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Day: March 28, 2011

“Concierge Confidential” by Michael Fazio with Michael Malice

Concierge Confidential by Michael Fazio with Michael Malice
Concierge Confidential by Michael Fazio with Michael Malice

“Concierge Confidential” by Michael Fazio with Michael Malice

c.2011, St. Martin’s Press
$24.99 / $28.99 Canada
271 pages


Some people, well, you’d do anything for them.

The sweet older lady next door calls for a favor and you go running.  Your nephew bats those baby blues and you’d buy out the toy store for him. If she asked, you’d dig ditches for a beloved former boss, and all your mom has to do is crook her finger for you to be at her service.

Is serving what you do best? Could you do it for a living? Read the new book “Concierge Confidential” by Michael Fazio (with Michael Malice) and you’ll think twice before answering.

When Charlie Sheen called and asked if the boss was in, Michael Fazio was barely fazed. Fazio figured it would be a small step from agency assistant to “the next big Hollywood movie mogul” and a good mogul isn’t impressed with fame.

But Fazio’s job at The Liberty Agency didn’t so much include hob-nobbing with the stars as it did taking care of his boss, Glennis. He soon learned that keeping her happy meant plugging in her curlers and making coffee before she got to work. Caring for her was, oddly, something Fazio enjoyed doing.

After another brief assistant’s job and a gig playing piano on a cruise ship, Fazio and his partner, Jeffrey, moved to Manhattan. Though Fazio was initially unemployed, he quickly found a job at the InterContinental Hotel on 48th Street, where he learned that his unique strengths would best be put to use as a concierge.

A good concierge, like a good business person, has lots of contacts to call upon for favors. He (or she) excels at making the impossible possible. Though celebrities and millionaires are the concierge’s typical clients, anyone staying at a hotel with a concierge can use the services offered.

Fazio writes about finding yachts for his clients, as well as tickets to sold-out concerts, reservations to jam-packed restaurants and night clubs, and yes, even the unconventional. He writes about good tippers, bad eateries, ugly situations, and how he survived them all.

Going on vacation this summer? Check this book out before you leave.

“Concierge Confidential” includes the dishiest stories of wealth and celebrity, as well as a wealth of tips on star treatment and getting the best results from your hotel stay.

Authors Michael Fazio and Michael Malice don’t stop there, though. They explain what a concierge does, where you’ll find one, and how to get what you need (hint: being a jerk won’t impress anybody). In between lessons, you’ll be regaled by tales of Hollywood and Broadway, challenges and chefs, businessmen and bubbleheads, hissy-fitting stars and hustling scammers, and the rich and famous.

And then, if your hotel doesn’t have a devoted concierge, you’ll learn how to schmooze tickets, reservations, and admission on your own.

It’s hard not to love something that so effortlessly entertains, and “Concierge Confidential” does just that. If you’re heading for holiday, or if you’re just up for a light, fun, privy look at leisure and luxury, you should do anything to get this book.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Rush of goodwill follows fire for Keizer business owners

Of the Keizertimes

“The fire dept is coming. My dryer lit on fire. Thank God I was awake,” Nancy Duvall, Facebook, 1:02 a.m., Thursday, March 17.

Given all the possible things she could have done while waiting for the fire department to come and extinguish a dryer fire consuming their home, she posted to Facebook.

Beware boredom, it strikes at every possible opportunity.

The thing Duvall didn’t expect when she put up that brief note was just how many people were awake at the same time or how many well-wishers would follow on their heels.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people, the extra layer of communication,” she said.

It came from all sectors, not just the result of Facebook networking.

“We were out having a meal and someone picked up the tab for our dinner after overhearing the story we told our server. I grew up in southern California, and I barely knew my neighbors. The outpouring from people has been incredible,” said Kent Duvall, her husband.

The Duvalls live just outside Aumsville with their children Quinn and Catie, but own the Keizer UPS Store, 5434 River Road North. Nancy discovered the nascent blaze when she got up from bed planning to send an e-mail to business associates that threaten to keep her from sleep.

