Category Archives: Staples HS

Cathy Beaudoin’s Amazonian Fashion Adventure

Cathy Beaudoin’s first job out of college was at Macy’s.

She hated it. The recent Trinity College (history major) grad would cry in the stock room. “My feet hurt, and I didn’t like my job,” she recalls.

Beaudoin had grown up in Westport. At Staples High School (Class of 1981) Cathy Lewis was a cheerleader, gymnast, volleyball player, and Inklings photographer.

Fortunately, the Macy’s gig did not last long. She spent the next 10 years at Ogilvy & Mather, in direct response marketing.

She laughs at her next career move: Banana Republic, in California.

Beaudoin was back in retail — but with a marketing lens. She developed a customer database, from scratch.

“I had no fashion background,” she recalls. “I was the unsexy, quantitative one” in the company.

Cathy Beaudoin

Cathy Beaudoin

Five years later, Beaudoin moved on to a much bigger job at the Gap. She was given an idea — build a shoe brand — and the result was Piperlime. It was a rare opportunity, she says, “to start something from the ground up, but within the safe confines of an established company.”

Six years ago, Amazon came calling. They wanted Beaudoin to once again create something entirely new. But Amazon is not an apparel company. They’re only the largest internet-based retailer in the nation.

Beaudoin loved living in San Francisco. She and her husband Sean, a novelist, had a new baby. But the challenge — build “Amazon Fashion,” again from scratch.

“I’ve had a blast,” she says. “I’ve never worked with people so intelligent. Every time I walk in a room, I feel like I’m surrounded by the smartest people I ever went to school with.”

Her work, the pace, the “staggering way we give our lives to it — weirdly, I enjoy it all,” Beaudoin says.

Adding fashion to Amazon was not like adding another product line — books, say, or appliances. Clothes and shoes are completely season-dependent — with a crazy timeline.

“None of the algorithms Amazon built are applicable to fashion,” Beaudoin notes. “For a company like this, which believes so strongly in its formula and playbook, this was counter-cultural.”

It was also necessary, she says.

“That’s the work I’m most proud of: being a voice in the wilderness, and making this thrive.”

Amazon Fashion logo

Beaudoin is also proud of growing her team, from 200 people to well over 1000 “amazing” people; carrying almost 3,000 different brands of shoes, clothing, watches, luggage and handbags, and achieving “astronomical” growth rates in both the men’s and women’s business.

Amazon is divided into Kindle, cloud computing and retail. Retail has 4 divisions; Beaudoin leads the Fashion portfolio from Seattle, and 2 sub-divisions based in New York: Shopbop.com and MyHabit.com.

Of course, not every idea works out. Many, in fact, flop.

“Amazon genuinely encourages you to fail,” Beaudoin explains. “If you achieve all your goals, the premise is that your goals are not tough enough. You’re not taking enough risks. That’s this culture.

“I’ve done tons of things that didn’t work. Customers didn’t care, or we didn’t execute well. There’s no shame in it.”

Clearly though, plenty of ideas work out — very, very well.

Cathy Beaudoin, in action.

Cathy Beaudoin, in action.

Yet for all she’s achieved — and her many years based on the West Coast — Beaudoin still considers Westport “home.”

Her parents are still here. But this is also the place, she says, where “I became me. I have memories of my friends, the Minnybus, pizza, the beach. It was an idyllic, wonderful place to grow up. It’s still home base.”

Many friends from Staples — Coleytown Junior High and Burr Farms Elementary School, even — have not left, or left and returned. She sees them everywhere, every time she is back. Her next visit is a few days away.

So what was Amazon Fashion’s president’s own fashion style, back in the day?

“No one in high school would have thought I had any style,” she says. “I was a fan of high-heel clogs.”

And now?

“Classic business lady-like. And spare.”

Rob Brink’s Running Times

Usually, Dan Goldberg says, he and his friends don’t get each other birthday presents. A drink at a bar is a big deal.

But Goldberg’s 30th birthday present for longtime friend — and former Staples High School (Class of 2003) track teammate — Rob Brink made the New York Times.

On Thursday, the sports section described the caper. Goldberg — a private equity guy — flew in a top distance runner from Arizona to race with (and against) Brink, a grad student at Cornell University business school.

The kicker: that elite runner is a woman.

The Times story noted that Brink — the “most competitive person” Goldberg knows — regularly beats him, his twin Mark and their fellow runners. “It kind of feels like a present to ourselves,” Goldberg said, anticipating that Sara Slattery would kick Brink’s butt.

