The Week: What Caught Our Eye

April 10, 2021

People walking along a crowded sidewalk of shops in a small citySunshine beckoned crowds to Broadway in Saratoga Springs, which waits in great anticipation for a return of summer racing and memorable evenings at SPAC.

Good morning Colleagues and Friends:

Spring landed this week with both feet and a mask, and not a moment too soon. It bore the promise of a long, beautiful summer ahead and, let us hope, better days for all.

HORSE OF A DIFFERENT DEMEANOR: He was acquired in a trade not for another horse but for a truck. On its worst day, the truck probably ran better than Zippy Chippy, the thoroughbred best known for having failed to win a single race out of the 100 in which he was entered in 10 years of racing. He would stop in the middle of races to nip other horses, and sometimes people nearby. He was banned for life from Finger Lakes after refusing to leave the starting gate for three races in a row. But in 2000 “People” named him one of the most interesting personalities of the year. That led to a 40-yard stunt race against a minor league baseball player, which, predictably, not-so-Zippy Chippy lost. So, what’s become of the grumpy gelding with a mind of his own? He’s got a whole new life. 

SCHENECTADY’S OLDEST LUNCH: Every town worth its salt has a Newest Lunch. In Glens Falls, it’s called New Way Lunch (1919), in Troy, it’s Hot Dog Charlie’s (1922), and in Schenectady, it’s simply Newest, which turns 100 this year. The crowded counter at the corner of Albany Street and Germania Avenue is called Switzerland because it feeds the hungry masses who lead very different lives but are unified in one thing: their love for a hot dog with the works. The Times Union’s Pete DeMola captures the flavors perfectly.

WINE OPENER: Joseph Carr Winery and its Josh Cellars were founded by Rensselaer County native Joseph Carr, who began his career as a sommelier at The Sagamore and at Albany restaurants and at one point sold wine out of the back of his station wagon. His wines are now among the most popular in the U.S., which is probably why one was featured prominently in a skit last weekend on Saturday Night Live. “If 10 years ago somebody had said to me this was what was going to happen with my wine, I’d have laughed at them,” Carr told the Times Union’s Steve Barnes. A toast to Joseph Carr and his late wife Dee, Deirdre Josephine Carr.

BREAD FOR A COMMUNITY: Matt Funiciello bakes bread that turns heads, bread that in its purity and authenticity feeds the body, soul and community. He started baking with Michael and Wendy London of Mrs. London’s fame in their farmhouse kitchen in Greenwich, N.Y., in 1987. He bought their business in 1993, and drove five days a week to Manhattan to deliver to restaurants  like Aureole, Le Bernadin and Lutece and the Union Square Greenmarket. New York Magazine took notice, as did Vogue and Time. The venerable Mimi Sheraton of The New York Times said Matt’s Jewish Rye, from Glens Falls, N.Y., was the very best on the East Coast. And then during the pandemic, Matt Funiciello turned his considerable talents in another direction: providing freshly baked bread for people in need in his hometown.

SNOW DAZE: Those who know the Adirondacks best agree that the region’s ferocious winters have lost some bite, at least in terms of snowfall, and the data bear them out. The question on many minds is whether the pattern is here to stay, and if so, what that means for life and the environment.

GEMS TO CHERISH: Jamie Dimon’s annual shareholder letters are must reading from Washington to Wall Street, the way Warren Buffett’s are for investors. The chairman of JP Morgan Chase said this week he has “little doubt” the U.S. economy is about to boom – a boom that could last through 2023. And there were many more diamonds in his 62 pages: Being a responsible community citizen locally is critical; examine raw data, focus on reality, and  understand when analysis is necessary and when it impedes change, and America needs a multi-year national Marshall Plan because its global role and engagement are indispensable to the health and well-being of America.

The sun rising over mountains along a golf course.“Morning is the best part of the day for walking,’’ wrote Alfred Wainwright. “The air is freshest then, the earth sweetest. The flowers preen themselves after their bath of dew, and stand erect with rare self-assurance, proud of their bright clean colors. The birds are happiest in the morning, and most lively then. They dart across the path before you, wheel and soar above the trees, swoop unerringly to their nests. They chatter and chirrup and sing in unending chorus, blithely contented and gay, and so very, very glad to be alive.” (Mike Borgos)

TOP OF THE DOG PILE: One of the great business success stories arising from the pandemic started with professional portraits of dogs and cats. Chewy, the online pet supply store, delighted customers with these surprise gifts, tens of thousands of them, and in the process gained 5 million new customers, including many who adopted new pets during the pandemic. (subscription required)

PREPARING PETS: Many people thrive on routine, and so do our pets. So, as more of us begin to return to office work, think about the emotional impact on your pets. What will they make of your sudden absence? What can we do to ease their transition to a new life? (subscription required)

FRESH THOUGHTS: Upstate New York has plenty of options for people who like to do their swimming without chlorine, from beaches at state parks to glistening streams, falls and lakes to cool off after a challenging hike. Something to look forward to when the weather warms.

LIVES

ERNIE TETRAULT started in radio while still in high school in his hometown of Troy, then landed a job at the world’s first television station, WRGB in Schenectady, in 1951, where he worked as a reporter and anchor for 42 years. He covered the news the Capital Region cared about. His work took him to interview local soldiers serving in Vietnam and Saudi Arabia and to some tough, cold street corners where he lived for a time to experience life as a homeless person. Ernie and his younger colleague Ed Dague became the Huntley-Brinkley of local TV news. He was 94. 

