First

Meet the man behind Oprah fave and First State native Mehmet Oz: First State native Ted Spiker. Plus, the all-new Nemours makes a comeback, local major leaguers make a mark, Bob Archer makes an impression and a deltiologist makes postcards (but you knew that).

 

 (photograph by Jarrett Baker)

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Behind a Wizard Named Oz
Ted Spiker is keeping impressive company these days—most notably former Delawarean Mehmet Oz.

That’s the Dr. Oz, the brilliant, strangely seductive cardiothoracic surgeon Oprah Winfrey calls “America’s doctor.”

With Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen, Spiker—a former editor of Delaware Today—co-wrote the national bestsellers, “You: Staying Young,” “You: On a Diet,” and  “You: The Owner’s Manual.”

 “All of the co-authors on these ‘You’ books serve different roles, mine being to assimilate all the medical and technical information and write and style it in a way that’s supposed to be both fun and educational,” Spiker says.

He’s had a bit of practice. A contributor to magazines such as Men’s Health, Sports Illustrated Women, Cosmopolitan, Outside, Prevention and others, Spiker, co-wrote the amazingly popular series of books based on “The Abs Diet.” Spiker’s gift: medical jargon for dummies, but funnier, smarter and more original—which was the skill that attracted Oz.

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“Mehmet was working on a health book and wanted to impart good information in a fun, hip way,” says Spiker, a UD grad who is now a professor of journalism at the University of Florida. “An editor at Men’s Health mentioned my name.” 

The next “You” book will hit bookstores in November. It’s not yet titled, but it’ll probably be huge. Oprah’s endorsement never hurts.

So what’s it like to work with the great wizard named Oz?

“What’s most amazing to me is that he has the brain and expertise to perform cardiovascular surgery, as well as the artistic ability and sense to get his messages across,” Spiker says.

Oz does have a way of making the most banal issues, say, gastroesophageal reflux or the true function of intestines, entertaining. But we suspect Spiker has something to do with that. —Maria Hess

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Postcard man Asa Peiratt poses with cards
of his own creation.  
P
hotograph by Tom Nutter
www.tomnutterphotos.com

Deltiology on Parade
If you’re not familiar with the field, meet Asa Peiratt.

Just in time for National Postcard Week (who knew?), new work by deltiologist Asa Peiratt.

What, you may ask, is a deltiologist?

A deltiologist is one who promotes postcards as scholarly and sociological resources. Peiratt, a retired UD librarian and owner of POV Books and Cards in Newark, publishes timely limited edition postcards with a political bent. Locally, they’ve supported Delaware’s smoking ban and affronted suspect judging in figure skating. His latest shows President George W. Bush declaring National Postcard Week (May 4-10) for the last time.

Since 1983, National Postcard Week has been celebrated the first full week in May in America and England. Peiratt would like to see it continued.

“Postcards are truly a source of amazement,” Peiratt says.

He has amassed a collection of 50,000, not counting his own creations. His passion even led him to a collaboration and friendship with his literary hero, the late Kurt Vonnegut Jr. “When we first met, I could barely talk,” Peiratt says. “I was always in awe of the master.” Peiratt’s former employer offers a fully catalogued collection of 2,000 cards from Delaware and the surrounding area.

Among Peiratt’s latest finds: a postcard of his bowling alley, Newark’s Blue Hen Lanes, postmarked 1961. “Here’s hoping others collaborate with historical societies to do similar cataloging,” Peiratt says.

To view  the UD collection, visit www.fletcher.lib.udel.edu. To reach Peiratt, visit www.Povbooksandcards.com. 
—J.F. Pirro

 

  
The $39 million project included restoration of stained glass
windows and wrought iron work, such as the gate above.

An All-New Nemours
A major restoration of a classic is unveiled.

Famous for the shards of glass implanted atop the 9-foot-high stone walls of his Rockland estate, the late Alfred I. du Pont’s mansion and gardens reopen this month after a three-year restoration.

In its day, the glass deterred entry, but as Grace Gary, executive director at Nemours Mansion & Gardens, says, “Mr. du Pont deserves to be known for more than that wall.”

The $39 million restoration included excavations, landscaping and repair of the 800,000-gallon reflecting pool. In the mansion, electrical systems were updated. Statues, paintings, furniture and tapestries have been refurbished.

Completed in 1910, Nemours Mansion, a Louis XVIth-style chateau, is named for the French town in the name of du Pont’s great-great-grandfather, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours.

House tours cover 70-plus rooms and nearly 47,000 square feet. Appointments include 18th-century French furniture, art by J.M.W. Turner, James Peale, Charles Willson Peale, Peter Breugel the Younger and Frederick Remington, and decorative objects by Tiffany, Limoges, Wedgwood, Sevres and Royal Crown Derby. The gardens—the largest formal French model in North America—are inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles.  Covered in 23 karat gold leaf, Henri Crenier’s statue “Achievement” is the centerpiece.

