The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 9, 2019

Raparius Frost at Sunrise EDPP.jpgFrost covers Riparius at dawn. The Warren County hamlet was once Riverside,
before that Folsom Landing. (
Eric Potter)

Happy Veterans Day! With our sincere gratitude and admiration to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces – those who have served and those who protect us today.

FIFTY SHADES OF UPSTATE: You Fifty Shaders will recognize this set up right away. He’s the soave, gifted, captivating academic, a full professor. He meets a sweet, innocent graduate student. We discover his true expertise lies in uninhibited pleasure. Seduction and mystery follow, with hints of a dark past. It’s “Gabriel’s Inferno,” a trilogy based on the books by Sylvain Renard now being filmed in its entirety in Syracuse and directed by Tosca Musk, the sister of Elon Musk. Not to be left out of the action, at Hollywood East in the Adirondacks, it’s money, not sex on screen. “Succession” came to film in the region first, and now the Showtime hit “Billions” is filming at Whiteface Mountain.

HOW ABOUT THOSE BEANS? Death Wish Coffee is going strong. The black-packaged, skull-and-crossbones, fiercely caffeinated brew hit mugs nationwide when founder Mike Brown scored a free Super Bowl ad (worth $5 million) in 2016. Now, Death Wish is selling on Amazon and in grocery stores, it’s tripled its revenue, and it’s bringing in an experienced COO to guide the next stage of growth. Mike Brown used to sell coffee on Broadway in Saratoga Springs. Now, he’s selling it from Bangor to Baja.

NON-PROFIT NEWS: For the first time, the Internal Revenue Service has granted non-profit status to a daily newspaper, the venerable family-owned Salt Lake Tribune. A non-profit daily? Sure. Think of the public radio model. Charitable contributions and grants, if they materialize, could supplement sponsorship and subscription revenue. Overt political activity would be banned, so no more editorial endorsements. A community-based Board of Directors would be appointed to oversee the enterprise. This may be a path forward for some struggling local dailies and weeklies and a way to keep essential local journalism alive.

Phalens.jpgCraig and Meghan Phalen on their wedding day. He cooked,
she ran the newspaper and the community benefited.

THE OBITUARY: Meghan Phalen was living the back-breaking reality of many professional journalists’ romantic dreams. Five years ago, she and her husband Craig purchased the weekly newspaper in the community where they grew up. The Greenwich Journal and Salem Press is no ordinary publication. It’s deeply, proudly local, it’s been around for 177 years and is one of the oldest continuously published newspapers in America. The Phalens and their children threw their heart, soul and money into the venture and kept the journalistic tradition alive. They were fully immersed in the life of the community. Craig worked for the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and owned and operated Un Petit Cochon, a catering and roadside BBQ business in Coila. Meghan covered local meetings, wrote news stories, designed ads, laid out the paper, managed the finances and delivered the finished product. Then, on October 21, Craig died suddenly at 44. Now, Meghan needs to focus on her family and their future. The paper is for sale.

ORANGE, SQUEEZED: Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Journalism has turned out hundreds of well-trained journalists over the years (Ted Koppel, Steve Kroft, Jeff Glor and Bob Costas, to name four) and many got their start on the fabled, independent, student-run newspaper, The Daily Orange, known as the DO. But what’s happening to newspapers everywhere is squeezing the Orange, too. It remains in business, but the O is no longer D. Still, enrollment in journalism programs is on the increase.

WIDE PRAISE: Far and Wide, the online site for travel buffs, food and wine enthusiasts and frequent flyers with 2.5 million readers monthly, loves Bar Harbor, Stowe, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Cape May, but says Lake Placid tops them all with a spot in the top 15 Best Small Towns in America. And, this is interesting: Far and Wide speculates that the term “vacation” may have originated in the Adirondacks, the summer refuge of people vacating sweltering New York City.

NEW PULSE: The State University at New Paltz receives more applications than any other school in the State University of New York system, and its acceptance rate makes it one of the 10 most selective public universities in the country.


HUMANITARIAN’S HOME RUN: Earlier this year, Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis — the oldest and longest-tenured Oriole — went hitless in a record-setting 54 consecutive at bats. He was booed lustily after every swing. This week, Davis and his wife gave Baltimore three million reasons to cheer.

