Since I’ve highlighted in the past writing I admire, the kind of phrase, sentence, or paragraph that makes me wish I’d written it, it makes sense for me to highlight the opposite. It’s very rare that I come across something that makes me groan, since something like that is usually bad from start to finish and not worth mentioning. This article about highway repairs in New Orleans has a sentence that mars an otherwise good job of reporting. Consider:
I-10 is one of three coast-to-coast interstates that link the entire nation, stretching from Jacksonville to Los Angeles; the broken spans were an affront to the Jack Kerouac sensibility of a vast nation united by its long ribbons of concrete.
I’ll concede that “long ribbons of concrete” is an interesting phrase. But does the nation as a whole possess the “Jack Kerouac sensibility” regarding its roads? We like our cars, but really, has all traffic west stopped because a bridge is out? There has to be a better way to buttress “long ribbons of concrete” with a phrase as interesting. There has to be.