The RDRXR “Stealth” Campaign To Take Over The City

A WVOX Editorial of the Air
by William O’Shaughnessy, President
Broadcast June 17, 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to beg a moment to share a few thoughts with you about downtown development. 

We’ve remained silent on the issue for six months … all the while our press colleague – and weekly star talk show host – Phil Reisman, the highly admired feature columnist of The Journal News, has been reminding us of his “unease” about the way the master developer RDRXR is going about communicating with you and your neighbors in our city. 

Phil Reisman has made his concerns very clear about RDRXR’s relentless and bewildering use of “buzzwords” and social media to try to grease the skids for Scott Rechler and Donald Monti and the big money players from Long Island and Manhattan who are behind the ungainly and awkwardly named RDRXR. 

An easy target for the brilliant Mr. Reisman has been the blizzard of cyber-speak buzzwords being thrown around by the slick developer like “crowd-sourced placemaking.” That’s a real beauty.  Nobody, but nobody knows what the hell “crowd-sourced placemaking” means except as business-speak jargon of shrewd, really ambitious developers. 

Like I’ve said, we’ve stayed out of this because anything that’s good for New Rochelle enjoys our favor.  And it’s been ever thus for the 50-plus years of our stewardship.  But RDRXR is clearly running a “stealth” campaign with the eager acquiescence and encouragement of Mayor Bramson.  And, as a result, RDRXR and their representatives have refused to engage in a real back and forth Dialogue with the community.  We’ve offered them access to our microphones and thus to you and your neighbors on countless occasions.  

But City Hall, it seems, prefers to do this whole thing on the QT and “close to the vest.”  Fortunately, some civic activists like James O’Toole, who garnered surprising support during his shoestring run for mayor last year and fearless activist Denise Pagano Ward are sounding the alarm. 

We’re also concerned.  Among the questions not answered by the mayor, who will be known forevermore as “Brilliant Bramson,” is the exact role of Greg Merchant, the self-important commercial realtor who “thinks who he is” and represents himself as exclusive spokesman for Scott Rechler and Donald Monti.  And in that appellation he is dutifully backed up by Mayor “Brilliant” Bramson who says that anyone interested in downtown development, has got to go through Mr. Merchant

And it was apparently this Greg Merchant who hired a well-intentioned young woman named Ashley Aldrich to front for RDRXR under the banner of something called “New Rochelle Future.” Miss Aldrich says they want a conversation that constructively supports the future of downtown New Rochelle.  However, in the same breath, poor Miss Aldrich says they will remove posts that create an “unpleasant” or “hostile” environment and ban “uninvited” and “negative” verbal conduct (or some such non-sequitur sounding nonsense.) This in the city which reveres Thomas Paine. 

Ah-huh! … maybe that’s why they’re avoiding you and our listeners where they can’t control the Dialogue … and they can’t control what you say on our “Open Line” programs.  I think we’re starting to figure this out …

And we thank Mr. Reisman for sounding the alarm in yet another brilliant column which ran yesterday about RDRXR and their deputies who are discouraging anyone who would disagree with them.

Indeed there are lots of questions floating around the community.  Exactly what is Greg Merchant’s deal in all this?  Is he getting paid by Scott Rechler and Donald Monti as their front man?  Or is he merely running their stealth campaign to gain the inside track on big commissions and a leg up on future development.

That’s a fair question.  And we ask it now on your behalf. 

And we’re not alone in this.  Bob Marrone tells me several of our listeners and activists are keenly interested as well.  Lorraine Carl … Anthony Galletta … Vince Malfatano and our good callers Dave from Mamaroneck, Chris from Yonkers and Jim Killoran and others.  We’re not the only ones!

And while we’re on this subject, the citizens of New Rochelle deserve to know if there is anything behind those stories coming up from Long Island about Renaissance Downtown’s no-nonsense chief Donald Monti being pretty adept at playing “hardball” with some elected officials who may disagree with him in towns where they’ve been doing business in Long Island.

We’ve had one of Rechler’s corporate paid guns Seth Pinsky on the air and he did a good job of dancing around the issues.  But many questions remain and we’re not getting them from “Brilliant Bramson” who remains very protective and very defensive about Greg Merchant and this whole scheme to take over downtown New Rochelle. 

The mayor, being Brilliant, is very comfortable with their buzzwords and cyber-world, social media initiatives, which they can control and edit. Meanwhile, they’re not reaching our listeners or the people in the neighborhoods.

