The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 22, 2020

Winter landscape scene with bright sun looking over a lake at the mountains with snowCold and clear days provide a serene beauty along Lake George that rival any sun-splashed summer day.  (Crown Focus Media)

SHEAR GENIUS: It’s played for 40 years at the Charles Theater in Boston. It’s played the Kennedy Center and off Broadway. It’s still a fan favorite in Chicago. And in Philly. It’s played in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, and Seoul. It was voted "Best Comedy of the Year" seven times by The Boston Globe and named "Best Play of the Year" by both the Chicago Sun-Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Twelve and a half million people have seen it. It’s been translated into 23 languages and inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame, the first play ever so honored. The longest-running non-musical play in American history, now at 42 years and counting, began in 1978 at the Lake George Dinner Theatre. “Shear Madness,” the hilarious, audience-participation murder mystery, was created by Bruce Jordan of Schenectady, Marilyn Abrams of Albany and the late, great talent David Eastwood of Glens Falls. Having achieved landmark status on the American stage, it’s coming back to Lake George this summer.

ABSORB THE BERKSHIRE VIBE: In summer, Berkshire County, “on the crunchy western edge of the Massachusetts brownie pan,” is Tanglewood, cocktails on the Red Lion Inn porch, and quiet strolls through the Italian gardens on Edith Wharton’s estate. Come winter’s quiet, there’s even more to discover: Tourists, the hotel in the North Adams forest; Mass MoCa, the art museum that transformed a community; the Clark (“who knew there were so many Degases out here in the country?”); and imaginative cuisine around every hill and dale. Yankee Magazine takes a long, appreciative look at a place where the point is “not to be seen … but to get away, to create, and to absorb the vibe of what’s already here.”

BONNE IDÉE: New York vacation communities are debating how to regulate Airbnbs and other short-term rentals. The French are embracing them and offering tax incentives. France normally imposes a 20 percent value-added tax on property purchases, but that tax is now refunded to buyers of newly built properties who are willing to rent them to vacationers. On top of that, the transfer tax is slashed. The benefits are available across France but mostly used in the Alps because they’re aimed at supporting the tourism industry by encouraging owners to make more beds available.


A COQ AU VIN IN EVERY POT: Mike Bloomberg fans were left wondering about their guy after Wednesday’s food fight, but at least they could worry on a full stomach. The former New York mayor is fast becoming a campaign-trail legend with moveable feasts for supporters: smoked salmon with capers and chopped eggs, Cuban sandwiches and kosher pigs in a blanket, empanadas, steak sandwiches, pao de queijo, taro fries, spring rolls, and Vietnamese wings. Next up: campaign button mushrooms. Just when you thought you could not stomach more politics.

WATERING HOLES OF DISTINCTION: Have you pulled up a velvety stool and sipped a Manhattan at the old Campbell Apartment? Oh, do, dear, if you can elbow your way into one of the oldest and most beautiful bars in New York. It’s right there, hiding in plain sight in Grand Central Terminal. Check out the Campbell, Fraunces Tavern, McSorley’s and other great haunts.

GONNA FINNISH THAT? The national drink of Finland? Well, that’s now made in Utica, N.Y., of course, just as it should be. It’s the Long Drink, a blend of gin and grapefruit soda, way ahead of its time when it was developed, and now being introduced in the United States.

BREW YORK, BREW YORK: It’s an Empire State brew inside and out, made with 100% New York-grown ingredients from upstate farms and served in a blue and gold can that sports an “I Love NY” logo, an "S" for Syracuse University, a "Visit Adirondacks" logo and a buffalo in recognition of the city. Introducing the Governor’s IPA, a libation proclamation and soon to be a sensation across the nation, created to recognize Gov. Cuomo’s support of the farm brewery business in New York.

THE LAKE EFFECT: Straight out of the ’50s, it’s one of the last dining car-style diners in America, full of nostalgia and hearty food, serving locally grown produce from Western New York's farms, homemade bread and rolls and house-smoked Applewood bacon, turkey, ham, roast beef, and corned beef. Triple D’s Guy Fieri has been there, and now Buffalo’s Lake Effect Diner has landed on "Jeopardy!"


