Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Yes, it’s nitpicking. But when the word “town” represents exactly 4 percent of the words used in the whole damn article, perhaps it’s worthy of a mention. In a Saratogian report about the small lakeside settlement of Saratoga feeling out options for a new municipal hall, the writer chose to use the word “town” 14 times throughout the brief account.

One would think the copy desk would have at least trimmed down the three usages in the lead alone. Then again, when the Saratogian Web site routinely posts their obituaries as their top news story, it’s pretty difficult to criticize them for something that at the worst, is a distracting read.

Interestingly enough, townies and outside folk alike often refer to the city proper as Saratoga, drawing occasional rebuke by intellectuals and word snobs about the proper terminology for each geographic location. Hence, some news reporters find it necessary to make an often redundant distinction between the town and city. Were a once-mulled plan to rename Schuylerville ever brought to fruition, the waters of identity certainly would have been muddied.

On a side note, there was some news in the obituaries. Rest in peace Ellsworth Jones, the former city mayor some credit with initiating the modern rebirth of Saratoga Springs. And the word town wasn’t used even once in the article.

Perhaps a more riveting thought is why the small community of Saratoga needs to build new offices, just a scant four decades after dumping cash into their present locale. While 40 years might sound like a long time, consider how long the City Hall in Saratoga Springs has stood overlooking Broadway.

Saratoga officials say the new hall will have an eye-popping $4 million price tag and will boast nearly three times the space as the present location, which happens to be sinking into the ground, according to the supervisor. Moving into an exsisting building, such as the old Schuylerville High School is "off the table" because there's no longer any space available.

So let's get this straight for the record. Sink millions of dollars into a new slip-shod building to increase the size of the government and have a useless piece of property featuring a rotting relic from the 60s. Horatio Gates is rolling in his grave.


Anonymous Dan said...

At first I thought you were being unfair, but after reading that I saw a few opportunities to eliminate the word "town", or use an alternative word like "municipality" or "community". They also could have used the word "building" once or twice instead of repeatedly using the term "town hall". It's just a constant thing with that publication - as I asked recently on my site - Do they have any pride as a newspaper?

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to follow up on Dan's comments about pride. Pride is a very powerful motivator... Pride is the reason that I commented on Dan's post - it is not that I am an "intellectuals and word snobs about the proper terminology for each geographic location" it is that I have a pride in place - a pride about the Town of Saratoga and I take objection to my community being short changed when people use our name to talk about our neighboring city, Saratoga Springs. Why does the local weather newscast or NYDOT signs call it Saratoga (when they mean Saratoga Springs) but they will never shorten Hudson Falls to just Hudson, Clifton Park to just Clifton or Sand Lake to just Sand. So why shorten Saratoga Springs to Saratoga? This takes away in my opinion from my community - Saratoga and I object to that. Because I have pride in my community.

I believe that pride is the reason that Schuylerville did not change their name. The residents are proud of Schuylerville and they do not change.

Pride is the reason that I highly doubt that we will see various villages disappear - no matter how high the taxes get and how many taxing jurisdictions - people have pride in their community and will want to keep the villages.

We just need to look back almost 100 years to see up evil that happened when schools were centralized.

Please understand that my comments on Dan's post were not because I am an "intellectuals and word snobs about the proper terminology for each geographic location", it is that I am proud of my community.

Please also understand that appreciated Dan's comments in reply... Dan has pride of his community also and in his posts. I hope my post will explain what I value as Dan's post explain what he values. We do not build ourselves up by taking down the other.

Now Horatio - we are also seeing what you value... Pride is a very powerful motivator aka Horatio Alger ... however one needs to question how that pride intersects with your interest in a certain Lake Avenue publishing company? I am sure in the New Year we will learn more.

I leave you with the thoughts of a fictional Horatio - Hornblower, RN - "Flogging only makes a bad man worse, Mr. Gerard... but it can break a good man's spirit. Is Hummill a bad man?"

Have a Happy New Year,


8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard to have pride in the product when you're barely being paid anything and you're constantly having to make "improvements" passed down from New Jersey.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Alas, I believe you’re incorrectly taking this statement as chiding, when it’s merely meant to point out the obvious: people outside of Schuylerville and Saratoga --the town that is --do not and probably never will equate the smaller of the municipalities with its true name. Yet, there is an adherence among some to really drive home the differences between Saratoga and it’s neighboring city, even though the city itself was once part of the town and is what seems power the economy of the county as a whole.

To some extent, I do agree that small communities need to maintain their identities. And a good way to do that is by invoking a sort of pride in one’s town, village, hamlet or otherwise. But to pin the heritage of an entire community on a simple jumbling of letters is a bit short sighted in my opinion. After all, it’s doubtful Schuylerville --or the town of Saratoga for that matter --would undergo a mass population exodus were it for a simple name change.

“Tis but thy name that is my enemy,” said Shakespeare’s Juliet to her beau, Romeo in Act II of the aptly named play. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

In fact, pride can be a blinding force that prevents people from seeing the greater good in certain cases. While I’ll refrain from weighing in on the centralization of school districts, it does seem there’s a certain level of governmental redundancy thanks to proud people and their adherence to maintaining local solidarity.

And to uncharacteristically climb the pulpit for a moment, there is also a well-known book of sorts that speaks volumes about pride and the ill effects thereof.

“When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom,” as stated in Proverbs, of the King James Version of the Bible.

In the Revised Standard Version, “the lowly” is changed to “the humble” and thus modernizing the passage a bit. The point is this: pride can be blinding, while humility can lead to enlightenment. So while pride in contemporary society is now generally championed as a positive attribute for a person or a people to possess --have pride in your school or your country --biblically speaking, it’s kind of a no-no.

But having traveled internationally, I will share a bit of your frustration toward name confusion by sharing a past recollection. On board a midnight train bound for Madrid and having recently suffered a rather humbling beat-down at the hands of some Portuguese ruffians, I staggered into crowded dinning car for a smoke and libation. While there, I befriended a Spanish adolescent, who took great interest in hearing about my corner of New York.

As I was explaining the place of Saratoga Springs amid the vast geography of this state, an ignorant Aussie bulled into our conversation, loudly pointing out the various grottos he’d visited while stumbling through Manhattan. He went on to ask, or rather demand, if I knew the areas he spoke. Despite my insistence that I didn’t live or care to live anywhere near the Big Apple --and ignoring the fact that New York City is an incomprehensibly large place --the Aussie became belligerent.

Even when I showed the bloke my driver’s license, he still couldn’t conceive there was a place outside the city of lights and that I might live in it. The whole scene boiled down to an ugly affair of shoving and yelling, which sent me packing with my beer and a nasty urge to gut an Australian with a machete in the name of pride.

Cheers, and Happy New Year!


10:53 AM  
Anonymous Bill Ack. said...

Give a small newspaper a break. It's fine to blast The Saratogian when it makes a mistake, but it's unfair to expect lyric poetry from underpaid reporters facing pressure to crank out several stories a day. And the "copy desk" probably doesn't consist of more than two or three editors on any given night, each of them with layout responsibilities. Granted, if you see inelegant repetitions in a publication with greater resources (e.g., the TU or Gazette, or certainly one of the major metro papers), you're quite entitled to criticize.

Just a gripe from a former editor at some small newspapers, including The Saratogian.

4:31 PM  

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