“The Week What Caught Our Eye”

September 24, 2022

balloons3.jpgThe 49th Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival will color the skies over Glens Falls this weekend. (Lisa Lehman

Good Morning, Colleagues and Friends:

Welcome to Splendor, the season formerly known as fall.

It will come as no surprise that the fastest-rising home values in the Empire State generally are found around the New York metropolitan area, but a new report also spotlights a surprise upstate locale:  The charming hamlet of Silver Bay on Lake George. 

Silver Bay’s home values have increased more than 39 percent over the last five years, as people escaped the pandemic, crime, and stress to work remotely in the peace, safety and comfort of the Adirondacks and other rural retreats. Indeed, Upstate New York and particularly the Lake George area and the broader Capital Region have emerged from the pandemic with historically strong economic activity. 

Take a look at the restaurant scene, for instance.

For years, Bolton Landing on Lake George, home of the historic Sagamore Resort, has had a strong restaurant scene. (Remember: The Food Network’s 2020 hit “Summer Rush,” featuring the Foy family of Bolton restauranteurs.) Now, in addition to the top-flight restaurants at the Sagamore itself and outstanding places like the Chateau on the LakeCate’s, the Huddle, and Beyond the Sea, there are intriguing new hot spots: The Gem, which the Albany Times Union declares “an instant lake classic” and swanky, stylish Loda, founded by a singer and former hedge funder turned baker, the same folks who run The Bears Cup bakery and breakfast spot that is a favorite of Rachael Ray’s. If dining is your destination, dock your boat in Bolton.

THE CAMP LIFE: In the early 1900s, “if you had a camp in the Adirondacks, you had arrived,” says historian Edward Neuberger. “You could come up here and disappear.” We now call them the Great Camps of the Adirondacks, but they were built as summer escapes from the heat and hustle of New York City, rustic and palatial at the same time, by the Vanderbilts, Morgans, Posts and Rockefellers, among others. President Calvin Coolidge used one as a summer White House. Today, they are open to visitors of more ordinary means and at relatively inexpensive rates, with all the rustic splendor mostly still intact.

ADDED BENEFIT: You still can enjoy a campfire in the Adirondacks. The same, sadly, cannot be said for campers in the American West (and even, for a month, Rhode Island!), where persistent arid conditions are causing more state and federal authorities to prohibit all outdoor burning, including campfires.

NOT EVERYBODY IS MOVING NORTH: Nearly 6,000 New York residents requested Florida driver’s licenses in August, the highest one-month total ever. To date, nearly 42,000 New Yorkers have exchanged their licenses for Florida licenses in 2022. Florida has received 321,881 out-of-state license trade requests overall in 2022. Fashion designer Alvin Valley, who moved to Palm Beach, told the New York Post, “First it was the billionaires. Then it was the rich following behind them. Now you have the middle class. A lot of families just began to feel like New York was becoming unlivable. Especially for younger couples with kids in their 30s and 40s. They don’t want to get on the subway. It’s a safety issue, it’s a schools issue.”

LEAVE NEW YORK NOW? In 1961, you could hear Louis Armstrong’s trumpet all over New York and a 15-cent subway ride plus a $2.50 general admission ticket bought you a chance to catch history.  Roger Maris slugged his way into the history books with 61 homers and Joan Payson won approval to bring the Mets to New York.  Sixty-one years later, Mets fans are happily shelling out $2.75 for a subway ride to hear the trumpets ring again in Queens while Yankees fans have the chance – once more – to catch home run history in the Bronx. Both teams are in the playoffs, and the hope, the dream is a subway series for the ages – no matter the cost.

THE CLASH BETWEEN EXPERTISE AND INNOVATION: Innovation, ideally, would be as practical as it is ground-breaking. There’s little value in pursuing infeasible concepts, at least in the views of subject matter experts whose bias for the practical and tested, Harvard researchers suggest, may be causing companies to miss out on potential breakthroughs. “Doing something that works, that's quick, that is going to be reliable is one approach forward,” Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Jacqueline Lane said. “But imagine what you want to create and where you want to be 50 years from now — little incremental improvements probably won't get you there.”

OUTDOOR EDUCATION: Christian Misciagna has studied the waters of Onondaga Lake in Central New York with the precision of a cartographer, using the high-tech gadgets on his bright yellow bass boat to scan the lake bottom and mark every ledge, rock pile, and weed bed, wherever the big fish might be hanging out. He finds his mark and hits it with uncanny accuracy, the result of hours spent flicking a lure into a backyard coffee can. The combination of passion, diligence and skill presented the 2022 high school graduate with an unexpected opportunity: to attend college on a bass fishing scholarship

FOOD FOR THE SOULLESS: Feeding Our Future, a Minnesota nonprofit allegedly in business to provide meals to needy children, is at the center of a federal criminal case alleging it and a host of co-conspirators stole $250 million in pandemic relief money and used it to buy properties, luxury cars and jewelry. “This was a brazen scheme of staggering proportions,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger for the District of Minnesota. It is the largest COVID-19-related fraud case to date.

