It may be true that nine hours of sleep per night is best for teenagers’ minds and bodies.
But on Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5, approximately 800 teenagers from South Glens Falls Senior High School will show that staying awake for upwards of 40 hours might well be the best thing they’ve ever done — for themselves and others.
Those are the dates for the 34th annual South High Marathon Dance — simply “Marathon” to those who know it best — a two-day demonstration of school spirit, community pride and neighborly generosity that last year raised more than $283,000 for local families coping with serious illnesses, along with a group of local not-for-profit organizations.
That’s not a typo. Two-hundred-and-eighty-three thousand dollars! And more than $2.4 million over the 33-year-span.
The formal festivities will begin on Friday at 7 p.m. with a pep rally-style opening ceremony and continue through an emotion-filled closing somewhere between 10 and 11 Saturday night. But, considering most kids won’t sleep after waking for school Friday morning, you’re pretty much talking 40 hours of philanthropic frenzy.
This year the dancers have selected 16 well-deserving families and eight not-for-profits to benefit from the event. But truth be told, the Marathoners touch the lives of every person who steps foot in that gym.
Now, if you’re of my generation, wipe that image of an exhausted Fonzie and Joanie virtually sleepwalking across Arnold’s floor right out of your mind.
In South Glens Falls, Marathon is a party. It’s music shaking the rafters and buffeting the bleachers. A “Neon Power Hour” of black lights and glowing T-shirts. It’s a giant game of “Simon Says.” And a series of mini-costume parties, where dancers win commemorative buttons they’ll fondly show their own kids someday.
Marathon is a party of community unity. It’s 800 classmates coming together on a single gym floor, with one, unifying goal. It’s parents, alumni and other Marathon fans selling T-shirts, raffle tickets and homemade treats. It’s local businesses pitching in with food for the dancers, prizes for the auctions, and haircuts for those in need of a trim (all proceeds to Marathon, of course). Marathon is school district bus drivers volunteering their time, shuttling visitors from the off-site parking lots now needed to accommodate the overflow crowds. Marathon is fifth-graders from across the district, joining the big kids for an hour on Saturday afternoon, thinking, “That’s going to be me someday.”
Most important, Marathon is a party with a purpose. And when the recipients walk in on Saturday night, one-by-one, to tell the dancers what Marathon means to them, there won’t be a dry eye in the gym.
This will be my sixth and final year as the parent of a Marathon dancer. I’ll once again join my wife (a former Marathoner herself), and our parents, in the jam-packed bleachers and watch the memories unfurl — our son, a senior, winding down his high school career; our daughter, a four-year dancer, now volunteering as an alum.
The recipients will tell their stories, of fear and sorrow and hope and thanks —teaching the students, and everyone else, a lesson no textbook can hope to convey. The air will hang thick with anticipation as this year’s grand total is readied, then announced, to an eruption of cheers and tears. And then, just as Marathon appears to have once again reached its end, 800 exhausted voices will rally one more time, building a rhythmic chant that will echo into the night and through these kids’ lives forever:
“We are the Bulldogs and the Bulldogs are great!”
I couldn’t agree more.
The South High Marathon Dance is open to the public at South Glens Falls Senior High School from 7-10:30 p.m. on Friday, March 4, and beginning at 6:30 a.m. through the end of the dance on Saturday, March 5. Due to parking limitations, all visitors must use the complimentary shuttle bus system running from Spare Time bowling center and Tanglewood Elementary School. This year’s Marathon will also be broadcast live online. Those wishing to donate are encouraged to contact any participating South High student, or to mail a contribution to SHMD, 42 Merritt Road, South Glens Falls, NY 12803.
It’s that time of year again, folks. The Superbowl of Hollywood celebrity, the Academy Awards, is almost upon us. This year’s festivities will be airing live Sunday night on ABC.
For one night only, the red carpet at the Kodak Theatre in Downtown LA will receive more traffic than the tarmac at LAX. With no clear-cut favorites, some tight contests should make for a drama-filled night. I, for one, am looking forward, if only to see if True Grit star Jeff Bridges gets the credit he deserves.
This year, local Oscar fans are in for a treat, as a couple of North County media alums will be getting in on the action. ABC’s Albany affiliate WTEN will be airing “From the Hudson to Hollywood: Oscars 2011,” a preview special to be hosted by two longtime friends of our firm, nationally syndicated TV columnist Jay Bobbin of Glens Falls and longtime area news anchor Lydia Kulbida.
