Jul 30, 2011

NYRA, McDonald's ink promo deal

The New York Racing Association -- alleged stewards of historic Saratoga Race Course -- today announced a promotional marketing agreement with fast food pusher McDonald's Corporation. The arrangement includes the display of the company's iconic Gold Arches in the track's infield.

"What better way to link two of America's great brands, Saratoga and McDonald's," asked NYRA flack Richard Wood. "Our customers will now see those famous arches every time they gaze upon the lush greenery that is Saratoga."

As part of that arrangement, the Travers canoe will be relocated to a twelve-foot, above gound swimming pool that will be placed next to the Big Red Spring in the backyard picnic area.

The reported $1 million campaign will also include daily winner's circle presentations by Ronald McDonald, Happy Meals as two of the meet's popular giveaways and McDonald's restaurants scattered throughout the grandstand.

Jul 26, 2011

Race track architecture series

Be there..and get smart

The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation has put together a nice show & tell series on the matter of global race track architecture. The three scheduled sessions will run thru the Saratoga meet and should be of interest to local give a hoots.

The speaker is Mr Paul Roberts of England's Turnberry Consulting -- the firm contracted by NYRA to create a strategic plan for upgrading its three tracks in the state. I attended an earlier presentation by Mr Roberts and can attest to his understanding of Saratoga's history as well as his unique knowledge of what racing facilities look like.

Session # starts tonight at the Saratoga Arts Center. Here is the primer for the series:

Race Course ArchitecturePaul Roberts, Speaker
$10 members/$15 non-members per lecture

Paul Roberts will present three lectures on historic race courses world-wide. The last of which will feature research from his newly published book The Spa: Saratoga’s Legendary Track. After each lecture, Mr. Roberts will host a book signing.

In May 2007, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation formed the Saratoga Race Course Preservation Coalition to advocate for a thoughtful, balanced approach to the preservation and modernization at the Saratoga Race Course. Paul Roberts of Turnberry Consulting, London was appointed in 2008 by New York Racing Association (NYRA) to advise the direction of capital improvements on the Saratoga Race Course’s three tracks, following the confirmation of NYRA’s new franchise. The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation as part of the Saratoga Race Course Preservation Coalition wishes to aid NYRA in preserving the future integrity of the buildings and landscape features of Saratoga Race Course.

Jul 25, 2011

Blogs are dead, they say?

Media wonks ... all waxing nostalgic for the Blog Era .... proving how short our spans of reference are today ... but hey: blogs failed to save journalism like they were supposed to do the first time around ... what makes 'em think it would be dfferent now? ... Hmmmm?

Jul 23, 2011

Ask Joe Bruno - July edition

Dear Joseph,
Has your family broached the subject of preserving your head after you move on to the big fundraiser in the sky? You know, the way they did with Ted Williams.
(Just Wondering)

Dear Just,
Funny you should ask that. Kenny was tape measuring my noggin the other day when I was trying to eat my oatmeal. He said he was gonna buy me a new hat. But I got a goddam closet full of goddam hats. I'm telling you, that kid is making me more nervous every day that goes by. Did you hear he's selling used cars now?

Dear Joe,
Will we see you at the track this summer?
(Zanyatta's BFF)

Dear Z-BFF,
Does Spitzer wear black socks with call girls?

Dear JB
What are we supposed to call you now: Senator, Former Senator, Con Joe, Joe the Hood, Inmate Joe, what?
(Bill B)

Dear BB,
You think you're real funny now, don't you? Tell you what, Mr. Big shot: how about you just call me Daddy?

Dear Joe Bruno,
What kind of job do you think Andrew Cuomo is doing?
(Your Neighbor in Brunswick)

Dear Neighbor,
What do you hear? Did he get a good report card or something? What is he, in the 6th grade by now?

Dear Mr. Bruno,
If your federal conviction sticks, do you think it's appropriate to keep your name on the baseball stadium in Troy?
(Babe Ruth IV)

Dear Mr Ruth,
They named a baseball stadium after me?

Welcome to Poseur'ville

OMG! OMG! Take a Pic - I'm at Siro's!

So, this is what is has all become? Just like those annoying photos you are forced to pose for when you board a cruise ship, we now have the same scene going down at Siro's?

