Friday, May 17, 2013

Abercrombie & Fitch vs The World

Barb Wallace@realBKW  
#fitchthehomeless Donating Abercrombie & Fitch clothes to homeless. Good idea to embarrass A&F CEO or insensitive to homeless? #Conundrum

I sent out this tweet after reading a story about a young guy named Greg Karber who was on a mission. A mission to make Abercrombie & Fitch, and its CEO Mike Jeffries, look bad, really bad, because of their corporate policy, as stated by Jeffries, to sell their brands only to a small, segmented market of attractive and “cool” kids, as well as its practice of destroying excess inventory rather than donating it to charity. 

Abercrombie has two main brands, the flagship brand/store Abercrombie and Fitch and the even cooler, even hipper brand/store Hollister. (While Hollister gives the impression it’s California surfer dude in origin, it's not. The world headquarters are actually hidden away in the countryside outside Columbus, Ohio. Not exactly the city that comes to mind when one plays word association and is given the clue “surf city.” But they do broadcast live video from Huntington Beach, CA in its stores, giving one the impression that's where it all started.) 

So what triggered Garber’s social consciousness was an article in Business Insider that referenced and quoted an interview Jeffries had given to Benoit Denizen-Lewis, then a thirty year old writer for who was working on an article about A&F’s turnaround and, primarily, Jeffries’ leadership that brought it about. In that interview Jeffries made it clear that the chief market, in fact its sole market, consists of “cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.” Well, you have to give him marks for honesty.

Garber also discovered that A&F was burning its unsellable (or at least less profitable to sell) out-of-season and irregular clothing rather than donating it to organizations that aid and clothe the homeless population, which many clothing companies do. Other companies, of course, profit from many of these items by selling them at reduced prices in outlet stores, often with the label removed or marked out; in eponymously named outlet stores; or in stores associated with their corporate identity but with their own names. A&F does not do any of this. It neither donates nor sells clothes that do not meet the current selling season’s standards, it destroys them. So they are nonsalvageable, by burning them. No dumpster diving for discarded goodies at A&F. Are you kidding? They probably don’t even have dumpsters. They probably refer to them as something like refuse relocation units. I mean, this is the same company that calls its sales staff models and regularly sends them out into the mall to look for other cool, good looking kids they can recruit to work in the stores. Nerds and fuglies need not enter the stores to apply for jobs. Or to shop. They don’t want you, no matter how much it costs them in revenue. And judging by the prices the “young and hip” (and rich) are willing to pay for the same clothing they could buy at Target, that’s quite a bit of revenue they turn away.

At any rate, I was intrigued by what Garber did. He skillfully used social media to alert the masses to Jeffries’, and thus A&F’s, corporate strategy. He appealed to the social consciousness of today’s young people, and to us older folk as well, by youtubing a video he made about his answer to A&F’s refusal to donate its goods. He had himself filmed at a thrift store where he purchased as much A&F and Hollister clothing as he could find. He then was filmed as he went around Skidrow, an area of Los Angeles populated by many homeless people, and passed out all the A&F brand clothing he had found. He created a hashtag campaign for Twitter, #fitchthehomeless, to publicize what he’d done. News of his actions went viral, picked up and promoted by sites like The Huffington Post. His youtube video ( has over 6 million views. Yes, SIX. Million. Who knows how many have tweeted about his cause, or shared it with their Facebook friends. When I got a tweet about it I had no idea just how far and wide this had spread. I’m not sure if “trending” even covers how huge the issue had become.

There were many Karber supporters, many who were willing to accept his challenge to empty their closets of all A&F product and donate it to homeless shelters. That seemed like an honorable, very socially and politically correct action to take. But there are naysayers, and many of them have valid points for disagreeing with Karber’s campaign. For instance, on the one hand Karber was challenging a huge, and I mean gargantuan, clothing company to change not only its corporate policy of destroying product, but also its marketing campaign, which is what made them such a huge, gargantuan behemoth of a company. On the other hand, he was literally doing exactly what he accused A&F of doing, developing a target market to cater to, to the exclusion of others. Yes, the homeless make up just as valid a target market as any other group. And worse, Karber was using the homeless to further his agenda, not for charitable purposes. After all, he was distributing ONLY A&F labeled clothing. Clothing which has a different sizing system than the mainstream (all their clothing “runs small”) and has an extremely limited size range. Just because one is homeless you cannot assume s/he will be the same size as a scrawny but “cool” teenager. And many of the people shown on his video do not fit the youthful market A&F targets. Wearing some of the Fitch clothing would make them look and feel out of place. It’s obvious on his video that some of the people he was trying to give the clothing to were a little hesitant to accept it.

