Maestro Sirio: the Ringmaster

Maestro Sirio:  the Ringmaster

 

On Thursday, glamour and style return to the New York dining scene. The great Sirio Maccioni, America’s quintessential restaurateur, returns to center stage with the third incarnation of his legendary Le Cirque, a New York institution.

 

It is springtime, 2006.  Sirio Maccioni is 73.  He may yet do something in Paris or Dubai.   But even he knows this will be one of his last high wire acts in the center ring of the great city where he has been a featured performer for so long.  He begins this week on East 58th Street. 

 

The relentless clock reminds us it is 2006, and we are all mortal.  But for at least this one special night, in Sirio’s honor, I hope Joe DiMaggio roams centerfield once more at Yankee Stadium.  Frank Sinatra should be on stage at Carnegie Hall crooning a Cole Porter song.  William S. Paley again heads the Tiffany network where the cufflinks are just a little smaller and more discrete than those of NBC and ABC.  

 

It requires a time when the sportswriter Jimmy Cannon wrote pure poetry in a lonely room near Times Square.  Mario Cuomo is  standing on a flatbed truck in the garment center screaming at elderly Jewish women hanging out the window.  Ossie Davis is speaking pure truth to an audience at a church in Harlem. Gay Talese is coming down Lexington Avenue with his fine clothes and a very good cigar. Robert Merrill is singing the national anthem at Yankee Stadium for George M. Steinbrenner III.  And Kitty Carlisle Hart is at Feinstein’s every night. 

 

I know, I know, it is now 2006.  But Sirio Maccioni, with roots in the glory days of our town, is still in the game.  He is to his profession what each of these spectacular luminaries were to their own.   All of them – and Sirio – are not merely among the gifted and elite.  They are simply the best and have earned the right to the majestic Latin appellation “sui generis.”  It means unique and able to be defined only in its own terms.  Sirio belongs to that exclusive, rarefied fraternity.

 

I know I can’t turn back the tick-tock of the stately clock to the days when he started in this town, but for just this one night, opening night, let all politicians everywhere look like John Lindsay, walk into a room like Nelson Rockefeller, carry themselves like Jacob Javits, and think and speak like Mario Cuomo.

 

I know we are living, as Jimmy Breslin reminds us, in a “between you and I” age.  And all these magnificent and dazzling personages have been replaced by media creations such as Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith.

 

But this is still a tough, unforgiving town, and Sirio will have to impress Frank Bruni of the Times, Steve Cuozzo of the Post, Adam Platt of New York magazine, Bob Lape of Crain’s, Gail Greene and John Mariani.  But his legion of admirers pray the music from the new joint will last for a good, long time.  Even his competitors, who were stunned when the Italian was honored by the French government a few years back, hope he makes it.  It will be the greatest score for the gifted, graceful Tuscan impresario who walks with kings and prime ministers but still remembers the Germans sweeping through his town and breaking down his grandfather’s door.

 

There is something quite special about the man.  It was to Sirio’s table the magnificent Mayor Rudy repaired in the desperate days following 9/11.  An exhausted Giuliani would drop by late at night and have supper in the kitchen with the dust and soot and the horrible stench of vaporized death on his clothes.  The two sons of Montecatini would talk over a bowl of pasta late into the night, and Giuliani would then go home to catch a few hours of sleep before rallying the indomitable spirit of a city where Sirio Maccioni is the greatest restaurateur.   Then.  And now. 

 

The Italians have a word it for it:  “Convivio,” which means you tarry over food and wine to talk about life, love, politics and everything else.  But mostly it’s about a celebration of life.  And that, too, is Sirio:  Convivio!

 

The graceful Tuscan knows he exists alone in a changing profession now run by lawyers, speculators, bookkeepers and accountants.  To be sure, there are other restaurants of standing and reputation in our town.   Many are temples to culinary greatness and the fussy skill of the chef, some with international reputations.  But nobody is having any fun at their serious tables.  I prefer to pay homage and do my praying in a church, not in restaurants.  There’s no magic, no music in these gastronomic cathedrals and absolutely, to be sure, no one is having any fun on their hard, slick banquettes.

 

There are a few exceptions to the formulaic, programmed and predictable venues of ambition and greed in the restaurant business. Gerardo Bruno, an authentic dining room dazzler, weaves his magic nightly at San Pietro.  And David Burke can be exhilarating.  It is a “downtown” place, uptown, and the manager Teddy is terrific.  The glorious “21” still has a lot of lineage and cache if you can score a table with Milan, Joseph or Oreste. The estimable Four Seasons, run by zany Julian Niccolini and sedate, serene Alex Von Bidder, still makes each visit special. But when the great Sirio beckons from the center ring in the great city, even these accommodating joints must yield to his considerable genius.

 

There are many other highly successful eateries where all is programmed and computerized.  Some entrepreneurial business types own 10 or more venues.  These humorless souls like Danny Meyer talk of “synergy” and “return on investment” and charge outrageous markups on water and wine.  Some even bill for bread and butter.  Sirio, however, is all about people enjoying themselves, having fun during an evening away from the pressures of a world spinning out of control.  He is happy just to provide a stage for our courting rites.  To others, the whole thing is a business.  To Sirio, a profession.  And he is the most sensitive, generous man in the field where glamour and style still carry the day.

