Monday, February 24, 2014
Freedy Johnston show a reminder of the treasure that is Saratoga's Caffe Lena
As I sat at Table 15 about 10 feet from
singer/songwriter Freedy Johnston during his 90-plus-minute set Sunday night at
Caffe Lena, I wondered why in the world I do not take advantage of this
treasure of a place more often.
Its intimacy and simplicity create an almost magical
|Freedy Johnston at Caffe Lena in |
Saratoga Springs Feb. 23, 2014.
Caffe Lena, with two f’s, is the oldest continuously
operating coffeehouse in the country. It’s in a small upstairs
space on Phila Street that’s easy to miss from the sidewalk, especially if you’re understandably
distracted by Hattie’s restaurant, another local landmark, whose entrance is next to the door that opens onto the stairway to Lena’s.
This was Johnston's third time at Caffe Lena and the second time my husband saw him there; I was out of town. Somehow we missed the first visit of Johnston, who was Rolling Stone's songwriter of the year in 1994.
Last time I remember being at Lena’s was for a local
talent night to hear The Real Vandals, my son Joe’s high school band with Chris
Chambers, Ryan Koella and Cameron Pilkey. So it’s been a while.
Lena’s stays busy year-round with a variety of local
and national performers. Ticket prices are extremely reasonable, as are the
prices of the menu of mostly cold and hot coffee drinks, chocolate chip cookies
and a couple of sandwiches. There’s absolutely no pressure to buy a thing.
The place is clean and cozy, with local artwork on the walls, exposed brick, a worn wooden floor — it couldn't be less pretentious if it tried.
Just as I am incredulous when people fail to take
advantage of the world-class offerings at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center,
I can’t understand how people would never ever make it into Caffe Lena.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Workplace bullying isn't just on the Dolphins
I moan and groan when
it’s time for the mandatory company harassment training class. Yet I am glad
it’s a requirement — not merely to protect our corporate butts from legal
action, but because we’re serious about wanting people to feel comfortable at
work, free from any type of harassment.
Workplace culture —
including codes of behavior — must come from the top. That applies to every
workplace — a newsroom, a repair shop, a retail business, a professional sports
I didn’t read the
National Football League’s 144-page report about bullying on the Dolphins,
though I’ve read stories and columns about the report and the incidents that
prompted it. One person who did read the report was Stephen Ross, the team
owner. He said in a statement: “I have made it clear to everyone
within our organization that this situation must never happen again. We are
committed to address this issue forcefully and to take a leadership role in
establishing a standard that will be a benchmark in all of sports.”
His feet should be kept
to the fire on that commitment — by the NFL, by players and their families, by
staff, by fans, by his attorneys, by the media and by his conscience , not
necessarily in that order.
Ted Wells, the attorney
hired by the NFL to write the report, called the ongoing harassment “a classic
case of bullying, where persons who are in a position of power harass the less
powerful,” as reported in Ben Shipgel’s Feb. 14 article in The New
Yet, Shigpel continued,
“after presenting his findings, in often vulgar and explicit detail, Wells’s
conclusion was restrained: ‘We encourage the creation of new workplace conduct
rules and guidelines that will help ensure that players respect each other as
professionals and people.’ ”
Rules would be a start.
But owners and bosses have to know what’s going on and must set the tone about
what will and won’t be tolerated. And they need to be sure people who feel
harassed have a place to turn.
Workplaces in general
have changed for the better from the days when people didn’t think twice about
comments, gestures, jokes and touching that are now, thankfully, considered
But there’s plenty of
room for improvement, and not just in the Miami Dolphins locker room.
Earlier this month, John Ostwald, a Hudson
Valley Community College professor whose bi-monthly columns appear in The
Record and The Saratogian, wrote about how workplace bullying is so pervasive
that there is movement afoot to address it legislatively in New York. (You can
learn more about the New York Healthy Workplace Advocates and the status of the
legislation at nyhwa.org.)
I hope the Dolphins case
causes employers to consider their own workplaces, and gives employees the
courage to speak up against bullying and any other type of harassment.
This isn’t about boys
being boys or political correctness. It’s about common human decency.
Labels: Hudson Valley Community College, John Ostwald, Miami Dolphins, NFL
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Congrats to John Gray, Emmy nominee
I'm delighted to share the news that John Gray has been nominated for an Emmy for his TV piece about a local man who was with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For his "I Have a Dream" speech 50 years ago.
John Gray should be a familiar name and face. A Troy boy, he has been in local television news for 25 years, currently as a news anchor in WXAA-Fox TV 23 and ABC's WTEN News Channel 10. He also writes a column that appears in both The Record and The Saratogian, online and in print on the opinion page.
His columns, which he began writing 20 years ago at the behest of Editor Lisa Lewis, have won awards in the journalism industry. I admire his unpretentious style and the way he tackles all kinds of subjects to which readers can relate. The column, though, is a hobby. His career has been on TV.
I've actually only met John a few times, and he is always friendly and gracious. He has stepped up when asked to emcee special events, and I am sure the promise of his participation helped draw people to them.
The Emmy-nominated piece was about Gordon "Gunny" Gundrum, who, as a member of the U.S. Park Service, was assigned to protect King that day.
"I'm a long shot to win," Gray mentions with typical humility at the tail end of his Feb. 12 column.
We're rooting for you, John!