Charlie Kafferman “A Dear Man” // An Appreciation by William O’Shaughnessy

Charlie Kafferman

“A Dear Man” 

An Appreciation

by 

William O’Shaughnessy

July 8, 2019

In my business we “warehouse” obits … so that when someone departs for another and, we are sure, a better world … we are ready with the details, minutiae and landmarks of a person’s life. No such trove or repository exists for Charlie Kafferman because everyone in Litchfield fully expected him to be around forever to feed us, to counsel us and to entertain and anchor us with his wisdom of 88 years.

But at 2:30 on the summer Saturday just past, the legendary Mr. Charles Kafferman (I know the word is overused, but he was that), proprietor of the West Street Grill, an iconic eatery which has existed for 25 years in his lovely Connecticut town, died in Danbury Hospital after 10 days in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.  The formal notices of his passing will mention the culprit as “congestive heart failure.”

But earlier, and for many years, Charlie had battled lung cancer with visits to Memorial Sloan-Kettering in the great City, so many that he was known among the doctors and nurses as “Lazarus Kafferman.”

He is survived by his shy, modest, retiring life and business partner James O’Shea who knew his genius and goodness for 42 years. They lived together in a Colonial era house in the historic district of Litchfield which was once owned by J.P. Morgan.

By day and on most nights, Charlie and James repaired to their labor of love known by locals as “The Grill” and was operated almost as a private club. But Charlie made everyone feel welcome … from the landed gentry and hilltoppers of Litchfield and residents of Morris, Bantam, Woodridge Lake, Washington Depot, Bethlehem, New Preston and even as far away as Newport … to the newest arrivals in town for whom Kafferman was a generous, benevolent and knowledgeable counsellor. He took great pleasure in personally welcoming these tentative young couples and providing them with his food and inexhaustible repository of wisdom and his love for the town and its colorful and influential inhabitants.

They loved his stories about Sinatra and Mia Farrow. “I was there the night they got engaged … and I told Frank I knew her before he did!”  (It’s quite remarkable that Frank let him live!) One night at the Grill … I asked Mia, who was with Philip Roth, if the story was true.  She swore it was … “but Frank did ask me where that guy lives!  I wouldn’t tell.” Or the night at the Latin Quarter where he was mistaken for William B. Williams, the famous “Make Believe Ballroom” disc jockey. He also regaled listeners with the tale told by the great writer Philip Roth that when President Obama presented him with an award at the White House … the president whispered “Where’s Charlie?” who, as a favor to his pal Roth, had picked up an earlier award for Roth from the governor of Connecticut.  (Roth swore it was true!)

He could also discuss the rock groups U2, Mumford and Sons and the Rolling Stones with the Millennials. And he once trooped all the way uptown to Harlem for a concert.

Day after day, in nice weather, Charlie would sit with his beloved labrador Cashel.  As both were somewhat aging and together battling the diminishments, Cashel and Charlie had a special bond. Everyone would stop to pet Cashel and greet the restaurant proprietor who one day told me “Cashel and I are ‘hookers.’  We tell them ‘The food is great … go on in.  You can pet him.”

His warm, agreeable and welcoming personality – as well as his canon of stories and jokes (many of which could not be told on the radio) helped transform the Grill from your usual, run-of-the-mill “country restaurant” to a dazzling mecca of influence and celebrity. 

Night after night actors, publishers, artists, newspaper and magazine editors, Wall Street types, merchant princes, famous authors, Broadway and television producers, food critics and wine aficionados and colorful townie characters repaired to the Grill.  Among them:  Henry Kissinger … William Styron … Philip Roth … Richard Widmark … Mia Farrow … Sheila Nevins and Sidney Koch … Daniel Glass … Milos Forman … Judge Anne Dranginis and Judge Charlie Gill … Arthur Hill Diedrick … Tara Stacom Diedrick … Rex Reed … Debra and Declan Murphy … Sirio Maccioni … Bill Plunkett, Esq. … Teno West … Richard Gere … Cathy and Greg Oneglia … Renate and Tom McKnight … Ellen and Ray Oneglia … Rod Oneglia and Michael Quadland … David Pecker … Melissa and Paul Bennett … Julian Niccolini … Lauren and Armand Della Monica … Danny Meyer … Brooke Hayward … Bob Summer … Norman Drubner … Nancy Kissinger … Kim and Bobby D’Andrea … Joe Cicio … Lou Amendola … Norman Sunshine … Douglas Clement … Jim Hoge … William vanden Heuvel … Gregorio Alvarez …  Ron Leal and Joseph Montebello … Alan Shayne … Daniel Day Lewis … Andrew Thompson and Bradley Stephens … Robin Johnson and his family … Gina and Alexander Duckworth … Ann Sutherland Fuchs … Francine du Plessix Gray … Margot Wick … Wendy and Royal Victor IV a/k/a “Mike” (I love the name!) But everyone was welcome except an occasional ill-educated “gavone” who insisted on wearing a baseball hat in the dining room!  That would never do.

