Sunday, July 27, 2014

Frozen in time in a vast portfolio


I daresay I've been on a bit of a warpath the last few days. A bit of a warpath, heck, stick a few feathers in my hair, if I had any hair to stick them in, go to Home Depot and get a pint of Glidden eggshell white and slather some streaks along the sides of my face and I'd probably be shouting for the Washington Redskins to change their name to something less racist, like the Washington Tea Partiers, oh, wait, it doesn't get more racist than that, now, does it?

Or just the other day, when I was getting gas for my car in New Jersey, granted, the place was one of the lower priced gas stations in the area, it only had four pumps and was a little crowded so I had to angle my car in a little, and while the attendant was filling my tank a woman of at least forty in a white SUV squeezed past my car, stuck her head out the window and said "Really Grandpa" because she didn't like the way my vehicle was almost blocking hers. Luckily for her her vehicle was out of the station by the time I realized it was me she was addressing. If that had been Connecticut or Texas and not New Jersey, I could have had an AK-47 in my glove compartment.

And then today, I figured I'd check out my friend Victor's blog, which I hadn't seen in a few days. Victor started a blog that is slightly critical -- mind you, slightly is a bit of an understatement -- of the newspaper that fired him a few years back. In his blog he sometimes goes out of his way -- like that woman should have gone out of her way to avoid calling me Grandpa -- to expose the paper's flaws. I don't agree with everything he criticizes -- the Israeli-Hamas war, for instance, does belong on the front page and not on the "nation/world" page way the heck inside the "A" section.

But today, I daresay, he didn't nearly go far enough in his criticism. He posted the lead to a story and made some negative comments about the story, which I didn't read, nor will I, because I don't subscribe to the paper and rarely visit its web site. But this was the lead:

"For years, the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan has seemed frozen in time, a forgotten giant in the agency's vast portfolio of transportation facilities" (A-1).

Some people will think this is a good lead. It wouldn't surprise me if the reporter got a bunch of pats on the back. But an editor should learn to trust his gut, and my gut was seeing all sorts of red flags, how's that for a mangled metaphor. Frozen in time? The Port Authority bus terminal has morphed dramatically over the past two decades, with fancy eateries sprouting up inside and around it, hell, five years ago you didn't have to spend two dollars for an eight ounce bottle of water if you were dying of thirst while waiting for the bus to Hoboken. Okay, so there's an occasional homeless person late at night. And forgotten giant, vast portfolio, hell, Donald Trump may have a vast portfolio but what the heck is a "vast portfolio of transportation facilities"? Actually the Port Authority is probably the flagship of the Port Authority's portfolio..

Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure what it is that pisses me off about this lead. Maybe it's the first two words, "For years." The reporter says "For years" like he's been there more than a dozen times. Now if a commuter who passes through it every day for umpteen years said to the reporter, "For years, this place has seemed frozen in time..." that would have been way better. Maybe the reporter has been to the bus terminal a lot. Maybe it's just the flowery exposition here that gets under my skin.

Like I said, I didn't read the rest of the story nor will I. So if you're the reporter who wrote it, I hope you got a lot of compliments and a raise. As for me, your lead was just the icing on the upside down cake of my week.