The Week: What Caught Our Eye

January 29, 2022

A ship stuck under a bridge in the ice-covered Hudson RiverAs ice jams broke up on the morning of January 25, 2019, the cruise boat Captain JP broke loose for a quick trip down the Hudson, until it met the Livingston Avenue Bridge in Rensselaer.  (John Bulmer)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Forty-three years ago today, President Jimmy Carter formally welcomed Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping to the White House to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the world’s most populous country, a birthplace of civilization, and now one of its foremost economic powers. The XXIV Olympic Winter Games open in Beijing Friday.

Fifty years ago this week, an airplane was hijacked at what was then known as Albany Airport. Everyone remembers D.B. Cooper, the hijacker who in 1972 parachuted out of a plane over Washington state and disappeared forever. Almost no one remembers the jobless, debt-ridden father of seven, Heinrick von George of Brockton, Mass., who tried the same thing in Albany two months later but didn’t live to spend the $200,000 he demanded. 

YOU NEVER KNOW: Yolanda Antequera grew up in public housing in Brooklyn, attended New York City public schools, and parlayed a Hunter College economics degree into a job as a bookkeeper in the 1980s. She and her future husband, Miguel, settled in Albany. The New York Lottery announced in 1990 it would hire a television hostess. The job seemed like a longshot for Yolanda. Lacking in experience but not temerity, she auditioned nevertheless and hit the $12-an-hour jackpot. The lottery announcer job eventually earned her name recognition from Massena to Montauk, praise from Oprah, mocking by Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, and immortality as a bobblehead doll. This week, the Empire State’s all-time best vowel roller, Yooooolannnnda Vega, announced she’s retiring.

CRASH COURSE: New York magazine has a jaw-dropping, richly reported piece on the family that owned Prestige Limousine, involved in the deadliest transportation disaster in a decade when one of its vehicles, which should not have been on the road, crashed in rural Schoharie County, N.Y., killing 20 people. It’s the story of an avoidable tragedy, of deep, seething  injustice, and a family that has long avoided serious consequences for despicable behavior and business practices. The article raises a searing question: Was that family protected all these years because their patriarch is a notorious FBI informant?

PALIN V. TIMES: The New York Times has not lost a libel case in the United States in 50 years. You might conclude The Times has not libeled a public figure in more than half a century. Or you might say the standard for a public figure to prove libel by a media organization in the United States is impossible to meet. Either way, pay close attention to the trial about to start in federal court in New York where former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is suing The Times for falsely claiming in an editorial that her political rhetoric led to a mass shooting near Tucson, Ariz., in 2011 that left six people dead and 14 wounded, including Gabrielle Giffords, then a Democratic member of Congress. The inaccurate and potentially libelous claim in the editorial was added by a former Times editor whose brother also is a Democratic member of Congress.

TURNING THE KNIFE: Never one to overlook the foibles of an ideological foe, The Times and other media gave generous coverage this week to Sarah Palin eating dinner twice at the same New York restaurant after testing positive for COVID.

BUY NOW: Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet — which after Apple are the second-, third- and fourth-largest companies on the planet by market value — announced more acquisitions in 2021 than any year in the past decade, just ahead of an expected antitrust cold front.

REUNITED: Teddy escaped death by euthanasia in a shelter in California when he was adopted by a family in Washington, D.C., who spotted the shepherd mix on Instagram. Then, for reasons only Teddy understands, he bolted from his adoptive family while on vacation in Pennsylvania. Now after seven months roaming Pennsylvania and New York, a rotisserie chicken brought him home. On the other side of the Atlantic, a 3-year-old Jack Russell-whippet mix that had slipped its leash was stuck on a mud flat with a rapidly rising tide. With little time to act, rescuers came up with a solution: dangling sausage from a drone and using it to coax her to safety. It worked.