After all, she’d run a 1-hour, 13-minute half-marathon — 4 minutes faster than Brink’s personal best.

In Brink’s favor: 12 weeks before, Slattery gave birth to a baby girl.

The story — written in typical Times let’s-see-what-those-crazy-millennials-are-up-to style — describes Slattery’s gifts for Brink (running gear, energy tablets and a watch); the pre-game dinner at Goldberg’s apartment (at which Slattery described the pain of childbirth as “worse than racing”), and the combination of excitement and fear all the friends felt about the coming gender showdown (Brink will “say he hasn’t been training, which is a complete lie,” Goldberg said).

Sara Slattery and Rob Brink, at East River Park. (Photo/Hilary Swift for New York Times)

Sara Slattery and Rob Brink, at East River Park. (Photo/Hilary Swift for New York Times)

The 12-mile workout consisted of 8 1,000-meter intervals, drills, and 20-minute “jogs.”

Slattery gave Brink everything she had. She set a brutal pace. The race was all everyone — especially Goldberg and his buddies — hoped it would be.

During the last interval, Brink pulled ahead. Goldberg ran with him as inspiration. Near the end, they slowed down so they could finish together with Slattery.

Brink called Slattery “amazing.” Six weeks earlier, he said, “I was running an ultra-marathon. You were giving birth. I am totally wiped.”

He called it “the best birthday ever.”

(To read the entire New York Times story, click here. Hat tip: Rob Sobelman)

Mark Karagus Settles In At Staples

Mark Karagus likes working at places that were important in his past.

He speaks fondly of 2 career highlights: serving as interim principal at Harding, his high school alma mater, and spending 2 years as baseball coach at Sacred Heart University, where as a student he once captained the team.

But now Dr. Karagus faces a new challenge. After decades at Harding, Sacred Heart — and, more recently, Norwalk and Trinity Catholic High Schools –he’s the interim principal at Staples.

It’s a different setting. Yet it’s not unfamiliar.

Dr. Mark Karagus

Dr. Mark Karagus

In 40 years as a basketball official, Karagus worked plenty of games in the Wrecker gym. He’s been here for other functions too.

“I always admired the respect of students, parents and coaches, and the integrity they brought to the game,” the new interim principal says. “It’s the type of attitude that transcends the school.”

The Bridgeport native adds, “I’m very well versed in Fairfield County schools. Staples has an outstanding reputation throughout the state, and nationally. I’m extremely honored to be selected as part of the learning community here in the 2015-16 school year.”

He decided to be an educator in college, he says, because “you always seek the best career and fit. As a people person, my strongest ties are in schools. Education is a career where a person can make a difference. I enjoy the camaraderie and professionalism of a school environment.”

Karagus likes talking about his stint as Harding’s interim principal. “I was able to instill some of the old traditions, which they really enjoyed,” he recalls. “School colors, songs — the most effective way to succeed is that way.”

He believes he is a good match for Staples. “I’m big on tradition, professionalism and personal integrity,” the administrator says.

In his first 8 days on the job, he’s been impressed by several things: “the widespread academic accomplishments. People love being here. They’re totally committed to Staples. Everyone has been very welcoming.”

Staples High School -- the next stop for Mark Karagus, after Harding, Norwalk and Trinity Catholic.

Staples High School — the next stop for Mark Karagus, after Harding, Norwalk and Trinity Catholic.

As an interim principal, he sees his main role as “continuing the educational, athletic and social environments without missing a beat.” He inherited 2 big initiatives — the 10-year NEASC evaluation, and the introduction of “Bring Your Own Device” technology — and is anxious to see them implemented effectively.

His leadership style, he says, is “instilling confidence in the existing staff. They’ve been here for years. I’ll be a great listener and supporter of projects, because people have placed a lot of work in them. I will help them proceed effectively.”

Though Karagus has retired from active basketball officiating, he still follows high school hoops intently. He also enjoys “dabbling in ’50s and ’60s memorabilia, like music and sports.”

“I’m thrilled at this point in my career to be part of this,” he says in his new office. “I want to have a good year here, and see where we go.”

World Orphan Disease Community Gets A Local Push

MadisonMott is a relatively small Westport branding and marketing firm with a big portfolio.

madisonmott logoFrom funky Saugatuck digs, they handle logos, identity development, web design and massive content management platforms. Clients like the Yale School of Music, a French wine seller and a Puerto Rican property love MadisonMott’s blend of hip creativity and pure professionalism.