Sorry to run on so long, ladies and gentlemen.  But we’ve been saving this up for a good, long time.

This is a WVOX Commentary.  This is William O’Shaughnessy.

Contact:

Cindy Gallagher

914-235-3279 … cindy@wvox.com

Mario Cuomo: Remembrances of a Remarkable Man

Coming Soon

Mario Cuomo

Remembrances of a Remarkable Man

by

William O’Shaughnessy

“Where have you gone, Mario Cuomo? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” In the midst of a raucous political year comes an important new book by the author of five highly-acclaimed Fordham Press anthologies on the powerful – and colorful – players in New York State’s civic and political life.

Mario Cuomo Cover

Mario Cuomo: Remembrances of a Remarkable Man

Governor Mario Cuomo’s life and accomplishments are part of the public record, but in Mario Cuomo: Remembrances of a Remarkable Man, William O’Shaughnessy gives readers an exclusive and a deeply personal, behind-the-scenes look at the liberal Democratic icon. This poignant memoir, based on the author’s thirty-eight–year friendship with Governor Cuomo, portrays the spiritual journey of a man who played many roles: inspirational political leader, moral compass, spell-binding orator, gifted author, legal scholar, and loving father and grandfather. He was, in O’Shaughnessy’s words, one of the most articulate and graceful public men of the twentieth century.

 

Their connection was unlikely: O’Shaughnessy, a self-styled “Rockefeller Republican” and one of the best-known broadcasters in the nation, and Cuomo “a failed baseball player with too many vowels in his name” who rose from the back of a grocery store in Queens to become a lawyer and then governor with a devotion to the writings of St. Thomas More, the teachings of Jesuit philosopher-pale

ontologist Teilhard de Chardin, the vision of Abraham Lincoln and the ancient Hebrew concepts of Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam. Yet over the course of hundreds of radio interviews, letters, late night and early morning phone conversations –the governor and the Westchester broadcaster became fast friends.  

Included in this riveting book are previously unpublished nuggets from Governor Cuomo’s soaring speeches, touching personal letters to his children and grandchildren, marvelous humorous asides, even the governor’s favorite romantic ballads and touching vignettes from his days in office. Among these reminiscences are also accounts of the drama leading up to Cuomo’s famous Democratic Convention speech and the still controversial Notre Dame talk on abortion and the Church-State dilemma faced by Roman Catholic office holders.  Also why he resisted entreaties to run for president of the United States and declined appointment to the Supreme Court.  Rounding out this beautiful book are candid photos from Cuomo’s official photographer.

As O’Shaughnessy writes of Mario Cuomo the philosopher-statesman, “The product of his genius and bright, fine mind will resonate long after the dust of centuries has fallen over our cities.” Much more than a simple memoir of a cherished friend, Mario Cuomo: Remembrances of a Remarkable Man  is a loving tribute to a magnificent political figure whose words and example continue to inform the conscience of our nation.”

– – – Fordham University Press
Fall 2016 Catalog

 

Mario Cuomo Cover

 

Contact:

Kate O’Brien Nicholson                                   Kevin Scott Elliott
Marketing Director                                          President
Fordham University Press                             Whitney Media Publishing Group
718-817-4782                                                     914-636-1460
bkaobrien@fordham.edu                                kevin@wvox.com

 

Author Contact:

Cindy Hall Gallagher
Whitney Media
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com

Interview with Timothy Cardinal Dolan

William O’Shaughnessy

Interview 

with

Timothy Cardinal Dolan

Archbishop of New York 

February 22, 2016

 Cardinal Dolan Visits WVOX

William O’Shaughnessy:

Timothy Cardinal Dolan … Eminence, you honor us with your presence. 

Cardinal Dolan:

Bill, you honor me with the invitation.  And it’s good to be with you.  You are a legend, you know.  Although this is my first visit to your beautiful, modern station … I know you were close to Cardinal O’Connor … he was here some years ago – and you’ve written about him and would introduce him to your friends and at dinners very often.  I mean – you’re like Georgie Jessel! And you were kind enough when I got to New York to send me some of your excellent books.  I’m kind of awed to be with you …

WO:

Thank you, Eminence.  Your imprimatur means a great deal to me.  Speaking of which … you know, you’re like a rock star, if you’ll forgive me … the way you walked in the station only to be met with photographers, microphones and television cameras … 

Cardinal Dolan:

I thank you for saying that.  I’ve never been called that before.  Now you know Saint Peter was called “The Rock.”  Are you comparing me to Saint Peter then?  I don’t mind being compared to a saint, but I don’t know about a rock star.

