Let’s Go, Buffalo!

Got to see the Bills first playoff win in 25 years (since before Josh Allen was even born! 🙂 )

I lived in Buffalo for 13 years, went to school there, both my kids were born there, and back in the day (the ’90s), when they played in all the playoff games and went to 4 Super Bowls in a row, we went to a lot of the games (actually, Derek and I went to their 2nd Super Bowl in Minneapolis in 1992, and I walked out just after halftime—but that’s another quite demented and telling story 🙂 )

Anyway, the game was a great time, and first time, unanimous Hall of Fame Bills QB, Jim Kelly, stopped in to say hey. Icing on the cake and a great game and a good time with some good peeps. Only 6,700 folks were allowed in (first fans allowed in ALL season) and we were lucky to be a part of it.

Next week, Baltimore.

Let’s Go, Buffalo!

A Few Covid-19 Thoughts

Of all the folks who have been talking about Covid for the past 9 months (9 months—Wow! Who woulda thunk it?) my favorite has been Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner. I also like Doctors Birks and Fauci, but maybe because Gottlieb is no longer in Government, he has been able to be more measured, and I think more sober and accurate than anyone.

On ‘Face the Nation’ this morning, he said this: (my words, not his)

That the next 2-3 months will be the worst period of this pandemic.

That even though we now know more about the virus and are able to treat it better, the fact that it is surging all across the nation will make it hard/impossible for the Federal Govt to “backstop” the hard-hit areas (because there are now too many hard-hit areas vs in the spring when it was mostly in the Northeast and major cities).

He said, “Don’t get hit now. Be smart. Be careful. Don’t let Covid fatigue get you down. You’ve made it this far. Don’t let your guard down. Muscle through these next few months”.

Because help is on the way and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The 2 vaccines (plus several more from other big firms) are testing out VERY well/way better than expected, with 95% (vs. normal 50%) effectiveness. First indications seem like these will work and will work well.

They will be out in a month or so, and by the beginning of 2021, will have been given to front-line health care providers and the most at-risk elderly who are in health care institutions.

Later in 1Q 2021, the other at-home elderly people will also get their shots.

They will then work down the cohorts and by next fall, likely 30% of Americans will have either had the disease while another large portion of the population will have been given the vaccine, so that going into next year’s “flu” season, the risk should be almost eliminated and the rest of the young/healthy population can get inoculated then.

That’s truly good news and, while requiring more patience, it seems like the end of this mess will be here sooner than later (finally!) Can’t wait.

Stay safe and stay smart everyone!

Here’s a pic of me visiting Big Ern out in LA last week 🙂


The Remote Way of Life

Lucky for me, every year I get to go to the EY Entrepreneur of the Year forum in Palm Springs, California. As most of you know, I’m not a big event guy, but because we won this award 15 or so years ago, I get invited back and it is one of my favorite things. I never miss it.

This year, of course, it will be “remote”. And it got me to thinking—even though they have their usual incredible roster of speakers, and even though I’m sure I will enjoy it and learn something from it, it is definitely NOT going to be the same experience as being there. The “mixing and mingling” in the halls; the chance to sit at lunch with other entrepreneurs and CEO’s and “just talk” will be missing. That, plus actually meeting business leaders like Hadi Ulukaya, the founder of Chobani Yogurt, or famous athletes like Shaquille O’Neill in person, is def better than seeing them onscreen from home.

I’ll love it this year. But it won’t be the same.

Which got me to thinking…what really IS the same remote vs being there? I don’t get that. And I don’t get how some folks are trying to make it seem like it’s even close.

Is “going to” a wedding remotely the same as being there?
A funeral?
A grandkid’s birthday party?
A dinner at Red Lobster?

No. No. No and No.

So, how are we to believe that working remotely or going to school remotely is the same as being there??? (I know that in my case, I went to school and had a hard time paying attention—could not even imagine how my ADD attention span would work trying to learn onscreen from home!)

And at work—true, you can DO some of the same things you do from the office. But SO MUCH is lost by not being there. Not seeing each other to stop and chat in the hallway. Or hearing what’s in the air. Or the serendipity that often occurs when paths intersect.

You know, most of what I’ve learned in life was not from a textbook. And in business, I learned a lot just by “being there” and watching the way Fred Rizzuto or Gretchen Seth or Dan Lynch (and many others) simply “handled things”. Oh, THAT’S how you deal with something like that! Sitting home, how do folks learn what the others have already learned and are eager to pass on? I don’t get it.

