The Week: What Caught Our Eye

May 13, 2022

Red tulips blooming in flower beds along a city sidewalkSpring, sprang, sprung this week in Upstate New York. You could hear it, feel it, see it, and smell it.

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

College commencement season is upon us, and we were particularly moved this week by a remarkable commencement speech that was not delivered — at least, not by the valedictorian who wrote it. Elizabeth Bonker has a form of autism that prevents her from speaking. She typed her speech with one finger, a friend holding the keyboard, and delivered it through text-to-speech software. “God gave you a voice. Use it,” she told her fellow graduates. “And no, the irony of a nonspeaking autistic encouraging you to use your voice is not lost on me. Because if you can see the worth in me, then you can see the worth in everyone you meet.”

LIFELONG LEARNING: Kate Cohen was confident she and her husband could raise their two sons to value and respect women as their equals, to reject the unspoken power dynamic that guides so many interactions. Then she learned her third child would be a girl, and she found herself confronting an uncomfortable question — what kind of example am I setting for her? A few years later, Cohen, a writer from Albany, N.Y., is asking herself, what can I do to be (subscription required) more like her?

HISTORY-MAKING QUEEN: Sam Mills, a 24-year-old graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., made history last weekend, becoming the first nonbinary person to be crowned Tulip Queen at the annual Tulip Festival, an event that draws thousands of visitors to the Capital Region. “I’m hoping that we connect with a certain part of the community,” Mills told the Albany Times Union. “There’s a lot of LGBTQ+ community members, and I’m hoping that I can be a role model for kids who were in my shoes, too.”

RED LETTER DAY: There’s a good one in many small towns, a place the locals count on and the visitors discover, a restaurant as familiar as mom’s kitchen if mom went to culinary school. At the best ones, the standard fare has a side of hip — try the hollandaise — and there’s always hot gossip. As soon as you walk in, you feel a true connection to place. On Cape Cod, for many people, that’s the Red Cottage Restaurant in Dennis, finally reopening after COVID, a sign that things are returning to normal just as summer arrives.

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: The white marble bust was gathering dust unceremoniously on the floor at a Goodwill store in Austin, Texas, so she paid the $34.99, buckled it into the front seat of her car, and took it home for her credenza. Turns out it’s a Roman bust from the late 1st century B.C. or early 1st century A.D., portraying either a son of Pompey the Great, who was defeated in battle by Julius Caesar, or Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, a Roman commander whose forces once occupied German territory. So much for life on the credenza. The Bavarian government wants its bust back.

MADE FOR MILENNIALS: Syracuse, N.Y., is rated the best city, Albany the third best in the Northeast for millennials in a new ranking by Homebuyer that considers whether they can find a great first job, earn enough to have a life, find social fulfillment, and save a little for the future.

CHIPS ARE UP: GlobalFoundries, the Saratoga County (subscription required) chip fab juggernaut, reported record first-quarter revenue of nearly $2 billion, on strong demand for chips for cars, smart mobile devices, the Internet of Things, data centers and communications. The company is racing to expand its $15-billion manufacturing complex in Saratoga County as well as its operations in Singapore and Germany. 

MOMS DO IT ALL: Cedric Mullins put the Baltimore Orioles on the Mother’s Day scoreboard last Sunday afternoon with a ground-rule double to right-center field. But the real story was the mom in the stands who reached out and snagged Mullins’ one-hopper after it bounced over the wall.

ON THE HOUSE: Tom House, it is safe to say, knows more about how human arms throw small objects than almost anybody else on Earth. After eight years as a big-league pitcher, and eight more as a big-league pitching coach, and after earning a doctorate in sports psychology, and after writing or co-writing 22 books on pitching, and after helping a long line of MLB and NFL stars, House has shifted gears with a simple goal for his next act: Fixing the way young players throw baseballs — for free.

MILLIONS FOR MARILYN: “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn,” an iconic 1964 screen print of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol, sold at auction this week for $195 million, including fees, a record for American art but less than what had been expected. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” remains the most expensive artwork to ever be sold at auction, fetching $450 million in 2017.

