New York City Food Trucks Feed Sandy Victims with Mayor Bloomberg’s Blessing

New York City Food Trucks Feed Sandy Victims with Mayor Bloomberg’s Blessing

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Mobile eateries bring relief wherever they park

On Monday, Nov. 5, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced a partnership between the Mayor’s Office, the New York City Food Truck Association, and the NYC Food Film Festival to coordinate free hot food distribution at the city’s food, water, and blanket distribution centers and disaster assistance service centers, as well as locations in some of the hardest-hit areas. Since then, over 1.4 million ready-made meals have been distributed, but as temperatures drop and conditions worsen, the need for hot meals has become an even starker reality.

The fleet of trucks sponsored by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City (funded by private donations) includes mobile veterans like Schnitzel & Things, Taim Mobile, Souvlaki GR, and Eddie’s Pizza. Bloomberg spoke on the importance of feeding those in need, saying, "Working together with food trucks who can provide residents in devastated areas can be a lifeline for many and we are grateful for this partnership that can help with much-needed relief for the most affected New Yorkers."

In addition to the ready-made meals, 900,000 bottles of water, and 55,000 blankets distributed, community residents, nonprofits, and local businesses like Rockaway Taco and chefs such as Johnny Iuzzini and Amanda Freitag have provided support to their displaced and distraught neighbors.

Hurricane Sandy Megastorm: How To Help

The full impact of the storm is still unknown, but the mounting devastation is visible across the East Coast. A huge fire destroyed as many as 100 homes in Queens on Tuesday and New York University hospital evacuated 200 patients after a backup generator failed. First responders are working tirelessly in their search and rescue operations and aid organizations are helping those in need of food, shelter and security.

“I just tell them that we’re all in this together and we’re going to get through it,” said American Red Cross volunteer Sue Marticek who is managing a shelter with more than 340 residents in New Jersey. “The Red Cross name and presence goes far.”

See how aid organizations are stepping in, and what you can do to help. This is a developing list.


Red Cross
The Red Cross has started a preventative campaign in Haiti, using SMS and sound trucks to provide early warning messages. Emergency response teams are also in place, ready to hand out relief supplies for up to 11,000 families. In the United States, the Red Cross has released an app that allows users to track the impending storm, receive weather alerts, directions to the nearest shelter, tools like a flashlight, strobe light, alarm, and even a one-touch “I’m Safe” button that uses social media to let family and friends know you’re safe. Learn more here.

The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army has set up feeding operations in shelters along the East Coast and has stocked dozens of mobile feeding units, which the organization will deploy to heavily impacted areas once it is safe to do. In addition to providing thousands of meals, the nonprofit is also prepared to provide clean-up kits, hygiene kits, shower units, first-aid supplies and communications support. Donors may contribute $10 by text messaging the word STORM to 80888, and confirming the donation with the word, “Yes.” Learn more here.

NYC Service
Mayor Bloomberg has activated the hurricane shelter system in New York and will be in need of trained volunteers. Help volunteers at evacuation shelters and after the storm. To learn more, email [email protected]

World Vision
World Vision, a Christian humanitarian relief organization, is bringing necessary supplies, including food kits, hygiene kits, blankets and tarps, to those in need in New York City. Learn more here.

New York Blood Center
The New York Blood Center is calling for donations to prevent any shortages after the storm hits. The organization is working with local hospitals to make sure it have adequate supply. The center needs at least 2,000 donations a day to maintain the center’s blood inventory. Learn more here.

AmeriCares is preparing to deliver relief supplies like medicine, first aid kits, cleaning products and flashlights to susceptible communities along the East Coast. It has reached out to 100 health clinics, food banks and other agencies and also have aid workers ready to help. In Haiti, the organization has already provided 300 family emergency kits and are prepared to deliver water, sanitation treatment, and medical supplies if need be. Learn more here.

Feeding America
As Hurricane Sandy hits the eastern seaboard, the Feeding America network of food banks and agencies is prepared to deliver truckloads of food, water and supplies to communities in need, through its network of more than 200 food banks and the agencies it serves. Its food banks will also set up additional emergency distribution sites as they are needed. It is anticipated that roughly 25-30 food banks will be impacted by this storm. In times of disaster, Feeding America supports immediate and long-term recovery for individuals and families in need of food assistance. Learn more here.

Operation USA
The Los Angeles-based international relief agency will provide emergency aid to Cuba and Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Operation USA will provide access to safe water and support for clinics and hospitals and assess shelter, safe water, food and other needs. Learn more here or donate by phone at 1.800.678.7255, by check made out to Operation USA, 7421 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036. Text AID to 50555 and donate $10 to Operation USA's disaster relief efforts.

Direct Relief
Direct Relief has placed seven hurricane preparedness packs in the Caribbean, each containing medicine and supplies to treat a variety of traumatic and chronic conditions that can support 5,000 people for a month. Packs have also been placed along the U.S. East Coast including 300 clinical partners along the storm's projected path. Direct Relief works with 70 countries to provide disaster relief and preparedness during the most critical hours after a natural disaster. Learn more here.

Save The Children
Save The Children provides child-friendly space kits, including diapers and hygiene items. The organization also maintains a U.S. Emergencies Fund, that allow for disaster planning, emergency preparedness, response and recovery work and psychological support. Save the Children says it's committed to the same level of support for the impending storm. Learn more here.

Team Rubicon
Team Rubicon, which utilizes the skills of military veterans to assist in responding to and recovering from natural disasters, has teams of highly skilled military veterans working with local authorities preparing to respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in communities from Washington, D.C., to Boston. In New York City, Team Rubicon veterans are assisting the city's mobile assessment teams as well as coordinating joint operations in the city's Emergency Operations Center. This not only provides a skilled and motivated work force, but provides a new mission for America's veterans, allowing them to continue to serve here at home and abroad. Learn more here.

International Medical Corps
With Haiti under a state of emergency, the International Medical Corps has teams in place with emergency kits, fuel and flashlights and mobile medical units on standby. In 2010 the International Medical Corps had teams on the ground treating within 22 hours after the earthquake. Since then it has established cholera treatment, primary health care, water and sanitation, and disaster preparedness programs. Learn more here.

Relief Organizations From HuffPost Impact's Partner Interaction:

ADRA International is helping communities in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, distributing blankets and providing food and water to affected families. In the United States, ADRA is working with local partners to assess what is needed.

Hurricane Sandy: Live Storm Reports

6:49 p.m., Nov. 5, 2012 — Like plenty of fellow Northeast business owners, Joel Berger is still dealing with a slew of Sandy-related hassles, including cleaning up one of his flooded warehouses in Long Island City, Queens, near the Midtown Tunnel. The water, which reached about two feet up the walls, ruined “tens of thousands” of dollars worth of checker sets, puzzles, and other games at his 65-year-old company, Cardinal Industries. “It’s never been impacted before, in all the years we’ve been here.”

Berger hasn’t had much time to kvetch about Cardinal’s troubles or trumpet its fortitude. He’s been driving into Long Island City from his powerless home in Westbury, Long Island, to join many of his 40 employees in a cleanup effort that involves “unloading maybe 1,000 pallets” in the 20,000-square-foot warehouse.

Still, Berger felt he had to carve out a few minutes to vent about one unexpected headache: a shipping behemoth that is tacking on fees to deliver his goods that it rerouted because of the storm.

Berger hired Maersk Lines (MAERSKB:DC) to bring about 10 containers by ship from China to New York. Last week, he received an e-mail from Maersk indicating that his containers had been discharged in Norfolk, Va., because New York area ports had closed in anticipation of Sandy. Port Elizabeth reopened on Nov. 4 Newark and Jersey City ports reopened Monday and  those in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and in Staten Island remain closed, says Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority. “The last time they were closed down for multiple days was after 9/11,” he notes.

Berger understands why Maersk, which is the world’s largest container line, didn’t want to delay its ships. 𠇋ut now to bring it where it was originally consigned to, they want $775 per container”—or “we can pick them up [for free and return them ourselves] in Norfolk.” He acknowledges that Maersk isn’t violating the terms of its contract. 𠇋uried in the boilerplate … they can do anything they want,” he explains. 𠇋ut with everything that’s going on in New York, wouldn’t you think they would just send it back in just for the heck of it?”

When I contacted Maersk, which is headquartered in Copenhagen, a spokesman indicated that a colleague in the U.S. would respond, but no one had done so as of Monday evening. Charging because of natural disasters “is not the right way to handle it,” says Charles Clowdis, managing director of transportation advisory services at researcher IHS. 𠇋ut if you’re small … you don’t have the purchasing leverage to make them do it.”

“It’s just a moral question,” says Berger. �n we afford the $775 per container? Yes, and that’s what we’re going to have to do. Do I think it’s the right thing to do? They’re loading barges from Norfolk to New York. I’ve got to believe—I’m not sure, I don’t know the costs, [but] I don’t think it costs $775 … Either way, whatever it is, it would’ve been a good little gesture to their own customers,” he says, to waive the fee.

5:19 p.m., Nov. 5, 2012�ter thrashing the East Coast last week, Hurricane Sandy left millions of households struggling without power. Lower Manhattan fell into an eerie darkness for days, sparking jokes that the district would thenceforth be known as “Little North Korea.” That kind of blackout, especially coming a mere 14 months after Irene swept through the Northeast and caused major flooding, is likely to have many people considering how to avoid the dark and chill next time.

Enter the home power generator.

Aaron Jagdfeld, chief executive officer of Generac Holdings, the leading U.S. seller of household generators, predicts that his company will enjoy a post-Sandy boost. “We believe that this event, as well as other recent outages, will have a positive impact on our results,” he said during an Oct. 31 conference call with investors. He added that net sales for 2012 are expected to rise “in the low 40 percent range” over last year. The company’s shares have jumped 37 percent since Oct. 26, including a 12 percent increase on Monday.

To an extent, the sales boost will likely be permanent. Judging by what the Waukesha, (Wis.)-based਌ompany has experienced over the past decade, Jagdfeld said, “we see a spike in sales [following big outages], and that spike in sales settles down into a baseline that was higher than the previous baseline, prior to the events.”

Generac hopes that Sandy will raise consumer awareness not only for portable generators, but also for standby generators, which are permanently installed into homes and don’t require gasoline𠅊 scarce commodity in Sandy-devastated regions these days. “What you’re seeing right now is that gas stations don’t even have power, so you can’t get the gas out of the ground to run your portable generator,” says Duane Nelson, Generac’s vice president of marketing. “Standby generators run off your home’s existing natural gas or LP supply, so you don’t have to do any refueling.”

