Tuesday, September 27, 2011

And your point is ... ?

A reader writes to ask, basically (and quite understandably), wtf?

Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco. Sungmin Jang left his name, his culture and his career in South Korea to bet his future on the United States of America, but he's not complaining.

The reader's a Philadelphian living in San Francisco, and thus particularly baffled by the reference, but I can share the concern. When a gun comes on stage in the first act, you expect it to go off by the fifth, and when a pop-culture cliche gets you into the lede, you rather expect it to be artfully woven back in by the conclusion.

This one doesn't. There's nothing else in the column to indicate why the particular act of leaving some specific heart in San Francisco, out of all those leavings immortalized in popular song*, was an appropriate setup for this column. Ideally, some kind editor would have reminded the columnist that his lede would have been just as good without the, you know, lede-y parts, and all would have been well.

We get the impression, though, that this columnist doesn't get edited very hard:

For Asians, qualifying for citizenship is especially difficult. In addition to a new language and customs, they must learn a new alphabet.

Yep. No funny-looking alphabets in Europe or Africa!

Most of us -- let's just go ahead and make that "all of us" -- write better when we have someone reading behind us. Not just to catch those pesky typos and the inevitable syntactic flub, but to ask, every now and then: What the hell is that supposed to mean?

* Hard to believe J.D. Crowe was that young, isn't it?

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