The Week: What Caught Our Eye

April 30, 2022

The sun seen through fog and mist with bare trees in foregroundThe promise of spring hangs in the morning fog in Albany’s Pine Bush. (John Bulmer)

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh and Dear Readdahs,

Did you ever go to summer camp? One of us remembers those glory days when you played baseball all day, ran out of clean underwear, and knew for certain there were bears in the woods. Turns out that marshmallow fights and singalongs are good for the economy. In 2021, the number of jobs at Warren County’s recreational and vacation camps ranked fourth in the country, new national data show. And if you somehow missed two weeks at summer camp, you can still live the experience vicariously.

WHERE EVERYBODY PLAYS: They’re playing high school baseball in the small Adirondack communities of Indian Lake and Long Lake this spring, thanks to the girls who came out for a team where only boys once played. “And they’re pretty good,” says Nathan Hosley, a sophomore at Long Lake and member of the Indian Lake-Long Lake baseball team. Indian Lake’s Marilla Liddle, the catcher, says: “At first, all the girls kind of stuck together, and then the boys made us feel like we’re actually part of the team.” Declining enrollments in Adirondack schools are a long-term problem, but, at least for now, the kids have figured out an upside.

BASKETBRAWL: There are those who will tell you that baseball’s accepted origin story is a myth, that Abner Doubleday did not invent the game in Cooperstown, N.Y. So it is that Herkimer, Cooperstown’s smaller neighbor in east-central New York State, is renewing a claim, last argued in the 1950s, that it, not Springfield, Mass., is the rightful birthplace of basketball. Proponents for Herkimer are convinced the game was invented there (subscription required) in the 1890s by a young Swedish immigrant tossing cabbages into crates. One says he sees Herkimer, a hollowed-out former industrial town of 7,200, becoming like Cooperstown, a charming and picturesque lakeside village anchored by the Baseball Hall of Fame. Herkimer’s mayor is hopeful. The folks in Springfield? “Count me on the side of this is nuts,” Matt Zeysing, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s historian, told The Washington Post.

A man in a blue shirt & gray shorts holding a camera and standing in a backyard(Carter Berg Photography)

DISCOVERING RL: Jay Austin discovered Ralph Lauren’s Polo brand as a teenager, scored a coveted internship at the Ralph Lauren showroom on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, and later became close friends with Lauren creative director Mary Randolph Carter and her photographer son Carter Berg. For Jay, the brand stood for America’s best values — premium quality and style. When David Lauren decided to publish a book celebrating 50 years of his father’s life and work, the RL team reached out to superfans across the globe. This week, Ralph Lauren: 50 Years arrived, featuring the Queen, Oprah, Schwarzenegger, Stallone, De Niro, DiCaprio, Sinatra, Newman, Cruise, James Taylor, John F. Kennedy Jr. — and Jay Austin of Queensbury, N.Y., founder of his own line of distinctive, premium-quality equestrian-themed jewelry, DeLong New York, inspired in part by the timeless class of Ralph Lauren.

OL’ BLUE EYES IS BACK: Frank Sinatra is coming back to life in Watertown, N.Y. Dead 24 years, he is making the return through a concept album he released in 1970, a commercial flop at the time, now considered a masterpiece. The title track tells the story of a hard-working Upstate New York man whose wife abandons him and their two children for the big city. The re-release of “Watertown” is set for June 3.

BUSINESS SCHOOL: Two small Northeastern college towns in the shadow of beautiful mountains and lakes, both imbued with a hip vibe, both chock full of coffee and healthy food places. The commonalities between Burlington, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., are many, but the differences teach some valuable business school lessons

ELECTRIC MUSCLE: General Motors this week confirmed plans to manufacture an all-electric Corvette, as well as a partially electric version of the classic American sports car that is expected to be available sometime in 2023. GM has said it will have an all-electric lineup across its brands by 2035.

