The Week: What Caught Our Eye

June 4, 2022

The sunrise with low clouds over a field and treelineJune brings us the summer solstice and with it, long days of sunshine. Beautiful sunrises
at 5:45 a.m. over Washington County, N.Y., are not uncommon.

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

We open this week with a fond farewell to an icon of Americana.

HoJo’s is no mo’.

Howard Johnson’s, once the largest restaurant chain in the U.S., had disappeared from American roadsides, with one stubborn exception, on the southern approach to Lake George, N.Y. This week came word that it, too, had closed just before Memorial Day, a humble end for the welcoming and reassuring orange roof that greeted visitors arriving in Lake George for nearly 70 years. Alas, no more clam rolls, no more 28 flavors of ice cream.

HIGH AND OUTSIDE: A miniature golf course operator in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is setting aside 4 to 9 p.m. each Tuesday for players 21 and older who wish to smoke marijuana while playing. Owner Brian Brumley started offering “Puff Puff Putt” Tuesdays in 2021. “Saratoga, in my opinion, is based mostly on alcohol, restaurants-themed adult activities,” Brumley told Albany’s ABC-10. “When marijuana became legal to smoke in New York State, I thought it’d be a great idea to give adults that aren’t into drinking and going down to Caroline Street a place to come and openly smoke marijuana with people that are like-minded.”

CHANGE OF HEART: Craig Apple, the popular sheriff of Albany County, N.Y., who announced his candidacy for a state Senate seat in mid-May, has reversed course, writing in a Facebook post that he loves his job and had entered the Senate race only after some prodding.

SIGNING DAY: If you follow high school or college sports even a little, you know that signing day is a big deal. The most sought-after high school student-athletes make their signing day announcements live on national television. Thousands more sign their letters-of-intent in small ceremonies witnessed by parents, coaches and local news cameras. Jacob Bradley was proud to sign his letter-of-intent, too, announcing in a ceremony at Kentucky’s Montgomery County High School that he would be joining Fast Flow Plumbing as an apprentice. “His dad and I are just over the moon,” his mother, Angie, told TV station WKYT. 

INCENTIVIZING GOOD BEHAVIOR: For 15 years, a researcher offered young men a small amount of money and an opportunity for therapy to help them escape a life of crime. They practiced managing their behavior and exerting self-control. They used the money to get a haircut, buy some better clothes and gain a measure of self-respect. It worked. The experiment took place in Liberia. Now Chicago is giving it a try.

EXPLAINING THE INEXPLICABLE: Jillian Peterson and James Densley, academics in the fields of criminology and criminal justice, are looking closely as others look away. Their research is centered on mass shootings — more precisely, the common characteristics and experiences of the perpetrators, including, importantly, that most want to die as a result. They have documented mass murders committed since 1966 and public mass shootings since 1999, and  compiled detailed biographies of 180 shooters. Their work has, in their view, created data-driven rationale for mental health-based approaches to identify and defuse potential attackers before it’s too late. Their hope is that lawmakers will begin to engage more deliberately in finding and funding solutions.

CATSKILLS REBOUND: Like much of Upstate New York, the Catskills region steadily lost population in recent decades as manufacturing jobs disappeared and the once-popular summer resorts faded into nostalgia. But new Census figures show what was anecdotally apparent — that pandemic-fueled relocations, primarily from New York City, landed the five counties of the Catskills among the top 10 counties for population growth in the state between July 2020 and July 2021. New York City, meanwhile, saw its population dip by 305,000 over the same period.

OLYMPIC DREAMS: Lake Placid, N.Y., a small, picturesque village in the heart of the Adirondacks, has twice welcomed the world for the Winter Olympics, and revels in its place in Olympic history (think Miracle on Ice and Eric Heiden’s five speedskating golds). Many have since written off Lake Placid as simply too small to host a third Olympics, but with the 2023 World University Games headed there, state legislators think it’s time to seriously consider the possibility of pushing for another Olympics, this time in cooperation with New York City. 

PIANO MAN: So, you’re sitting at a piano on a public street in Boston, casually playing “Ophelia,” when a stranger who has been watching you says it’s a great song and asks if he can play. Sure, you say, and the stranger proceeds to keep going without missing a beat. Of course, the stranger is Jeremiah Fraites, a founding member of The Lumineers, the band that first recorded “Ophelia.” “I was essentially in shock for at least an hour afterwards,” the street musician, Sam Spencer, wrote on Instagram. Fraites was in the area for a nearby performance by The Lumineers, and gave Spencer tickets to the show.

