The Week: What Caught Our Eye

April 8, 2022

Closeup of a white crocus flower“A color stands abroad / On Solitary Fields / That Science cannot overtake / But Human Nature feels” — A Light Exists in Spring, Emily Dickinson. (Nancie Battaglia)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

For many, the coming week will bring welcome celebrations of freedom and renewal, Passover and Easter. Celebration in the midst of atrocities is incongruous, but perhaps this can be a time of commemoration of those who have gone before us, sacrificed and suffered, somehow kept the faith, whatever that may be, and summoned the energy to fight on and for good.

Everywhere, there are burgeoning signs of spring. Baseball is back. Tiger, too. Bluebirds are returning to their summer homes in northern climes, and they seem to have awakened the bears. Many hiking trails are muddy, but they are, for now, mercifully bug-free and soon to be gloriously green. The thaw has whipped waterfalls into a rage. And some loons are confused, perilously so.

TIME TO ACT: Largely obscured by the awful developments in Ukraine, a new report prepared by 270 scientists in 67 countries and issued this week says the dangers of climate change are mounting so rapidly that they could soon overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt. The report concludes that nations aren’t doing nearly enough to protect cities, farms, and coastlines. It is “an atlas of human suffering’’ to come, said António Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general.

A LIGHT IN DARKNESS: Davide Martello, his baby grand piano and his grace are what the world need right now. Fifteen hours by car from his destination in Poland, he decided the best thing he could do to help the desperate people fleeing Ukraine was to share the gift of his music. So he, his cat and his baby grand made the journey from his home in Germany to Medyka, Poland, the busiest border crossing from Ukraine. There, on a patch of dirt, he offers solace through his strings to an appreciative audience, once while an elderly woman held a blanket over his head to protect him from the snow.

THE TOLL: More than 1,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, and more than 2,000 have been injured. Eighteen journalists have been killed. This week, Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall was shot outside Kyiv. He lost part of a leg and a foot, his hearing, and the sight in one eye. His cameraman and a Ukrainian journalist traveling with him were killed in the attack on their car.

OK, WORK FROM HOME: New York City’s major employers are under considerable political pressure from Mayor Eric Adams to require employees to return to work. Manhattan’s restaurants and stores depend on them. And JPMorgan Chase Chairman, President and CEO Jamie Dimon, whose company employs about 37,000 people in the New York area alone, has expressed the view that the megabank wanted employees back at their desks as soon as was safe. A few months ago, he said, memorably, “We’re not going to pay you not to work in the office.” This week he changed his tune.

DIMON: IT’S ROUGH: At nearly $3 trillion in assets, JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in America, so Dimon’s annual letter to shareholders, like Warren Buffett’s, is a much-anticipated analysis of global political and economic trends. This week he warned investors to expect volatile markets, at least in the short term. While consumers remain flush with cash, interest rates and oil prices are rising, the housing market is cooling, and the war in Ukraine is a major test of the power of the West.

A young lady standing on a ski mountainCOULD YOU HELP? Meet Isabelle Perkett, all brave and smiley and 17. She loves to ski, attends Lake George Junior-Senior High and the BOCES Culinary Arts & Hospitality Program, and favors sweatshirts that say things like, “It’s a good day to have a good day.” Just before Christmas, she went in for a COVID test, found out she did not have COVID, but the news was not good. She was in end-stage renal failure. Isabelle needs a kidney. Her family is seeking donors, a Go Fund Me page has been set up, and her friends at West Mountain Ski Center in Queensbury, N.Y., are organizing a benefit on Sunday.

SPEAKING OF HELPING KIDS: The 10th Mother Lovin’ Fun Day Run and Walk to benefit Kelly’s Angels will be held, in person again, on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs. Kelly’s Angels helps kids and families who have lost a parent or principal caregiver to cancer or are facing other life-threatening illnesses. It was founded by WNYT anchor Mark Mulholland and his children Connor and McKenna in honor of their wife and mom Kelly, who died at 37 of breast cancer. It’s become a Mother’s Day tradition for many of the nearly 1,000 people who participate. For those who cannot be there in person, there will be a virtual run, too. Last year, people from all 50 states took part.

PLEDGE PLAGIARIST? The story told by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian socialist from Mt. Morris, N.Y., near Rochester, is that he wrote the Pledge of Allegiance on an August night in 1892, a claim he defended in sworn affidavits and that has been affirmed by, among other organizations, the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress. But the discovery online of an article from a Kansas newspaper, published three months before Bellamy claims to have written the pledge, is raising new doubts about who truly authored it.

LAKE GEORGE RECORD: Twelve-foot timbered ceilings, stone fireplaces, a pub. Plus, seven bedrooms, docks for six boats and an indoor pool. An 11,000-square-foot home on Lake George has just sold for $8.35 million, an all-time residential record for Lake George. Demand for lakefront property remains strong, and listings are at a 55-year low. 

PRINT THIS! Had he lived, Robert Blackburn would have turned 100 around the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, the golden age when African American artists began expressing control over how the Black experience was represented in American culture. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Blackburn became a preeminent printmaker, a pioneer in the later boom in graphics, and a leader in developing a diverse, collaborative workplace. The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, N.Y., is now featuring his work in a traveling exhibit organized by The Smithsonian while the work of Black women in print is being celebrated at the Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University.

WHERE THE TRAIL LEADS: New York’s 750-mile-long Empire State Trail, which runs from New York City to Canada with an east-west branch from Albany to Buffalo, has been named the best rail trail in the United States by Outside Magazine.

