The Week: What Caught Our Eye

May 16, 2020

Aerial view of Lake George, with motels on the near shoreline and mountains in the backgroundNew York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware will open public beaches and waterfronts for Memorial Day weekend, with crowds limited to 50% of capacity and local officials in charge of enforcement.  (Crown Focus Media)

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Good morning. The clouds are beginning to part as regions of New York State emerge from a broad shutdown that cost thousands of jobs and crippled segments of the regional and national economies. But the pain and hardship of COVID-19 are far from over, and the political tensions that gave way to something resembling national unity have come roaring back, with public opinion polls showing stark differences in support for various public safety measures and guidelines, and the old, seemingly intractable blue-red hostilities finding a new and more volatile battleground. We don’t have the answers. We wish we did. What we have is hope, a sense of purpose and a determination to carry on and serve. In the wise words of Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Or, as a 6-year-old calmly reminded a little friend who was frightened by a coming storm: “You’re bigger than your fear.”

IN THE FIGHT: Like many residents of Upstate New York, Chris Swiesz would venture to New York City for the occasional Yankees game or Broadway show. These days, the nurse from Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh is in the city on an entirely different mission, one that puts him at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A collage photo of health care workers wearing masks and protective gear.They are still at it every day, still comforting the sick, saving lives and bringing families together, still putting their own lives on hold, the health care heroes of Glens Falls Hospital and Ellis Medicine.

A FAMILY’S TRIUMPH: A few weeks ago, we brought you news of a family’s fight to save their father and husband before the coronavirus took his life. His daughter waged a long-shot nationwide campaign to obtain virus-fighting antibodies, an ultimately successful effort documented by Mother Jones magazine. Kellie Burns’ dad became one of the first patients in the country to receive convalescent plasma therapy, and Glens Falls Hospital became one of the first to administer it. After six weeks in intensive care, he left the hospital Thursday.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: The Foys are the first family of dining around Bolton Landing on Lake George, with the popular Cate’s Italian Garden in the heart of community, the elegant Chateau on the Lake around the corner, and the homey Diamond Point Grille just down the road, all owned and operated by members of the family. The Food Network noticed, creating quite a stir last summer with its cameras and crews bearing release forms for diners to sign. Turns out the family is the subject of a four-part series that will feature scenes from a time that feels so long ago.

WHAT WAS HE THINKING? Why did a guy as smart as Alexander Hamilton ever agree to a duel with Aaron Burr? They were sworn enemies. Burr was trying for a political comeback. Hamilton was defending his honor. And now Rensselaer County author, lawyer and political hand Jack Casey (writer of the must-read Albany send-up “Parliament of Fowls”) is out with Hamilton’s Choice, a novel about the final years of the Founding Father America just can’t get enough of.

CALLED ON ACCOUNT OF COVID: There’s no joy in Williamsport, Pa., today, no joy for the 2.5 million boys and girls of summer. For the first time in 73 years, the Little League World Series has been canceled.

A VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE: The Adirondack Experience, the iconic Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, won’t be open this season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about the people who lived, played, worked in and shaped the Adirondacks.

THE SHOWS GO ON: The pandemic has taken a huge toll on performance venues, from small community arts houses to Broadway, where, until September 6 at least, every day will be a  dark day, the lonely ghost light keeping silent vigil. But performance venues are determined to make a go of it online, finding creative ways to keep performers performing, audiences watching and some income flowing. For the first time since World War II, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has canceled its Tanglewood summer festival. It’s going virtual. The Adirondack Theatre Festival canceled its popular summer run in Glens Falls and it, too, is offering virtual performances. The staff of the Charles R. Wood Theater, also in Glens Falls, put together a Virtual Talent Show that drew 42 entrants and doubled as a fund-raiser. And downstate, a Saratoga native helped the Rye Arts Center launch its fRYEday Not Live! series.

BUT MADNESS MUST WAIT:  The Lake George Dinner Theatre had been planning to toast its 53rd summer this year with a revival of “Shear Madness,” a show by Capital Region talents Bruce Jordan and Marilyn Abrams that became longest-running nonmusical play in American history.  Instead, the play will be staged next summer.

MOTHER NATURE CAN GO SCRATCH: First, COVID-19. Then “murder hornets.’’ Now, “aggressive lone star ticks” Why are we rushing to get outside?

