Sirio, the Brightest Star

Sirio, the Brightest Star
(Waiting for Frank Bruni)
A Whitney Global Media Commentary
WVOX and WVIP
February 7, 2008
By William O’Shaughnessy

 

New York is loaded with eateries where you are greeted when calling for a reservation by a Debbie, a Jennifer or a Tiffany.  And when you arrive one is immediately confronted with a bevy of bimbos flanking a dour, sour, self-important “maitre’d” standing imperiously behind a podium punching numbers into a computer.  Think BLT Steak on 57th owned by money man Jimmy Haber or Quality Meats on 58th Street and its cousin the Post House where once stood the venerable Quo Vadis.

 

Now the Good News: there still remain in this town real, authentic restaurants with warm, friendly, beckoning proprietors untouched by speculators, “investors” or the fast money guys.  The permittees of these most agreeable places have names such as Arpaia, Burke, Niccolini, Carravagi, Von Bidder, Zuliani, Selimaj, Cipriani, Lomonaco, Masson, Tong, Neary, Dussin, McGuire, Viterale, Suric, Bruno and, up in the Bronx, Migliucci.  Among these old school purveyors of food and hospitality, there is also one named Sirio Maccioni who is the best of what they are. 

 

The great Sirio sat on this recent winter night at a small round table near the coat room of his dazzling Le Cirque restaurant off 58th Street on the eastside of Manhattan.  The table has no number and it is far from the best in the house.  But it is known to every busboy, waiter, captain, bartender and sommelier as “Maestro Sirio’s table.”

 

The location of which does have its strategic charm for it affords the world’s greatest restaurateur an unobstructed view of any shapely legs coming right through the revolving front

door or enticingly entering the dining room in a dress cut low.  The Ringmaster of Le Cirque is 75, but misses nothing well put together.

 

For most of this February day, the handsome Tuscan has resembled an angry lion in the middle of winter as he awaits the latest review by the Times’ gifted food critic Frank Bruni who, two years ago, denied Maccioni three stars.

 

The brilliant Bruni’s previous postings for the Times included a stint as Houston Bureau Chief when George W. Bush was governor of Texas.  He was also Rome Bureau Chief in the Eternal City.  And now he is the most powerful food critic in America.

 

No one approached the man in the elegant velvet dinner jacket at the round table near the coat room.  Even his comely wife Egidiana and his attractive sons Marco and Mauro gave Sirio a wide berth on this tense night in New York City while they sweated out the wait for Frank Bruni’s findings on the latest incarnation of the famous Le Cirque.  They are the royalty of the restaurant and hospitality profession.  But even the Maccionis must submit to Mr. Bruni’s scrutiny and pronouncements as to the worth and merit of their genius and enterprise.  The only member of the Maccioni family oblivious to this tension in the air this night was 2 ½ year old Stella Sofia Maccioni, who was using all her wiles to distract “Nonno Sirio.”

 

Wednesday’s New York Times daily newspaper would not slap sidewalks all over the world until dawn the next day.  But at precisely 8:45 on this Tuesday night in New York City, as Sirio Maccioni waited for Bruni’s verdict, Christophe Bellanca, the new head chef in whom the Maccionis are so well pleased, burst from the kitchen, rushed through the dining room and moved toward his patron at the round table with an Internet posting: “Maestro … three stars!” Which means “Excellent.”

 

And then all over this fancy place imagined in the mind of Adam Tihany to look like a circus, the corks started popping and the champagne flowed.  As the excitement built around the man in the velvet jacket … the 2 ½ year old little girl with the bright Italian eyes pushed her way through the crowd now assembling near the round table.  She held aloft a single red rose retrieved from one of the tables in the packed dining room.  Stella Maccioni held it high and proffered it directly to her grandfather:  “Bravo, Nonno!”  And then she kissed the world’s greatest restaurateur whose own tanned face was wet with silent tears of gratitude.

 

The 75-year-old man gave his granddaughter a hug and shook hands with Marta, the coat check girl, and Mario Wainer, the cordial and very correct maitre’d.  Both were smiling for the first time all day.  Sirio gathered himself and moved toward the dining room to once more perform his courtly magic.

 

He once fed Sinatra, DiMaggio and a pope and most of the ladies who lunch in every season.  Some of the old dazzlers like Marietta Tree, Brooke Astor and Kitty Hart are gone.  And Gianni Agnelli, Bill Paley and Nelson (you have to ask?) are only memories of what this town once was.  But the great Maccioni is still in the game.

 

Tomorrow Mr. Maccioni will receive congratulatory messages from Silvio Berlusconi, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Rudy Giuliani, Edward Cardinal Egan, Liz Smith, Tony Bennett, Cindy Adams, John Fairchild, Barbara Walters, Mario Cuomo, Donald Trump, Ron Perelman, Barbara Taylor Bradford, David Patrick Columbia, Carl Icahn, Woody Allen and Robert DeNiro.