So people are questioning the insensitivity Karber’s crusade shows towards the homeless people he purports to be helping. As well, one has to question Karber’s intent. It would be interesting to see if Karber has a history of charitable giving, of goods or of his time and effort. There are many ways to help the poor and homeless besides using them as your own cause. Many homeless are proud people who would be uncomfortable being identified as somebody’s “project.” Is Karber ignoring the sensibilities of those he appears to be helping? Is he abusing their plight for his own gains? I don’t know. And therein lies the conundrum of which I tweeted.

I did a little fact-checking, tracing the story to its source. And found that the original Salon article appeared in January of 2006. Nearly seven and a half  years ago. So why the outrage now? Where was it then? Did people object in ’06 or did the original story just not reach enough, or the kind of, readers who would respond to it as young Greg Karber did? The story was resurrected recently by Business Insider in response to clothing retailer H&M’s recent addition of plus-sized clothing to its line. I suspect that article is what caused Karber to respond to Fitch’s and its CEO’s practices. But how much of its sudden popularity can we attribute to the Business Insider story and how much to Greg Karber’s efforts, or to the power of social media? My money’s on social media.  I think no matter who decided to initiate this kind of war against capitalism and a corporation’s right to set its own policy, once it hit social media sites it would have taken off like wildfire, as it did. 

But like any wildfire, there are alternate ways to battle it. One way  is to accept that some large corporations are just not that into being socially responsible. Not everybody wants to run a Ben & Jerry’s kind of company. Some CEOs and corporate boards have tunnel vision and are just focused on the bottom line. Honestly, in a capitalism-based society we have to recognize that that is exactly what capitalism is. And Jeffries has made no excuses or apologies for his corporate vision. In fact, it is something of which he is extremely proud and, given his and the company’s financial success in past years, he has every right to be. In Jeffries’ words “"Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either," he told Salon.” Valid points.

Nobody can argue with Jeffries’ success in growing the A&F brand. A once struggling company was revamped and is now worth billions of dollars. But under his leadership it has paid out millions to settle lawsuits that have targeted the company for things like its hiring practices, discrimination, offensive clothing and marketing campaigns, and even charges by shareholders concerning Jeffries’ outlandish compensation package and stock trading activities (dumping stock based on insider knowledge of negative performance before the information was announced). It has survived all these charges by settling the suits, which is a well-known corporate strategy in which a company can avoid the high legal fees of litigation without admitting wrongdoing. And it has certainly seen, and weathered, its share of boycotts and public outcries. Yet it continues to rake in the cash, though it has stumbled along the way. (What business hasn’t, in this economy?) Some business experts are urging A&F to let Jeffries go when his contract expires in 2014. At that point Jeffries, born in 1944, will be seventy years old. Already mocked as being a caricature of the cool kid his marketing targets, and given some bad decisions he has made in his steerage of the company ship, it’s likely the board will agree and Jeffries will be forced to retire from A&F.

But as far as the recent attempts by Greg Karber to humiliate A&F into changing its policy? I think Karber’s campaign will lose steam and people will move on to other causes. Especially when they realize the public outrage his campaign has stirred up as “news” of Jeffries’ Salon interview goes viral is seven years too late. Or when the protestors think about the clothes burning practice logically and realize it’s a corporate strategy that is perfectly legal and the campaign is really not that effective. Or when they accept the fact that their attempts at changing A&F’s corporate strategy are just as offensive to the homeless as the advertising style at A&F is to most of middle America. Or when they recognize that the people at Abercrombie & Fitch really don’t care what the huddled masses think.

So in researching and writing this piece, I think I have solved my conundrum. While I agree with Karber that the clothes should be donated, I can’t agree with forcing the company to do so. As far left as my politics can be, I recognize that in this country we have a pretty good balance of socialism and capitalism, and that we need to allow certain capitalist freedoms to corporations, else they will take their business to a more receptive and less antagonizing environment. I can’t argue with A&F’s marketing practice of selling clothing of certain sizes as it is a sound business practice that has served them well, despite criticisms. And one must also consider that there are other companies that market to certain segments of the population to the exclusion of others.

While people complain about A&F selling only smaller sized clothing, there are other stores that do so as well. Then there are the men’s “big and tall” stores that sell only larger sizes, or women’s plus sized stores. Where is the outrage against these companies? The thing is, not all stores cater to all people. There’s nothing illegal about it. You can’t legislate that a store cannot sell one size and not another. And you can’t legislate what a company does with its unwanted clothing, whether it’s wearable or not.

