I realize that sometimes I write about things on this blog that many of you already know about but that I’ve just discovered.
But hey, I write about what I see, hear and read in the everyday world, and Sunday I saw something that absolutely left me gobsmacked.
The Lewis trio drove to quasi-upstate New York Sunday to attend an alumni reunion day at my bride’s beloved former sleepaway camp (more on that in Wednesday’s blog, it was such a cool day) in a little town called Monroe.
And on our way there, we drove through Bergen County, N.J., which I heretofore only knew as a pretty wealthy Jersey suburb.
“Oh, we’re in Bergen, you won’t see any stores open at all today, it’s Sunday, Blue Laws” my wife said.
“That’s only for alcohol,” I confidently replied. (I was stymied by Blue Laws a few times when I lived in the South.)
“Um, no, it’s pretty much for everything except food, I think,” she replied, and once again I soon learned that my wife is much smarter than me.
I didn’t believe her, so we looked it up. And actually, I was wrong twice: Alcohol and food are practically the ONLY things you’re allowed to buy in Bergen County on Sundays. I kid you not. Are you aware in the year of our Lord two thousand and seventeen, you can’t buy clothes, a new printer for your computer, or a toaster? Want to purchase a sofa, some cutlery, or an electric fan? Sorry, you’re S.O.L.
But hey, if you want a sandwich, some gasoline or some plumbing supplies, go right ahead. (Seriously, look at this list of what is and isn’t approved and try to explain why something is on one list and not the other.)
I’m not making this up. I wish I were. This is the last place in the U.S. to have “Blue Laws” like this, and I cannot for the life of me fathom why Bergen still does it.
I’ve read lots of explanations on the Internet about it, from lawmakers and residents wanting to preserve Sunday as “a holy day” or a day of rest and quiet, to just stubborn tradition.
And twice in the past 40 years the law has come up for repeal and been voted down by the county’s residents. But I can’t for the life of me understand why this law is on the books. (Here’s a good look at the history of how this happened in Bergen.)
Aren’t business owners getting majorly hurt in the wallet, not being open on a day when most people are off from work and have time and $ to shop? Aren’t residents getting screwed, with so many using the weekend as a time to go shopping with their kids for big-ticket items? Aren’t restaurants mad that fewer people will come in to eat on Sunday because they’re not out running around and doing stuff?
I’m baffled. Truly baffled. If any of my wonderful readers live in Bergen County or can give me a good explanation, I would be thrilled to hear it.
**Next up today, it was yet another depressing, embarrassing, humiliating couple of days for those of us still holding out any hope that our current President isn’t a complete liar and moron. From his ridiculous statements that he and our “real” President Vladimir Putin are going to form a “Cyber Security Unit” together (because who better than Vlad to help with that? While we’re at it, let’s get the Big Bad Wolf to teach us about home construction!) to little Donnie’s amazing admission Sunday that he met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who said she had dirt on Hillary Clinton, it just continues to get worse and worse.
But beyond all of the day-to-day stuff about Trump, the bigger picture needs to keep being seen. And last week at the G20 summit, with 19 other world leaders, it was obvious to most foreign media that the U.S. is suddenly no longer a leader. ABC Australia journalist Chris Uhlmann summarizes our new role in the world perfectly, and while it’s depressing to see how fast we’ve fallen in the world’s eyes, it’s instructive to constantly move beyond the daily headlines and see how all of this looks to the rest of the world.
**And finally, it’s pretty rare to see jaw-dropping basketball highlights anymore; it seems like we’ve seen it all.
But check out 17-year-old RJ Barrett, absolutely destroying Team USA at the Under-19 World Championships this weekend. Kid scored 38 points, and grabbed 13 rebounds in leading our wonderful northern neighbors to a victory.
Methinks he’ll be in the NBA very, very soon.