The Week: What Caught Our Eye

April 3, 2021

Hikers atop a mountain, with more snow-covered mountains in the distanceWinter slowly releases its icy grip as Cascade Mountain in the High Peaks welcomes April. (Nancie Battaglia)

Good morning Colleagues and Friends: Happy Easter and Happy Passover.

If you feel like you are about to lift off into the clouds, there’s a reason. It’s 4-3-21.

WHAT A PIECE OF … TV HISTORY: The Hockley Motel, the setting of the fictional Rosebud Motel for all six seasons of the popular and successful Schitt’s Creek, is for sale. The motel and 6.7 acres, located along the Nottawasaga River northwest of Toronto, lists for $1.59 million. Surely, the place will need work, but as Moira would say: “You are blind to reality and for that I am most proud.’’ Apparently, not everyone is a fan of the show, at least not of the town’s hilarious if bawdy welcome sign, which offends the sensibilities of at least one Hudson Valley driver.

ELEVEN MADISON PARK NORTH: Will Guidara was an owner of the New York City fine dining landmark Eleven Madison Park — at one point named the World’s Best Restaurant — renown for white-glove treatment and over-the-top perfection. Waitstaff trained for 10 months and kept detailed notes on customers’ anniversaries, birthdays and dining preferences. Now, Guidara is hoping to turn a Hudson Valley estate into a luxury resort called Second Mountain. The 350-acre property in Millbrook was originally built for Andrew Carnegie’s only daughter. Alas, the neighbors are not in the mood for what he’s cooking.

THE LUNGS OF NEW YORK: The Adirondacks are not just beautiful, wide open spaces for adventure, recreation and solitude, dotted with quaint towns for fun and hospitality. They are a 6-million-acre hedge against climate change. Adirondack forests naturally trap carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. New York, of course, provides constitutional protection for state-owned “Forever Wild” forests, but saving every tree — once a popular conservation ethos — is not the only approach. Sustainable harvesting, as widely practiced on private lands in the Adirondacks, can increase the amount of carbon sequestered by forests.

A PEAK PLAN: The immensely popular Adirondack High Peaks are overrun by enthusiastic hikers as COVID captives seek fresh air and fun in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. New York State, environmental groups and private landowners have been working together to find a fair and effective way to accommodate the throngs safely, protect the natural resources, and respect the rights of property owners. This week they announced a landmark experiment.

CASINO CONUNDRUM: Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarty writes that it’s time to stop requiring Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady to subsidize the Saratoga Harness Track, arguing that the track passed on the opportunity to compete for the casino license when it was available and has seen an increase in its gaming profits over the past decade. The proposed 2021-22 state budget would allow Rivers to defer payments until six months after all coronavirus restrictions are lifted, which advocates of Saratoga Harness say could devastate the track. The Albany Times Union takes the opposite view.

SEE OUR SIGHTS: The website Travel Awaits offers an ode to the charming small towns and villages of Upstate New York (Lake George, Saratoga Springs and Lake Placid make the list) and Syracuse.com has a clever A to Z list of the quaint and the quirky in these parts. Spring is traditionally the quiet season for visitors in Lake Placid. But not this year.

CYCLING THE SARANAC: Take a spin along the Saranac River, and so much more, in this cleverly assembled cyclist’s-eye tour through the northern reaches of New York State.

COMING THROUGH: Tim and Henry Horvath, father and son from Cooperstown, are used to tackling big physical challenges. Tim summited Mount Everest in 2014. Henry joined him on an 11-day, 200-mile trek through California two summers ago, when Henry was 13. Last week, they plowed through the 142-mile Northville-Placid Trail in just over a week, setting a standard for others to chase, should they accept the challenge.

GOING UP: The Kralicks aren’t your garden variety family. For starters, both parents are Army veterans who served in Afghanistan as members of special operations teams. The military experience and level of fitness would help explain the ease with which they navigate and summit the highest peaks in the Catskills. But their pre-school twins? The Times Union profiles a fascinating family that loves nothing more than to head for the hills.

AND HERE’S ONE for your summer bucket list: A new glamping resort -- Huttopia – is opening on 275 wooded acres in Lake Luzerne, offering 79 wood-frame and canvas tents with full  beds, electricity and bathrooms that Zsa Zsa Gabor would have loved.

