The Week What Caught Our Eye

August 29, 2020

Goat.jpgDo ewe know a nice home where winsome sheep roam? Yes, Dancing Ewe Farm, Granville.
(Bob Joy photo)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

How many inflexion points can one year provide?

Professional athletes responded dramatically this week to the police shooting in Kenosha, Wisc., declaring that now is no time to play games. In one of the broadest political statements across major league sports that the United States has ever seen, they used their uniquely powerful platform to declare that they are done waiting for attitudes to change and reforms to take effect.

The Detroit Lions decided as a group not to practice on Tuesday. Wednesday brought the  widespread cancellation of games across several professional leagues. All of this comes almost four years to the day after Colin Kaepernick first took a knee to protest police violence toward people of color, and seems destined to force a reckoning if not a reconciliation around matters of race and justice.

We have encountered many voices commenting on the players’ actions. We offer three for further reading:

Jerry Brewer: “For all its stealthy might, the novel coronavirus didn’t burst the NBA bubble. Police brutality did. Racism did. Heartless disregard for Black lives did. This is not a game; this is our reality. Our fear. Our pain. Our helplessness. And so there can be no games. … Black people — in this case, NBA players — have tried restraint. They have pleaded for justice. They have made appeals to the logic, morality and decency of others. … If you find these cries unpleasant, you are really going to dislike what remains after restraint.”

Howard Bryant: “There is no citizenship beneath their tank tops, and even less humanity. You're here to entertain us. No, you're literally here to entertain us. That's your job. Underneath that layer of threat is more threat, which is to say you better be grateful there are people willing to watch, because if we don't watch, you're back to being nothing. The message is, of course, to remind these Black players of how precarious their positions are, to let them know in case they forgot how thin the margin is, that one misstep, injury or arrest, backtalk or protest can put you back there with the rest. Never forget who you owe.”

And the great William C. Rhoden: “Players were moved into a bubble to protect them from this deadly virus. Turns out that it will not be the coronavirus that possibly burst the NBA bubble, but the virulent, persistent virus of racism. … Their next steps should be out of the NBA bubble and back into their respective communities to protest what is clearly and unmistakably an assault on Black lives. They have done the kneeling, the scribbling, even as law enforcement officers continue to do the shooting.”

MOMENTS IN THE SUN: The sun shone brightly on Northern New Yorkers this week. In his debut as a major league pitcher, Ian Anderson threw a first pitch against the New York Yankees and it was a strike. Then the Shenendehowa High School graduate, selected third overall in the 2016 draft by the Atlanta Braves, followed up with 54 more strikes. Over nearly six innings, he held the Yankees to just one hit. The Yankees’ $324-million Gerrit Cole looked like the rookie. The Republicans also found their ace this week. For an important speaking role at the Republican National Convention, they chose the North Country’s Elise Stefanik, the first person in her immediate family to go to college and the youngest Republican woman ever elected to Congress. Thought to be the first local Republican official in 100 years to address a Republican Convention, she delivered a home run, declaring, “I believe in the American dream because I’ve lived it.”

LOCAL SUFFRAGIST: One hundred years ago, Washington County dispatched an energetic Kingsbury suffragist to the Republican National Convention in Chicago, not to vote but to help get women organized to vote for the compromise candidate who ultimately won the presidency. Historian Maury Thompson looks back.

A THRILLER IN THE BERKSHIRES: Matt Tannenbaum saw how it would end. The Bookstore, a beloved and enduring icon on Housatonic Street in Lenox, Mass., was facing a big bill with no way to pay it. After 44 years, it seemed inevitable that the pandemic would swallow his business, and with it a big piece of the community. His friends and neighbors had a different narrative in mind.

AMAZOMBIES: Pat Garofalo, director of state and local policy at the progressive American Economic Liberties Project, asks why state and local governments have, in aggregate, given $3 billion in subsidies to Amazon, money that he argues amount to “funding the demise of Main Streets across America.”

MASS APPEAL: Joseph Thompson, the man credited with turning an empty North Adams textile mill and electronics plant into the largest institution in the United States devoted to new art, is stepping down. Thompson created MASS MoCA, a space so beautiful it hardly needs art, as one critic said, but which now has 550,000 square feet of space in 17 buildings where it displays visual art, hosts music, dance, theater, film and artist-in-residency workshops, and welcomes 30,000 people a year.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH: If it ain’t broke, the cliché goes, don’t’ fix it. Well, there’s been an awful lot of breaking in this year of the coronavirus. Turns out, adversity often is a precursor to growth, if you’re willing to work through it, be patient and see opportunities amid the obstacles.

TRAIL MIX: A High Peaks Summit Steward recounts a recent Sunday morning on Mount Marcy, where she encountered enough ignorance, truculence and flouting of rules to conclude: “Resources need to be invested to protect the High Peaks through public education, infrastructure and data collection.”