Charlie was a class act in every season.  And there was a big, broad range to his life.  His patron, admirer and friend Daniel Glass, the music impresario and record producer, was also taken by the unique professional and personal relationship between Kafferman and his partner O’Shea.  “It was a merger of two cultures:  the Irish and the Jewish.  They were a perfect team!” I myself saw this for many years as Charlie and James covered for each other. They protected and sustained each other.  James was, shall we say, a little more “colorful,” ahem, “outspoken” and, if you will, a little more “dynamic.” But Charlie was always wonderful, calming and reassuring.  And it worked.  They worked together.

James attracted and mentored many young, talented chefs while Charlie “dressed” the dining room of an evening … moving people around like Nelson Riddle arranged notes and making them feel important. But he was much more than a skillful “maitre’d” or talented restaurateur.

He had an eye for the ladies, and he wasn’t at all happy when I called him a “babe magnet.”  But he got a lot of kisses of an evening from rich widows and pretty young girls.

He could sense when people at his tables were hurting and life turned sad and difficult. That was his genius. He just “knew.”  He would sit for hours trying to reconcile warring husbands and wives and help them sort out their marital problems. And he “adopted” their offspring and followed them and their exploits down through the years. 

He’d often trot out one of his marvelous stories (or a risqué joke). Daniel Glass, the record producer, had a lovely line, “He gave us the nourishment of his own life before he gave up the nourishment of his food.  His ability to deliver a punch line was flawless. I’d try to remember them … but they never worked for me.” Glass, the discoverer of Mumford and Sons, also admired Charlie’s attire and way of dressing … “dapper, with such flair … all casual elegance.”

I’ve run on too long.  But how do you distill a Life of 88 years that included his enthusiasm for Litchfield County … Florida … Ireland … and the fashion world in Manhattan. He especially loved Ireland and took his last trip over there all alone at the age of 88, leaving James home to watch over things at the Grill. He also loved to head south in Ray and Greg Oneglia’s jet which was acquired from Ted Turner.

Before becoming a celebrated restaurateur and country squire late in life, Charlie Kafferman had an earlier career in the world of merchandising and fashion. As a young man he teamed with John Pomerantz, the founder of Leslie Fay … becoming one of the youngest vice presidents in the history of the famous conglomerate which, to this day, still makes women’s dresses and apparel. And Charlie then went on to own his own dress factories in this country and abroad, the products of which were featured at Macy’s, Gimbels, J.C. Penney, Saks, Dillard’s, Belk’s and I. Magnin. 

He will be buried this week in a Catholic cemetery in his beloved Litchfield as a result of only the most recent gracious and thoughtful gesture of one absolutely unique Reverend Father Robert Tucker, the popular and charismatic Roman Catholic pastor for Litchfield and surrounding towns.

That black lab named Cashel, however, is just moping around today, feeling “few” … and missing his pal “The Hooker.”

So is most of the town Charlie so loved. 

He was a dear man.

We thought he’d be around forever.

 

 

Contact:

William O’Shaughnessy

914-235-3279

wfo@wvox.com

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Steve Dunleavy: A Remembrance by William O’Shaughnessy

Steve Dunleavy was a newspaper guy and he did some television via A Current Affair.

But, little known was his ill-fated foray into Radio.

It happened like this. I idolized one Richard Neal Travis, the diminutive boulevardier who was one of the founders of Page Six. He was very good to me and mine and our Westchester radio stations.  And I learned early on that when he was not cavorting or swanning about the Hamptons, Neal Travis was often to be found with another legendary print journalist Stephen Francis Patrick Aloysius Dunleavy a/k/a Steve Dunleavy.  They often kept company with each other at Langan’s saloon on West 49th Street, about a half a block from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp empire and his beloved holding the influential New York Post.

One day I approached Travis and Dunleavy who were drinking their lunch at the far end of the bar.  When I introduced myself, Dunleavy, with eyes sparkling, looked up and said: “Oh, you’re Neal’s ‘Westchester Bureau Chief’!” It was an appellation and commissioning I’ve worn proudly for these many years.

A few drinks later Dunleavy said, “Why the hell don’t you put us on Radio?” Although I professed to know very little about national syndication, it occurred to me that the chairman of our Broadcasters Foundation of America Edward McLaughlin, former President of ABC Radio (Paul Harvey) and discoverer of the great Rush Hudson Limbaugh III, might be helpful. As chairman of the Foundation’s Guardian Fund, I was often exposed to McLaughlin’s perceptive genius at raising money while serving with him on the Board of our profession’s national charity.

We set up a “luncheon,” this time with food, at a real table at Langan’s with Travis, Dunleavy and McLaughlin. I watched with great satisfaction and considerable approval as the three took a great liking to each other. But as the drinks piled up and the afternoon wore on, I excused myself as the sun was now setting over Manhattan. And, clearly out of my league, I took my leave as my brilliant pronouncements began … I think … uh … slurring. I later learned that the three-way high council and “lemon squeeze” turned into an “early dinner” … all of which can be confirmed by Langan’s proprietor of the day Des O’Brien.

And so, next thing I know, McLaughlin had arranged for a “three-week” tryout for the dauntless duo on WABC. Their first radio guest was Liza Minnelli who was delightful.  But it became clear that Radio was not gonna work for Rupert’s guys. It was “bloody” this … “bloody” that … and about a hundred “Maties.” Although Travis was from New Zealand and Dunleavy, of course, hailed from Australia, the listener couldn’t discern who the hell was speaking at any given moment. There were more than a few “Don’t give up your day jobs” directed to them even after the first broadcast. (I’m afraid I was among the thumbs down crowd myself).