And, full disclosure—I travel a lot, and am “remote” probably half the year. So I KNOW it’s not the same. I can do it. And it works. But it’s nowhere near the same experience about being here. Not even close.

That’s my rant. Not that it matters. And nothing really I can do about it. Seems like the “smart” thinking nowadays is lots more things remote. But, I think that’s a big mistake, and I do believe that just like many “good ideas at the time” this pendulum will swing back and down the road, we’ll realize that humans are social animals, who need interaction and the support/lessons gained from the pack.

Guess we’ll see…



I see that NYC teachers have again refused to go back to class to teach. They say they are afraid to go back to unsafe conditions. (Of course, they say they are afraid for others/not for themselves. Uh, huh)

And I get fear. As I’ve mentioned, when this all started I happened to be reading the book about the blitzkrieg nightly bombings of London during world war 2. Imagine how horrifying that must be. And different folks reacted differently to it.

Some would go into the bunkers, while others would not even bother. But the ones who went into the bunkers would come out once the all-clear siren sounded. But, for others, that was not enough. They stayed scared to come out. (Some may never have come out?)

Isn’t it the same here?  In NYC there are virtually ZERO deaths/new cases down here for the past couple of months. Isn’t that enough of an all-clear siren?  These teachers all say/rally that they care about educating “their” kids. But, if they really believed that, wouldn’t they just face their fear and take the first steps and get back into the schools (yeah, wear masks, social distance, wash your hands, create pods).  How do they justify this when so many other schools have been open and their teachers back to work for weeks? (I’d think these parents here in NYC are seeing kids from all over the country going back to school and wondering “why not my kids?”)

Also, another, related thought: What if others (who were also afraid, I am sure—all through this deadly epidemic) stayed home?

Nurses? Doctors? Janitors? Truck drivers? Grocery store clerks? Warehouse workers?

People who DID THEIR JOB, even when scared and in WAY more danger back then than there is now. And—how dangerous is fighting these out of control forest fires? What if the tens of thousands of front line heroes fighting these west coast fires said, “Ah, it’s dangerous out there. I don’t feel safe going.”  Where would California and Oregon be? What kind of country would we be?

I don’t know. I hate to judge others. But, really, is going to school to teach kids who need it and miss it all THAT dangerous?  REALLY???

Here is the daily NYC chart of deaths from COVID-19.

Come on, folks!  Be smart. Be careful. But—

Do Your Job!  Just like so many millions of others have done through the months-long (and relatively successful) process of flattening this curve.

Just my 2 cents. Stay safe. But…


My Brother (Doug) and Bill Russell

This article first appeared in the Post Journal on October 28, 2007, days after my brother returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Las Vegas and a visit with his sports hero and a few other NBA legends.

The photograph below, which spans two pages in a hard-cover book entitled ”NBA at 50,” is of a man, who has his chin resting in his hands. The shot is taken from such a close range that one can read the inscriptions on the rings that he wears on each one of his fingers. Bill Russell, one of the NBA’s 50 all-time greatest players, knows all about rings and, more specifically, those of the championship variety. After all, between 1956 and 1969, the former Boston Celtics great led his team to 11 titles in 13 seasons.

Tack on two NCAA championships he won at the University of San Francisco and an Olympic gold medal and Russell is arguably the greatest winner in the history of team sports.

” … The only really important thing was to try and win every game,” Russell said in a quote accompanying the magnificent photograph, ”because when I got through no one could say, ‘Well, he was the best at this or that.’ The only thing that really mattered was who won. And there is nothing subjective about that.”

Powerful words.

Not surprising, at least to Doug Berlin.

The Jamestown resident has literally carried the book – and figuratively decades of memories – all the way to Las Vegas, hoping to have his dreams realized by rubbing elbows with Russell, his lifelong hero.

So as Berlin sits down to eat breakfast last week at the ultra-posh Wynn Las Vegas Hotel and Casino – he was one of 30 campers to take part in the Bill Russell and His Legendary Friends Basketball Camp last week – he can’t believe what he’s seeing.

First, John Havlicek walks in, he the owner of eight championship rings and a former teammate of Russell’s. Sam Jones, another Celtic icon with 10 rings, soon follows and Berlin has to pinch himself to realize it isn’t all a dream.

At least he doesn’t think it is.

But then Russell makes his appearance. Berlin, a 53-year-old U.S. Postal worker who first saw the 6-foot-9 center at Madison Square Garden in the early 1960s, just about choked on his fresh fruit.

”He walked in front of me and I said, ‘It’s him, my hero,”’ Berlin recalled. ”It’s like I was watching him on a big-screen TV.”