 

In upstate New York, at the Cornell University Hotel School, where they teach hospitality and management for spas, restaurants and resorts, they don’t teach Sirio’s methods, because what he brings to a restaurant cannot be taught in a classroom by even the most gifted of instructors.  It is called “intuition” and a generosity of spirit.  It can’t be taught.  They teach Danny Meyer, Drews Nieporent, Steve Hansen, Alan Stillman and Nick Valenti.  But the smartest graduates always head straight for Sirio’s employ.  And it is the same way with the best and brightest from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park.  He is the Winston Churchill of his profession. 

 

At other restaurants, you encounter three Debbies, two Jennifers, one Chad, a Lance, a Tiffany and “Hi guys!  So what do you folks feel like for dinner tonight?”  At Le Cirque you are greeted by the graceful, attractive proprietor and his savvy deputies, Mario Wainer and Benito Sevarin.  And if you are lucky enough to dine with a good looking woman like Nancy Curry O’Shaughnessy, on the way out Sirio will whisper to her,  “Why don’t you come for lunch tomorrow – without him?”

 

And when he opens this Thursday to the applause of 2,000 of his admirers, he will be attended by Egidiana Palmieri, the talented and earthy beauty who gave up a singing career many years ago to cast her lot with a dashing Tuscan on a fast Vespa from the hill town of Montecatini.  Egi and Sirio Maccioni will bask in the spotlight with their three sons:  Mario, Marco and Mauro.  And so will Stella Sofia Maccioni who is not yet nine months but has made the Times’ society page twice and Liz Smith four times!  

 

Adam Tihany, another certifiable genius, and Costas Kondylis, the charismatic architect, have created a spectacular new venue with a circus theme, with monkeys and elephants suspended Calder-like from the ceilings, to complement Maccioni’s genius.  Together with Sirio, they have spent millions of dollars, and several years off the life of Steven Roth, the head of Vornado, one of the smartest and most successful developers in New York.   But he never saw anything like the Tuscan showman.

 

But they did it.  And Liz Smith, Cindy Adams, Judith and Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg, Silvio Berlusconi, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Bill Cosby, Tony Bennett, Barbara Taylor Bradford and her husband Bob, Steve Forbes, Matilda and Mario Cuomo, and Archbishop Edward Egan will be there to herald his return.

 

New York becomes New York again when Sirio steps forward, once more into the spotlight, greeting people, loving them and being loved in return, at his LeCirque. An icon is properly restored.   He has been a class act in every season of his life.  And in every season of our lives. Sirio Maccioni is a marvelous New York story.  It’s 2006.  But he’s still here.  In the center ring.  

 

(original broadcast, May 15, 2006)

Saloon Songs Sirio Maccioni

Saloon Songs

 

(Originally Published in 1999 in AirWAVES,’ Fordham University Press)

 

Maestro Sirio

 

But the greatest of all barroom poets is Sirio Maccioni.  Now when I recently encountered Billy Cunningham, the Times’ brilliant lensman, on his favorite corner, 57th and Fifth, the great society photographer who is Manhattan’s pre-eminent chronicler of the rich, the famous and stylish, advised me against comparing Toots Shor and Sirio Maccioni or even putting them in the same breath. Cunningham is a beloved icon of New York … and it may be a far stretch … but I still believe a saloon is a saloon, no matter the trappings or neighborhood. Thus Sirio.

 

Sitting on a barstool with Maestro Sirio at the Le Cirque restaurant is a thrilling adventure. Maccioni is a wise man, provocative, charming and absolutely accurate in his marvelous commentary about life and people. Here then are some late-night pronouncements from the Magnificent Maccioni … who is America’s greatest restaurateur. And barkeep. They were flung out into an empty dining room … late at night … when all the swells had gone home. Here then, retrieved from my notebook, are mementos of delightful evenings spent with the greatest of all contemporary saloonkeepers.

 

The Gospel According to Sirio

 

“I think there should be a moment in life when you do what you want to do.” 

 

“You should show that you respect people … but also show you can do without them.”

 

“I resent stupidity. One must have rules. I have rules. One must always be ‘correct’.”

 

“90% of the people are nice … too nice.  If I would follow my instinct, I would be sued … I would open a restaurant for only attractive people … make that nice people.”

 

“Donald Trump is a very nice person. I call him and within one minute he calls me back. I don’t care about his problems with other people …”

 

“When you ask someone to build you a $3 million-dollar kitchen … they ask are you sure you need it. I never did all this to prove I am better than the other people in my business. We did it because it was something we had to do. We are working people. Physical work. Mental work. And not to be intrusive.  That is what we are about.”

 

“If something happens to me … just say: ‘Sirio has said it all.’  One life is not enough to prove yourself.”

 

“I like women who are fun … who don’t try to save the world … and men who are ‘correct’.”

 

“There is an Italian saying: If you wake up in the morning and have no pain … you’re dead!”

 

“When anybody can criticize a king or a president … then they are not a king. Or a president.”

 

“In my short life, I have seen a fellow open a bottle of Dom Perignon when they killed Kennedy. Stupidity … just stupid.”

 

“They say I put pressure on my sons to achieve. But I would never force anybody to be great in life.”

 

“They ask me if I’m religious. Of course I am. But I hate people who only pray when they need something.”

 

“When I was maitre’d at the Colony … people didn’t understand why I gave Warren Avis and Yanna the best table. They’re attractive.”

