A Year After Sandy


Today’s is a more personal story about Lorna and Jeff Spiro. Their resilience and strength in the face of adversity is not really a digital story, but it is one I’m proud to tell over the Internet.

A year ago, their home in Long Beach, LI was badly damaged and its contents wiped out by Hurricane Sandy. This is the home that Lorna grew up in and then took over as a married woman. This is the home that Lorna knows as her safe haven, no matter what else is going on in the world.

The house is nestled on a canal, blocks away from the ocean. That didn’t matter one bit when the water levels rose to where her cars and her lifetime belongings were washed away. Lorna and Jeff were home at the time and watched in disbelief as their shelter was collapsing one floor at a time.

Lorna is an artist, primarily a sculptor. Luckily, her masterpieces were saved by some fancy footwork. Many appear below in pictures that I took this past Sunday when my brother Steve and sister-law Susan took Eliot and me to visit these friends with whom they have been close for four decades.

We were honored to be invited along so we could marvel at their accomplishments after months of being homeless. Not only did they have the emotional and mental capacity to rebuild, but dealing with insurance companies and government agencies must have taken a super powerful inner strength that only a few can muster.

Lorna and Jeff Spiro are making everything perfect again.













I Had Sex With My Ex


This is a story about how emails can be a peacemaker. I know I talked before about how emails can provoke wars between old friends, but now I have a story about how two separated seniors (husband and wife) are possibly reuniting because of their correspondence on email during Hurricane Sandy.

I was reminded of this story after I read an article in The New York Times about how ex-couples fight less because most of their communications about their children now take place through emails. There is less face-to-face time, so tough relationships are much calmer. Click here to read that article.

Here is my story.

For years now, I have been listening to one of my clients bitterly complain about her husband who cheated on her once at the age of 70. She kicked him out. They never divorced but lived separately. Even though the are still married, she always refers to him as “my ex.” It was shocking when I first found out about it, but every business meeting after that was elongated by 15 minutes of her updating everyone on what that “son-of-bitch” recently did. We heard about his new girlfriends, his new sport cars and his new bachelor pad.

I noticed a few days ago that she wasn’t complaining anymore. I didn’t say anything because I was so happy for the reprieve. Then all of a sudden she was smiling a lot. She even got giddy during meetings. She was agreeable, positive, and calm.

Okay, enough of this BS. What is going on? I had to endure the dark days, so why shouldn’t I share in the happy ones? I finally asked.

“I had sex with my Ex,” she explained. “What? You couldn’t stand him? What happened?” She said that during Hurricane Sandy they had to email back and forth because the home they shared on Fire Island was badly damaged.

For some reason the emails were very endearing. They were both devastated by the damage, their children were heartbroken by the split, they were getting older, and a few of their friends had recently died. They were consoling each other on email several times a day. Then one night two weeks ago all of their children were coming to her apartment for dinner, so she invited him too because he was still without electricity. He was working out of a Starbucks several times a day.

She said the conversations on emails cured a lot of the hurt she was feeling. They were able to talk to each other without interruption and impulsive insults. All the good seeped through.

After their adult children left when dinner was over, he hung around for a night cap. One thing led to another and that’s where she ended the story, other than admitting to the lovemaking.

I am not sure if they will ever get back together, but at least her hostility is gone.


The Only List of Those Who Died During Hurricane Sandy

You probably won’t believe this either. but with all the news about Hurricane Sandy there wasn’t a definitive list of those who died. When tragedy occurs, newspapers usually rush to create a list as a tribute to those that were lost. This time nothing. Everyone was so busy reporting the loss of land and housing that no one from the news media took the time to really focus on everyone who perished. Some speculate that most newspapers today do not have the money to spend on true investigative reporting. Most of the stories we read everyday are either aggregated or are blurbs about a particular topic. Sometimes I can’t believe a story suddenly comes to a close. I hate the words, “If you want more information on this topic, click here.” Boo hoo!

It deeply saddened my daughter Whitney that the people who died were not being remembered. She stopped everything that she was working on and spent a few days researching who died, where they lived, the cause, and other pertinent information. Whitney is a whiz on the Internet so she was able to unearth a lot and what she couldn’t find she extracted from police, fire, government and legal files. She got so caught up in the investigation she barely ate or slept until the job was completed. She took the investigation as far as she could and then posted on Pleasure and Pain, her blog.