Larger than life.

Berlin was finally snapped back to reality when he was tapped on the shoulder.

”Doug,” said a man known for his no-look passes, championship rings and ear-to-ear smiles,

”do you mind if I sit here?” Berlin’s new breakfast guest was none other than Magic Johnson.

Berlin was smitten with Russell upon seeing him for the first time during a visit to Madison Square Garden with his father Al more than 40 years ago.

”I saw the Celtics come out with those green shiny uniforms and then this guy came out and it was like there was a light on Bill Russell. … There were nine guys on the court and this vision.”

From that point on, Berlin emulated everything Russell did.

”I was the only Jewish kid on Long Island wearing low-cut black Chuck Taylor Converse shoes … and I was the only Jewish kid wearing the No. 6. … I could have gone any one of a million ways, but it just happened to be him. With my luck he was on a great team that won, which made it all the better.”

And even though his interest in the NBA isn’t nearly as great now as when the Celtics were piling up championships like cordwood, Berlin’s love for Russell has never waned.

”He’s been a hero all these years,” Berlin said.

Jim Berlin has been well aware of his younger brother’s love for the Hall-of-Famer, dating back to the days when the boys shared a bedroom in their Long Island home.

So a few weeks ago he decided to do something about it.

The website for Bill Russell and his Legendary Friends Adult Basketball Camp proclaims the four-day visit to Las Vegas as an ”incredible weekend filled with basketball skills and competition, fun and exciting games. Establishing acquaintances with this exceptional group will be the foundation for a most memorable event.”

Amazingly, there’s no embellishment in that description.

In addition to Russell, Johnson, Havlicek and Jones, the other ”legends” who appeared at the camp were Julius Erving, Clyde Drexler, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Charles Barkley and Ann Meyers-Drysdale.

In the middle of it all was Berlin, who read about Russell’s camp in The Boston Globe and thought it would be ”cool,” but never envisioned himself ever attending it.

That’s when Jim Berlin, the chief executive officer and founder of Logistics Plus in Erie, sprang into action.

”I got an email from my brother and he asked me if I’d seen the website,” Doug said. ”I wrote back to him and told him I had.”

Jim’s response?

”Pack your bags, you’re going.”

Despite initial reluctance, Doug was able to get the time off from work and finally agreed to take his brother up on the offer.

”He left me no wiggle room,” Doug said.

Added Jim: ”Once I heard Bill Russell was having his first fantasy camp, I said, ‘Doug needs to be there.’ ”

So on Oct. 17, Doug and his wife Maureen took a flight from Buffalo to Las Vegas.

They were eventually met by their daughter Erin, who flew in from Florida. Their sons, Matt and Mickey, received daily updates at home.

”I guess when Jim saw this,” Doug said as tears welled in his eyes, ”he knew it was made for me.”

The owner of a magnetic personality with the ability to carry on conversation with people in all walks of life, Doug was the only ”camper” who made the trip as the result of a ”gift.”

Still wired from the trip days later, Doug recalled a conversation with Russell’s daughter,

Karen, on the first day of the camp, during which he told her he was a mailman from Jamestown. When he mentioned that he was there courtesy of a gift from his brother, she was stunned, calling him the luckiest guy at the camp.

But Doug knew Ms. Russell wasn’t considering him fortunate only because he was in the company of these great players.

Rather, she realized how unusual it was for brothers to have the kind of relationship that the Berlins do, and that one brother was able to fulfill another’s lifelong dream.

”It’s not that he sent Maureen and I to Las Vegas, gave us ‘x’ amount of dollars and said, ‘Have a good time,’ ” Doug said, as he shook his head in disbelief. ”It’s that Bill Russell is my boyhood hero, who is doing this once-in- a-lifetime thing that Jim found out about and as soon as he heard about it, he said, ‘This would be great for my brother.’

”Here’s a guy who used to be a factory worker and really an ‘every man.’ He wrote scripts and he had a chance to go to Hollywood, but he had a family so he didn’t do it. So he worked at Red Star and it went under. He started his company on his own. In 10 years, he’s got hundreds of employees all over the world, and he hasn’t changed one bit.

”If you knew him 20 years ago, he’s exactly the same.”

Jim, meanwhile, said that sending his brother to Las Vegas ”made me feel great.”

”It’s so neat,” he said. ”He’s such a good guy, and he’s done so much for kids in the Jamestown community for 20 years, and he loves doing it. … It was kind of a way for me to give back.”