 

“My wife Egidiana tells me when she came here she didn’t know anybody. The only thing that mattered is she wanted to be with me.”

 

“When I hear today that only 12 civilians were killed in the bombing in Iraq I got sick. I remember the bombs falling on us in my town. I have been under the bombs.  My father, a civilian, died on his bicycle under the bombs. My grandfather saw it. He said let’s go to church. He had unlimited respect for authority and uniforms. When he saw a uniform of any kind, he would bend. 27% had the courage to say we should not bomb. The Moroccans and the English ‘liberated’ us. They only raped 1500.  The Germans no one.  They might shoot you!”

 

“My wife always says: If everybody takes care of their own little spot … everything would be O.K.”

 

“I’m always scared. But for me to be scared is a point of strength. I don’t believe in luck. If someone shoots you … you’re unlucky.”

 

“I tell my sons:  Concentrate on the people.  Don’t spend time talking to the coat check girl or the bartender. Don’t look outside on a day like this to see if it’s raining or snowing. I tell them to look inside. The time you spend talking to the coat check girl is wasted forever.”

 

“I’m reading a book Europa Vivente.” It means Europe is still alive. A Florentine wrote it … a Florentine with a German father. He is trying to show the stupidity of Democracy. The only problem with Mussolini is he was trying to please everybody. The greatness of Italy was in the Medici, the Borgias. They were assassins!  But they alone created and encouraged Art.  But they were against the Italians.  You put two Italians together and they can destroy anything!”

 

“The Italians always seem to need a tyrant to become great.”

 

“The other night I was with the Cardinal at the Knights of Malta dinner. I did not wear my sword and certainly not the cape because I look like Dracula. I was the only one at my table who was not Irish. They sang Danny Boy. I said you are discriminating at this table. What about O, Solo Mio? I hate that song! I didn’t tell them that the first gift to me in America was given by Morton Downey.  It was a record of Danny Boy.

 

“My sons lecture to me.  You are in America, they say. You have to adjust.  What is going to be with the next generation?  There is no class, no style.”

 

“Clinton is not the exception.  There are so many stupid men.”

 

“I am going to be one of the three voting judges of the Miss Universe Contest in Martinique the first week of May. Donald Trump asked me to take his place because he is so busy. He is also so smart. The first thing he did was ask my wife. She said it was very nice.  It would be good for Sirio.  And then she went off to Atlantic City with her Uncle Renato for the day and came home after midnight and woke me up to show me the 300 quarters she won!”

 

“I blame the basketball season on the players. My wife agrees.  She went after Patrick Ewing at the restaurant.  He is very nice, but she told him he was wrong and she will never to go another game.  And she never will.”

“New York has been very good to us … the press … Donald Trump … Mayor Giuliani … everybody. I never did all this to say I’m better than the others. It’s something we had to do. We’re working people. There is no such thing to be an artist. We work … the thing happens. It is about having an understanding of what people want when they come to your restaurant.”

 

“When we fed the Pope there were 16 cardinals at the table.  It was on 72nd Street at the Papal Nuncio’s house. The Pope is a good eater. He likes fish, he likes rice, he likes pasta.  Archbishop Martino, a great, intelligent man, is the Pope’s ambassador and so he can only be intelligent, was the host.  We went, we cooked … with security from the United States, from Italy, from the Vatican. He is a good eater, the Holy Father. He ate risotto with porcini and he ate fish. My pastry chef Jacques Torres made a replica of the Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Basilica. The Pope asked me if it was true we had a three month wait list for a reservation.  I said, ‘Holy Father … why don’t you come tonight.’ The Pope laughed and said tonight he was not going to have such a good dinner.  Since the Holy Father was talking about ‘reservations,’ I asked Archbishop Martino what about a ‘reservation’ up in Heaven.  So the Archbishop asked the Holy Father … don’t you think it would be very nice to have a great restaurant in Heaven?  And the Holy Father looked at me and Cardinal O’Connor and said:  ‘Are we sure … are we sure we go up there?’  The Pope is amazing.  He spoke to me in Italian, to my son in English, to the pastry chef in French and to my executive chef Sottha Kuhnn in Thai.  Then the Holy Father asked me if I was a good Christian … or just another Italian who only gets religious when he gets sick?  You know in Italy we think because we have the Pope … and it’s a local call, we sometimes get a little casual and complacent.”

 

“The philosophy of a restaurant is to make a place pleasant.  Sometimes it is the people who create the problems. I think people should look correct.  I’m not talking black tie.  But in the middle of summer these people go out in a t-shirt that looks like they have come out of a shower … and then it is not right that they come to Le Cirque and want to sit next to a lady.  New Yorkers are elegant people. We should teach the rest of the people.  We should teach the world.”

 

“I don’t know why I have been chosen as one of the 30 most important men in New York.  It is ridiculous.  I just sell soup.  I’m glad I’m well known in my country because everybody has to be what he is.  You never talk bad about your country, your mother, your brother, your family. Here, I’m a guest. But in Italy I can have my say.  Most of the political group there is a disgrace. A Communist could be good, but it’s bad when applied in the wrong way. Communism was bad in Eastern Europe, so why try it in Italy? Thank God the Italians are not with anybody.  They’re against everybody!”

