The Week What Caught Our Eye

September 17, 2022

Kaaterskill Falls.jpgKaaterskill Falls, at 231 feet the highest cascading waterfall in New York State, is a popular destination for hikers in the eastern Catskill Mountains. (John Bulmer)

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The culture war has made its way to Martha’s Vineyard, courtesy of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Esquire called out a disturbing parallel.

EARTH IS HIS HEIR: Yvon Chouinard, who became famous as an alpine climber before founding the high-end outdoors apparel and gear maker Patagonia, has transferred ownership of the company to entities that include a nonprofit that will use the company’s annual profits — about $100 million — to fight climate change. “Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source. We’re making Earth our only shareholder,” Chouinard, 83, said in a statement announcing the decision. Company chairman Charles Conn wrote in Fortune, “We’re in business to save our home planet.”

THE ROYAL MICROSCOPE: King Charles III shares at least one trait with us commoners — he can’t figure out how to use a fountain pen, either. Perhaps if he finds one to his liking, he can bless it in a few years with a Royal Warrant, which are available to companies that supply products or services on an ongoing basis to Royal Households. The warrants go with the household, not the title, so hundreds of firms will need to reapply for warrants granted by the late Queen Elizabeth II, and the marketing benefits that accompany them.

EMERGENCY DISSERVICE: Nassau County, N.Y., on Long Island, is home to an estimated 160,000 people who were born in Latin America and another 100,000 or so who were born in Asia. Federal laws require police to assist non-English speakers, and county agencies in 2013 were directed to follow best practices with language access after the state attorney general’s office started sniffing around. But a new report from advocacy groups who used volunteer Spanish-speaking callers found that Nassau County police precincts and headquarters offered help only about half the time. More than a third were disconnected, and about one in six were intentionally hung up on.

A TOAST: To Dominick Purnomo, the colorful Albany, N.Y., restaurateur who is among five nominees for Sommelier/Wine Director of the Year by the national trade magazine Wine Enthusiast. Purnomo, who’s 42, earlier this year took ownership of Yono’s, the restaurant his parents founded in 1986. Winners of Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Spirit Awards will be announced in December.

A TOOTHLESS OLD SAW: Failure, we’ve often heard, is the foundation of success. We celebrate the entrepreneur who breaks through after multiple missteps, the athlete who bounces back. And while it is true that there are countless examples of inspiring resilience, Northwestern University assistant professor Lauren Eskreis-Winkler’s research is more supportive of another cliché: Success breeds success. “What we find consistently is that people learn much more from success than they do from failure,” she said on a recent episode of the Charles Schwab podcast Choiceology. One possible explanation: “Failure is really ego threatening. It makes people feel bad about themselves.”

HOT CARS: Real life imitated Mayhem last weekend when a fire evidently started by an abandoned tailgate destroyed eight vehicles in the parking lot at Hard Rock Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins were playing the New England Patriots.

A TASTE FOR BUSINESS: Dreyton McDonald has been building his small business in Ocala, Fla., for three years on nights and weekends, selling snow cones from an 8-by-14 trailer that gets towed from place to place, wherever he might find a crowd. He hires help, buys the supplies, picks the flavors and dispenses the product, and is thinking about expanding to a storefront or offering different foods. Imagine what he’ll accomplish once he becomes a teenager.

A CHAMPION EXITS: Roger Federer, who dominated men’s tennis with elegance and grace over a professional career that lasted nearly a quarter-century, announced this week that he was retiring at age 41, having succumbed to time and a spate of late-career injuries. He won 20 Grand Slam singles titles, eight at Wimbledon, and once spent a record 237 consecutive weeks as the world’s top-ranked player. Meanwhile, a contemporary legend, Serena Williams, hinted that she might be having second thoughts about her own retirement, recently announced.

Tea.jpgA good book and a warm beverage, perfect companions as the days shorten and cool. (Pexels.com)

REVISITING A NIGHTMARE: You don’t have to be a sports fan to know who Manti Te’o is. Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell, the incident certainly will. It was 2012, and Te’o was a star linebacker for a Notre Dame team that was on its way to playing for a national championship. More than that, he was a sympathetic figure, having lost his grandmother and fiancé on the same day — or so it was reported. The fiancé turned out to be fake, and Te’o became an object of ridicule overnight. He went on to play in the NFL and hasn’t said much about it until the making of “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist,” a two-part documentary chronicling the incident and its impact on both Te’o and the person who pretended to be his girlfriend. As Albert Samaha writes for BuzzFeed, “it’s clear the emotions are still raw, the process ongoing. … Lost in the messy details that absorbed our attention was the fundamental reality that this saga began as a tale about two teens in love and ended with their three-year relationship shattering suddenly and traumatically. Whatever might have been fake about it, the feelings were as real as can be.”