TOPS IN ROMANCE: The charming Lamplight Inn in Lake Luzerne, N.Y., has been named one of the Top Ten most romantic inns in the country. ILoveInns.com says: “Plan to be pampered” in the grand 1890 Victorian Inn and Carriage House, enjoy a special breakfast on the bright sun porch dining room, or relax on the wraparound porch. A wealthy bachelor, Howard Conkling, who practiced law in New York City and was a member of the state Assembly, built the place as a summer home. In 1926, Howard Ketchum, whose family-owned factory in Lake Luzerne made tags for cattle ears, purchased the place. Since 1984, Gene and Linda Merlino have lovingly cared for this masterpiece

A jockey riding Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, with his mouth open after winning the race

Horses racing in the dirt at the Kentucky Derby, with the grandstand in the background

 

 

 

 

 

If horses could choose their photographers, they’d choose Skip Dickstein, the longtime Capital Region artist who chronicles every important thoroughbred race. Here are two of his images, one of Rich Strike far behind in the early going at last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, the other of him crossing the finish line in victory. Enjoy more at Skip’s Facebook page (Skip Dickstein)

STRIKING IT RICH: For those who insist horse racing is fixed, we have two words for you: Rich Strike. While the smart money in last weekend’s Kentucky Derby was focused on Epicenter and Zandon, Rich Strike snuck in at the last minute, a claiming horse that, at 80-1, was the longest shot in the field. Stalwart New York Times racing writer Joe Drape had this to say before the race: “His only victory in seven tries came in a claiming race at Churchill Downs. He is out of his league here.” Rich Strike crossed the wire in 2 minutes, 2.61 seconds to win the race.

HERE FOR A REASON: There is pain and fear, outrage and sad experience on all sides of the abortion debate in America, and the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade has inflamed it anew. Angry screams and political signs consume the nightly news, much of the coverage unbalanced and uninformative. Albany Times Union columnist Chris Churchill explored a different experience in this honest and sensitive piece.

CAPITOL OFFENSE: Say the words “crime in Albany” and you’d be pardoned for immediately assuming the perpetrator is an elected official. This week’s crime victim, however, was a member of the state Assembly from Chautauqua whose BMW — yes, that’s right — was stolen from a state garage where he had left the keys in the ignition. Yes, that’s right, too.

IS IT SAFE TO LAUGH? Do you laugh at work? We mean, do you ever let loose one, epic conference table-slapping howl? Jokes and laughter in the workplace have been on the watchlist. They can wound, embarrass, and offend. But we also know laughter is a social balm that can dissolve barriers. Not only does it improve collaboration but it can increase analytic precision and productivity.

BRADY’S BUCKS: Tom Brady’s place in America’s living rooms and bar rooms on fall Sundays will continue when — or if — he ever decides to retire as a player, thanks to a contract with Fox Sports that will pay him almost as much as he earns on the field. The legendary quarterback has a reported 10-year, $375-million deal to become the lead game analyst on Fox Sports’ NFL coverage that kicks in after he retires as a player. There’s a chance we’ll see Brady in the booth sooner, if his Tampa Bay Buccaneers are eliminated from the playoffs before the Super Bowl, which Fox Sports is airing two of the next three years.

AVIAN KILLER: The virulent avian flu strain that is killing birds in the U.S. has reached Central New York, infecting a flock of snow geese and killing at least nine bald eagles in the state since March. The last outbreak of highly pathologic avian flu influenza, or HPAI, in 2014-2015 resulted in the loss of more than 50 million poultry in 21 states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So far, in addition to its impact on wild bird populations, the current strain has affected nearly 40 million poultry in 32 states.

JOHNNY, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: Steve Schmidt was a 36-year-old Republican campaign operative when Sen. John McCain tapped him to help direct McCain’s flagging 2008 presidential campaign. In many ways, Schmidt has never fully shaken the loss to Barack Obama, remaining largely silent as he was attacked by McCain’s inner circle and his running mate, Sarah Palin, in the years since. Now he has dramatically ended his silence, publishing an extraordinary 2,500-word essay which, in addition to confirming a report that he long denied about the senator’s extramarital affair with a lobbyist, is timely because of the ties of key McCain aides to Russian efforts to control Ukraine. Schmidt says allowing McCain to interview Palin without anyone else present “was the biggest mistake I have ever made,” and said it took less than three minutes of discussion with Palin to recognize “the magnitude of the disaster” of nominating her for the vice presidency. He also settles a score with the senator’s daughter, Meghan McCain.