In recent years, Dunleavy toodled around in one of those red mobile scooters in the Florida Keys and at New York’s Island Park, colorful, spiffy and well-turned-out as always. And now he is gone.  And journalism loses another dazzling star, hard on the heels of the departure of James Earl Breslin of sainted memory.

And so this week as we sadly contemplate the loss of Dunleavy … I also think of his great pal Neal Travis. And I pulled up some pieces I did on him in my previous books (see attached). They were both wonderful.  And you have to put them together.

Dunleavy and Travis called Murdoch “The Boss.” And Rupert, who adored them both, called Steve “one of the greatest reporters of all time.”

Last word to Murdoch.

 

Steve Dunleavy from Previous Books

The Great Interpreters of the Great American Songbook

The Great Interpreters of the

Great American Songbook

Frank Sinatra …Fred Astaire … Nat King Cole … Mabel Mercer … Tony Bennett … Mel Torme … Chet Baker … Ella Fitzgerald … Doris Day … Bing Crosby … Louis Armstrong … Bobby Short … Hugh Shannon … Rosemary Clooney … Tony Perkins … Vic Damone … Skinnay Ennis … Charles Trenet … Norman Drubner …  Blossom Dearie … Jack Sheldon … Daryl Sherman … Ronny Whyte … Sylvia Syms … Noel Coward …  Richard Rodney Bennett … Robert Merrill … Chuck Castleberry … Dean Martin … Gianni Russo … David Allyn … Billie Holiday … Judy Garland … Murray Grand … Lady Gaga … Sarah Vaughan … Steve Ross … KT Sullivan … Edith Piaf … Matt Monroe … Mama Cass Elliot … Peggy Lee … Lena Horne … Eddy Sessa …  Billy Joel … Peter Mintun … Steve Lawrence … Eydie Gorme… Andrea Bocelli … Ted Straeter … Neil Diamond … Rod Stewart … Ethel Merman … Johnny Mercer … Matt Dennis … Charlie Cochran … Tierney Sutton … John Pizzarelli … Michael Feinstein …  Danny Nye …

However, I’m Less Than Enthused By …  

Some who look on Michael Bublé and really know music, like Egidiana Maccioni, a gifted singer in her own right, see Michael as the second coming of the Great Sinatra.  I don’t.

Harry Connick, Jr. is a good-looking guy who may be terrific on stage. But I’m not convinced he can sing.

Steve Tyrell often emotes in the legendary Café Carlyle where, for many years, the regal and magnificent Bobby Short, of sainted memory, dazzled the landed gentry.  Tyrell’s presence in that hallowed, exclusive venue is almost blasphemous. He’s admittedly got a lot of admirers for his scratchy, gravelly- voiced warbling. I’m not among them.

Jack Jones is a nice guy.  I knew and interviewed his father and mother, both great singers. Jack has pipes almost as good as Damone. But his choice of material, arrangements and orchestrations have always been wanting.

And one more: Barbara Streisand’s nasal, tonal, one – note voice is an “acquired taste” which I never acquired.

If Biden Runs, They’ll Tear Him Up

This Peggy Noonan column in the Wall Street Journal and the Post is so sad.

It could be the final takedown of a very decent guy.

I hope not. There’s a shrillness and outright nastiness to many/most of the other Democratic aspirants.

I’m probably for the President against all comers.  But Biden and/or Andrew would give me pause … and at least make me think about it.

(My forebearers are from around Scranton). 

(And Andrew is a son of Mario Cuomo).

I hope Joe Biden doesn’t let the loonies – or the Press – even someone we love like Peggy Noonan – yearning for the excitement of something new, drive him out.

He’s a politician the way the folks of our father’s time imagined them to be.

And that ain’t too bad …

If Biden Runs, They’ll Tear Him Up

The old Democratic Party was warm, like him. The new one rising is colder, less human and divisive.

Don’t do it, Joe.

Don’t run for president. It won’t work, you won’t get the nomination, your loss will cause pain and not only for you.

And your defeat will be worse than sudden, it will be poignant.

Right now operatives for the other candidates are trying to scare you out of jumping in. We all know that what you intended as warmth is now received as a boundary violation. You addressed this in a video that was crisp and friendly: You never meant to cause discomfort, you intend to change your ways.

But it’s not going away. It will linger, and more will come.

Democratic operatives do not fear you will win the nomination—they think you’re too old, your time has passed, you’re not where the energy of the base is, or the money. But they do not want you taking up oxygen the next six to 10 months as you sink in the polls. And they don’t want you swooping in to claim the middle lane. Others already have a stake there, or mean to.

In the past you were never really slimed and reviled by your party; you were mostly teased and patronized. But if you get in the race this time, it will be different. They will show none of the old respect for you, your vice presidency or your past fealty to the cause. And you are in the habit of receiving respect. Soon the topic will turn, in depth, to Anita Hill, the Clinton crime bill, your friendliness to big business. You have opposed partial-birth abortion. Also, the old plagiarism video will come back and be dissected. It was more than 30 years ago, and for a lot of reporters and voters it will be a riveting story, and brand new.