“Longwood Gardens has long overshadowed Nemours, but in their heyday, these were as impressive, albeit different,” Gary says. “Our commitment to his legacy is to do the best we can by his estate.”

For more, see www.nemoursmansion.org or call 651-6912.
—J.F. Pirro

 

 

A Room of Her Own
Virginia Wolf wrote that if a woman was to be an artist, she needed a room of her own. And a room of her own is what Gary Merz of The Federal Street Art Gallery in Milton will give to Nadja Merino, the legendary fashion illustrator, during a showing of her private collection, “The Nudes of Nadja Merino,” this month.

Merino, 96, was the senior illustrator for The New York Times and did work for Vogue and Vanity Fair from the 1940s till the ’60s. Yet she never had a private show—until meeting Merz. “After Nadja illustrated the models for her job, she always asked if they would pose nude,” he says. “These are the paintings which will make up the show.”

Nadja studied at the Acadmnie de la Grand Chaumier. She escaped the holocaust and arrived in America with $250 in her pocket only to become the No. 1 fashion illustrator of the time.

She worked with Andy Warhol, and she created the beehive hairdo. “One thing she is noted for is her line,” Gary says, “She has the ability to capture the essence of the female form from the head, neck and throughout the body with one line.” Merino also married the famous paint-by-number artist Joseph Kalfeld. Walking into Federal Street Gallery, Merino stated to Merz, “I’m finally out of Joseph’s shadow.”

“The Nudes of Nadja Merino” will show May 17 at The Federal Street Art Gallery. Call 684-1055 for more.             —Karla Pahel

 


The enigmatic Bob. Get along, li’l dogie.

What About Bob?
The man behind The Archer Group’s success revealed—kinda.

Bob Archer is touted as “the man behind The Archer Group,” a Wilmington-based firm that develops websites and online media campaigns for businesses such as Wawa, Bluewater Wind and Pfizer.

Bob owns a chalet in Aspen, chills at Buckingham Palace and rocks Ironman contests. He rubs elbows with Anna Kournikova, John Mayer and Tiki Barber, and he’s not too bashful to tell you so.

Some folks have been so impressed by Bob’s bullishness that they’ve wanted to present him with awards. Which is swell, but there’s  a hitch: Bob isn’t real.

“When we have lunch, we say ‘Bob’s buying,’” says CEO Lee Mikles. “Gifts come from Bob. When we travel, we send postcards from Bob to our clients. It’s a neat little insider joke.”

The Archer Group is not named after a person or persona. Mikles, who shares credit with all of those in the group, chose Archer for its alphabetical advantageousness and connotations of precision. Since 2003 it has developed an impressive list of clients, including locals such as the Delaware Tourism Office, W.L. Gore and Iron Hill Restaurant & Brewery, and national accounts such as JPMorgan Chase and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Archer’s work won two gold ADDY Awards in the 2008 Philadelphia Advertising Club competition.

“Bob is the expert,” Mikles says. “Clients love to see who Bob is, who he’s met. We’ve sold work because of him.”

Dare we ask the name of the genius who hatched this quirky persona?

“Bob was a group idea,” says Mikles. “But at the end of the day, Bob was Bob’s idea.”                                     —Drew Ostroski

 

 

Post Opening Day…
Here’s to you, Delaware and Delaware-born major leaguers. You may be few, but at least you stayed off the Mitchell Report.

 
Kevin Mench
Hometown Wilmington
Position Left field
Clubs Rangers, Brewers

St. Mark’s Mench started on the wrong foot. In 2006 the UD grad became the 19th player to homer in six straight games, but only after realizing a recurring injury was due to ill-fitted spikes. He should have listened to mom and taken that shoehorn to the bigs. In his new kicks, he extended the streak to seven. He holds the record among righties.


Ian Snell
Hometown Dover
Position Pitcher
Clubs Pirates

When Snell debuted on August 20, 2004, there were three other First Staters active in the league. One sat in the opposing dugout. When John Mabry stepped into the box, he took Snell to the yard. Talk about a state of affairs. But don’t pity Snell. He’s already got one no-hitter under his belt, a Pitcher of the Year award and, in 2006, was a 14-game winner, posting one of the best seasons in the club’s recent history. Watch him in ’08.


Tony Graffanino
Current home Hockessin
Position Gets around the infield
Clubs Currently the Brewers

Producing a walkoff RBI-single as a pinch hitter, he gave the Brewers a 2-1, 10-inning win in July against the soon-to-be league champion Colorado Rockies. He left a game against Colorado in August with a season-ending knee injury. Why we like him? His many humanitarian efforts off the field. —Amy Kates

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