SEEING THE WORLD: That is literally what a Canadian family is doing while their children still can. Three of Edith Lemay and Sebastien Pelletier’s four children have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disorder that causes vision loss over time. They’re taking a yearlong trip around the world, beginning in Namibia. “We're focusing on sights,” Pelletier told CNN. “We're really trying to make them see things that they wouldn't have seen at home and have the most incredible experiences.”

RETURN OF THE KING: It’s not just the big story in the UK. Fans of the “King of Horror” are picking up their copies of “Fairy Tale,” the latest novel published by Stephen King. USA Today’s Brian Truitt reviews the author’s foray into a new genre, writing that King “brings his own flair to the fairy tale, good enough to land this hefty tome right next to your Brothers Grimm collection.” Esquire published an excerpt from the novel. And for the record … this King can use a fountain pen – in his words, “the world’s finest word processor.”

LIVES

WILLIAM “BILL” DOW was president of the Lake George Steamboat Company and the owner of the Boardwalk Restaurant. More than that, he was a pillar of the Lake George. N.Y., community who served on the Village Board and Town Planning Board, led the Lake George Chamber of Commerce and Lake George Winter Carnival Committee, and even built the barge he drove to the middle of the lake for weekly summer fireworks shows. Beloved by his community, he was a Navy veteran and former village water and fire commissioner who died this week at 86 after recently falling ill.

KENNETH STARR was a lightning rod in the 1990s, the special prosecutor whose five-year investigation of President Clinton resulted in the president’s impeachment in 1998. He once seemed on a path to a seat on the Supreme Court, but attacks against him and the investigation he led ended those ambitions. He later became president of Baylor University and was on the legal team that represented President Trump in his first impeachment. He died at 76 of complications from surgery.

JEAN-LUC GODARD was, for decades, among the world’s most influential filmmakers, The Associated Press calling him “perhaps the most boundary-breaking director among New Wave filmmakers who rewrote the rules for camera, sound and narrative — rebelling against an earlier tradition of more formulaic storytelling.” His breakthrough, 1960’s “Breathless,” is an icon of French cinema, its styling still imitated. He died in an assisted suicide, legal in Switzerland, at 91.

JOSEPH HAZELWOOD was famous for a catastrophic reason — he was the captain of the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker than ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of oil, an ecological disaster that spread across more than 1,200 miles of coastline. Hazelwood was put on trial but convicted only of a misdemeanor for negligent discharge of oil into state waters. He later became a paralegal and an instructor at a maritime college. He died in July, though his death was only recently reported, at 75 after struggling with COVID-19 and cancer.

ANTHONY VARVARO was a relief pitcher in the major leagues for three organizations, including the Boston Red Sox, from 2010 to 2015. A Staten Island native who majored in criminal justice at St. John’s, he retired from professional baseball in 2016 and became a police officer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He was on his way to a September 11 memorial ceremony in Manhattan when he was killed in a car crash in New Jersey. He was 37.

CRYSTAL BRIGHT wasn’t famous, but she surely had a loving, attentive and grateful family. Some obituaries make you sad, some make you laugh, and some, like this one, are reminders of the simple joys of life, even amid challenges. “Crystal worked at a variety of jobs during her working career,” they wrote. “She may have cleaned your table at Kentucky Fried Chicken, prepared some deli items for you at Meijer, or scanned your documents for the archives at the courthouse. Our family thanks businesses like these who give special needs individuals an opportunity to be independent, have pride and dignity. … Special thanks to The Raintree where Crystal lived for the past several years. Their tender care and love made life more enjoyable for her.” She was 61.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“People are mad that The Little Mermaid is Black? The lady who is also a fish? Who lives under the sea? Whose best friend is a talking crab?”
—    Lynda Carter, on the reaction in some circles to Disney’s choice of Halle Bailey to play The Little Mermaid, a selection that is generating joy among young Black girls.

THE SIGNOFF

GOOD TASTE: Peanut Butter Pandemonium, the best-selling ice cream flavor at the upstate New York dairy and convenience store chain Stewart’s Shops, was named best peanut butter ice cream in North America at the 55th annual World Dairy Expo. (Dear World Dairy Expo: If you need judges next year, you know where to find us).

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THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Ryan Moore, Troy Burns, Tina Suhocki, 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 conversation:   mark.behan@behancom.com

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