FILLING THE BREACH: Educational programming for children has been a staple of public television for more than half a century, but never has it been more important, especially for children whose homes lack access to reliable or high-speed internet service. Public broadcasting stations across New York have pre-empted their regular daytime programming and filmed new content to create “Learn at Home” television.

LOVED AND LOST: A police officer in Brooklyn no doubt spoke for millions when he reminisced about the New York City that was just a few short weeks ago. “Just everything,” he said with a sigh. “I miss everything.”

A face mask with the message "Don't Leave Home Without It!"

The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce is launching a community campaign to keep people healthy and get people back to work: Here’s our ask: wear your mask, wash your hands and stay six feet apart.

SPEAK SOFTLY AND WEAR A MASK: It’s not just coughing or sneezing. Loud speech also can spread the coronavirus, according to researchers at Stanford, who confirmed that normal speech can emit thousands of oral fluid droplets per second. In a stagnant air environment, they disappear within eight to 14 minutes.


GOAT-2-MEETING: Say farewell to dull video conferences and hello to the furry and feathered faces from a pair of Hudson Valley animal sanctuaries that are injecting unexpected joy and delight with their cameos, none more popular than Dolly the llama.

LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS GO BY: Animals around the world have been reclaiming spaces typically inhabited by people who were staying inside during the pandemic. In suburban Detroit, you’ll find hippos, sharks and bears, as well as a cheerful Pikachu, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Mr. Potato Head.

NEWS REELS NOT INCLUDED: Movie theater operators are hoping audiences will come back to classic blockbusters at bargain prices, a gambit that will provide clues about the public’s appetite to re-enter confined spaces filled with strangers.  Will wine and cheese make a difference?

THE AIR UP THERE: Vincent Schaefer lacked the pedigree and credentials of the other luminaries appointed 50 years ago to Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks, but as someone who grew up in the Adirondacks, he knew what he wanted it to remain: “a unique environmental entity,” protected from the crowds he expected would come seeking solace and an escape from the pollution of the cities.

FRESH NEWS: An update on farmers’ markets, including a new location and safety protocols for the popular Troy Waterfront Farmers Market.

PAST IS PROLOGUE: Fifty years ago, the “Hard Hat Riot” in Manhattan dramatically revealed a growing populist rage that continues to shape and color our political discourse.

SING OUT LOUD: Watching people in other parts of the world sing from their balconies, Amanda Pawlowski of Albany got an idea: I can use my voice to spread joy, too.


JOHN J. O’KANE SR. served his country and his community with distinction. He served in the Navy for two years and upon discharge joined the Marines. They sent him to Korea, where he earned several medals. When he returned to New York, he joined the NYPD, worked in narcotics, was a bodyguard to Mayor John Lindsay, retired as a homicide detective.  On his days off, he worked as a security guard at a Catholic school to help pay his children’s tuition. Somewhere along the way John found time to earn a master’s degree and work on a doctorate, and when he retired to Queensbury, he became a professor of criminal justice at SUNY Adirondack, where with a gentle presence he taught and mentored future law enforcement officers for 23 years, twice earning teacher of the year honors.

CAROLYN REIDY joined Simon & Schuster in 1992 and served as CEO since 2008, guiding the publisher through the treacherous waters of the digital revolution and nurturing great writers, among them Stephen King, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Bob Woodward. Woodward called her “one of the great publishers and book people’’ of all time. ‘’She would let you write the book you wanted to write. She would say, ‘If that’s the truth as you found it, we will publish it.’ There was never any adjustment or political bending.”

YOU MAY NOT KNOW THE NAME, but Paul Vazquez unquestionably made the world a brighter place for a time in 2010 with his irrepressible, irresistible reaction to the spectacle of a double-rainbow outside his window. “Paul was a catalyst, and he made us and the world at large aware of the power of the internet,” his friend Robert Borchard said.


The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that, although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."

Image of Braille text spelling out "Helen Keller"
Helen Keller



OLIVE AND MABEL ARE BACK! The BBC’s Andrew Cotter, the gift who keeps on giving.

PLEASE SHARE: Feel free to pass this along to your friends and colleagues.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Colleen Potter, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, Katelyn Jensen, Ellis Medicine, Troy Burns, Tara Hutchins, Matt Behan and Claire P. Tuttle.

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.

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value or interest 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. 

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