WO:

Eminence … we read in the paper and we know you give many eulogies.  You pray over people who go to a better – and we’re sure – a better world.  But you’re always in a great mood!  How the hell do you do it?

Cardinal Dolan:

Have you ever heard of Guinness Stout!  (laughter) No … it’s your faith, it’s your hope, right?  It’s especially hope, Bill. 

Look … what hope means … that we believe everything is in God’s hands and that everything, ultimately, is going to work out for the good for those who believe.  So even in moments of trial and adversity, tears and sorrows … yes … we don’t want to deny them.  But you know this isn’t the last word.  God has the last word and God’s last word is always life and light and goodness and eternal life.  So why would you get down?  Why would you get depressed?  Maybe every once in a while, momentarily.  But life’s attitude would always be upbeat and hopeful. 

WO:

Cardinal Dolan … a friend of yours of sainted memory – one Mario Matthew Cuomo – said he prayed for “sureness.”  You seem pretty sure of things.

Cardinal Dolan:

Well I hope there’s a confidence there. But you know what, Bill, there’s also a wisdom – especially in our Catholic belief – that sometimes confidence comes in knowing that an absolute sureness and certainty … you’re not always going to have.  And sometimes there’s an ambivalence, sometimes there’s reason to be afraid and you stare them in the eyes and you just say I know they are out there, but darn it, I … am … confident!  Be silent, be calm, be confident.  The Bible tells us Be not afraid, I’m with you!  If you believe that, Bill, think of what we can do.  There’s nothing we can’t do with Him.Cardinal Dolan Visits WVOX

WO:

Cardinal Dolan, Your Eminence, you’re not only possessed of a great personality … but if you’ll allow me … you’re also a hell of a writer! You write these gorgeous columns in Catholic New York.  And what’s your slogan, your motto, right across the top of the column …?

Cardinal Dolan:

Oh … you know what it is:  To Whom Should We Go?  See Bill, we bishops, when you’re made a bishop they say to you – and you don’t have much time to decide – what will your motto be?  And you’ve got to choose a Latin phrase – a phrase in the Bible in Latin.  And I said what do you mean to the cardinal who told me the Holy Father wanted me to be bishop. 

He said what’s one of your favorite phrases in the Bible.  And I had to think for but a minute and said, “Well … when Saint Peter said to Jesus, Lord to whom shall we go?  You have the word of everlasting life.  To whom shall we go?  Ad quem ibimus?” Can we use that?  He said you bet!  And I got it as my motto.

WO:

Eminence … speaking of a rock star … The Pope … the Bishop of Rome … you guys had a wonderful visit …

Cardinal Dolan:

Did we ever …!

WO:

Tell us something we haven’t heard – that we don’t know about him.

Cardinal Dolan:

First of all he was happy to admit he didn’t know too much about New York.  So the whole time we’re stuck in the back of that tiny Fiat, he’s asking me questions – as he’s waving to the people about New York.  And what fascinates people about Manhattan except the huge skyscrapers, right?  So as we’re driving down one of the streets, he says “Timothy (he and my mom can call me by my first name!) Look at that!  What is that monument?” I said, Holy Father, that’s an apartment building!  (laughter) He said, “Oh my!” and it dawned on him that’s maybe the way New Yorkers live!

WO:

So you had a good time?

Cardinal Dolan:

We did, indeed, you bet!

WO:

Do you think his trip was successful?

Cardinal Dolan:

Well, I know he thought it was successful and I sure do.  And when I saw him later – I had to spend three weeks in Rome for the Synod on Marriage and Family … and when we had a couple of minutes to chat, he said, “You Americans are so friendly.” 

And he said he was “overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of my reception.”  Now, Bill, at first I was startled by that, but then it dawned on me, what’s the caricature of we Americans beyond our shores? The rest of the world thinks we’re pagans, we’re materialists.  We hate religion … we don’t like God.  We know different.  Americans are deeply religious and believers. There are churches all over.  But a European or South American has this caricature … and when he came here and saw this exuberant reception and welcome, it moved him very much.  And he said, my Lord, this is America and they’re open to the Word … they’re open to the Message.  They’re open to the Gospel.  They’re open to me!  And I think that moved him. 

WO:

Your Eminence … thank you for being with us today.