You backed the Iraq war. That question will be resurrected, as opposed to redebated. It is always fair to redebate it—to be asked, “Why did your generation of Democratic politicians back that war. Looking back what did you misunderstand?” But it will only be resurrected, and thrown in your face.

You will be judged to be old-school, and insufficiently doctrinaire. The current Democratic Party is different from the one you entered in the late 1960s, not only in policies but in mood, tone, style. Today’s rising young Democrats see no honor in accommodation, little virtue in collegiality.

In the old party of classic 20th-century Democratic liberalism, they wanted everyone to rise. Those who suffered impediments—minorities, women, working people trying to unionize—would be given a boost. There’s plenty to go around, America’s a rich country, let the government get in and help.

The direction, or at least the aspiration, was upward, for everybody.

The mood of the rising quadrants of the new party is more pinched—more abstractedly aggrieved, more theoretical. Less human. Now there’s a mood not of Everyone Can Rise but of Some Must Be Taken Down. White people in general, and white males in particular, are guilty of intractable privilege. It’s bitter, resentful, divisive.

And it is at odds with the spirit in which your political categories were formed. Actually, your politics always struck me as being like the World War II movies Americans of a certain age grew up on. The American soldiers are in the foxhole in Bataan, and there’s the working-class guy from Brooklyn, the tall Ivy League guy, the baker’s apprentice from Ohio. They’re all together and equal, like the country they represent. When the war’s over they’ll probably stay friends and the Brooklyn guy will be in the union and the Ivy League fancy-pants will be in management, but they’ll quickly forge the new contract and shake on the deal because back when it counted we were all in it together.

That is not the 2019 Democratic Party! This party would note, correctly, that there was little racial diversity in the foxhole, and would elaborate that its false unity was built on intersectional oppressions that render its utility as a unifying metaphor null.

The party’s young theorists are impatient with such gooey patriotic sentiment. America is not good guys in a foxhole to them, it’s crabs in a barrel with the one who gets to the top getting yanked down to the bottom—deservedly.

Your very strength—that you enjoy talking to both sides, that deep in your heart you see no one as deplorable—will be your weakness. You aren’t enough of a warrior. You’re sweet, you’re weak, you’re half-daffy. You’re meh.

At this point you’re not out of step, you’re out of place.

The press too will have certain biases, and not only because they’re 30 and 40 years younger than you and would like to see their careers associated with the rise of someone their age. Their bias is also toward drama, as you well know—toward pathos, and the end of something. They love that almost as much as the beginning of something. They can’t wait to write their Lion in Winter stories. “The Long Goodbye.” “The Last Campaign.” “Biden faltered for just a moment when a white-haired woman put her hand to his face and said, ‘I remember you from ’88, Joe. We all do, and we love you.”

And that is apart from those young reporters who consider themselves culture cops, and who enjoy beating people like you with the nightstick of their wokeness.

Why will it be painful to witness all this? Because it will mark the fall of a political figure who was normal. Who knew there was a left over here and a right over there and a big middle. Who went with the flow of cultural leftism but understood the other side’s reservations and signaled that in some way he had some sympathy for them. Who knew politics wasn’t always about absolutes.

This in contrast to the up-and-coming manipulators for whom it is second nature to feign warmth and outreach, but whose every hug is backed by the sharp and crooked finger of accusation. Their engine is resentment, their fuel is unearned self-esteem, their secret is lust for power.

You probably think they’re just girls who need a hug.

But their place is not your place.

It would be one thing if you wanted to enter the race to persuade the party on the merits of more-centrist approaches and working with the other side. But is that your intention? You’ve been apologizing for calling Mike Pence decent, and groveling over your “white man’s culture.” If you go with that flow, it will wash you away.

It is hard for the political personality to say no—to more fame, more power, more love. To the history books. It is hard for a man who’s always seen a president when he looked in the mirror to admit he’s an almost-president. It’s hard to get out of the habit of importance.

But you’ll never be unimportant. You’ll be Joe Biden, a liberal lion of the U.S. Senate at the turn of century. A man with a heart, unhated in an age of hate.

That’s not nothing, that’s a lot.

So don’t do it. Wisdom here dictates an Irish goodbye—a quiet departure, out the back door with a wave and a tip of the hat to whoever might be watching.

Palate Pleasers!

A “Foodie” recently asked me for a list of my favorite foods.

I came up with 95 “Favorites” on offer at restaurants in Westchester, Connecticut, New York City, Upstate, Italy and the Bahamas.

(I also added 17 I’m not exactly crazy about).

