The Week: What Caught Our Eye

March 5, 2022

Parade marchers on a street leading a float with the "Royal Court"A young man wanted a parade, so Saranac Lake turned out to give him one to remember. (Meachele Manchester)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

When you find yourself getting cynical about the state of our world, we invite you to reflect on the actions of the people of Saranac Lake, N.Y., a small town deep in the heart of the Adirondacks.

There, on a 20-degree day in the middle of the week, hundreds of adults and schoolchildren lined the streets a week and a half after the annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival to throw another parade, this one to fulfill the wish of an Oswego County teenager who was born with a syndrome that causes epilepsy.

The Central New York chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation granted Logan Baugh’s wish for a weekend in the Adirondacks and a parade, and the community took care of the rest, breaking out the winter carnival’s traditional float and ending the parade with a mini-ice palace made just for Logan by 30 to 40 volunteers who spent the previous Saturday building it.

“What you see here, hundreds of people, is simply by emailing the people in the community saying 'hey, come out here and support Logan' and this is what Saranac Lake does,” Jeffrey Branch, chairman of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, told a Burlington TV station.

FOOD INSECURITY: Food banks and food pantries are a lifeline for many of our neighbors and were especially so in the earliest days of the pandemic, when relief organizations experienced a huge spike in demand. The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, for example, distributed 56 million pounds of food during the worst of the crisis, up from 38 million pounds before. The Food Bank teamed up with Catholic Charities of the Albany Diocese to distribute food through 200 drive-through food pantries. Just as pandemic-related demand was receding, though still not to pre-pandemic levels, another driver of need came along— inflation. “We have two kids at home. We need food. I'm working. We are working, but it's not enough,” one patron of a Long Island City, N.Y., food pantry said. A worker at a Manhattan hospital said trips to the food pantry save his family more than $100 a month. You can help March 26 by doing nothing more than enjoying the Capital Region’s best mac and cheese.

RE-STOKE THE HOT STOVE: We spent the winter with longtime baseball writer Joe Posnanski’s “The Baseball 100,” a colorful, conversational, frequently funny, surprisingly sad, and always entertaining 800-page journey through the lives and lore of the men the author deems the 100 best in baseball history. And now, as we reach the final pages, in what should have been perfect timing with the start of real, live ballgames … well, we’re feeling a little like the tying runner left on third. Oh, well, there’s a good 100 more great baseball books to get lost in. 

A FATEFUL FLIGHT: “Tell them we’re going to land short, we’re in trouble,” were the harrowing words that pierced the heart of air traffic controllers at what was then Albany County Airport on Friday evening, March 3, 1972. Moments later, a Mohawk Airlines flight, inbound from LaGuardia Airport, plunged into a home four miles shy of the Albany runway. The pilots and 15 passengers were killed and 36 others injured. Fifty years later, the Albany Times Union revisits the tragedy through the dramatic writing of retired reporter Carol DeMare and the photos of Bob Richey, Fred McKinney, Roberta Smith and Bud Hewig.  

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Somebody Somewhere, the affecting HBO comedy, tells the story of a woman who moves back to her Kansas hometown to care for her dying sister and gets stuck. “Small towns or working-class communities sometimes seem to get a rough ride on television, treated either as crime scenes or with big-city disdain, but this is truthful and affectionate,” The Guardian writes. Veteran New York comedian Jeff Hiller co-stars. After shooting “Somebody,” he tells The New York Times he retreated to Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to finish writing a play about toxic relationships set in a bed-and-breakfast.

The Albany, NY skyline at night with the words "Stand With Ukraine" lit upAround the world, the words of its anthem ring out: “Ukraine's freedom has not yet perished, nor has her glory.” (John Bulmer)

FRIENDS AT THE LAKE: A few years ago, Serhii Bolilyi was a Ukranian student visiting America on an exchange visa and working the crazy hours of a Lake George summer. Now, back home, he’s had to flee Kyiv to the Ukraine countryside to escape the Russian invasion. But his friends in Lake George have not forgotten him.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Putin Pub in Jerusalem, opened in 2000 when Vladimir Putin first ran for president in Russia, is now just Pub, a change the owner made the day Russia invaded Ukraine. Israel is home to more than 1 million people who fled Russia and other former Soviet states after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “All Russian-speaking Israelis have friends or relatives of friends who live in Ukraine,” the pub’s owner, Leon Teterin, told NPR.