 

He will even receive calls from some of his restaurant colleagues who idolize him.  Julian Niccolini of the Four Seasons and Gerardo Bruno of San Pietro are among those competitors who consider him an icon of their tribe and will be pleased.  And Bruce Snyder and Bryan McGuire, the “21” legends, and Michael Lomonaco of Porter House will send congrats to the Italian who elevated their calling with a restaurant with a French name.

But, for tonight, fortified and validated by that third star from Bruni and the kiss from Stella, Sirio Maccioni straightened his jacket and was once more up and moving through his high class saloon and flirting with beautiful women.

 

In a rather glib headline for the glowing review, the Times called what Sirio dispenses so effortlessly as “decadence.”  Others who have known the fun and haze of an evening in his care and keeping, however, find him possessed only of considerable grace … style … glamour … class … and a relentless generosity of spirit.  All of which are in short supply in this town.

 

As the man Sirio moved from table to table this night, Egidiana Palmieri, who came out of Montecatini so long ago and gave up a singing career to be his wife during all those early years in New York at the Colony, La Foret and Delmonicos, was telling someone, “Sirio means ‘star’ in Italianhe was named after the brightest star … the north star.”

 

William O’Shaughnessy

 

is president of Whitney Radio and editorial director of stations WVOX and WVIP, Westchester, N.Y.    He is a former chairman of Public Affairs for the National Association of Broadcasters and served as president of the New York State Broadcasters Association.  During his 18-year service at NAB, he specialized in free speech and First Amendment issues. 

 

He is a director and chairman of the Endowment Committee of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, based in Greenwich, Connecticut.

 

A self-styled “Rockefeller Republican,” he was active in the presidential campaign of President George H.W. Bush and served as chairman of Republicans for Mario Cuomo during each of the Governor’s three successful campaigns for governor of New York.

 

He is the author of “AirWAVES” (1999) and “It All Comes Back to Me Now” (2001), collections of his radio commentaries, essays and interviews, published by Fordham University Press.  “More Riffs, Rants and Raves” was released in April, 2004.  He has just started his Fourth volume “AGAIN!  Run That By Me One More Time.”

 

Contact:

Cindy Gallagher

Whitney Media

WVOX and WVIP

914-235-3279

cindy@wvox.com

Maestro Sirio

Maestro Sirio

 

Sirio Maccioni is America’s greatest restaurateur.  This piece was done on the 25th Anniversary of LeCirque 2000…

 

He came with his slim hips and impeccable manners from Montecatini, the spa town in the hills of Tuscany.  His name was Sirio and above the village where he grew up was the most splendid of all the spas, famed throughout Europe along with Marienbad and Baden-Baden, and frequented since the 18th century by the grand and leisured.

His father was a farmer.  And, many years later, moving through the brocaded dining rooms of America’s greatest restaurants, they would say Sirio Maccioni looks like a courtly Italian version of John Wayne.  But in those days, some 50 years ago, the young man on the fast Vespa resembled an Etruscan noble as played by Tyrone Power.  He observed the rich and titled as they came to take the baths and taste the waters in his hill town and his first job was running the lift in the Hotel Grand La Pace.

The graceful, young Italian with the fierce eyes and restless spirit also charmed a beautiful neighbor girl – Egidiana Palmieri – of somewhat more substantial means and considerable talent in her own right.  Miss Palmieri, already known as far away as Florence and Roma for her winsome looks and spectacular voice, was promptly advised by her well-founded family to pursue a promising singing career and forget the dashing Maccioni fellow…despite his cordial manners and “correct” bearing.

But strong-willed, patient Egidiana had other ideas.  And so did Sirio who proceeded to work his way to America as a dancer on cruise ships with stopovers in Germany and France.  He also assisted in the dining salon and in the ships’ galley.  After the shortest apprenticeship on record, the gifted Tuscan became a captain and, just as quickly, a maitre’d in some of New York’s greatest restaurants: Delmonico, The Colony and The Café Pierre.

Egi Palmieri soon joined the rising young star of the restaurant world, rejecting an incredible $25 thousand dollar signing bonus to tour Italy singing operatic favorites, love songs and ballads.  Her songs would now be sung only for Sirio.  They married and soon followed a Mario, a Marco and a Mauro, who would all follow their father into the restaurant and hospitality business.  To support his growing family Sirio struggled and sacrificed to open his own restaurant on the corner of 65th Street and Park Avenue.  The sign on the door said: Le Cirque.

