Comments: Week of May 13, 2013

1. Benjamin Wallace’s feature about electronic cigarettes noted the ways in which this new industry, and particularly one company called NJOY, is attempting to give its product a groovy aura while avoiding a direct claim that it’s healthier than tobacco (Smoke Without Fire,” May 6). Klaus Kneale at Ecig Advanced praised the story but took issue with its focus: “This is obviously the story of NJOY from the inside. It reads like a long, sloppy kiss in a public place.” Several readers offered firsthand experiences of e-cigarettes. “Trying to stop smoking cigs, I tried one of these, and it made my heart race. Be careful. I’ve gone back to nicotine gum,” warned one. “I feel like using them inside will draw way too much unwanted attention,” opined another. At least one is an enthusiast: “I switched … in 2012 and haven’t had or wanted a cigarette since. Not only was it not torture, it was outright pleasurable … It is the best harm-­reduction (or perhaps even harm elimination) strategy yet devised.”

2. The “Spring Interiors” cover package by Wendy Goodman looked at how much a person’s family influences his or her style (The Design Gene,” May 6). “The highlight … for me was Janet Ruttenberg’s kitchen,” wrote Abbey Nova at her Design Scouting blog. “The custom shades were made from a photograph of a painting—so unexpected and would make night time in the kitchen so peaceful.” Other readers were struck by the Calatravas’ minimal townhouse, especially the glass-cube entryway and folding-oak-box office. Though a few commenters found it cold—“The rooms look about as personal as a hotel lobby,” said one—others wanted it for themselves. “The box is sheer genius! The concept can be applied to almost every shotgun or railroad apartment in New York,” argued a commenter.

3. “Right now being famous, being successful, whatever, it exists in this giant gray area,” said Penn Badgley (Occupy Penn Badgley,” by Carl Swanson, May 6). The Gossip Girl heartthrob’s quest to move beyond teen soaps in search of fulfillment drew a certain cynicism from the commenters. “Granola. Shamans. Hallucinogens. Leather Bound Books. Resentment. For a guy who’s actually really talented, it seems like he’s trying really hard to get people to hate him, no?” sniped one. But Badgley had his supporters as well. “Dude makes a great argument,” wrote the Hollywood blogger Perez Hilton regarding Badgley’s dismissal of Gossip Girl’s froth. “He’s got a point … as always.” And not all the commenters beat him up. “I think he just needs to give it all a break,” offered a sympathetic reader. “Maybe join the Peace Corps and gain a fresh perspective on life.” We also heard from Jan Sneed, Badgley’s godmother, with a friendly correction: Though we said Badgley didn’t go to high school or college, he does have a high-school diploma and studied for two years at Santa Monica College. And here’s a clarification from author Daniel Pinchbeck: “While I was happy to be interviewed for the recent feature on actor Penn Badgley, I was disappointed to see my work incorrectly characterized as ‘touting the Mayan prophesy of the end of the world in 2012.’ As anyone who has read my book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, watched my documentary, 2012: Time for Change, or skimmed any of numerous interviews with me knows, I never considered 2012 to be the end of the world, nor do I think ­indigenous prophecies state this.”

Named cover of the year.

4. At last week’s National Magazine Awards, New York took home two Ellie trophies, one of which was the night’s ultimate prize: Magazine of the Year (which recognizes everything a publication does in print and digital realms—so, for us, the magazine, Vulture, the Cut, Daily Intelligencer, Grub Street, and so on). “Strategist” also won for Best Section. Earlier in the week, the American Society of Magazine Editors named “The City and the Storm” (featuring an image of blacked-out ­Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy, shot from a helicopter by Iwan Baan) Cover of the Year. The creative-excellence awards—sort of like lifetime achievements—went to Milton Glaser, co-founder of this magazine, and Walter Bernard, its first art director. All in all, a very happy week for New York, past and present.

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Comments: Week of May 13, 2013