Jay is a leading entertainment writer with Tribune Media Services. He’s on the A-list for producers, directors, publicists and stars. A homegrown talent, having been raised in Glens Falls and graduated from Glens Falls High School, Jay started off in local radio at WWSC as a high school student. After graduation from Ithaca College, he joined Tribune. For many years he wrote a popular entertainment column for The Post-Star newspaper. He developed a wide local following as a contributor for WGY, YNN and WNYT, Channel 13.
Lydia spent some of her early career here in Hometown, USA. Before she became Albany’s favorite anchor, she brought class and intelligent reporting to the early years of Glens Falls’ Channel 8, where she started along with WTEN meteorologist-colleague Andy Gregorio, also of Glens Falls, and WNYT’s Mark Mulholland, a Behan Communications alum who grew up in Whitehall. After graduation from New York University, Lydia worked in television in Springfield, Mass., and at Buffalo’s National Public Radio affiliate.
The show will be airing this Saturday at 7p.m. from Albany’s wonderful Spectrum Theatre. In case you miss it, it will also be rebroadcast right before the Oscars at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Jay and Lydia will do live reports on WTEN’s newscast on Sunday as well. So while Jay and Lydia are running around making sure we’re covered, I look forward to sitting back in my big comfy recliner and cheering on Jeff Bridges!
Better get your popcorn ready!
The SPAC Junior Committee is throwing their first ever Winter Ball fundraiser this Saturday night, February 26, at The Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs from 8 p.m. to midnight to benefit the classical arts in Saratoga. The theme of the party is inspired by the Emmy-winning television series, “Mad Men”, which follows the chic life of an advertising agency exec on Madison Avenue in the 1960s.
The Hall of Springs will be completely transformed into a 1960s cocktail-style lounge and will feature a cigar lounge and live music by the popular Capital Region band, The Accents. Sixties cocktail fare, an open bar with beer and wine, a “Retro Budweiser Bar” sponsored by Saratoga Eagle and a “Bubbly Bar” sponsored by Mionetto are all included in your ticket. In addition, Palm Bay, will be hosting a fabulous VOLI Vodka martini bar.
Dress to impress in sixties attire, as prizes will be awarded to guests with the most authentic “Mad Men” apparel. In addition to this swanky soiree, the Gideon Putnam Hotel is offering a discounted room rate for $79 and complimentary transportation to and from the party.
Tickets are $65 in advance or $70 at the door. You can purchase tickets here or by contacting myself or SPAC’s Evie Chabot. All the proceeds of the Winter Ball will help underwrite the classical programming and educational activities of SPAC’s 2011 summer season.
The SPAC Junior Committee is a newly-formed group of about 30 young professionals in and around the Capital Region, including myself, who have a love for the arts and whose goal is to assist SPAC in fundraising and cultivating new donors.
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’
Last Saturday, my girlfriend and I decided to make an evening trip to downtown Saratoga Springs for some late night coffee and dessert at Uncommon Grounds Coffee, a venerable institution in the thriving Spa City downtown. Before we ate, we decided to take a stroll around town and make a quick stop into Borders Books to browse through the racks, sadly for the last time at their Broadway location.
Rumored for months to be in financial trouble, the national book retailer formally announced last week that they’ve filed for bankruptcy and are shuttering 200 stores nationwide, including their Saratoga outlet.
While looking through the endless number of tables and racks of discounted books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs, all slashed 20% off, I couldn’t help but be a little saddened about the loss of a once mighty retailer whose business for the past decade anchored one the busiest corners in one of the most robust downtowns in all of the Capital Region.
On my way out as I fought through the bargain-hunting crowd, I came across a counter with the latest e-readers and that’s when I came to fully understand; we are in the midst of a historical revolution that’s happening right before our eyes, and we might not even be noticing it!
The digital revolution that all but torpedoed the music industry beginning with the introduction of music-sharing website Napster in 1999 has now moved on to making the printed word an artifact. Just like the printing press changed the world when Johannes Gutenberg invented it in 1440, the iPad, Kindle, and Nook are again reinventing the way we read our books, news, and magazines. For a growing number of people, a book is now a novelty item, like an 8-track and the record before it, and soon likely the daily newspaper.
For generations, children studied their history textbooks, learning about great historical figures such as revolutionary Thomas Paine, whose widely read pamphlet “Common Sense” is credited as a driving force behind the American Revolution. Fast forward to the 2020s, where students will most likely be reading their iPads, learning about how Twitter & Facebook were the catalyst for a revolution in Egypt. What a thought!
