The Week: What Caught Our Eye

March 20, 2021

Maple sap buckets on a tree, with a barn in the backgroundAh, the sweetest season is here again. So, dribble it with abandon over pancakes, popcorn and smoked bacon. Or blend it with cocktails. Or all of the above. (Nancie Battaglia)

Good Morning, Colleagues and Friends and, at long last, Happy Spring!

The season crept in at 5:37 this morning. Enjoy the day and waste no time trying to balance an egg in an upright position.

ONE-TWO PUNCH: Lisa Elovich is no stranger to adventures. A former New York City prosecutor, she was a longtime boxing promoter in Albany, engaging her role with energy and enthusiasm on behalf of fighters who headlined small local cards. Today her energies are focused on growing her brand of organic tequila, with help from some of boxing’s greatest champions.

ALREADY EXTRAORDINARY: By almost every measure, it's implausible that St. Bonaventure should be competing in mid to high-major, Division I basketball. The Bonnies continue to unseat the bigger schools in their conference like VCU, Dayton, and UMass. Today they embark on their third NCAA tournament in the last nine years with a matchup against the LSU Tigers, a school with an enrollment roughly 15 times their size. Bonnie basketball greatness goes back a long time, to the 1960s when Buffalo native Bob Lanier dominated the Olean hardwoods. The Bonnies always play with heart. This year theirs are especially heavy.

NATIONAL ACCLAIM: An Albany woman’s creative approach to addressing food insecurity in the community has landed her on the cover of Time magazine. Her simple idea to stock one curbside refrigerator in Albany for use by anyone who needed it has mushroomed to eight refrigerators that are stocked daily, distributing tons of food to people in need. And in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, volunteers have converted an empty restaurant storefront into a “free store” for discarded goods.

HARNESS IN A SLING: The 80th season of harness racing is under way in Saratoga Springs. Supporters are worried it may be the last.

YOU’LL NEED A 5 O’CLOCK SHADOW: HBO is heading to the Capital Region soon to shoot a new series, “The White House Plumbers,” the story of Watergate, the botched 1972 break-in at Democratic National Headquarters in the storied Washington hotel that ultimately cratered the Nixon presidency. HBO is in need of extras – people with ’70s haircuts who resemble ex-CIA agents posing as plumbers.

TALENT ALL AROUND US: University of Missouri softball coach Larissa Anderson, a Lake George native, just collected her 200th victory as a collegiate head coach. She was Larissa Smith during her playing days at Lake George and as a collegian at Gannon University. And the Albany Symphony Orchestra and conductor David Alan Miller have earned a second Grammy Award, this one for violist Richard O’Neill’s performance of Christopher Theofanidis’ Concerto for Viola and Chamber Orchestra. Theofandis was the 2016 Composer in Residence with the Glens Falls Symphony.

CELLO SHOT: Have to admit, there are worse ways to pass the time in a vaccination center than by listening to an impromptu performance from one of the world’s greatest musicians. The folks at Berkshire Community College last Saturday got a story they can tell for the rest of their lives, about the time Yo-Yo Ma took out his cello and started playing it right then and there.

UGLY SIDE OF AMERICAN PIE: Patrisha McLean was a 27-year-old newspaper reporter when she interviewed singer-songwriter Don McLean. He told her he loved her that night, and soon she had quit her job, sold her car and began preparing for a life with McLean, best known for “American Pie,” the song that was (or wasn’t) written in Saratoga Springs. Thus began a harrowing journey of abuse that Patrisha McLean says she endured for nearly three decades – abuse that Don McLean denies. Patrisha McLean is now trying to help other abused women.


CASH KING: LeBron James, whose business acumen rivals his prowess on the basketball court, has sights on partial ownership of the Boston Red Sox. Already a 2% owner of Liverpool, a team in the top tier of English professional soccer, James and business partner Maverick Carter, are reported to be an interested in a 1% stake in the Red Sox, valued at about $70 million. James earned roughly $88.2 million in 2020 from activities on and off the court, and in 2018 had an estimated net worth of $450 million.

A SPECIAL PLACE: Ballparks are known for the memories they make, but it’s difficult to imagine one venue serving as the setting for more memorable moments than Fenway Park has for Donna and Tom Wall. They met there 54 years ago, when Tom was an usher and Donna a young Red Sox fan who caught his eye. Four years later, he proposed to her at Fenway with a ring hidden at the bottom of a popcorn tub. And last week, it’s where they were vaccinated against the coronavirus. (subscription required)

LUXURY, DISCOUNTED: Derek Jeter doesn’t have many reasons to be in Upstate New York these days, unless it’s to be enshrined in Cooperstown, so he’s selling the lakefront castle in Greenwood Lake he purchased in 2005 and has extensively renovated and restored. His maternal grandfather grew up there, and Jeter spent childhood summers there. The place sounds incredible, and it’s just been discounted to $12.75 million, $2 million off the original asking price.

ROO RESCUE: A young kangaroo escaped from a Yates County, NY, farm best known for its Christmas trees and pumpkin patch, prompting a search that lasted 24 hours and involved several volunteers and the local sheriff’s department. The story, as the reporter notes, had a hoppy ending.

LIFETIME OF LITIGATION: Christopher Porco has been in prison for 15 years and will be there at least three more decades. He’s using some of that time to keep alive his lawsuit against Lifetime, the cable network that he says misappropriated his likeness in a movie about the grizzly murder that landed Porco behind bars and remains perhaps the most notorious Capital Region crime of the 21st century.