That was 25 years ago in New York City, one tough, unforgiving town (“If you can make it there…”). Since then many fabled eating and drinking establishments have up and disappeared: The Stork Club, The Colony, The Copa, The Latin Quarter, Delmonico, Romeo Salta, Mike Manuche, Jimmy Weston’s and the incomparable Toots Shor, a most glorious place.  Le Cirque not only survived, it prospered…becoming the most celebrated dining venue in America.  The restaurant with the French name was a perfect stage for its dazzling Italian proprietor from the hill town in Tuscany.

The French restaurateurs never did learn his magic and to this day they think it is about food.  But Sirio, the beguiling showman who moved like a dancer, gave his patrons other enticements: glamour, style, romance and, always…fun.  There are thousands of restaurants abroad in the land, most of them French (and even some pretentious ones with Italian names).  But…nobody…is having any fun…at their serious tables.  Even kings, prime ministers, dictators, presidents and popes like to have fun on occasion.  And so they come to Le Cirque of an evening to be with Sirio, to be fed by him and waited on and cared for by Le Cirque’s host and ringmaster.  He is now the quintessential restaurateur in the American nation and, perhaps, the world.

The New York Times, Forbes and Wine Spectator each bestowed 4 stars, making Le Cirque, I suppose, a 12-star restaurant!  But it came time to move.  And so, two years ago, the Maccioni Family transported their genius 15 blocks south, right into the heart of mid-town Manhattan, to the historic Villard House, now part of the New York Palace Hotel.  Famed designer Adam Tihany, unable to violate the stately ceilings and walls, designed a “traveling circus” in the Palace Hotel…a “palace” fit for a Sirio.  The sign now said: Le Cirque 2000.

It has become the hottest ticket in the hardest town.  And so, next Monday evening in The Big Apple, Sirio Maccioni will celebrate Le Cirque’s 25 spectacular years by having a few thousand of his best, “most correct” friends for cocktails in the courtyard of the stately Villard House.

You may expect the King of Spain, the Mayor of Rome, the Cardinal Archbishop of New York (who merely has to walk out the front door of his residence and stroll across Madison Avenue), Nancy Reagan, Rudy Giuliani (another proud son of Montecatini), some people named Churchill, Uzielli, Cuomo, Trump, Ricci, Zanella, Astor, Rockefeller, Kissinger, Liz Smith, Cindy Adams, Zeckendorf, Lillian Vernon, Don Rickles, Molly O’Neil and her brother, the baseball player, Sulzberger, the publisher, Bernard Kruger, the brilliant society physician, Ruth Reichl, who now “understands” about Sirio, John Mariani, Bill Cunningham, the Times’ legendary lensman, Toni Suzette, the flower lady, Paolo Biscioni who runs the best hotel in Rome, James Brady, Frank DiGiacomo,  Ronald Perelman, Bruce Snyder of “21”, Bob Lape, Susan and Jack Rudin, the Brudners, Woody Allen, Nancy Curry, Teddy Forstmann, Lee Iacocca, Sirio’s faithful managing director Benito Sevarin and their maitre’d Mario Wainer.  Also Warren Alpert who owns a little real estate (actually, an entire block!) on Park Avenue.  As Mr. Alpert dines, usually solo, at Le Cirque every evening he might pause in the courtyard for just one cocktail on the way to supper at his regular table.  There will also be any number of archbishops, ambassadors and Patrick Walsh, a world-famous surgeon from Baltimore who will receive an especially warm greeting from Sirio.  They will come – all of them – to celebrate an endearing and enduring American institution with a French name, run by an Italian.  Their presence will also reflect their affection for the child of Montecatini who became the most famous and respected restaurateur in the world. 

You don’t have to take my word for all this.  Or even the encomiums heaped on Mr. Maccioni by the public press.   Rather you might want to consult those who presume to compete against the Italian.  Greatness in any form almost always arouses envy.  But even Sirio’s competitors will affirm his genius and confirm his standing and reputation.  Bryan McGuire, who heads the invincible “21”, says, simply, “Sirio is the best there is.  He deserves his success.  He is the most generous man in the business.”  And Julian Niccolini of The Four Seasons (himself a charismatic dining room dazzler) will swear, “There’s never been anyone quite like Sirio move through a room!” Lello Arpaia of Bellini will tell any and all who will listen, “in all my years in New York…there’s only one Sirio.”

Listeners to these radio stations are advised that Maestro Maccioni will soon be moving through a few more dining rooms with his slim hips and easy style.  He opens in Las Vegas at The Bellagio on October 15th and the restaurant world is abuzz that London and Paris are next.  And maybe even Japan.  So you can now just go and read all about the 25th Anniversary Cocktail Party in Neal Travis’ New York Post column on Tuesday next.