 

Favorites:

 

  1. Egg salad
  1. Tomato soup at Posto 22, New Rochelle
  1. Mashed potatoes
  1. Brussel sprouts
  1. Chicken salad with mayo and celery
  1. Deviled eggs
  1. Asparagus
  1. Sausage
  1. Angel hair pasta with tomato & basil at Le Sirene, Larchmont
  1. Steak at Tommy Moretti’s, Elmira
  1. Joe Migliucci’s pizza at Mario’s, Arthur Avenue
  1. Stir-fried pasta by Jonelle at Lyford Cay
  1. Truffles
  1. New England Clam Chowder at The Village, Litchfield
  1. Salmon with skin always removed
  1. Swordfish
  1. Halibut
  1. Homemade bread from Sam Tilley, Mockingbird or Jimmy Cosgriff, Torrington C.C.
  1. Shallots
  1. Chicken potpie
  1. Shepherd’s pie
  1. Vegetable tempura
  1. Meatballs at the Venetian, Torrington by Fiorita DiLullo
  1. Raw anise-fennel
  1. Good olive oil
  1. Sea salt
  1. Chickpeas
  1. Arnold Palmers
  1. Reasonable red wine: Kaou (Pasa Robles)
  1. Reasonable white wine: Louis Latour Grand Ardeche
  1. Buffalo wings at Bernie Murray’s, Elmira
  1. Lobster
  1. Lobster spaghetti at Milos
  1. Cornish game hen at Vice Versa
  1. Avocado and crabmeat, West Street Grill, Litchfield
  1. Heinz ketchup
  1. Homemade mueslix
  1. Berkshire pork chops
  1. Vidalia onions
  1. Dove ice cream bars
  1. Margueritas by Guadalupe, Senor Pancho, Thomaston
  1. Highams peppermint ice cream
  1. Oysters
  1. Stone crabs with mustard sauce
  1. Pasta Fagioli at Buon Amici, White Plains
  1. Crisp bacon
  1. Butter
  1. Fresh mixed berries
  1. Lemon or raspberry sorbet
  1. Soy sauce
  1. Hellman’s mayonnaise
  1. Crème Brulee
  1. Cold poached salmon from the Pantry, Washington Depot

  2. Hershey’s chocolate

  3. Filet mignon tableside, Fife & Drum with Elissa Potts

  4. Pignoli nuts
  1. Gaston Lenotre’s Concorde cake, Lyford Cay
  1. Lump crabmeat, “21”
  1. Smoked salmon on pumpernickel, The Woodland, Lakeville, CT
  1. Black and White milkshakes, Shake Shack or Carvel
  1. Margueritas by Ivy, The Venetian
  1. Mignonette sauce with oysters
  1. Vin Santo dessert wine
  1. Onion rings
  1. Spring rolls
  1. Macadamia nuts
  1. Linguini & clam sauce (garlic in & out quickly), Mario’s, Arthur Avenue
  1. Pasta primavera, Le Cirque style
  1. Mushrooms
  1. Squid ink pasta, Da Ivo, Venice
  1. Dill pickles
  1. Croissants, The Bakeshop, Litchfield
  1. Roast beef, the Pioneer Saloon, Ketchum, ID
  1. Nerf football-size Idaho baked potatoes, “The Pio,” Ketchum
  1. Krispy Kreme donuts
  1. Veal Chop, Parkside, Corona with Tony Federici
  1. Crudités, The Four Seasons or Harry Cipriani
  2. Butternut donuts, Dunkin Donuts
  1. Cronuts, Enrico’s, Hartsdale
  1. Kirsch aperitif
  1. Pasta with prosciutto & Sant’Erasmo peas, Cipriani, Venice
  1. Thai sweet chili sauce
  1. Michael DiLullo’s “6 1/2-minute” salad, The Venetian, Torrington
  1. House salad, Lemongrass, Burlington, CT
  1. Homemade granola, Hidden Valley Eatery, Washington, CT
  1. Frutti di Mare, Monaco Hotel, Venice
  1. Liquid yogurt (Kefir)
  1. Rice pudding
  1. Grand Marnier souffles, La Grenouille, NYC
  1. Baked Tagliolini at Harry Cipriani
  1. Wonton soup, Thai in Love, Thomaston
  1. Caviar
  1. Enough lemon wedges with broiled fish
  1. Zeppoles at Buon Amici, White Plains
  1. Garlic Pizza, Mangialardo’s, South Waverly, PA

 

On the Other Hand

I Try To Avoid:

 

  1. Pasta overwhelmed with too much damn garlic
  1. Broccoli Rabe
  1. Catfish soup
  1. Hanger steak
  1. Skate
  1. Shrimp that hasn’t been “rinsed” in salt and cold water
  1. Frisee
  1. Berry sauce on cheesecake
  1. Truffle oil
  1. GARLIC!
  1. Fluke
  1. Red, green or yellow hot peppers
  1. Cucumbers
  1. Mellon
  1. String beans
  1. Tilapia

  2. Cavatelli and gnocchi

 

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, the national charitable organization.  He is a longtime director and member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation. He has operated WVOX and WVIP, two of the last independent 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 has also written “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo, published in 2017.  He is currently working on his fifth book RADIOactive for Fordham University Press, another anthology with interviews, commentaries, speeches and tributes which will published in September 2019.

 

Contact:

914-235-3279

wfo@wvox.com

WVOX & WVIP Endorse Gov. Andrew Mark Cuomo for Governor of New York

Endorsement

Governor Cuomo for Governor

A Whitney Global Media Editorial of the Air

WVOX and WVIP

by William O’Shaughnessy, President

November 1, 2018

 

He is Mario Cuomo’s son. 

And in his best moments, he resembles his magnificent and graceful father.

That being said … no one knows the minutiae of governance or the complicated levers of government like Andrew Cuomo.  Not even his father of sainted memory.