Standby generators are, of course, more expensive than portables, costing anywhere from $1,900 to tens of thousands of dollars. They also require professional installation, which adds further expense. Portable generators retail for as little as $300.

Only about 3 percent of U.S. homes currently have standby generators while about 15 percent have portables, according to Generac, which tracks industry sales, including those from competitors such as Briggs & Stratton and Kohler.

Storms alone aren’t the only causes of power outages. “While storms like Hurricane Sandy make headlines, outages like that only account for half the power outages (or less) every year,” says Nelson. “Power outages occur for any number of reasons, including human error, equipment failure𠅊nd you wouldn’t believe the number of stories about animals getting caught up in power transformers and things like that.” He points out that about 41 million people were affected by power outages last year, while Hurricane Sandy, an impressive storm in terms of its impact, left only about 8.5 million without power.

Perhaps the greatest problem, according to Nelson, is that America’s electrical system is aging, and little is being done to modernize it. “Most of our power lines, especially on the East Coast, are above ground, and the cost to bury them is extremely expensive,” Nelson says. “The government estimates it to be a $2 trillion project.”

On top of that, demand for electricity is increasing as the population expands and people use more devices. Says Nelson: “We like to say that we live in a digital society, but we still have an analog grid.”

1:28 p.m., Nov. 5, 2012 — At this point in the endless news coverage of Hurricane Sandy, we’re all familiar with the swelling, emotional orchestral works that play over montages of the devastating destruction. So where does that music come from? TV studios, of course, don’t have orchestras in their production rooms. Instead, they download event-appropriate tracks from music libraries, such as New York’s Audio Network, which services media globally, including Bloomberg.

Bloomberg Businessweek tracked down Chris Egan, a London musician who in 2009 co-wrote Flying Fortress, one of the tracks Bloomberg Television has been using for Hurricane Sandy reports.

“When we composed the piece, we thought about the following images: military, warfare, devastation. Sadly, Sandy falls into the last part,” he writes in an e-mail. “When writing production music, we always have a very clear vision of the mood and emotion we are trying to portray with the track. … Otherwise, you just end up with generic music that doesn’t do anything.”

News producers working on hurricane stories may have found tracks by searching under such keywords as “urgent, news, tension,” Audio Network spokesperson Kristen Harold explains. For aftermath stories, they might search under “ sad, reflective, orchestral.”

At Audio Network, downloads of tracks in the news and current affairs genre during the hurricane increased 200 percent to 300 percent, to more than 10,000, says Harold. “This has certainly been the biggest news event for us this year,” she says.

According to Miami musician Tim Devine, one of Audio Network’s most-used composers, “news networks use a somber tenor, or an inspirational tenor if it’s a tale of survival,” he says. “Obviously, with something as terrible as a hurricane, you can’t be flip with the music—it has to be meaningful, but not take over the story.”

6:48 p.m., Nov. 2, 2012 — New York’s schools have been shut for a week, but Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene is bustling. The stately brick building is one of several schools that’s been converted into a shelter for Hurricane Sandy evacuees. Inside, aid workers in neon crossing-guard vests shuttle through the corridors, coordinating volunteers who’ve come to help elderly and mentally ill evacuees, some of whom need around-the-clock assistance.

Outside the school’s entrance, a small group of weathered storm survivors mills about, smoking cigarettes. David Maysonet, a 47-year-old who came to the shelter after his Coney Island home flooded and lost electricity and running water, is leaning against a wall. “It’s pretty comfortable, I guess,” he says of the high school. 𠇎xcept we’re so many people sleeping in the gymnasium and everyone is snoring�out 150 of us.”

Things may soon get more hectic. Classes will resume on Monday, Nov. 5, and shelter inhabitants will live alongside returning students.

While New York is consolidating its shelters, eight schools are expected to house evacuees on Monday𠅊nd until further arrangements can be made. Besides Brooklyn Tech High School, these include FDR High School and John Jay High School in Brooklyn, Graphic Arts High School and George Washington High School in Manhattan, Hillcrest High School in Queens, and Susan Wagner High School and Tottenville High School in Staten Island.

“We will make sure our students are protected and safe and getting an education and𠅊t the same time—we’ll make sure that the residents there are also safe and protected and having a roof over their heads,” Dennis Walcott, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, told NY1. The Department of Education confirmed the list of schools but would not comment.

Certain schools, such as Brooklyn Tech, may also be used as polling places on Nov. 6. (At least, according to information from Oct. 28). Luckily for New Yorkers, students will have that day off.

Connecticut schools will be crowded on Tuesday, as voters jostle among students at schools that have chosen to remain open during polling. “This presents certain logistical challenges for access of voters to the polling place, traffic in the building, and available parking for voters on what is expected to be a high turnout Election Day,” reads a press release put out by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. Her staff is urging school administrators, municipal officials, and state emergency management officials to ask school superintendents “to consider either not holding school on Election Day, going to a half day schedule or find accommodations to share the space.”

As for Maysonet, he’s optimistic about Brooklyn Tech’s multifunctional use in the coming days. “I think,” he says, pausing for a moment. “I think it’s gonna work. Not because things are run well, necessarily, but because it has to.”

Photographer Timothy Briner set out to document the chaos visited upon several Brooklyn neighborhoods amidst the arrival and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. By day, Briner made his way through the neighborhoods of East Flatbush, Brownsville, and Canarsie. During the evenings, he returned to document the fallout in his own Brooklyn neighborhood of Ditmas Park.

4:47 p.m., Nov. 2, 2012 — With many office buildings in Manhattan still without power, mobile workers are finding ways to coexist—peacefully, for the most part—wherever they can find a power outlet and an Internet connection. The savviest nomads, weary from the battle for space at cafes, are now making temporary homes in other offices—some of which have opened to other workers for free.

On Wednesday, Noel Hidalgo, co-founder of website development firm New Amsterdam Ideas, quickly set up this site listing locations where people can “work, recharge, and reconnect.” These include places that are open to the public for free, as well as traditional co-working spaces that charge a fee. Unable to work from his office in Chinatown, Hidalgo says he’s operating from a co-working space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As of 2:30 p.m. on Friday, the site had 36 office locations listed in Midtown.

Ellen Manuszak, senior account executive at public-relations firm TriplePoint, is working at her friend’s office at advertisers LocalResponse on 28th Street. Several desks were open, as some employees were not able to make the commute. Manuszak is not the only guest—she estimates about half the people there on Friday morning were not LocalResponse employees.

In the garment district, Christina Wallace, co-founder of women’s apparel company Quincy, opened up the company’s office to workers in need. She says on Thursday about 15 people, both friends and strangers from New York’s startup community, came to recharge devices and, in some cases, work all day. The office was designed to be flexible, so they expanded tables, brought out extra chairs, opened up the showroom, and offered seating on the floor with pillows. Her team played music and offered visitors red wine at the end of the day.

“We’re happy to keep it open next week if people are in need of space or plug-ins,” Wallace says. “I𠆝 love to keep the co-working going.”

3:28 p.m., Nov. 2, 2012 — Chris Barrow, chief executive of EagleView Technologies, was just beginning to reduce the hours for his 200 employees to account for the slow season when Hurricane Sandy hit. Now, his Seattle company is closing out the busiest week in its four-year history.

EagleView’s software uses aerial pictures to calculate the size of roofs so insurers and contractors can estimate damages. Orders from insurance companies started pouring in Tuesday morning, Barrow says, as homeowners on the East Coast began filing insurance claims. “It kind of surprised us a little bit,” he says. “The winds were still blowing.”

EagleView’s software pulls existing aerial photos of buildings and determines the size and pitch of the roof, measurements that would otherwise need to be taken by a person climbing up a ladder. Barrow says orders are up nearly tenfold from a normal week, with more than 20,000 daily requests, most of them Sandy-related.

The reports cost about $50, though EagleView negotiates bulk discounts with insurance carriers, Barrow says. After the insurance companies, he expects two more waves of business from claims adjusters and contractors. Using the reports lets claims adjusters visit double the number of damaged homes than they could if they had to measure roofs by hand, he says.

EagleView is keeping on full-time workers who were expecting to have their hours reduced for the winter, when construction slows. “We increased the Red Bull that we buy,” Barrow says.

3:01 p.m., Nov. 2, 2012 — Hurricane Sandy was among the most devastating storms recorded on the U.S. East Coast, even with the losses still being tallied. The costs in lives and dollars are tragic, but Sandy’s toll is less than those of many recent catastrophes. Cyclone Nargis killed 138,000 people when it ravaged Myanmar in May 2008. Sandy cut power for 8 million customers a grid failure in India this summer left 640 million in the dark. Here’s how Sandy compares, so far, with Hurricane Katrina and with the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011.

– John Tozzi and Evan Applegate

2:12 p.m., Nov 2, 2012 — Like the rest of Lower Manhattan, Parigot has been without power since Monday night. But the restaurant has bravely forged on, able to cook on gas stoves and serve drinks, and has kept its doors open from morning until 6 p.m. Owner Catherine Amsellem says that among the handiest ingredients to have during the blackout are French cheeses, many of which don’t need to be stored in a cold environment. Just keep them near a cool window, she advises.

For those who have no access to power or a working stove, Amsellem and chef Michel Pombet suggest a simple cheese sandwich. If you can still get fresh produce, go for root vegetables such as carrots, or hardier leaf vegetables like endives, which have a longer shelf life. No measurements are included with these recipes—just work with what’s available.

Cheese Sandwich
Any variety of French cheese, such as brie, Camembert, or goat
Bread (whatever variety you can get at the supermarket)

Root Salad
Dressing: Mix the juice from 1 lemon, 1 tbsp mayonnaise or mustard, ½ cup oil (olive oil, if available), salt, pepper

Endive Salad
Blue cheese
Apple slices

1:10 p.m., Nov. 2, 2012(Updates with the 2012 marathon’s cancellation.)

ING’s sponsorship of the New York City Marathon turned into a branding disaster this week as a divided city debated whether the city should hold the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday.

On Friday evening, city and race officials announced that the marathon was canceled, after spending much of the week vociferously defending the decision to hold it in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The effort to continue with the marathon as planned while many area residents were without electricity and struggling had been met with widespread anger—particularly on Staten Island, where the race was set to begin and where locals continue to suffer from extensive damages from the storm. On Wednesday afternoon, Staten Island Borough President Jim Molinaro joined a growing chorus of New Yorkers calling for the Bloomberg administration to cancel the race.

“My God,” said Molinaro. “What we have here is terrible, a disaster. If they want to race, let them race with themselves. This is no time for a parade. A marathon is a parade.”

