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Our fair city

A new colleague, Erik Maza, has recently taken over the nightlife beat from Sam Sessa and the Midnight Sun blog. Mind you, he goes to places where I would be as awkward as a bishop in a brothel and listens to music that would make Wozzeck sound sentimentally tuneful,* but withal, he has demonstrated that he can turn a phrase.

He comes to Baltimore from Miami, and in an introductory article in today’s print edition he compares the two cities:

If Miami is the lady with the plunging neckline and the boring patter, Baltimore is the blowsy broad with a million stories.

I put it to you, that you could do the same thing. Compare your previous city to Baltimore in the comments below, or, if you’re an auslander, your current city to Baltimore. You are permitted to exploit gender stereotypes, male or female, as freely as Mr. Maza did.


*I’ll be working Wednesday evening and thus, fortunately, not able to hear Slayer, Megadeth,and Anthrax at 1st Mariner Arena.



Posted by John McIntyre at 11:59 PM | | Comments (24)


Actually Wozzeck can be fairly tuneful, as compared with much music of its time. And it's a much more compelling story than, say, "Cats."

Osaka is the gangsters moll with no taste and worse manners who will happily swindle your money if you have any, or give you some if you don't.

If Baltimore is a blowsy broad with a million stories then San Francisco, where I came from, is a beautiful Bruce with a proud picket sign.

If Miami is the lady with the plunging neckline and the boring patter, Baltimore is the blowsy broad with a million stories.

Very Mickey Spillane.

Not to change the subject, but in paragraph six of the piece you link to, Maza writes, "The party might have happened at a warehouse, but it would have been thrown by a vodka company and the performers would have been hocking their new album." Assuming, of course, Miami parties aren't peopled by pawnbrokers, shouldn't the last phrase have been "...hawking their new album"?

And in keeping with the challenge: Baltimore was like an aging debutante given to melancholy reflections on her glittery past, whereas Toronto seemed like a reformed prude who had just come into money and discovered just how exciting the world could be.

Some albums, indeed, sound as if they had been hocked before they were hawked. But hang on, and you may be able to hock them again when they are great and valuable rarities.

Oh yes: New York is The City. Everywhere else is just another one-horse cow town out in the alfalfa belt.

If Baltimore is the guy at the bar with a great story about how he lost his little finger, Albany, NY is a dairy farmer who thinks he's sophisticated because he owns a necktie and is taking classes to be a notary public.

if Philadelphia was the blue-collar union member yelling slurs at the visiting NFL team, San Francisco is the uppity vegan taking you aside at Whole Foods to explain why your choice of oat bran crackers is supporting the packaged food industrial complex.

If Ball'mer is the blowsy broad with a million stories, then Louisville is the floral-chapeau'd debutante wearing a julep on her dress, while blowing daddy's money on a Derby longshot at Churchill Downs....

If Ball'mer is the blowsy broad with a million stories, then Louisville is the floral-chapeau'd debutante, escorted by a drunken frat boy of questionable family provenance but enormous means, wearing a julep on her dress, and blowing daddy's money on a Derby longshot at Churchill Downs....

If Balltimore is the blowsy broad with a million stories, then DC is the button-ed up brunette quietly sipping a chardonnay and keeping a million secrets.

If my birthplace Los Angeles is the sprawling mess of freeways choked with fast cars flying past palm trees, Baltimore is where every turn brings you closer to home, Hon.

I never was a good California gurrl.

If Baltimore is the blowsy broad with a million stories, Saracuse (yes, folks, that's the local pronunciation of Syracuse) is the laid-off factory worker who's too busy grousing about how her job moved to China to pick up the 5-cent deposit beer can she just flung on the curb.

The only time I've heard it pronounced "Saracuse" is by newcomers, never natives. And enough, please, of the New York City arrogance. No wonder most of the country detests New Yorkers.

Dunno about that, Pat. I've heard "Saracuse" from TV reporters and locals alike. We may need to do a bit of field anthropology in some East Saracuse bars to settle the question.

Local television stations tend to hire from outside the area. I would think the first thing they'd teach them is how to pronounce the name of the city in which they now live, but the error is everywhere. (Along with bad hair and unprofessional wardrobe.)

Asheville is the organic gardening, Prius Driving yoga teacher who uses passive aggressive comments to make sure you know how much better she is than you.

dont encourage this horrible, lazy writer.

Obviously, Anonymous, we differ on Mr. Maza's worth as a writer.

And, to gain respect for your opinions, it's best to put your name to them.

If Miami is the lady with the plunging neckline and the boring patter, Baltimore is the impoverished, aggressive crackhead who flashes her vagina...on your way to the bar.

Patricia the Humorless: It's a joke (and a quotation from H.L. Mencken, except for "cow town" read "tank town").

Great metaphor and I would also encourage more but unfortunately this is the internet and the already rampant stereotyping has just been encouraged.
Most of these posts are crass, obnoxious or pedantic.

@A. Marie: Being from Syracuse, North Syracuse and (hangs head in shame) Mattydale to be more precise, I can state with certitude that no one I knew pronounced the name of the city the way you say it is pronounced. As for your suggested venture to East Syracuse, I wonder if you are suggesting a field trip to the Tip-a-Few, if indeed it is still there.

My father's side of the family was/is from Rochester, and they always put the stress on the last syllable, and ending with the voiceless obstruent rather than the voiced (seer-a-CUSE rather than SEER-a-cuze), which always nonplussed me.

I am sure several others, including the owner of this blog, have their own observations on pronouncing the name of the Salt City.

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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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