NO END IN SIGHT: It turns out putting a period at the end of a sentence is construed by some as a hostile act

SEINFELD SIZZLES: Jerry Seinfeld has had just about enough of people writing obits for New York City. People like James Altucher, or, as he’ll now forever be known, “some putz on LinkedIn.” (in case you’re interested, Altucher responded, though you have to wonder about someone who would willingly get in a tit-for-tat with Jerry Seinfeld).

HEAVEN CAN WAIT: Authorities in Southeast Michigan have some explaining to do. Paramedics worked for 30 minutes to save a woman’s life, and when their efforts weren’t successful, a physician in a hospital ER declared her dead. The body was released and the funeral home picked her up. Problem is, she was still alive.

SCOUTING FASHION: The Girl Scout uniform is being given a modern update, which organizers hope will encourage older girls to stick with scouting. The one feature all agree was necessary: A pocket big enough to hold the latest iPhone.

VIRAL MARKETING: The marketing folks at KFC had a dilemma – what to do about a slogan with nearly universal recognition when that slogan is at odds with current public health guidance. Anyone who pays attention to brand marketing had to expect KFC to come up with something clever, and they did not disappoint.

YOU WANNA PIECE OF SILVER?!?: Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — or, as the New York Post calls him, “Crooked ex-pol Sheldon Silver” – apparently had enough with photographers trying to document his final hours of freedom. He won’t have that problem any longer: He’s safely ensconced in the Otisville federal prison in Orange County where his neighbors include Joseph Percoco, former top adviser to Gov. Cuomo.

SELLING NEW YORK: It’s not just fed-up taxpayers leaving New York State. For years, the state has had a printing contract with an Albany-based organization that employs people with disabilities. The state has suddenly canceled that contract even as it continues to spend roughly $1 billion with out-of-state vendors. Not for nothing: The contract is for printing marketing materials to promote New York State.

FIENDISH FISH: The New York State Department of Conservation is asking Delaware River anglers for help stopping a nasty invasive species with a fearsome name and the habits to match. The northern snakehead, native to Southeast Asia, can grow up to three feet long and have mouths full of sharp teeth. They are voracious eaters who can upend a food chain. The DEC’s message is direct and unusual: If you catch one, kill it immediately.

FISHING EXPEDITION: We like seafood. Lots of it. According to the United Nations, average seafood consumption around the world increased from 35 pounds in 1998 to 45 pounds in 2018. Someone has to catch and deliver all that seafood, and not every boat captain is scrupulous about the rules. Follow along as Smithsonian Magazine traces a fascinating global journey to apprehend one of the worst offenders.

FUNNY LADIES: The New York Times caught up with Cecily Strong of Saturday Night Live and Catherine O’Hara of Schitt’s Creek for a conversation that revealed the two have more in common than comedic chops and a talent for playing clueless characters.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE SUBURBS: The American suburbs have always been fraught places, what author Jason Diamond called “a smart, practical idea that was put into practice in all the wrong ways.” With all the attention being paid to suburbs in this election season, Bloomberg CityLab spoke with Diamond about what it called “the cultural power of the American suburb, why stereotypes about it persist, and how life among the cul-de-sacs could change.”

ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT: Matthew McConaughey recently joined the faculty at Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas, and out of the gate he’s encouraging his students to craft a story to sell their product, beginning with, why is this needed?

LIVIN’ THE CREAM: New York is the only state to hold a regular milk-quality review for its dairy producers; it has done so since 1979 – and with good reason. New York is the fourth largest dairy state in America. Five-time winner Stewart’s Dairy has been chosen again as top milk in New York.

A STORY ABOUT A KNOT: OK, we’re not even going to pretend we understand what this is about, but we trust that a fair number of you are engineers or teachers or are otherwise smart and fascinated by mathematical things that cause some of us – not saying who — to break out in hives. Please enjoy this while we reach for the Calamine.

Sunfish2.jpgFor some, the best days of summer arrive after Labor Day when the crowds thin out and Lake George exhales. (Kevin Kelly/Crown Focus Media)


NINA IRENE McCLELLAND was just shy of 91 when she died on August 16. If you haven’t heard of her, you certainly have been affected by her work: Leader of a global nonprofit that helps develop standards for food and water safety, expert water consultant to the United Nations, three terms on the U.S. EPA’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council, humanitarian.


“If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way.”
                                             —         Seamus Heaney
                                                          Born: April 13, 1939
                                                          Died: August 30, 2013

OLIVER TWIST: Comedian John Oliver is known to be unsparing with his critical lens, and to issue the occasional just-because broadside. The host of “HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” whacked Danbury, CT, recently, and the city found a memorable way to reciprocate. Moral of the story: Don’t dump on Danbury.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Troy Burns, Bill Richmond, Bob Joy, Kevin Kelly, Kelly Donahue, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, Tara Hutchins, 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. 

Let’s make it a conversation:

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