Whitney has a huge following so it naturally went viral, but she didn’t expect the few surprises she got. One is that families are now calling her to help them find loved ones and secondly, major outlets are reposting her blog piece. New York Magazine, called her late last week to tell her they were going to use the story and with their resources, try to did a little deeper. Below is what they printed in this week’s edition. The story appears on the front page of the Intelligencer column, page 7. They devoted an entire page to the subject and gave her total credit.

Whitney’s career is now devoted to “empathy” in business. If you follow her tweets and blog posts you will read her thoughts about how important it is for companies today to be empathetic in order to build strong foundations. There is a whole science behind this thinking and I am not the one to spell it out.

Since she told me about her concentration a few months ago, I am seeing more and more books and articles on this subject. So will you. Whitney is very sensitive about the New York magazine piece as well as the others that picked up her blog post. She is not proud that she was smart enough to get it to go viral. She is very intent that the memory of the victims of Hurricane Sandy be preserved.

Below is the article. To see it online click here.

Two Different Worlds On The Island Of Manhattan

You know something is wrong when no one is on line at the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park

Eliot took to the streets of Manhattan today walking downtown from 62nd and Second to 21st and Broadway and then back again. He went to check on our office at 928 Broadway. Of course, Eliot doesn’t leave home without his trigger finger and his super duper D7000 Nikon. He took lots of pictures but came back home frustrated by what he saw.

People below 39th Street were on the streets looking for shelter and a warm meal and just a few blocks higher, women who lunch along with their husbands who love having trophy wives were shopping for yet another handbag at thousands of dollars a pop. Listen, we like blowing dough as much as the next person, but how about a little sensitivity during this miserable helpless time? All you have to do is turn on the TV to see fellow New Yorkers totally down and out. People are literally living on the streets or next to their burned out homes waiting for the Red Cross to bring their next meal. It is so terribly heartbreaking.

The pictures you see on this post are just a few of what Eliot snapped today.






Hurricane Sandy Tweets

Eliot and I were glued to the TV set last night. As long as we had electricity, we wanted to watch every bit of the news. You can imagine our surprise when all of a sudden we get an email from our daughter Whitney who informed us that patients from NYU’s Langone Medical Center were being evacuated because of a power failure. I could hardly believe my eyes. How did she know that? We were watching every TV channel. We didn’t hear a word about it.

Twitter had the news before any TV news station. Whitney is a big twitter user and monitors posts all the time. Twitter had the info on Langone Medical Center at least a half hour before it was reported on the air. The same thing about Breezy Point. Twenty-four hours later, we all now know the devistating news.

Once again, I wanted all of you to experience how people use Twitter to express themselves and deliver the news first.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
10/29/12, 3:16 PM
Direct view of crane from apartment window. Crane was never properly secured, blowing in the breeze. fb.me/1Ybwhz6bk

Whitney Hess (@whitneyhess)
10/29/12, 10:32 PM
Praying for the lives of the babies in the PICU and NICU being carried down 9 flights of stairs at NYU Tisch Hospital. Generator failed

The Economist (@TheEconomist)
10/30/12, 5:50 AM
Is Hurricane Sandy capable of altering the American election result? econ.st/SqWZGw

CNNMoney.com (@CNNMoney)
10/30/12, 6:01 AM
Wall Street will remain closed for a second straight trading day as Northeast deals with impact of Hurricane Sandy. cnnmon.ie/Ph2hDP

Nicholas Sparks (@SparksNicholas)
10/30/12, 7:07 AM
Hurricane Sandy … because God is tired of political ads too.

Will Farrell (@YourLastLaugh)
10/30/12, 7:22 AM
What if gangnam style is actually just a giant rain dance and we brought hurricane Sandy on ourselves?

