February 27, 2005

I Am The Lede and The Kicker

POST #    1591

So for the second time, I'm in The New York Times. Crazy, I know. I never imagined being in The Times once, let alone twice. The first time was about that whole middle finger crosswalk thing, this time, it's about that potential NYC slogan, "The World's Second Home." I expressed my disdain over the slogan over at Gothamist and was contacted about it earlier this week.

The creepiest thing about the article was the constant "Mr. Mao" references. Damn style guides. And I have no idea what this quote means, "I guess they're pretty strong words, but it is pretty bad."

For those without a NYTimes.com membership, the full article is in the extended entry.

- NY Times: "Who You Callin' Second?"
- Gothamist: "NYC: Brought to You by the Number Two"

Posted by tien mao in NYC at 10:48 AM



February 27, 2005

Who You Callin' Second?

TIEN MAO, 26, grew up in Manhattan and lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. In short, New York is his home - his first and only home. Which may explain the distaste that Mr. Mao feels for "The World's Second Home," the phrase that could wind up as the city's slogan, if U.S. Patent No. 78484751 is approved and the political stars align.

"Could this possibly be the worst slogan of all time?" Mr. Mao wondered on the Web site Gothamist, of which he is editor-at-large.

"I guess they're pretty strong words," he conceded later by telephone, "but it is pretty bad."

Mr. Mao is part of a small but opinionated contingent of New Yorkers who disdain the slogan, which the city is seeking to trademark for possible use in the future, possibly in connection with the city's Olympics bid. As long ago as 1996, Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff used the phrase in his capacity as the city's chief Olympics booster. But by seeming to question the city's primacy, it rubs people like Mr. Mao the wrong way.

"Don't you think the city could have come up with something better?" he said. "No. 2? The city should be No. 1, you know?"

Barry Popik, who researches New York words and phrases on his Web site, barrypopik.com, is of similar mind. "Especially if you live here," he said, "it's kind of insulting. This is not your second home."

Mr. Popik, who made a name for himself researching the non-trademarked, public-domain nickname "The Big Apple," sensed another injustice. "They're probably spending thousands of dollars on 'The World's Second Home,' " he said. "They have attorneys, they have publicity people, they have someone in the mayor's office explaining what 'The World's Second Home' means. They did none of that for 'The Big Apple.' "

That venerable phrase, which according Mr. Popik's research was popularized in the 1920's, does have a street corner named for it, at West 54th Street and Broadway, where John J. Fitz Gerald, the sportswriter who popularized it, once lived.

Several out-of-towners walking by that corner one afternoon last week described themselves as less than enchanted with the potential new slogan, although not for the reason Mr. Mao and Mr. Popik cited. In their view, it seemed presumptuous.

"It's a bit cheesy," said Doug McWilliam, a visitor from England who was photographing the "Big Apple Corner" sign. "It's kind of like blowing your own trumpet."

That really is a terrible slogan. I mean, that slogun instantly forces NYC to take a backseat to every other city in the world.

New York? Second home. Sandusky, Ohio? Number one, baby. That's weak.

Posted by: Maine at February 28, 2005 12:11 PM

Tien, did you know that three different mentions in the New York Times articles is supposed to guarantee one a coveted N.Y. Times obituary. At the appropriate time, of course. I don't know if that's some kind of folklore or not. But, if it's true, you're two-thirds there, baby! Not that you should be thinking of such things, mind you.

Posted by: Marie at February 28, 2005 3:41 PM

marie, that's quite an interesting piece of info. my obit would probably be as short as all these "articles"...

Posted by: tien [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2005 7:21 PM

Lucky!! About the whole Mr. Mao thing, I thought AP style guidlines state to only use the last name with no title on second references. I don't see anyone referred to as Mr. or Mrs. in most newspaper articles. I guess the NYTimes uses different guidelines.

Posted by: CJ at March 1, 2005 3:06 PM

tien is my most famousest friend

Posted by: janelle at March 1, 2005 7:00 PM

in the sports section they can get away with just your last name. (no mr. jeter, only jeter) so in sports you would just be mao. which might actually be more confusing.

Posted by: fredeeky at March 2, 2005 5:19 PM

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