The digital revolution is not an overnight phenomenon, but if you take a look around you’ll see it in the rise of businesses such as Amazon, iTunes, Netflix and The Huffington Post — and the fall of brick and mortar companies like Borders, Tower Records, Blockbuster, and the Rocky Mountain News, just to name a few.
Where the revolution will lead to next, no one can say for sure, but I’d be willing to wager that if you’re a CEO of a cable TV provider or radio station owner, companies like Boxee and Pandora might make you wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. But for now, it’s the book industry that is fighting for its survival.
I am not saying that the book publishing and retail industry will disappear tomorrow, or even this generation for that matter. But somewhere along the line in the not-so-distant future, publishing new books might just cease to exist. In the meantime, the number of booksellers will slowly dwindle as they face the increasing pressure of a changing industry.
And I’m not just picking on publishers and retailers here. Local municipalities will eventually have to deal with this new reality as well. Tough decisions about the future of the traditional library will have to be made. It’s not so far off to suggest that your local branch will be forced to dramatically change itself or risk becoming a museum of fossilized paperbacks and hardcovers. If Google is able to achieve its lofty goal of digitizing every book ever printed, signing out books might be a thing of the past!
Going back to the subject of Borders, one thing stuck in my mind when I nostalgically circled the store. Among the fire sale of discounted books was a large printed sign stating simply that “All e-readers will not be discounted.”
The times, they indeed are a changin’!
What’s being overlooked, to me, is the real-world impact on perceptions about IBM.
Let’s face it, when you thought about high-tech, IBM probably didn’t come to mind. Apple or Microsoft did. That’s no longer the case.
IBM spent millions of dollars developing Watson and, we can assume, partnering with “Jeopardy!” to show it off. But the multi-media, blanket coverage it has received and the associated buzz factor are priceless and will have far-reaching benefits for one of America’s most venerable corporate titans.
IBM just reinvented itself overnight in the public conscience. There’s nothing artificial about that.
Is it possible to disappear from the Web? It certainly is, as one major department store found out the hard way.
You may have read The New York Times story on how a vendor got J.C. Penney in trouble with Google, the undisputed king of search engines. Google handles about 68 percent of search traffic, according to a recent report.
Essentially, Penney’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) vendor — using unconventional tactics — placed links to the department store’s product pages on thousands of unrelated websites.
That’s dirty pool, according to Google. The search engine publishes guidelines for webmasters – but never discloses exactly the rules it uses to rank websites in a search – so a cottage industry has sprung up to figure out how to get a company’s website rank highest.
Some of the tactics, Google says, are against the guidelines because they falsify (or “game”) the results and artificially inflate the profile and perceived importance of the beneficiary’s site.
Welcome to Delisting Danger 101.
Search engines use links between websites as one factor in determining the importance and “authority” of a particular site. The more sites that link to your website, the thinking goes, the more trustworthy your site is.
This kind of activity is well known, and Google’s guidelines prohibit the kind of unconventional linking activities the Penney’s vendor engaged in. When The New York Times brought the issue to Google’s attention, Google responded swiftly by manually removing the department store’s website from search results.
The Times reported that Penney’s was attracting hundreds of thousands to millions of visits every month. You can guess what happened to that traffic – and the income associated with that traffic – when the department store’s pages dropped off the search results.
Penney’s says it didn’t authorize the scheme, and the vendor is not talking. So what happened between Google and Penney’s? There’s no easy way to tell.
There are ways that you can protect yourself and your business online against trouble like this:
- Select a reputable SEO vendor – ask your colleagues, ask your advisers, ask at the chamber, ask other businesses for recommendations.
- Ask your SEO vendor to show you the websites where they have added links to your site. If they won’t, hire a new vendor and ask for removal of those links, if possible.
- Ask your SEO vendor for professional references, and review previous work, websites they have created and links to those websites.
- Review your website analytics — Google Webmaster tools show a list of websites that link to your site, and Google Analytics shows you what websites are directing traffic to yours. Both are free.
Finally, be wary of unsolicited emails or proposals from companies to “get you a top rank on Google next week.” They are always scams.
We got one here at Behan Communications in the last few weeks that offered to “produce the results and business you want” with “turn key page 1 rankings on all of your keywords.”
It might produce some results you want … but only until Google finds out and essentially de-lists you from appearing in search results.
