The Week: What Caught Our Eye

August 27, 2022

073122_Saratoga 15.jpegEpicenter finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but won the Jim Dandy and is favored in today’s Travers at Saratoga. (Skip Dickstein)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

We’ve got a good month of summer left, so let’s make the most if it.

This weekend, the venerable Midsummer Derby takes place in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. It’s the oldest stakes race for 3-year-old thoroughbreds in the United States and this weekend’s prize is $1.25 million. Epicenter is the horse at the center of attention. A month ago, Epicenter won the Jim Dandy, the closely watched runup to the Travers. Now, the question: Is this the time for the son of Not This Time? Don’t count out Rich Strike and Early Voting.

It's also season of sweet corn, zucchini and tomatoes, and the bittersweet season when we send kids off to college. Pat Gormley’s been though it and has some words of advice for the parents among us who are seeing children off. (Fret not — Family Weekend is just around the corner).

UNLEVEL PLAYING FIELD: The Little League World Series is nearing its culmination in Williamsport, Pa., where the U.S. and International champions are scheduled to face off Sunday for the title. Will the West champions from Honolulu continue their impressive charge through the tournament or will the Southeast champions from Tennessee, which got a grand slam the other night from a player who lost the sight in one eye in a childhood accident, pull the upset? The winner of that matchup will play the winner of Chinese Taipei-Curaçao. The Little League World Series has long welcomed teams from around the world to Williamsport, but it hasn’t always allowed them to play, as the all-Black Cannon Street All-Stars of Charleston, S.C., learned painfully in 1955. “What started out as a 1,500-mile road trip to baseball heaven became a nightmare we didn’t want to talk about, so we buried it, consciously and subconsciously,” one of the players, John Rivers, told the Defector, a sports blog.  

GUN REDUCTION: Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that New York State Police seized 1,468 guns from August 2021 to July 2022, the highest number in the history of the agency. In communities across the state, local police agencies have removed 6,007 illegal guns during the first seven months of the year. It’s a central part of the state’s comprehensive strategy to reduce gun violence. Gov. Hochul gave special credit to State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen of Glens Falls, “who’s been at my side for exactly one year making sure we pull together all the resources available, leave no stone unturned in our quest to reduce gun violence statewide.”

START SPREADING THE NEWS: Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind “Hamilton,” has revealed his next big Broadway project. It’s “New York, New York,” said to be based loosely on the 1977 Martin Scorsese film. Susan Stroman (Crazy for You) will direct and choreograph, and Miranda will write new lyrics for the songs of John Kander, in a play that will celebrate the New York of 1946. An April 2023 opening is planned.

FAR OUT:  Have you seen the stunning images the James Webb Space Telescope is capturing and transmitting back to Earth from its voyage through the stars? This week, scientists — including a citizen scientist — collaborated to translate data from the telescope into composite images of Jupiter, revealing the gas giant in its many hues. The telescope, launched last Christmas Day, is on a mission to examine every phase of cosmic history, starting with the first glows after the big bang.

BRAND LOYALTY: The Korean band BTS looked like a flop. Its first two albums barely sold, and its third didn’t fare much better. Then came a trip to the U.S. in 2014, and pop music hasn’t been the same since. The band has built a following 100 million strong, fans who not only snap up merchandise but who also generate their own BTS-adjacent content, send flowers to radio stations for playing BTS music and buy ad blocks for TV appearances so there are no disruptions. From a business perspective, Harvard associate professor Doug Chung said, BTS’ strength lay in its ability to identify and nurture its target market and make use of the correct channel to reach fans. The band’s explosion was no accident — it was the result of a carefully designed and well-executed strategy by its management company.

BEST OF THE BEACH: This is sand castle season, and the first thing to know about building a great sand castle is this: The best sand for building them isn’t at the beach, it’s at the foot of a mountain, the sand’s geologic source (it has something to do with edges and angles and weathering). The second: it’s all about the water and sand ratio. If you’re ready to step up your sand castle game, a geotechnical engineer has some tips.

YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE: OK, maybe we’re typecasting ourselves a bit here, but when it comes to TV advertising, we’re partial to funny over fast-paced. Think of Progressive’s Dr. Rick, trying in vain to keep new homeowners from becoming their parents, or the late, great Most Interesting Man in the World (thankfully, the actor who played him is still with us). But when it comes to holding viewers’ attention, the more energetic the content, the more likely viewers are to keep watching.

FAUCI’S FAREWELL: Dr. Anthony Fauci announced this week that he would retire from federal service in December, ending nearly four decades as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as well as his role as President Biden’s chief medical adviser. Fauci, who became a polarizing figure in the government’s response to the covid pandemic, has been a public figure since the 1980s, when he was instrumental in combatting the AIDS epidemic. A gifted communicator, Fauci engaged with patients and activists, soliciting their participation in the search for solutions to some of medicine’s most urgent challenges and changing the way advocates interacted with researchers and caregivers.

WAIT FIVE MINUTES: The old joke is that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. This summer, the United States has experienced dramatic climatic contradictions: Desperate drought conditions in the West and even in parts of the East – alongside 1,000-year rains in Texas. In Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the U.S., the water level has dropped so much that long-sunken vessels are rising out of the mud and marinas are suddenly on dry land. Authorities are trying to prevent Lake Mead and another critical western reservoir, Lake Powell, from shrinking further by reducing states’ water allocations from the Colorado River, which supplies the reservoirs. Without even more restrictions, there is concern that Lake Powell will cease hydropower generation and Lake Mead may reach a point at which no water can flow downstream. In Texas, meanwhile, drought conditions at Dinosaur Valley State Park have uncovered dinosaur tracks from 113 million years ago that typically are hidden by the water of the Paluxy River. And New York City, surrounded by water, is experiencing severe drought conditions.

VICTOR-E: The state of California shook up the automotive production world this week by announcing it would ban the sale of gas-powered cars in the state by 2035, a boon for makers of electric vehicles. The regulation, approved by the California Air Resources Board, will be phased in over a period of years, assuming it withstands expected court challenges. The world’s major auto manufacturers already have announced plans to transition production from internal combustion engines to electric powertrains over the coming decade, a schedule that surely would be accelerated by a ban on sales of new gas-powered cars in the nation’s largest automotive market.

ON TOP OF HER GAME: Carol Hutchins, who won more games than any other coach in college softball history, announced this week that she was retiring after 38 seasons as head coach at the University of Michigan. She finishes with a career record of 1,707 wins, 555 losses and five ties, and in 2005 her Wolverines became the first program east of the Mississippi to win the Division I softball championship.

OFF THE TABLE: Capital Roots is all about squashing hunger in New York’s Capital Region. The local charity runs community gardens and food pantries, connects school kids with fresh produce, and generally provides resources for healthy eating centered on fresh food sourced locally. This week, Capital Roots announced that it was canceling its largest annual fundraiser because of concerns about potential disruptions by organizers of a new union representing its employees. The organization’s CEO told the Albany Times Union that union organizers had been harassing chefs and farmers who were participating in the event. Capital Roots is among several local nonprofit employers where unions have organized in recent months. Employees are burdened by higher prices and greater work demands. The shortage of workers helps imbue them with a sense of empowerment. Charitable organizations with limited financial resources may not have the wherewithal to respond as quickly and effectively.

FIVE DAYS’ WORK IN FOUR: The four-day work week is gaining traction, as employees seek more life flexibility and employers, facing a talent shortage, seek to hold on to good people. Employers are looking for strategies to improve employees’ sense of wellbeing and offset the engagement gap, rising stress levels and the Great Resignation. And yet the four-day week does not work for all employers. Citigroup CEO Jamie Dimon believes a “hurricane” is approaching the global economy and he’s making no secret of the fact that he wants all employees back in their seats. At Citigroup, fear is spreading that if you’re not in your seat, you’re not necessary to the business.