SAVIOR AND SAVED: Melpomeni Dina was just a teenager during the German occupation of Greece in World War II 75 years ago. She and her two young sisters risked their lives to help save a family from the Nazis. This week, Melpomeni, now 92, was reunited with a woman she rescued and her extended family. It may be the last reunion of its kind.

RACHAEL TO THE RESCUE: A clowder of cats and a kindle of kittens are now living in cage-free Adirondack-style splendor on Long Island, thanks to Lake George’s Rachael Ray.

SONGS OF LOVE: By night, and often campfire light, the Adirondack singer songwriter Brian (Chip) Chevalier entertains adult audiences, with a homey repertoire honed over 30 years and the gentle wit with which he was born. But it’s his day job that has far greater impact. He helps kids find their hearts through music, with character education and anti-bullying programs — and the kids help write the songs.

DAD TIMES 30: He was a hard-working, divorced caterer in Buffalo, a father of two, when he accepted his first foster child in 2002. But so many other kids in the foster-care system also needed help, and soon he opened his home to 30 more. They’re grown now, but he’s not done. He’s just adopted five siblings under the age of 6.

YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND: We don’t recommend this to amateurs, but we were touched by this story of a long friendship.  Sonya and Jonathan were close when she was young. They loved to play together. But they have not seen each other in years. When she heard his voice last week, she remembered immediately and there was a warm and wonderful reunion.


THE CORNERED OFFICE: It’s been a tough year for CEOs. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, recently stripped of his Chairman title, got a big vote of confidence this week from his new Board Chair David Calhoun. But more CEOs have been shown the door this year than in the past. Boards and shareholders are showing far less patience.

NEED MORE REST? FORGIVE SOMEBODY: Four in ten Upstate New York adults are not getting enough sleep. It’s particularly the case among women. Maybe we should take the advice of a new study that says forgive somebody.

FACTORIES OF HAPPINESS: They once housed the workers and machines that made paper or textiles, curtains or electrical equipment, these hulking, old brick riverside factories of New England. But those businesses have long since departed. Still, the stately, looming structures with wide open floors and long, sunny windows exert a magnetic appeal. Inside, they’re full of life and making something different. They’re converting opportunity into happiness.


REBRANDING CAPITALISM: Pollster Frank Luntz, author of “Words That Work; It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear,” says support for capitalism is weak among millennials, but changing what we call it  — calling it economic freedom, for instance — could help boost support.


LOCAL FOOD, BUT NOWHERE TO BUY IT: Food deserts are a problem nationwide. Last week, we told you about how Stewart’s is addressing the problem in Upstate New York. What’s ironic is that many communities that grow America’s food are fresh out of grocery stores. Some are characteristically taking matters into their own hands, but will their neighbors skip the trip to Walmart and buy local?

EAT LIKE A NATIVE: Can you truly eat as our ancestors did? Just in time for Thanksgiving, Sioux Chef Sean Sherman thinks we should discover the historic flavors of the lands we occupy. Maybe add assertive blackberry and seaweed tang to your salmon? Try a sprig of cedar with braised meat and game. Or savor a Three Sisters Bowl of Hominy, Beans and Squash this Thanksgiving.

STRONG SHOWING IN TOUGH START: Syracuse basketball had its worst offensive performance in 74 years in its season opener against NCAA defending champs Virginia Wednesday night, but Glens Falls native Joseph Girard III ran point for much of the game and made his presence felt, scoring the first three-pointer of his college career. The Orange have high hopes for him.

SHE FLIES AS AN EAGLE: Last week, we mentioned that Megyn Kelly was a graduate of Guilderland High School. She is not a Flying Dutchman. She is an Eagle of Bethlehem High School. Apologies all around.


In honor of all active duty members of our military and all veterans:


This singing beagle had us (and a lot of other people) laughing all week.

THANK YOU to our contributors: John Brodt, Bill Richmond, Bill Callen, Lisa Fenwick, Colleen Potter, Tina Suhocki, Claire P. Tuttle and Matt Behan.

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.

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. 

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