Mr. Smith's Neighborhood

It's a beautiful day in the Neighborhood for teachers everywhere! Anything and everything is fair game!

Rangers Continue to Roll December 31, 2007

Are All Montreal Fans Brain Damaged?

Last night (Sunday, Dec. 30) the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on a breakaway overtime goal by Brendan Shanahan. The real highlight of the game, however, was the hundreds of Montreal fans who paid two and three times the face value of a ticket and then proceeded to act like idiots in the stands. More on that later.

After taking a 2-1 first period lead on goals by Dan Girardi and Jaromir Jagr, the Rangers played a lackluster second period. It was most likely a letdown following a very emotional 6-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

The league-leading Montreal power play took advantage of the referee’s generosity to score two second period goals and lead 3-2 to start the third period. Montreal scored on three of their four power play opportunities but were a marginal offensive team at even strength. One of Montreal’s goals came after a hit on Dan Girardi that should have been called boarding but was not.

After early success against the highly-touted Canadien defense, the Rangers reverted back to their “excessive passing” game and stopped skating. While the Canadien defense looked like traffic cones on the ice, the Rangers seemed to have lost their offensive drive.

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Christmas in My ‘Hood December 25, 2007

Dino and Christmas Tree

Where Are We 2,000 Years Later?

It is Christmas Eve and, as a youngster, this was my favorite night of the whole year. It was the night that my mother’s family came to our home, we had a fabulous fish and seafood dinner, and then we stayed up all night playing games, singing and waiting for my Uncle Red to ascend from the basement as Santa Claus.

Things have changed through the years but it is still a special night, the time when my children join me as we try to keep certain family traditions alive. The changing context of family life and the demands placed on parents do not make holiday celebrations very easy. My family has adapted by going to to The Crab Shanty on City Island (Bronx, NY) for our fish and seafood dinner, saving us the time and work to shop, cook, serve and clean up. It is money well-spent.

During the last few years, devoid of children on Christmas Day, I have enjoyed the time alone in marvelous meditation on the true meaning of the day. My recent marriage has made visiting family on Christmas Day a necessity, so I’ve turned to those quiet hours around midnight on Christmas Eve to remember a special birthday.

Just over 2,000 years ago, a very special child was born into a humble, holy family. While researchers and various religious organizations continue to put forth theories, suppositions and proselytisms about the circumstances of the baby boy’s birth and youth, we know for certain that Jesus later emerged on the shores of the Jordan River to be baptized by St. John. Jesus would use the next three years to teach lessons that have influenced 2,000 years of humanity.

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NHL Suspends Islander Chris Simon for 30 Games December 19, 2007

Colin “Soupy” Campbell Blows It Again

The NHL suspended Islander “bad boy” Chris Simon for 30 games for kicking Pittsburgh Penguin Jarkko Ruutu with a razor-sharp skate blade during an altercation last Saturday. The suspension is the longest in NHL history and comes following a suspension to Simon last Spring for swinging his stick at the face of New York Ranger Ryan Hollweg.

Remarkably, Islander head coach Ted Nolan called the penalty “excessive.”

Although the record clearly shows my favoritism to the Rangers, my perspective on Simion’s latest incident has nothing to do specifically with the attack on Hollweg. However, the two-handed swing at Hollweg was the cause of one of the seven suspensions that highlight the career of Simon.

As much as I dislike Jarkko Ruutu and would love to see him fed slowly through a meat grinder, my condemnation of Campbell has absolutely nothing to do with Ruutu as a victim. Had the victim of Simon’s attack been Ken Linsman, Dave Schultz or Dale Hunter, the NHL’s most despicable players over the years, I would still say the Soupy Campbell continues to show how he is a poor politician, inept manager and ridiculous hockey executive.

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Shock Jocks, The Media, Rush Limbaugh and to HELL with NOW December 18, 2007

Pulling the Plug on Electronic and Print News

Having spent a few years on this planet (just enough, not too many), I had the joy of growing up as television evolved in the 1960’s. I had a chance to watch some of the gods of television news during my youth: Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite and others. I don’t remember Edward R. Murrow, but I learned of him studying journalism in college.

Through the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, the forces that made television news reliable and balanced began to mutate. One memorable event was when Roone Arledge, the genius behind ABC’s Wide World of Sports, became the news guru for the network. This marked a progression from news as a public service to news as entertainment (and a profitable source for advertising revenues).

Another memorable moment (in the midst of tremendous sadness) was when the American Embassy in Tehran was stormed in 1979 and ABC began running an 11:30 PM review of the day’s events called America Held Hostage: Day xx with Ted Koppel. Although we were later spared the indignity of this ridiculous title when the program was renamed Nightline, we have since been subjected to a never-ending stream of ludicrous monikers for heart-breaking news events and boring news stories (doesn’t AMERICA DECIDES sound so wonderfully thrilling?).