On Friday morning, the backlash grew, as the New York Post reported that generators, which in theory could be used to power darkened homes on Staten Island, have been set up in Central Park to power a media tent for the marathon. “They should make all of these runners bring food and water to people’s houses who need it,” Yelena Gomelsky, a Coney Island resident, told the Post. “They should bring all of these generators to buildings where old people live and give them power.”

All of which placed ING–which has served as the title sponsor of the race since 2003𠄽irectly in the cross hairs of a large and vocal group of furious consumers, who were increasingly directing their displeasure at the bank even though its city officials and the race organizers who in the end decide whether the race moves forward.

By Friday morning, the official ING New York City Marathon Facebook page was brimming with comments knocking ING for the fact that the race was not canceled.

𠇎very single sponsor of this event and every single runner who shows up for this event should be ashamed!” wrote a commenter named Stephanie Clark.

𠇊s an ING customer and a native New Yorker I am appalled that this event will go on while thousands of people are without help in this great city of ours,” wrote Chris Pena. “Shame on ING for allowing this to go forward.”

“Instead, ING, you should dedicate all of the resources being gathered NOW to all of the New Yorkers, CT, and NJ residents who are cold, thirsty, and tired from the devastation of Sandy,” wrote Trevor Laubenstein. “Utterly irresponsible to hold this race.”

The race’s organizers announced that ING is donating $500,000 to aid victims of the hurricane. But the act of generosity did little to stem the disgust directed the bank.

“It’s not the NYC Marathon it’s the ‘ING’ NYC Marathon … and there is the answer as to why this is being run,” wrote Kevin Foley on the marathon’s Facebook page. “ING’s name is on the race and so their interest are given higher priority that those of NYC.”

𠇊s a runner and native New Yorker I always wanted to make the NY marathon my first,” wrote Nicole Neglia. 𠇊nd 2013 was going to be the year. However in the wake of all that has happened not even will I never run a NY marathon but I will also boycott ING.”

“Our hearts go out to the many people, businesses, and New York-based ING U.S. employees that have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy this week,” emailed ING spokesman Joseph Loparco before the cancellation announcement. “ING U.S. will follow the City’s directive and stands ready to support New York City in whatever actions it decides to take. Ultimately, it is the City’s decision whether or not to conduct the event.”

1:08 p.m., Nov. 2, 2012 — As New York City recovers from Sandy, one of the problems for city dwellers is simply getting to work. Hundreds of outer-borough residents stood in lines to catch buses or ferries into Manhattan or find a car looking for an extra passenger to meet temporary minimum occupancy rules imposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The hassle left at least a few commuters wondering if the city’s bike-sharing program, which was supposed to begin this summer but was delayed until at least next spring, might have helped. “If NYC had implemented the bike share, the post Sandy transportation mess could have been avoided,” Wall Street Journal reporter Reed Albergotti suggested on Twitter yesterday. That’s an overstatement, but 7,000 bikes at 420 stations—many of them in exactly the areas hardest hit by power outages and the lack of subway service—probably would have helped.

“It would really be a great complementary mode for people to get around in a safe way and not have to worry about traffic congestion,” says Paul DeMaio, founder of MetroBike and a consultant on Washington, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare system, which was rolled out in 2008. In D.C., DeMaio says, bike sharing has proved useful in the aftermath of Sandy, as well as during past disruptions to the transportation network. Capital Bikeshare closed for about 36 hours during Sandy to keep riders from attempting to brave the dangerous weather, but it was back up about an hour before the city’s public transit system. 𠇊s soon as we flipped the switch back on, it was being very well used,” says DeMaio. In August 2011, when an earthquake rattled the city and left many commuters looking for a way around snarled traffic, Capital Bikeshare experienced a 34 percent increase in trips per day. “We had just a few bikes that were kept beyond 24 hours. People were respectful of the service, and they were able to use the service to get home to their loved ones.”

Alta Bicycle Share, the company that runs D.C.’s system, will also operate New York’s. Its solar-powered stations do not rely on the grid for bike check-in and return, and they have proven resilient in storms. “Our stations have made it through a couple of hurricanes now where we’ve had wind gusts up to 75 miles per hour,” says DeMaio, who notes that the planned solar towers at stations in New York, unlike in D.C., do not have overhanging panels and would probably perform even better in high winds. (Alta Bicycle Share has not responded to an e-mail requesting comment.) Bike shares are not a “panacea” says Noah Budnick, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group for cyclists in New York, but they do provide another failsafe. “What we’re seeing in the last couple days in general about biking is that it really adds to the resilience of the city’s transportation system,” says Budnick. “I’m standing on the Manhattan Bridge right now, and I’ve never seen bike traffic like this.”

10:18 a.m., Nov. 2, 2012�h year Lloyd’s of London, the company that invented what we now know as insurance, publishes what it calls “ Realistic Disaster Scenarios,” a detailed list of hypothetical nightmares–terrorist attacks, earthquakes, mid-air airline collisions.

Insurers run them through their own books as a stress test, to see what losses could look like. As in years past, in 2012 Lloyd’s included a “North-East Windstorm Event,” a hurricane that makes landfall in New York City, generating losses in the surrounding states as well. It would affect 11 airports, including Atlantic City International, La Guardia and Newark Liberty International. And it would exact just under $50 billion in residential losses and around $30 billion in commercial losses.

A brief note in the North-East Windstorm Event reads as follows: “Lloyd’s recognises the difficulties involved in modelling losses from Contingent Business Interruption (CBI) covers. Managing Agents should therefore exclude CBI losses from this event.” Translation: Neither of us really knows how this risk works. So let’s just put a bookmark here and we’ll come back to it.

A business interruption cover, usually thrown in as part of a property policy, protects cash flow lost to a catastrophe. Rather than compensate for the loss of a plant, for example, it compensates for the business lost when the plant is destroyed. Contingent business interruption insurance extends that protection to suppliers. If you make a car, for example, it’s possible you may be covered for production time lost when the plant that builds your dashboard goes down.

This all seems prudent. It’s also very difficult to model, and insurers are taking a bath on it. When commercial insurance premiums are low, as they have been for roughly the last five years, insurers throw in extra coverage to win business. When their investments are doing poorly, as they have been since 2008, the cash flow of new business becomes even more important. And so contingent business interruption clauses expanded down the supply chain.

Insurers facing competition, says Philip Reardon, will cover “not only suppliers, but suppliers of suppliers.” Reardon, who runs property risk consulting for Aon, which brokers reinsurance (insurance coverage for insurers), has seen contract language that covers any supplier in a business’s chain. “Some insurers didn’t know what they were offering,” he says. In an interview with Bloomberg News last year, Jochen Koerner of insurance broker Marsh & McLennan described contingent business interruption covers as 𠇊 massive black box.”

Insurers got to peek inside last year, which reinsurer Swiss Re reports was the worst year for global insured property losses since it began keeping industry-wide records in 1970. Three events drove those losses — the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, and floods in Thailand. The losses in Japan and Thailand, both manufacturing hubs, showed insurers and reinsurers how exposed they were to contingent business interruption. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek last year, an executive at Munich Re, a reinsurer, recalled how she had discovered the day after the earthquake in Japan that a manufacturer in Louisiana had run out of chips. “It was a bit of a wake-up call from reinsurers to understand how far their web of insurance was cast,” Aon’s Reardon says.

That was last year. Insurers, confronted with a new risk, tend to react first by reducing their coverage, then working to understand it well enough to put a price on it. But contingent business interruption is hard to price. “You’re almost fighting a losing battle,” says Ed Hochberg, who runs the analytics group at Towers Watson, a risk management consulting firm. There’s not enough data to model behaviors in wide-flung supply chains, he explains, and catastrophe models have enough trouble modeling losses over an extended time period, much less in locations far from where the flood comes in. “It is a little surprising how little our clients know where their products come from,” says Reardon.

“The flooding [in Thailand],” Swiss Re wrote in a study, (PDF) “has highlighted the insurance industry’s need for a fuller understanding of its exposure to supply chain risk, via more detailed information from clients and aggregation risk management with appropriate limits and premiums.” The translation: Insurers, learn what you can, and limit coverage wherever possible. Hochberg and Reardon confirm that this is exactly what has been happening in the market.

Business interruption was a 𠇏ocal point” in this spring’s contract renewals with reinsurers, says Hochberg. Reardon points out that insurers are discovering more single-source suppliers among their clients than they𠆝 expected. Insurers have been attempting to include specific sub-limits for the exposure, and include only named suppliers–that is, not indiscriminately out through the supply chain, but to specific companies the insurer feels comfortable with. But these steps are difficult in a soft market, where insurers are competing with each other to please their corporate customers.

This may change with Sandy. Massive catastrophes, which insurers euphemistically call “industry loss events,” can turn a market in an insurer’s favor. (Though the industry waited in vain for a better market after last year’s losses.) And both Reardon and Hochberg suggested several Sandy-related events that could trigger contingent business interruption losses. The hurricane flooded airports, which supply a service to airlines, who in turn supply a service to companies. It dug up rail lines or covered them in sand. It flooded power stations. Insurance contract renewal negotiations will follow this catastrophe, too, and and insurers will have discovered even more suppliers they’ll now fear.

This fear sets up a conflict between businesses and insurers. It’s cheaper for businesses to thin out their supply chains and keep as little inventory on hand as possible. But this passes on a cost that insurers are increasingly unwilling to pay. And as supply chains spread to save money–to places like the industrial areas around the Chao Phraya River in Thailand, site of last year’s flooding–they make the risk even more complicated, and even less attractive to insurers.

If you run a business, you should get comfortable with risks and conditions all the way down your supply chain. You may find in the near future, if you haven’t already, that your insurer is not willing to do it for you. “Insurers are definitely focusing a lot more attention on this,” says Hochberg, 𠇊nd Sandy’s going to do nothing but increase that level of focus.”

The Sunday Before the Election

I n the days before the 2012 general election, we dispatched writers from around the country to attend houses of worship from California to Connecticut. They sent back slices of life, scenes from religious services, and political talk from parishioners. In between their interviews with the faithful, they surveyed the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, shared in a community meal at a gurdwara, and followed Rick Warren’s Twitter feed. All glanced at the places where religion and politics meet, both in and out of the pulpit. – The Editors

Crossroads Church
Staten Island, New York
By Abby Ohlheiser

Scripture for the day: Matthew 9:35 – “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.”

The lights flickered back on at the Crossroads Church in Staten Island about 24 hours before services began Sunday morning, five days after Hurricane Sandy devastated large portions of the island’s coast. In the lobby, tables filled with food, cleaning supplies, and toiletries lined the hallway to the sanctuary of the storefront church building. Matt Parascando paced in front of the bounty on his cell phone, trying to figure out where the supplies needed to go, and how it’d get there, since a gas crisis across New York City has made car travel a precious commodity.

