To claim that lavish, glamorous homes are representative of a trend in America is elitist. These places are toys for the rich.
The modern home, growing in size in proportion to one's SUV, filled with technology for those too lazy even to open their window blinds and flooded with the mind-numbing drivel of billboard-size televisions, seems more a reflection of the external world's chaos than an escape from it [LIFESTYLE, Oct. 14]. Sadly, as you noted, this new American home is not about "family cohesion" but about "accommodating different lifestyles." It may not be the American Dream, but I like my cozy walls, miniature television and blinds that I actually walk across the room to adjust.
Everything in your article was so true! Since Sept. 11, people everywhere seem to be cocooning and decorating orredecorating. Custom kitchens and media-entertainment rooms are encouraging family togetherness, while tony bedrooms pamper all. At my carpet business, I see customers opting for the more opulent shags of years past. Everyone is indulging in comfort. Instead of taking extravagant vacations, it's all about being cozy at home.
These new homes look beautiful, but I couldn't spot a single bookcase. I hope books will still be in vogue in the future. Reading on the Internet is convenient, but nothing beats having a book in hand.
Castro Valley, Calif.
Although I found the homes in your article interesting, you may keep them. We are a family of five living in a five-room, 200-year-old log home and running a small dairy farm. We have one small television that my husband and I watch the news on, in bed, at night. Our children share one bedroom, and the entire family uses one closet. But we eat, work and play together. You will never see us sitting around a big, fancy room staring at a huge screen, oblivious to the fact that we are a family. By some standards we may look pathetic. But that is how the houses in your story looked to us.
I feel bad for the kids who grow up in luxurious homes like the ones in your story. Good luck to them as they adjust to sharing a bathroom with a bunch of people in a college dorm. As for parents who feel that they need a buffer zone from their children, maybe they shouldn't have kids in the first place. Americans ought to stop keeping up with the Joneses and instead own a modest home, live a debt-free lifestyle and get a dog. That's the plan my husband and I have.
Those of us in the middle and lower-middle class do not have chef's kitchens, master suites, home theaters or bathroom spas. We less privileged Americans are lucky if we can afford a 1,000-sq.-ft. apartment, let alone a 2,000-sq.-ft. "starter home." And we cannot afford $100,000 renovations done by contractors. Get real!
MARGARET E. LANGSTON
New York City
Americans now want their homes to be supersize. Are their choices being influenced by the fast-food industry? Perhaps it's time to downsize before we collapse under the weight of monster master bedrooms and huge mortgages.
--Are the new dream homes nothing more than ugly symbols of capitalist excess? Some of our readers thought so. "Your cover story left me sickened and ashamed," wrote an Idaho woman. "While we are happily consuming everything we can, we might reflect on why the millions of people without shelter, food or even safe water might see Americans as their enemy." A reader from Washington State condemned the story as "a sad commentary on the American way of life. The rooms and furnishings in these houses would adequately serve a small village in many parts of the world." And a Californian declared, "Your story perpetuated the stereotype of the ugly, rich, dissatisfied American that has caused al-Qaeda and other militant groups to hate us."
Protecting Women's Health
"Jesus and the FDA" [NOTEBOOK, oct. 14] reported that the Bush Administration wants to appoint W. David Hager, a doctor with antiabortion views, to a Food and Drug Administration panel on women's health policy. You've got to be kidding! That a man who doesn't support women's reproductive rights may be in a position to make important decisions about their health care is truly horrifying. Bush's naked pandering to the far-right wing of his party is beyond contempt.
KATHY FRYER HELMBOCK
I am a committed christian woman, and was deeply alarmed by the influence conservatives have used to threaten women's health rights through the pending appointment of Hager to chair an influential FDA panel. Why hasn't a woman been appointed to chair this key group dealing with women's health? Surely there are qualified women available.
JANE FISLER HOFFMAN