Be smart. If it sounds too good to be true —on the Internet as in life — it most likely is.
If you have questions, ask us or someone else that you can trust.
As anyone who has dealt with an emotional adversary can tell you, the facts don’t always matter.
So it is that viewers across America awoke recently to a three-minute Today show segment with the provocative title, “Honoring the Troops?”
The piece previews Congressional hearings into JPMorgan Chase’s admission of overcharging 4,000 active-duty troops and wrongly foreclosing on 14 military members’ homes, in apparent violation of a federal law designed to protect troops from financial stress while they’re in harm’s way.
Did you catch that? JPMorgan Chase admitted that it messed up. That itself is a refreshing breeze of candor. But it wasn’t enough to blunt that rare double-whammy scenario in which the media and a conservative Congress find the same appealing target: a big business that is messing with our troops.
The Today show segment set up all the usual straw men: big, impersonal Wall Street puts the screws to Main Street, only this time Main Street wound through Iraq.
The Congressional hearings will make for good theater and allow our representatives to burnish their pro-military credentials. Of course, you have to wonder about the reception that JPMorgan Chase will get when the chairman of that committee says: “It was hard to believe that a financial institution in this country would in any way try to take advantage of somebody on active duty.”
The bottom line for JPMorgan Chase is this: Regardless of whether or not the segment was balanced, or what the facts are of that particular case, or how much good will it has earned as a responsible corporate citizen and philanthropist, or whether Congress is engaging in political piling-on, the company is, at this moment, wearing a label it needs to shed.
In our society, there a few labels worse than “anti-troops.” And fair or not, that’s the reputational risk JPMorgan Chase is facing. This story will resonate.
I suspect their public relations team is hard at work planning damage control and developing ways for JPMorgan Chase to very publicly be linked to supporting military families in need.
This story, and these hearings, will be expensive.
!Felicitaciones!, Raul’s Mexican Grill.
Downtown Glens Falls’ inventive Mexican restaurant and a Behan staff favorite was the subject of a glowing review in Sunday’s Albany Times Union.
Raul’s is a Glens Falls gem — imaginative in its cuisine and cozy and unpretentious in ambience, a warm atmosphere created by owner Russell Porecca and his staff.
Times Union reviewer Cheryl Clark wrote: “On a night when temperatures were in the negative numbers, I ordered my liquor indulgence of choice in a small taqueria in Glens Falls. Imagine my delight when the quintessential margarita appeared — in an improbable salted jelly jar with a straw. Raul’s Mexican Grill has the pure art of the margarita down, and carries that simple excellence through its humble menu. Chef-owner Russell Porreca makes the kind of tortilla foods you would expect to find in a shack closer to the Mexican border: frank, unpretentious and unburdened by excessive glop and shred.”
To earn high praise from Cheryl Clark is no small achievement. Journalist, yes, but Cheryl is herself an accomplished restaurateur who with her husband Paul Parker owned and managed the beloved Saratoga Springs French bistro Chez Sophie, still fondly remembered by its legion of fans. Cheryl and Paul took over Chez Sophie in 2001 after the death of his mom, founder Sophie Parker.
Chez Sophie was a local treasure, not only for its food, but also for how much it consistently surprised and impressed out-of-town visitors who, before dining with the Parkers, believed they had savored the finest French cooking in some far more sophisticated place.
In fact, The New York Times thinks it discovered Chez Sophie. It never stopped marveling at the improbability of finding fine French cuisine in “fast food country.” Imagine!
Cheryl Clark has now turned her fine pen to introducing Capital Region epicureans to must-try restaurants like Raul’s. In the company of glowingly reviewed local restaurants, Raul’s joins its Glen Street neighbor The Chocolate Mill and Ridge Street’s Black Watch and Bistro Talullah, each of which earned three stars from the TU.