The legends and campers spent plenty of time together during their weekend in Las Vegas. Not only were there basketball games – Doug was on a team coached by West, Drexler and Meyers-Drysdale – but there were also ”mixers” and meals at the hotel, where Doug and Maureen had a suite on the 50th floor.

”The bathtub was the size of my bedroom at home,” Doug joked.

By the end of the weekend, Doug had managed to finish in fourth place in the hot-shot competition despite being hobbled by a pair of painful Achilles’ tendons. But, most importantly, he had had a chance to talk, to laugh and to sit down and have a meal with each of the basketball greats.

The autographs and photo opportunities were merely a bonus.

”They were all engaging and warm in their own way,” Doug said.

When it was time to say goodbye, the mailman from Jamestown sought out Russell one last time.

”I told him that he’s always been my hero and that he’d done nothing to diminish it,” Doug said.

A day later, back in Jamestown, he received a visit from another, more personal, hero – his brother.

”I told him the trip was the greatest,” Doug said. ”He just smiled.”

Summer In Long Island

Long Island NY

Photo 42814667 © | Dreamstime.com

I’ve been spending much of the summer down here in Long Island, where I grew up.  I’ve done this for many summers now and I enjoy getting “back to my roots” for a bit, and I feel I can still be PRETTY effective from here (though it’s nowhere near the same as actually being there—not a big fan of “remote” working having done it myself for a few years 🙂 )

Anyway, life here is pretty normal other than wearing masks – I hate it, but it’s better than not being able to do anything. The beach and the boardwalk are pretty normal and most people don’t wear masks there thank God 🙂 . Restaurants are also pretty open here. In the city, there is still no inside dining, which must suck for the restaurant owners. The city has tried to help offset that by allowing more creativity to create outside seating spaces. We went to a paella place on 2nd Ave one night and at 7 pm ALL the waiters, busboys, hostesses, the owners suddenly set up a half dozen tables, barricades, awnings, etc in the BUS LANE (new law allows that) to extend their 6 outside sidewalk tables to a total of 12. Not sure if they can make it with 12 tables, but better than six. Though I’m not sure what they will do when it rains or winter comes. Does not seem like many restaurants can survive here. That will be a shame.

That being said, it strikes me that in times like these it is those who are resourceful and creative and energetic and try to “find a way or make one” (my original thought for the day) who give themselves the best chance to survive this mess.  You don’t hide under your bed or throw your hands up. You figure things out. You control what you can control (none of us control the pandemic’s course). You keep plugging.

We saw a thing on CBS Sunday morning last week about a champion archer who has no arms. He has taken a situation that would have many people “disabled” for life and not only learned to shoot a bow and arrow with his legs/feet but has become an expert at it.  Here’s a guy who would have every reason to “hang it up” and think “woe is me” and feel sorry for himself and live a sad, unfulfilled life. But he didn’t. When I see stories like that, it reminds me of the resilience each of us has within ourselves (if only we can find it!) and that our species has to deal with hardships. We can do this!

I’m proud of how all of our folks have responded during this crisis. Staying strong, being on the job, finding a way or making one despite all the obstacles. In crises like this, some survive and some die. And while we can’t completely control what happens to us, we can surely have the right mindset and do EVERYTHING WE CAN to get through it and come out the other side even stronger/better.



Clearly Identify The Mission

It always seems wise to me to know exactly what we are all trying to accomplish.

The first clear mission was:

Flatten the curve so hospitals don’t get overwhelmed.

That made sense and after a probably too late/somewhat rocky start, seems that this part of the mission, at least, was accomplished. Hospitals are not overrun (actually many are near empty now, with staff having their hours cut back) and it seems, by and large, we are ready to handle the cases that are still to come. (The fact that we now realize that 80% of those who went on ventilators actually died, and “science” now recognizes that ventilators might NOT have been what they all needed—well that’s another story).

But can we all agree that the next overriding phase of this mission is:

Get the economy going so that the country does not fall apart.

Many have been saying from the beginning, and I believe now more are starting to see that this “cure” can, in fact, end up being worse than the disease. 36 million newly unemployed (think about that for a minute!). What will these people do, when their jobs don’t come back and millions of others’ jobs don’t come back, with businesses that don’t survive.

And can’t we also agree that we are “adult” enough to have a variable level of fear? If your restaurant does not allow anyone in without a mask, then people who feel everyone should be wearing a mask can eat there, and those who don’t believe in that, and won’t put a mask on, can’t. (To those who say that takes away my freedom, STFU, because even before the pandemic you couldn’t go into lots of places barefoot because of the sign, “No shirt, no shoes, no service”. That is the restaurant owner’s choice.