1010 WINS (@1010WINSNewYork)
10/30/12, 7:39 AM
1010 WINS is off of AM radio; We are now simulcasting on 92.3 NOW-FM.

Cory Booker (@CoryBooker)
10/30/12, 8:12 AM
Thank you RT @bsesser: A good list of organizations that need donations/volunteers in the wake of Sandy – bit.ly/PErtp5

The New York Times (@nytimes)
10/30/12, 8:18 AM
A six-alarm fire has engulfed several blocks in the Rockaways, 3 dead elsewhere in NYC nyti.ms/SrmyXU

Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC)
10/30/12, 8:22 AM
We send our deepest condolences to 83 people killed by hurricane Sandy: 15 in US, 1 in Canada, and 67 in the Caribbean. Rest in Peace.

POLITICO (@politico)
10/30/12, 8:38 AM
Chris Christie heaps praise on Obama for his handling of Hurricane Sandy: politi.co/S9OID9

Amazon (@amazon)
10/30/12, 9:05 AM
If you’d like to help the victims of #HurricaneSandy, you can donate to the @RedCross through Amazon.com: amzn.to/RlgUSV

Popular Science (@PopSci)
10/30/12, 9:07 AM
5 surprising things that Sandy teaches us about climate change. That’s right. pops.ci/RqDX23

Reuters Top News (@Reuters)
10/30/12, 9:18 AM
Hurricane Sandy losses worse than Irene: disaster forecasters reut.rs/WXO2a6

Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz)
10/30/12, 9:27 AM
Great info for all those affected. RT @TIME: Health and Safety tips for looking after yourself during Sandy ti.me/S9B2YI

Deepak Chopra (@DeepakChopra)
10/30/12, 9:34 AM
Hurricane Sandy’s fury has been crippling & devastating & now mercifully abating. How many wonder as I do that Mother Nature feels violated

Donna D. (@MildlyAmused)
10/30/12 11:46 AM
Before and After photos of Funtown Pier. twitpic.com/b8t60w via @bannerite

NYC ARECS (@nycarecs)
10/30/12 12:23 PM
Stunning photo from last night, which bridge would you take? Neither! #sandy #nyc #dot pic.twitter.com/xrfl455v

Weed Dude (@weeddude)
10/30/12 1:27 PM
Photo: Underground parking garage flooded almost to the ceiling at 20 Jay St in #Brooklyn instagr.am/p/RaiZ7GGMoV/ (@NYCAviation) #Sandy

Yahoo! News (@YahooNews)
10/30/12, 2:35 PM
A New Jersey woman gave birth to a baby boy in a hospital truck during ‘Superstorm’ Sandy: yhoo.it/Rny5TR

TACO BELL (@TacoBell)
10/30/12, 2:49 PM
For those of you impacted by #HurricaneSandy, don’t worry! You will get #FreeDoritosTacos at a later date. bit.ly/TSkiFg

Carmelo Anthony (@carmeloanthony)
10/30/12, 3:06 PM
Hope everyone is staying safe after Hurricane Sandy.

New York Post (@NewYorkPost)
10/30/12, 3:08 PM
Beachfront home of Ronald Lauder was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy LIVEUPDATES nyp.st/Q41B5V

Forbes (@Forbes)
10/30/12, 3:29 PM
With more than 16,000 flights canceled, Hurricane Sandy deals a body blow to air travel. bit.ly/SssNKY

Andrew Cove (@aac)
10/29/12 4:21 PM
Wait, they’re closing the bridges and tunnels? Finally a night worth going out to clubs in NYC!

If you didn’t get the joke written out in the last tweet here, call me. I will explain.

Living With Sandy


I am not even sure if this Digidame will get posted. It’s 8:53pm and we were just notified that they are shutting off the power in the elevators of our coop on 62nd and Second, NYC. They expect the power to blow any minute.

The wind outside is howling and our windows are shaking. Thank goodness for emails, tweets and texts. Family and friends are sending each other updates with pictures so everyone is totally aware of conditions throughout the Hurricane Sandy area.

One of the biggest challenges is a partially broken crane on top of an 80 story building on 57th and 7th. Everyone in the area has been evacuated or asked to move to lower floors in nearby buildings. Some debris has already fallen from the crane to the streets below. Luckily, no one was hurt.

The following pictures will show you taped windows, trees down, floods and 70 mile an hour winds. All photos from F&F. Notice the Fifth Avenue Apple Store with sandbags surrounding it and the view from the New York Times that shows the heavy winds.