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A CONTEST FOR CRITICS?

"If all of the personal troubles in the world were placed in a pile, you know what you would do if you had the choice of taking your troubles back or taking a chance on what you might draw from the pile? You would take back your personal troubles, no matter what they might be."

You have probably heard the above words before. They are not an original thought and could be nominated for "The Best Advice I Ever Received" award.

Those words are yours to give to anyone who is beating his gums about the bad fortune dealt by God. And they came to mind the other day when I found a copy of the Miami Herald.

Yes, the copy had some opinions from writers whose cities had been frustrated in the competition for a major league baseball franchise. I was on the list of such writers, although I noted that I would not write about our city being left at the gate and handled comments about the Love Canal.

In my contribution to humorist Dave Barry's column, I noted that since Love Canal had occurred in Niagara County, it was not eligible for my "Best Crack About Buffalo" contest.

In the note, I mentioned that among the front runners in that contest were the man who said, "Suicide in Buffalo is redundant." On his heels was the airline pilot who said, "We are about to land in Buffalo. Set your watches back 20 years."

Actually, my contest never got off the ground (substitute a cliche of your choice). And that was regretted by some, including this writer and a former columnist for USA Today.

That worthy had written a column in which he said that Western New Yorkers were too astute to go into "get rich quick" schemes, I had heard from him after he heard from area readers who had reacted the wrong way to his words.

I had heard from the same sort of readers who asked me to chastise the USA Today man. His follow-up column embarrassed me, because it spelled out what lay ahead for our area if we abandoned our principles.

It was that follow-up column that caused me to think about the contest. And my approach was applauded by the USA Today person who said something to the effect that humor was the best way to handle criticism. It was also applauded by former Buffalonian Tim (NBC-TV) Russert, who volunteered to be a judge of the submissions.

Of course, the contest was a spinoff on an another idea, as most ideas are. My thoughts had been inspired by the group in Philadelphia who had attempted to use the knocks against their city.

Among the canards in Philly was the report that W.C. Fields' headstone read, "On the whole I'd rather be here than in Philadelphia." In fact, the headstone bore only the name, "W.C. Fields" and his years on the mortal coil.

Anyway, now is a good time to bring back that contest. And perhaps we could persuade a former New York City gent, Mark Goldman, to be chief judge of the applicants.

Now, a man in the first row is saying, "You may be wasting space because Mayor Masiello gets only the Sunrise edition." Well, today's column is in all editions and, besides, there is always County Executive Gorski.

And for the contest I'd like to nominate the writer of "Moon Over Buffalo" for one of his lines.

Yes, he described Buffalo as "Scranton without the charm."

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