Epicenter finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but won the Jim Dandy and is favored in today’s Travers at Saratoga. (Skip Dickstein)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

We’ve got a good month of summer left, so let’s make the most if it.

This weekend, the venerable Midsummer Derby takes place in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. It’s the oldest stakes race for 3-year-old thoroughbreds in the United States and this weekend’s prize is $1.25 million. Epicenter is the horse at the center of attention. A month ago, Epicenter won the Jim Dandy, the closely watched runup to the Travers. Now, the question: Is this the time for the son of Not This Time? Don’t count out Rich Strike and Early Voting.

It's also season of sweet corn, zucchini and tomatoes, and the bittersweet season when we send kids off to college. Pat Gormley’s been though it and has some words of advice for the parents among us who are seeing children off. (Fret not — Family Weekend is just around the corner).

UNLEVEL PLAYING FIELD: The Little League World Series is nearing its culmination in Williamsport, Pa., where the U.S. and International champions are scheduled to face off Sunday for the title. Will the West champions from Honolulu continue their impressive charge through the tournament or will the Southeast champions from Tennessee, which got a grand slam the other night from a player who lost the sight in one eye in a childhood accident, pull the upset? The winner of that matchup will play the winner of Chinese Taipei-Curaçao. The Little League World Series has long welcomed teams from around the world to Williamsport, but it hasn’t always allowed them to play, as the all-Black Cannon Street All-Stars of Charleston, S.C., learned painfully in 1955. “What started out as a 1,500-mile road trip to baseball heaven became a nightmare we didn’t want to talk about, so we buried it, consciously and subconsciously,” one of the players, John Rivers, told the Defector, a sports blog.  

GUN REDUCTION: Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that New York State Police seized 1,468 guns from August 2021 to July 2022, the highest number in the history of the agency. In communities across the state, local police agencies have removed 6,007 illegal guns during the first seven months of the year. It’s a central part of the state’s comprehensive strategy to reduce gun violence. Gov. Hochul gave special credit to State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen of Glens Falls, “who’s been at my side for exactly one year making sure we pull together all the resources available, leave no stone unturned in our quest to reduce gun violence statewide.”

START SPREADING THE NEWS: Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind “Hamilton,” has revealed his next big Broadway project. It’s “New York, New York,” said to be based loosely on the 1977 Martin Scorsese film. Susan Stroman (Crazy for You) will direct and choreograph, and Miranda will write new lyrics for the songs of John Kander, in a play that will celebrate the New York of 1946. An April 2023 opening is planned.

FAR OUT:  Have you seen the stunning images the James Webb Space Telescope is capturing and transmitting back to Earth from its voyage through the stars? This week, scientists — including a citizen scientist — collaborated to translate data from the telescope into composite images of Jupiter, revealing the gas giant in its many hues. The telescope, launched last Christmas Day, is on a mission to examine every phase of cosmic history, starting with the first glows after the big bang.

BRAND LOYALTY: The Korean band BTS looked like a flop. Its first two albums barely sold, and its third didn’t fare much better. Then came a trip to the U.S. in 2014, and pop music hasn’t been the same since. The band has built a following 100 million strong, fans who not only snap up merchandise but who also generate their own BTS-adjacent content, send flowers to radio stations for playing BTS music and buy ad blocks for TV appearances so there are no disruptions. From a business perspective, Harvard associate professor Doug Chung said, BTS’ strength lay in its ability to identify and nurture its target market and make use of the correct channel to reach fans. The band’s explosion was no accident — it was the result of a carefully designed and well-executed strategy by its management company.

BEST OF THE BEACH: This is sand castle season, and the first thing to know about building a great sand castle is this: The best sand for building them isn’t at the beach, it’s at the foot of a mountain, the sand’s geologic source (it has something to do with edges and angles and weathering). The second: it’s all about the water and sand ratio. If you’re ready to step up your sand castle game, a geotechnical engineer has some tips.

YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE: OK, maybe we’re typecasting ourselves a bit here, but when it comes to TV advertising, we’re partial to funny over fast-paced. Think of Progressive’s Dr. Rick, trying in vain to keep new homeowners from becoming their parents, or the late, great Most Interesting Man in the World (thankfully, the actor who played him is still with us). But when it comes to holding viewers’ attention, the more energetic the content, the more likely viewers are to keep watching.

FAUCI’S FAREWELL: Dr. Anthony Fauci announced this week that he would retire from federal service in December, ending nearly four decades as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as well as his role as President Biden’s chief medical adviser. Fauci, who became a polarizing figure in the government’s response to the covid pandemic, has been a public figure since the 1980s, when he was instrumental in combatting the AIDS epidemic. A gifted communicator, Fauci engaged with patients and activists, soliciting their participation in the search for solutions to some of medicine’s most urgent challenges and changing the way advocates interacted with researchers and caregivers.

WAIT FIVE MINUTES: The old joke is that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. This summer, the United States has experienced dramatic climatic contradictions: Desperate drought conditions in the West and even in parts of the East – alongside 1,000-year rains in Texas. In Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the U.S., the water level has dropped so much that long-sunken vessels are rising out of the mud and marinas are suddenly on dry land. Authorities are trying to prevent Lake Mead and another critical western reservoir, Lake Powell, from shrinking further by reducing states’ water allocations from the Colorado River, which supplies the reservoirs. Without even more restrictions, there is concern that Lake Powell will cease hydropower generation and Lake Mead may reach a point at which no water can flow downstream. In Texas, meanwhile, drought conditions at Dinosaur Valley State Park have uncovered dinosaur tracks from 113 million years ago that typically are hidden by the water of the Paluxy River. And New York City, surrounded by water, is experiencing severe drought conditions.

VICTOR-E: The state of California shook up the automotive production world this week by announcing it would ban the sale of gas-powered cars in the state by 2035, a boon for makers of electric vehicles. The regulation, approved by the California Air Resources Board, will be phased in over a period of years, assuming it withstands expected court challenges. The world’s major auto manufacturers already have announced plans to transition production from internal combustion engines to electric powertrains over the coming decade, a schedule that surely would be accelerated by a ban on sales of new gas-powered cars in the nation’s largest automotive market.

ON TOP OF HER GAME: Carol Hutchins, who won more games than any other coach in college softball history, announced this week that she was retiring after 38 seasons as head coach at the University of Michigan. She finishes with a career record of 1,707 wins, 555 losses and five ties, and in 2005 her Wolverines became the first program east of the Mississippi to win the Division I softball championship.

OFF THE TABLE: Capital Roots is all about squashing hunger in New York’s Capital Region. The local charity runs community gardens and food pantries, connects school kids with fresh produce, and generally provides resources for healthy eating centered on fresh food sourced locally. This week, Capital Roots announced that it was canceling its largest annual fundraiser because of concerns about potential disruptions by organizers of a new union representing its employees. The organization’s CEO told the Albany Times Union that union organizers had been harassing chefs and farmers who were participating in the event. Capital Roots is among several local nonprofit employers where unions have organized in recent months. Employees are burdened by higher prices and greater work demands. The shortage of workers helps imbue them with a sense of empowerment. Charitable organizations with limited financial resources may not have the wherewithal to respond as quickly and effectively.

FIVE DAYS’ WORK IN FOUR: The four-day work week is gaining traction, as employees seek more life flexibility and employers, facing a talent shortage, seek to hold on to good people. Employers are looking for strategies to improve employees’ sense of wellbeing and offset the engagement gap, rising stress levels and the Great Resignation. And yet the four-day week does not work for all employers. Citigroup CEO Jamie Dimon believes a “hurricane” is approaching the global economy and he’s making no secret of the fact that he wants all employees back in their seats. At Citigroup, fear is spreading that if you’re not in your seat, you’re not necessary to the business.