 

“They say I feed their egos as well as their stomach. But why do you buy a Versace suit instead of one that costs 60% less?  It’s a question of ego.  Why do you go to your hairdresser who knows you?  It’s ego. It’s also quality of life.”

 

“Everybody should be equal when we start, when we are born.  But then I don’t believe in egalitarian any more. Everybody should start and go up. I tell my three sons if one gets up at eight and one at 10 and one at 12 … the first one up should do better. It’s a simple philosophy.”

 

“People can’t eat caviar and foie gras all the time. Sometimes they need hamburger … vulgar food … the things we grew up with … pig feet, tripe, boiled beef, lamb chop cooked with potato – lamb stew – roast chicken.  And especially me … I’m not easy to please in a restaurant. But I will go when they have those dishes.  We invented pasta primavera.  In 1975.  We were invited by the Canadian government to try new recipes for pigeon, lobster and wild boar.  But after three days, all this got boring.  So it came my turn to cook.  And I took everything I could find in the kitchen … all the vegetables … and we created pasta primavera.”  

 

“I notice that man is looking at your wife … but don’t worry.  He has had a lot of wine. But he is a gentleman and he is always correct. He has manners. But he can’t help himself from looking.”

“You’re a man and automatically you’re stupid.  As a young boy in Italy I was crazy.  I have always been stupid.”

 

Q:  But your greatness, a part of it, is that you’re Italian.

 

A:  Yes, but I’m alone!

# # #

Le CIRQUE (today)

 

When you’re putting together an evening for a client or a “friend” and it’s just gotta be right, I still head for the mighty Le CIRQUE in the courtyard of the Bloomberg building off 58th Street between Lex and Third. The incomparable and ageless MARIO WAINER “Your Excellency … welcome back!”  (Is he talking to me …?  Yes, and what’s not to like!) still runs the dining room for SIRIO and his attractive sons MAURO and MARCO.  And the legendary chef TOM VALENTI now presides in the kitchen as well.  PRESIDENT TRUMP and billionaire RON PERELMAN are regulars. And so is ANDREA BOCELLLI and his wife VERONICA BERTI, friends of Sirio’s.

 

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 also 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 is currently working on his fifth book for Fordham University Press, another anthology in which this Saloon Songs essay will appear. He has also completed “Mario Cuomo:  Remembrances of a Remarkable Man,” a tribute to his late friend Governor Mario M. Cuomo which has just been published. 

Contact:

Cindy Gallagher

Whitney Media

    914-235-3279

 cindy@wvox.com

Joseph Migliucci, Pizza Maker – A Remembrance by WO

Joseph Migliucci, Pizza Maker
A Remembrance by William O’Shaughnessy
April 7, 2020

On the 6th day of April, 2020, seven hundred and thirty-one people in New York died and went to another and, we are sure, a better world.  One of them was a Joseph Migliucci who made pizzas. He had existed around here for 81 years.

Actually, this man Migliucci did a hell of a lot more than spin pizza dough in the air.  Never, in his 81 years, did he ever spend a single second in Italy from whence his forebearers came. Instead Joseph presided over the most beloved Italian restaurant in the great city. Known for five generations, it is actually called Mario’s and is heralded and quite beloved far beyond Arthur Avenue in the Little Italy neighborhood of the Bronx.

He was the son of Mario Migliucci, a slim, elegant man who moved through a dining room before him like Fred Astaire.  His mother, who was widely known as “Mama Rose,” was a Bochino girl, the most beautiful in the Roman Catholic parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The restaurant over which Mario and Rose, and then their son Joseph presided was unlike any other eatery abroad in the land.

Arthur Avenue is a place of myth and legend. Many venues these days are run by Albanians. But the Italians like Joseph still hold their own as fishmongers, butchers, greengrocers, bakers and cannoli makers.  Also as restaurateurs.

“Interesting” characters still abound on the streets of Belmont as this part of the Bronx is formally known. I once inquired of Joseph Migliucci if he was “affiliated” or “associated” with any of the two famous neighborhood “associations” or so-called “social Clubs.”  And after pondering the question, he said: “No … I’m not ‘with’ anybody … but, let’s put it this way … nobody bothers me.”

Although you would occasionally encounter some of those “interesting” characters at table during Joe Migliucci’s time there were also federal judges like Jed Rakoff, Westchester judges like Mary Smith and Tom Dickerson and former Yankees like Bucky Dent. 

Mario Cuomo loved the place and so did Bronx legend Mario Biaggi. A picture of “The Three Marios” – Mario Cuomo … Mario Biaggi … and Mario Migliucci, Joseph’s father, still hangs reverently near the front door.

Before Joseph took his leave to that better world on Monday of this week, he and his devoted daughter Regina installed faux leather, saddle-colored banquets along the dining room’s side walls where once were displayed hundreds of pictures of Joseph and his family and friends which were recently removed as a gesture to “modernize” and spiff up the place. It is expected that the family mementos will now, with his passing, return to their places of honor. 

He sure had a following, this man Joseph Migliucci, which included the rich and well-founded from Westchester and Connecticut … Fordham Jesuits … an exterminator … a 107-year-old named Joe Binder who was written up by Corey Kilgannon in the New York Times itself.  And Karen and Judge Jeffrey Bernbach always came down from Westchester for their weekly “lemon squeeze” with Joseph.

It was the place to go – before and after – the Bronx Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, or the Stadium, which is home to our beloved Yankees. And each year Fordham’s graduation was the busiest day of the year.

