope that President Obama will read this article, take it to heart, take off the gloves, and treat the Republicans and the monstrously inept Mitt Romney the way they deserve to be treated—like dirt.” At DailyKos, Jerwin also urged the president to get his hands dirty. “Negative advertising works, is effective, and may not even be all that evil, as far as modern campaigning goes,” he wrote. But some readers found Rich’s history lesson a bit off-putting, let alone the ads that will likely follow. “The article is actually worth the read just for the trip down memory lane,” wrote Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters. “This is how far Rich feels Obama should go to win. It’s nauseating enough without the visuals. Just remember that the next time some liberal media member is claiming he or she has never seen anything like the political tone in Washington, D.C., today. It’s because he or she wasn’t alive when things were far worse, and is ignorant of American history.” Others readers suggested the whole question of negative advertising might be moot. “Go ahead and nuke all you want, Frank,” wrote one commenter. “When the average voter steps into the booth next November, all he or she will care about are recent economic trends and their impact on her or his immediate prospects.”
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