July 14, 2003

Family Meting
Lisa Depaulo should be congratulated for her impartial tone throughout “Justice for Allen” [June 16]. But one important point was left unsaid: The revenge that Allen Myerson’s family is so intent on meting out to his widow, Carol, is also falling upon his infant twins.
-Amanda Foreman, Manhattan

Setting Us Straight
As the mother of the handsome, brilliant Allen Myerson, I was appalled by the many falsehoods in “Justice for Allen.” I won’t demean myself by listing all the horrible untruths. However, to claim that we were an abusive, dysfunctional family is disgusting—we were, and are, a loving, devoted family. Allen’s father was not a difficult man, and we had a long and wonderful marriage. Allen’s estranged wife is in good financial condition to care for herself and her children. She is not being deprived of anything.
-Natalie L. Myerson, New Rochelle, N.Y.

Without A Cause
I share in the enormous pain of Allen Myerson’s loss. He and Carol were friends of mine. As much as Allen’s sister Jean would like to blame someone for her and her family’s tragic loss, no wife “causes” her husband’s suicide. It is very clear that Allen’s life had been unraveling. Better to blame his genes than his wife. Carol does not deserve this additional punishment.
-Karen M. Kaplan, Ambler, PA.

A Tale Of Tolerance
Although we will never know what motivated Allen Myerson to end his life, I was amazed at the vengefulness of his family toward his wife. Like Carol Myerson, I am a non-Jew married to a “nice Jewish boy.” Like his family, my husband’s were observant Jews. But they were also loving parents who recognized that their son’s happiness depended upon their supporting his decision to marry someone outside his faith. Because they welcomed me into their family, my husband was never forced to choose between his family of birth and his family of choice.  
-Suzanne Paul, Farmington, Mich.

Wallowing Heights
When I first learned that New York was reporting an article about the death of my colleague Allen Myerson, I was afraid you would produce a voyeuristic wallow in other people’s misery, one that offered neither solace nor edification. I was right.
-Jim Schachter, Deputy Business Editor, The New York Times, Manhattan

While it’s impossible for any article to answer every question, I think further explanation is in order on one point raised in your story about the death of my husband. You mention that I made a withdrawal from our joint checking account in late August. In fact, Allen and I each took similar amounts to fund our individual accounts. Allen had made a withdrawal only the day before.
-Carol Cropper Myerson

Taxing Time
Melinda Blau’s “Learning Curve” [June 9] was a disturbing confirmation of what our family is facing right now. My son has learning disabilities and is currently in elementary school, but we are well aware of the vast wasteland of middle-school prospects for him. If we deny these special kids the opportunity to receive a fair and appropriate education, then we are indeed leading them down the path toward drug abuse, violent crime, and suicide. We should be in the market to create taxpayers, not tax burdens.
-Lisa H. Setos, Los Angeles, Calif.

I am a parent of a young adult who attended both Churchill and Winston schools, two of those mentioned in your excellent “Learning Curve.” I would love to see another article on the paucity of colleges dedicated to the learning-disabled in the New York City vicinity. Like elementary and high schools, some colleges have services, but very few are comprehensive schools with full-service programs dedicated to the learning-disabled.
-Patricia A. Stevens, Manhattan

Proper Placement
Both learning-disabled teens and their parents are stressed beyond endurance by the effort to find an appropriate academic placement. Not only are schools like Winston Prep and Churchill “harder to get into than Harvard,” but our public schools are falling well short of the grade in meeting the needs of these teens. Without the guiding hands of advocates like Susan Luger, whom Ms. Blau interviewed, parents would need more than the myriad pills shown on your front cover to survive the hurdles of finding, and then being able to afford, a successful school experience for their children.
-Pat and Faye Gillespie, Port Washington, N.Y.