You would often see Frances Fusco, the beautiful Bronx legend, and busloads of white-haired ladies who came from all over the metro area to bask in Joseph’s warm and welcoming hospitality. Julian Niccolini, the colorful proprietor of the Four Seasons, would also pick up a pizza on the way home to tony Bedford. 

And on other spring days better than this one, Margaret Noonan and Fred Nachbaur, and the elders of the highly-regarded Fordham University Press would leave their old building and stroll down the avenue in the sunshine to visit Joseph, where the pizza, which never existed on the menu, was the best to be had in America.

I also came often to Joseph’s table … just to be with the guy. In recent years, the “diminishments” (it’s a word Cuomo and I stole from the Jesuit Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) nibbled away at his legs and lungs and heart. And yet Joseph refused to cede his title as Patriarch of his extended  restaurant family.

They even won a James Beard Award. And last year Mario’s, the restaurant, had its Centennial.  I knew the proprietor for 40 of those 100 years.  My grandchildren still remember riding on the serving carts when the usually crowded dining room would allow.  Joseph and Mama Rose always would “allow.”

He spent a lot of time bailing people out and getting them out of trouble. Joseph knew every judge … and every important doctor. Doctor Philip Ozuah, the graceful and influential new head of the huge Montefiore Health System, in whom every one is so well pleased, moved right in to help Joseph scramble at White Plains Hospital before he gave up and left us on Monday. 

And so as I sit here the very next day over a legal pad on my own 82nd birthday, I can only tell you I really miss the damn, wonderful guy.

I make my living with words (in my case they usually appear awkwardly, inartfully and imprecisely). But I don’t really have the words to tell of how much I miss this particular man, the Pizza Maker.

It’s much easier to write about people who are just acquaintances and exist from afar rather than someone who always called me “Brother Bill.”

Only one other gave me that elevated appellation – a failed baseball player with too many vowels in his name who was a governor.

I give the last word to Food Critic and author John Mariani who called Joseph “one of the great men of Italian-American food … a big, sweet giant beloved by everyone.”

I think he got it just right for my brother Joseph, the Pizza Maker.

 

Contact:

William O’Shaughnessy
914-235-3279
wfo@wvox.com

 

Impeachment – A Sad, Tawdry Chapter

Impeachment
A Sad, Tawdry Chapter
A WVOX and WVIP Commentary
by William O’Shaughnessy
January 31, 2020

 

This Impeachment thrust on the Republic in the winter of 2020 was a partisan and tawdry attack on the President of the United States … and on our nation in its 243rd year.

It was a purely partisan political exercise by a major political party attempting to substitute for the will of our People and overturn the 2016 Election.

This unseemly Political Theatre was produced and conjured up by the likes of Chuck Schumer, Jerry Nadler, a hack from Queens, Debby Wasserman Schultz, Maxine Waters, lethal Kamala Harris, Mazie Hirono, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Iiham Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Adam Schiff with his bulging eyeballs, one of the most hate-filled and nasty public figures in history, who squandered his brilliance and captivating powers of articulation in the service of an attempted Coup to damage a president. 

One must note these stellar partisans sit in seats once occupied by Pat Moynihan, Jacob Javits, John and Robert Kennedy, Ogden Rogers Reid and Thomas “Tip” O’Neill. Where once giants walked the land. Speaking of which: John Roberts, the wonderful Chief Justice of the United States, had to sit up there in his judicial robes presiding over this nonsense for four days.

Our colleagues in the public press are transfixed by the notion of Russian and foreign interference in our elections. But this Impeachment Circus of 2019 spilling into 2020 was a domestic attack from within.

And in the end, although the vast majority of our hard-working, decent citizens view it as Much Ado About Nothing, the President’s lawyer Jay Sekulow was correct when he described the Impeachment exercise as “Dangerous” not only to Mr. Trump, but also to any and every future president.

Day after day, the lawyers quoted the Founders and discussed the notion of a “Balance of Power” which has given us these 243 years … almost until today … thanks only to one wise man:  Senator Lamar Alexander.

One thing the Founders left out of our precious Constitution was a device, a mechanism, to shut down purely partisan attacks driven by venom and jealousy of a president who is unlike any we’ve ever seen.

It’s incredible, but unmistakable, that every charge, every attack against this dynamic and unconventional chief executive is actually undercut by the Democrat accusers’ own words when most of them once held forth in all their wisdom and majesty with an entirely opposite view when it didn’t involve President Trump who they despise because he beat the hell out of the Deep State and the established political mandarins. It is high time to shut down this wasteful, boring, expensive, demeaning and dangerous – exercise in vengeance.

Senator Alexander called the President’s action “Inappropriate” which is a hell of a far piece from “Impeachment.” We’ve long admired Lamar Alexander (who bunked with our neighbor Bill Plunkett and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue in law school). Senator Alexander possibly saved the entire Republic from chaos.  But it was a close call.

We are among those who don’t want our imperfect, flamboyant, unconventional, but hard-working, dynamic and effective President removed by a partisan political circus and driven by jealous, venal, hypocritical members of the House of Representatives as well as our colleagues in the Public Press who have abandoned their objectivity to march in lock-step with the disgruntled Democratic Establishment.

They will soon learn they don’t represent the People of our Republic.

Thank you, God.