Of only this I’m sure:  Sirio’s sons will be there with their father for the celebration.  Egidiana Palmieri will be home babysitting for the grandchildren. After which she’ll probably sing again…just…for…Sirio.

Happy Anniversary, Maestro!  Per cento anni!

                                                                                                                                                September 10, 1998

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.

WO Remarks at the Book Party for RADIO ACTIVE

Remarks

of

William O’Shaughnessy

at the

Book Party

for

RADIO ACTIVE 

by

William O’Shaughnessy

New York Yacht Club
New York City
October 7, 2019

 

Thank you Mark Simone … Donald Trump’s favorite broadcaster!  And mine.  Did you have a falling out with Catsimatidis!  I rarely see you without him … or about 100 high-ranking cops!

At a lot of book parties, the authors get up and read passages from the product of their genius.  I’m not going to do that.  But I do hope you’ll read the damn thing.

I’d like to thank all those who’ve left their hearth and home to join us tonight … and I’ll try to do this very quickly. Thank you for coming out on this rainy, drodsome night as we launch our seventh book.

For my previous books … it was pretty easy.  Those  who indulged us on those nights will recall that it was my custom to almost immediately turn the microphone and podium over to a magnificent friend  of sainted memory … a failed baseball player with “too many vowels in his name”  … GOVERNOR MARIO CUOMO. 

In years gone by … at these book parties we’ve had some exciting moments as when Mario Cuomo was at the podium … and he looked toward the back of the room and shouted “OUT!  Don’t let them in!  No real writers allowed!  (They were, as I remember … the late Peter Maas, Jimmy Breslin, Ken Auletta and Gay Talese!)  Don’t let them in?  No real writers?  They’ll expose O’Shaughnessy for the fraud he is!” (laughter).

# # #

And at another book party … there was a commotion at the door and a young woman tugged at my sleeve! “There’s a LIZ SMITH and a man named WALTER, uh, CRONKITE wanting to know if they could join you!”

“Yeh, you can let them …!” (laughter).

And ladies and gentlemen … an authentic angel just walked in – right on time … Mario Cuomo’s favorite daughter.  I know this because Andrew told me it was so … as indeed did Mario himself … on many occasions. She’s a filmmaker, philanthropist … and my favorite Cuomo (but for one:  her spectacular mother Matilda!) 

Maria we received a lovely note just this afternoon from the Executive Chamber.  Would you read it:

Dear Friends Here Assembled:

I’m proud to join in sending warm congratulations to my dear friend Bill O’Shaughnessy on celebrating the publication of his new book, RADIO ACTIVE.

My family and I have been proud to call Bill a cherished friend for many, many years, and we’re happy to see him continuing his legacy as a true New York institution and an invaluable inspiration to us all with this new book. My father and Bill shared a very beautiful friendship, and I’m honored to see it reflected in RADIO ACTIVE alongside Bill’s inimitable insights and wit.

On behalf of my family and all New Yorkers, our warmest congratulations again to Brother Bill on this latest achievement and many thanks for his ongoing contributions to New York and all our lives.

 

                                                Sincerely,

                                                Andrew M. Cuomo                                    

 

With Maria is the great international designer and philanthropist … my friend Kenneth Cole.  As you know, he’s raised many millions for AIDS campaigns. A lot of designers – worldwide – are taking up causes.  But Kenneth was the first.  He’s a wonderful young man.  Mario adored him.  As I do.

# # #

In this new book, I’ve written of many folks you know, people we’ve had before our microphones … and those I’ve encountered at table during my 81 years. 

Many are here in this room tonight.  And in the books 600 pages, I’ve also written of Jack Kennedy … The Bush Family … Rush Limbaugh and a story of his incredible and stunning generosity … also, reluctantly, I’ve written of the horrors known as Abortion and Capital Punishment.

I’ve even included a list of romantic songs … and a list of the best interpreters thereof. And I could not resist a brief compilation of those singers I’m not really crazy about: Streisand … Harry Connick, Jr. … and that gravelly-voiced guy who dares to sit at the piano where once Bobby Short wove his magic at the Carlyle.  I think the guys name is Steve Tyrell.

We also included a list of great saloonkeepers and restaurateurs … from Toots Shor to the folks at “21.”  And also my delightful friend Julian of the Four Seasons … and Joseph and Barbara from my beloved Mario’s.  The Migliucci Family is celebrating their 100th year on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. There are notes I made late at night with marvelous and candid observations from the great Sirio Maccioni, ringmaster of Le Cirque. 

And, as in all my books … I’ve included “The Obligatory Mario Cuomo Section in Every Bill O’Shaughnessy Book.”