IT’S ALL ABOUT SMALL: What is it about small towns that makes our hearts sing — and our cameras click? Perhaps all this quarantine time has us appreciating the unsung joys of life in the slow lane. Southern Living magazine has named the best small towns in the South, Chuck Schumer is advertising Ithaca on his face, a Brit has captured Main Streets across America by streetlight (and a lot of the photos bear an uncanny resemblance to many Upstate New York communities we know) and, close to home, The Hyde Collection features the work of Adirondack photographer J.S. Wooley, whose sublime black and white photos of the Lake George region hearken back to even simpler, smaller days. Send us your best shots of small towns you love and we’ll feature them here.

BECOMING SARATOGA: It's the city in the country, one of the most prosperous in the United States, and frequently ranked among the best small cities in America. But how did Saratoga Springs pull it off – the rise from a sleepy backwater with mineral springs that Gideon Putnam found to modern masterpiece-in-the-making? Saratoga Living’s Natalie Moore takes us on a delightful guided tour.

HOPS IN ITS CLASS: USA Today has found the eighth best new brewery in the United States at the corner of Lake Avenue and Maple in Saratoga Springs. It’s Walt & Whitman, in the former offices of the Saratogian, offering a craft beer menu, distinctive food and a full coffee shop.

IS THAT THE EVER GIVEN IN YOUR TUB? As if pahking ya ca in Boston isn’t a big enough challenge, now you can try pahking the Ever Given, the enormous cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal, thanks to a new app developed by a curator at the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map and Education Center. On a Sunday morning between cups of coffee, Garrett Dash Nelson created the app, which allows users to place an aerial image of the Ever Given over a satellite image of the world. He and other users have since tweeted images showing the outsized ship not only in their own swimming pools and local lakes, but also at Walden Pond, the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and in the Hudson River.

SOAR, EAGLE: Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout requires the acquisition of at least 21 merit badges in a range of topics and skill sets, a demanding regimen that explains why just 6% of Scouts achieve the rank. This year’s class of Eagle Scouts for the first time included girls, about 1,000 of them, including 14-year-old Scarlett Helmecki, whose all-girl Scouts BSA Troop 1923 is named for the year their state, Delaware, ratified the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote.

THAT’S GARBAGE: If you look around and it feels like the world’s a little junkier, you’re right. A host of factors — more people staying at home, producing more trash; COVID impacting garbage collection; single-use PPE like masks and gloves — has resulted in a surge of litter on America’s streets. Even recyclable goods are more often contaminated. “It’s like, ‘life sucks, I’ll just throw this out the window,’” Juliann Lehman, who lives in a North Carolina community that just doubled fines for littering because there’s been such an increase, told Time. “We’ve all got these COVID bellies, you just kind of give up a little bit.” 

THE AULD SOD IN LIVING COLOR: If there are already a couple of colorful Irish characters in your family tree, hold on to your tweed flat cap – your ancestors may now be more colorful than ever. With the help of AI and a vast amount of research, two Irish professors at the National University of Ireland, Galway, have colorized thousands of black-and-white photographs depicting life in Ireland (and Irish folk abroad) between the 1840s and the 1960s.  A book featuring more than 170 of the newly colorized images, including portraits of Oscar Wilde and W.B. Yeats and a shot of the Titanic as it leaves the Belfast shipyard where it was built, is a best-seller and award winner in Ireland, and it’s about to become available in the U.S. 

Ice receding on a lake with gray skies and mountains in the backgroundAs the ice recedes, Lake George is a study in 50 shades of blue – and gray.  (Jeff Killeen)

THE GARDENING LIFE: Margaret Roach’s father had died and her mother’s health was declining and so, in her mid-20s, Margaret came home to Queens to do what daughters do: look after an ailing parent. She found work at The New York Times at night and, to keep her sanity, in a garden by day. Now, decades later, a longtime resident of Columbia County, she is the Times expert on gardening and writer of the weekly In the Garden column, where she encourages readers to experience digging in the dirt as therapy, reflection and renewal and to ask the larger questions: Why does this happen? (Plus, she knows how far apart to space tomato plants)

WHAT’S UP, DOC?: Readers of a certain age almost certainly recall the days when they watched Johnny Carson through their toes. He was the king of late-night TV, The Tonight Show on NBC tucking in a generation of Americans after their late local news. Carson and his faithful foil Ed McMahon are long gone, but colorful bandleader Doc Severinsen is still with us, and he talked with The New York Times about his life and a new documentary about it on PBS.

TRAIN SOULS: We’re pretty certain by now there’s an online community for just about every hobby and interest, and if yours isn’t covered, start a thread and see how fast it grows. Case in point: a Facebook group whose members from around the globe share a passionate devotion to public transportation, and within which you can find the equivalent of a dating app for like-minded devotees.

