Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Worst Lede Of The Day. Literally.

Today's winner comes from Glenn Collins, who offers up that tried-and-true favorite of lazy journalists everywhere. Collins begins his story about the Green-Wood Cemetery's collection of art by those buried there with this deadly device:

It is the city’s most monumental art collection. Literally.

For the last four years, Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, the 170-year-old resting place of entombed luminaries from Boss Tweed to Leonard Bernstein and the original Brooks brothers, has been acquiring paintings created by the artists — both legendary and obscure — who have taken up permanent residence.

“It’s one thing to stand at the grave site,” said Richard J. Moylan, the president of Green-Wood. “But seeing the works of art these people created in their lifetimes gives them a kind of immortality.”

The collection began with a small oil by Louis M. Eilshemius, a visionary painter of cavorting nymphs, and has grown to 70 works by the likes of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Eastman Johnson, William Merritt Chase, George Wesley Bellows, George Catlin, Daniel Huntington, John George Brown, Philip Evergood, Vestie Davis, Bruce Crane, John La Farge, the printmakers Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives, and William Holbrook Beard, famed for his satiric paintings of animals engaged in human activities, including his influential 1879 depiction of Wall Street bulls and bears (which is on view at the New-York Historical Society).

We could go into a long explanation of why writers shouldn't use the word "literally" in any circumstance, why writers shouldn't use long lists of little-known artists in the third paragraph, and why writers shouldn't describe people who are buried at a cemetery as having "taken up permanent residence."

But then that would mean you having to stuff yourself with two incredibly dull pieces in one day. And really, Collins's story is a dull enough meal in itself.


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