A butterfly hovering under a purple flowerMay the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun; And find your shoulder to light on;
To bring you luck, happiness and riches; Today, tomorrow and beyond – Irish blessing.
(Skip Dickstein)

MOUNTAIN LAURELS: Carl Hunnell was a 17-year-old high school football player in Ohio when the school librarian, who Hunnell and his buddies hung out with before school, asked if they’d like to take a backpacking trip that summer to the Adirondacks. This was in the 1970s, when such an invitation wouldn’t have drawn as much scrutiny as it might today. Sure, they said. Sounds like fun. Some 44 years later, writing from memory, Hunnell, now an editor, offers a hilarious account of their adventures and challenges in climbing Mount Marcy, the state’s highest peak, including a laugh-out-loud description of his plunge into what looked like an innocent mountain lake. Be sure to read both parts. And if Marcy alone isn’t enough, there’s the toughest trek in the Adirondacks — the Great Range Traverse.

POLICE BEAT: To save a hostage being held in a convenience store in Troy, N.Y., police posed as a television news crew so the hostage taker could get his story out. It worked.

PET SMART: Americans adopted millions of pets during the pandemic, when offices were closed and people who could worked from home. It seems a lot of those folks don’t like leaving their pets alone. Now Colonie Center, a shopping mall near Albany, N.Y., is telling them they don’t have to. The mall announced this week that dogs were now welcomed in about 30 stores. Storefront stickers will let shoppers know where they can bring their dogs.

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER: The senior class at Marblehead High School in Massachusetts had never attended a school-sponsored dance — the pandemic wiped out the sophomore semi-formal and junior prom — so you can bet they were hoping their senior prom would be a night to remember. Thanks to a connection to the Boston Red Sox, that is exactly what they got, dancing in the open air while watching a game at Fenway Park.

BRACE FOR IMPACT: Jamie Dimon’s words carry a lot of weight by virtue of his position atop JPMorgan Chase, so when he uses words like “hurricane” to describe what’s coming in the economy, it may be time to board up the windows. Dimon told investors at an annual conference that the ongoing war in Ukraine, combined with tightening money policies to combat inflation, portend rough economic times, a view shared by other market experts. “You better brace yourself,” Dimon advised.

TANGLED NETFLIX: Don’t look now, but Netflix has lost more than 70% of its market value in six months, and the short-term outlook is for a continuing exodus of subscribers. An early effort to stop the sharing of passwords appears to be backfiring, with annoyed subscribers canceling in greater numbers than expected. With competition from other streaming services on the rise, Netflix, in the words of one analyst, is facing “a perfect storm of bad market conditions.”

LIVES

CHRISTOPHER KOSTOSS was a captain of the New York State forest rangers, a hardy team of professionals who provide public safety and state land protection through expertise in wildland search, rescue, fire, law enforcement and incident management and are indispensable in the rugged reaches of the Adirondacks and other state lands. He led a number of search and rescue missions in the Adirondacks, and had spoken of the emotional as well as the physical strain on rangers in life-and-death situations. He died by suicide at 49. If you or someone you know is in need of mental health assistance, help is available. The New York State Office of Mental Health has resources on its website (or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

KENNY MOORE knew of what he wrote, and it showed. A three-time collegiate All-American for the storied University of Oregon cross-country program under the legendary coach and shoe pioneer Bill Bowerman, he finished fourth in the marathon in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, a year after he started what would become a 25-year career writing primarily about track and field for Sports Illustrated. “If it is run right, a marathon inflicts some damage,” he wrote about his race in Germany. “I ran it right, the crowd’s approval roaring in my head, on a cushion of blood blisters.” He was 78.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“I don’t want to be defined by any of my struggles. I want to use those experiences to create an impact.”
—    Ashley Adirika, a Miami Beach High School senior who was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools and will attend Harvard in the fall.

THE SIGNOFF

COOL HEADS: People on both coasts made news this week for cool-headed responses that quite likely saved a couple of wild animals who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Brooklyn, a woman walked into a bar and casually picked up by the scruff a possum that had wandered in and was freaking out the patrons, releasing it to resume its place among the rest of the night life and enjoying an evening of free drinks and gawking admirers. South of San Francisco, a custodian opening the local high school early Wednesday spotted a young mountain lion wandering through campus and watched as it entered an empty classroom. He quickly shut the door and summoned wildlife authorities, who tranquilized and removed the wayward cat.

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

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Claire P. Tuttle, Skip Dickstein, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, and Tara Hutchins.

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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