The Week: What Caught Our Eye

June 27, 2020

View of mountains and trees, with a lake in the distance, seen from a mountaintop with a "Trail Ends" sign visible.A familiar trail has come to an end for high school graduates and an new unbroken forest beckons as it does in this photo from Kipp Mountain near Johnsburg, N.Y., captured by our friend Ray O’Conor, author of “She Called Him Raymond,” and a banker, local government and community leader, and outdoor adventurer. (Ray O’Conor)

Good morning, Colleagues and Friends:

Last week we promised summer, and summer delivered. Some things abide. On what would be high school graduation weekend, we can’t help but lob a few unsolicited bromides the way of the kids who were denied the pomp and circumstance of commencement and the boring blandishments of bloated big kahunas. If high school kids read this blog (they don’t), here’s what we’d tell them:

Don’t worry, kids. You’ve got this.

You’ve already lived through a plague, an economic collapse, a worldwide shutdown, and horrific injustice and violence. Pandemic? We once thought that was a summer beach read. You survived one. Quarantine? You did your homework hunkered down at home. You’ve seen trusted authority figures kill innocent people and cities convulse in violence. You’ve seen schools turned into killing fields. In your life, you will get sick, lose a job, lose a home, lose a business, lose family and friends, lose faith, maybe even lose hope. But you have already come face to face with adversity, and you survived. At your tender age, you’ve already known great loss and great tragedy. They no longer have power over you. When bad things happen, you will summon the inner strength of hard experience. You will be resilient. Misfortune? You’ll shake your fist in defiance because now you know recovery is possible. You know coming back is a choice, the only choice and the right one. You’ll know that rising again, and helping others rise, will always be the truest measure of a life well lived. One day a recent high school graduate came home from work and told her dad: “I just had the worst day in my life.” 

“Good,” he replied. “At least that’s behind you.”


STRONG, SILENT: Todd Winn hadn’t put on his Marine uniform in 15 years, but the death of George Floyd in police custody, and the events that followed, got him thinking: Have I upheld my oath to the Constitution? He took out his uniform, put it on, and staged a one-man protest in the Utah heat, where his shoes disintegrated on the sidewalk.

VOICES OF HOPE: Madisen Hallberg was warming up for her gig as singer of the national anthem for her college’s commencement when a curious stranger got the camera crew’s attention and signaled he’d like to join. The harmony — symbolic and literal — is a joyful journey beyond the troubles of today.

THE MAGIC IS GONE: Magic Hat, an early player in the craft-brew craze and instrumental in establishing Vermont as a small-batch haven, is selling its brewery in South Burlington and moving all production to the Genesee Brewery in Rochester.

THE INCLUSION INITIATIVE: Like many organizations, the Albany Business Review has been thinking about diversity in its work and its workplace. It’s spent the last year listening to local experts in inclusion. Now, it’s honoring six local people and a law firm who are doing the daily work of diversity, equity and inclusion by opening doors, making connections and lifting people up.

CHANGE AGENT: Jeff Shell, who became chief executive of NBCUniversal in January, is wasting no time implementing the changes he thinks are necessary to keep the entertainment giant relevant and robust, and not spending much time worrying about what critics think.

FIT FOR A KINGSTON: The pandemic is causing New Yorkers to look for new homes with a little more room to roam, which in many cases means just up the Thruway in the Hudson Valley. The surge is boosting revitalization efforts in Kingston.

CREEP-E BAY: Live cockroaches. Pornographic videos. A mask of a bloody pig’s head. All presumably available on eBay, whose executives allegedly used the items, as well as threatening messages, in a failed effort to intimidate a critic in the Boston suburbs. The Wall Street Journal has the incredible tale.

THE NEW RULEBOOK: Baseball, more than any other sport, is known for its unwritten rules — no flipping the bat after a home run; no bunting to break up a no-hitter; Yankees fans allowed to reach into the field of play to take balls away from opposing outfielders (OK, we made that one up; give Orioles fans another quarter-century, they’ll get over it). But it’s a new, pandemic-focused 113-page operations manual that has the sport abuzz.

Mountaintop view of a wide valley with farm fields and trees under a partly cloudy sky with a setting sun.Summer’s beauty beckons throughout upstate, including this beautiful vista along the Taconics looking west into Columbia County.(Crown Focus Media)

HOW’S ABOUT A PICNIC? If you’re striking out for the Adirondacks or Catskills this summer, remember to keep an eye out for the very large permanent residents. You can’t miss them.

ROOM TO GROW:  GlobalFoundries, which manufactures computer chips at its multi-billion-dollar facility in Saratoga County and already is one of the Capital Region’s largest employers, may be growing again. It’s secured the rights to 66 undeveloped acres near its campus in Malta.

MANUFACTURING A REBOUND: Elizabeth Miller is a fearless visionary whose passion for quality and for the Glens Falls region have been well established over the past three decades, so it will come no surprise that she’s just invested another $1 million to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

BILLY’S PLACE: A lakeside home near Binghamton that was owned by the late Yankees manager Billy Martin, who was as renowned for his volatility and the revolving-door nature of his tenure with the Yankees as he was for his success in the dugout, is on the market. It’s being auctioned, with bids starting at $500,000.

TOOL OF INJUSTICE: Detroit Police were sure they had their man. An algorithmic scan of Robert Julian-Borchak Williams’ driver’s license photo in a state database revealed a possible match to the man who stole thousands of dollars in merchandise from a downtown retailer. The key word — the word overlooked by Detroit Police — is possible

A HISTORIC LOSS: White Pine Camp in the Adirondacks was the summer home of President Coolidge in the 1920s. A recent electrical fire in the camp’s workshop destroyed five buildings. Flames got to within five feet of the main building, but it and other historically significant structures were spared. The buildings were insured and there are plans to rebuild.

SEATING ARRANGEMENTS: It seems as if everyone these days is craving the outdoors. If Adirondack chairs are your style, Forbes has you covered. There’s even one with a drop-down tray for your computer.


SHIRLEY A. SIEGEL graduated from her high school as the class valedictorian at 14, entered Yale Law School as the only woman in her class and overcame blatant discrimination to become a leading civil rights lawyer and New York State’s first female solicitor general, responsible for rendering opinions and arguing appeals of court decisions involving the state. She was 101.

PATRICIA “MAMA BEAR” PAYNE opened a restaurant in Duanesburg with her late husband more than 50 years ago, and together they turned The Bears’ Steakhouse into a local destination-dining legend without a phone number or any advertising and promotion. Bobby “Papa Bear” Payne handled the meat and the glad-handing; Mama Bear, who was 83, took care of the breads, the pies and the books, as well as keeping the staff in line. She was managing a local bank branch when she and Bobby met. Her told The Times Union’s Steve Barnes she was “the rock of the family and restaurant.”

ANGELA MADSEN was a three-time Paralympian who was attempting, at 60, to row solo across the Pacific Ocean. She became paralyzed after an unsuccessful surgery for a back injury she suffered in 1993 playing basketball while in the Marines, and went on to become a decorated shot putter and rower. She died in the middle of her voyage.


We end as we began with advice to the grads: See things for yourself. Keep your word. Help others succeed. And make all the friends you can. Now, go make us all proud.


The New Yorker, as renowned for its cartoons as for its cultural commentary, literate essays and sharp-edged political coverage, regularly invites readers to contribute the drollery to the drawings. Ben Fishel of Pilot Knob on Lake George delivered on the pitch.

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. 

Let’s make it a conversation:

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