CASH CARDS: The latest hot collectible is further proof of the enduring popularity of Pokémon, a franchise that debuted 25 years ago and has since become a multimedia empire. Collectors are paying more than $300,000 for single cards, and with 25th anniversary promotions yet to come, interest is expected to remain high.

TRAVEL COMPANION: If you’ve received the COVD-19 vaccine, or plan to, you’ll want to keep your vaccination card where you can get to it. Chances are, you’re going to need it for all kinds of reasons, including travel and admission to sporting events and other entertainment. New York State residents can download an app once they are fully vaccinated, digital verification that will function much like an e-ticket.

BARING HIS SOUL: Lee Wong chairs the board of trustees in Westchester Township, Ohio, a northern suburb of Cincinnati. He emigrated to the United States from Borneo as a teenager in 1971, served 20 years in the U.S. Army and has been a local elected official since 2005. And he’s had enough of people acting like fools toward him and his fellow Asian-Americans simply for how they look.

A VACCINE PREREQUISITE: Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, announced that students must be vaccinated as a condition of returning to campus in the fall, a decision that is certain to be enthusiastically embraced by some and roundly rejected by others. “When you make a decision of this magnitude, it’s not going to be popular with everyone," Antonio Calcado, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Rutgers, told Inside Higher Ed.

LIVES 

G. GORDON LIDDY was the Dutchess County prosecutor tipped off to illegal drug activity at Bard College who inspired the Steely Dan song “My Old School.” Having abandoned patent law, he went on to a life of espionage and intrigue as the original Nixon White House Plumber, a mastermind of Watergate, the one who kept his mouth shut and once ate a rat. He was 90.

PAUL FEINMAN was unanimously confirmed to New York’s Court of Appeals in 2017, the first openly gay judge on state’s highest court since its formation in 1847. His appointment came barely a decade after the Court of Appeals had ruled that the state Constitution conferred no legal right for same-sex couples to marry. That right was granted by the Legislature in 2011. He retired, citing health concerns, just over a week before his death at 61.

VW WRECKS: Just a thought: If your company was caught lying and cheating in what became an international scandal that tanked your market share, maybe don’t go there with an April Fool’s Day promotion and then double down when suspicious reporters ask you if it’s legit. As USA Today’s Nathan Bomey wrote on Twitter: “Dear Volkswagen: You lied to me. You lied to AP, CNBC, Reuters and various trade pubs. This was not a joke. It was deception. In case you hadn’t noticed, we have a misinformation problem in this country. Now you’re part of it. Why should anyone trust you again?”

400 AND COUNTING: A stone and wood Dutch colonial, originally built between 1644 and 1654, is said to be the oldest house in New York. It belonged to one of the region’s first European settlers, fur trader Abraham Staats, and sits on the site where explorer Henry Hudson landed at the mouth of the Stockport Creek.

BLING FROM THE LOUVRE: You can now be an American in Paris without leaving the comfort of your own couch. The Louvre has just put its entire collection online for viewing anywhere in the world with an internet connection. More than 480,000 treasures — from the most famous to the least known — are available, including works from the Musée National Eugène Delacroix. Even sculptures from the Tuileries and Carrousel gardens have been digitized and put online.  And when you’re done looking at the masterpieces, you can peruse the museum’s expanding e-boutique. Interested in a Venus de Milo candle by the French apothecary brand Buly or a Madonna and Child sweatshirt by Japanese retailer Uniqlo? In an effort to increase income, the Louvre is looking more and more to brand partnerships. Sorry, the Mona Lisa Swatch watch is already sold out.

WESTCHESTER DOG SHOW: The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, traditionally held in Madison Square Garden in February, is moving this year to the Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown for an outdoor event. It’s the first time in more than a century that the show will not take place in New York City. 

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

Grass
“The grass so little has to do, a sphere of simple green / With only butterflies to brood and bees to entertain / And even when it dies, to pass in odors so divine, as lowly spices gone to sleep or amulets of pine / And then to dwell in sovereign barns, and dream the days away, the grass has so little to do, I wish I were the hay.
— Emily Dickinson

THE SIGNOFF

A SHOT OF HAPPINESS: Joy Morrow-Nulton and John Shults of Kingston wanted to get married, but first they wanted to be sure it was safe, so they waited until both were vaccinated against the coronavirus. A wise choice, given that the soon-to-be newlyweds are both 94.

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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