Why the sudden proliferation of “vibrant” communities in the United States? And what does it even mean?

Is Rockford, Illinois, vibrant? Oh my god yes: according to a local news outlet, the city’s ‘Mayor’s Arts Award nominees make Rockford vibrant.’ The Quad Cities? Check: As their tourism website explains, the four hamlets are ‘a vibrant community of cities sharing the Mississippi River in both Iowa and Illinois.’ Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? Need you even ask? Pittsburgh is a sort of Athens of the vibrant; a city where dance parties and rock concerts enjoy the vigorous boosting of an outfit called ‘Vibrant Pittsburgh’; a place that draws young people from across the nation to frolic in its ‘numerous hip and vibrant neighborhoods,’ according to a blog maintained by a consortium of Pittsburgh business organizations.

The vibrations are just as stimulating in the component parts of this exciting new civilization. The people of creative-land use vibrant apps to check their bank accounts, chew on vegetarian ‘vibrancy bars,’ talk to one another on vibrant cellphones, and drive around in cars painted ‘vibrant white.’

“Dead End on Shakin’ Street.” — Thomas Frank, The Baffler