Cardinal Dolan:

Invite me back, will you, Bill.  And don’t forget … I hope I can have you on my radio program on Sirius XM to talk about that book on Mario Cuomo which we all await. 

WO:

Sir, here’s one more and this is the one where I probably shouldn’t do another thirty seconds … but as I mercifully yield … what about the political scene here? Will I lose you forever if I ask you to comment on the Republicans and Democrats?  You haven’t got a horse in the race, have you? 

Cardinal Dolan:

No … I don’t.  (laughter) But I am really interested in politics.  I don’t know if you knew that I did my graduate work in American History, so I’m a historian of politics.  I follow it closely.  But I don’t allow myself to get tangled up in the details.  Let me just say that every morning I’ve been lighting a candle in front of Saint Jude (laughter) at Saint Patrick’s! There would seem to be a lot of political uncertainty and I pray we’ll soon bring about some type of “clarity” in the political scene.Cardinal Dolan Visits WVOX

WO:

Mario Cuomo, Eminence, would have been crazy – over the moon – about this Pope. But I’m going to reveal something you may not know.  He was rooting for you for that job!

Cardinal Dolan:

You’re kidding?

WO:

No, I’m not kidding.

Cardinal Dolan:

Well, how did he win three terms and I didn’t get one! (laughter)

WO:

Sir, you honor us …

Cardinal Dolan:

You honor us, Bill … God bless you and your radio stations … and their listeners … particularly those who are struggling.  Know that the Lord is with you … and may these beautiful airwaves carry the Lord’s blessing through all who are privileged to work for this station – especially Father Chris Montaro, your newest talk show host.

 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent radio stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.

 

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include this Interview with Cardinal Dolan. He has also completed “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which will be published early this year.

 

 

Contact:

Cindy Gallagher

Whitney Media

    914-235-3279

 cindy@wvox.com

The Simple Priest

John O’Brien was a priest of the Roman Church according to the ancient Order.  He had a marvelous gift and not since Monsignor Ed Connors have we had someone stand up in front of a Westchester congregation to preach about the Carpenter’s Son with as much grace and eloquence.

O’Brien, a gentle man, spoke with a raspy, gritty croak caused by the thousands of cigarettes that killed him.  But he reached into many hearts with that great gift of expression which accompanied him when he went to work in a church.

He was a Christian Brother for many years before entering the priesthood late in life.  And so, instead of standing in a classroom before 35 rowdy kids, John O’Brien, in recent years, did his teaching and his preaching too in front of many of all ages every Sunday and on the days of Obligation.

He didn’t speak with the brilliance of a Jesuit orator or the scruffy humanity and relentless compassion of the Franciscans.   There was only a stark honesty to O’Brien who spoke with some intimate knowledge of the long-remembered, timeless wisdom of the church fathers.  You could hear the cigarettes, the wheeze and the rattle in his soft voice as he whispered those ancient truths in stunningly simple homilies.

The old priest was uncomfortable presiding way up in the pulpit lording it over everyone.  He always did his best work at eye level on the floor up close to the people huddled in their pews.

I’ve seen the priest O’Brien in hospital rooms mumbling the rosary for comatose patients who couldn’t even hear him.  And I observed him consoling a family following the untimely death of a beautiful young man.  I also saw the Irishman with the Roman collar go after rich contractors and road builders  from Scarsdale to persuade them to help his parish.  He was something to behold when shaking the money tree.

But being Irish, John O’Brien was at his best at funerals … praying and often shedding his own real tears over the deceased and dearly departed ranging in age from 84 to 22.  But he was gentle and kind and had a great way about him through it all in every season.

I remember one winter day, not unlike this one, when the priest stood in front of grieving relatives at a funeral Mass for that young man:

“Our lives teach us that courage is the opposite of fear.  But it’s not.  Faith is the opposite of fear.  Having that Faith is something that doesn’t come easily or automatically into our lives.  It comes by experience and by the awful grace of God.

You’re filled with sorrow now.  But Faith tells us, assures us, all is well … because … His name is Emmanuel … and I am with you always.  Even to the End of the world.  It was His name at the Beginning.  And it is His name at the End.

So, I come to do the Will of my Father.  And this is the Will of my Father … that I should lose … nothing.  That you should lose … nothing.”

He was not a high church kind of priest.  And you could not imagine O’Brien strolling in some Vatican garden taking his constitutional clad in a finely tailored cassock adorned with a purple sash or scarlet trim speaking in hushed diplomatic tones with hands clasped casually behind his back.