So while I think Greg Karber’s campaign is a noble one, and I wish him well, it’s not a cause to which I will give much more thought. I don’t see it as having long term impact and I choose to support other causes that do a better job of helping the poor and homeless. But one good thing I DO like about his campaign is the way people have responded to it, and how it has promoted the good that can be done when social media is used with good intent. At the same time, though, we must be wary of the potential for the same resources to be utilized for not-so-charitable purposes. 


Hockey Night in America. What's for dinner?

A Taste of Mexico, A Little Bit of Heaven!

So tonight was another "Hockey Night in America!" In the midst of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New York Rangers had traveled to Boston to play my beloved Bruins in the first game of their best-of-seven second round series. Huge game! Time to order up some chow and settle in. I was going to go with the traditional sports viewing meal of pizza. As I started placing my online order I thought, well, maybe a couple of wings as well. But in the midst of  going back and forth on three websites, trying to decide just whose pizza I wanted, I decided maybe I'd give a nearby Mexican restaurant a shot. The place used to be a sports themed restaurant that specialized in wings and pub food. But there was some problem with the owners wanting to show college and professional sports on their multitude of wide screen TVs while at the same time having an aversion to paying licensing fees. So the franchise headquarters pulled the plug and the local owners pulled outta town. 

The place sat empty for awhile, and then one day it had a "coming soon" sign on it for a new restaurant called El Tolteca. I'd eaten there once since it opened, and was really happy with the food. Service was great, too, but this time I was ordering to-go. This really good Mexican restaurant is a neighborhood gem! The food is awesome, authentic. Much better than what you'd get at a large chain restaurant. And they have a huge selection that is very reasonably priced. But the decor...let's just say the decorator went to Michael's AND The Party Store AND Dollar General and bought one of every Mexican decoration they had. Then she went to World Market AND Pier One and bought out their Mexican, Mayan, and Aztec inspired decor. And put it all in one place. Calling it overdone is an understatement. Literally all the space that wasn't covered by a TV was decorated in an "I'm not really sure what it is but it looks Mexican so let's get it" kind of style. At least it keeps customers entertained while they wait for their food!

Then there was the poster advertising a Mariachi Band in Indianapolis -really, there's no Mariachi Band closer to Cleveland?- featuring Pedro, Diegoberto, and...Dudley. Nothing against Dudley. I'm sure he's a very good musician. It's just that the only man named Dudley I've ever heard of was a Canadian named Dudley Do-Right. And he wasn't real. But hey, I know an Irish guy from Boston named Matt who lives near Los Angeles and loves to sing with the Mariachi bands at restaurants and clubs. He's so good they let him sing solos! So I guess maybe being named Dudley isn't THAT unusual for a Mariachi band member! And he did look like his ancestry was more Mexican than Canadian, and he IS real, unlike the aforementioned Canadian Dudley, who is actually a cartoon Mountie. This Dudley was indistinguishable from his bandmates in their matching mustaches and costumes complete with sombreros. They looked so much alike they could have been brothers!

But to get back to the restaurant... As I was deciding on my to-go order, I saw something I'd never heard of on the dessert list. it was called Xango. I checked it out online and it looked good so I thought I'd try it. OMG! It was delicious! It's pronounced chango (thank you Google) and it actually looks like an egg roll on steroids. It's a cheesy, almost cheesecake kind of filling wrapped up egg-roll style in a flour tortilla, then deep fried until the wrap is really crunchy, and then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar! Who can resist anything with cinnamon sugar on it? It was a multi-cultural delight! A Mexican dessert that was kind of like an Italian cannoli but looked like a Chinese egg roll! If you see this baby on the menu, make sure to save room for it because you HAVE to try t! Deelish! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wait Til the Fat Lady Sings

That's why they play out the games, sports fans!  The last few minutes, the final seconds, that one last pitch. You never, EVER!, know what's going to happen.

It never ceases to amaze me that fans will expend so much time and energy getting to the game, spend so much ticket-parking-hot dog money, and then leave a game early to beat the traffic because "this one's in the bag" or "well, we blew that one."  when I go to a professional sports event I pay to watch the players play. Win or lose, I go to watch them play, and I want my money's worth. I don't walk out of a movie or toss a book aside because I think I've figured out the ending. You gotta see it through! 

