2008.05.07 They're just like us in 43533

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I finished up with addressing and labeling the papers last Tuesday night and walked home. It wasn’t too long before a friend called and asked, “Aren’t you worried about getting some angry phone calls from Lyons people?”

I told her I wasn’t concerned. Surely they would see the silliness of the Claritas category system.

Surely I was wrong.

Thursday morning I received a call from a furious Lyons resident who chewed me out for several minutes. At one point he said something like, “What kind of idiot would write this?”

“You’re talking to him,” I had to say.

He said it was slanderous from start to finish and he was thinking of rounding up signatures on a petition to demand a public apology.

I suggested writing a letter to the editor to explain his problems with the column, but he didn’t think it was his responsibility to tell what was wrong with it; he just wanted an apology.

Since I write only a couple of serious columns a year out of 52, I really didn’t think any readers would take it seriously, but all this talk about a petition took me back about 15 years to the day I was hung in effigy downtown. I really am sorry that I angered this caller, and any others who read the column in the same way.

Well, let’s review this one as I try to worm my way out of it, as I search for a little redemption from those in the 43533 Zip Code.

That’s how the column started off—with those five numbers that represent Lyons. The information came from Claritas, a marketing firm that provides information about the people living in a community. Go to the company website, type in a Zip Code and learn all about yourself.

Claritas told me there are people living in Lyons who drive a GMC Sierra, and then I said there are people there who drive a Ford Crown Vic, and then I mentioned there are people in Lyons who drive a Dodge Ram. Later I mentioned there are people in the village who drive a Chevy Suburban.

To me, this makes it quite clear that Lyons is just like every other little town around here. There are people in Morenci and Fayette and Waldron who drive those vehicles, too.

I also said there are people in Lyons who go skiing and others who watch Jeopardy on television. There are people who go to their kids’ sporting events and those who like auto racing and those who are divorced and those who like to travel and buy antiques.

Once again, this makes Lyons sound pretty much like Anytown, USA. People with these interests live throughout the area. I’m sure there are people in Morenci, too, who subscribe to Bassmaster magazine and like to eat in a steakhouse.

So why was I so rude to single out those people who live in 43533? Because Claritas makes them out as different. Of the 15 characteristics presented, five were unique to Lyons. Or so says Claritas. That’s why the Claritas data seems a little silly, as if people from Morenci don’t resemble those from 10 miles east of here.

Here’s how Claritas has Morenci pegged: Dodge Ram, hunting, camping, auto racing, own an outboard motor, have at least one mortgage, eat at Bob Evans and Ponderosa, satellite TV subscribers, and in category after category, country music fans.

There are some people in Morenci who listen to alternative music and pay their bills on-line. There’s another group that watches TV at least 10 hours a day and belongs to veteran’s clubs. Another group rents videos by mail and watches Soul Train. Soul Train? That’s still on TV?

Those last two paragraphs about Morenci must be fairly descriptive of Lyons, too, as well as Fayette and Waldron. I was hoping that’s what readers would conclude about what seems to be a rather imprecise analysis by Claritas, but not everyone did.

My caller wants an apology to all of the people in Lyons who I offended. I am truly sorry if I’ve angered residents of the Lyons area. That wasn’t my intent and I never enjoy receiving phone calls confirming my status as an idiot.

And one more thing, I really don’t like country music.

 

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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