Congregants trickled in for the 11 a.m. service, some carrying, some needing supplies. Chatter before the service was of clearing houses, gas lines, and neighbors who lost everything. For the most part, those at Crossroads this morning were faring a bit better. Many were volunteering, and, as founding pastor Ray Parascando (Matt’s brother) told me, some had been working since the night of the storm. With an election days away, talk of politics was in terms of FEMA and Mayor Bloomberg, of relief needs, police keeping order, and a notion that the current attention being paid to Staten Island’s disaster would be swept away by increasing media attention on the election.

But for now, the church was a central point in the island’s recovery work. Crossroads’s donation bank “went viral,” as Matt told me, after Sandy hit the island hard. Occupy Sandy, among other relief groups working on the island, had directed donations to the church’s lobby and NBC had spent the day there on Saturday. They had filled and cleared the space at least three times over the weekend.

The seats were two-thirds full by the time the praise music ended, performed live by four young women on vocals and guitar. The services opened and closed with the same song, with the line repeated, “Greater things are still to be done in this city.”

Many of the empty seats, I was told, would have been occupied by displaced families. The pastor had a list of 25 church households who’d been directly affected by the storm, 18 of whom had been displaced from their homes. There were no casualties among members, but some among their families and friends. The church’s old meeting space, P.S. 52, was condemned Sunday morning from flooding, the pastor said.

Crossroads is a mission-based church of nearly four hundred members. They’re associated with the North American Mission Board—the missions wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s a mostly working-class congregation, what Matt described to me as “salt of the earth type people.” During the service, Pastor Ray said, “none of us are rollin’ in it here,” that the congregants hit by Sandy were “already in a hurting position.” Nevertheless, his sermon intentionally offered words of action more than of comfort. “Don’t give spiritual reasons for what happened, be God’s hands and feet,” he said, to applause from the room.

There was a sense at Crossroads that the government’s role in the post-crisis recovery should be limited, reflecting the pastor’s comment that he “leans right.” “I’m praying for both candidates. I’m gonna vote for someone who is gonna advance freedom,” he said. “I think they both love the country, even though they want to take it in opposite directions.” Voting is still up in the air for many recovering families since some of the schools and community centers scheduled to hold election centers are still unusable. After the service, Ray told me that he believed faith-based groups like his should take the lead in providing relief to the community, while government groups like FEMA, the police, and the National Guard should focus on keeping order. “God bless FEMA, and the Red Cross, and everything else,” he said, “But you NEED God.”

As I left the church, neighbors came in to truck supplies out to hard-hit areas. Two women came in looking for baby supplies. Matt promised to track some down for them. Despite the needs around them, the congregation’s closing prayer seemed to sum up their gratitude: “Lord, thank you for sparing each of our lives.”

Mormon Ward
North Ogden, Utah
By Emily W. Jensen

“In this part of the scriptures, we get an endorsement of Isaiah from the Savior, Jesus Christ,” said Carl Grunander, a Sunday School teacher, as he listed the reasons Mormons should study the prophet Isaiah as proclaimed by Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon. And that was the only actual “endorsement” the Sunday before the election in one North Ogden, Utah, church building.

The absence of political endorsements highlights the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ declaration of “Political Neutrality,” which has been disseminated widely to the individual church units. The church’s mission, as they state, “is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians,” even when, or perhaps especially when, one presidential candidate happens to be within the faith.

In the LDS Church, where it is estimated that only 8 percent consider themselves liberal, and in a state that is already colored red on electoral maps (a recent local poll suggested that 69 percent will vote for Mitt Romney), it was surprising to find only one car sporting a Romney bumper sticker in the church parking lot. The only other political bumper sticker found read: “Politicians are like diapers, they can be changed each election season, for the same reason.”

And yet, as the Mormons worshipped, there were glimpses of asking for divine assistance in the upcoming election. One pleaded for the ability to “choose leaders who will lead righteously.” Another asked for “the wisdom to make the decisions we need to make this Tuesday.” And one fervently requested, “Please bless that we will elect leaders who will uphold the Constitution.” Church member Brad Ouderkick told the congregation, “I’m sure you haven’t forgotten, but remember to vote.” Finally, an elderly churchgoer gave an earnest testimony describing the election as a reminder of her “privilege to be counted.”

Some ward members seemed fatigued by this election season, with one stating that, “I am grateful for the ability to vote, but wish I could ban all political ads.” And even Grunander, the Sunday School instructor, joked, “I just remember that the Lord’s in charge, so we can just look forward to getting Tuesday over with.

Gurdwara Sachkind Darbar
Hamden, Connecticut
By Valarie Kaur

Nestled in the suburbs of Hamden, Connecticut, a little brick building has been transformed into a gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship. Inside Gurdwara Sachkhand Darbar, dozens of families from the greater New Haven area gather for Sunday service.

Most of those who attend services have lived in New England for more than twenty years only a handful of them are recent immigrants. All listen intently to the kirtan, lips moving softly to the words of a prayer: “Tu Thakar Tum Pe Ardas Jiyo Pind Sabh Teri Ras.” On a projector on the wall, an English translation appears for the younger ones to follow: “You are the Divine Master, we pray before you. Life and body–all is your property.”

It’s a somber prayer—a prayer soaked in memory of the past and hope for the future.

On this Sunday before Election Day, the gurdwara is a quiet place of remembrance. Sikhs across the nation take November 4 to commemorate the anniversary of the anti-Sikh pogroms in India during November 1984. Twenty-eight years ago, at least three thousand Sikhs were massacred in the streets of New Delhi in the wake of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Indian government officials were complicit in the riots: some led the pogroms, many failed to stop the violence as it spun out of control. In the months and years since, thousands of Sikhs fled India to find a new life and home in America.

There are now half a million Sikhs in the United States. Many wear articles of faith, the most visible of which is long and uncut hair wrapped in a turban—a marker that tragically has made many Sikhs targets for violence, especially since 9/11.

“Today we pray for Sikhs who died in the 1984 riots,” said Manmohan Singh Bharara, president of the new gurdwara. “But we also honor all who we have lost to hate and violence in this country.”

In August, a white supremacist walked into a gurdwara just like this one in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and opened fire. He killed six men and one woman, and injured three more. Three months later, the news of Oak Creek has faded from the nation’s consciousness. During the second presidential debate, in response to a question about the rise of gun violence, candidates referenced the horrific mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in vivid detail—but did not mention the tragedy in Oak Creek. Perhaps it’s because Oak Creek confronts us with a challenge more complex than gun control: the persistence of religious bigotry and the alarming rise of hate groups in America.

Hundreds of miles away from Wisconsin, Sikhs at the Hamden gurdwara have placed a tribute to the Oak Creek tragedy at the entrance to the prayer hall. It includes a portrait of Lt. Brian Murphy, the police officer who was shot multiple times when defending the gurdwara, now a hero to the Sikh community. The tribute sits next to the blueprints for the gurdwara complex, inaugurated just this summer. The juxtaposition captures the Sikh spirit of “Chardi Kala:” everlasting optimism and high spirits, even in the shadow of darkness and death.

After the service ends, families sit together on the ground to share langar, the free and open community meal. As they eat, they begin to talk about the upcoming election. They avoid particular ballot initiatives or policy choices rather in light of the morning’s prayer and remembrance, they reflect on the future of the Sikh community in America.

Most are hopeful. They are pleased with the Obama administration’s response to the Oak Creek tragedy. The president ordered the flags to half-mast, the first lady visited to grieve with the victims, and Attorney General Eric Holder declared the shooting an act of domestic terrorism. The Indian government would never have done so much for us, some say.

Younger Sikh Americans interject: they want more than short-term response to the tragedy. They want a president who will combat racial profiling, employment discrimination, bullying, and domestic terrorism. They want a president who will restore our economy, relieve student debt, and move the country as a whole forward.

“The younger generation is realizing that their voice must be heard,” Bharara told me. “I’m seeing an energy I haven’t seen before. I think it happened after Oak Creek … they want a say in our democracy. They are registering to vote and are excited about voting.”

“No matter what happens on Tuesday, we will be here,” he said, taking a deep breath. “We will be a place where people can gather to remember, pray, and hope for a better future.”

A Shabbat for World Hunger
Evanston, Illinois
By Rachel Gordan

On the Friday night before Election Day, in Evanston, Illinois, a chavura-style group met at the home of a neurosurgeon and her family. A few children were among us, but mostly we were adults in our thirties, forties, and beyond. Academics, physicians, writers, a couple of rabbis and teachers, we sat in a circle in a living room crowded with books and art and plants. We call ourselves Lomdim, the Hebrew verb that means learning, and on Friday, November 2 nd , 2012, as part of World Hunger Shabbat, we read a Hebrew prayer for those living in hunger, written by Rabbi Shai Held.

Aleinu lishabeach. We recited one of the concluding prayers for Friday night services. Aleinu, Sam Feinsmith, one of our rabbis, reminded us, means that it is upon us it is our responsibility. What is our responsibility, he asked us: today? This week? Later, crowded into the kitchen, holding tiny, plastic cups of juice, we said the blessing over the fruit of the vine, and tipped our heads back to savor sweet, red grape juice.

Eating—mindfully, given our theme—vegetarian take-out from a Kosher restaurant in Skokie, conversation see-sawed from hunger and poverty to the election and politics. On the table, beneath our paper plates of falafel and salad, lay a scattering of pamphlets from organizations fighting world hunger. The faces of starving children stared up at us as we ate. The poorest are not easy to keep in mind while consuming a meal—even a self-consciously light Shabbat dinner—in the richest nation in the world. Of weary minds (what can one do about hunger?), we leaned back gratefully into the easy chitchat of politics and the approaching election. The Farm Bill! Someone reminded us. Now, there was something the election might accomplish for the poor.

It may be our last sane Shabbat, Laurie Zoloth, one of two ethicists present remarked. And the poorest will feel it most, she said. People nodded. We were a somber Shabbat crowd. As with the topic of hunger, there was no debate among us when it came to the election.

St. Stanislaus Church
New Haven, Connecticut
By John Stoehr

As you approach St. Stanislaus Church in New Haven, you see a banner affixed to its wrought-iron fence that says what you are about to experience is an “extraordinary form” of worship—the Tridentine Mass, the traditional liturgy given in Latin. By “extraordinary,” the banner doesn’t mean “awesome,” though listening to the Schola Cantorum, the church’s choir, raise its unaccompanied voices to the gilt-and-gold arches of the ceiling does inspire feelings of awe. “Extraordinary” refers to the distinction Pope Benedict made in 2007 between the post-Vatican II mass, which is in the vernacular, as “ordinary,” and the pre-Vatican II mass, which held sway for nearly 400 years, as “extraordinary.”