"Wanna picture?" "No thanks, wanna buy me a drink instead?"

It seems that it's no longer about participating; it's about showing up and being seen. The goal is not so much to have a good time; it's about getting a picture taken so one can say "lookie me -- I was there!"

The so-called Experience Economy has now become the "See Me Now Economy." Goal #1: make an archive for the facebook page.

One also has to be baffled by this guy's old school business model: isn't he competing with the cell phone camera that 95% of these posers have in their purse and pocket?

Jul 21, 2011

Get on the Nanoburgh train!

And why the hell not? Here are the introductory rates for attaching your name to this great and beloved brand.

WOW, look at those numbers! I would have thought they'd be a WHOLE LOT more!

Ready? Hit us at nanoburgh (at the mail service known as) gmail.com -- and say I'm in!

(Click on the graphic for better readability)

Jul 19, 2011

Saratoga: 40 Tips for 40 Days

Valuable wisdom from a native Saratogian with five decades of experience at America's home for the great sport of thoroughbred horse racing

1. Best day for filly-watching? Opening Day!

2. Rain? Mass scratches? Go home

3. Class on the grass

4. Never bet the rail out of the 7f chute

5. Don't drink if you're there for serious betting

6. Spot plays vs betting everything that moves

7. Don't dis' the jumpers

8. Belmont grass form doesn't hold up well

9. Ignore the jockeys -- they're all good

10. Be wary of both the rail and outside posts at 5f grass races

11. Follow Pletcher from the paddock to the windows; and listen

12. Loose speed kills -- lay it down.

13. Double-up Tip #12 for route races.

14. Watch for fillies & mares getting distracted, mid-August onward

15. Two pools at the Spa Park -- bring the Form

16. The worst horse tips come from jockeys

17. Trainers are a close second

18. Long race on soft turf? Christophe Clement

19. Siro's is for poseurs, the Horseshoe is for racing fans

20. Come Week #3, avoid 'duck' (winless) trainers

21. Inspect your tab in the Dining Room

22. Golf? Saratoga Lake over Saratoga National

23. Better yet, drive north

24. River rafting in Luzerne - ahhhh

25. Avoid Lake George. You're trying to get away from those people, remember?

26. If you see the Irish barn boys out drinking: run!

27. Best betting opp's? Pick 3's

28. House mates will get on your nerves by Alabama Day

29. If your definition of entertainment is shitty cover bands, you're in luck!

30. Worst viewing spot? Those glorified trailers on the clubhouse turn

31. Sneaky wet-track breeding lines? Lemon Drop Kid and (deeper in pedigree) Cyane

32. OCD lucky first stop upon arrival? Big Red Spring.

33. Most under-rated handicapping tool? Today's track bias

34. Best way to ruin your visit? Visit Caroline Street at 2AM

35. Lost that race? Find a new viewing spot for the next one

36. Blue silks on gray horse is unlucky -- avoid

37. Don't walk away from the self-serve machine without your voucher

38. Washed-out horse = washed-out bankroll

39. Want to sound like a long time local? Call it the race course (not track) and learn the correct way to pronounce Travers

40. Best kept local secret? The Northway southbound entrance ramp off Crescent Ave


Contribute Now


Jul 18, 2011

The State of Local Journalism - Part 1


Here is a real world email I received a few months back:

Really? Wow. Good luck with that.

I'll link to the story in my weekly web round-up.

Feel free to make an offer on any of the stories
in XXXX (my publication). LOL.


The gentleman behind these words is the Owner-Publisher-Editor of a certain news service in New York State.

He was replying to an offer I had made whereby he could reprint a lengthy story that I had authored two months prior and which had been previously published in a local specialty, narrow niche magazine. Given that the piece concerned economic, energy and quality of life issues within his specific geographic coverage area, I thought it only natural for there to be interest in making it available to his constituency.

The original publisher agreed, and we were to split the requested reprint fee of $60 between us. We're talking real high finance here.

The reply to that offer is the above greeting.



Here is a real life email from June:

"Thank you for the interest in placing a
feature profile story in XXXXX Magazine!

