The Week: What Caught Our Eye

July 16, 2022

People running in through the open gates of Saratoga Race Course on opening day.Saratoga Race Course welcomed 27,760 fans, a new father-son team of buglers, and eight weeks spotlighting some of the finest thoroughbreds in the world, plus 77 stakes races worth $22.6 million. (Skip Dickstein)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

WHAT GOES AROUND: Journalist Mark Leibovich gave the public an unforgettable backstage tour of Washington in 2013 with his book “This Town,” which opened with media and political personalities cravenly jockeying for best camera position at Tim Russert’s funeral. Welcome to the favor-trading suck-up swamp, egos gone wild and all backs available for scratching.  Now he’s back with Thank You for Your Servitude, a portrait of the capital under Donald Trump and the enablers around him.

THAT’S RICH: A million bucks ain’t what it used to be. Visual Capitalist, which illustrates economic trends graphically, assembled research from various organizations to produce a chart showing that it takes a net worth of $2.2 million to be “wealthy” in America; $1 million makes you merely “financially comfortable.” Among the numbers: The average America’s net worth is $122,000, it takes a net worth of $4.4 million to be in the top 1% nationally, and the U.S. has 724 billionaires.

GO AHEAD, SUCCEED! The writer Fran Lebowitz used to joke that success did not ruin her. “I’ve always been insufferable.” It looks like none of us need worry about success becoming our ruin. Freud posited that success may make you unhappy, but the peculiar form of distress he predicted seems to have been based on a few people who succeeded materially but felt unfulfilled. Larger, longer studies show that exceptionally successful people are also healthier and happier. So there: Permission to succeed granted. 

BEYOND BEAUTIFUL: “Lake George could quite possibly pass for something found only in Switzerland, if it wasn’t a four-hour drive from Manhattan,” declares Opal Unpacked, the travel guide of the Opal Hotels Group, owner of The Sagamore resort. Among many reasons to visit this summer or fall: The Bolton Historical Museum’s landmark exhibit “Landscapes Lost & Found: Two Centuries of Art from Bolton Landing,” featuring paintings from members of the Hudson River School and American Pre-Raphaelite movement.

SPEAKING OF THE LAKE, our friend Jeff Killeen, chairman of the Lake George Association, has worked for years to preserve its legendary clarity and cleanliness, efforts that will take another step when he auctions his classic 1929 Chris-Craft wooden boat next week at the LGA’s annual Summer Gala, with proceeds benefitting the organization’s lake protection programs. The vessel has an appraised value of $40,000; bidding starts at $25,000.

NO LIMITS: Landis Sims was born without hands, feet — or fear. Sims, a 16-year-old from southern Indiana with a preternatural confidence and swagger, first came to the attention of filmmaker Eric Cochran at a softball camp in California. Cochran watched as the boy, then 8, sprayed line drives and trash talk with equal aplomb. “Landis, Just Watch Me,” follows Sims in his quest to make the varsity baseball team at this high school, and this week the publicity tour gave Sims the chance to fulfill a dream — throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium.

GASLIGHT GLUT: The Associated Press, a news organization not given to hyperbole, reports that “a growing number of people in Western nations” have lost faith in democratic governance and a free press, and “have turned to conspiracy theories to fill the void.” “People can’t fact check the world,” a New York City psychiatrist and professor who has written about the psychology of trust and belief told the AP. “They’re awash in competing streams of information, both good and bad. They’re anxious about the future, and there are a lot of bad actors with the ability to weaponize that fear and anxiety.” The Wall Street Journal’s Andy Kessler sounds an alarm: “Be warned, we’re being trained that anything can be anything. The truth has taken a back seat. I don’t like it one bit.”

HEAD GEAR: Kirsh Helmets of Queensbury, N.Y., is up front about its goal. It’s right there on its website: To produce the best American-made motorcycle helmet. After eight years of research and development, founder Jason Kirshon, a Lake George native, started production of smaller, more streamlined helmets, and his company has swiftly established itself in a crowded market.

A WORLD OF MUSIC: Luzerne Music Center each year gathers promising young musicians from around the world in the foothills of the Adirondacks for an immersive educational experience that is designed to be rigorous and intense, eight hours a day of classes, lessons and rehearsals. A 13-year-old clarinetist from Ukraine who escaped the war in his country with his family and his instrument is among this year’s group of students, all of them welcomed and nurtured by an Artistic Director and CEO whose devotion to the arts and the people who practice them is always on full display.

Two men (Senator Stec and Assembly Member Simpson with five women being honored as hospitality leadersThey led the way. One hundred people turned out this week to honor five “women of the year” who stepped up and led the hospitality industry across Warren County, N.Y., to success during the pandemic. Recognized by state Sen. Dan Stec and Assembly Member Matt Simpson were: Kathy Muncil, Amy Collins, Joanne Conley, Sara Mannix, and Gina Mintzer. (Rob Simmons)

SHOWING OFF: NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope this week delivered images of the first galaxies to form in the universe, billions of years ago. The telescope, which cost $10 billion to develop and build, left Earth in December and is now stationed 1 million miles away. It took 14 days of dedicated staring at the same spot in the sky to produce the images.