EYE ON THE SKY: Jack Sweeney, a college freshman who uses a Twitter account to track Elon Musk’s private plane travel and gained fame by turning down Musk’s $5,000 offer to stop, has turned his attention and his Twitter feed to new targets — Russian oligarchs. A new account tracking 39 planes and helicopters belonging to 19 oligarchs had more than 370,000 followers as of Friday afternoon. One Russian expert said authorities should use the information obtained by Sweeney's account to seize assets. 

$TARCRUISER: Sure, you can spend a half-million dollars for a 10-minute flight into space, but it’s not like you get your own lightsaber or a chance encounter with Chewbacca. Those perks are reserved for guests of Disney World’s newest hotel, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, an exclusive 100-room escape designed in every way —  from your “cabin” to dining to on-board entertainment — to make you feel like you’re aboard a massive starship and fully immersed in the world of Jedi Knights. A family of four can experience all this for two nights at a little more than $6,000. The Tampa Bay Times reports the month of March is sold out, and April is well on its way.

T-CORREX: You’d think by now that the science of dinosaurs, particularly that surrounding the most famous dinosaur of all, T-Rex, was settled. Nothing new to roar about. You’d be wrong. A new academic paper argues that there was not one species of T-Rex but three, including T-Regina.

SLICK WITH A STICK: Nolan Sullivan, a hockey player at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, N.Y., had himself a night to remember in his team’s 6-2 playoff victory over Albany Academy, scoring four goals and assisting on the other two. But it’s the way he scored one of the goals that made it a night he’ll never forget, thanks in part to social-media savvy fans who shared the video and tagged ESPN, which chose it as the top play in all of sports last Sunday.

E-BOATS: A company called Arc is betting that electric vehicles will someday make a splash on the water, too. The Arc One, an all-electric boat that can reach 40 mph and has enough battery storage for a day on the lake, will be available in limited quantities beginning this summer. The benefits are significant — no pollution, no gas to buy, peace and quiet — but so is the price. At $300,000, the Arc One is about twice the price of a typical premium sports boat. Other manufacturers are working on electric options as well.

THE GIFT OF BOOKS: “Project: Cameron’s Story,” a Glens Falls-based charity that sends children’s books to neonatal intensive care units across New York, announced this week that it had collected 27,158 books during its annual “bookraiser” event in February, all of which go to parents caring for prematurely born children. The figure topped the 2021 total by nearly 2,000.

MAGICALLY DELICIOUS: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Louisville, Ky., intercepted a shipment containing four pounds of vacuum-sealed marijuana that was hidden in a box of Lucky Charms and bound for a private residence in Great Britain. “Drug smugglers will go to any lengths to ship their narcotics in and out of the U.S.,” the Louisville CPB office said in a statement announcing the seizure. “Officers have found drugs hidden in car parts, religious paintings, tombstones, clothing … the list is endless.” Although marijuana is legal in many states, it is still illegal under federal law to sell, produce, possess or distribute it.

FITBIT RECALL: Fitbit, maker of popular wrist-worn fitness trackers, is recalling about 1.7 million Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch devices — including 1 million in the U.S. — because the lithium-ion battery can overheat and burn the user. At least 115 incidents in the U.S. and another 59 internationally have been reported, including 78 burn injuries in the U.S.

CLUE_ESS: Wheel of Fortune touts itself as America’s favorite game show, and if that’s true, you may already have seen this. If you haven’t, well, let’s just say none of the contestants will have a feather in their cap over this one.

HISTORIC ARTIFACT: Viewers of President Biden’s State of the Union address this week may have noticed an ornate silver item near the left hand of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It’s an inkstand that dates to the early 19th century and is considered to be the oldest surviving artifact of the House of Representatives. (Don’t go there!)

LIVES

KEN DUBERSTEIN may well have saved Ronald Reagan’s presidency. He joined a White House in freefall during the 1987 Iran Contra scandal. For President George H.W. Bush, he helped usher through the nominations of Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and David Souter. He started in Washington as a driver for the late U.S. Sen. Jacob Javits of New York. He was 77.

ALAN LADD saw the promise in “Star Wars” before almost anyone else – except George Lucas, of course. Lucas had just finished filming “American Graffiti” when he began pitching studio executives on an idea for a movie about space. Hollywood wasn’t biting. But Ladd had also seen the promise in “Young Frankenstein”  and said the concept for “Star Wars” “took me back to the old Saturday matinees.” He was 84.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
—    Ralph Waldo Emerson

THE SIGNOFF

IT’S ALL PUTIN’s FAULT: A speeding driver in Florida tried to talk his way out of a ticket by explaining he had heard Vladimir Putin threatened nuclear war, and that he was trying to get home to find out what’s going on. Novel, but ultimately fruitless.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, Tara Hutchins, John Bulmer, 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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