Sure, Andrew knows how to play the powerbrokers and the union warlords.  He knows how to fist bump and chest pump and back-slap better than anyone.

But for those who think he doesn’t yet possess the rhetorical skills of his father or Joe Biden, for that matter … they should have heard Andrew speak passionately and movingly at the Central Synagogue in Manhattan earlier this week. (attached)

Indeed, there was soaring eloquence in the air despite the solemn occasion.  We were almost tempted to observe:  there was Mario in the air at the podium.

So much for those who dismiss the Governor as a mere “mechanic.”

His mother, the estimable and greatly respected – and I would say quite universally beloved – Matilda Raffa Cuomo – calls Andrew “The Energizer Governor.”  And we can’t do better than that. 

In his first two terms, Andrew has rung up an impressive list of solid accomplishments: gun control, the strongest in the nation … minimum wage … gay marriage … property tax caps … long-needed improvements to bridges and airports.  He’s also doing his level best on the subways, no easy task with Mayor DeBlasio’s ambition in the way.  And the Governor deserves great credit for pushing to eliminate all the wasteful overlap in services among the thousands of redundant local jurisdictions. 

He’s also made every move humanly possible to improve the diminishing fortunes of upstate New York … everything short of murdering the damn weathermen who prescribe those brutal, freezing, snow-covered winters west of Albany.  If there was a way to fix the drodsome weather … you can be sure Andrew would find it.

He’s not at all perfect.  Although he has carried forth his father and Hugh Leo Carey’s revulsion and disdain for the Death Penalty … we’re not crazy about where he is on the other, fundamental and essential Right to Life issues: i.e. the awful Abortion question. But one can only hope that he shares his father’s personal revulsion for the killing of innocents, despite his reluctance to impose his religious beliefs on others.

A great deal of attention has been paid by our colleagues in the public press to a few who may have disappointed the governor and let him down.

But he’s also had some very intelligent and able counsellors on his quest for good and effective government: the classy William Mulrow … Michael DelGiudice … Steven Cohen … Joe Spinelli … John Marino … Rick Cotton … Alphonso David … and the late Andrew Zambelli.

We’ve been quoted in national journals that “It’s not easy being Mario Cuomo’s son.”  It’s not at all easy when a prominent newspaper – the Boston Globe – calls your Father “the great philosopher statesman of the American nation.”  Nor is it easy when a family friend Tony Bennett, the last of the great romantic crooners, tells his audiences, “I’ve sung for five presidents of the United States … Mario Cuomo is the greatest man I ever met.” I mean that’s heavy, very heavy stuff to lay on a young man who is in the “family business.” 

And then you have Joe Biden who is a politician the way the men of our father’s time imagined them to be: “I’ve been in politics since I was 19.  But the minute I saw Mario Cuomo … I knew he was better than I was.” 

So he is a son and heir of Mario Cuomo and in his best moments Andrew resembles his father of sainted memory.

Listeners to these radio stations know of our enthusiasm and admiration for President Trump. While none can deny Andrew’s use of the bully pulpit which attends the governor of New York … one can only hope Andrew will continue to devote his remarkable creativity and energy and his considerable talents to the $168-Billion enterprise over which he now presides and focus on the welfare of the 20-million souls in his daily care and keeping.

We cringe when we see him marching in patriotic parades in Chappaqua with Bill and Hillary Clinton.  And it doesn’t exactly win points when the Governor seems always to be accompanied by so many outriders and security people at every event.  And the glib, booster-like slogans plastered on the podium often distract from the message and the worthwhile things he is trying to achieve.

And it’s perhaps a small thing … but to his great credit Andrew ordered that his own name not greet motorists on the many highways and byways leading into the Empire State. Every other governor before him couldn’t resist those “Welcome to New York State (fill in the name), Governor.”

We know little of his Republican opponent Marc Molinaro who certainly didn’t hit it out of the ballpark when he had the opportunity to debate the Governor provided by our friends Marcia Kramer and Rich Lamb of WCBS-TV. 

Indeed Stephanie Miner, the former mayor of Syracuse who, for a time, also headed the State Democratic Party, has been quite the most impressive among those others who aspire to lead our state.

Andrew is who he is. Everybody knows he’s dynamic and driven. But our recent interview with the governor showed him to also be a brilliant, introspective and altogether thoughtful fellow … qualities he often seems reluctant to reveal.

To get a grip on what Andrew is really about … read the piece posted on Thursday by the Times gifted political writer Shane Goldmacher, himself a great student of the Cuomos – pere et fils

He may not have Nelson Rockefeller’s charisma and ease with retail politicking … or his father’s graceful brilliance and beautiful soul … but no one has ever worked harder as governor.  No one.  Period.  No one.

In our far-ranging, recent interview, we asked the governor if he wanted to be loved … or respected.  With the facile brain inherited from his father, he quickly replied, “I want to be loved by those I respect

In case you haven’t figured it out … our stations have tremendous respect for Governor Andrew Mark Cuomo.

And, God forgive me … I’m afraid we do love him as well.

Thus our Whitney Global Media radio stations WVOX and WVIP enthusiastically and with great confidence – and affection – endorse the Democratic candidate: Governor Andrew Cuomo for governor of New York.

