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Back to those leafy suburbs

An exchange on Facebook started by Pamela Blackburn Nelson, who operates the Triangle Grammar Guide blog for the News & Observer in Raleigh:

Pamela Blackburn Nelson thinks that she may live in a leafy suburb.

Eileen Heyes Is it a close-knit community?

Pamela Blackburn Nelsson it's certainly not an affluent enclave.

Eileen Heyes Does it have small houses with neatly kept yards?

Pamela Blackburn Nelson Yes, but no manicured lawns.

Eileen Heyes Wow. I'm out of cliches! Must be all these months of not copy editing.

Right, if it were an affluent enclave, there would be stately homes along the tree-lined streets. Instead, there are soccer moms driving their children to largely all-white schools and team sports in SUVs. The families, fleeing the crime-ridden streets of the inner city, moved there for the open spaces. But even some of those modest homes may be underwater — not from flooding, but from plummeting real estate values in a distressed economy, especially when the breadwinner is vulnerable to a reduction in force from his downsizing corporation.

Why pay for a newspaper when you could so easily just write this stuff yourself?

Posted by John McIntyre at 1:04 PM | | Comments (7)


Or write a computer program that will write it for you, and read it to you in a different voice every day.

I always interpret "close-knit community" to mean "no one here will talk to this reporter."

Don't forget about "tony" neighborhoods. Or on the opposite end, the "hardscrabble" neighborhoods or "the mean streets of (whatever city)."

But don't forget about the darker side no one's talking about, lurking beneath the surface.

I am very conscious that some of the poorest areas of Cleveland, and my leafy-but-far-from-prosperous suburb, have old trees and copious underbrush everywhere. It's rather pretty, but it says nothing about our affluence.

I've never been clear: is a "close knit community" one-step down from Gated or is it just red-necked?

Maybe it's just me, but when I read "close-knit community" I immediately think of "Deliverance." Cue the banjoes!

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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