IMG_6191.jpegThe still waters of a roadside Adirondack lake are ringed by trees that soon will be wearing a more vibrant wardrobe.

THE WRITE STUFF: Here at Behan Communications, we’d like to add another talented, dynamic professional to our team, a great colleague, storyteller and content producer who, with wit, perspective and a deft turn of phrase, can convey compelling and memorable stories about our clients. Check out the opportunity.  

FIGHTING FALSEHOODS: Researchers are pointing to promising new tools in the fight against misinformation — short videos that teach people to use critical thinking skills to recognize, and thus resist, misinformation. Think of them as mini training videos designed to help the viewer remain vigilant. The approach is called “pre-bunking” — a play on debunking — and the hope is that, as more people learn, they will see misinformation for what it is and reject it.

SHORT-TERM HEADACHES: Since the pandemic, short-term rentals have surged in popularity in resort towns around the U.S. To accommodate the new wave of visitors, investors moved quickly to convert existing homes or build new ones. This depleted the already short supply of affordable housing for the essential workers who make resort communities run and fun and led to complaints from neighbors about the impact of short-term rental properties. And so now comes the struggle to ease the headaches. New laws and regulations are coming to Adirondack communities like Lake George, N.Y.

BOOK BURNED: A veteran public high school English teacher in Norman, Okla., is suspended and likely out of a job after telling her students how to access books that “the state doesn’t want you to read,” a reference to a new Oklahoma law restricting classroom materials, including literature, that references “discriminatory principles.” The teacher, Summer Boismie, posted a QR code with information about Books Unbanned, an initiative of the Brooklyn Public Library that offers students free access to frequently banned books. The ACLU is currently suing Oklahoma over its law.

SITTING ON ADIRONDACK AIR: The Adirondack chair is an iconic fixture of boathouses, decks and fire pits across upstate New York, its sloped, slatted back and low seat making it eminently sittable and instantly recognizable. It’s a rugged, hardy, sturdy piece of outdoor furniture, with a classical design that has been exported and copied worldwide. Now — purists be warned — there’s an inflatable version that you can take anywhere.

LIVES

LEN DAWSON was born in Ohio but became synonymous with Kansas City, leading the Chiefs to two championships as their quarterback, including a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV (he won his first title with the franchise in 1962, when the team was the Dallas Texans). He played 19 years in the AFL and NFL, and was a game analyst and TV host for decades, both locally and nationally, after his retirement as a player. Dawson, Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf are the only men enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as both a player and a broadcaster. He was 87.

ERNEST BRYANT CRUTCHFIELD was born in Greenville, Ala., and was the first in his family to go to college, Auburn University, from which he obtained a degree in applied design. And design he did: As an employee of the paper manufacturer Mead, he invented the large plastic and cardboard binder that kept multiple papers in order and found its way into millions of school kids’ backpacks. He called it the Trapper Keeper. He was 85.

ROGER ACKERMAN took over at family-owned Corning Inc. from James Houghton, a member of the founding family, and the new CEO quickly sold off its household-name glass ceramic cookware products. He turned Corning into one of the world’s leading producers of fiber cable and other technologies that form the backbone of the internet. He was 83.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“When summer opens, I see how fast it matures, and fear it will be short; but after the heats of July and August, I am reconciled, like one who has had his swing, to the cool of autumn.”
—    Ralph Waldo Emerson

THE SIGNOFF

THE ROYAL MISTREATMENT: Bucyrus, Ohio, is awash in scandal and controversy after the queen of the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival was fired on the eve of the event, evidently for attending another festival without proper authorization. There are lawyers involved, and dueling press statements. We’re not kidding.

——

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THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Troy Burns, Ryan Moore, John Brodt, Tina Suhocki, Lisa Fenwick, Claire P. Tuttle 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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