He’s a damn hard worker.

And he’s Mario Cuomo’s son.

This is William O’Shaughnessy.

 

 

 

Remarks of Governor

Andrew M. Cuomo

at

Central Synagogue Interfaith Service

New York City

October 30, 2018

 

We gather tonight on a somber moment, because this is a dark and frightening time in our nation. Our better angels are being overpowered. The character of America is being perverted. And the power of hate is overtaking the power of love. 

We mourn and embrace the families of the 11 victims in Pittsburgh and grieve with them. We mourn and grieve for the African American community in Kentucky. We suffer with those who endured the anxiety and threats of mail bombs last week. 

But we would not be here tonight if these were isolated incidents. They are not. There is a frightening pattern developing on many levels of American society. Anti-Semitic incidents have increased 57 percent nationwide. Neo-Nazi groups have increased 22 percent in this country. Nativists and white supremacy groups are on the rise. At the demonstration in Charlottesville in August, 2017, members of the Ku Klux Klan felt so empowered they didn’t even need to wear hoods to hide their faces. The societal fabric of America is stressed and frayed. We gather to pray and to marshal the voices of support and love as an antidote to the forces of division and hate. 

Elie Wiesel said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” As Governor, I pray with you this evening. But as Governor, I also state in the strongest terms that we are a nation of laws and we are a state of laws, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination or hate in the State of New York. (applause)

Hate is not protected by our law, not in speech and not in action. Quite the opposite. And our State has the most aggressive hate crimes laws in the country.  And I announced today that we are doubling both our security efforts and our prevention efforts. You have my word as governor that we will stamp out the evil of discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head.  The Jewish community is an important member of the Family of New York and we will protect our family–all together, all united. (applause)

But I am afraid that enforcing the law, while an essential, important step is not the only step. Being prepared to fight the fire is necessary, but we must work to prevent the fires from starting in the first place. 

I feel as if we are standing in a field of dry grass with smoldering embers surrounding us.  And a strong wind is shifting directions. We must stamp out the embers before they become flames and we must reduce the winds of hate that threaten the fields of peace.

There are those who now will wrap themselves in the flag of America and then go out and do violence in the name of America. But they could not be more wrong or more misguided. They do not begin to understand the character of America, and they disgrace the very flag they carry. Our Founding Fathers would be repulsed by these ignorant acts of violence.

In school, one of the first lessons we learn about America is when we are asked to raise our hands to the Pledge of Allegiance. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Indivisible! With liberty and justice for all. Whatever your religion, whatever your race, whatever your creed, we are indivisible!

Our Founding Fathers anticipated there would be differences because we were born as a collection from across the globe. But we would have, as Jefferson said, “a decent respect” for the opinions of others. One of our Founders’ first acts was to pass a law to make the Motto on the Seal of the United States, “E Pluribus Unum”—out of many, one. It set the tone of unity and commonality. The very same Founders didn’t fear immigration, they embraced it! It was the British government’s bid to block migration to the colonies, that was among one of the reasons for the Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.

The tremendous right to practice your religion in freedom was a powerful magnet drawing many to America. The Pilgrims were separatists from the Church of England.  The Huguenots settled the Hudson Valley. French Protestants were fleeing persecution in Roman Catholic France.  English Catholics under George Calvert colonized Maryland … Quakers in Pennsylvania …  Jewish people in Rhode Island, all seeking the religious freedom established by Roger Williams.

One year into his presidency, George Washington visited a synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island as the First Amendment was being debated. To his Jewish hosts, Washington wrote a remarkable letter.  He reasserted that the Government of the United States “gives no sanction to bigotry, no assistance to persecution, and requires only that the people who live under the protection of the government conduct themselves as good citizens.”

Washington quoted the Bible to remind them that, in effect, they had reached their Promised Land: ‘May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”  George Washington.

There was no period that tested our unity more than the Civil War. And as the war closed, President Abraham Lincoln pointed the nation to the future in his Second Inaugural Address, saying: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds — to achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace.” (applause)

Lincoln’s invoking God is relevant and instructive. We are one nation under God. It is not just our government that instructs peace and tolerance, but our religious heritage as well.

We are gathered in a house of worship today. Christianity teaches us tolerance. Matthew 25 instructs us Catholics to do for the least of our brothers.  Judaism speaks to the concept of Tikkun Olam … to reach out and heal the breach … and the concept of Tzedakah … charity, but, more broadly, the concept of social justice.

Buddhism, Islam, virtually every religion speaks of tolerance, acceptance, and condemns violence.

The victims in Pittsburgh were engaged in a sacred Jewish naming ceremony of a newborn — a bris — celebrating the joy of a new life, only to perish in the face of hate.  

We will not let them die in vain. We must once again, in Lincoln’s words, “bind up the nation’s wounds.”

We must rise above our traditional political divisions. We must refrain from fanning the embers of hate before the flames are out of control. Our American values override our political, partisan differences. Intolerant voices of division must be condemned by all, and not episodically, but consistently. (applause) Not only for public consumption, but genuinely, with personal commitment. Political debate must honor Jefferson’s mandate of civil discourse. Our political leaders must heed this wisdom today.