As the premier showcase publication for the area's
movers and shakers, XXXX Magazine provides you with
exposure to the elite decision makers that will
buy your product or service.

I have enclosed a Rate Card for highlighting your
story in XXXX Magazine."


The author of this message has as her title that of being Account Executive for a monthly, glossy style magazine that is seen around the area at coffee shops, waiting rooms and libraries as a freebie.

Her A/E title is most interesting, given the fact that I had initiated this conversation with an inquiry to the publication's listed Editor as to whether they would be interested in profiling my suggested mover & shaker: a successful gentleman in the process of putting together an investment fund with a mission of funding local startups. I had no dog in this fight, with no financial motivation --- I just thought it would be helpful for this story to get out there.

Instead, I was handed a bunch of dollar signs telling me how much it would cost to get that story out there. An inside profile? $1250. If I want the front cover? $5000. Website-only was also available, but I needed to inquire by phone to get that particular good news.



A former intern received this email one year ago:

"Our Web Editor must have competent writing
and editing skills as well as excellence in SEO
strategies and implementation. Our web-only content
must have as its first priority the ability to draw
readers based on both its topical popularity as well
as optimized pages."


Our young friend, in her quest for gainful employment, had responded to a job opening at a local weekly newspaper. The above was the reply to her followup question on some of the specifics of the job's responsibilities.


So, there we have it: the three hot buttons of today's world of local journalism:
1. Uncompensated writers
2. Pay-to-Play
3. SEO-first

Part Two of this series will dive deeper. But I thought these three nuggets would serve as a good warm up.

Jul 16, 2011

Big to small banking

When a bank is shut down, it is always a small bank that is shut, with its assets being handed off to a large bank.

That process should be reversed

When the banking system used to work, it was because local institutions, with their hands on the pulse of its own community, were the standard. Consolidation and de-regulation changed all that -- and we all know what happened.

Reverse the curse.

Jul 15, 2011

SPAC's new push: chain gangs

This morning, we read of a SPAC press conference that herald the Crusade-like revival of the Shock & Awe campaign against special event attendees. It goes like this: get caught with alcohol on the SPAC grounds and parking lot and you'll be arrested and sentenced to chain gang labor of garbage pickup duty.

Let's roll the tape:

Just a few days ago, we were subject to SPAC's whining about the lack of attendance at the ballet, and how it's not their fault that younger people will not go to see the NYCB.

Now we see this microphone session, compete with public safety officials on hand threatening to lower the hammer with their mission to wipe out this lager madness.

Well, the latter certainly provides a warm & fuzzy SPAC experience for those young people for whom SPAC is trying to get to come to the ballet once in a while, aren't they?

Yes, indeed: hassle the heck out of them, arrest them, make them do chain gang labor -- or as an option, charge them $12 for "official & approved" beer.

Yep, that's the way to build up a deep sense of SPAC loyalty among the targeted demographic.

Let's keep an eye on the Stun Gun Report that the city is being forced to release by the courts: I have a feeling that quite a few of the line item entries will have a Spa Park address attached to them.

Jul 13, 2011

Tweetin' Old Timey Tunes

Old School Marketing Is Still Old School Marketing

Milkman Mike is a true old school businessman. Every morning, five days a week, he delivers bottles of the white stuff to little tin boxes on the doorsteps of suburban homes. He's been doing it for 25 year; his family has been doing it for close to 70. If that's not old school I don't know what is.

Now, if Mike trades-in his rusting truck for a brand new-this-year model, does he lose that old school tag? Is his business now fundamentally different? Of course not: despite the new wheels, he's still delivering milk the old fashioned way. The basic business model remains unchanged.

Let's turn that same exercise and direct it to the modern crop of self professed marketeers: Does your heavy use of Tweeter (or facebook for that matter) automatically signal that you have fundamentally changed your marketing model?

In examining most cases, that answer is NO. Here's why:

Despite its value as social platforms, most marketing types still employ the old school broadcast methodology when they are handed the keys to these net's. You know: Priority 1 is to accumulate as many contacts/friends as possible; and Priority 2 is to constantly barrage them with tweets & feeds. Such an approach truly defeats the purpose. They are still in the milk delivery business, despite the new delivery vehicle.