MOTHERS OF THE YEAR: The mother of a teenage cheerleader in Pennsylvania was charged with harassing rival cheerleaders, as well as others, using text messages sent from fake phone numbers and digitally manipulated deep fake videos. And in Pensacola, Fla., a mother is alleged to have used her credentials as an assistant elementary school principal to access a district-level account at the high school her daughter attended to cast fraudulent votes for her for homecoming court. Seriously. Both were charged.

BETTER LATE: As a child, Betty Diamond was a voracious reader, using books to journey far beyond her cloistered world in Whitestone, Queens. She never lost her love and appreciation for books, and couldn’t bear to part with one she knew wasn’t hers. More than half a century later, she returned it, along with a $500 donation to the library where she checked it out.

TRY, TRY, TRY AGAIN: New York State Police arrested the same guy for more or less the same thing three times in one day. It happened earlier this month in Newburgh, and involved two different vehicles, multiple traffic violations and the presence of illegal drugs.

FOX TERRIER: Peter Doocy grew up in the TV business, watching as his father, Steve, rose to become a host on Fox & Friends, Fox News’ popular morning show. But unlike his dad, who as a local TV reporter focused on the odd and offbeat, Peter Doocy always had a hankering for hard news, which the 33-year-old brings to his role as Fox News’ White House correspondent.

A sunset over the mountains with a snowscape in the foregroundThe sun sets on another winter … and hope springs eternal for a better year than last. (John Bulmer)

NUMBERS GAME: You may recall that several issues ago we introduced you to Giovanni Hamilton, the young Philadelphia Eagles fan whose encouraging words for a struggling Carson Wentz went viral and cemented a budding friendship between player and fan. Giovanni cried when Wentz was traded to the Indianapolis Colts, but Wentz and the Colts had a surprise for Giovanni — they had him reveal the quarterback’s new number.

A NEW VOICE: The Boston Globe and Boston University Center for Antiracist Research are partnering to launch The Emancipator, a resurrection of an early 19th-century abolitionist newspaper that its contemporary founders hope will reframe the national conversation in an effort to, in their words, “hasten racial justice.” “This reimagined platform will marry the best of scholarship and journalism to analyze, comment, and seek truth about the racial problems of our time,” Ibram X. Kendi, co-founder of The Emancipator and founding director of the Center for Antiracist Research, said in announcing the initiative. The original Emancipator appeared for several months in 1820, and is described by the Tennessee Encyclopedia as “the first newspaper in the United States solely devoted to the abolition of slavery.”

TOP DOGS: Labrador retrievers are, for the 30th year in a row, the most popular dog breed in America (which makes sense, as anyone who’s ever been loved by a lab can explain), but there’s a new breed at No. 2, and they were very much in the news lately.

SING OUT STRONG: Brianna Collichio, a 15-year-old from Spencerport, NY, wowed the judges on American Idol last week with her rendition of “Scars to Your Beautiful,” a song that promotes a message of self-acceptance. Collichio has cystic fibrosis, which damages the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. Katy Perry, a judge on American Idol, called her a “walking miracle.” She’ll next perform in Hollywood, where she’ll be joined by another Upstate New York contestant, Laila Mach of New Platz.

A NOTEWORTHY CANDIDATE: Ryan Lowry wanted prospective employers to know right off the bat that he has autism, but also that he was “gifted at math, really good with technology, and a really quick learner.” He would need a mentor, he explained, and didn’t learn like others, but he pledged that if you hire him and teach him, “you’ll be glad that you did.” He posted the hand-written note on LinkedIn, and has received thousands of comments, connections, potential mentors and even job offers.

PLANT PROTECTOR: Mary Lamb is an elementary school teacher’s assistant who considered studying horticulture in college and has hiked each of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks numerous times. She combines the three — teaching, interest in plants and hiking — as a volunteer summit steward, helping hikers appreciate, and avoid damaging, the delicate alpine vegetation that grows at New York’s highest points.

OFFICE TALK: With vaccines becoming widely available, businesses are discussing when — or in some cases if —workers should return to the office. Things can get particularly complicated if some employees return and some don’t.


MARVELOUS MARVIN HAGLER was one bad dude, a 160-pound ball of coiled muscle who carried thunder in both fists and was one of the great champions of all-time before losing his belt in a controversial split decision in 1987 to Sugar Ray Leonard. His bout with Thomas Hearns ranks among the most violent and memorable in boxing history. He died at 66.

DOUGLAS BARCLAY was among the best Upstate New York had to offer. He grew up on a family farm along the Salmon River, was educated at Yale and Syracuse, and in a political career that spanned a half century served as a powerful voice in the New York State Senate and as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador. He was 88.

DICK HOYT and his son, Rick, were iconic figures of the Boston Marathon, with father pushing his son, who was born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, in a wheelchair over the 26.2 miles of the race. The two, who are commemorated with a bronze statue near the marathon’s starting point in Hopkinton, completed 32 Boston Marathons together, the last in 2014. Dick Hoyt was 80.

RONALD DeFEO killed his parents and four siblings in their home on Long Island in 1974, a crime that became the inspiration for The Amityville Horror books and movies. The family that lived there after the murders claimed the house was haunted. He was serving a 25-years-to-life sentence at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in the Catskills when he was taken to Albany Medical Center, where he died at 69.


“Luck is what you have left over after you give 100 percent.”
— Langston Coleman


RIP VAN WALRUS: The Irish are known for their folk tales, but this is no blarney: A walrus apparently dozed off on an Arctic ice sheet that proceeded to break off and drift thousands of miles across the Atlantic to Valentia Island in southwest Ireland, where locals marveled at the sight and a leading marine biologist with a dry sense of humor confirmed that the large visitor was, in fact, a walrus, “not a seal with a toothache.” He’ll need quite a few clams to build up enough strength to make it back home.

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

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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