GARY BIMONTE was the beaming, welcoming face of what many discerning palates call the best pizza joint in America. His grandfather started Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven, CT, in 1925, turning out thin-crust, coal-fired pies baked briefly in brick ovens at 650 degrees Fahrenheit. The Daily Meal began ranking pizzas in 2012 and four times named Pepe’s the best in the country. In 2020, it said: “Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is a household name for pizza buffs everywhere.’’ His age at the time of his death, from a heart attack, was not reported.

ANNE BEATTS grew up in Buffalo, attended McGill and in the early 1970s had the strange idea that she might like to write comedy. Through a boyfriend she met a man named Lorne Michaels. Along with Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel, Marilyn Suzanne Miller, Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase, she was part of the original team who made “Saturday Night Live” a cultural phenomenon. She died at 74.

PHILIP MOUNTBATTEN once compared himself to a “bloody amoeba,” the only man in Britain not allowed to give his own name to his children. Alas, he was married to Queen Elizabeth, of the House of Windsor, which she changed to the House of Mountbatten-Windsor in 1960. Prince Philip was the third-longest-living member of the British royal family and the longest-living male member ever. The most energetic among the Royals, an athlete, conservationist and advocate for youth, he died two months shy of his 100th birthday. 

APRIL THE GIRAFFE rose (sorry) to internet fame when Animal Adventure Park, the small animal park near Binghamton where she lived, livestreamed her pen in 2017 as she waited to give birth. After weeks of waiting and 232 million views on YouTube, April and the world welcomed a male calf that stood nearly 6 feet tall and weighed 129 pounds. Arthritis discovered last summer worsened, and April was euthanized at the age of 20.

WONDERS OF THE WORLD

WE STILL HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS: BuzzFeed called it “one of the dumbest places on the internet.” The New York Times referred to it politely to as a “haven for the confused.” Vulture said it was the site for “that weird neighbor you’d rather climb down your fire escape in a blizzard than get caught in a conversation with.” They’re talking about Yahoo Answers, which did nothing to deepen the well of human knowledge but featured the best questions online, gems such as: Why is smoke coming from my belly button? Why is spaghetti so long? And can I cook chicken in my Michael wave?

THE WRIGHT STUFF: In the sometimes overwhelming daily news flow, it’s easy to miss what might be truly and enduringly important. Today, NASA’S Ingenuity, a tiny, lightweight helicopter, is scheduled to take flight on Mars, and if the flight is successful, it will be the first time humans have achieved powered, controlled flight on another planet — a Wright brothers moment in another part of the cosmos.

DRAMA McQUEEN: Steve McQueen was the “King of Cool,” with his classic shades, muscle cars and anti-hero bravado, but beneath that suave exterior was a cheapskate whose ego and insecurities were found in the details of his demands.   

HER SUNDAY BEST: 82-year-old La Verne Ford Wimberly of Tulsa, Okla., is this week’s winner of the internet, and the world is a better place for it. Each Sunday during the pandemic, the retired teacher put on a new outfit, joined her church service by Zoom, and afterward posted selfies with an inspiring message for her friends on Facebook.

SLEEP DEPRIVATION: Seems that a lot of people working from home have been napping during the work day, which productivity experts say is a good thing but a concept that hasn’t exactly broken through at the office. With many workplaces reopening, the daily nappers are nervous about disrupting their new routine. (subscription required)

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Around the world, The Associated Press reports, it is taking extra effort and ingenuity to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine gets to remote locations. That means shipping it by boat to islands, by snowmobile to Alaska villages and via complex waterways through the Amazon in Brazil. Before it’s over, drones, motorcycles, elephants, horses and camels will have been used to deliver it to the world’s far corners, said Robin Nandy, chief of immunization for UNICEF.

MEGABUCKS: Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos kept his spot atop the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people for the fourth year in a row, and while few can approach Bezos’ $177 billion, new billionaires were created with astounding speed in 2020. Forbes found that, on average, 2020 saw one new billionaire every 17 hours, and the world’s wealthiest people are $5 trillion richer today than they were a year ago.

NEW NEIGHBORS: The surge of people relocating from New York City has found its way to the Capital Region. Change of address applications are way up since the start of the pandemic, and real estate agents are getting a lot of inquiries from downstate. One important amenity: Reliable high-speed internet.

A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY: The editor of a small newspaper in Maryland kept a note taped to his computer with one word: Praise. It was his reminder to take time to acknowledge the good work of the people in his newsroom, and he did it, and the staff loved and respected him. He understood that a little recognition meant a lot, as borne out by recent research on motivation. If you’re a boss — or anyone else — who doesn’t believe in the power of positive reinforcement, perhaps it’s time you take the difficult person test.

SUPER SELLER: Lilly Bumpus, an 8-year-old cancer survivor, set a one-season record with 32,484 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies sold, spending hours online, in booths and in front of her home in California. Orders came from all 50 states and around the world, and more than 5,200 sales were for donations to hospitals, the homeless, and troops overseas.

SHOP AND PLAY: Dick’s Sporting Goods, the nation’s largest sporting goods retailer, is getting into the experiential game, debuting a concept it’s calling Dick’s House of Sport at a mall in Victor, NY, near Rochester. It features a rock-climbing wall, batting cage and outdoor turf field and running track where Dick’s will host sports events. The field will be converted to a skating rink in the winter. “It will serve as a test and learning center and (we) will roll the most successful elements into our core Dick's stores,” CEO Lauren Hobart says.

HEADLINE OF THE WEEK: Feds arrest alleged Australian Casanova living in Watervliet.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“When a man opens a car door for his wife, it's either a new car or a new wife.”
—    Prince Phillip 

THE SIGNOFF 

FOX NEWS: Police and firefighters rush to a storm drain to rescue two stranded baby foxes in – where else? – Foxborough, Mass.

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