 

Contact:
William O’Shaughnessy
wfo@wvox.com

The Silencing of Imus

Statement by 

William O’Shaughnessy
Chairman, Whitney Radio
Editorial Director, WVOX and WVIP
Westchester, New York

April 16, 2007

Re:  The Silencing of Imus

 

“Censorship which results from corporate timidity in the face of intimidation or coercion is just as dangerous as the stifling of creative and artistic expression by government fiat, decree, sanction or regulation.”

“Howard Stern … Opie and Anthony … Bob Grant … Bill Maher … Chris Rock … George Lopez … and even – God forbid! – Rosie.  We’ve always had terrible examples to defend.  And Don Imus has given us another terrible example.  But defend it we must.

Not the hateful and discomforting words.  But the right of the social commentator and critic (read:  performer) to be heard … and the right of the people to decide.

Don Imus is a performer, a disc jockey, a humorist, a social commentator and a provocateur with a rapier sharp wit.

Unlike several of our colleagues, he does not deal in raucous vulgarity or incendiary right-wing rhetoric directed at immigrants, illegal aliens and other familiar targets of our tribe. 

Throughout his brilliant career, Mr. Imus has been an equal opportunity offender … poking fun at the high and mighty as well as the rest of us for our foibles and pomposity.

He may have on occasion gone too far during a remarkable 30-some year career.  Were his comments about the Rutgers basketball team racist or mean-spirited?  Only Imus knows for sure, but we doubt it.  Were they funny?  No.

His mea culpa and apologies seemed sincere.  We had thus hoped his sponsors and the elders at CBS, WFAN, MSNBC and all those many stations across the country that carry the I-Man would stand up to the intimidation and pressure we’ve read about.

So many performers who have achieved his kind of success take … and put nothing back.  Imus has been extravagantly generous to a number of worthy causes – some of it publicly known and some of it done very personally, anonymously and without fanfare.

Imus says he’s been active in our profession for 30 years – actually, it’s more like 40 since he came roaring out of Cleveland.  By our calculation, that’s about 8,000 broadcasts, during which he has probably uttered some 2,400,000 ad libs.  Not all of them as inartful, insensitive and wide of the mark as his fleeting reference to the Rutgers team.   

There’s no question this was a misfire.  And it was to be hoped that the elders at CBS and NBC would see this for what it is. 

I’ll give you a baseball analogy.  Let’s say you had a pitcher, with remarkable stamina, who threw 8,000 innings:  many of his pitches are going to be wide of the plate, some way off the strike zone.  A few may even hit the poor batter.  And in the course of those 8,000 innings across 30 or 40 seasons, he may even bean the damn umpire on rare occasion!  But he’s still … a great pitcher.

With the possible exception of overnight work from dusk till dawn, morning drive is the toughest shift in Radio.  And when Imus plops those well traveled bones into a chair, straps on his earphones and throws his voice out into another dawn armed only with his humor, wit and irreverence, he is not, I think, unlike a Franciscan priest dragging himself up into a pulpit after 30 or 40 years to pronounce the Good News or at least make a passing attempt at Pure Truth before a sparse, sleepy congregation at an early Mass.  

Imus’ mission is not quite as noble or majestic.  He has only to make us laugh and make us think.  I think that’s a pretty good way to make a living.  And he should thus be protected from those unforgiving critics abroad in the land who heaped scorn and derision on the I-Man as a result of this controversy.

However it plays out, it is very much to be hoped that the contretemps will not impede or diminish this particular performer’s brilliant – if occasionally irreverent and provocative – mind and tongue.

The guy misfired.  But he should not have been … fired. 

I’ve spent an entire lifetime defending the raucous vulgarity of Howard Stern … and even Bob Grant (after he called Mario Cuomo – the man I most admire in public life – a disgusting name).  One should remember Imus is essentially only a performer, an entertainer  … nothing more … or any less.

As this thing has evolved … many are growing more and more concerned about coercion via economic sanction or boycott which was orchestrated against a performer and his corporate masters.

Censorship which results from corporate timidity in the face of intimidation or coercion is just as dangerous as the stifling of creative and artistic expression by government fiat, decree, sanction or regulation.

That’s just as treacherous as any racism, sexism or bigotry –  real or imagined.

 

###

 

The Undoing of Don Imus

 

The following is by Jonathan Bush, brother of “41,” uncle of “43,” and father of television and radio star William “Billy” Bush.

Much has been written and much said about the firing of Don Imus.  After the recent appearance of Hillary Clinton at Rutgers, opportunistically pandering away, if a little late, about rising up against those who might disparage minorities or women.  I felt compelled to speak up.  So here goes.

About ten years ago, my company moved from New York to New Haven, and I commended the daily grind of a forty-minute morning drive to work.  In that first year I turned my radio to Don Imus and have listened to him at least two or three days a week ever since.  At times I found his show funny; at other times I would turn off the radio violently as he talked to politicians that did not exactly share my point of view.  The show offered a welcome escape to the caged listener.

From laugh-out-loud funny skits to serious political discussions to interviews with politicians to authors of books to country and western singers, no show presented an attention-getting format remotely close to Imus in the Morning.  Through it all the mercurial Imus rode with effortless charisma, guiding the program with a sure hand and a deft instinct for humor.  His long-suffering support staff stood ever at the ready to bail the chief out if he had gone too far.