“I had thrown Quinn’s baseball uniform in the dryer before I went back to the bedroom and when I got back out to my office I heard clicking coming from the wall behind an electrical panel,” Nancy said.

She turned down the heater and made a loop of the house before returning to her office where the clicking had grown into a bright glow behind the wall panel. She went out to check the dryer and saw a bright halo of light behind it. She woke Kent who checked the dryer himself and saw flames were beginning to sprout from the rear.

The family called 9-1-1 and retreated to a detached garage to wait for fire crews to arrive. While they waited the fire spread to consume their laundry room, heavily damage their kitchen and send smoke throughout the rest of the house.

“I figured it would be a small fire and the fire department would go in and hit it with a couple of fire extinguishers and be done, but I started hearing popping glass and then flames were coming out of the window,” Kent said.

“It felt like the Fourth of July with all the lights and fire,” added Catie.

Fire crews arrived, extinguished the blaze and asked if they wanted them to call in the American Red Cross.

“Initially, we thought we’re independent people and we’ll be all right, but then I thought, don’t say no to help,” Nancy said.

Red Cross representatives arrived with wool blankets, water and an offer of assistance to set them up in a hotel for a few days along with a gift card to replace a couple of days worth of clothing.

“I always thought of them as the group that responded to hurricanes and held blood drives, but they were just great,” Kent said.

The Duvalls sent Quinn and Catie with Nancy’s parents and retrieved a few things from the home before joining them.

“I grabbed a suitcase and we started packing clothes,” Nancy said. Much of the family valuables including a 140-year-old family Bible, photographs and other items were spared heavy damage, but Kent lost a baseball card collection. With initial damage estimates totaling about $120,000, the family is likely to remain in the hotel where they’re currently staying for up to four months.

“It’s just a lot more cramped. My room at home is bigger than the whole hotel suite combined,” Quinn said.

Slowly things have begun to return to normal, but the comforts of home are missed in small and gnawing ways. After four days, they broke down and bought an Xbox for the hotel room.

“We need to recreate the normal,” Nancy said. “Right now, I’m really missing the TIVO. “

Given the emotional roller coaster they embarked on in the wake of the fire, their slowly figuring out the way forward.

“We started thinking about all the things we’re going to need to replace and we’ve decided we’ll be making all the purchases from locally-owned establishments in thanks for all they’ve done to reach out,” Nancy said.

Taking the new normal in small bites helps them keep things in perspective.

“People in Japan have problems, we’ve had a bump, but we’re all okay and healthy. They’ve got real problems,” Kent said.

What’s in the water at McNary Oaks?

McNary Oaks Mobile Villa
Smell, slime and frequent water outages are a fact of life at McNary Oaks Mobile Villa, residents say. The park’s residents are mostly 55 and older. (File Photo/Keizertimes)

Of the Keizertimes

Residents at the 55-and-up McNary Oaks Mobile Villa say they’ve had water problems long before e.coli was found in the park’s private well.

That’s when they have water at all. Sherrel Thomas, 62, said the water is turned off altogether “a few times a month,” usually around suppertime.

“It might be two hours, it might be half an hour. It might be all night,” said Erma Guthrie, a 93-year-old who has lived in the park for more than 30 years.

“We went and bought a rain barrel,” Thomas said.

This all happened before e.coli – a bacteria likely originating from some sort of fecal matter – was found in their well water. Since March 4, the residents have been on a boil water notice by order of Marion County, meaning water must be boiled before drinking, using for cooking, washing dishes or brushing teeth. A county health official expects the park to be off the boil water notice within a few days after a chlorinating system was added to process the park’s water.

If there’s a bright spot, it’s this: A plan to install meters and start charging residents for water usage has been scuttled. Currently water and sewer are included in lot fees.

The water system operator is Jimmy Figueroa, who pulls double-duty as the park manager. But most of the residents we spoke with felt empathy for him, believing the park’s problems go higher up the ladder.