Not even God knows who's gonna get the W until the final whistle blows, the last out is called, the fat lady sings. Nobody knows that better than a Boston sports fan. We've seen our fair share of games, series', titles slip away after we've started prepping our celebrations. But we've seen our share of resuscitations as well, witnessing a comeback as we're mentally dragging down the empty cartons from the attic to put the cheer gear away for "next year." For surely there'll be a "next year." There always is. But wait! WAIT! This year is not yet done! Les dieux sportives de la saison, the sports gods of the season, have once again provided us a reprieve. One more series to show these Bruins are the real deal. And then, dare we wish, another series after that, and another to once again bring home the cup! Lord Stanley's ever growing monstrosity of a trophy, one of the most recognized and definitely the most kissed and dinged up in sport? And the most shared between its winners and fans. Seriously, with what other trophy can a winner actually dump Wheaties from a box with his picture on the cover into his team's trophy and eat his breakfast out of it? What other sport allows the victor to fill the trophy with microwaved popcorn, or bottles' worth of  ice cold Coke and some straws, and then sit down in the basement media room slash indoor practice rink to view Miracle or The Mighty Ducks or, even better and more apropos, Slap Shot with The Chiefs. What other sport allows fans to do the same after winning "A Day with The Cup."  Well, that is, unless you are living near Madison Square Garden and the Stanley Cup trophy has not been exempted from the Michael Bloomberg guide to appropriate drink sizes. Which is reason enough to beat the Rangers and keep them from filling the cup with diet soda or worse, non-alchoholic beer.

But back to the game. Or as it will likely come to be known as "The Game." The unfreakingbelievable  winning game that won the series that brought Boston sports fans back into reality. That helped us escape from that alternate universe where others, even others amongst us living AS us, held us captives of terror, our culture, the freedoms we hold so dear, the freedoms they were enjoying after having been brought into our fold once they'd escaped political persecution in their homeland, as those others attacked us and terrorized us and we tried to make sense of it, we had the games. We had the Boston Bruins who helped make us BostonStrong. The Bruins who helped us honor our fallen and our heroes. The Boston sports traditions that crossed the foul lines in Fenway to jump the boards at TDGarden as fans sang Sweet Caroline. And not just in Boston were the blue and yellow Boston Strong ribbons highlighted on playing surfaces, were the choruses of Sweet Caroline echoed, were people remembering, and hugging, and setting aside rivalry for just those seconds to share camaraderie and compassion. Ball fields, basketball courts, ice rinks, in America and Canada, all sharing support, all recognizing our commitment to being BOSTONSTRONG.

Yes, back to "The Game." The one that will be the "Hey, it ain't ovah yet, boys. Remembah dat game seven  in '13 when we was down 4-2 to da Leafs in the thoid?" game. 

Yes, that's why we play out the games. Last night was no exception. Except that is was exceptionally awesome! Which means it was pissah! Wicked pissah!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Stupid NHL

To add insult to injury, when I went to open my email to send this, what do I find but a huge email ad from the NHL encouraging me to watch the playoffs on the NHL Network. And what game are they highlighting? Yup. Bruins-Leafs. I kid you not. You can't make this shit up

2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs on NHL Network-Bruins vs Maple Leafs GAME 5 TONIGHT at 7 ET
This promotional email was brought to you by the NHL.

This promotional email was brought to you by the NHL.

