Why, again, did New Times gobble up the Village Voice chain? Oh, that’s right – to teach America how to publish hard-hitting, well-written, “butt-violating” investigate journalism, none of that soft alt-weekly bullshit …
But lo! As we turn our jaundiced eye to Phoenix New Times, the one that started it all, we spy a cover story on rich little girls who have really expensive birthday parties, and ooh, does it drive their moms crazy! It’s no doubt a trend, because the writer, Robrt L. Pela (what is it with these names?), uses the actual word “trend” nine times in the 4,258-word story … the 4,258-word story about little girls’ birthday parties.
Let’s take a closer look at the “nut” section of the story, wherein a well-schooled writer-editor team presents a thesis it is wholly unconfident in, but tries to pass off as "literary" and/or "important" anyway:
Poor Sarah. Poor Sarah's mom. Today, in their giant backyard, draped in 40 pounds of streamers and encircled by thousands of dollars worth of merriment1, neither is taking much pleasure in knowing that they're at the best birthday party in the great, big gated Paradise Valley community where they live. It seems unlikely that either would care at this point — as the merry-go-round starts up for the hundredth time and the pony takes an unexpected dump on Raggedy Andy's shoe2 — that they're merely the latest in a long line3 of mother-daughter duos who are feeding the current trend4 in over-the-top, over-produced kiddy birthday parties. Neither Sarah (because she's too young) nor her mom (because she's too, well, frazzled at the moment) has given any thought to how they've been feeding the multimillion-dollar industry5 that's sprung up around Sarah's desire for everything she sees on TV and, just maybe, Mom's inability to "connect intimately" with her daughter.6
It's no surprise7 that experts are horrified8 by this burgeoning business9 in ridiculously opulent birthday parties, this newish industry10 that's busting at the seams11 with more and more lavish ways12 to acknowledge the first day of Little Johnny's fourth year. It's a trend13 forwarded not just by maniacal moms with disposable incomes and no extra time, but by moms in every income bracket who feel guilty because their busy lives keep them away from their kids. It's a trend14 that the super-est Super Moms support, even though many of them would like to give a permanent time-out to the guy who invented the chains of "grown-up" (some say downright sleazy) party places they're hiring for the day, places that pour their tiny daughters into glittery cat suits and glop them with enough eyeliner and blush to choke a birthday clown.15
1. VVM math: Verbs like “draped” and “encircled” + big numbers = false urgency.
2. Sure, dear reader, this may be a story about rich little girls' birthday parties … but unnecessary references to horseshit seek to remind you that this is, in fact, an alt-weekly. Motherfucka!
3. Warning: Trend ahead!
4. What did we tell you? And it's even worse than we feared: This trend is being fed!
5. Get this trend on a diet! It’s been fed twice in the last two sentences.
6. Editor: “This is only an award-winning story if you can get to the psychology of the modern mother/daughter relationship.” Writer (thinking): “But that’s bullshit.” Solution: The phrase “just maybe.”
7. Well, at least not to this writer.
8. You can almost picture the shellshocked expression on the bearded face of the Arizona State sociology professor. Almost.
9. It’s the confident writer/editor team who must continually remind their reader(s) of just how burgeoning and overfed this trend is. It is practically bursting at the seams!
10. Okay, okay. It’s “burgeoning” but “newish.” Or, in Lame New Times Story Pitch Speak 101, "That'll fly!"
11. We swear to God: We wrote footnote 9 before getting to this part of the sentence. (It takes awhile). At least we used “practically bursting" at the seams.
12. Will this trend ever sit still?!?
13. We repeat: It's a trend.
14. At this point, you've gotta be some kind of twisted, cynical baby-eater to continue denying the existence of this trend. So just stop it, okay?
15. Sorry. Got carried away by the writing. Color us "hooked."