And yet, despite his aversion to pomp and pretension, it was announced that several bishops and elders of the Church will pray over the Reverend John P. O’Brien at St. Pius X Church in Scarsdale this weekend, including the new Archbishop Timothy Dolan who, one is sure, is O’Brien’s kind of guy.  Come to think of it, you couldn’t imagine Dolan strolling in that Vatican garden with the Canon lawyers and diplomats either.

As he lay dying this week at New York University Hospital in the great city, someone sent the priest a note:  “You are loved and respected.”  I hope he got it and understood it through all the tubes and painkillers.

And so Timothy Dolan himself will preside at Mass on Saturday.   The Archbishop brings a wonderful joy and dynamism to everything he does.  But who, I wonder, will reach out and grab people by the throat and tug at their hearts to tell those assembled once more in sadness and mourning just how very special the old priest with the gravelly voice really was …?

Before he left us last week, the pastor of St. Pius X Church in Scarsdale sat at his desk in the parish rectory to write a Christmas message.  It was to be his last homily.  The priest was wracked with pain.  But there were many things to do to get the parish ready for the holy season.  He knew he was dying and the very next day John O’Brien would check himself into a New York hospital.  So he worked quickly, but carefully.  This is what he wrote as he sat in loneliness and silence on that cold day last week in Scarsdale …

“Silent night, holy night

All is calm, all is bright.”

A holy night to be sure, but hardly silent and anything but calm.

The “silence” of that night was shattered by the blood curdling cries of wild animals roaming the hillsides.  In a cold, dark cave a young, frightened woman gave birth to her child while her husband, a carpenter by trade, stood by helplessly.

Finally, amid the bleating of sheep and the braying of animals, the newborn’s first cry broke the stillness.  This “silent night” was filled with terror, pain and the bone-numbing exhaustion that sleep alone cannot relieve.

There was no “silence” that night so long ago in crowded, chaotic Bethlehem, bursting with visitors who had come for the great census.  In fact, there was no “calm” in all of Israel – only tension and conflict between the Jewish people and their Roman occupiers.  Ancient Palestine was hardly a place of “heavenly peace.”  It was a land torn by oppression, persecution and terror.  Madness reigned.

And yet … on this noisy, chaotic, anxious night, our Savior, the Light of the World was born.  Amid the pain and anguish of a devastated people, new hope was born.  The Messiah came at last with transforming joy.

Even though our world today may once more seem far from “silent,” our Church far from “holy,” our personal lives far from “calm,” the Prince of Peace has blessed our flawed and fractured world by walking upon it, by loving those in it relentlessly and unconditionally, and by laying down his life for all who pass through it. 

For he would rather die than to live in eternity without us.

Emmanuel!  God is with us!  Let earth receive her King!

He retired with the gift.

 

                                                December 10, 2009

William O’Shaughnessy

Interview

with

Teddy Suric

General Manager, “21”

The Return of the Jockeys!

October 21, 2015

 

William O’Shaughnessy:

The jockeys are back at “The Numbers” on 52nd Street.  We’re here in the iconic, hallowed halls of the fabled “21” Club in Manhattan because this is a big deal day.  With us is the managing director of the “21” Club – Teddy Suric.  He’s a restaurateur, highly respected in his profession.  I’ve never seen you this excited …

Teddy Suric:

Well, it’s an exciting moment, Bill.  This club has been here for 85 years.  Anything you do in 85 years is really something special.  Just the history within these walls and the way it all started with Jack and Charlie in 1929 and here we are at “21” in the 21st century!

WO:

Teddy Suric, general manager of “21” … this started as a saloon, a speakeasy. 

TS:

It’s one of the oldest speakeasies in the country.  The Prohibition-era wine room is still operational and very active.  It’s a special chef’s table underground for 22 special people.  It’s available for lunch and dinner.  Historically when “21” opened – it opened up at 21 West 52nd Street – Jack and Charlie then purchased number 19 and then the building at number 17.  They then combined the three homes into one. And that’s where all the wine and liquor went, in the “Prohibition” room.  They called it “21.”

WO:

Teddy Suric, major domo of “21” … there’s a lot of colorful stuff, a lot of excitement out on 52nd Street tonight.  Your jockeys are back! 