TOGETHER FOREVER: He is 107, she 105. They met in a zoology class at the University of Texas in the middle of the Great Depression. They went out for a Coke on their first date and still enjoy a glass of wine together at night. Meet the world’s oldest married couple.

HEATING UP: The race for Mayor of Paris is a hot one. One now-former candidate is a married father of three who ran on a family values platform, an ally of President Emmanuel Macron. Inconveniently for him, some racy videos and texts he sent to a woman he was dating have surfaced. Now, his former girlfriend and her current boyfriend, a Russian performance artist, the pair suspected of making the videos and texts public, may be charged with invasion of privacy and publishing videos and texts of a sexual nature.

A SISTER’S REGRET: Diane Keaton is 74 now and looking back over a long, wonderful career filled with accomplishment, acclaim, awards and the abiding adulation of her fans. And yet what abides in Diane Keaton is sadness and regret for her brother.

Photo of a winter landscape with frost and snow on evergreen treesThis leap year provides a bonus Saturday next week to take in winter spectacles like this view near Austin Pond in North Creek. (Eric Potter)


THEY’VE GOT US COMING AND GOING: Hotels and airlines used to price their offerings based on peak demand, historical sales and the number of current reservations. Savvy travelers knew when to buy, when to wait, and when to grab a good deal. AI is changing everything. Now, adjustments in travel pricing are being made dozens of times a day. All aboard for “hyperdynamic pricing?’’

A STORY FOR EVERY STORY: A docking station for dirigibles? A skyscraper built in only 14 months – in the United States? A scene from “Rosemary’s Baby?” A 22-story building with no restrooms for women? Take a behind-the-scenes look at some of New York’s most famous landmarks.

FALLS REPORTING: Niagara Falls is 12,000 years old, a backdrop for movies, a siren to daredevils, selfie stop for honeymooners, and an ice age marvel with enough energy to power 3.8 million homes. That we know. What we can’t seem to pin down is how many people visit each year.

THE POINT: George Washington saw the unparalleled strategic value. He hired Thaddeus Kosciuszko, one of the heroes of The Battle of Saratoga, to design the fortifications. John Adams agreed: America needed an institution to train engineers and artillerists, soldiers and future generals. Thomas Jefferson signed the document that created America’s military academy for those men who would uphold the principles of democracy. West Point, the training ground for Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley, Arnold, Clark, Patton, Stilwell and Wainwright, is the oldest continuously operated military post in America.

VALLEY BOYS: What famous American leader loved cream of peanut butter soup? And named his dog Sweet Lips? And how did the phrase OK come into common parlance?

SAFE AT ANY SPEED? When their fathers raced, they packed dark suits, ready to wear to the funerals. But in 19 years no driver has died from racing injuries in NASCAR’s elite Cup Series. Not since Dale Earnhardt Sr. was killed. Is the sport actually safer – or have we settled into a false sense of security that driving cars at 200 mph can be made safe?

WHAT A SAVE: When he started feeling poorly, Al Adams went to the emergency room in Oneonta. Then he was sent to Cooperstown and from there to Rochester. His heart had ruptured. Five operations, a pump and some glue later, he’s on the road to recovery.

RECLAIMING THE CASTLE: Meet Lucky Wilta. She used to be rich and she misses it. Right now she’s a waitress at a greasy spoon near Tupper Lake, but she would like to return to the castle her family lost when she was 10. She thinks she’s figured out a way to recover the diamonds her family left behind.

CURB YOUR (PARK) ENTHUSIASM: Just when the millennials and Gen Xers had us thinking that dog parks were the essential community amenity for doggie exercise and socialization, some experts say the dog park is not the best place for impressionable pups. It’s fertile ground for bad habits.


“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”
— George Washington, Rules of Civility And Other Writings & Speeches
February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799


TIK, TOK, BOOMER: Are you a Dubsmasher? Or a Likee Triller? Do you do your Shiggy on Fuminate? If it’s gucci, it may make it to TikTok. That would be dope. How awesome sauce stuff goes viral.

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

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

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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