Dirty words

Recently, a Michigan college released its annual list of words and phrases that should be permanently banned from the American language because they are utterly “overused,” “misused” and “useless.”

Among Lake Superior State University’s 2009 losers: tweet, shovel-ready, sexting, unfriend, czar, chillaxin’ and “in these economic times.”

I’m down with the entire list; moreover, it got me to think about Sacramento-centric words and phrases I’d like to see permanently banished from our commonly shared vernacular.

Here, at the edge of a new decade, Sacramento is a city in the midst of a big and exciting, if occasionally painful, growth spurt. What better time, then, to shake up our collective lexis and take stock of the verbal tics that are way beyond their expiration dates? Following are the ones that get my vote:

World-class city: This phrase has long been used to describe, rather woefully, what Sacramento could be; it’s even part of the city’s official mission statement. From the city of Sacramento Web site: “Sacramento will be a world-class city where people and business choose to live, learn, work and play.” WTF? It says nothing and means even less. OK, not quite—it says that, here in California’s capital, we believe this town would command respect and interest if only we had (take your pick) more skyscrapers, a new arena, another major-league team, better shops and restaurants, et al. Perhaps, but such a sentiment comes laced with a whiff of desperation and does little more than to undersell Sacramento’s inherent charms and qualities.

Lofts: With but a few exceptions, all those new Midtown/downtown living spaces that realtors label as lofts are just condos with a fancier, more urban-sounding name. Really. Throw in some swinging, wacky neighbors and it’s the 1970s all over again.

Rebuilding: It feels as though we’ve been hearing this term for an eternity now—or at least ever since the unraveling of the Sacramento Kings Dream Team (Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Jackson, etc.) meant that we were, at best, several seasons away from a championship ring. The Kings won’t win the title this year, and it’s likely they won’t make it to the playoffs, either. But here’s the deal: The rebuilding is done, the team’s been remade, remodeled and reconstructed. Sure, there are a few parts that still need to be tweaked, polished and possibly replaced, but they play hard, they’re fun to watch and they’ve already won more games than anyone predicted for the entire season. The Paul Westphal-coached, Tyreke Evans-fueled team that you see now is the real deal.

It’s close to everything else: The Sacramento International Airport is currently running a TV spot that touts Sactown as the “gateway to Northern California.” Wow, way to sell this town. Sure, we’re close to all things snow-related, wine country, mountains and ocean, but if you’re going to make an ad that focuses on how Sacramento is “located within a short drive” from everything fun and doesn’t depict a single recognizable local landmark, then your campaign is an embarrassing, shameful failure.

The Big Tomato, Sacratomato, Sackatomato, et al.: Enough said.