NEW AIR LEADER: The New York Air National Guard, the largest in the United States, sees to the air defense of the eastern approaches to the United States, provides disaster relief and conducts airlift rescues in the polar regions, and it’s now led for the first time by a woman, Brigadier General Denise Donnell of Clifton Park. She served in the United States Navy from 1993 to 2002 and is a command and combat pilot, a graduate of Georgetown University and the Air War College with a master’s degree from the National Defense University.

STIMULATING INNOVATION: For millions, Type 2 diabetes is a cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower-limb amputation. Now researchers at GE, Yale and Albany Medical College, among others, have developed a potential way to treat or even reverse diabetes with ultrasound, the non-invasive stimulation of specific neural pathways.

FOR THE BIRDS: Zoos in North America are adding protective measures to their bird collections in an effort to avoid a deadly avian flu strain that already has led to the precautionary killing of nearly 23 million chickens and turkeys. Many are moving their birds inside, adding roofs to enclosures and ensuring the integrity of the mesh surrounding enclosures, measures designed to prevent contact between wild birds and zoo animals. 

JUDGMENT CALL: Judge Jenny Rivera, a member of New York State’s highest court, is facing possible removal from the bench for refusing to comply with a requirement that all court employees produce proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Rivera is one of four judges in the state who have been referred to the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct for being out of compliance. The commission, which has sole authority to remove judges, has never kicked one off the Court of Appeals. In March, the court system notified 156 court employees that they failed to meet qualification for employment and would be fired if they did not show proof of vaccination by April 4.

LOSING OUR MINDS: By now the stories are legion — jerks on airplanes, assaults on retail and health care workers, screaming matches at school board meetings, all since the start of the pandemic. Schools and hospitals also are reporting upticks in unruly behavior. The Atlantic looked into what’s going on and why, with one psychiatry professor noting that the pandemic created a lot of “high-stress, low-reward” situations, leaving people teetering slightly closer to their breaking point. Added another expert: “Americans don’t really like each other very much right now.” 

TOUCH OF GRAYS: John Gray is a well-known and respected journalist in New York’s Capital Region, a longtime reporter and anchor on TV news stations who’s also an author and writes a column for the Troy Record. He and his wife Courtney also have a blind and deaf rescue dog named Keller, and together they — and a lot of other very generous people — did something pretty amazing for the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society.

LOST AND FOUND: In 2000, someone took two notebooks belonging to Charles Darwin from the Special Collection Strong Rooms at the Cambridge University library to be photographed. A routine check in January 2001 found that two notebooks — about the size of a paperback book — had not been returned. Months later, librarians conducting a routine check discovered the books were missing and assumed they had been misplaced among the library’s enormous collection. Years of fruitless searching for the notebooks — including one in which Darwin drew his famous “tree of life” sketch — led authorities to conclude they had been stolen. This week, they were returned anonymously, wrapped in plastic, showing no obvious signs of damage and accompanied by a note wishing the librarian a Happy Easter.

PEST PATROL: Here’s something we didn’t know: There evidently are several fox dens on and around Capitol Hill. They usually keep to themselves, but this week, one of those foxes started acting aggressively, biting at least nine people, including a lawmaker and a journalist. Authorities captured the fox, euthanized it and confirmed it had rabies. Its three kits also were captured and euthanized because of the risk that they also had become infected.

LIVES

ERIC BOEHLERT was a prolific journalist and media critic who devoted much of his energies in recent years to exposing misinformation and its sources while keeping vigilant watch for accuracy and truth in reporting as he saw it. He was a leading voice at Media Matters, a left-leaning media watchdog, for more than a decade. A native of Utica, N.Y., he also was the publisher of the Press Run newsletter, which criticizes all manner of media from a progressive perspective. “Greatly admired his passion and tenacity,” tweeted comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart. Boehlert was killed when his bicycle collided with a New Jersey Transit bus. He was 57.

BOB MASON was a radio shock jock, the Don Imus and Howard Stern of the Capital Region rolled into one outrageously funny and cynically inappropriate morning radio radical running roughshod over respectability. He was the “friend of the state worker” and the candidate of the Continuous Party, made fun of people and things you can’t make fun of, and for 30 years shook listeners out of their grumpy slumber and sent them to work laughing. He was 73.

ESTELLE HARRIS was George Costanza’s nagging mother from Queens endlessly frustrated by her aimless son and eccentric TV husband Jerry Stiller. “I’m not that different from Estelle Costanza,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 1995. The beloved “Seinfeld” star also was the voice of Mrs. Potato Head. She died a few weeks shy of her 94th birthday.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.”
Yogi Berra

THE SIGNOFF

BACK TOGETHER: Anyone who visited one of the Disney parks before the pandemic likely noticed, or was part of, close contact with the costumed characters, who interacted with guests, posed for pictures, signed autographs and shared countless hugs. That’s all been off limits since the parks reopened in the summer of 2020, but as soon as next week, guests will again be able to get close.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Nancie Battaglia, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, 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

Recent Posts

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 19, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 12, 2022

The Week What Caught Our Eye

November 5, 2022

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 17, 2022

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 10, 2022

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 3, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 26, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 19, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 12, 2022

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 18, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 11, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 19, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 13, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 25, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 18, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 11, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 4, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 27, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 20, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 13, 2021

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 19, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 12, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 21, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

November 14, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

October 17, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

October 10, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 26, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 19, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 12, 2020

The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 5, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 29, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 22, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

February 15, 2020

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 28, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 21, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 14, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 30, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 23, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 16, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 28, 2019

The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 21, 2019

The Week: What caught our eye

September 14, 2019

The Week: What caught our eye

September 7, 2019

Old West Adirondacks

July 19, 2019

A Glens Falls Night

November 20, 2018

A moment for our home city

October 9, 2018