Ideas, idle gossip and occasionally important odds ‘n’ ends… by Jack Wright
I have always admired unsung heroes – the people who go about their business without asking for recognition and, in some cases, deliberately avoiding it. There is an Exit Zero subscriber who contacted us recently and asked that we keep him up to date about local causes to which he would donate – anonymously. Is there any more honorable person than the anonymous donor?
I don’t know about you, but I generally like people to know when I’ve performed a good deed. There was a scene in Seinfeld in which George became increasingly frustrated that his local deli guy didn’t notice when he put cash in the tip jar. So one lunchtime George tried to fish the money back out so he could put it back in full view – only to be accused of stealing. I can relate. I always make sure that the café worker sees me put money in the tip jar, and I’m not proud of that fact.
Which brings me to a man who seems driven by a desire to help his community, while content to stay under the radar. I can’t imagine that Danny Cohen will be happy to read this column, but that’s tough – it’s about time he got local recognition for being a man who makes things happen for only the right reasons.
Many of you will not know Danny, which is typical. That’s his style. But he’s a pretty big deal. He owns Atlantic Capes Fisheries, which, among other things, is one of the largest producers of sea scallops on the east coast. The company is based at Cape May harbor and also has a large production facility up the shore from here, in Point Pleasant, plus a sales and marketing office in New Bedford, MA.
It might not surprise you to learn that as well as heading up one of the most successful commercial fishing businesses in the country Danny is also a leading environmental advocate – his company is committed to sustainable fishing and he spends a great deal of his time organizing scientific studies with academic researchers in the field.
I should also mention that Danny is at the epicenter of a plan that might lead to New Jersey building the nation’s first offshore wind farm.
But the main reason I am writing this column is to give a boost to a new organization that has long been dreamed of by Danny and his friend Steve Miller, who owns local restaurants 410 Bank Street and Frescos. It’s the Cape May Forum and it’s inspired by the cultural festival that happens every year in Chautauqua, NY. In fact, the full name of the group is Cape May Forum: Chautauqua at the Shore. (I should note that the idea was promoted by local businessmen, and cousins, Curtis Bashaw and Norris Clark, as far back as the 1980s, although they are not involved with the new organization.)
The purpose of the forum is to introduce inspiring art and debates to the city in the off-season. In doing this it would enrich the lives of locals as well as providing ballast to local businesses, as more visitors are attracted to the event, much as the Cape May Jazz Festival has been doing twice a year for nearly 20 years.
The event will be held in Cape May over Columbus Day weekend, with the theme “Humor: Can It Save the World?” But there will be a teaser event this Saturday, July 10, when internationally recognized comedy expert John Morreall, PhD, will launch the forum with what I am assured will be a funny and thought-provoking presentation. It is being held at the First Presbyterian Church of Cape May on Hughes Street and it starts at 10am.
There’s something else I want to mention that’s related to Danny Cohen, and that’s the fact that he’s doing all this while fighting a rare and often-deadly type of cancer, sarcoma. Danny’s wife Mindy is organizing a fund-raising campaign to raise awareness of the disease and (in typical Cohen fashion) the proceeds will go to research. You can help locally by taking part in a sandcastle building contest in aid of sarcoma awareness on Sunday, July 25 at the Cove beach, from 9am to noon. There is a minimum donation of $20 per team and there are great prizes being awarded in many categories.
You can also do your bit as a good citizen by turning up at the First Presbyterian Church at 10am on Saturday and supporting a wonderful cause. It’s not a big ask – you’re going to be listening to a very funny man talking about a very seductive subject – humor.
I hope this is the start of something special for Cape May, and I hope and trust that Danny Cohen will be around for many, many, many more Cape May Forums to come.
I’ll see you in church! (Which isn’t something I get to say very often.)
Final reminder: Do NOT miss the launch party for our second edition of The First Resort, our wonderful history book, on the rooftop of the Grand Hotel tomorrow, Thursday, July 8 from 5pm to 9pm. Y’all are invited!