Like myself, Susan Orlean is a native Clevelander who left and will probably never live there again. She certainly belongs to the East Coast now, as I do to the Gulf Coast. At least in my mind. For both of us.
The italicized is a classic Susan Orlean matter-of-factly-appropriately-stated observation of a painful situation (to some people). I say that its classic because she always speaks so clearly about people and I think gets to the real intent of her subjects that she can seem witchly; as an example see the character styled after her (and named after her and based on her writing on orchid thieves, but not her) in the movie Adaptation.
She is speaking here of the overly famous situation in which a very talented basketball player recently left the Cleveland team, but you could substitute engineering disasters or oil spills or any town's issues:
I refuse to talk about Cleveland’s magnetic attraction to loss and pain, including, but not limited to, its sports teams. I refuse to talk about the special, inevitable protesting-too-much nature of being a Cleveland native and the defensive posture you must always assume every time anyone (everyone) chuckles over the city’s burning river, its feckless politicians, its glamourless character, its jinxes, its curses. I also refuse to watch the rest of the basketball playoffs on principle—I’m not sure what that principle really is, but still, it feels like there ought to be one that covers the bruised heart of a hometown fan of an unfairly maligned hometown, far away from home.