No. 371: On Hollywood Whisky, organic sweeteners, zero-calorie chocolate and other tasty matters

The 411: Recording artist, stage and screen actress, perfumer and pioneering TV and film producer Mary J. Blige -- the first person nominated for acting and original-song Oscars in the same year -- turns 48 today.


Welcome to Friday: You’ve done it, dear reader – the first full workweek of 2019 is just about in the books, and a very welcomed weekend is upon us.

It’s Jan. 11 out there, and yes, Grand Canyon National Park – which today celebrates the 111th anniversary of Teddy Roosevelt declaring the canyon a national monument – is open, despite the partial federal government shutdown.

Code maker: Today is also an important anniversary for the telegraph machine, which was demonstrated publicly for the first time on Jan. 11, 1838, by New Jersey inventors Alfred Vail and Samuel Morse.

Stage and screen: January 11, 1927, was a big day for both. On that date, New York City’s Royale Theatre – still standing, now as the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre – opened for business, while the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio announced the creation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A Whisky: A true icon of the American music scene, the infamous Hollywood nightclub Whisky a Go Go first opened its doors on Jan. 11, 1964.

And a smoke: They were probably lighting up that night at Whisky a Go Go, although earlier that same day – Jan. 11, 1964 – U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry released the first U.S. government-sanctioned study stating that smoking was harmful to your health.

The U.S. Congress would require printed warnings on cigarette packages just 16 months later.

Now batting: And the designated hitter – the bane of baseball purists – became a thing when the American League adopted the rule on this date in 1973.

Not much of a gunfighter, though: Founding father, framer of the U.S. Constitution, first U.S. treasury secretary, creator of the U.S. Coast Guard … even first publisher of the New York Post. Happy birthday, Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), who certainly kept busy.

Also born on Jan. 11 were American suffragist Alice Paul (1885-1977), Hammond electronic organ namesake Laurens Hammond (1895-1973) and Swiss pharmacologist/LSD discoverer Albert Hoffman (1906-2008).

Hip-hop top: And take a bow, Mary J. Blige – the soulful singer/songwriter/Academy Award-nominated actress turns 48 today.

Also can sing: We asked in the last newsletter and the readers responded, including subscriber Mark Grossman, who says the all-time-best folk singer is Richie Havens, who opened the Woodstock festival in 1969 and would have turned 78 next week (he died in 2013). Grossman, a fan of this 2009 rendition of “Freedom,” also happens to be the founder of the “Induct Richie Havens into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” Facebook page.

See? Only good things happen when you write to us at And when you include a story tip or calendar suggestion, well, that’s extra good.


A few words from our sponsor: Adelphi University, New York, now offers innovative bachelor’s degrees in both computer science and information systems, master’s degrees in applied mathematics/statistics and computer science, with specializations in cybersecurity and software engineering – as well as a BS/MBA in the business of science. The university was just named a 2018-19 Career Development College of Distinction and, with more than 8,100 students, has the largest and one of the most diverse first-year classes in our history. Adelphi’s unique approach to personalized learning by world-class faculty created an extraordinary jump in rankings.



Bite marks: The Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine is sinking its teeth into two fresh National Institutes of Health research grants, with researchers sharing more than $2 million on the road to better oral health.

The NIH’s National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research has issued a $1.7 million SBIR grant to David Lam and Srinivas Myeni, SBU researchers working up a nanomaterial-infused bone scaffold designed to encourage bone growth in craniofacial tissue – a promising tech for patients suffering bone loss from cancer, infections and a host of other conditions.

The institute has also awarded a $319,000 grant to university researcher Wellington Rody, who’s developing a novel, noninvasive method for detecting and monitoring periodontal disease. The fluid-based tech identifies biomarkers indicating the disease in its earliest stages – besting conventional detection methods like X-rays, which only confirm the disease in advanced stages.

Friday morning videos: In another first for Unispan, Hofstra University’s student-run record label, singer-songwriter KarmaRé – the second artist signed by the label – has released her debut music video.

“Get Over,” the first single off KarmaRé’s “Mood Ring” compilation, focuses heavily on healing – exploring both the artist’s fascination with the power of crystals and the therapeutic value of songwriting. Check out the acoustic guitar-powered video right here, or stream it on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon and other major digital-distribution services.

The video is another feather in the cap for Unispan, which is guided by CEO Sharon Goldsmith – senior associate dean of the Hofstra University Center for Entrepreneurship – and an industry-rich collection of Executives in Residence, including Atlantic Records VP Rigo Morales, XXL Magazine Editor in Chief Vanessa Satten and Asylum Records Senior Marketing Director Angel Martinez, among others.



Sweet dreams: How a determined Long Island innovator, a Peruvian root and decades of sweat equity may forever change the organic coffee sweetener business.

Hire them, stat! With 16,000 nurses already on the payroll and a constant need to recruit top talent, Northwell Health hosted its annual Golden Ticket Nursing Showcase.

Win some, lose some: MSC Industrial Supply soared, but Enzo Biochem bombed in the first quarter of their respective 2019 fiscal years.



Millennials take the mantle, Richard Murphy takes charge and iTutor takes a fresh look at its own backyard.



Innovate LI’s inbox overrunneth with inspirational ideas from all North American corners. This week’s brightest out-of-town innovations:

From upstate: The Center for the Biology of Chronic Disease, located in Rockland County’s Valley Cottage, identifies the latent virus that causes hair loss.

From California: Nothing says Valentine’s Day like sugar-free, zero-calorie, low-carb chocolates, from the healthy hearts at San Marcos-based ChocZero.

From Virginia: Fairfax-based software/analytics/cyber defense specialist Salient CRGT lands a $40.1 million cybersecurity contract “enabling (the) FBI’s intelligence, national security and law-enforcement mission.”



+ James Paci has been named associate professor at the Donald & Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He currently serves as director of Orthopedic and Sports Medicine for Suffolk County at Rockville Centre-based Orlin & Cohen Orthopedic Group.

+ Uniondale-based Forchelli Deegan Terrana has announced that partner Andrew Curto, founder of the firm’s Renewable Energy practice group, is now chairman of the firm’s Litigation practice group.

+ Peter Ausili has been hired as assistant dean for career and professional development at Central Islip-based Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. He was a law clerk for the late U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler in Central Islip.

+ Patrick Fannon has been hired as director of development at Plainview-based Greater Long Island Running Club. He was formerly a special event and community coordinator at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.

+ Virginia Peragallo-Dittko, executive director of the Diabetes and Obesity Institute at NYU Winthrop Hospital, was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing’s 2018 class of fellows.



Golden nuggets: Diaper monitors, robot butlers and a toilet you can talk to – all that and more on the floor at Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show 2019.

Rose-colored glasses: From Fast Company, a lesson on achieving success by picturing the very best future you.

An Ivy League of your own: Quartz counts up 400 Ivy League university courses you can take online, for free.

Gentle reminder: Speaking of great schools, please continue supporting the amazing institutions that support Innovate LI – including Adelphi University, where the new Adelphi Innovation Center is coming soon.


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