ClearPharma is a fledgling Westport company seeking to make a big name in the “orphan disease” world. They’re creating an online software platform called onevoice. It’s designed to build communities by providing the 2 things that patients and families who suffer from 7,000 rare illnesses most crave: emotional support and curated disease information.

Despite its international scope, MadisonMott is proud of its local roots. And onevoice creator Dan Donovan — a native Westporter — likes to use as many local resources as he can.

Their partnership was solidified thanks to Staples High School soccer. Donovan captained the state championship 1981 team. MadisonMott founder/CEO Luke Scott also played for the Wreckers, graduating 10 years later.

onevoiceShowing a flair for learning about new and totally unfamiliar subjects, Scott and his team jumped into the project. MadisonMott first created a logo for onevoice.

Very quickly, they moved onto more technical challenges. The online platform — to be rolled out later this year, linking thousands of diseases that pharmaceutical companies traditionally have not cared about, and medical researchers overlook. To promote the platform, MadisonMott built the product website. “It’s the coolest site I’ve ever seen,” Donovan says.

Donovan brought Scott to trade shows, including the World Orphan Drug Conference in Washington, DC. They left with 69 leads — nearly all of them solid. Donovan credits a lot of the success to MadisonMott’s deep understanding of what onevoice is trying to accomplish.

“They’re as much a part of us as my own team,” Donovan says.

“And they’re almost part of us,” Scott agrees.

A screen shot from the onevoice platform.

A screen shot from the onevoice platform.

“This is a very tangible thing,” Donovan — who had a long career in pharmaceuticals, then formed his own company focusing on medical publications — says.

“We’re meeting patients and families who are impacted every day by rare diseases. This is so meaningful.”

“We’re a marketing and branding company,” Scott says. “But it’s nice to know we can help impact lives.”

The marketing industry has already paid notice. The Connecticut Art Director’s Club presented MadisonMott with 2 gold awards, for the OneVoice logo and website.

Soon, the entire orphan disease community will take note too.

Stonewalling Ben Kampler

It’s been an academic 14 years for Ben Kampler.

After graduating from Staples High School in 2001, he headed to Brandeis. He took his degree (English major, women’s studies minor), added a pair of master’s (queer theory/sexuality studies from NYU, sociology from Queens College), and embarked on a teaching career (Statistics, Introduction to Sociology Research, The Sociology of Sexuality) at Queens and Hunter College.

So of course, he’s also a bartender.

As a gay man, Kampler was happy to get a job at the Stonewall Inn. From outside on Christopher Street, it doesn’t look like much. But it’s considered the birth of the gay rights movement, because in 1969 the patrons fought back after one more in a long series of police raids. (“Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad” headlined the New York Daily News. A framed copy hangs inside the Stonewall today.)

Ben Kampler, behind the  Stonewall bar.

Ben Kampler, behind the Stonewall bar.

But in the mid-2000s, the Stonewall Inn was barely hanging on. “We ran out of glasses, and bought our liquor from a store down the block,” Kampler recalls.

He moved to another bar. In 2007, though, it reopened under a new owner. Kampler returned.

He’s been there ever since.

Ben Kampler (left) and his husband Jeff Bravo.

Ben Kampler (left) and his husband Jeff Bravo.

Working at perhaps the most historic bar (gay or straight) in the world — last month, New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to give it landmark status — has its perks.

One of Kampler’s co-workers is a 75-year-old veteran of that famous June, 1969 night. (“He tells people, ‘I saw fighting and went the other way,'” Kampler says. Still…)

The Stonewall Inn is a bona fide tourist attraction. “People make pilgrimages,” Kampler notes. “They stand there in awe.”

Then they come in for a drink (or three). Sometimes, they engage the bartender in conversation. He’s happy to oblige — if he’s not too busy working.

After all, it is a bar. “We have our regulars,” Kampler says. “It’s very ‘Cheers’-like.”

Still, no one was prepared for the day last month when the US Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage constitutional in all 50 states.

Kampler’s regular Friday shift starts at 4 p.m. He heard the news at 10 a.m., and was called in immediately. It was all hands on deck.

Crowds swelled. News crews gathered. All of Greenwich Village was a party — and Stonewall was its epicenter.

“It was amazing,” Kampler reports. “Except we ran out of champagne and food.”

Two days later, New York celebrated Gay Pride. Once again, the place was crazy.

“As a staff, we appreciate what goes on,” Kampler says. “But it really was a marathon weekend.”

Ben Kampler took this photo of the crowd outside the Stonewall Inn, on the day the US Supreme  Court declared same-sex marriage constitutional in all 50 states.

