The Week: What Caught Our Eye

January 9, 2021

A brown horse running in a snowy paddock.Who doesn’t love a romp in the fresh-fallen snow? Mr. Monomoy, now in retirement, finds his joy at Waldorf Farm in North Chatham. (Skip Dickstein)

Good morning, Colleagues and Friends.

Welcome to the 100th issue of Facing Out.

We set out each week to inspire and elevate. We favor doers and dreamers, people of good will who energize others and achieve the unexpected. We take pride in progress. We like institutions dedicated to excellence and the public good. We tend toward the sentimental. We enjoy the wacky and the curious. We favor food, wine and dogs, baseball and football (other sports, too), imagination and ambition, big ideas and wit. We celebrate lives of service and consequence. In this noisy, overcrowded media world, our mission is to raise a flag for good because bad news needs no help and good news needs all the help it can get. 

We generally follow the sound advice of our readers to avoid politics, but the events of this week cannot be ignored. Silence is assent.

Even in this most disturbing hour, however, there is reason for hope and pride. The Republic was rocked to its core. And yet the Republic still stands.

Protection of voting rights and fair elections is indispensable to democracy. Violence is its undoing. This week the President of the United States incited a violent assault on the Capitol that resulted in injury, death and destruction of public property. He consigned himself to a place in American history of permanent ignominy. Capitol security forces were inexplicably unprepared for events that had been widely publicized. The Vice President, members of Congress, their staffs, members of the public and news media and law enforcement officers were placed in mortal danger. An investigation into the failure to prepare is essential.

And still, even though it was violently interrupted, the work of our Democracy went on. The Republic still stands.

“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history,” President Lincoln said. “We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.’’

May this generation be remembered for demonstrating to the warily watching world that we remain worthy of their respect and confidence, that the rule of law abides, that the Republic still stands, and that we are still capable of “nobly saving the last best hope of Earth.’’

A RISING STAR: Katelyn Hobbs began writing plays when she was six. At Glens Falls High School, she excelled in music, theater, speech and debate, established a Youth Theater Guild and directed annual productions to raise money for church and charitable projects. Now, she’s been called to a larger stage. The mom of two toddlers has just been named to a key position in President-elect Biden’s White House.

A PROMISE FULFILLED: Maura Moynihan’s dad revered Pennsylvania Station in New York City, where he shined shoes to help his mother pay the rent. He was heartbroken when the grand old station was razed in 1963 to make room for Madison Square Garden. The late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan worked for decades to right that civic wrong, a fight Maura, who was born in Albany, vowed to continue. She was among the invited guests of Gov. Cuomo when the ribbon was cut at the new Moynihan Train Hall, a soaring and spectacular hub created from the husk of a long-abandoned mail sorting room in the old James A. Farley Post Office Building.

MAKING HISTORY: The Warren County Board of Supervisors has been electing chairs since 1888. They made history Friday, choosing Rachel Seeber as the first female board leader. Supervisor Seeber represents the Town of Queensbury and succeeds Stony Creek Supervisor Frank Thomas who has served the county and his community for many years and most recently during the Coronavirus pandemic. In neighboring Saratoga County, Moreau Supervisor Todd Kusnierz has been elected chair of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, and the board has chosen former Congressman Chris Gibson aide Steven Bulger as the new county administrator.

2020 HINDSIGHT: Try as we might, we all can agree that 2020 was unforgettable. Rather than dwell on what went wrong, the editor in chief of Fortune magazine spent some time celebrating 20 things that went right, including the record number of people who voted in the U.S. elections in November, advances in science, improved air quality and the emergence of an octogenarian sex symbol. Dolly Parton makes an appearance, too, for her generosity and her leadership.

SERIOUS BREAD: Cordia Harrington is no stranger to risk. She has started three businesses, all during economic downturns. The most recent, the Bakery Cos., opened in 1997, and nearly collapsed soon after. Today its six industrial bakeries pump out some 9 million baked goods daily for 1,500 customers, including Five Guys and Pepperidge Farm, and Harrington is one of America’s richest self-made women entrepreneurs.

A BOOST FROM BARSTOOL: Barstool Sports grew from a startup publication in Boston to an immensely popular, multi-media sports and pop culture destination, and in the process made its founder, Dave Portnoy, a very wealthy man. Fed up with the federal government’s lack of pandemic relief for restaurants and other small businesses, he started his own relief fund with $500,000 of his own money and urged his audience to pitch in. An Italian restaurant in Catskill is among its beneficiaries.

GETTING OUT

FREAK OF NATURE: Kai Jones isn’t old enough to drive, which may be a good thing, considering the fearlessness with which the 14-year-old freeskiing sensation approaches his high-adrenaline sport. “I always say to myself,” he told The New York Times, “‘How far can I push it and not make my mom scared?’”

FIND ME A SLED: The latest COVID-19 shortage is in snowmobiles. “I think everyone has been cooped up for too long,” says Dominic Jacangelo, executive director of the New York State Snowmobile Association.

UPWARD SLOPE: Ski areas in New York are reporting robust business, in no small measure because of pandemic rules that are making even short hops to places like Vermont and Massachusetts difficult. Speaking of skiing, meet the National Brotherhood of Skiers, a group that, since 1973, has been working to attract more Black skiers to the sport. “Outside” has a compelling oral history featuring the organization’s pioneers.