TS:

Huge for us!  I think it’s really huge for our fans as well and bar patrons and clientele here in New York and all across the country.  In fact “21” is truly an international destination.  After 85 years they had never been refurbished.  In 1930 the Van Urk family donated a jockey back then. You see it was the “horsey” crowd that used to occupy the seats here … then and ever since.  The rich and famous you might say!         

WO:

Do you still get the rich and famous?

TS:

Constantly …

WO:

Are these real jockeys? 

TS:

They are real jockeys, Mr. O’Shaughnessy, almost life-like statues thereof.  They represent all the great breeders and stables.  They’re actually donated to “21” by the famous stables.   The maker of these jockeys, you really can’t find any one like him anymore was down in Virginia.   The gentleman passed away nine years ago.  But these jockeys were donated for “21” … they weren’t purchased.  And this year we have a new addition … the Triple Crown winner – American Pharaoh, by Zayat Stables. We added the Triple Crown winner for the first time in the past 40 years.

WO:

So all these rich guys, the horsemen, with their own racing silks, have their colors.  And thus each one of these jockeys is attired differently.

TS:

Six or seven months ago when I initiated the project, I reached out to the stables and there were a couple of silks that were just wrong.  And they were so happy I reached out to them because a lot of these – at least 80% – of these stables are still active.  So they gave me the correct silks.  I then ordered the jockeys to be taken “off property” and we carefully and lovingly refurbished them away from “21.” 

WO:

As I listen to you, Teddy Suric, I’m reminded you’ve been a friend of ours for many years all the way back to your Le Cirque days … will you trust me to conduct myself properly, as I put this microphone before you …? 

TS:

I will trust you for another 100 years, Mr. O’!

WO:

Teddy, I then can safely say that you’re a pretty hot guy right now in your profession … in the restaurant business.  You’ve re-invigorated this beloved old lorelei.  It had had – not exactly fallen on hard times – but there was a bit of a “lull” hereabouts.  And, if you’ll forgive me, nobody was having any “fun.”

TS:

There was a “lull,” I guess you could say … it’s my second year here.  I view it as kind of like “refurbishing” or “restoring” – or “revitalizing” is what I want to say … because the bones were still good.  It’s owned by a great company.  And look – there are a lot of gentlemen out there who still  want to wear a tie and have a nice martini.   And a lot of lovely and attractive women who want to dress up.

WO:

You said the racing guys … the rich guys who own horse farms in Virginia and Florida used to put their backsides in your seats.  Who does it now?  Who do you get?

TS:

Their grandchildren!  Their sons … their daughters!  On any given night we can have 10 – 15 famous clients … from athletes to politicians to actors in here.  It’s just another regular dining experience for them.  And always special for us.

WO:

Teddy Suric, whose name do you need to get into “21” these days?  Sometimes people are a little “reluctant” to enter the threshold of a famous place like “21.”  How do you crash through the “Iron Gates?”

TS:

I still have a greeter here named Shakir.  He’s been here for 38 years which is pretty remarkable in this business.  And I’ve been in this business for my entire life.  My cell phone is out there.  You can call me or my right-hand man Aaron.  Actually the only “name” you need to get in to “21” is your own.

WO:

Teddy Suric … are you glad to have your damn jockeys back? 

TS:

I love it … the Family is back!

WO:

Which is your favorite jockey?

TS:

My favorite jockey is probably … I’ll go with Secretariat! 

WO:

Once I’m reminded they had a charity in this very room up here on the second floor and famous designers decorated a jockey with their colors.  Like de la Renta did one.  Cartier did one.    I had a couple of them up in the country.  But my ex got one. 

TS:

I do remember that occasion.  It was for charity. I wasn’t here at the time, but I read up on my history of the jockeys.  And that was a great night.  One of several.

WO:

Why don’t you do that again?

TS:

We’ll try.  I’m trying to bring back a little bit of the good old times that used to make this place rock. 

WO:

How do you have to dress these days to get in this joint, this high class saloon?

TS:

A tie is not required.  We relaxed the tie requirement in 2009.  But a sports jacket is required.  No jeans in the bar room.  And in the lounge we actually relaxed it to “casual,” but neat.

WO:

Teddy, do you get a better table if you wear a tie?

 

TS:

No comment …!

WO:

Thank you Mr. General Manager.  The place looks great.  You’ve got 52nd Street buzzing tonight.  Your beloved jockeys are back!  It’s a true New York night …

 

 

 

William O’Shaughnessy, a former president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, was chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington.  He has been a point man and advocate for the broadcasters of America on First Amendment and Free Speech issues, and is presently chairman of the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America national charitable organization.  He is also a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent radio stations in the New York area, for 56 years as president and editorial director.
 
