Chillin' Wit' Zack Stalberg, retiring Committee of Seventy boss
ZACK STALBERG takes a break from packing up his Bala Cynwyd home for a Sunday stop at the nearby Firinji cafe. He's wearing his old Tony Lama boots from his 20 years as Daily News editor and from his last nine running the political-watchdog Committee of Seventy.
He says some friends are shocked by the news that he, his wife, Deb, and Deb's horse, Mr. B, are moving to Lamy, N.M., a tiny town south of Santa Fe.
"I grew up around 49th and Osage in Western Philadelphia, so I've always had some affinity for the West," says Stalberg, 67, in a desert-dry deadpan drawl.
As a kid, he idolized TV cowboys Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers. "The first movie I ever saw, which remains my favorite, is 'Shane,' " he says. "I always loved the myth of the West."
Now he loves the reality. "For the last dozen years," he says, "Deb and I have gone out there regularly - New Mexico mostly, and sometimes north to Montana or south to Texas.
"We like the high desert around Santa Fe, where it starts climbing into the mountains," Stalberg says. "I find it all remarkably beautiful. And emptier. Part of the appeal is to get away from the density of the Northeast."
Density's not a problem in Lamy. "The house we bought butts up against a 4,000-acre wilderness preserve," Stalberg says. "Then there's the mountains and then there's Santa Fe. So there is the feel of being in a remote place, but when I want to, I can get into town for a bottle of premium bourbon. I have my needs."
They hope to move in late July. Mr. B will arrive by September. They were advised to keep him at a stable down the road, to give them more independence.
"When you're away, getting somebody to come over and feed your dog is one thing," Stalberg says. "Getting somebody to come over and pick up horse s--- is a whole other matter."
Stalberg looks forward to buying his first horse. With a nod to his tabloid past, he adds, "Perhaps the Daily News can hold a contest to name my horse."
- Dan Geringer
Chillin' Wit' is a regular Monday feature of the Daily News that spotlights a name in the news away from the job.