Terrible Prose, Immortalized in Bronze


The town of Yountville, CA, is located halfway up (or down) Napa Valley. It’s home to some of the best restaurants anywhere, and, judging by the proliferation of bronze plaques on the main drag, it’s also got an especially active historical society. One thing they might want to look into, though, is making friends with someone who can actually write.

Check this out:

What you’re looking at is the prose equivalent of the awful, awful 1997 movie, Batman and Robin, which (among its many other faults) attempted to deal with way too many plots and characters in a single narrative. This plaque is similarly over-ambitious.

Or perhaps I’m reading it wrong. Upon looking it over again — it’s kind of hypnotic — it strikes me as proto-hypertextual. The weird use of parentheses, the misplaced colon, and the bizarre irrelevance of who was president at the time seem to point to a desire to squeeze in lots of peripheral information all at once. What this plaque really wants to do is link to other plaques. Perhaps, for such purposes, bronze is not the best medium.

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