On a cloudless Sabbath, the last prior to Election Day, the mass of “extraordinary form” is one of a series. St. Stanislaus is trilingual. Every Sunday features one mass in Latin, two in English, and two in Polish. This, too, may seem extraordinary, but it is not. The church was passed to Polish Vincentian priests in 1904 after waves of immigration from Poland to Connecticut in the late nineteenth century. New Britain, a city just to the north of New Haven, has four Polish-language newspapers competing for readers in a population that is about a quarter Polish. St. Stanislaus, meanwhile, serves 900 households around the state.

Whether congregants came for the homily on choosing between good and evil on Election Day or for the sight and sound of a liturgy centuries old, it’s hard to say. What’s certain is their dedication to the old ways. Some women covered their hair with scarves and veils. Some in the pews responded to calls in Latin. The face of John Paul II, the first Polish pope, looks out from the cover of a book of prayer in every pew. His portrait, framed in gold, hangs opposite one of Christ and the Madonna.

The homily made no mention of the candidates, President Barack Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney, but the choice on Tuesday, said the Rev. Stanley Miekina, is clearly between good and evil. Economic issues are important, he said, but more important was the crisis of morality tearing the country apart. Catholics would do well to remember Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver, and bear in mind the following: abortion, marriage and religious freedom.

Abortion, Miekina said, was the No. 1 civil rights issue of the day. It harms women, hobbles the poor, and has killed 50 million babies since 1973, the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade. The government, meanwhile, is redefining marriage between a man and a woman, and could, logically speaking, redefine any kind of relationship, including those depending on confidentiality between parishioner and priest. As for religious freedom, Miekina said the new health care law—he didn’t use the word “Obamacare,” but that’s what he meant—violates the God-given right of conscience by forcing American Catholics to offer or administer care that’s anathema to their core religious beliefs. “We are living in a time of martyrs,” he said.

Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
Boston, Massachusetts
By Sarah Moawad

Situated in the heart of Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, the 70,000 square-foot Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC)—constructed out of red brick and glass, and complete with a towering minaret and expansive dome—is impossible to ignore. It houses a mosque, an elementary school, an interfaith space, a library, and a café. As the largest Islamic center in New England, the ISBCC is the spiritual and social home to recent immigrants from Africa, Asia, and Europe, second and third generation Muslim Americans, as well as African American Muslims, many of whose families folded into Sunni Islam after the heyday of the Nation of Islam.

On any given Friday, or Jumuah, the Muslim holy day, at least 500 Muslims show up to hear the khutbah, or sermon, and then stay on to participate in the communal prayer. Last Friday, less than a week before the presidential election, the prayer hall was packed to the brim, forcing many into the “overflow” prayer space above the main hall.

The center’s imam, Suhaib Webb, a charismatic, blonde-haired, Oklahoma-born Muslim convert, has achieved celebrity status in the local and national Muslim community for his unique blend of humor and faith. But last Friday, Webb did not deliver the sermon. Instead, he shared his pulpit with Abdullah Hakim Quick, a historian, social activist, and religious scholar of African and Native American descent, who delivered a sermon focused on climate change. Quick cited droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, and Hurricane Sandy, as proof that the earth, is “reacting to us and throwing us off like a virus.” But all is not lost. Muslims in America—the country that has contributed the most climate change—can positively affect the environment. Quick explained, “We are in a strategic position” to create “self-sustaining communities” that can survive in times of crisis.

The khutbah was followed by the communal prayer and a few last-minute announcements. “Get out and vote on Tuesday,” exclaimed one young congregant, who urged people to vote for the candidate that best represents their values and those of Islam. “It is one of our tools in a wide array of tools to affect change in this country,” he said.

Because of its size and prominence, the ISBCC is also the political hub of the greater New England Muslim community. In 2009, the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, along with local and state political dignitaries, all attended the center’s well-publicized opening. During this election cycle, the congregation was the largest religious group of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization to meet with Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. But, as a religious institution, the ISBCC cannot legally endorse any specific candidate or political party. Imam Webb, however, can and does, and does so quite vocally. After prayers, I sat down with him in his office (noticing immediately an Obama-Biden sticker on his computer) to speak about how the ISBCC’s own work intersects with politics. He told me that his community has been invested in the political process since its inception. And it had to be, due to the opposition the center faced from community groups. After the five-year-long legal battle, which was played out in the local and regional press, the center was ultimately completed because it gained the support of the state’s most important politicians, including Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

The next generation of American Muslims must be engaged in culture and politics, Webb explained. The “Islamophobia industry,” as he calls it, currently enjoys an outsized influence in the discourse between American Muslims and their fellow American citizens. Webb believes that it will ultimately be up to young Muslims to change this conversation. “It’s time for you to take the mic.”

Saddleback Church
Orange County, California
By Edward J. Blum

I couldn’t believe it. LSU’s offense was wearing the Alabama defense down, and the Tigers were poised to take the lead. “This is some amazing football,” I said to myself. Then, when I clicked on the website for Saddleback Church to print directions for Sunday’s service, mega-church pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren popped up on the screen. His homey plaid shirt was unmistakable. The Saturday evening service had begun, and I could join from my laptop. “This must be what heaven is like,” I thought: college football on one screen church on the other. Both even had commercials (one for food drives the other for alcoholic beverages). Heck, if some people can “bowl alone,” why can’t I church alone?

All of Saddleback’s services are simulcast on the web, and they showcase one of the reasons Rick Warren has gained such popularity. He is, in the words of sociologist Shayne Lee and historian Phil Sinitiere, a “holy maverick,” an “evangelical innovator” able to present simple, folksy gospel messages with new media of the twenty-first century. If I can borrow some insights from Matthew Avery Sutton’s work on an earlier and just-as-famous southern California pastor, Aimee Semple McPherson, it is clear that combining old stories with new technologies is one of the hallmarks of modern politicized evangelicalism.

Like many, I’ve followed Pastor Rick for a long time. With tens of millions, I tried his 40-days-to-change-your-life-book Purpose Driven Life, a work first published in 2002 and that Pastor Rick humbly mentioned in Saturday’s sermon was now the “most published book in history.” Based on my marginal notes and daily check-ins from 2008, I got to day eleven. I remember, though, Barack Obama quoting the beginning of Purpose Driven Life repeatedly during that election season: “it’s not about you.” Maybe that was how far Obama got into the book. I was then excited when Obama invited Warren to offer an inaugural prayer in 2009, naively believing that there may be a détente in the partisan culture wars. More recently, I puzzled over Pastor Rick’s canceling of the presidential debate that Saddleback had hoped to host. Neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama seemed inclined to join Pastor Rick so it seemed a little like a scorned boyfriend claiming after the fact that “he broke up with her.”

Pastor Rick’s pre-election sermon had nothing to do with politics per se. It was vintage Saddleback. Contemporary problems answered with a biblical story and framed in the literary style of an acrostic. Today, the Bible story was from Genesis. Joseph was sold into slavery he labored under Potiphar and he refused the lustful come-ons of Potiphar’s wife. The main point was that Joseph was a model employee. He was the kind of man you would want working for you, the kind of man you would want to promote.

Although nothing explicit, there were some subtle political points made, and they tied Saddleback firmly to one main feature of the political-culture wars: the defense of heterosexual marriage. The conservatism of the church was evident in Saddleback Staff’s “10 Commandments.” Number 1 linked lunch with lust: “Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.” Number 4 honed in on the homefront: “Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.” Each commandment assumes heterosexuality not only on the part of the staff member, but also on the part of the church member. What is unspoken, of course, is the opinion that homosexuality, bisexuality, or anything beyond monogamous heterosexuality is unthinkable for their congregation.

But there were some elements of the sermon and the church’s webpage that gestured beyond the stereotypes of conservative evangelicalism. There was no mention of Mitt Romney or Barack Obama during the sermon—or even that an election was taking place. Unlike Billy Graham’s ministry, Saddleback’s website had not removed its pages that presented Mormonism as an “other religion” or “cult” like “Wicca” or “Scientology.” Even more, the first point in the sermon was defined by “audacity.” For politically informed listeners, this word is clearly charged with Obama-esque meaning. The title of his political manifesto, The Audacity of Hope, were words taken from his Chicago pastor Jeremiah Wright.

The apolitical feel of the sermon was matched by my trip to the church. I ventured on Sunday morning to Saddleback’s physical space in Orange County. There seemed almost no indication that profound political moments were at hand. I witnessed hardly any political bumper stickers in the massive parking lot. I overheard no chatter about Romney or Obama, this proposition or that proposition. At one point, I mentioned how glad I was to be away from my television and the non-stop political ads the group around me laughed as if they completely understood. If anything, Saddleback seemed the only apolitical space I’ve encountered recently—other than watching sports.

Flat chests

As models became thinner, curves became less desirable. It was in the late 1960s when the obsession with eliminating cellulite began. Linda Przybyszewski wrote in The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish that at this time "curvaceous women were passed over in favor of underweight teenagers."

The desire to be thin led to a preoccupation with weight, especially among younger girls. "Before the 1920s, teenagers worried about becoming better people," wrote Przybyszewski. By the 1960s, however, "weight loss became the primary obsession."

An Incalculable Loss

America has reached a grim milestone in the coronavirus outbreak — each figure here represents one of the 100,000 lives lost so far. But a count reveals only so much. Memories, gathered from obituaries across the country, help us to reckon with what was lost.

Toward the end of May in the year 2020, the number of people in the United States who have died from the coronavirus passed 100,000 — almost all of them within a three-month span. An average of more than 1,100 deaths a day.

A number is an imperfect measure when applied to the human condition. A number provides an answer to how many, but it can never convey the individual arcs of life, the 100,000 ways of greeting the morning and saying good night.

The immensity of such a sudden toll taxes our ability to comprehend, to understand that each number adding up to 100,000 represents someone among us just yesterday. Who was the 1,233rd person to die? The 27,587th? The 98,431st?

She may have died in a jam-packed hospital, with no family member at her bedside to whisper a final thank you, Mom, I love you.

He may have died in a locked-down nursing home, his wife peering helplessly through a streaked window as a part of her slips away.

They may have died in subdivided city apartments, too sick or too scared to go to a hospital, their closest relatives a half-world away.

