From the Founders II

Portrait of a Journalist



Bob Capazzo

Of all the people we have profiled in the pages of this magazine, none can match the wealth of color, wit and richness of experience as the subject of this month’s feature article “Our Peerless Pundit.” Bernie Yudain is well known as our town historian and perpetually pithy provocateur, whose column in Greenwich Time edifies readers on who and what is good or bad about Greenwich.

Nor could we have found a more ideal writer to plumb the depths of his personality and the breadth of his varied and interesting career than Timothy Dumas, whose declared ambition has been to do just that.

But it was a long time coming. As Tim Dumas states in his article, Bernie had declined many efforts by this magazine to get him to submit to an interview for publication. Perhaps as a journalist, he had developed an innate distrust of all those who wield a pen for profit, or maybe he thought we would be eulogizing him prematurely.

Whatever, Bernie Yudain has been a friend and adviser from the day we acquired the old Greenwich Review and began making plans for its redesign and relaunch. Then came the opportunity to buy the competing Nutmegger Magazine, and Bernie said, “Go for it!” He has since become a permanent fixture on our editorial advisory board, even though he insists we never take his advice. “I come in with all these great story ideas,” he grumbles, “and I might as well take them straight to the waste-basket!” (Not true, Bernie! We know of at least two we published!)

I first met Bernie back when we were both at Time Inc. He ended his career there as the right-hand man of company president Jim Linen and has remained a close friend of the Linen family ever since. Donna and I saw him at various Linen family events, but we got to know him and Jean much better on a wonderful cruise through the Greek Isles on the Argonaut, a ship whose home port, incidentally, had originally been Greenwich and was at one time the world’s largest privately owned yacht. (She was commissioned by a German immigrant who made his fortune in woolen manufacturing. His grandson Ted Forstmann attended Greenwich Country Day and made his in LBOs.)

Bernie Yudain is a master roaster, having honed his skills over fifty years as chief harpooner of the Greenwich Harpoon Club. His most devilish wit surfaces when the object of torment is a friend, as I discovered when I was the Fall Guy in 2000. Quipped Bernie to the assembled audience, “Jack Moffly has this fancy magazine for Greenwich full of nothing but debutantes and weddings — why, he thinks Chickahominy is an Italian breakfast cereal.”

I must be some sort of masochist to have agreed to his being our emcee for the magazine’s fiftieth anniversary event. And then, at a recent event at Richards, where Donna and I were roasted to raise money for SoundWaters, who did they ask to be the chief roaster? You guessed it. “I wondered,” said Bernie, “why they would have chosen this venue for this occasion. Then it dawned on me. Jack would be right at home with all these empty suits!”

Reverence is not in Bernie’s extensive and creative vocabulary, but as Dumas’s article illustrates so well, no one can equal his perception of Greenwich, past and present. And no one better accomplishes the stated mission of the Harpoon Club: “To preserve the sense of humor of the people of Greenwich.” — Jack Moffly

 

Greenwich Agenda


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