The park’s authorized representative is Brian Fitterer, according to Oregon Secretary of State business records. Fitterer is listed as either a member or authorized representative for Kennedy Meadows Mobile Home Park, Iris Village Mobile Home Park and Briarwood Estates in Keizer, as well as numerous others throughout Oregon.

Tenants are also thankful for the county’s Department of Environmental Health, whose program supervisor is working with park management to get the e.coli problem under control.

But other problems have been happening for years, resident said.

“I was appalled – totally appalled,” said June Abbott, the Marion and Polk county deputy director for the Oregon State Tenants Association, who visited the park a few days after the boil water notice was distributed.

Carl Preusse, a regional manager for Irvine, Calif.-based Investment Property Group, said he’s not been made aware of the aesthetic water issues, but noted he’s only been overseeing the park since November 2010. He did note the planned metering system won’t be installed.

“A newsletter will be sent out to residents shortly that we have decided not to proceed with the meter system,” Preusse said.

Several park tenants complained that the water smelled of sulfur – like rotten eggs – and leaves dark stains in their faucets and other fixtures. Both Rick Sherman, program supervisor for Marion County Department of Environmental Health, and a well expert the city of Keizer has relied on for its entire existence, say the black “gunk” showing up in filters and on faucets likely isn’t a health hazard. Neither is the sulfur smell. But it doesn’t make the experience more pleasant for residents.

Nadine Worsfold, a 74-year-old park resident, showed us the dark stains that form under a water filter she has on her kitchen faucet. She and others have installed filters between the water line and their home to counter the symptoms – and it’s helped to varying degrees.

Guthrie lives on her Social Security pension and pays a park resident $25 to change  a charcoal filter outside her house. She said they do a pretty good job – at least for the first month or so – of keeping the sulfuric smell and sediment out.

Problem is they’re supposed to last three months, she said.

“To be real effective I have to change it once a month, but I can hardly afford that so I go a little longer than that, sometimes two or three months,” Guthrie said. “But it’s not very pleasant.”

“It’s costing people a lot of money to deal with this, and a lot of them are on fixed income,” said Penny Reed, 59.

Worsfold said the water smells “at all times of the day” to varying degrees. Some residents say the smell depends in part on where in the park a particular lot is.

“When I brush my teeth I have to hold my nose and breath,” Worsfold said.

“I never drink it,” Reed added.

Vivian Wilson, a 76-year-old park resident who has lived there a decade, said you can see sediment settling to the bottom of a jug or glass of water if it’s left sitting out for a few hours. It actually stains jugs and dishwashers, she added.

Both Sherman and Ed Butts, who has been the city’s well engineer since incorporation and for the Keizer Water District before that, said manganese could be a cause of the black stains that residents keep finding. Butts said both iron and manganese are fairly common in local aquifers.

Other possible causes, Butts said, include “iron bacteria” – which can cause “plugging of the well, slime problems in piping or water, reduced capacity and/or taste issues” – or “biofouling,” which can happen when algae, decaying plants and microorganisms build up in wells.

It’s not illegal to have manganese in a public water system, he said, but the city of Keizer does what it can to make sure it’s not in its customers drinking water. He said when he started working with the Keizer Water District in 1978 that higher manganese levels were more common in water served to customers. But he said switching to deeper wells – and abandoning older, shallower ones – helped reduce dramatically the manganese in Keizer’s water. Butts added manganese in water decreases over time as an aquifer is pumped, and older water is replaced with newer water.

Hydrogen sulfide is likely responsible for the rotten egg-like smell, Butts said. It’s saturated in the water as it’s being pumped, but as it comes out the faucet – and the pressure drops dramatically – it’s released into the air.

“That’s the smell people get,” Butts said.

Manganese and hydrogen sulfide can be removed from water using various processes, he said. Getting water from deeper underground sources reduces chances of contamination from all sorts of sources, Butts said.