For many in the marketing profession, this is a bitter pill to swallow. But a look in the mirror would be a healthy procedure --- especially for your clients' sake.

Jul 12, 2011

Saudis=Yes; Ruskies=OMG!

I guess the Russians still scare us more than the Saudis. Proof: here's a breaking scandalous business story from the AP today:

AP Sources: Russian steelmaker to get US loan
$730m US government loan to update Michigan plant

DETROIT (AP) -- Two people briefed on the matter say the North American arm of Russia's largest steel company is getting a $730 million loan from the U.S. government. STORY HERE

Now, shhhhh'ush: don't anyone tattle on the Luther Forest chip plant project; OK? The AP might have a brain aneurysm when they learn about those $$$ numnbers.

Jul 11, 2011

Murdoch's Chess Move: Oops!

Wouldn't it be nice if the US had a similar mechanism -- and the integrity -- to bitch slap its own tabloid, broadcast news and talk radio cretins? (see story, below).

It looks like Murdoch's tactic of quickly closing down his London scandal & rumor rag didn't ensure the intended goal of serving up a head in return for keeping the BSkyB deal on track.

Instead, all it did was give the shareholders a little haircut and took one plague off the world's media landscape -- both good things.


Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB Bid:
Government Lawyers Reportedly Moving To Block Buyout

By Paul Sandle

LONDON, July 11 (Reuters) - British government lawyers are drawing up plans to block Rupert Murdoch's bid to buy out the broadcaster BSkyB, the Independent newspaper said on Monday, a move that could spare Prime Minister David Cameron a potentially damaging parliamentary vote. READ MORE

Jul 5, 2011

O.J., Act II

Aren't we blessed to have a justice system that locks up a psychopathic mom who disposed of her little girl's body like a piece of trash, with the death having been the result of either dearest Mom's gross negligence (at best) or outright murder (at worst)?

Wait, what?

How could the prosecutors blow this case? Maybe it has something to do with relying on 'odor chemistry'? But just like Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden gained fame and fortune for losing the O.J. Simpson case, I'm sure these fine public servants won't go idle or hungry.

Not when we have the American media always on the prowl for new star power!

Jul 3, 2011

Rummaging thru MySpace's wreckage

The old site becomes a 3yo snapshot

As some of you readers are aware, we here at Nanoburgh dabble in the music business. Translation: we produce and promote live concerts, mainly on the low end of the spectrum (100 to 500 attendees per show).

It's more a passion than a business, but it's something we're good at. Over the years, we've put together a perfect streak of excellence on the stage, having hosted many dozens of great acts in a wide variety of genres. We can even brag of having discovered an artist who is now a major star and playing a smaller role in a another of the same. It's all good and it's all fun.

MySpace played an important role in our promotional and talent discovery activities in our early years; say in the 2006-2008 period. MySpace was the buzz, and its roots in music made it the perfect place for us to hang our brand, announce shows, collect a following and keep that tribe up to speed on what we were up to. It worked well.

But come 2009, it was quickly losing its value to us. Do I really need to know what happy hour every cover band in the country was playing? The in-box was flooded with acts trying to get in our loop, but too many of them were kinds in a basement. The bands outnumbered the fans, and the promotional aspect of the service was disappearing. By early 2010, our page was pretty much abandoned --- as it seemed everyone else's was.

MySpace is the ultimate boom to bust story of the Net. It was just sold for $35 million, a far cry from the $580 million that NewsCorp paid for it. At a recent powwow with some of my business pals, the question was posed as to "what would you do if you were handed the keys?". None of us had a good answer.

Every few months, I log into the old account, just to see if I am missing anything. I never am. But I always fail to completely shut down and delete the account. 2,000accumulated friends is why. That, plus the hope that someone has an answer to that question that my own posse failed to deliver.

But rummaging through the old contacts, artist and fans as well as reading the old messages and bulletins is kind of like hitting the Wayback Machine and going back in time. It also shows how fluid people's live and their relationships can be.