Hoping the B's game will be on CNBC but it's not lookin' good. Why schedule three games at a time if you're only going to broadcast two? Stupid NBC. Stupid NHL. Stupid gotta-have-a-dish-to-get-NHL Network. Stupid gotta-have-Verizon-to-watch-it-on-your-iPad. Stupid U-verse doesn't have stupid NESN cuz they have stupid SportsOhio and the Ohio teams all SUCK and they don't even have a stupid hockey team well they do but it's in stupid Columbus but anyway they suck too and who names their stupid team after a stupid jacket like that's gonna put terror in your opponents. Oh no! We have to play the Blue Jackets tonight! Oh, i'ma askeered! God that's worse than naming your team the Ducks yeah that was good for twelve year olds in a stupid movie but who wants to be a stupid duck fan well unless you live in Oregon but they don't have a stupid NHL team anyway. Stupid NHL schedules three stupid games at the same time. Stupid NBC and their stupid We-own-eleventythree-stupid-channels-but-we're-only-gonna-broadcast-two-games-instead-of-three. Stupid Detroit for being closer to Cleveland like that means people in Cleveland wanna watch stupid Detroit and the stupid Red Wings stupid can't even name their team after a whole stupid bird. Stupid tires don't have wings. Maybe that's why the stupid NHL and stupid NBC aren't showing the stupid Maple Leafs cuz that's as stupid as callin your team the Jackets who calls their team the stupid leafs cuz that's even worse than calling your team a stupid wing instead of a stupid bird you can't even call it a stupid tree just the stupid leafs that fall off the stupid tree well I guess that's stupid Canada for ya stupid leafs play in the stupid Air Canada Center oh excuse me the stupid Centre they're so stupid they can't even spell stupid Center right. And stupid Canada's teams suck as bad as stupid Ohio's stupid teams even their stupid football teams are stupid and can't even figure out how big a stupid football field is. Stupid Canada. Stupid NBC showinf stupid Fashion Star and stupid Jodi Arias trial like we haven't seen enough of stupid Arias and her stupid weeks long stupid trial. And who cares about some stupid fashion star nobody wears those stupid clothes in real life cuz they're stupid but people wear hockey shirts so show the people wearin' their hockey shirts with the bears on 'em cuz bruins are a good team and people are more scared of bruins than stupid jackets and ducks and wings and leafs. Stupid NHL. It's a good thing my second favorite team is the Caps and I can at least watch them cuz stupid NHL and stupid NBC aren't showing the Bruins game. Stupid heads.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

There is a time, and there is a place. This is not the time, the hallowed rink is not the place.


  A friend posted the picture at the end of this essay onto my Facebook page. I had seen it posted elsewhere, as well. Always with a response of incredulity from others. I took great offense at what seemed to be a fan's callous response to recent events that occurred in Boston, on Patriots' Day, Marathon Day. As an avid Boston sports fan I know that we have a reputation for oft-times being, well, fanatical. Some would call us rabid. And at times we have deserved it. But we have also shown our compassion for fellow sports fans in times of need. Despite an unprecedented and unequaled rivalry with New York sports teams, Bostonians came together to support and comfort our NY rivals in the days and months after the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001. On 4/15/2013 it became Boston's time to turn to each other but also to our rivals for comfort. Most teams and cities responded with utmost compassion. On Monday, May 6, 2013, someone in the Toronto area made the unfortunate decision to hand out large posters to Maple Leaf fans that proclaimed TORONTOSTRONGER along with a facsimile of the BOSTONSTRONG blue and yellow striped ribbon. That ribbon graphic is a sacred symbol for many organizations, in this case representing Boston's response to the tragic events during the week of April 15th that ended in four deaths of innocent victims and life-changing injuries to well over 150 others. It is not a sports logo. 

 I was born in Boston, grew up in Western MA. So though I now live in Ohio, my heart is and always will be in Boston. So naturally, like other Bostonians and New Englanders at home and scattered throughout the world, I have been touched by this tragedy. And when I saw that photo of a man holding that professionally made sign in Toronto I was, as we say in Boston, pissed. Wicked pissed. And so, as I have done in other times of great emotional response to a situation, whether through anger or jubilation, I took to the keyboard. I am not only posting these remarks to my blog, I am sending them to the owners of The Toronto Maple Leafs and of Air Canada Center, as well as to the people of Toronto through local media outlets. I don't expect much to happen in response, but wouldn't it be nice if Boston players and fans did not have to be subjected to the insensitivity of whomever is responsible for allowing these signs to be waved in our faces during Wednesday night's game? I know, it sounds ironic for a Boston fan to ask another team's fans to show a little sensitivity but there are some issues that one just does not make light of.

  A few years ago I had occasion to celebrate my fiftieth birthday with my six siblings and their children. Anywhere I wanted to go, anything I wanted to do. So we checked and found the Red Sox would be playing the Blue Jays two weeks or so after my birthday, in Toronto. As we are wont to do when planning a family gathering, one person was put in charge of the hotel accommodations, one in charge of tickets, one for food, one for an after game party, etc. We all looked forward to our time in Toronto. All thirty or so of us! When we arrived, we were delighted to learn we had pretty good rooms in a nice downtown hotel. Arriving in the early evening we felt comfortable as we roamed about, checking out the area before returning to the hotel for a party. The next day we showed up at the park and, lo and behold my only brother, who was in charge of getting the tickets, had instead taken care of the tickets and the food, renting the former owner's double suite for the game, complete with servers and catering! And bathrooms! It is an experience that is still talked about to this day, as we approach our youngest sibling's milestone birthday, which we will celebrate in Vegas. All of that to show that my only experience with Toronto, personally, was a good one that left a lasting impression! We left a little worn because, cheer and sing as hard as we could, our beloved Sox dropped a game to your beloved Jays that cold, fall day. But due to some great Toronto hospitality we survived that loss and enjoyed our brief trip. Immensely.