SCANDAL IN CHESS WORLD: Magnus Carlsen, the world’s top player for a decade, got the chess world chattering this week when he resigned without explanation after one move in a highly anticipated rematch with Hans Niemann, the American teenager who beat him two weeks before. Carlsen suggested after the first match that Niemann had cheated. Chess.com subsequently banned Niemann — who admitted to using an electronic device to cheat when he was younger — and rescinded his invitation to play in the $1 million Global Championship in November. Carlsen’s move, witnessed by a worldwide streaming audience, was seen as a protest and refusal to play Niemann.

WINTER WONDERS RETURNING: Ice Castles, the colorful winter attraction that made its dazzling debut in Lake George, N.Y., last winter, is set to return to the lakeside in 2023. In addition to the fountains, tunnels, slides and secret caverns that made Ice Castles a popular destination in its first year, organizers this year are adding a winter light walk and ice barTickets go on sale November 28.

HEATED RHETORIC: A new report builds on earlier research to suggest aggressiveness and hate speechtend to spike as temperatures rise, though the reasons behind the correlation remain elusive. Extreme heat increases discomfort and frustration, and warmer temperatures can cause us to behave in ways that increase our human contact, and thus the potential for conflict. And if relaxing with a cold beer is your way to take the edge off, news of a U.S. carbon dioxide shortage isn’t going to help. 

MANNING’S HIDDEN TALENT: In his playing days, Eli Manning was pretty adept at staying low key, a remarkable achievement when you consider that he played his entire professional football career in the media cauldron of New York. He flashed comedic chops from time to time, and has paired with his brother Peyton on a popular alternative to ESPN’s standard Monday Night football telecasts. Now he’s out with Eli’s Places for ESPN, and an episode where he pretends to be a walk-on quarterback trying out for the Penn State football team — only the head coach is in on the gag — is further proof that Eli was sandbagging us with the deadpan routine all along. Advised by Peyton to take it easy early in the tryout, Eli, as a mop-topped, trash-talking Chad Powers, replies, “Nope. Going deep. Go ball. Go ball, post ball. Rollout, double post, post-corner. Get the arm on tape. You gotta get the arm on tape. … Chad does it his way. Chad likes to throw it deep.” Chad does throw it deep, and the reactions are priceless.

BURNING A STRAWMAN: Larry Fink runs the world’s largest asset management firm, BlackRock, so his words have the power to move markets and influence decisions far beyond his reach. During a recent network TV interview, he said, rather casually and as if it were common sense, that returning employees to offices would result in increased productivity and decreased inflation. There’s only one problem with that, author Gleb Tsipursky points out in Fortune: data showing that remote work decreases inflation because employees are willing to accept less pay to work from home, and that remote workers are more productive than in-office workers. Employers also save on real estate and operating costs. “Such information is easily available – and Fink could have assigned a summer intern at BlackRock to find the evidence,” Tsipursky writes. “He chose not to do so, instead making statements that are patently against the facts.”

WATERY TRACTION: A visionary plan to create “Venice on the Hudson” by diverting the Hudson River through part of downtown Albany, N.Y., with associated commercial development is gaining supporters and state funds. The money will be used to study the feasibility of the proposal, alongside other ideas to “reimagine” Interstate 787, which separates downtown Albany from its riverfront. “I think every great idea you’ve seen in America has happened because someone has a vision and you get people behind it,” B.J. Costello, an Albany attorney who chairs Albany Waterway Inc., told the Albany Business Review. “There’s always a lot of naysayers. Here’s an idea that we think has a lot of merit.” The nonprofit, created in April, has grown to more than 300 people, including some of the Capital Region’s most influential business leaders.

HOLLYWOOD HULLABALOO: Benedict Canyon is one of the more exclusive neighborhoods in Los Angeles, home to a who’s-who of celebrities and the well-connected. It’s also the scene of a drama that is playing out before the city’s zoning authorities and City Council, who are weighing a proposal to build a hotel with 58 guest rooms and suites, plus eight private residences, a 10,000-square-foot spa, a gym, a private theater and an eight-seat sushi bar, along with a restaurant. Proponents include such A-listers as Mark Wahlberg, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Gerard Butler and Orlando Bloom. Opponents include Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, television host Phil McGraw and actors Jacqueline Bisset and Stefanie Powers. The developer has invested $2 million in lobbying alone.