A parade of cars with canoes on top.No more fitting tribute than a line of Pete Hornbeck Boat-topped cars in North Creek. Below: Pete and his grandsons Rushton and Devlin, sons of his daughter Leigh (on the left) and husband Josh Trombley.  (Nancie Battaglia)

A BUILDER OF BOATS AND SO MUCH MORE: To honor the memory of legendary Adirondack boatbuilder Pete Hornbeck, his many friends organized a tribute he would have loved – a “boat parade” through Blue Mountain Lake, Indian Lake and North Creek, three of the many communities he touched as school teacher, environmental advocate, community leader, storyteller and maker of lightweight boats. NancieB_HornbeckFamily.jpeg
Pete died December 26 after completing a Christmas hike with his family. His boats, some weighing as little as 12 pounds, helped open Adirondack lakes and ponds to thousands of people who could not carry heavier vessels. For all of the acclaim Pete received as a boat builder, old friends remember his early days as a teacher when he let kids outside to learn about trees and dirt and rivers, encouraged kids to read all the books they could get their hands on, and sketched his students and presented the results as a gift to their parents. 

THE DURABLE DOZEN: The 12 children of the D’Cruz family, native to Pakistan but now living at points around the globe, have set a Guinness World Record for highest combined age of siblings. As of mid-December, when the record was confirmed, the nine women and three men were a combined 1,042 years and 315 days old. They range in age from 75 to 97.

PANDEMIC, YEAR 2: So, what’s in store as we enter the second year of the pandemic? Ashish Jha, for one, is hopeful. The dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, Jha said he wants to host a July 4th barbecue at his home in Newton, Mass. He is among the 30 epidemiologists, physicians, immunologists, sociologists, and historians interviewed by The Atlantic, who together expressed cautious optimism that the U.S. is headed for a better summer.

AMENITY FOR OUR TIMES: Realtors are accustomed to highlighting the features any homeowner would appreciate — two-car garage, finished basement, backyard pool, good schools. Now we find a thoroughly modern amenity: Well-appointed to work from home.

ART WITH MEANING: Alex Smith, the quarterback of the Washington Football Team, suffered a gruesome and harrowing injury in the 2018 season that nearly cost him his leg, and possibly his life. That he returned to play professional football is borderline incredible. He wore a metal brace for months, and his wife had an idea for a Christmas gift that a metal artist in Indiana took a step further: He turned the brace into something resembling the Lombardi Trophy.

HELPING HANDS: Sy Newsom Green was thriving in the private Catholic school he was attending in California, but a series of events, including both parents losing their jobs and enduring health crises, made his continued enrollment impossible. Or so it seemed, until a group of inmates at a nearby prison heard about his plight. They pooled their earnings — a base wage of 8 cents an hour for many of their daily jobs — over three years, donating $24,000 to keep him in the school he loved.

XBOX TURNS XX: The Xbox has become one of the most successful gaming consoles in the world, generating more than $11 billion a year in video game sales for Microsoft, a company that before the Xbox was driven by sales of software. The Xbox turns 20 this year, and Bloomberg marks the occasion with an oral history of an American gaming powerhouse, beginning with the initial brainstorming.

LIVES

CORNELIUS MAHONEY SHEEHAN grew up on his family’s dairy farm outside Holyoke, Mass., attended Mass on Sunday and Harvard on a scholarship, and joined the Army in 1958, where he picked up some journalism experience. When he left the service four years later, United Press International hired him in Saigon to cover the Vietnam War for $75 a week. By 1971, he was back in New York, having graduated to The New York Times, when he found the story that would define his career and his life: The largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, the Pentagon Papers. 

BILL LAMBDIN was a fixture in Capital Region news for decades, a Broadalbin native who developed a reputation for asking the toughest questions of those in power. He spent all but five years of his career as a television journalist in Upstate New York, including 34 years at WNYT-NewsChannel 13. He died unexpectedly on January 2.

HOWARD RUBINSTEIN was the man powerful people called when they were in trouble and needed someone to lead them out. He became New York City’s preeminent public relations practitioner, skilled at putting out fires and rebuilding reputations that were scorched in the flames. He knew how to work the press, and his clients were the beneficiaries. He died December 28.

TOMMY LASORDA may actually have bled Dodger blue. He was selected by the Brooklyn Dodgers in the minor league draft after the 1948 season, the year in which he had one of the most memorable performances ever seen on a Capital Region baseball diamond, and except for a brief detour to Kansas City, never left. After his playing career ended, he was a scout, a minor league manager with a talent for developing players, a colorful and charismatic third base coach and, finally, the manager of the Dodgers, a job he held for 20 season until retiring because of health concerns. He won two World Series as a manger, and was in attendance when the Dodgers clinched the 2020 championship. He was 93.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“When our land is illum’d with Liberty's smile,
If a foe from within strike a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that dares to defile
The flag of her stars and the page of her story!

By the millions unchain’d, who our birthright have gained,
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!

And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.’’

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ lyrics added in 1861 to Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner.’

THE SIGNOFF

SEALING A NEW FRIENDSHIP: A playful seal shows up in the mid-Hudson River, and luckily a guy who knows how to handle a camera was there to record his frolicking new friend.

PLEASE SHARE: Feel free to pass this along to your friends and colleagues.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Nancie Battaglia, Skip Dickstein, Tara Hutchins, Matt Behan, Claire P. Tuttle, Kelly Donahue, John Brodt and Lisa Fenwick.

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 or interest 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 conversation:  mark.behan@behancom.com

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