Ben Kampler took this photo of the crowd outside the Stonewall Inn, on the day the US Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage constitutional in all 50 states.

Working at the  Stonewall Inn has given Kampler great friends. He likes his co-workers and boss.

“I’ve been there through history — the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, New York marriage, and now marriage everywhere in the country,” Kampler says.

“And Stonewall has supported me through 2 master’s degrees.”

But he won’t be there much longer. This fall, Kampler begins a Ph.D. program in sociology at Boston University.

His goal is to teach and do research in women’s, gender and queer studies. Of particular interest: examining the patterns of law enforcement in gay bars, and the social changes occurring in those bars.

Odds are good he’s the only person in that field with nearly a decade of bartending experience in the most famous gay bar in the world.

“Godspell” Spills Across The Staples Stage

“Godspell” is no stranger to Staples High School.

But Players’ 2 previous productions of the parable-based musical were performed as student-directed studio theater pieces.

Next week, “Godspell” spills across the main stage.

Part of

Part of “the tribe” of “Godspell.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

Over 50 students — all between ages 14 and 18 — present the vibrant show July 23, 24 and 25.

A cast that big presents challenges, notes director David Roth.

The original production includes only Jesus, Judas and 8 followers. Roth and co-director Kerry Long expanded that core group, then added an ensemble. They listen to Jesus’ words, and join in the celebration.

This production is also special because “Godspell” enjoyed a major Broadway revival in 2012. It featured new vocal arrangements, and script changes with plenty of modern references. There’s rapping, puppets — even a game of Pictionary.

This year’s Staples version includes those additions, along with a song not previously used on stage, “Beautiful City.”

Caroline Didelot and Jack Baylis share a duet. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Caroline Didelot and Jack Baylis share a duet. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Roth says he grew up loving the show. Its upbeat message of love and tolerance make it a great summer choice.

“Some of our recent productions, like ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Sweeney Todd,’ were very moving, but also very dark,” Roth adds. “‘Godspell’ is equally poignant, but in a joyous and exuberant way. It’s also a great show for the entire family, regardless of your religious beliefs.”

With opening night near, Players are working hard to make this the best summer production ever — day by day.

(“Godspell” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 23, 24 and 25, and 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 25. Tickets are available at www.StaplesPlayers.com, and at the door.)

Remembering Jinny Parker

Jinny Parker — legendary Staples High School field hockey, volleyball, track coach and physical education teacher; national champion (women’s track team); fierce and outspoken girls’ sports advocate; state leader, and all-around great woman — died July 9 in New Hampshire. She was 90 years old.

(And yes, it’s spelled with a “J.” Throughout her 26 years at Staples, people wrote her name as “Ginny.” They still do, when referring to the school’s field hockey field, named in 2002 for her. But around that time, she signed a letter to me “Jinny.” I asked her about it. “All my life they’ve been writing it wrong,” she said. “I never bothered to correct them.”)

Sue Windrick —  one of the many former athletes who revered her, and stayed in touch for decades after graduation — says: “I loved that woman! I learned what it meant to work hard, to work as a team, because of Miss Parker. I would do anything to make her proud of me. I thank her for taking a chance on a mediocre field hockey lover, and saying, ‘You can always do more than you think you can.'”

Deb Holliday Kintigh adds: “She was a gem in my treasure box.”

In 2004, as I was writing my history of Staples — 120+ Years Of A+ Education — I asked “The Old Gray Mare” (her field hockey athletes sang the song on bus rides home, and her license plate read “TOGM”) for an interview. She responded to my questions by email. Here’s what she said:

——————————————————-

After 8 years of teaching, I gave it up for a year at Boston University to get my master’s. Not entirely a good move, for while I was well qualified, I was not affordable. So when I got wind of an opening at Staples I applied, went down and was interviewed by [principal] Stan Lorenzen and [athletic director] Frank Dornfeld. I was offered a job, and I took it. I never regretted my hasty choice.

Jinny Parker

Jinny Parker

I was very nervous about following Karen Sniffen, a legend. The p.e. program had all the usual stuff – team sports, tennis and badminton – about which I knew nothing. I changed it to stunts and tumbling, and got away with it. Interscholastic sports were field hockey, basketball and softball. I was paid an extra $150 a year to coach field hockey, basketball, softball, tennis, cheerleading and intramurals. Our girls ran the gamut from jocks to duds but we had fun, and we did pretty well with what we had.

In those days the “official” view of girls’ sports was very apprehensive. They focused on play days and sports days – nothing too strenuous. I attended various area and state meetings, and didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or get mad. I had coached in Maine and New Hampshire and never lost a kid, so that attitude drove me nuts.

