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We’re talking here in Allentown.

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The following will seem stupid to everyone but my Twitter buddies Glenn and Jeremy, to whom I am deeply indebted.

Depending on where you get your information, you might have seen the Lehigh Valley in the news today.

Reuters sent a reporter (female) to talk to voters (also female) in Trexlertown, a (gender-neutral) suburb of Allentown, about Donald Trump. Trexlertown is the home and headquarters to a Fortune 500 global corporation, though you wouldn’t have known it from Reuters’ description of “former factory towns in the hills west of New York City.”

(Oh, yeah, I guess I gotta link to it. Here’s the story.)

This is not the first time in recent years that a national or international news organization has come to the Lehigh Valley in search of man-on-the-street commentary.

I attribute this to the idea that the Valley — maybe an hour-and-a-half from New York City — is the closest thing to flyover country you can visit from New York and still be back in time to file your story.

After all, if you want the voice of America, you’re not gonna get it on the streets of Manhattan. New York City is its own world, and people in the rest of the country won’t think it represents the national opinion even when it does.

And New Jersey is seen by much of the country as New York’s bedroom, so you can’t go talk to people there either.

But Pennsylvania — poor battered coal-dusted industry-jilted Pennsylvania — is another thing altogether. That’s where square-shouldered resilient people wait for the Pennsylvania they never found and the promises their teachers gave, as the union people crawl away and The Man throws the American flag in their face.

(Or so Billy Joel said, and he’s a trustworthy source. Everything in “We Didn’t Start The Fire” really happened, didn’t it?)

So, we’re the ideal destination for reporters seeking the Voice of America.

On Twitter this morning, my friends and I kicked around the idea of monetizing that. What if the Lehigh Valley’s next industry was providing commentary to New York-based reporters trawling the common people for the mood of America? What if we could tap into our natural resource — our battered-but-unbowed common-man image — and become 21st-century thought leaders, literally and figuratively?

The world needs opinions … well, it doesn’t really need them, but it sure seems hungry for them; just look at social media. The Lehigh Valley could become a net exporter of opinions — a carbon-free, smog-free industry, and endlessly renewable so long as we have a decent supply of throat lozenges.

All of which motivated me to rewrite “Allentown” — still the Lehigh Valley’s unofficial albatross-anthem — to reflect the glittering new possibilities.

“Allentown” is a great song, sure, but it’s all about things as they used to be. We need a song that heralds our future.

Here, then, are the (occasionally annotated) words to the Lehigh Valley’s new anthem. If you wanna sing along, click here.

Well, we’re talking here in Allentown
And they’re writing our opinions down
We can tell you what the nation feels
Give us vox pops
Ask us what’s real

And our parents lived on steel and coal
But our future lies in stories and polls
We’re a working journo’s dream retreat
Scrapple and farms
And men on the street

And we’re talking here in Allentown

And our feet are firmly on the ground
And we’ve got so very much to sa-a-a-ayyy…

— INSTRUMENTAL BREAK —

Well, we used to have some factories here
And that ought to make your narrative clear
Everybody here’s down on their luck
Turn a blind eye
to our McMansions and trucks

Though our new diplomas hang on the wall
You need pay them no attention at all
Tell your viewers that we still make steel
Don’t make ’em think
Just make ’em feel

And we’re talking here in Allentown

And all that you can hear is the sound
Of reporters every single day-ay-ay-ay….

Just take the Holland and expense all the tolls
Sketch out a story of blue collars and coal
We’ll all be waiting 90 minutes away
For you to take the pulse of the U.S.A….
Ay, ay, ay

Well, we’re talking here in Allentown
And it’s time that you were New York-bound
Have a nice trip back on Seventy-Eigh-eigh-eigh-eigh-eigh-eigh-eigh-eigh-eight
And we’re talking here in Allentown.

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8 responses »

  1. Wikipedia tells me that “Allentown” spent an “unprecedented” six consecutive weeks at #17 on the charts. What was up with that?

    Reply
  2. This is spectacular, and I wish you luck in this opinion venture.

    Regarding “Allentown” and 6 weeks at #17: Billboard used a “super bullet” in the early 80s, precise workings of which I don’t know, but it led to some remarkable stasis. I blogged about a survey where the top 8 didn’t change from previous. Records got stuck all the time.

    Reply
  3. As you enter the city limits of Stamford, CT, you hit a sign that says “Welcome to Stamford – The City That Works”. Perhaps Allentown should have an analogous sign: “Welcome to Allentown – The City That Talks”.

    Reply

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