# # #

You’ll also find too many eulogies, I’m afraid. I’ve included Andrew’s for his Dad … George W. to his Dad … and some farewells to the great Jimmy Breslin … and Philip Roth, who I met late in life. I collected his novels. But I never read one of them. He said he didn’t particularly like novels either.  But he was a delightful guy of an evening.

And Don Rickles. (How the hell did he get in there!)  (laughter). I think you’ll enjoy the conversation between Rickles and “The Focaccia Kid” at Le Cirque of an evening.)

I just want to mention that the Foreword is very meaningful and dear to me.  It was written “for my next book” by Mario Cuomo himself. After being treated for 38 years to his inspiration and friendship … these few, lovely pages of which I’m not at all worthy, were his Last Great Gift to me … and I treasure it. (applause).

# # #

That’s at the beginning – the Foreword.  At the end … you’ll find a very extensive and comprehensive Index. In insisting on an Index … I was again yielding to the advice and wisdom of the great bar room philosopher and man of letters Mr. Bernard “Toots” Shor who told me, one day at the bar years ago: “If you ever write a book. … with our kinda friends … you gotta have an Index so they can look up their own names and then they don’t have to read the whole damn book!” (applause).

# # #

And I begin with a chapter, a whole section really, on our precious and aptly named First Amendment.

I should also admit that the Cuomo memoir sold better than any previous book.  The great Leonard Riggio, a dear man, and chairman of Barnes & Noble (don’t worry: he still runs the place!) said the reason our Cuomo book is doing so well (they just ordered another thousand copies) is because it’s the first book without my picture on the cover!!!) (laughter).

And so tonight, I stand here alone … without the late, great Mr.  Cuomo to thank all of you for coming.  But first let me tell you that these proceedings are greatly enhanced by the presence of the First Lady of New York … times two!  She’s still our First Lady. Please welcome my beloved friend … the Chairman of Mentoring USA … MATILDA RAFFA CUOMO.

I know I’m supposed to talk about the book … and I’ll get there soon, I promise you.  I should probably start with the Cover which has received almost universal acclaim because it was instantly recognized as the genius of the great ROBERT RISKO, the world-famous caricaturist of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker whose iconic drawings are known all over the world:  ROBERT RISKO. He’s immortalized every public person and celebrity we’ve ever heard of.  I hope you will find the book worthy of his brilliant cover … as I also hope it is worthy of your presence tonight.

And I should also thank PROFESSOR RICH HENDEL who actually wrote the Bible on book design … taught in every college.

FORDHAM UNIVERSITY PRESS

I owe a great deal to the elders and scholars at Fordham Press, the great Jesuit University Press in the City of New York.  And, once again, I have to tell them of my great hope that my poor efforts will again not do too much damage to their national reputation for scholarship.

FRED NACHBAUR, is here tonight … the brilliant, young director of Fordham Press, a rising star in the publishing world.  I now want to thank you publicly, Fred, as I have so many times on the phone and in my prayers.

ERIC NEWMAN is here.  He’s the patient and forgiving – and stunningly brilliant – managing editor of Fordham.  And MARK LERNER who got it to press and produced a handsome book, if I do say so.

Also please welcome my friend MARGARET NOONAN, manager of business affairs (who is the only woman who can shut down the entire campus of this great Jesuit University, the entire college, law school included … she can do it just with the nod of her head or a mere wink because she is the head of the labor union on campus which means her colleagues love her … as I do.)

And one more from Fordham – KATE O’BRIEN who finds shelf space for our erratic, struggling efforts.

# # #

This book would not have seen the light of day without my Litchfield neighbor DOUGLAS CLEMENT who for many years was editor of the Litchfield County Times which in its day was second in the nation only to the iconic Vineyard Gazette in reputation and scholarship.

THE REAL WRITERS … Some Giants in the Literary Life of New York

First of all we also welcome some real writers:  As you hear these names, you will instantly know I’m not worthy to loose the strap of their sandals: KEN AULETTA, the author of many, many best-selling books and long-time feature writer for The New Yorker. He’s also a great friend … and we go back to trying to run Howard Samuels for governor.

Also a great man of letters who was one of the first to encourage my clumsy, struggling efforts and difficulty with the mother tongue (the English language) Professor SIDNEY OFFIT, president of the Authors Guild Foundation.  He’s worked with and encouraged Caro, Ellison Heller and Vonnegut.  Why the hell he’s hanging around with me! 

And we’re so honored by the presence of a great journalist, editor and reporter (he’s also a television star in New York!) the great, respected MR. SAM ROBERTS of our beloved New York Times!

And my attractive pal from “Down Under” … LACHLAN CARTWRIGHT – feature columnist with The Daily Beast!

