An Open Letter to the Mayor and Council of Tenafly NJ

December 27, 2013

Dear Mayor Rustin and Council,

I don’t usually write letters like this.  But when I discovered this story from WPIX today, I felt compelled to write.  http://pix11.com/2013/12/26/exclusive-nj-mayor-personally-asks-family-to-take-down-offensive-christmas-decorations/

I am a former resident of Tenafly.  I lived about five blocks away from this Joyce Road home.  I walked by this street every day on the way to or from the Middle and High Schools.  My father was the principal of TMS for a number of years, and I am a 1986 graduate of THS.

The Tenafly shown by Mayor Rustin’s actions is not the Tenafly that I remember.

When I lived there, the town was made up of a mix of Christian and Jewish residents, with some other religions represented.  For the most part we coexisted peacefully.  We went to each others’ Confirmation and Bar/Bat Mitzvah services.  We shared each others’ Hanukkah and Christmas toys.  While I was there, the high school performed both Brigadoon (loosely based on Christianity) and The Diary of Anne Frank.  I remember seeing Christmas decorations and a large menorah at Huyler Park.

I fail to see what is so offensive about candles in paper bags.  They are not overtly religious.  They do not directly pertain to any holiday.  They are simply pretty.  They were clearly not intended to offend, or even to send a religious message.

The “War on Christmas” idea is very much overblown in the media.  There is no war on Christmas in this country, where any religious holiday may be freely celebrated without fear of persecution or imprisonment.  But your actions fuel those who believe that there is such a war.  Your actions increase the divisions between religions in this country.

I urge you to apologize to the Alvator family, and to modify the relevant ordinance to allow for holiday displays.  I hope that you will work together to help create tolerance in a town divided.

Mark Smith

 

That was a long game.

April 11, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Sports 

As some of my long-time readers know, I have season tickets to the Trenton Devils – the ECHL (2 levels down from NHL) affiliate of the NJ Devils.

This year the Trenton Devils started off badly (with a record of something like 3-11) but then had a stellar 2nd half and have made the playoffs.  They are 2nd seed in the North Division.

Last night was the first playoff game against the Elmira Jackals.  This should be an interesting 7-game matchup – the record against each other in the regular season was 6-6-1.  Last night’s game was about what was expected, with neither team having more than a 2 goal lead.   Regulation ended with the score tied 4-4.

In the ECHL during the regular season games that are tied after regulation go to a 4-on-4 5-minute overtime period, followed by a shootout.  For the playoffs, they use full 20:00 sudden death overtime periods with a 15:00 break between each overtime for zamboni work.

At the end of the 1st overtime, the score was still tied.

At the end of the 2nd overtime, the score was still tied.  We went home, but I listened on the web after that.

At the end of the 3rd overtime, the score was still tied.

At 6:10 into the 4th overtime, Elmira scored to win.  That made the game 126:10 playing minutes long and 4:55 duration time, the longest in ECHL history.  Both goalies finished the marathon, and Elmira goalie Michael Teslak now holds the ECHL record for saves in a game with 71.

Both teams have to play again 19 hours after the game ended tonight at 7pm.  I’m seriously considering bringing my blankie and teddy bear to the game.

That was a long one.

BREAKING NEWS: PC(USA) Moderator leaving PC(USA)

April 1, 2009 by · 7 Comments
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Religion 

SAN FRANCISCO,  April 1 (AFN) – The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), revealed today that he feels called to leave the denomination that has been his home for all of his 39 years.  Reyes-Chow stated that during his recent Moderatorial trip to Hong Kong and Taiwan, he felt the pull of his Buddhist ancestors and plans to leave the Presbyterian Church and take up the robes of a Buddhist monk.

Robin Pugh, his wife, and his three children are said to be staying with relatives recovering from the announcement.  Our reporter was able to hear a single question from his eldest daughter to her mother:  “Does that mean that I have to shave my head?”

The Rev. Byron Wade, Vice-Moderator of the General Assembly, spoke extensively on the subject of Reyes-Chow’s abandonment of his Presbyterian heritage.  “I’m not at all surprised”, said Wade, “Bruce has always been a bit unusual.  I’m just glad that I get the chance to step into his shoes.  The Moderator gets all of the glamour while the Vice-Moderator is relegated to being a traveling second banana.  Bruce got to go to the Phillipines and China; I had to settle for East Tennessee!”

There is no word on what will happen at Bruce’s church, Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco.  Abby Kaiser was last seen rubbing her hands together and cackling with glee.

Read more

Barack’s Fro

November 3, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Current Affairs 

A few friends of mine made this video.  I’ve been asked to publicize it.  I DO find it hilariously funny.

Please tell your friends!