This highly contagious virus has forced us to suppress our nature as social creatures, for fear that we might infect or be infected. Among the many indignities, it has denied us the grace of being present for a loved one’s last moments. Age-old customs that lend meaning to existence have been upended, including the sacred rituals of how we mourn.

Before, we came together in halls and bars and places of worship to remember and honor the dead. We recited prayers or raised glasses or retold familiar stories so funny they left us nodding and crying through our laughter.

In these vital moments of communion, it could feel as though the departed were with us one last time, briefly resurrected by the sheer power of our collective love, to share that closing prayer, that parting glass, that final hug.

Even in the horrible times of wars and hurricanes and terrorist attacks that seemed to crumble the ground beneath our feet, we at least had time-tested ways of grieving that helped us take that first hesitant step forward.

Now, for most of those who died in the past few months, there were no large gatherings of consolation and recited prayers for peaceful rest. The obituaries that filled our local newspapers and Facebook pages sometimes read like an unending roll call of the coronavirus dead.

Every death notice, virus-related or not, seemed to close with: Due to health concerns and restrictions on gatherings, there will be no funeral services at this time. A celebration of life will be held at a time to be announced.

A virtual memorial service was held instead, perhaps, with mourners praying into laptop screens. Followed by a burial, perhaps, with masked mourners watching from their cars as another coffin was received by the earth.

In a larger sense, the suspension of our familiar rituals of burial or cremation reflected what life in a pandemic has been like. The absence of any clear end.

Even the dead have to wait.

Why has this happened in the United States of 2020? Why has the virus claimed a disproportionately large number of black and Latino victims? Why were nursing homes so devastated? These questions of why and how and whom will be asked for decades to come.

For now, all we can do is hold our collective breath, inch toward some approximation of how things were — and try to process a loss of life greater than what the country incurred in several decades of war, from Vietnam to Iraq.

A threshold number. It is the number celebrated when the family car’s odometer ticks once more to reach six digits. It is the number of residents that can make a place feel fully like a city: San Angelo, Texas Kenosha, Wisconsin Vacaville, California.

So imagine a city of 100,000 residents that was here for New Year’s Day but has now been wiped from the American map.

Den mother for Cub Scout Pack 9. Manager of the produce department. Tavern owner. Nurse to the end.

Loved baseball. Loved playing euchre. Loved seeing the full moon rise above the ocean.

Always first on the dance floor. Always ready to party. Always gave back.

Preferred bolo ties and suspenders.

Awarded the Bronze Star. Served in the Women’s Army Corps. Survived the sinking of the Andrea Doria. Competed in the Special Olympics. Immigrated to achieve the American dream.

Could quote Tennyson from memory.

A number is an imperfect measure when applied to the human condition.

About this project

The descriptions of the lives of a thousand people in the United States who died because of the coronavirus were drawn from hundreds of obituaries, news articles and paid death notices that have appeared in newspapers and digital media over the past few months. They have been lightly edited for clarity.

They were compiled from the following publications:

  • Acadia Parish Today
  • The Ada News
  • The Advocate
  • The Akron Beacon Journal
  • The Albany Herald
  • The Alliance Review
  • The Argus Leader
  • The Arizona Republic
  • The Asbury Park Press
  • The Asheville Citizen-Times
  • The Associated Press
  • The Baltimore Sun
  • The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus
  • The Battle Creek Enquirer
  • The Bay City Times
  • The Bellmore Herald
  • The Berkshire Eagle
  • The Bossier Press-Tribune
  • The Boston Globe
  • The Bradenton Herald
  • The Brattleboro Reformer
  • The Bristol Press
  • The Brunswick Beacon
  • The Bucks County Courier Times
  • The Buffalo News
  • The Burlington Free Press
  • The Call
  • The Cape Cod Times
  • The Capital Times
  • The Carroll County Times
  • CBS 3 (WRBL)
  • CE Noticias Financieras
  • The Chester County Press
  • The Chestnut Hill Local
  • The Chicago Tribune
  • The Cincinnati Enquirer
  • The Clinton Herald
  • The Columbus Dispatch
  • The Connecticut Post
  • The Corvallis Gazette-Times
  • The Country Gazette
  • The Courier News
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Daily death data is from a New York Times database of reports from state and local health agencies.

By Dan Barry, Larry Buchanan, Clinton Cargill, Annie Daniel, Alain Delaquérière, Lazaro Gamio, Gabriel Gianordoli, Rich Harris, Barbara Harvey, John Haskins, Jon Huang, Simone Landon, Juliette Love, Grace Maalouf, Alex Leeds Matthews, Farah Mohamed, Steven Moity, Destinée-Charisse Royal, Matt Ruby and Eden Weingart.

Additional research by Yuriria Avila, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Penn Bullock, Sophia June, Lauren Leatherby, Alex Lemonides, Denise Lu, Aimee Ortiz, Anjali Singhvi and Chi Zhang. Additional editing by Jason Bailey, Eric Morse and Alison Peterson.


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Former Wall Street Maverick Sandy Lewis Is an Adirondack Agitator

Not long after he moved from New Paltz to Essex, N.Y., Mark Kimball had an unexpected visitor.

A man in a big pickup truck pulled on to his land, now Essex Farm, and fixed his steely blue eyes on Kimball, like a raptor that had just found dinner.

He uttered four words: "You're going to fail."

Kimball was only momentarily flummoxed. "Oh," he said. "You must be Sandy Lewis."

"How do you know my name?" the man demanded.

Kimball replied, "You're the only person in the community who would introduce yourself that way."

Kimball had already heard plenty about Salim "Sandy" Lewis, a 79-year-old Wall Street-dealmaker-turned-beef-farmer who owns a verdant 1,100-acre swath of land along the southern edge of town. The reputation of Kimball's neighbor preceded him.

"There's not a dinner party within 50 miles where conversation doesn't turn to Sandy Lewis," said one Essex resident who did not want to be named for fear of provoking the most ornery man in the Adirondacks.

Lewis' rough wake has reached the Vermont side of the lake, too, rocking Middlebury College president Laurie Patton, University of Vermont president Tom Sullivan, and environmental activist and author Bill McKibben, to name a few.

On Wall Street, where Lewis ran a small but respected investment house, he was known for his brilliance and outspokenness. He was viewed as an upright reformer, but his career was cut short when he pleaded guilty to financial crimes. Lewis later received a full and unconditional presidential pardon, and a judge all but exonerated him. He and his wife, Barbara, eventually retreated to upstate New York, where Lewis reinvented himself as a Carhartt-clad Jeremiah, ringing the bell of doom.

Some of his crusades — which once sounded fringe — have since proved prescient. Before the 2008 financial crisis kicked into gear, Lewis was one of the first to raise alarms about the health of investment bank Bear Stearns, which later collapsed. He sounded off about sexual abuse in elite boarding schools, inadequate medical care in the North Country, small-town corruption and drug addiction, long before these issues dominated the news. Most famously in these parts, he waged a successful, against-the-odds legal campaign against his perennial whipping boy, the Adirondack Park Agency, the powerful state land-use regulator.

Now his igneous anger is surging through the cracks of a new vein: Lewis' self-proclaimed raison d'être is the safety of the food supply — in particular, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in livestock and humans. He found this purpose three years ago, when cows he purchased from out of state came to his Essex farm infected with anaplasmosis. An exhaustive research project followed, and Lewis became convinced that Big Ag and Big Pharma are in cahoots: He believes they are intentionally infecting animals with the disease to justify their use of growth-inducing antibiotics.

People inadvertently consume these drugs through meat, which has the potential to kill off essential bacteria in the human gastrointestinal tract. Lewis predicts that this practice — not an Ebola epidemic or nuclear war — is what will lead to our extinction.

Lewis' crusade has generated heat and headlines, including two major stories in the New York Times. Middlebury College, which buys the Lewis Family Farm's grass-fed beef, agreed to let Lewis help organize a campus conference on the misuse of antibiotics in agriculture.

But Lewis has a way of biting all of the hands that feed him. After the Times stories fell short of his expectations, he sent a mass email calling out one of the reporters as a "coward." He added that the editor "needed a seeing-eye dog."

Lewis repaid his customer, Middlebury College, by sending mass emails and leaving voicemails insinuating that members of the college's dining services group had been corruptly influenced by a food vendor that sells meat for about half of what he charges, according to Middlebury officials.

Middlebury flatly denies Lewis' allegation. "It's ridiculous. He has zero evidence. He throws allegations willy-nilly without any regard for the truth," says college spokesperson Bill Burger.

When planning for his conference began earlier this year, Lewis phoned Patton, the college's president, incessantly. One middle-of-the-night call prompted a voicemail response that he saved and shared with Seven Days.

"You cannot continue to harass my staff on the phone and bad-mouth them," Patton admonished, as if to an obstreperous 13-year-old. "I can afford to roll my eyes when you accuse people of all sorts of things. My staff cannot. They are vulnerable . You have already created a huge problem in stress with my staff!" Patton's tone shifted from stern to beseeching. "You are not letting me do the job of a president," she said before hanging up. "Sandy! You have to understand this."

Crank Caller

Can polite, civilized people change the world?

Over the course of his tumultuous life, Lewis has always conducted himself the same way, according to friends and enemies. He aligns action in accordance with principle, and then, like a bull in pursuit of a flapping red cape, he charges.

"Whoever gets in my way, bam! I just take them out," Lewis says. "I mean, that's what we should all be doing. We should be acknowledging that there's a lot of crap going on, and we should be decking it. We should be standing up and saying, 'I object.'"

Peter J. Solomon, an investment banker who has known Lewis since elementary school, calls him the most intense person he's ever encountered. "You don't meet a lot of people with his level of fervor and commitment," Solomon says. "It's like dealing with a fire hydrant. It comes out full force and does a lot of good. Sometimes it floods."

Always marked "urgent," the classic voicemail message from Lewis starts out as a stern but reasonable-sounding soliloquy that picks up momentum and volume and vehemence and sometimes vitriol as he moves from one seemingly random thought to another. In person or on the phone, he's almost impossible to interrupt.

Lewis' haiku-like chain emails — addressed to a who's who in the media and academic elite — are similarly overwhelming and puzzling. Fiona Harvey, a reporter for the Guardian, demanded that he stop copying her on electronic missives that also go to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, university presidents and health care luminaries. "Your elliptical references and hints, while refusing to say anything substantial, are just pointlessly mystifying," Harvey scolded.

Lewis was undeterred. "As for reaction, I confess I could not care less," he replied. "I do apologize, but not really."

Lewis' flamboyantly unorthodox behavior raises the question: How could he have been so successful?