He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) … “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001) … “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” (2004) … and “VOX POPULI: The O’Shaughnessy Files,” released in January, 2011. He is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, an anthology which will include this interview with Teddy Suric of the "21" Club. He is also completing a Reminiscence and tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which will be published early in 2016.
 

 

 

Contact:

Cindy Gallagher

914-235-3279

cindy@wvox.com

Caryl Donnelly Plunkett

Caryl Donnelly Plunkett

 An Appreciation by

 William O’Shaughnessy

 September 11, 2015

 

I once received by U.S. postal service a letter from a William Plunkett, Esquire. As I usually do not open letters from practitioners or solicitors of the Law, I did not rush to retrieve said missive from Plunkett, Esquire. “You’d better open it,” said Cindy Hall Gallagher, amanuensis without whom my life would resemble a seven car pile-up.

Mercifully lacking any of the usual bad news conveyed by your typical lawyer’s letter, I found instead a very nice note from this Mr. Plunkett, Esquire complimenting us on a tribute we had broadcast over the radio airwaves. He called it a “eulogy.”

Now as I do not like to do eulogies or even think about them, I quickly deposited the compliment in our very thin “nice letters” file which in bulk, depth and volume, pales in comparison to our “not so nice letters” file which after some 50 years is fairly bursting out of the file cabinets.

When he wrote his gracious note some years ago, I’m quite certain William Plunkett never anticipated that I would one day take pen in clumsy hand and sit over a pad with lines across it onto which I must now write words and later speak them into a radio microphone about the passing of one Caryl Donnelly Plunkett who died earlier this week after some 70 years as the matriarch of a powerful and influential New York and Connecticut family. She was his wife, this Caryl Donnelly Plunkett.

All of this must be told on this particular radio station because Caryl and her husband Bill Plunkett, barrister, lived together for many years in Tarrytown, in Sleepy Hollow country, where they were neighbors of the Rockefellers and patrons of Historic Hudson Valley and Phelps Hospital.

Our colleagues in the public press and especially our friends at Page Six always refer to Caryl Donnelly’s surviving husband Bill as a “power broker” and “king-maker.” On the morning after the worst night of his life when Mario Cuomo lost to George Pataki, Mario Cuomo was on the phone “Do you know the Plunketts?”

Plunkett, you see, took a law firm once called Plunkett & Jaffe and built it into a legal and lobbying powerhouse with lines into the Executive Mansion and the New York State Legislature in Albany. This occurred when one of his junior partners George Elmer Pataki became governor and another partner – the estimable John Cahill – started thinking about running for attorney general. It was also at this time that a daughter of Caryl Donnelly and William Plunkett advised governors of Connecticut on judgeships. One of the firm’s clients owns a big chunk of Ground Zero real estate and their children are making their mark in law enforcement, real estate and high finance. And a son-in-law who practically ran the Justice Department in Washington, may one day be a governor of Connecticut. But this is about Caryl Donnelly Plunkett who left us just before the current, sad September weekend.

And if you lay the appellation “power broker” on her famous husband you have to also acknowledge that Miss Donnelly was very much The Power behind the kingmaker. They especially know of her standing and stature up in the Litchfield hills of Connecticut where this amazing Caryl Plunkett was identified as one of the fabled Donnelly girls of Bantam Lake where the Plunketts summered each year before life turned sad and difficult as she battled the cancer that took her a few days ago.

A man named Jim Lamond walked out of Murphy’s Pharmacy this morning with his fancy dog and the daily newspapers with tears in his eyes after being told of Caryl Donnelly’s passing. And Mark Murphy, an affable, gregarious townie who, with his sister Marla runs this old-fashioned family drug store, went suddenly silent. And Father Robert Tucker, the charismatic, most colorful pastor of Saint Anthony’s, the Roman church in the little town, was on the phone requesting prayers for Mrs. Plunkett. In his most direct manner and completely typical way, the priest Tucker even directed an Irish broadcaster to weigh in with prayers.

“Look … I’m desperate … I’ve even got to ask you, O’Shaughnessy. This was a special person. Start praying.” As Tucker is a “Three Hail Mary’s for a homicide” priest and known in these parts as “The God-Father,” I quickly mumbled some prayers for all the good they will do.

