Spurn a phrase

Chances are that you’re not far from Facebook right now. So Bites suggests you find the page “Ban The Phrase ‘World-Class City’ in Sacramento” and immediately click “Like.”

The page administrators explain: “The phrase itself is just meaningless chin-music. … It’s the same sort of marketing-ese that tries to convince the weak-willed that buying a sport-utility vehicle will make them into an outdoorsman, or buying certain brands of beer will make bikini-clad women fall from the sky.”

They also note the phrase is usually employed by some joker looking for “entitlements or subsidies.” Mermaid bars and basketball arenas come to mind.

No Sacramentan is a worse abuser of this sort of marketing-ese in general—and of the forbidden phrase in particular—than world-class Mayor Kevin Johnson. And he’s got the sport-utility vehicle to prove it.

So what’s the opposite of world-class? Well, Bites is afraid that Cal Expo is headed that way. The Cal Expo board of directors just announced a new contract with CBS Outdoor to erect a new, even larger, even more awful digital billboard to replace the glaring eyesore that’s there now.

The new technology is called Mega Vision. And according to news reports, the megablighter will bring in $5 million, money Cal Expo could certainly use to catch up on some deferred maintenance. Of course, that’ll be coming in over 20 years, and chances are Cal Expo will be completely sold off and privatized by then.

The most head-scratching part about the deal is that—according to a statement from Cal Expo’s PR folks—the new megabillboards show the board is “taking the first steps to modernize the property.”

Really? This is just part one of a thoughtful and coherent plan for a world-class fairground? More honest to say, “Mega Vision is mega ugly and probably mega dangerous, but it will give us a quick shot of cash, and that’s really the best we can come up with right now.”

Speaking of intrusive electronic eyesores—time for an update on Sacramento’s surveillance city. The Sacramento City Council just picked a vendor for three brand-new surveillance trailers—each completely mobile and bristling with spy cameras. Look for them in your neighborhood soon! When and where these trailers will be deployed is still strictly need-to-know. But we know they’ll cost $265,000, with the funds coming from a federal slush fund set aside for new police toys. Sorry, Bites meant “Homeland Security funds.”

In related news: Most of us didn’t realize that December 15 was Bill of Rights Day, and according to some group most of us have never heard of called the Bill of Rights Institute, a whopping 42 percent of Americans believe that the phrase “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” comes from one of America’s founding documents.

In fact, the majority of those thought the phrase found somewhere in the Bill of Rights—the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“To each …” is of course a communist slogan, popularized by Karl Marx in the 1870s. Bites’ response to this shocking poll result is just this: Oh good, our plan is working. War is peace. Ignorance is strength. See y’all at down at the neighborhood mermaid bar for some Victory Mojitos.