But if I own a restaurant and don’t feel you need a mask to come in, then those who feel the same will come to my restaurant. This way everyone can be comfortable in their own space, taking/avoiding the risks THEY perceive, without infringing on anyone else’s “rights”. Let people seek their OWN level of safety, comfort, and let society determine when we get back to a new normal, whatever that may turn out to be.

Our political leaders are not gods. They/no one knows for sure how this all turns out. Staying indoors til there is a cure (hell, the common cold has been around for a million years and there is still no cure for that) is NOT a successful solution. Viruses have been and will be with us forever. How we learn to coexist with them should be up to individuals/not to a government mandate that is always (as they say) “based on science and safety” (what jibberish!) when the data is incomplete and changes all the time. (Remember, people used “science” to justify slavery, the extermination of Jews, the dominance of men over women). My radar goes off when anyone hides behind that bullshit :). All the scientists who predicted that “blood would be on the hands of Governor Kemp of Georgia” because he reopened too soon. Where are they now? Have not heard from them lately.

Danger is real. No doubt. Fear is real. No doubt. But lots of Chicken Littles out there as well as big, bad wolves. People should be allowed to make their own determinations of how much risk they choose to take. Let them decide if their restaurant requires everyone wearing masks or not. They’ll be those who won’t go, but those that will. And that creates an economy again.

We flattened the curve. Now let’s get the economy going and society up and running again.

Just Sayin’


Hard to believe over 30,000,000 (thirty million!) Americans have become unemployed in the past 2 months.

Frigging devastating! And likely will be for a long time. Estimates are that 100,000 US businesses will NEVER come back. That’s unbelievable!

We are very lucky and grateful that we were all able to continue working throughout this. Great job, everyone, and a testament to our tenacity and willingness to do “whatever it takes”.

Thank you.

And not only that, the fact that we were able to provide such vital, essential services to our many good customers, as well as procuring and delivering millions of pieces of PPE all around the country and the world (when it was needed the most) will stand as yet another shining moment in LP’s long history.

Proud! 💪

Thank you all.


Some Thoughts On This

Check this video out:

That’s me on the left 🙂

I admit that I don’t know the difference between shit and Shinola about viruses or medicine. But…

Can’t we all agree that as bad as all this is, it is not what we thought it might be?

Not blaming anyone. No one’s fault. Assuming no one wanted this, and that everyone is trying their best. But…

The initial fears have not STATISTICALLY come to pass. Though every death is tragic (clearly) this is not the pandemic like the one in 1918 that killed FIFTY MILLION PEOPLE. This has killed way too many, but not statistically more than many other things THAT HAVE NOT GONE AWAY.

Think about all the sad stories we heard every day on the news before about the tragic effects of:

Heart Disease
Domestic Violence
Drug abuse

None of these went away when this new Coronavirus suddenly showed up. They are ALL still here with us. And many are exacerbated by living in this new “normal”. And it’s only just beginning. Millions of people out of work, unable to support their families, losing confidence, losing hope will lead to more of the above, I’m pretty sure. And those deaths will be just as tragic as are the 70,000+ Covid-19 deaths.

As with most things, I think there has to be a balance. This virus will be here, like all the other viruses, forever. Sure, good hygiene, common decency, common sense, are all good things that probably should have been here before and may likely be with us going forward. That’s a good thing. But this isolation and fear is NOT healthy and the results of that, though harder to measure perhaps, may very well be worse than the disease itself.

Short term isolation to help “flatten the curve” made sense. The idea being that it gives the various local health systems the time and ability not to get overwhelmed by a surge of critical patients so that anyone who needed it could help proper help. That has worked. Here is NYC’s daily death rate.


Awful. But clearly the surge has died down, and hospitals are now not even close to being overrun. The US Naval hospital ship has left (and was barely used). The “hospital” in Central Park is being taken down. Good. That job got done.

And here in Erie, there have been 2 COVID-19 deaths, both elderly (still sad) this entire time. But…

Does that require this destruction of our economy that will adversely affect (please see above list) in our community?

Can’t we just say, “Well, thank God, the direst estimates were wrong.”

And can’t we now “re-calibrate” and realize that for 99% of people this disease, even if contracted, is not a death sentence—not even close—and get back to the “normal” human job of providing for our family and being Actually connected to our friends?

Facts are facts. They can be interpreted in many ways. But let’s keep them in the proper perspective.

Balance. That is usually the best way.

Just my 2 cents, though I may not know the difference between shit and Shinola.

You should also read this: https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-woodstock-pandemic-1968-idUSKBN22J2MJ