 Much of my extended family and the friends we've made over decades still live in the Boston area. A small number of them were involved in the aftermath of the recent terrorist bombings that occurred during the running of the Boston Marathon last month. Some were volunteers, some were runners just about to reach the finish line, some were just spectators celebrating Patriots Day as we do every year in Massachusetts. It's our official first day of spring, a celebration of the battles of Lexington and Concord and the people who brought forth a new nation. Some of our family members and friends were involved in town lock-downs for the days after the race or prevented access to their apartments above the finish line until the blocks-long crime scene was released by The Department of Homeland Security. 

 As a city with citizens and fans all over the country and the globe, we found ourselves rallying under two words that have been helping to bring and to hold us together through these trying times. OUR two words...BOSTONSTRONG. We have used these words to honor victims,survivors, responders, and their families as they struggle with the anger, and the hate, and the fear, and the love, the pity and the strength, the questions and reassurances, exchanging their past dreams with new ones, attending to centuries-old-fashioned injuries with new high-tech, state-of-the-art solutions. We are Boston . We will persevere. We are BOSTONSTRONG. Those two words have been used all over the world as a symbol of support, of solidarity, of respect for the people of Boston, and never more so than in arenas and playing fields and hockey rinks as Boston's Bruins and Celtics ended winning seasons and reached playoff series' while the infamous Red Sox came screaming back into town with new players and new dreams. In a sports town, if you had to be stuck in a hospital for a couple of days, these were the ones most of us would choose. And we have chosen to use our teams, no, our teams have chosen to honor us, with two words. BOSTONSTRONG. Our words. BOSTONSTRONG. And so I hope you can understand how much those words mean to those of us who believe in them so much that millions of us changed avatars, profile pics, and cover photos on social media apps, how many of us tweeted or facebooked or IMed those two words to loved ones, people we saw the day before the bombings, people we haven't seen in decades. Those two words are now ensconced in Boston vernacular. We have seen them on the playing fields, the basketball courts, the ice rinks of our friendly rivals and our strongest foes. Solidarity. Support. And a love of sport that brings us all together.

  What some may not know about those two words is they are also a cry for help. A request for donations for the three families who lost loved ones on Monday, the family who lost a loved one on Thursday night, those victims so seriously wounded by the bombings and the car chase. Their lives have been forever changed and they face insurmountable debt for lifelong care, costly rehabilitation and retraining, psychological care, etc. and so we use these two words to help raise funds: BOSTONSTRONG. And we ask that others respect that, and allow us that, without substituting their town names so they might profit from Boston's troubles and pain. We would like to think any signs we have seen so far were done with honest feelings of support, one fan trying to find a way to comfort another. But the best way you could show that support would be to wave a "BOSTONSTRONG" sign in our honor, even in your team colors! 

  I don't write this in any official capacity. I write it from my heart, for my family and friends, for the first responders, the victims' families and friends, and for the survivors and their families and friends. For all of us who began a day celebrating the survivors of one massacre only to end the day as witnesses to another, opening us up to a new war on our soil. I write it to you to ask that your Maple Leafs fans do not show TORONTOSTRONGER signs during their contests with the Bruins, out of respect for the true meaning of the BOSTONSTRONG symbol, stripes, and words. We ask that you not allow your advertisers (these signs appear to have been professionally printed) or your fans to co-opt this campaign and take away from the seriousness of it or its intent. Our signs are a show of thanks to our community of first-responders, our medical community, the victims' families, the survivors and their families, and for a community that, already close, has been brought even closer in response to a terrorist attack. Your fans need to know this is not a slogan we are using lightly to cheer on our teams. THIS NOT ABOUT A COMPETITION. We are serious about our hockey but we know what comes first in our hearts. The slogan is not for the teams, it is for the people of Boston. If The Toronto Maple Leafs, Air Canada Centre, or Toronto fans would like to show their support for those affected by the bombings, they can do so by making a donation to The One Fund Boston at which would be greatly appreciated by the Boston community as we carry on a centuries-old tradition of being BOSTONSTRONG!
 Hopefully we won't see the appearance of these signs again. Toronto, the ball is in your court. The puck is in your zone. Show us the class we know you have. Show us some respect. Trash talking belongs on the ice.