Part of the shtick centered around Imus’ fecklessness, such as a recent episode which focused on an invitation to Imus from Brain Williams to join him on a trip to Iraq.  Naturally the cast of characters took up a dialogue around the idea that Imus was afraid to go.  Imus, in a sense, was playing the role of everyman but with one exception:  Imus’ equivocating was delightfully funny.

Occasionally Imus, speaking probably ten million words a year or more, would stray close to the line of decency.  But listeners didn’t particularly care.  They turned in to hear Imus’s wit, Imus’s charm, Imus’s intransigence, Imus’s melodic baritone voice – in short, Imus, warts and all.

Now on Thursday April 5th, Imus, in a brief snippet of humor, let slip a demeaning phrase.  He referred, jokingly, to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as nappy-headed hos.  Could any sensible person think he meant this disparagingly?  Of course not.  However, he immediately apologized, subsequently almost falling over backward apologizing, even going on the radio show of one of the nation’s leading mountebanks, the Reverend Al Sharpton.  (As an aside, has anyone yet heard Sharpton apologize for his hand in the deplorable Tawana Brawley affair?)

So what happened?  NBC turned off the cameras on MSNBC.  Then CBS suspended him for two weeks.  Then, knuckling under to pressure from a few big advertisers, themselves afraid of losing African American customers through a threatened boycott by Sharpton and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Les Moonves of CBS cancelled the entire show.  Poof!  Gone.

One thing amazes me:  that in a country which prides itself on free speech, a gifted performer who brightens the lives of millions of listeners every morning could be snuffed out in an instant.

Of course cowardice gained the victory – cowardice by Mr. Moonves for knuckling under and the cowardice of the advertisers who feared a boycott if they continued to sponsor Imus.  However, far worse seems the cowardice of all those who fed at his table only to abandon him when the tables turned against him.  Where were those men and women whose voices should have spoken out against the firing?

On his program Imus frequently used the term “weasel” to refer to those of whom, for one reason or another, he was being critical.  Little did he know that the term would apply to all those people who toadied up to him, who leapt at the opportunity of appearing on his program, only to run from him when their support was called for.

There exists one vast constituency who would gladly speak up for Imus had they but a voice so to do so, namely, the millions of listeners who have been denied the joy of hearing Imus in the Morning and are wondering what happened to the idea “Let him who is without guilt among you cast the first stone.”

 

 

 

Mayor Bramson for Mayor – 2019 Election

Mayor Bramson for Mayor
A Whitney Global Media Editorial of the Air
broadcast October 30, 2019
by William O’Shaughnessy, President

 

We said it before.

Noam Bramson is a brilliant, precocious young man and a very gifted public servant. But as we approach our senior years, we also have to tell you of our regret that we’ve never been able to establish a mutually supportive relationship between Bramson’s City Hall and our nationally-known community radio stations. 

He’s also not the kind of guy you’d want to ask a favor for your brother-in-law.

I mention this because we’re even now at work on yet another history of those marvelous, down-home “Townie” politicians of years gone by that you could petition for a “favor” to help someone.  A few leap to my mind: Hugh A. Doyle, Alvin Richard Ruskin, Tony Colavita, Valerie Moore O’Keefe, Ed Michaelian, Andy Albanese, Herman Geist, Bert Campbell, Nita Lowey, Miriam Jackson, John Fosina, Jim Maisano, Len Paduano, Ron Tocci, Steve Tenore, Tony Gioffre, Vinnie Rippa, Louis Barone, Fred Powers, Rocco Bellantoni, Mario Biaggi, Tim Idoni and Joe Vacarella. And there were more … politicians the way the men of our fathers time imagined them to be. But Noam Bramson is just not “gaited” that way.

In the last several years, Mr. Bramson has fashioned himself as “Bramson the Builder” with many huge, sprawling buildings rising up where once there was urban chaos and decay. That is to his great credit. 

We’re not crazy about some of the “developers” Mr. Bramson and his highly-regarded Commissioner of Development Luiz Aragon have charged with re-building our fading lorelei of a suburban city.  With few exceptions, like Louis Cappelli and Joe Simone, many of the speculators now operating in our city have absolutely zero interest in Mario Cuomo’s admonition to “build up a community, make it stronger and – sweeter – than it was.” 

These are hard, take-no-prisoners, no-nonsense, show-me-the-money guys we’ve fallen in with.  And what Bramson and his cadre have done is accommodate them with huge, huge tax breaks spilling over many future decades. 

The success or failure of all this will be determined well down the road. But questions have already emerged.  Where the hell are these people going to shop? And probably the most pressing consideration of all: has Mr. Bramsom’s dynamic projectory taken the heart and soul out of the city?

With all the concrete being flung around, no one, it seems, has yet figured how to get people downtown. 

Bramson’s dynamism is enhanced by the wonderful, intelligent, hands-on City Manager Charles Bowman Strome. Chuck Strome’s very existence reassures the “townies,” and those with roots in our community. He takes the edge off Mr. Bramson’s “dynamism” by providing a grounding and respect for the city’s history and lineage.  Mr. Strome understands those townies with roots in the community to whom Mr. Bramson sometimes appears tone deaf. 

These new developers have tried to dazzle the local gentry with incredible urban-speak concepts like “crowd-sourced placemaking” which made absolutely no sense to the locals. And what did it mean? Unfortunately it’s the kind of meaningless Harvard-esque phrase that Mr. Bramson is so comfortable with. 