I’d also like you to meet perhaps the greatest essayist in the nation: The incomparable LANCE MORROW, a Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and columnist for the WALL STREET JOURNAL and CITY JOURNAL.  And for many, many years, he also wrote those legendary and beautiful essays for TIME Magazine. (I knew his father HUGH MORROW, of sainted memory, who was a close, personal advisor to Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller!)  His son and heir Lance writes like an angel.  And we are all his students.

And I’m sure you spotted her: My friend of many years: shy, modest, retiring and never dull JOAN JEDELL, publisher of The Hampton Society Sheet!

And I see in the room a very bright guy from our home heath who writes and sustains the COUNTY PRESS, Westchester’s black-owned newspaper. They’re approaching and going for a hundred years. I won’t be around, but MICHAEL DANDRY will be!

There are a lot of famous names in the place … including the author, historian and international affairs specialist who is a famous son of a famous father: STEPHEN SCHLESINGER, son and heir of the great historian ARTHUR SCHLESINGER. When he is not lecturing at the UN, he writes great books. He also banged around words for a time with Mario Cuomo himself.

And I’m so glad to have someone who is the entire New York Post, their longtime editor, feature writer, restaurant critic, real estate columnist.  And no one is supposed to know this:  but he edits Cindy Adams and Emily Smith. STEVE CUOZZO.  (Cue-zzo) And his wife, the former editor of Women’s Home Journal JANE HERSHEY CUOZZO, the famous writer of a famous mother.

THE ELDERS OF MY BROADCASTING TRIBE ARE HERE.

Welcome some of my colleagues:  The great MARK SIMONE, Donald Trump’s favorite broadcaster, from WOR Radio!  I listen to him every day from ten to noon on my way to Litchfield.  (applause).

Also one of the great leaders and philanthropists of our profession, the Chairman Emeritus of the Broadcasters Foundation of America and Chairman of Citadel Television – our friend and Leader and inspiration: PHIL LOMBARDO! (applause).

From Albany, the capitol, we’re very glad to see perhaps my oldest friend in our tribe, JOE REILLY and his LYDIA. Reilly is not quite into the 80’s as I am, but I’ll be damned, he’s still doing a music show called “Reilly on the Radio” in the Capitol District, even today! Joe ran the New York State Broadcasters for three decades and is a beloved figure in our profession. 

Also … the distinguished president of our Broadcasters Foundation of America, a nationally known statesman, JIM THOMPSON.

THE LEGAL EAGLES …

I’ll now introduce some very smart guys from the Judiciary and some legal eagles:  First my friend and his spectacular wife KAREN, who have both been watching over our radio stations and yours truly for many years: JUDGE JEFFREY BERNBACH!

Another brilliant man of the Law (we don’t agree politically (these days I hardly agree politically with anybody!) I discovered him late in life.  He’s not only stunningly brilliant, he’s possessed of a magnificent soul: MICHAEL ASSAF. (applause).

Also KEVIN BARRY McGRATH of Louis Nizer’s firm who is a legend in New York judicial circles!

And I’d also like you to meet one of our talk show hosts, speaking of legends:  Perhaps the greatest criminal lawyer in America: MURRAY “Don’t Worry Murray” RICHMAN (who specializes in murder trials. He likes them … because “There’s one less witness!”)  (laughter).

And with Murray is a young woman who has been in the DAILY NEWS only five times this month STACEY RICHMANIt’s funny how Murray represents the very “interesting” types and his daughter Stacey represents all the music rappers.  (Many of them also pretty “interesting!) (laughter).

I’ve used the word legend about five times now, but there’s a woman from Connecticut, the former presiding justice of the Superior Courts in that state, JUDGE ANNE DRANGINIS. (She’s now the preeminent matrimonial lawyer in New England.  Judge Annie, where the hell were you when I really needed you?)  And she’s a Selectwoman of our historic town.

With the judge is a woman I just met recently: JOYCE SHARKEY.  She is now one of the most powerful women at NBC and MSNBC. When I asked Judge Annie what the hell that means, she said “Let me put it this way: She’s Willie Geist’s motherinlaw.” I got it … right away!) (laughter).

RESTAURATEURS …

I know you’re getting hungry and I think it’s time I introduced some legendary restaurateurs:  First of all, the great JULIAN NICCOLINI.  You know him from the various iterations of the iconic FOUR SEASONS restaurant.  (He’s on his best behavior tonight!)  But the night is young … (laughter).

And also, my dear friends of so many years, celebrating their 100th Anniversary, JOSEPH and BARBARA MIGLIUCCI of MARIO’s iconic restaurant on Arthur Avenue in the Little Italy section of The Bronx!  (Joseph, you haven’t been around for all those 100 years?)