Letting Go
Having lost my brother to suicide, I felt compelled to read “Justice for Allen.” My brother was also involved with a woman my family did not particularly like. And while I miss my brother terribly, only he is to blame for his death; not the woman with whom he was involved. Jean and Merle Myerson should let go of their anger and stop blaming their sister-in-law. They should realize that their brother’s instability was his own. 
-Cynthia Nemo, Manhattan

Justice for Carol?
I just read “Justice for Allen” and think it should be retitled “Justice for Carol.” You can’t help but become enraged at the inhumane treatment given to his wife by a sister who couldn’t see a man who was seriously ill.
-Betty Kish, Haledon, N.J.

Trying Times
You say “Justice For Allen,” I ask why? Why was this article deemed important enough to occupy such a prominent place in the June 16th issue? Is it simply a spin-off of the bigger issue that clouds the New York Times management team at this time. The author certainly has an enjoyable style of writing; however, her subject matter leaves the reader questioning her motive. To the editors of New York, I ask why?
-Robert Unger, Douglaston, N.Y.

Those Left Behind
As the surviving sibling of a recent suicide victim with an unveiling scheduled within days, I was drawn to your article on the aftermath of the tragedy of Allen Myerson as a moth is to a flame. My own guest for a salve or even an explanation in similar circumstances, however, went unfulfilled. Indeed, the knee-jerk reaction of blaming the estranged spouse, of blaming the deceased’s family, was so simplistic as to cause me to wonder why you would waste several pages on such childishness in an issue otherwise devoted to healing. Suicide, combined with a formal or informal suicide note and/or a Last Will and Testament, is the ultimate “F— you!”—to spouses, to parents, to children and, in a very real sense, to everyone whose lives were touched by the suicide victim. Indeed, “suicide victim” is, of course, a misnomer. The pain of the deceased is over. The pain of those left behind, while often not beginning with the suicide, is far from over with the taking of the life. Instead of offering insight relative to a far too prevalent issue, you merely chronologized the destructive dealings of a dysfunctional family. I expected (and your readership deserved) so much more.
-Lawrence H. Bloom

Child’s Play
I’m confused…whose children are they anyway? Your article clearly states they are his children, but you go on about a pending paternity test. You state the wife agreed to a paternity test after the children were born, yet you state they were born in March. If you can’t get your facts straight about this, what else were you not certain about when you wrote this article?
-G. Alpert, Scarsdale

All in the Family
Allen Myerson was clearly mentally ill. The personality disorders of his father flowed genetically down to him and infected him and his siblings. He strove to escape that legacy, but, as early as his sophomore year in college, his inherent instability culminated in a full nervous breakdown. During a time of high stress for Allen, he once again had a mental health crisis. Fears about the implications of fatherhood overwhelmed him and he lost the capacity for rational thought. In her selfish desire to possessively reclaim her brother and drag him once again back into the family which was rightfully described by Allen’s therapist as “toxic,” Jean Myerson exacerbated the torment and ambivalence of her brother and was the primary driver of his suicide. The Myerson family looked upon Allen’s loyal wife of fifteen years as a predator who had stolen him from them. They did not accept that the natural way of things is that a son and brother will grow, and attach himself and his possessions to a mate. They did not recognize that Allen should be autonomous, and not continue to be embroiled and possessed by his immediate family. Jean Myerson believes that her brother should have served her as “the friend I always longed for.” Jean Myerson believes that the filth and disarray of Allen’s apartment, which so clearly evidenced the severity of his illness, was staged by his wife. Jean Myerson feels that she should have her brother’s meagre estate, even to repossessing the wedding ring. The personality disorders today displayed by Jean, i.e. Paranoiac imaginings, “chronic grievance,” and self-serving rage and denial, are what Allen Myerson was fearful of recreating within his own family. Jean Myerson should make up a new button, to read: “I Killed My Brother.”
-H. L. Fuchs, Rhinebeck, N.Y.