At this time of chaos, confusion, ignorance and fear … this nation needs a light to follow. And Let that light be the torch that is held by the great lady in our harbor.

Let New York State once again serve this nation as an example to follow. That is the legacy of this great State … throughout history, a beacon of progressive values. We are home to 19 million people from every nation on the globe.  New York State is the laboratory of the American experiment in democracy. We are not threatened by diversity, we celebrate diversity. Generations of immigrants stepped off ships and planes onto our shores. This State has thrived because we have no tolerance for discrimination. Not in our laws, and not in our spirit! (applause)

We are a people of differences, but we have forged community through chords of commonality. This state exemplifies the best of the American spirit.

The Rabbi asks us what we can do. Let us commit ourselves this evening to a constructive course of action. Let New Yorkers exemplify what it means to be a true American patriot.

Let New York show this nation what the flag actually means.

Let us lead forward in the way of darkness. Let us lead as a government, as a community and let us lead as individual citizens. Let us lead this nation at this time of confusion by the power of our example.

There is no place for hate in our State.  And New York lives by the credo: that the most powerful four-letter word is still love.  

John Pritchard Eulogy – Joe Spinelli

This perfect eulogy was given by my friend of many years Joe Spinelli who was a great friend of Mario Cuomo.  Spinelli spoke movingly and passionately about his fellow lawman John Pritchard on October 12, 2018.

Joseph Anthony Spinelli was part of a legendary three-man FBI squad with Pritchard and Louis Freeh (Spinelli became New York State’s Inspector General under Mario Cuomo, Louis Freeh became a Federal Judge and Director of the FBI).  John Pritchard was not only a Special Agent in the Bureau, he also served as Inspector General of the MTA and Police Commissioner in Mount Vernon, NY during an illustrious career in law enforcement. 

My name is Joe Spinelli, and I’ve known John for over 40 years and had the privilege to be John’s partner in the FBI for almost 7 years.

Normally when I address a group in any forum I like to speak extemporaneously, but not today. I wrote my thoughts down today, because I did not want to omit anything.

When Anne requested I speak today I was honored.  And yet I knew this would be difficult, because grief affects us all and does not discriminate.

I have never considered John to be just a friend. To do so would be an insult to both of us. John will always be my brother, and I loved and respected him as my brother. He was a gentle man and a true gentleman. He earned every accolade bestowed on him, and he gave all he had to be the best at what he did. And he achieved success despite the bias and prejudices he often faced as an African-American.  He did so by the simple eloquence of his example.

John visited me a few months ago in New York and we had dinner. He told me he wanted to say goodbye in person and we told each other how much we loved each other, and I’m thankful I got the chance to tell him how blessed I was to have him in my life.

John told me to please speak at his Memorial Service, but was quick to admonish me to only speak about stories and events in which the Statute of Limitations has expired. Unfortunately, after over 40 years together, I could only come up with three such stories that met that criteria.

In 1976, John was assigned as a new Agent to our Criminal Squad that dealt with fugitives and organized crime. The first time John and I worked together, I had to serve a subpoena on an organized crime member in the meat packing district of New York City. Now this should have been a routine deal. We located the organized crime figure who was not happy to see us, and the next thing that happened- we found ourselves surrounded by six individuals all holding meat hooks! I looked at John and he smiled and said, “I’m not going anywhere.” After I removed the barrel of my B57 from the bad guy’s mouth, and all the meat hooks hit the floor … we successfully served our subpoena. From that day forward, John and I were partners.

In 1979, while riding in a Bureau car in New York City, over the radio came a call “91 new” which meant a bank robbery was in progress. We were two blocks away from the bank and responded. When we arrived at the bank, three African American men came running out of the bank. John and I immediately began pursuing them on foot. Before we got half a block, three white males came out of the bank and opened fire on us. They were the actual bank robbers. And as we took cover John looked at me and with that vintage Pritchard grin said, “You have to stop always blaming the black guys.” We laughed out loud and then were fortunate to apprehend all three of the bank robbers. 

Finally, while I was N.Y. State Inspector General I began the Adopt-a-School Anti-Drug Program in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I would invite various individuals to present on Career Day to the entire school at assembly. John came and totally mesmerized these youngsters. While addressing them he grabbed my right hand and placed it next to his and asked them: “What is the difference between his hand and mine?” Immediately in unison, the students responded your hand is black and his is white. John shook his head no and said: “There is no difference.  You see … Joe and I are brothers.” I will never forget that moment and the reaction and message sent to those youngsters. I also will never forget how proud I was when John asked me to be Joe’s godfather.

Thomas Paine once wrote: “Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and Angels know of us. The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”

When I remember John, and I will for the rest of my life, I will remember his leadership, integrity, valor and impeccable character. He always possessed the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make difficult decisions, and the empathy and compassion to be sensitive to all people. He never feared to choose right over wrong and truth over popularity. He taught me that there is never a wrong time to do what is right. And what you say and do in life defines who you are.  And who you are … you are forever.

Each of us loved John because of this. So tonight when your knees hit the floor … please ask God to love him.

A wise man once wrote that the greatest of all journeys are those journeys that take you home. John is home now, at peace and waiting to one day be reunited with his beloved Anne and his children.

Rest in peace my Brother.

                                      October 12, 2018