And the greatest maitre’d in this town from HARRY’s BAR in Venice, LE CIRQUE and CIRCO and now MILOS, my friend Maestro BRUNO DUSIN! (applause).

Also speaking of Food, the good-looking blonde is MARIA VON NICOLAI who was the longtime amanuensis to SIRIO MACCIONI.  She now runs the ILLY Coffee Company.

MY FAMILY …

(Not your kind of “Family,” Gianni Russo!)

Allow me to be a little personal and introduce some “family.” From Pennsylvania JULIE O’SHAUGHNESSY who is devoted to the memory of my late brother JACK … My only nephew JOHN and his KELLY.  My son DAVID who is President of Whitney Global Media and runs our radio stations so well: DAVID TUCKER O’SHAUGHNESSY … And his attractive brother MATTHEW O’SHAUGHNESSY with his friend CLARE LAWRENCE.  (In the family, we call her Saint Clare)!

Also my dear and beloved and devoted compadre of over a decade GREGORIO ALVAREZ (applause) … and his wonderful sister MIO ALVAREZ. 

# # #

I’d also like you to meet some extraordinary people also dear to me:  CINDY HALL GALLAGHER, my amanuensis of some 42 years.  You can see what I really think about this wonderful woman without whom my life would resemble a seven-car pileup in the Acknowledgements section.  (She’s right there ….) 

And my young, brilliant and talented associate KEVIN SCOTT ELLIOTT who I think would take a bullet for me.  And I for him.

Our Chief-of-Staff at the radio station: DON STEVENS … who runs WVOX and WVIP and MAGGIE CERVANTES who runs our office (and she’s pretty good behind the microphone as co-host with my beloved compadre GREGORIO ALVAREZ)!

JUDY FREMONT … she’s a woman of great culture and substance and why she hangs around with me I’ll never know.  She’s also a killer on the golf course!

# # #

I also want you to meet a man has kept me going in all the seasons of my life.  I recently spoke just a few weeks ago at the 75th Anniversary of his Natal Day!  DR. RICHARD ROCCO PISANO, the smartest damn physician in Westchester and his beloved wife KATHY PISANO who runs his practice and life!  (applause).

# # #

I was introducing broadcasters earlier, I should have introduced FATHER CHRIS MONTURO who is not only a beloved priest and pastor in our home heath, he’s also a radio star … and for his first show he wouldn’t tell me who his guest was … when in walked the Archbishop of New York TIMOTHY CARDINAL DOLAN. (Father Chris is another one of those “three Hail Mary’s for a homicide priests” (in case there’s anything you want to, uh, talk to him about!)  He’s here tonight with this handsome brother Mark, a Jet Blue captain.

# # #

I see another of my Connecticut neighbors who also lives in the nicest apartment building in this town:  One Beekman, a very generous guy PAOLO MARTINO …

And finally one of the ranking experts on Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Power in America, my great friend JIM CUNNINGHAM who in an earlier life ran the State of New York as chief of staff to Governor Hugh Carey. (applause).

THE ENTERTAINERS …

We should have had some music tonight, because some great artists have joined us:  GIANNI RUSSO, the actor and crooner, star of the Godfather (he played CARLO RIZZI, Michael’s brother-in-law). And author of the bestseller “Hollywood Godfather!”

And a guy who made a ton of money and late in life decided he could sing like Chet Baker – my friend NORMAN DRUBNER and his Nancy.  (He’s done seven albums.)

The great impresario LEE ELMAN who has maintained his sprawling castle in the Berkshires in Great Barrington as a lovely forum for classical musical performers.  And I see with him an old friend on whom I’ve had a crush for many years: Mrs. EDWARD NOONAN “JUDY” NEY!  Her husband was the Ambassador to Canada and chairman of Young & Rubicam.  I called Ed Ney the “Fred Astaire of Madison Avenue” and Judy is a dazzler in every season! (applause).

Also my dear and beloved neighbors THOMAS McKNIGHT, the internationally known artist and his spectacular wife, RENATE McKNIGHT, the most vivid woman in Litchfield (who presides over Tom and the nicest historic house in Litchfield.) She’s also a pilot of her own plane!

###

And just back from Paris (he’s always just back from Paris … or Palm Beach,) ZAHIR ZIANI, the great designer and stylist from The Salon at Bergdorf. (I’ve been telling him he should write a book about all his “swans.” They’re all rich … and crazy about him!)  Speaking of which:  please welcome a philanthropist and wonderful woman: Mrs. Joanne Payson of Maine, New York and Hobe Sound!

# # #

This book has so far had four – actually six – very favorable reviews from reviewers who have clearly weighed my book’s many inadequacies less diligently than they assessed what they might find commendable in its pages. 