His friends say this has always been his MO, and it's a mistake to underestimate him. Former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, a onetime investor with Lewis' firm and a longtime friend, says Lewis is a "very creative thinker" — though not always logical — and a talented networker. He adds that while a good portion of what Lewis says is outlandish and tied to his own defense mechanisms, there are valuable nuggets: "I think there is 25 to 30 percent of what he says that is pure gold."

Award-winning financial journalist William Cohan has spent a lot of time with Lewis over the years — so much that he's known as a "Lewis whisperer." Lewis was a source for Cohan's book House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, which told the story of the rise and fall of Bear Stearns and prominently featured Lewis' banker father, the legendary Salim "Cy" Lewis. Since then, Cohan and Lewis have collaborated on two New York Times opinion pieces, including a recent op-ed on Lewis' campaign to alert the world to the threat that the misuse of antibiotics poses to the human gut biome.

"Sandy weaves stories and spells," says Cohan. "He's obviously brilliant, but he's brilliant in a way that someone on the spectrum is brilliant . If there's a normal IQ curve, he's several standard deviations of smarter."

Many of his methods are maddening — even for the most patient reporter. "No one else I know will call at six in the morning and leave a four-minute message and keep calling," Cohan says. "There's no filter. No carburetor. There is nothing."

Cohan sighs. "Is he like a broken clock right twice a day? Is he deserving a Nobel Prize, or a menace to society or all three wrapped into one?" After 11 years of dealing with Lewis, Cohan says he still doesn't know.

Not So Neighborly

Lewis casts a long shadow in the North Country. He is best known for the multiyear legal fight he waged against the Adirondack Park Agency, the state regulator that oversees private and public land use within the 5.9-million-acre park. Many locals resent the APA for micromanaging use of their own land. The dispute with the Lewis Family Farm centered around three houses he built on his property. Because the houses were meant for agriculture workers, Lewis argued, he did not need a permit.

Today, Lewis says he constructed those houses — at a cost of about $1.2 million — for one reason: to goad the APA into fining and suing him. He succeeded. After nearly four years of fighting, Lewis defeated the APA in court, effectively circumscribing the agency's power to regulate farms.

Lewis didn't just beat the APA he humiliated it. He got so deep under the skin of the agency's top enforcement official that the man fired off an email calling Lewis a "sociopath." The official then apologized and was reassigned.

Twelve years after they were built, the houses remain unoccupied shells.

The APA battle should have made Lewis a universal hero to working people and farmers in the region who viewed the agency as high-handed and elitist, but it didn't. Lewis, who says he waged the fight on behalf of "indigenous, poor white trash," is too divisive a figure to be widely revered. "I think they tolerate him," says Michael Pratt, a former town official who once clashed with Lewis but now calls himself a fan. "He has a very strong way of coming across to people that . probably alienates them."

While others shirk from getting involved in politics, Pratt says Lewis has eagerly jumped into the fray: "The bigger the fight, the bigger the opponent, the more he's ready to take them on."

On the eastern shores of the lake, Sullivan, the UVM president, has been in Lewis' crosshairs for a year, since he agreed to discuss the farmer's views on antibiotics and agriculture. UVM donor Harry Nelson, a former Wall Street colleague and friend of Lewis, suggested the two should meet. "I knew if he played his cards carefully, he might make a friend of Sandy," Nelson says of Sullivan. "But he didn't do that."

The UVM president's mistake? "He didn't take Sandy seriously enough," Nelson says.

When Lewis got the invitation to meet with Sullivan and several senior administrators, the Essex farmer requested that it take place in an auditorium with students and journalists present and microbiologists and veterinarian experts dialing in by speaker phone. Sullivan refused and said the university's Phi Beta Kappa Room would have to suffice. Lewis was furious. He didn't believe he could deliver a proper presentation without the help of experts.

Bringing a videographer along to document the meeting, Lewis began his disquisition by throwing on the table a series of books that he had assigned as reading. Sullivan attempted to take charge by asking his subordinates to introduce themselves, but Lewis just talked over them. He paced the room, careening from one point to another in a filibuster that dragged on for two hours — part bio-epic and part diatribe. Sitting as quiet as mice, the administrators shifted in their seats when Lewis mentioned his childhood in a home for disturbed children.

"I can drive somebody absolutely crazy," Lewis said in Sullivan's direction. "I know absolutely how to do it. You can't live in a mental institution . for six and a half years and not know something about how to drive people crazy."

Over the next months, Lewis launched a fusillade of emails baiting Sullivan. "I found Mr. E. Thomas Sullivan pathetic," Lewis wrote later, adding that the president had a "feminine" handshake. "He's a second-rate lawyer running a weak state school."

Sullivan is a big fish, but many of Lewis' targets include small-fry neighbors and town officials. Some — including a town clerk whom Lewis reported for child pornography — got their just desserts. But some of the other battles seemed unwarranted. Lewis, for instance, boasts of shooting a neighbor's errant bull, which had wandered onto his property.

Most recently, he sued a veterinarian who he claims negligently reused needles, infecting the rest of his herd with anaplasmosis. Last month, after Lewis repeatedly circulated mass emails that disclosed the vet's personal medical problems, a judge issued a protective order barring Lewis from contacting the Vermont man. The lawsuit with the vet is coming to an end the vet's insurance company agreed last week to pay $100,000 to settle the matter.

"He's going to fire a cannon that's just as big at a squirrel as at an elephant," says Kimball, the Essex neighbor. "He always travels with large ordnance he is unable to see the difference between a world war and a petty skirmish."

Prisoners, Alcoholics and Drug Addicts

Lewis is a paradox. On the one hand, he seems to delight in being nasty. His emails are laced with invective, gratuitous references to the race and physical attributes of the people he is targeting, as well as innuendos about their sexual proclivities, health problems and mental states.

And yet, the same person is also known for gestures of staggering kindness. This includes kicking open the doors of elite hospitals for almost anyone suffering from serious illness, including people he's previously savaged.

Lewis is drawn to those who have been victimized, deformed or hurt. Perhaps because of his own difficult life — a childhood in a mental hospital, several bouts of cancer, a criminal conviction, the drowning death of an adult son in a kayak accident — Lewis possesses a freakishly acute radar for human suffering. He has a special place in his heart for orphans, victims of war atrocities and those who have been sexually abused. He goes out of his way to help social outcasts, including prisoners, alcoholics and drug addicts.

This aid takes the form of civic acts both large and small. To the consternation of his neighbors in Essex, Lewis has twice — once in 1998 and again in 2010 — championed the construction of a large residential drug treatment center close to his property, arguing that the community has a duty to put such a facility in its own backyard.

The Lewis home has served as a children's shelter of sorts, and he's been a surrogate father to numerous young people who say that without his strong hand, they would have slipped through the cracks.

"He has given me so much," says violinist Helena Baillie, whom Lewis mentored along with her twin sister. "What's unusual about him as a benefactor . is that he was addressing the whole human being from the beginning. He was putting my interests above his own, living in accordance with a set of values guided by an unwavering inner compass."

Living under Lewis' roof, though, was not always easy. "Sandy," she says, "is someone with a uniquely high threshold for tension and confrontation." He once arranged for her to play before 400 inmates at Clinton Correctional Facility, aka Dannemora.

Baillie also witnessed a number of his beatdown sessions, including one of McKibben, the environmental activist and Middlebury College faculty member, in 2008. In his 2005 travelogue about Vermont and the Adirondacks, Wandering Home, McKibben wrote glancingly about Lewis: "One of Ivan Boesky's former business partners, for instance, has a big spread and farms it as if he were in Kansas, removing every hedgerow to make life easier for his tractor." Though the passage didn't mention him by name, Lewis was incensed to be so linked to Boesky, the face of Wall Street greed. Lewis had only worked for Boesky briefly before quitting.

Lewis demanded a meeting with McKibben in the Middlebury College president's office. Baillie says McKibben avoided eye contact as Lewis tore into him. "He was unsparing," Baillie says of her mentor. "Sandy orchestrated the dynamic in the room like a conductor leading a complex symphony."

A decade later, Lewis is still enraged by McKibben's refusal to apologize.

McKibben tells Seven Days he has "no real memory" of the decade-old event.

This perseveration over tiny slights is one reason Lewis' North Country neighbors work to avoid his attention.

"Sandy Lewis? I don't dare to say anything about him," said one woman, flinching after being buttonholed by this reporter as she and her husband paused briefly on a country road.

"He takes everyone to court."

Added her husband: "If you've got any dealings with him, get out of it."

"He's a rough character," the wife continued. They chortled nervously.

The husband shook his head. "He didn't move up here to make friends."

From Wall Street to Whallons Bay

Lewis attributes his volatility to his troubled childhood.

His father, known as "the Bear" of Bear Stearns, was a hustling bond trader who rose to the pinnacle of finance. But according to Lewis, he was also a philanderer and an alcoholic. His marriage to Lewis' mother, Diana, became a deeply unhappy one. A former actress and model who had been married and divorced twice before, Diana gave birth to four children. Lewis, her eldest son, was quiet, solemn and reserved. He says his relationship with his mother was shaped by violence and neglect. He recalls that she told him she did not love him.

Some 70 years later, the memories are still raw. After one of his mother's beatings, Lewis says, he threatened to kill himself. "I went out and stood in the window," Lewis recalls. "I said, 'You come one step closer, I'm jumping. Do not touch me again.'" That stopped the physical abuse, but not the anger.

Lewis says he spent almost every day of his childhood trying to figure out how to get sent away from home, which he still refers to as "778 Park Avenue." His dentist inadvertently assisted when Lewis bit one of the man's fingers. The 10-year-old was shipped off to the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School at the University of Chicago. Director Bruno Bettelheim, a Holocaust survivor and author of best-selling books on child development, was later exposed for having falsified and plagiarized his research.

Bettelheim noted the depth of the new boy's depression and the intensity of his disturbance, according to school records from the time and later court proceedings. "The chaos of his inner life caused him to swing from moody isolation to outbursts painful to himself and others," Bettelheim wrote of Lewis.

In a letter to Lewis' parents four months after the boy's arrival, Bettelheim wrote that Lewis had a tendency to boast and to annoy other children.

"Sandy," Dr. Bettelheim wrote, "still tries to disrupt the group in many ways. He still refuses to accept limitations as applying to himself."

As years passed, Lewis became more confident. Bettelheim observed that he displayed "a blend of tenderness, kindness, integrity and blunt frankness (which was often experienced as intrusive and discomfiting) such as I have seldom seen."

At the age of 14, Lewis was deemed healthy enough to take classes at the University of Chicago's Laboratory Schools. From there, he moved to the University of Chicago. By then, he was deeply in love with Barbara Lisco, a teacher and the daughter of a professor. Where Lewis was fiery and volatile, Barbara was even-keeled and gentle. They married in 1960. His schoolwork languished, and he dropped out to spend a year working as a counselor back at the Orthogenic School.