On the Mark
Lisa DePaulo’s article on the suicide of the New York Times business editor, Allen Myerson, is a richly textured story that demonstrates an in-depth, comprehensive analysis of a man who felt that death was the best choice. DePaulo’s interviewing of the man who had been the house master in Mr. Myerson’s college years only added to the reader’s ability to have a clearer understanding of Mr. Myerson’s long-standing emotional problems that the lay public was unable to assess. I hope that New York Magazine will use DePaulo’s writing as an example of what substantive writing at a magazine can be.
-Janice Michaelson

And Justice for All
Justice for Allen? How about justice for the taxpayers of New York who will have to pay for this non-case to wind its way through the courts. There are plenty of laws on the books addressing distribution of assets and indeed possession of the very body of a decedent. Is this decedent different just because he couldn’t function in his body in this world and chose to leave voluntarily? The fact that he didn’t even have “good” friends willing to stand up at his wedding because of religious differences and that he married a woman bearing a striking resemblance to one of his sisters should indicate latent troubles from long ago that do not belong in a courtroom now. 
-Nancy Abbate, North Haven, CT.

I often toss your magazine in irritation after reading articles about empty people seeking comfort in drugs or sex but the June 16th issue stopped me cold. The article about the Myerson family read like a 19th century psychiatry textbook or a novel about an “accursed” family with a horrible genetic taint. It was so sad. If I were advising Carol Myerson, I would tell her not to worry about what’s on Allen Myerson’s headstone. I would tell her to get as far away from her late husband’s psychotic sisters as possible, protect the twins from any contact with them, make a new life for herself and pray that the DNA from the Myersons doesn’t become a curse on her children.
-Karen Silver, Bronx

Times Overload?
Jason Blair (a crook, no more) AND the Myersons (giving dysfunctional families a bad name) in the SAME issue? Do you have a Times fetish?
-Arthur D. Aptowitz, Staten Island

Understanding Allen
Allen Myerson and I didn’t have much in common, but we once shared the same newspaper (the now-defunct Bethlehem, PA Globe-Times) as the venue for our first journalism jobs out of college. More than that, we also shared a two-bedroom apartment for several months in mid-1978. To be fair, I had no contact with Myerson after we both left the paper in 1981, but if my pretty good memory serves me right, his pompous, overbearing style wore thin very quickly—so much so that I soon asked him to find his own place. In fact, he became nearly impossible to live with after just a week or two. At the time, I had no idea how troubled he really was, so I wrote it off as him just being strange, extremely insecure and/or someone who needed serious help—despite his bravado-laden demeanor. After reading Lisa DePaulo’s story, I surely now understand his life better, and why my radar went up the way it did way back then. In the three months or so we shared that apartment, he never said word one about his family or his life before moving to Bethlehem. He did make it clear he wanted to work at the New York Times (I once overheard him make a solicitous phone call to the Times’ Education editor to personally compliment him/her on a special section). I also remember pegging Myerson, despite his obvious accomplishments (good writer/reporter, Harvard grad, marathon runner, musician) as a sad soul who seemed unable to connect to the people around him, much less eventually find a mate (in fact, I recall he had a hard enough time just getting a date back then). As the years went by, I noticed Myerson’s byline in the Times’ business section. My wife, who also worked at the paper in the 1970s, knew Myerson, albeit in a very superficial way. But I told often her his that career trajectory always brought to mind the lyrics from an Alan Parsons Project song, “I don’t care what you do, I wouldn’t want to be like you.” Sadly, now I know why I felt that way about Allen. I wish his wife the best in her battle with Myerson’s family.
-Tom Starner, Philadelphia, Pa.

Chilly Reception
Mass hypnosis is one explanation for the famous Hindu rope trick, which leaves spectators believing they have seen a rope rise on its own in the middle of the desert and a boy climb to the top and vanish in air. I would like to suggest this same explanation for Michael Tomasky’s description of Hillary Clinton (“Lightning Rodham,” June 16, 2003); except for the unlikely possibility of conscious dissembling, there can be no other. Like the fakir’s, the audience gathered for the Hillary show revels in their delusion [It’s what they came for!] and waits “hours so they and their daughters [their daughters!] can meet her, shake her hand.” But Mr. Tomasky proves to be any magician’s ideal subject. He fails to see that Hillary is “the opposite of Al Gore, who bled with every nick and scrape the chattering class administered,” because ice doesn’t bleed.
-Robert Cooke

Trading Up, Talking Down

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July 14, 2003