UNDERSTANDING PUPPIES: Alexandra Horowitz is the head scientist at Barnard College’s Dog Cognition Lab, so she already has a head start on understanding what makes dogs tick. But when she joined the legions who adopted pandemic puppies, she wanted to more than raise it; she wanted to understand how it was developing, from the first moments of life. She weaves these observations with other fascinating bits of puppy research in The Year of the Puppy, a book that answers a lot of questions about why puppies do what they do.

MISSION TO UKRAINE: Basil Seggos, the longest-serving commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, announced this week that he is taking a personal leave to assist with humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. Seggos, a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, earlier launched a GoFundMe to raise $25,000 for medical supplies for a foundation providing aide to Ukrainian people. Seggos has led the DEC since 2015.

MAKING A STINK: Residents of Perinton and nearby communities in upstate New York have filed what their attorney said are the first lawsuits under a newly passed state constitutional amendment guaranteeing New Yorkers a “right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” They’ve filed separate lawsuits alleging that garbage shipped by rail from New York City to a local landfill is adversely impacting lives and properties because of “persistent, noxious, offensive odors and fugitive emissions.” Defendants include New York State, New York City, the city’s waste hauler and the town and its zoning board of appeals.   

NYQUIL IS NOT A MARINADE? That may seem obvious to some of us, but it isn’t to everyone, and the FDA is warning people there are a lot of reasons why using Nyquil as a marinade is unsafe.

HIS BROTHER’S KEEPER: Adam Jones and Chris Henry were competitive rivals before they were best friends, testing and pushing each other every day in practice at West Virginia, where Jones was a star cornerback Henry a gifted wide receiver. Their bond grew in the NFL, where each was trying to outgrow an early reputation for trouble, until Henry’s death in 2009, when he fell from the back of a moving pickup truck. Today, Jones and his wife, Tishana, are raising Henry’s teenage sons and their sister, with the blessing of their mother, in part to help them deal with the pressures of high school and the college recruiting process. “We’ve done a really collectively, I feel, a great job of really making sure that they know their father and his presence,” Tishana Jones told The New York Times. Said Adam Jones: “I love hard and I’m real big on this family thing.” 

MUSTANG MAMAS: Don’t look at us; that’s what they call themselves, right there on Facebook. The Detroit Free Press tracked down a bunch of them — women who own Ford Mustangs — and the story, told in vignettes, is one of deep connection, memories made and independence embraced. One Mustang owner in Washington state recalled her aunt’s white 1965 with a red interior, how she and her sister admired it. Her own 2-year-old grandson now admires her sky blue 1964½. She told the Free Press, “Whether it is the 60-year-old, or the 4-year-old girl inside of me from way back in the '60s, I am so grateful, humbled, and excited to pass the Mustang legacy on.”

LIVES

JAMES ADDISON was a submarine officer and diplomat in the foreign service before returning to his native Schenectady, N.Y., with his partner and settling in the Stockade neighborhood, the city’s oldest, and quickly becoming a local fixture. He spruced up a public garden after its caretaker died and opened his home during the neighborhood’s annual garden tour. Frequently seen gliding in his scull on the Mohawk River, he died in an accidental drowning at 58 while rowing.

DR. KEVIN CAHILL lived two lives. The New York doctor treated undocumented Irish at no charge. He worked in the slums of Calcutta with Mother Teresa and in famine-racked Somalia. He treated President Reagan and Pope John Paul II and for more than 50 years led the American Irish Historical Society, whose Fifth Avenue headquarters housed invaluable Irish artifacts. Then the historical society fell on hard times, there were claims and counter claims, the Attorney General opened an investigation, and Dr. Cahill was accused of sexual harassment. He was 86.

JOHN TRAIN was born on the Upper East Side of New York, found his way to Harvard, and, in the words of The New York Times, “exemplified the attitudes and values of the exalted class he was born into: the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants of the postwar era. He was globe-bestriding but also self-effacing, erudite but also pragmatic, cosmopolitan but also nationalistic, solemn at one moment and droll the next.” He managed the money of wealthy families, had murky connections to the CIA, and wrote books about people with odd names like Katz Meow, Strangeways Pigg, and Mary Louise Pantzaroff. He was 94.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS:

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.”
—    Emily Brontë

THE SIGNOFF

BEYOND MEATHEAD: Doug Ramsey, the chief operating officer of Beyond Meat, the struggling maker of meat-alternative food products, was arrested this week after allegedly biting a man’s nose during an altercation following a college football game in Arkansas. And no, the charge was not booglery.
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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

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