ENJOY TROY: Troy, N.Y., looks its best in a starring role in the new HBO series “The Gilded Age,” but The New York Times is unimpressed with producer Julian Fellowes’ 10-years-in-the-making follow-up to “Downton Abbey,” calling it a superficial slacker.

WINTER WONDERS: For diners in the snowy Adirondacks, it’s time to get your igloo on. Saratoga Living names the top outdoor winter dining spots, including the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls, the Inn at Erlowest in Lake George, and the Barrel and Bolton Landing Brewing Company in Bolton Landing.

PENNSYLVANIA WELCOMES YOU: When a pickup and a dump truck collided in frigid weather near Danville, Pa., last week, the pickup’s cargo escaped: 100 cynomolgus macaque monkeys that had just arrived from Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, and were on their way to a Centers for Disease Control quarantine facility. They roamed the snowy Pennsylvania countryside for a day, but by late Saturday the vacation was over.

PENCILS DOWN: The SAT, the stress-inducing marathon test that is the bane of practically every college-bound high school student, is switching to an all-digital format beginning in 2023. The test also is being reduced from three hours to two. Testing will still take place at a test center or school, with students choosing between using their own device and something provided at the test site.

Snow and ice-covered trees and mountainsThe winter wonderland that is the Adirondacks never ceases to send a (literal and figurative) chill up and down the spine. This view came from the team at Gore Mountain.

UP THE CREEK AND LOVING IT: A major new winter destination is proposed in North Creek, N.Y. The Olympic Regional Development Authority seeks to build a $30-million lodge and “rail zipline” among other amenities at the North Creek Ski Bowl. The 18,300-square-foot lodge would feature a giant glass wall providing unobstructed views of Gore Mountain, a restaurant and tavern, ski and mountain biking equipment shops, ski patrol headquarters, and two levels of patios for dining. 

OPPORTUNITY BUBBLES UP: You’ve enjoyed wine bars and ice bars, sports bars and dive bars. Now, if you live near Saratoga Springs, N.Y., you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy (subscription required) a champagne bar.

MONEY AND HAPPINESS: We’ve been told all our lives that money can’t buy happiness, and it’s true that mindset has a lot more to do with a sense of satisfaction and well-being than one’s resources. We’ve all known wealthy people who were miserable and people whose financial struggles seem not diminish their sense of joy. But it’s also true that having money considerably eases the stress and hassles of daily life, according to new research testing the relationship between cash and life satisfaction. “The question is, when problems come your way, to what extent do you feel like you can deal with them, that you can walk through life and know everything is going to be OK,” said Harvard assistant professor Jon Jachimowicz, who conducted the research.

SUPPORT FOR SKIDMORE: On his first day in office on July 1, 2020, amid a national reckoning over race, Skidmore College’s new president, Dr. Marc C. Conner, announced an initiative to address the realities of racial injustice locally, nationally and globally. Now, the largest supporter of arts and humanities in the United States, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has awarded Skidmore College $1.185 million to support its efforts to seek new ways to correct disparities and inequities.

LOCAL ATTRACTION: Bird watchers are, ahem, flocking to the Central Maine coast to marvel at the sight of a rare species of eagle that is native to northeastern Asia and about twice as large as a bald eagle. The Steller’s sea eagle arrived in December and seems in no hurry to leave, dining on an abundance of fish and ducks. Scientists have no idea how the bird ended up in Maine.

RAIL FOR SALE: A 30-mile stretch of track between North Creek and Tahawus, N.Y., last operated by the defunct Saratoga and North Creek Railway, is for sale, part of the liquidation process overseen by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Revolution Rail, which operates a rail-biking business utilizing the line, has offered $700,000. Any competing bid must be at least $750,000, and Revolution Rail, which said it plans to offer limited freight service as well, will have the right to offer a higher bid. Bids are due Feb. 23.

SPAC IS BACK: The Saratoga Performing Arts Center this week announced that the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra will return for their traditional summer residencies after two years of COVID-related disruptions. The ballet will perform July 12-16, the orchestra July 27-Aug. 13. Tickets will be available starting in March.