In 1964, Lewis started retracing his father's footsteps — first, by taking a job at the Chicago office of Salomon Brothers. The same year he moved Barbara and their first two kids to New Jersey to work in the company's Wall Street office. During commutes back and forth to Manhattan, his colleague Nelson explained how markets worked. "My first impressions were, this was an extremely smart fellow with an intense curiosity," says Nelson, who would later introduce Lewis to UVM president Sullivan. "He was a different kind of personality than almost anyone I'd met before."

Although talented, Lewis was difficult to manage. He cycled through a number of top-shelf banks and brokerage houses, either because he resigned or got fired. His problem: He could never stop blowing the whistle on the misdeeds and ethical transgressions of his colleagues.

"If you want somebody to say that the emperor really has no clothes, you can depend on Sandy," Bloomberg, a onetime partner with Salomon, told the Wall Street Journal in a page-one profile of Lewis in 1984.

Despite the drama he created, Lewis was by then highly regarded, having advised two separate U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairs. In 1980, he started his own firm, S.B. Lewis & Co., where he specialized in arbitrage, trading on takeovers, and soon moved into matchmaking for corporate mergers. This loather of big institutions engineered the 1981 merger of scrappy Shearson Loeb with venerated American Express. The biggest merger of two financial companies at the time, the deal marked the beginning of a new age defined by the consolidation of small banks into large, diversified financial companies.

In 1986, everything seemed to be going Lewis' way. In addition to the success of his firm and the respect he commanded in business circles, he was thriving personally, with six healthy children and a strong marriage. Less well known was his role as a protector and supporter of many talented but disadvantaged youth.

Then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, came knocking. Lewis was indicted on 22 counts of securities law violations.

Lewis did not deny the main facts of the case, but he argued that his plan had been motivated by vigilantism, a desire to stop speculators from "shorting the syndicate" — driving stock down in a maneuver that is now illegal. He acted to help a friend, whose firm held the stock, and to thwart these speculators by enlisting others to buy up the shares, thus buoying the price. Prosecutors claimed his firm abetted the falsification of records to conceal the wrongdoing.

Because Lewis faced the prospect of a lengthy incarceration, Barbara pressed him to plead guilty to three counts in exchange for leniency in sentencing. Letters poured in from friends asking the judge to be merciful. "It scares me to think of where I'd be without Sandy's generous help in my adolescence and young adulthood," Valerie Ford Jacob wrote the court. Orphaned as a teenager and raised by Lewis, she credited him for her successful law career. Former Securities and Exchange Commission chair Roderick Hills called Lewis "a man of enormous integrity" with a "crusader's drive" to correct societal ills. And Lewis' original rescuer weighed in. Bettelheim, now retired, pleaded with the judge not to send his former patient to prison. "Sandy Lewis is unquestionably a fragile — very fragile — emotional being. Were he sent to jail, I believe it would utterly destroy him."

The judge listened. Lewis got three years of probation with community service to be performed at a drug treatment center. The light sentence was due, in part, the judge ruled, to "the uniqueness" of the crime — Lewis didn't personally benefit from it — and the "uniqueness" of the man whose good works, she noted, had been a part of his life long before his legal troubles.

"To me," she said, "that's impressive."

Friend of Bill?

Lewis was a felon — until the president of the United States got involved.

After Lewis' prosecution and before the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Lewis' lawyer and friend Douglas Eakeley helped engineer a meeting between Lewis and president Bill Clinton at a hotel in Maine. The lawyer believed that Lewis could help Clinton contain his extramarital affairs and also advise him on policy issues, including the economy and drug addiction. And, perhaps, it would help Lewis secure a pardon.

"You don't want me to do this," Lewis says he warned his lawyer.

The meeting didn't go as hoped. After Lewis told the president he had something very sensitive to tell him, Clinton escorted him to a kitchen, where everyone left except the president, Barbara and a friend Lewis had brought along as a witness. Lewis told Clinton that Eakeley thought the two of them should spend a weekend together.

"Sir, this is about your most personal business. You probably won't be too happy with me by Monday morning, but I think we can avoid a train wreck," Lewis said he told the president, according to a New York Times article that described the encounter. Clinton looked furious, and Lewis' friend was shocked, he told the Times, realizing that he'd been brought along to witness an intervention regarding the president's love life.

At the time, Lewis' advocates thought the meeting had backfired so badly that no pardon would be forthcoming. However, on January 20, 2001, president Clinton granted Lewis a pardon — one of his last acts in office. No one but Clinton knows whether Lewis' intervention had anything to do with it.

Soon, Sandy and Barbara Lewis moved out of New Jersey and settled full time in their Essex farmhouse. She managed the accounts, and he supervised the agricultural operation, which has expanded from five to 1,100 acres that extend down to Lake Champlain. Over the years, Lewis' team cleared tons of junk from the land, including old cars. They repaired damaged soil and buried miles of drainage pipes.

No one disputes the high standards of the farm or the quality of its 100 percent organic grass-fed beef. But to break even, the Lewises need to be able to charge $10 a pound for their ground beef. Getting restaurants, prep schools and colleges to buy at that price is the farm's biggest challenge.

Lewis says if he can't get a fair price for his beef, the farm won't survive. By Barbara's estimation, the Lewises have pumped more than $20 million into the venture, and it's still losing money. She is worried. Yes, the farm managed to get Massachusetts' Deerfield Academy and Middlebury College on board as customers, but those relationships are fragile. Lewis hasn't been able to mend the fence with Patton since his middle-of-the-night call to her. Even his allies on campus feel bruised by his attacks on the integrity of people who work for the college's dining services organization. What's more, some experts in the field of gut biome research won't attend a conference if it is organized by Lewis, according to Middlebury College officials he is too polarizing.

Belinda Thompson, an assistant clinical professor at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, is one of the few academic vets in the field whom Lewis trusts. She was the first to diagnose his cows with anaplasmosis, and she shares his concern about the overuse of pharmaceuticals on farms.

But she rejects some of his specific theories. For example: that antibiotics, whether given to people or cows, should always be given by injection — not orally. Thompson does not accept that farmers are intentionally infecting their cows so they can administer growth-enhancing antibiotics. "I don't know anyone who would welcome a disease into their herd," she says.

"It's hard to say whether what he's doing is a good idea or not," she says of Lewis and his anti-antibiotic campaign. "He certainly wears us all out."

Nevertheless, Thompson keeps talking to Lewis. Her view is that society needs gadflies, however disagreeable.

'I'm an Unpleasant Person'

Time is running out for Lewis, who is just a year shy of 80.

Space, too. On a recent visit, he paced between the bedroom, living room and kitchen, his range of motion limited by the length of his landline phone cord and a sore foot that he would later discover he'd broken — he has no idea how.

"The ratio of vitriol to normal is better than it was 10 years ago," one neighbor suggests.

Recently, Kimball, the neighbor whom Lewis predicted would fail, sent Lewis a friendly email to ask about his hurt foot and the gut biome campaign. Lewis forwarded the email to Seven Days, along with some harsh criticisms of his fellow farmer, but then added that Kimball was "the best we have — and the only."

That's high praise from Lewis.

Could it be a sign of a sunnier attitude? Both Lewis and his wife dispute that.

"I've been this way all my life," Lewis says. "I'm an unpleasant person, and I know that. Barbara says, 'Won't you please take it easy?' The answer is, 'No, I will not.'"

Celebrity Jada Pinkett Smith liked porn. a lot

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith and her celebrity spawn Willow had a candid “Red Table Talk” chat, where mom and daughter discussed watching porn while Jada’s gobsmacked mother listened in awe.

After reading a report claiming 40 million American’s watch pornography, Willow, 18, expressed her penchant for classy nude pix. Her 47-year-old mom disapproved of her little girl’s porn-watching, but not for the reasons one might imagine.

“I’m down for the expensive looking stuff,” Willow said. "I’m down for the artistic, you know, if it’s artsy. "

Jada, underwhelmed, suggested that if people are going to watch porn, they should do away with pretense and get down to the nitty-gritty.

20 November 2012

Edith Wharton Was Unhappy Here

I'm always tickled, as I walk down W. 25th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, that St. Sava's Cathedral still stands. Not that I think of it as St. Sava's. I think of it as Trinity Chapel. Because that is the name of the Gramercy-area church where Edith Wharton, one of my favorite novelists, was (unhappily, as it turned out) married to Edward Robbins Wharton. (Wharton's mother lived across the street, where the wedding breakfast was held.) That betrothal happened in 1885, when the church, built by Richard Upjohn (Trinity Church downtown and Christ Church in Cobble Hill), was already 34 years old. Wharton mentioned the church in her great novel "The Age of Innocence."

Posted by Brooks of Sheffield at 6:03 PM 1 comments

The Story of the Te-Amo Cigar Sign, a New York Icon

I've always enjoyed spotting one of these Te-Amo Cigar signs over a New York deli, newsstand or bodega. But they are getting rarer, as storeowners take them down and replace them with awnings, or as the businesses shutter and are replaced with boutiques and restaurants.

Te-Amo is a brand of Mexican cigar. Like Knox Hats in the world of habidashery, and Coca-Cola in the worlds of pharmacies and diners, Te-Amo once found an effective way to advertise its products by volunteering to buy signs for small, independent businesses. (Optimo cigar signs were also once a common sight. Optimo is an American-made cigar.)

Te-Amo cigars are made by Mexico's largest cigar maker, Nueva Matacapan Tabacos S.A, which has been run by five generations of the Turrent family. As you might guess, the Te-Amo brand exploded in the U.S. following President Kennedy's embargo on all things Cuban, and grew into a leading U.S. brand. Prior to 1960, the company sold most of its tobacco to Europe after 1960, they began doing business with the U.S. The Te-Amo brand was created in 1966. That is when most of the Te-Amo store signs went up.

Alberto Turrent said in an interview with Cigar Aficionado: "Te-Amo [was a separate partnership that] had a warehouse in New Jersey. [At] the beginning it was in Miami—it didn't work. They had two partners, and one of the partners moved from Miami to New York. The best sales [for Te-Amo] were in the New York area. [The New York partner] died, and we bought the company in 1972."

Turrent further commented: "At one point we had 170 stores around the New York City area selling the cigars. [It was] mostly a New York cigar. In the '70s, about 60 percent of our sales [of the Te-Amo brand] came from New York."

Watch the video: NYC Food Truck Puts Ex-Inmates To Work. NBC News (May 2022).