I don't recall having heard the term 'Black Friday' to refer to the Friday after Thanksgiving in years past. This year, it seems as if I've heard or read it dozens of times.
Eric Zorn looked into the origin of this particular usage. While the first known use traces to 1966, Zorn finds evidence that it wasn't until last year that the term really took off. In 1966, the usage was attributed to police officers who had to deal with massive traffic jams on the biggest shopping day of the year. Later, it is claimed, retailers suggested that it should be called Black Friday because it is the day that many retailers move from operating in the red to operating in the black.
I just learned that the Wal-Mart stampede took place at Green Acres, a mall in Valley Stream, NY. It's one of two Long Island shopping malls (the other being Roosevelt Field) that my family frequented during my grade school days. Valley Stream is a nice town, but this happening on Long Island doesn't come as a shock.
I'm reminded of something that occurred many years ago when I was a college student visiting family back East. I went to a bar in Valley Stream with a cousin to meet up with some of her local friends. We were sitting quietly having a beer at a table while a few guys she knew were placing bets on arm-wrestling contests at the bar. Something happened, I'm not sure what and, in an instant, the place was up for grabs. I'm certain that I was the only male in the place who wasn't either hitting someone or being hit by someone. These guys were hitting-to-kill and they just wrecked the place and each other in the five minutes or so before the police arrived. Incredibly, there were no arrests. More surprising, the rowdy patrons made up and came back into the bar where they continued the festivities--sans the arm-wrestling.
Yes, there is a surfeit of aggression on Long Island.