WORM WHISPERER: Bill Richmond is great at digging. As a Behan vice president in charge of strategic business research, he’s a master at unearthing documents and correspondence that give our clients a true picture of what’s happening behind the scenes on a particular issue. He’s also the founder and owner of Adirondack Worm Farm, and will teach about his curbside composting business and his methods as part of the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District’s virtual Farm Talk Series at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3.

BEST OF THE BEST: Ted Williams called her the best pitcher he ever faced. That’s right, her. Her name is Joan Joyce, and in addition to being widely considered the greatest softball player ever, she played 19 years on the LPGA tour, is a member of the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, was an all-east regional player for the United States Volleyball Association and has won more than 900 games as the head softball coach at Florida Atlantic University. Did we mention that she could throw the ball at the equivalent speed of a 119 mph fastball and struck out Hank Aaron?

EXPERIMENTAL LEAGUE: Major League Baseball has been tinkering with ideas to liven up the game and turn over umpiring duties to robots to call balls and strikes, removing subjectivity from the equation. The independent Atlantic League served as a laboratory for a couple of baseball experiments this year, and the league’s president discussed what they learned with NPR.

NO CRAZY HORSE, HE:  Singer Neil Young, whose many hits include “Old Man,” “Heart of Gold” and “Ohio,” this week instructed his team to issue Spotify an ultimatum: Drop Joe Rogan’s podcast or get Young’s content off the platform. Young accused Rogan of spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, “potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them.” Spotify has removed 20,000 podcast episodes containing COVID misinformation, including more than 40 episodes of Rogan's podcast , which has an estimated 11 million listeners. And now, they’ve removed Neil Young’s catalog.

LIVES

CASSIDY JONES was a soccer aficionado in a soccer town. He played for the powerhouse Shenendehowa High School program in Clifton Park, N.Y., and helped teach the game in the area’s youth programs and as head coach of the junior varsity team at his alma mater. “We’ve lost someone who was an incredibly big presence in the community,” the school’s athletic director told the Albany Times Union. “He spent thousands upon thousands of hours on soccer fields across Clifton Park. I think he loved everything that the game gave him. He wanted all kids to experience that.” Jones died at 49 of complications from lymphoma.

CARMELA SUHOCKI was born in Amsterdam but spent most of the last 103 years in Schenectady. She died Saturday, at just shy of 104 years of age, in the home she and her husband built and where they spent 65 years together. She was a shopper, a gardener, the center of family gatherings, and for her lucky great-grandchildren, the steward of a large, ever-replenished box of shiny new toys. She will be buried in the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.

RICHARD BERNARD HALLIGAN was born in Troy and grew up in a home filled with music in Glens Falls, N.Y., a classically trained composer and performer best known for his contribution to the band Blood, Sweat & Tears. He spent the latter half of his musical career as a composer for film, television and commercials. 

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

A tweet from Curt Schilling: Every year the conversation revolves around who didn’t get in. Like all star voting, who got cheated. I say it every year and especially this year, focus on who did get in.  @davidortiz  deserved a 1st ballot induction! Congratulations my friend you earned it! #bigpapiHoFFormer Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz this week became the only player selected by the Baseball Writers Association of America for induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2022. Former teammate Curt Schilling, who tweeted congratulations to Ortiz, missed the 75% threshold required for enshrinement, as did Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who no longer will be considered by the BBWAA. The induction ceremony is scheduled for July 24 in Cooperstown.

THE SIGNOFF

FOUND MONEY: Laura Spears was looking in her email spam folder for a message when she stumbled upon a weeks-old notification from the Michigan Lottery informing her that she was the winner of a $3 million jackpot. "I definitely added the Michigan Lottery to my safe senders list,” she told The Detroit News.

- - - 

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, John Bulmer, Tara Hutchins, Claire P. Tuttle, Kelly Donahue, and Katie Alessi.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback.  

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

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