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"Even when I had my car wreck, I had went quite a few years on the wagon. This was just one of them stupid moments that you do in your stupid life, you know?"

- Country singer George Jones, discussing his 1999 car accident

Returning to normal

Television being what it is, we dreaded the transition from solemn round-the-clock coverage of the World Trade Center disaster back to our original programming. What vulgar, inappropriate offering would we cut to? A particularly distasteful episode of "Married ... With Children"? A lumbering SUV ad? The reality surpassed our expectations. Ted Koppel said goodbye. A gentle "God Bless America," from the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., followed. And then it was time. The screen changed to read "This is paid programming from WKBW-TV" and immediately plunged into a raucous commercial for a cooking utensil called "Thunderstick Pro!!!" Flashing crazily, the screen demanded: "DON'T TOUCH THAT REMOTE!"

The American way

There's one surefire way to work our way back to relative normalcy, and that's to get out and hit a few garage sales. On a Dorchester Avenue block sale Saturday, the flowers of the street's lavish garden swayed in the summer breeze. From house to house, American flags waved over the comforting oddments on display: salt and pepper shakers, hockey skates, discarded Barbie dolls. One family had dragged a television outside as kind of a public service, so their customers could monitor the disaster's aftermath. Across the street, a guy selling off his old accoutrements from Nichols School and Yale University relaxed in his lawn chair, enjoying the afternoon, his prices low as heck. Buzz bought a Yale sweat shirt for a gentleman friend and immediately felt better. This is still America.

Card-carrying idiot

A rotten tomato to Quality Markets - who used to brag about how you didn't need a card to take advantage of specials there - for finally jumping on the card bandwagon by demanding we start carrying the Quality Wild Card. And a bushel of rotten tomatoes to all these stores for always introducing their cards as if it's a brand-new idea! "Sign up today! It only takes a minute," Quality crows. They even give us a Q&A session. "What if I forget my card?" (Have a key tag, or you're out of luck, like every other store.) "Are you going to track my purchases?" (Yes, of course, like every other store.) "Why do I need a card?" "Can I still use coupons?" Please! May whoever wrote this trip over a rotten rutabaga, slide into the dairy case, and be left there to ponder his misdeeds.

Out of the frying pan

In all this brouhaha over the Pan-American Exposition, we've seen no mention of either fried dough booths or Curly-Q fries. And we started to wonder if Buffalo's food supremacy really did go back that far. Well, now we can hold our heads up high, because we've learned it goes back decades - thanks to "An American Tragedy," the lurid masterpiece by Theodore Dreiser. The story takes place in upstate New York. And at one point Dreiser gives us two guys, jailbirds, complaining about food. Here we go: ""Oh, boy. Now in the jail in Buffalo...' "Oh, cut it out,' came from another corner. "We've heard enough about the jail in Buffalo and your swell chow.'"

The buzz

We've graduated from the mere burning of books. A kids' safety festival in Wyoming County included the "bulldozing of recalled and broken car seats and more." ... Hand-lettered signs seen all over Borders Books & Music: "We are all out of Nostradamus books. We don't know when more will be arriving." Why don't people do something useful, instead of getting bogged down with this cryptic stuff?

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