The final event worth noting was the birth and expansion of cable/satellite TV and the swelling of available channels into the hundreds. As a kid growing up outside New York City, we were blessed with ABC, NBC and CBS along with three independents (WOR, WPIX, and WNEW) plus WNET, the PBS station. How the heck did we survive with so few choices?

Network news programs at 6:00 PM were soon preceded by local news. Local news programs expanded to an hour. Ted Turner launched CNN. Before we knew it, we had talking heads shouting news and fluff at us 24/7 on dozens of channels, each competing for advertising revenues and audience shares by shoving every conceivable story under our noses. Thus, the mutation of true news stories into “no-news” news, sound bytes, spin and every imaginable human interest story possible.

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Imus Moves Forward December 13, 2007

WABC and the “New Imus” is Great Radio!

As the end of Imus’ 2nd week back on the radio approaches, the critics have drifted into the background and Imus is better than ever. Well, as least he is better based on today’s ridiculous expectations of political correctness.

WABC-AM and its management have provided Imus with the supervision and support that a high profile personality deserves. The 21-second delay built into the broadcast may seem oppressive by some, but it is a beautiful failsafe effort that makes people like Ryan Chiachiere, Media Matters for America, George Soros and Hillary Clinton impotent in their efforts to discredit Imus.

For those of you not familiar with Soros, he is a multi-billionaire who funds politically-oriented organizations under the guise of philanthropy. He has publically professed that he would use all his resources to end the Bush presidency. He has close ties to the Clintons and is the funding behind extreme political fronts like MoveOn.org and Media Matters for America.

In many ways, WABC-AM and Citadel Broadcasting have shown a tremendous amount of dedication and commitment to Imus. While some of their actions can be rationalized as a protection of their investment in Imus and the station’s ratings, there also seems to be a sincere effort to help make Imus even more successful. This type of loyalty is a rare commodity in radio (let alone the corporate world) where replacements are usually a dime a dozen. WABC and Citadel obvious see the unique potential of Imus.

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Highway Patrol Officers in Ontario Target Americans

How One Officer Profiles Americans and Violates Their Rights

During the first week of August this past summer, I was sadly returning to New York from a wonderful vacation in Northern Ontario. I had become quite fond of the people in Northern Ontario because they were friendly, warm and caring.

After spending the summer traveling across the United States and Ontario, I came to the sad conclusion that New York State may well be the worst state in America. Forget the taxes, traffic, dirt, Hillary Clinton and the cost of living … New York simply leads the country in blatant stupidity and greed. My next article will explain that in more detail, so stayed tuned!

However, this article is all about a dumpy little town called Pembroke, Ontario, and its own version of Dudley Do-Right … well, actually, he was more of a combination of Inspector Clouseau and Sheriff Buford T. Justice.

It is highly suggested that all travelers, but especially Americans, should avoid the Trans-Canada Highway (17) between North Bay and Ottawa. If you must travel this horrid stretch of road, go BELOW the speed limit, block traffic and do not stop in any of the towns. You should not stop in Pembroke or spend a single cent within its town limits.

Here is the story of an early afternoon on the first Saturday in August. Some family, straight from The Grapes of Wrath, is driving a truck eastbound on Highway 17 approaching the stink-hole called Pembroke. The truck looks like something from The Little Rascals. Stuff is hanging off the sides and the back, the truck is bouncing up and down, and it is wobbling like it has different sizes of tires on each wheel. It is a menace to itself and other vehicles.

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Michael Vick Sentenced to 23 Months December 11, 2007

The End of Insanity … Serenity Now!

Former NFL superstar Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison yesterday following his guilty plea last summer for his participation in a dog fighting operation that included gambling and killing pit bulls. Vick could possibly be out in 20 months for good behavior while in prison.

Vick apologized to his family and to the court. The judge said that he also owed an apology to the millions of fans who saw Vick as a role model.

Many reports have described the gruesome nature of the activities performed by Vick and his partners. The brutal torture and execution of any animal is absolutely unconscionable. The concept of dog fighting is too indicative of a hedonistic, self-indulgent philosophy that seemingly permeates many layers of modern ethics and morality.

I personally dislike dogs because I’m allergic to them. I do not dislike people who own dogs and I can appreciate their attachment to their pets. Although I will never live in a house where there is a dog, I don’t understand how somebody could torture an innocent animal.

The really disgusting part is that Vick’s actions give the morons at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) another pedestal from which they can espouse their one-sided fluff. The real issue here is that we have another high-profile legal case that demonstrates the incredible lack of balance in our attitudes and perspective as a society.

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