First, Stephen Colbert runs for president. Now, I have renamed my neighborhood through the complicity of the New York Times. Has punditry run amok in this country, blurring the lines between snark and serious discourse? Huzzah!
In this morning's Times City Section, a full-page story tells the tales of how many Victorian Flatbush enclaves yearn for landmark status to avoid being pillaged by developers and scarred by teardowns and high-rises. The CrazyStable's little sliver of Flatbush, Caton Park, is given a respectful and fairly accurate accounting:
Caton Park, which sits just south of the Parade Grounds athletic fields, is one of Victorian Flatbush’s smaller micro-neighborhoods, with about 50 Victorian homes on a handful of blocks. Its diminutive size means that each house remodeled (or, as many in Victorian Flatbush like to say, “re-muddled”) represents a blow to the neighborhood’s prospects for preservation.
The reporter, Evan Lerner, gets it slightly askew when he says thatWilliam Styron "lived in one of the many large homes that were subsequently converted into boardinghouses" (Styron lived on the corner in a home that had already been converted to a boardinghouse), but I quibble. Here is the gem:
Some residents worry that too many homes have already been torn down or remodeled beyond recognition. The neighborhood also has the disadvantage of being the product of a number of different designers, unlike some of the areas to the south. But these drawbacks have not stopped the community’s more preservation-minded residents from seeking to keep intact the area they call NoProPaSo (North of Prospect Park South).
Gack! There is just one problem here: Absolutely nobody on earth calls Caton Park NoProPaSo except...me. As a joke in the blogosphere. A joke I shared, with broad eye-rolling irony, with a New York Times reporter.
[Which japery, incredibly, has been documented in stalker-like linguistic detail by one Barry Popik, an expert on "Americanisms" and a contributer to the Oxford English Dictionary; Barry's article correctly points out, “"NoProPaSo'—sounding somewhat Spanish, like the Texas town of “El Paso”—had very limited use before the New York Times article. "]
Very limited use indeed, consisting of my inane posts to Brownstoner and, um, here. Mr. Lerner interviewed me and a few other Caton Park neighbors for the story, although none of us are quoted by name; he took notes rather than use a tape recorder. Perhaps he jotted down "NoProPaSo" and neglected to add a smiley face. Perhaps this is payback for my having continually referred to him in our e-mail exchanges as "Columbia J-School Young'un" (itself a fond, if labored, running gag from a Times columnist when preparing to share advice with neophyte reporters). Or maybe this just continues my strange history as a Quote Magnet for the Times (including, once, Sunday page one above the fold, first graf). Even when they leave my name off, they jes' cain't quit me.
Well, let's throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. NoProPaSo, to the barricades!