Here’s hoping Cheryl and her colleagues will venture north again soon to visit (or return to) some other Glens Falls dining gems:
- The Mikado, which, thanks to Danny Chang, serves the best sushi and sashami as well as Japanese and Korean fare in Upstate New York and likely farther;
- 132 Bistro, where Kevin and Patty Bethel (part of the vast Bethel Restaurant Empire) present the most delicious nouveau comfort food with an imaginative twist (the tuna can’t be beat!), a particular hometown favorite;
- Davidson Brothers, where Rick, John, A.J. and staff brew outstanding hand-crafted beers now sold in the best taverns across the Northeast and serve wonderful upscale pub food that’s perfect after a show at The Wood;
- Cooper’s Cave Ale Co., where Patty and Ed Bethel (another division of that Bethel Empire) have created a festival of irresistible indulgences: great hand-crafted beer, delicious soda – get the root beer! – gift baskets, ice cream and a wonderful, homey Pub, where you will happily restore any calories lost on the next-door Warren County Bike Trail;
- Poopie’s, which thanks to Jerry, Ann and Christina and staff serves the best breakfast and lunch and, depending on Jerry’s day, the most outrageous floor show anywhere. “If you know Glens Falls, you know Poopie’s,” the Times Union’s Carol DeMare wrote in 2005. “It’s the place to get down-to-earth, price-is-right, good American food. Like big burgers, spicy chili and homemade soup — the house specialty. Or your favorite sandwich. It gets better. The luncheonette, where the locals also chow down at breakfast, has a storied history.”
- Rock Hill Bakehouse, Matt Funicello’s enduring contribution to the community, a beguiling blend of freshly baked artisan breads, inventive soups and sandwiches, strong coffee and open mic night – with a dash of progressive politics;
- Jack’s American Bistro on Upper Glen Street in Queensbury, where those experienced hands, Jack, David and Chris Gates, prove to their loyal following each evening that high-quality ingredients still make all the difference. (Savor the scallops, schrod or haddock.)
- The Gourmet Café, where Chef Francis’ pasta night is not-to-be-missed appointment dining and delectable sandwiches and soups bring in an appreciative lunchtime crowd daily.
Or perhaps they’ll drop by our best new venues, Susan Stone’s North Country Coffee Café in the Empire Theater on South Street, and Tamara Stevens’ Orange Cat Café in the former Boston Candy Kitchen on Elm Street.
“Glens Falls is a funny old town,” Cheryl Clark concludes. “If you stand outside Raul’s, on one of the five legs of Centennial Circle, the winter sky to the east is blotted out by plumes from industrial smokestacks. The night glows with neon pizza and fast-food marquees and the frenetic inducements of the Glens Falls Civic Center. But from this same stretch of aging industrial downtown springs forth an increasing collection of culinary treasures …”
Indeed, Glens Falls can support an outstanding collection of culinary treasures, in part, because a strong and diverse industrial and employment base remains very much alive here. It’s all good.
NewsCorp’s long-awaited The Daily, a newsmagazine for the iPad, is what a lot of longtime journalists have seen coming but had neither the resources nor, I suppose, the imagination to pull off.
A lot of people will grumble because of the political leanings of the man behind the venture, but to focus on the artist and not the art is to miss exactly how spectacular The Daily really is.
The 360-degree photos. The animated, high-def advertisements. The interactive news content. The eye-popping graphics. Even the timed crossword puzzle that lets you test your solving skills against other users. It’s all there.
The stories themselves are more USA Today than Wall Street Journal, which is to say, tight, to the point and fairly pedestrian in terms of narrative quality. The Daily, in short, is what the traditional newspaper was (including your local weather), only cleaner, smarter, cheaper and a lot more interesting.
There are bugs to work out — the touchscreen doesn’t always respond as it’s designed to, and the content can take a while to load — but I expect NewsCorp and Apple will get those ironed out very quickly.
Time will tell whether it’s revolutionary in the way we read our news or just another fad. It’s free for an introductory period, but is that enough to hook people who are accustomed to getting their news online for free? After Feb. 16, the cost to read The Daily is $40 a year (or 99 cents a week).
Call it a hunch, but I think The Daily is here to stay. BC
When you think about sandwich meats and social media, it’s hard to imagine the two are a recipe for success, but for baked goods staple Sara Lee, they came together perfectly.
Kind of like peanut butter and jelly. (Now that’s some good sandwich humor right there!)
Sara Lee has a loyal consumer base when it comes to their baked goods, but hadn’t captured the same affection for its sliced sandwich meats. So the company hired Chicago’s O’Malley & Hansen to help build awareness and drive sales of its deli meats line.
Through a well-executed strategy, Sara Lee determined that its target consumers — mothers between 25 and 45 — incorrectly thought packaged meat lagged behind deli-counter meat in freshness and quality.
To change this, Sara Lee engaged moms using social media along with a video campaign titled “Mama Sagas.”
To say the campaign was a success would be an understatement. With 2.2 million video views and 200,000 Facebook views, the folks at Sara Lee got the kind of results they can sink their teeth into. RJ
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