We’ve recently had three national writers call to ask us if his abilities and talents would fit a congressional seat. Our answer:  He would make a hell of a congressman.  But I did have to add that he’s not going to do any favors for the pro-life people.

But today he’s to be judged only on his stewardship as mayor of New Rochelle.  And on that he is entitled to very high marks.

We genuinely regret that the Republican candidate Brendan Conroy is just not at all in the Democrat’s league.  Mr. Conroy carries great lineage.  We adored his grandfather of sainted memory Governor Malcolm Wilson, the greatest orator Fordham ever graduated.  Mario Cuomo used to point out that in a political debate “Malcolm would beat you up in English … and finish you off in Latin!”

And lest we forget Mr. Conroy’s formidable mother is Katherine Wilson Conroy.  So the Republican comes at us from good genes and is a very nice man.  We look forward to seeing Brendan Conroy running for a seat on our Council one day.

But now in 2019 … for Mayor of New Rochelle WVOX and WVIP endorse the Democrat incumbent Noam Bramson.

He is who he is …

He has some wonderful qualities.  But just don’t ask him for a favor for your brother-in-law … or your old maid aunt.

This is a Whitney Global Media Editorial of the Air.  This is Bill O’Shaughnessy.

Remarks of WO re: Dr. Richard Pisano 75th Birthday Celebration

May it please you Monsignor Petrillo, beloved pastor of Saints John and Paul …

Welcome to our celebration of the 75h Anniversary of Doctor Richard Rocco Pisano’s Natal Day.

First of all, thank you to his remarkable … and indispensable … … devoted and dynamic wife, Kathy Pisano, for this lovely party. She is essential to his practice, his career and his life. He knows it … and so do we all!

There are all kinds of people here tonight, other physicians and doctors – his colleagues – city officials, relatives, hospital and healthcare administrators, in-laws … and even a few outlaws.

So please humor me as I recount just a few things you may not know about Kathy’s great husband.  And our beloved friend.

He was born August 16, 1944, on the Feast of Saint Rocco.

Saint Rocco, was a Frenchman, (he can be forgiven for that!) who traveled to Italy to win eternal glory through miraculous healings of people afflicted by the Plague. Thus, the Church of Rome venerates his Birthday for protection against disease.  

So Dr. Richard Rocco Pisano is aptly named.  For a healer.  And a saint!

Some of you first encountered him as a young man at Xavier, the famous Jesuit high school in Manhattan. After graduation, he returned to the Jesuits at Fordham when it was truly a great university, before they began publishing my books!

He trained at the prestigious University of Bologna in Italy and interned at Fordham Hospital, St. Barnabas in New Jersey, and our dearly departed New Rochelle Hospital and Medical Center.

And the rest is history as he became the most respected general practitioner in Southern Westchester and rose to president of the Medical Board of Sound Shore, now known as Montefiore – where his colleagues and caregivers will confirm Dr. Pisano’s genius and dedication. But there’s more.

He’s essentially an ontologist. Now I know that’s a high-sounding word … that doesn’t quite fit in all the disciplines, specialties and categories by which practitioners of modern medicine cast themselves. But that’s what Mario Cuomo called him at one of my book parties.

He’s into Being. He’s into Life. And like his namesake from the 13th century, he has dedicated the past four decades to encouraging Life … to prolonging Life …  to enhancing Life … to protecting Life.  To fighting for it and sustaining it.

He’s also a diplomat and a role model for his profession. Sometimes, you can size up a doctor by the shingle outside his office. If there’s a P.C. after the name, it stands for “Professional Corporation.” If there’s an “LLC” after the moniker, it means “Limited Liability Corporation.” And if you see either abbreviation, you know you’re in trouble!

Some of those physicians practice Business instead of Medicine. But not Rich Pisano. He examines, diagnoses, recommends, prescribes, lectures, treats, heals, ministers, counsels … and … loves. 

He’s at his office day after day or at Montefiore New Rochelle, making rounds, visiting, evaluating, inspiring and teaching. 

His patients include the young, the old and infirm, our families, our parents and those we love.  And, Kathy tells me we are joined and honored by the presence tonight of many of Dr. Pisano’s patients!

Finally, we think back to the 1970’s in our city. There were only really three top doctors in the region in those days, Ira Gelb, a great man … and a kindly white-haired doctor named Dan Sherber … and a beloved pediatrician, Irv Samuels. And all retired the very same year … in the early 70’s!

So we looked for a suitable replacement. And all the recommendations said the same thing.  There’s a wonderful, bright, dedicated and hard-working young man … a general practitioner we recommend very highly.

His name is Pisano.  Dr. Richard Pisano.

And so, he’s healed and comforted us for the last 46 years. As we came to love and trust him … with our very lives.

Before we hear from our great friend, counselor, and physician, who was so aptly named 75 years ago on that August day, the Feast … of Saint Rocco … I’d like to bring up four very special individuals who know intimately of Dr. Pisano’s unique goodness and his sweet attributes far better than I.

Jennifer Pisano … Captain Nicholas Pisano … Elizabeth Pisano and Sergeant First Class Richard Pisano.

 

September 6, 2019
VIP Country Club
New Rochelle, NY

 

Contact:

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

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

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.