I see bands and solo artists that are no longer active; casualties of the most unfair business int he world and forced to give up their dreams and enter the 9 to 5 door. I find devoted music lovers who used to come to all of our shows and became friend as a result, but have since moved out of the area of are in a different state of mind where hitting a rock & roll concert on a Wednesday night just doesn't jive anymore. Our former interns and helpers pop up here and there, as do press and radio people we lost track of, college kids that use to beg their way into shows and are now scattered all over the world, and yes--even a couple of flames as well. All of it is a bit, well: sad.

Saddest of all is one particular trail that can be followed in the old site, that of a pretty cool and quirky band whole original tunes and on-stage sprit I thoroughly enjoyed when they played for me a few times. I can still read the buzz that was generated at those early shows, with their large local contingent of hometown friends that were along for the ride yakking back and forth. Then I can observe how it all started to fall apart and the gang lost their cohesiveness and the shows became less of a big deal to many of them. Relationships split and people moved away and the band's upward trajectory stalled as the party stopped. It came to a final crash ending with the leader of the group passing away; much, much too young. It makes me wonder whether each and every member of that extended gang is even aware of that tragedy of their former ringleader?

It's all there to discover, follow and interpert; almmost like an Eqyptian tomb. RIP MySpace. RIP 2008.

Jul 2, 2011

Losing the blinders

Local media and racing fans need to see bigger picture

The thoroughbred horse racing industry has its share of problems. If it were to be a single business entity, the standard "these conditions raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern" clause that is seen in the financial statements of troubled companies would appear in theirs. Anyone involved in racing knows there are problems, and most are willing to lend thought and suggestions to fixing them.

But many in the Saratoga Springs area don't want any part of that messy conversation. After all, the local summer meet at the Old Course on Union Avenue is the most successful in the land. If it works here, that must mean it works everywhere -- or so the thinking seems to go. Living in such a vacuum is convenient and soothing. Who needs the real world?

The Saratogian newspaper -- long one of this column's favorite whipping boys -- plays right into this mix by failing to offer a forum for a big picture look at the myriad of problems out there. Yes, it will publish who/what/where stories on some noisy subject matters of the sport; and yes its racing columnist will occasionally be allowed to rightfully rant about some injustice. But for the most part, it seems to have as its policy one of "don't rock the boat" and "don't stir the natives" when it comes to the soft white underbelly of racing-related issues and developments.

Case in point is Saturday's simple what's happening soon story titled Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay to headline gala benefiting Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Now there's a headline that needs to be shortened. But that's not the point. Nor is the fact that a background story on the fate of a similar (but now gone) annual event's originator might be of interest to the reader (hint: the Bernie Madoff affair).

Instead, this story highlights how this newspaper -- the daily rag of the city of the nation's greatest race track -- has no real commitment to filling that very role. Let's point out two examples from the story mentioned:

- Claim: "More than 3,000 thoroughbreds per year retire from America’s racetracks and need new homes and second careers."
- Fact: This figure does not add up. Given that up to 30,000 thoroughbreds are born each year, the writer's number could be off by a factor of 10.

- Claim: "Some tracks such as Philadelphia Park, Suffolk Downs and Finger Lakes have full-fledged retirement programs. Retirement isn’t as much of an issue at New York Racing Association tracks, including Saratoga Race Course, because they typically have higher quality horses that quite often go to breeding programs when their racing days are over."
- Fact: Retirement is very much an issue at NYRA. The statement inferring that Saratoga's quality-driven bloodstock results in more of them going to post-racing breeding careers is not-quite correct. While the female component might see a 40-60% transition to becoming race mares, the male population is nowhere in that territory. I'd be surprised if the figure was north of 2 or 3%.

Nitpicking? Maybe. Whitewashing? Ditto. But the foregone conclusion here is that these two example highlight the paper's unwillingness and/or inability to see the bigger picture of what's really going on on the wider world of racing. It also just might be a good mirror of the general local populace's shortcomings on this matter as well


NOTE: this viewpoint is not meant to be an attack on the author of this story. It is my understanding that the gentleman is fairly new to the city and is not, in fact, part the paper's Sports Department. But he is being asked to 'cover' what is basically a sports story. There lies the problem, but one that is so very common in today's news journalism world: young reporters being asked to greatly widen their coverage areas and workloads because of the dire business straits of the firms for whom they are employed. It is no wonder that these young men and women typically serve very short terms before they leave the field of journalism entirely.