ALL HAIL BONGBONG: In the words of a Filipino newspaper columnist, “It’s as if Kylo Ren emerged and the Empire is back in power.” Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted in a peaceful revolution in 1986, this week was elected president of The Philippines, a remarkable outcome helped by years of careful image rehabilitation and a partnership with current President Rodrigo Duterte, whose daughter Sara was Marcos’ running mate. As Jonathan Corpus Ong writes for Time: “The Philippines may be one of Asia’s oldest and largest democracies, but its continued embrace of strongman leaders is a wake-up call that liberal democracy’s messages of equality and rule of law will eventually run hollow …  The Marcos myths of a strong and stable nation — and of being misunderstood victims who could thus relate with anyone’s social and economic victimhood — would resonate in many countries.”

HIDDEN SECRETS: Boaters on Nevada’s rapidly shrinking Lake Mead last month spotted the decomposed body of a man in a rusted barrel stuck in the mud of newly exposed shoreline, leading to new speculation about what else — and who else — might be found if the reservoir continues to draw down. The surface of the lake — about 30 minutes from Las Vegas — has dropped more than 170 feet since 1983, and areas that once were marinas are now dry land. The city’s colorful former mayor, Oscar Goodman, a onetime defense attorney who represented Mafia figures, isn’t exactly shying away from the speculation. “We have a very interesting background,” Goodman told The Associated Press. “It certainly adds to the mystique of Las Vegas.”

YOLANDA, WE NEED YA! Somebody published the wrong winning numbers for the May 10 drawing, so the New York Lottery is suspending the awarding of the Mega Millions prize (paging Yolanda Vega!). Mega Millions players should hold on to their tickets for the May 10 drawing until the issue is resolved. Hey, you never know.

LIVES

BOB LANIER led tiny St. Bonaventure College, 90 minutes south of his hometown Buffalo, to the 1970 NCAA Final Four before embarking on a Hall of Fame NBA career with the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks. He played 14 seasons in the NBA, averaging 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds for his career, and earned immortality in pop culture when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar mentioned him in the classic 1980 comedy film “Airplane!” Lanier was a leader of the NBA players’ union in his final seasons, and the court at St. Bonaventure’s Reilly Center is named for him. He had been treated for bladder cancer in recent years and died at 73.

MIDGE DECTER was politically liberal until the 1960s when, alarmed by campus unrest and the women’s liberation movement, she became an architect of the neoconservatism that flourished in the latter part of the 20th century. She became a leading critic of feminism, asserting that modern methods of birth control, not the women’s movement, was the real impetus behind women building professional careers. She also fought against gay rights and other progressive social initiatives, and for a muscular military and foreign policy. She was 94.

ALFRED BALDWIN was an utter failure as a lookout. He was supposed to let the Watergate burglars know the cops were coming. Instead, he apparently was watching TV. He turned out to be far more effective as a witness for the government, connecting the botched 1972 break-in at Democratic National Headquarters to the Nixon White House. News of his death two years ago in New Paltz, N.Y., just surfaced. He was 83.

CHRIS DETMER was a creative and ambitious entrepreneur who, with business partner Tom Lloyd, dreamt of building big, dazzling Broadway sets and scenery in the wilds of the Adirondacks and shipping them to the Great White Way. Turns out, the company they formed 50 years ago, Adirondack Scenic, now Adirondack Studios, and their brand of visual storytelling was as much in demand on Broadway as (subscription required) among corporate giants like GE, Disney, Universal Studios, cruise lines and supermarkets. He was 80.

FAREWELL, CHIPPY! A few weeks ago we shared news of the death of Zippy Chippy, thoroughbred horse racing’s most lovable loser. Ran 100 races, didn’t win a single one. But the hearts of fans, he won a million of them, as CBS’ Steve Hartman discovered when he stopped by Chippy’s final home in Saratoga County’s Greenfield Center, N.Y.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“You can’t shake hands with a closed fist”
—    Indira Gandhi

THE SIGNOFF

COOL HAND: A passenger on a single-engine Cessna who had never before piloted a plane  landed it safely this week at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida after being coaxed in by an air traffic controller who’s also a flight instructor. The pilot had become incapacitated by an unknown medical emergency.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Skip Dickstein, 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

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