Timothy Dolan, the Cardinal archbishop of New York will have more to say and do it much more artfully and gracefully than I am able at 1:30 Monday in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in New York City.

It is almost certain he will speak of her influence “behind the scenes.” I know, I know preachers have spoken for years about women who were “powers behind the throne.” They struggle to find a way to exalt and memorialize a woman’s standing and stature in marriages and in our midst. They do this with many words and elegant paragraphs. I don’t struggle with this refrain. I have just two words to sum up the category: Caryl Plunkett.

Dolan will speak to those assembled of the clout of the Plunkett family and of Caryl’s personal dynamism, energy and effervescence. And Timothy Dolan will then look out in the great cathedral on Fifth Avenue and acknowledge her generosity of purse and spirit and recite how much she did for Catholic charities, hospitals, religious orders and high schools in his care and keeping. This will take some time.

One can expect His Eminence will also speak of Miss Donnelly-Plunkett’s bravery and courage as she checked in and out of hospitals all up and down the East Coast as she refused to yield to the killer that pursued her for almost 10 years. At the Sloan-Kettering hospital where they daily battle this lethal stuff, she was known as “Lazarus.” The priest Dolan, who slipped into Sloan-Kettering earlier this week without staff and miter or the trappings of his high Roman office to whisper prayers into Caryl Plunkett’s ear won’t have to work too hard to get this particular dame into Heaven.

And then, on Tuesday, up in Litchfield, the aforementioned old country priest Robert Tucker will say final prayers over the woman as she is laid to rest.

She was a high church lady who presided over a family that rivaled the Maras and Rooneys and she was a Dame of Malta, the fabled international Catholic charitable organization.

Mrs. Plunkett had homes in Westchester, Connecticut, the Carolinas and Florida and she was known on the Sleepy Hollow fairway overlooking the Hudson River. Such disparate types as Paul Tagliabue and Senator Lamar Alexander would take a Plunkett call in every season.

Caryl Donnelly Plunkett leaves two daughters, many sons, a whole posse of grandchildren.    And that one husband.

The goodness and marvelous spirit of the woman will inspire them – and all of us – for a good long time.

I hate eulogies …

“Those People”

Donald Trump’s unfortunate remarks about Mexicans took us back a few months to a very unsettling piece in the Westchester daily newspaper about some dedicated, hard-working employees of the American Yacht Club in Rye who were let go following a surprise visit to the club by Homeland Security.  Most of them were Mexicans who have been in this country for a good, long time.

I know many of these foreign born and their sad story really set me to thinking about all the essential contributions immigrants – “legal” or otherwise – make in our lives.

But it must first be here noted that Barack H. Obama, the particular individual who is the current president of the United States of America has deported more aliens than any previous inhabitant of the White House.  And be advised as well that in certain rarified parts of Westchester and in our better neighborhoods they are referred to as “those people.” 

Here is what “those people” do for us just to earn a living.  They cook our meals,  set our tables, wash our dishes, scrub our floors, haul away our trash and garbage, weed our gardens, plant our flowers, cut our grass in the spring, rake our leaves in the fall, shovel our sidewalks and plow our driveways in the winter, iron our shirts, wash our laundry, clean our toilets, style our hair, cut our toenails and buff our fingernails, baby-sit and pick up after our kids (and our pets), walk our dogs, fumigate our houses, tote our bales, shine our shoes, sell us Lottery tickets, drive our school buses, sow and harvest our fields, grow our vegetables, muck our stalls, cobble our shoes, tend our vineyards, sweep our streets, paint our fences, pick up our litter, gas up, wash and fix our cars, repair our roofs, shoe our horses, carry our heavy, leather golf bags across hot Westchester fairways, manicure the greens at our fancy country clubs, haul boats at our yacht clubs, hoist our banners and club burgees, move our furniture, play in our orchestras, mend our clothes, sew our buttons, empty our bedpans, push our wheelchairs,  dig our graves, flip our pizzas, butter and schmear our bagels, stir our cocktails and pour our drinks, make our beds, park our cars, stack our plates and bus our tables …

In addition to the above-mentioned “services” which they daily provide, “those people” also enrich our culture and our lives.

All of which brings a stunning flash of Déjà vu. 

Because we’ve been there.

And done that … when it was the Irish and Italians who attended to all these most necessary things. 

It was not … too … long … ago.

This is a WVOX and WVIP commentary. 

This is Bill O’Shaughnessy.