LIVING THE DREAM: Hamdi Ulukaya started life on a small dairy farm in eastern Turkey. After moving to the U.S., he made a bet that consumers would like an alternative to the mass-produced yogurts of the time, leaning on a government loan to raise the funds he needed to buy a yogurt factory that Kraft was abandoning in rural upstate New York. Today, his company, Chobani, has more than 20 percent of the U.S. yogurt market and is on track for an IPO, which will bring both additional resources and more oversight for a founder who famously built the company around a set of very personal values.

NOT HALF-BAKED: A consumer in India grew frustrated with the amount of bread he was wasting. He couldn’t eat a full loaf before it started to spoil, and found the bread wasn’t nearly as appetizing if he had to freeze it. He wondered why half-loaves of bread weren’t more widely available, and started a website to help his fellow countrymen find them. The comments have poured in, many from Americans who also wonder why a seemingly common-sense solution to food waste isn’t more readily available in U.S. stores. It could be the start of a movement.

LEADING SUCCESSULLY: Researchers writing in Harvard Business Review get right to the point: Of all the characteristics required to be a successful leader, the trait that stands above the rest is the ability to focus on positive relational energy, defined as the energy exchanged between people that helps uplift, enthuse, and renew them. “Energizers’ greatest secret is that, by uplifting others through authentic, values-based leadership, they end up lifting up both themselves and their organizations,” they write. “Positive energizers demonstrate and cultivate virtuous actions, including forgiveness, compassion, humility, kindness, trust, integrity, honesty, generosity, gratitude, and recognition in the organization. As a result, everyone flourishes.”

CRACKERS TAKE FLIGHT: Two of Buffalo’s finest exports, Gov. Kathy Hochul and chicken wings, now have competition: Roasted seeds and organic seed crackers from a small company called Top Seedz. Gwyneth Paltrow says she can’t live without them.

COLLEGE ANGELS: College kids are turning out to help Kelly’s Angels, the Capital Region charity that helps kids and families who have lost a parent to illness or are facing a life-threatening illness. First, students at the University of New Hampshire jumped in. Now, Siena College seniors participating in a Shark Tank-style competition chose Kelly’s Angels for a big “investment.” Next Sunday, Mother’s Day, is the annual Kelly’s Angels Walk/Run. Join the fun and sign up here.

LIVES

KANE TANAKA for three years held a title few will ever hold — world’s oldest living person. Born prematurely on Jan. 2, 1903, she helped run a family business, raised five children and attributed her longevity to family, sleep, hope and faith. The second-longest lived person in recorded history, she died in a Japanese hospital at 119.

MARY ELIZABETH STEWART BRANDT grew up on a farm in Wisconsin and knew how to bake a cherry pie so delicious it won a national contest. She also earned a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, where she met her future husband, Mike. In 1961, the Brandts moved their family to a farm house west of Glens Falls, N.Y., where, with other relatives, they built West Mountain Ski Center and where Mary was the power behind the scenes for 30 years. She died at 85.

CARL ROSNER escaped death at the hands of the Nazis by hiding in a sewer until U.S. troops liberated Buchenwald. He emigrated to the United States where he became a research engineer (subscription required) at General Electric Co. and for three decades headed Intermagnetics General Corp., which supplied materials for MRI equipment. He died April 16 at his home in Niskayuna, N.Y. He was 93.

JOHN DiSTASO was the national political powerhouse you never heard of — a longtime local reporter with outsized influence because he covered presidential politics in early-voting New Hampshire. Every four years, every presidential candidate submitted to his pointed questioning. He is credited with popularizing the acronym RINO. He was 68.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

I’m only wishing to go a-fishing;
For this the month of May was made.
—    Henry Van Dyke

THE SIGNOFF

HEAD TRAUMA: Firefighters in Washington state this week were summoned to a national forest to rescue a woman who had fallen through the hole of an outhouse while trying to retrieve her dropped cell phone. She used the same phone to dial 911.

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