SEEKING AN EDGE: Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender at federally funded schools, is credited with opening vast new possibilities for women, especially in athletics, but like anything else, if there’s a loophole to exploit, someone will exploit it. The idea was to allow girls to compete on boys’ teams if the school did not offer the chosen sport for girls; the loophole is that the opposite also was true, a distinction an Indiana high school used shortly after the implementation of Title IX to dominate what surely had to be among the most joyless volleyball seasons and state tournaments ever played.

WALKING TALL: Meet Dexter, a Brittany Spaniel from Colorado who, for six years, has inspired people from around the world with his unique adaptation to the paw life dealt him. “Dexter shows us, why aren’t you out there writing the book you want to write, why aren’t you out there doing the things you want to do, because he has,” his owner told CBS correspondent Steve Hartman.

DOING GOOD: A suburban Denver mother’s anguished plea on behalf of her bullied son, who came home from school with only four names scrawled in his yearbook, came to the attention of actor Paul Rudd, who sent the boy a hand-written note of encouragement that he signed “Your Pal, Paul.” He also sent along a signed Ant-Man helmet, “To my good friend Brody for when he takes on the world!”

IT'S AN HONOR: Gretchen Evans, a trustee of Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y., will receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service — named for the Arizona Cardinals defensive back who gave up his NFL career to become an Army ranger and was killed in Afghanistan — during the 2022 ESPYS awards show, the annual ESPN gala that will air on July 20. Evans, a retired command sergeant major who lives in Maine, was a highly decorated soldier who was seriously injured in a mortar blast in Afghanistan in 2006. An author, motivational speaker and vigorous athlete, she founded Team UNBROKEN, an adaptive racing team of mostly veterans who have experienced life-altering injuries, illness, or traumas. She sought service on the Excelsior Board of Trustees because about half of its students are active-duty military or veterans. “I believe that education is one of the most important parts of the transition for veterans,” Evans told the Albany Times Union. “Excelsior students and alumni demonstrate the grit and determination that has helped me persevere.”

STUNNING BACKSTORY: Mo Farah, who won four gold medals competing for Great Britain as a long-distance runner in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, revealed this week that he had been trafficked at age 9, taken from his native Somalia and forced to look after another family’s children. The woman who took him from his native Somalia said he was being taken to live with relatives in Europe. She even had fake travel documents with his photo and new name (his real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin). A compassionate phys ed teacher helped him escape, and Farah, knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2017, is telling his story publicly for the first time.

FARM HANDS: The Moore family has been farming in mid-Michigan since the 1800s, and since the 1960s, they’ve relied on local teens as young as 14 for summer help. The pay is minimum wage and the hours are long, but as one of the operators put it, the kids can work as many hours in three weeks as some part-time jobs make available in six months. Kids who met tending the cornfields have gotten married, and one is now a plant manager at the farm. One young worker told the Lansing State Journal that working in the corn is more fun and less stress than other jobs. “You get money, a tan and exercise all in one,” he said.

SILENT TYPES: The Lansing State Journal has run a series of articles about various contested political races in its coverage area, relying on a questionnaire and publishing the candidates’ responses “in their own words.” The candidates for a Michigan House seat apparently were tongue-tied.

LIVES

FRANCIS X. CLINES graduated first in his class from St. Francis Preparatory School in Brooklyn, spent two years in the Army, and parlayed a love for reading into an essay that helped him land a job as a copy boy for The New York Times. In Clines’ 59 years as a Times writer, readers came to recognize his byline on stories that were deeply reported, sensitively written and often more literary than journalistic, lyrical dispatches from Washington, the Mideast, London, Northern Ireland, and Moscow. He also covered Albany, where one of his colleagues remembered: “There are many ways to deflate pomposity, which is one reason Mr. Clines relished covering the State Legislature in Albany. Beyond the drumbeat of new laws and proposed taxes, he dissected the mores of lesser-light legislators with a Celtic sense of the absurd: their overblown rhetoric about public service, their crude eating habits during debates, their losing bouts with the mother tongue — all were fair game and duly reported.” He died of esophageal cancer at 84.

SALLY BIXBY DEFTY was a lifelong summer resident of Bolton Landing, N.Y., and a pioneering journalist in St. Louis, where she was the first woman to serve as executive city editor of the venerable Post-Dispatch. At work, she did things like cover arson-for-hire crimes (for which she was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize), but when summer arrived, it was time for Lake George. “She loved lots of things but none more than Bolton Landing and Lake George,” said Robert Duffy, a former colleague. She lived in the gracious shoreline home built by her grandfather, William Keeney Bixby, a St. Louis industrialist and philanthropist who had financed Charles Lindbergh’s transcontinental flight, in the “Spirit of St. Louis.” She was 89.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
—    Eleanor Roosevelt, on the link between personal philosophy and action.

THE SIGNOFF

DISHING DELICIOUSNESS: Linda Skeens was hard to find, especially considering how many admirers were drawn to her culinary achievements in a quiet corner of Appalachia. People wanted to know how her cookies, breads, cake, pie, brownie, sweet bread, strawberry fudge, canned tomatoes, canned corn, pickled peppers, sauerkraut, relish, spaghetti sauce, jelly and jam all won top prizes at the same county fair, an achievement celebrated in meme and song. The humble winner told a Dallas radio station that she was diagnosed with leukemia in December, but that her treatments are working and cooking for friends and family helps. 

Some of the linked material in Facing Out requires a subscription to read.

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

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

Recent Posts

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