As I approach Senility … I keep thinking about Phillip Roth when late in life he closed down his desk and computer.  Put a post-it note on his computer: “The struggle with writing is done.”

“Old age isn’t a battle.  It’s a massacre” said Roth.

He inveighed against the “diminishments” which assault us as we confront old age.  It’s a great word: diminishments.  I first heard it from my beloved friend Mr. Cuomo (who stole it from the Jesuit philosopher and paleontologist Father Teilhard de Chardin.

My Jesuit friends don’t know this … and Fred Nachbaur hasn’t given his blessing or bestowed his imprimatur … but I’d like to do one more … before I hang up my spikes. 

It’s to be called: “Townies” … those neighborhood characters who were sidemen in orchestras long dispersed. I’ve written of governors, presidents and cardinals!  It’s time I think to celebrate the “Townies.”

Before I yield … Id like to thank Mr. Tim McCormick who runs this landmark club with perhaps the most beautiful room in the city. I knew Mr. McCormick when, for many years, he presided over the American Yacht Club in Rye. For my previous books we tucked into Le Cirque and the Four Seasons – both now shuttered.  Tim: thanks for taking us in … after we put those two iconic venues right Out of Business!  (laughter) (applause).

The New York Yacht Club was founded on July 30, 1844 … 175 years ago.  I hope we haven’t done too much damage to its lineage, history or its wonderful reputation … but we’re very grateful for taking us in and giving us shelter and protection in such great style.

EARLY REVIEWS

 

“It’s worth its weight in words … and if you like great thoughts expressed in good writing … RADIO ACTIVE is not only a good read, but it serves as a textbook of interviewing skills, powerful ammunition for defending the First Amendment and an object lesson in respecting, reconciling widely different points of view.”

– – – Radio Editor Jay Mitchell

 

 “O’Shaughnessy’s compassionate, evocative language gets into the heads and hearts of his subjects with his engaging radio interviews … a glorious hodgepodge of snippets from his radio files.  New Yorkers will recognize and appreciate the many local voices.  Foremost among them, the singular voice of Bill O’Shaughnessy.”

– – Foreword

 

“O’Shaughnessy has strong opinions on issues such as abortion and the death penalty (he’s against both).  His collection is full of statements that are sure to raise the hackles of some readers and warm the hearts of others.  He speaks passionately about the First Amendment, denouncing the Fairness Doctrine and corporate censorship of individual broadcasters. He’s also quick to defend controversial subjects, including the conduct of Bill O’Reilly, Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh and Billy Bush. One particular figure seems foremost on the author’s mind:  the late Mario Cuomo. Indeed, his esteem for the former New York governor pervades this book.  An anthology that, at its best, offers striking cultural, political and religious discussion.”

– – – Kirkus Reviews

 

“RADIO ACTIVE gives readers insight into one of the most revered journalists and political writers of our time … a book for anyone who enjoys good political commentary, insight on social issues and discussion on important topics of the modern era.  The author’s works are insightful and honest … a great testament to the distinguished career of a renowned writer, author and journalist … a must-read book.”

— – Pacific Book Review

 

“In an era where social media creates echo chambers of thought, O’Shaughnessy’s style is his own and he owns it; Yet it makes the reader nostalgic for an older style of political discourse that was inclusive and civil.  The private moments, personal stories and fond memories here further establish that beyond every opinion is a human being.  We ought to listen to what they have to say.”

– – US Review of Books

“I always enjoy Bill O’Shaughnessy’s writings.”

– – Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York

 

“I always look forward to reading the history of our times Bill O’Shaughnessy has captured.”

– – David McCullough
Historian and author

 

“I’m the Voice of the Yankees … but he’s clearly the Voice of New York!”

– – -John Sterling
New York Yankees

 

“I enjoy Bill O’Shaughnessy’s ‘character’ portraits.  They are like potato chips … you can’t stop with only one!”

– – – Henry Kissinger
Former Secretary of State

 

“I applaud the white-haired mogul’s editorials.  So many remain silent.  He has always been there for me.”

– – – Howard Stern
The Howard Stern Show

 

“His listeners love him – and his radio stations.  O’Shaughnessy really understands.”

– – – Rush Hudson Limbaugh, III

 

“Bill O’Shaughnessy is a commentator of insight, wit, uncompromising honesty and overwhelming persuasion.”

– – – Congresswoman Nita Lowey
Chair, House Appropriations Committee

 

“What a terrific pen Bill O’Shaughnessy has. His writings are touching and strong.”

– – – Jonathan Bush
Brother of President George H.W. Bush

“O’Shaughnessy’s commentaries are great and beautifully said.”

– – – Jack Welch
Former Chairman, General Electric

 

Contact:
Cindy Gallagher
914-235-3279
cindy@wvox.com

 

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