Carolyn’s badge

April 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Life, Work 

(Before I go any further, I want to note that Carolyn gave me permission to put this on my blog)

Yesterday, Carolyn (my wife) made a trip to the Ladies’ Room.  At her office this is her own private domain – they had to build it for her specially when they moved her and a few other engineers out to an office in the factory.  She’s the only woman working in that building.

While doing her business, she noticed something on her shoe (dust, lint, who knows?).  She bent forward …

She wears her badge on a lanyard.  The badge descended below the seat at which point she realized and sat up.  The badge got caught on the seat and popped off the lanyard.  It didn’t fall into the water in the toilet but rather laid there on the porcelain.

However …. it was at this point that the urge to pee overtook her.

She reports that the badge looks fine after being rinsed off.  As of last night she hadn’t checked to see if the little smart chip on it still worked on her laptop.

Her co-worker is reported to have said, “I’m not going near your ID badge again!”

Stewardship and Humor

October 9, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Religion 

From the minutes of the Presbytery of New Brunswick Mission Council, September 25, 2007:

Based upon the average household income of
$93,277 per year and the likely contribution behavior in the area, the overall
religious giving potential can be described ass extremely high.

You can’t ask for a better typo (emphasis mine).

Awkwardness Survival Guide

March 30, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Life 

I Stumbled Upon this website today:

Awkwardness Survival Guide

I’ve done all of them except for the last one.

I’ll add my own to the list.  My wife usually accompanies me to hockey games.  Sometimes my sister comes instead – mainly when my wife is too tired or has another appointment.  As a result, primarily at hockey games, I’ve been known to confuse my wife’s and sister’s names.  Sometimes in front of them.

At least my sister and I haven’t come up on the “Kiss Cam” on the big screen.  My seats are in a place where it’s REALLY hard for the cameras to reach.

(If you decide to join StumbleUpon, add me as a friend – markrsmith83)

Fun with Signs

February 2, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Work 

Bathroom Sign Heads

The folks at work have been having fun with the signs by the bathrooms.  This picture is just an example – the heads keep changing.

Monty Python and Star Trek

September 19, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Film, Television 

I love Star Trek.  I love Monty Python (my first date with my wife was to see “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” on campus).

This is great.

Louie Louie and Benton Harbor, MI

May 5, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Current Affairs, Music 

Paula Dawning, the Superintendent of Schools in Benton Harbor, MI, has banned the McCord Middle School marching band from playing Louie Louie this weekend in the town’s Grand Floral Parade.  (AP Story via Yahoo)

Apparently, she’s concerned about the “raunchy lyrics”.  As far as I know, NOBODY knows what the lyrics to the song are.  However, the ability to play it must be a human instinct – I’ve never seen a marching band use any sheet music yet all marching bands are able to play it instantly with or without a conductor.

I sent the following letter to Ms. Dawning urging her to reconsider:

Dear Ms. Dawning,

I read a news story today stating that you had banned the McCord Middle
School band from playing the song “Louie Louie”.  I would urge you
to reconsider.

At age 36, I fondly remember my years playing music in school.  I
strongly believe that my musical experiences, in addition to being fun,
were a major part of the foundation that was built for my future
success.  I played in the school’s band and jazz band, and
ultimately was a member of the NJ All-State Band and All-State
Orchestra.  I went on to be a member of the Rutgers University
Marching Band and Pep Band.

Music is important in many ways to a student.  It builds
confidence through public performance.  It builds character
through the discipline required to practice and learn your
instrument.  It builds the ability to work smoothly in
groups.  Evidence shows that music builds mathematical ability as
well.

And “Louie Louie” is an important tradition in marching bands.  I
have never been a member of a marching band where that song was not
played.  I have never met anyone who belonged to a marching band
that did not play that song.  In fact, “Louie Louie” seems to be
more of a natural instinct – I have never seen any sheet music for it
but I’ve also never seen a band that didn’t know how to play it –
nearly flawlessly on the first try.  If you leave a marching band
alone long enough, it will spontaneously play “Louie Louie”.

I feel that I must address the question of the lyrics.  While I’ve
never met a band that didn’t know “Louie Louie”, I’ve also never met
ANYONE who knows the lyrics.  In the 1960’s, the FBI investigated
the allegedly obscene lyrics and concluded that they were not obscene,
and in fact were “unintelligible at any speed”.  I have seen many,
many Internet websites purporting to have the lyrics – and no claimant
has any better claim than any other.  The song has just never been
understandable.

I hope that you will reconsider your decision, and allow the band to play “Louie Louie” this weekend.

Sincerely,

Mark Smith

Ms. Dawning may be reached via e-mail at pdawning@remc11.k12.mi.us .

UPDATE: (5/6/05) – The superintendent has relented.  After hearing from a majority of parents (and not just the single complainer), she has decided to let them play Louie Louie in the parade.

And I got a nice note from the band director in response to my e-mail above, which I had forwarded to him.

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