The period from 1955 to 1981 saw tremendous changes in both p.e. and sports for girls. The “wise ones” finally discovered that girls were tougher than they thought, and had the same desires for activities that boys did.

We had a well-rounded program, and I think some of the gym-haters actually learned something and even enjoyed it. Some kids were horrified, though, when they were given written tests on sports rules. They said, “I thought you were a gym teacher, not an English teacher.” Yeah, spelling and penmanship counted.

Jinny Parker, during her Staples High School days.

Jinny Parker, during her Staples High School days.

Interscholastic sports were something else. I was privileged to become a state committee member. We met monthly, and quietly tried to move girls’ sports to an equal plane with boys’. It worked, but there were quite a few bumps in the road.

Our first “breakthrough” came when we wanted to have a state volleyball tournament, as most schools could scrape up a team. Only the referees knew the rules, and they whistled like mad. At noon we had a conference and sort of got things straight. It was one heck of a learning experience.

There was a real nice bunch of young coaches in Connecticut, and we all had the same idea: good girls’ sports. All the hard work was done long before anyone even thought of Title IX. Most of us had the good fortune to work for good athletic directors, who let us move ahead. Budgets were always a problem, so progress was slow.

But the programs you see today in Connecticut were well underway in the ‘60s. My national champs in track were in 1966! I look back fondly on those building years, even though most of us are now retired, and most people think it took the feds to give girls the great athletic opportunities they enjoy today. But Connecticut was way out ahead, and the CIAC [state organization], FCIAC [Fairfield County league] and DGWS [Division for Girls’ and Women’s Sports] were responsible.

I was also fortunate to work with Frank Dornfeld and Albie Loeffler. They let me and my colleagues do what we thought best for our programs. They were gentlemen in all the interactions I ever had with them. Men and women often had different ideas about the p.e. program, as can be expected, but there were few conflicts – mostly who gets which gym or field space, and for how long.

Lowlights followed shortly after the birth of Title IX, though I don’t think there was any valid connection. I’m talking about the advent of coed p.e. classes. Our giant computer spit out 25-30 kids’ cards per class. It made little difference what a kid wanted, or where he or she really belonged. I felt worst for the little immature sophomore boys who got stuck in a class with me – by then old enough to be their grandmother – and who could be flattened by some of the girl varsity basketball players who were in that class too. Those little guys could have profited from a male role model, not an old goat like me.

Jinny Parker coaching field hockey in 1970. The Staples High School field is now named for her.

Jinny Parker coaching field hockey in 1970. The Staples High School field is now named for her.

But Staples certainly was a special place, or I wouldn’t have stayed for 26 years. I never aspired to college work or administration, so I couldn’t ever think why I should leave. No one ever threatened to fire me, though one chap might have liked to try.

Westport sure grew while I was there, but along the way I met some very nice people – parents mostly, as well as Tip Schaefer, Lou Nistico, Joe Cuseo, Jim Calkins and a host of others.

I probably would be a failure today, as discipline was a prime component in my dealings with kids. I hear from a lot of them from time to time, and I haven’t found they suffered much. I made mistakes, but not bad ones, I guess.

I spent 3 years teaching in a paper mill town – kids with green teeth, and 2 sisters who liked p.e. because they could shower. They lived in a tarpaper shack in the woods. They taught me a lot.

Westport was a shock after that, for the kids had everything and didn’t know it. I think Westport parents want only what is best for their kids, but as a child of the Great Depression, I am convinced that a batch of diversity is an excellent learning tool.

(For Jinny Parker’s full obituary, click here. A graveside committal service is scheduled for Thursday, August 6, 2 p.m. at the North Newport Cemetery in New Hampshire. Memorial contributions may be made to the Senior Citizens’ Outreach Program: Sullivan County Nutrition Services, c/o Wendy Callum, P.O. Box 387, Newport, NH 03773. 

All’s Fare In Uber And Taylor Swift

It was a First World problem: Maggie Fair, Jenna McNicholas and Jamie Tanzer were headed to Taylor Swift’s MetLife Stadium Saturday night, with an extra $201 ticket.

A friend backed out at the last minute. What to do?

The girls — all June graduates of Staples High School — called an Uber. Driver Khalil Calixte offered them a cord to play music.

They chose Swift. Calixte sang along.

Jenna McNicholas, Jamie Tanzer and Maggie Fair with their new friend, Khalil Calixte.

Jenna McNicholas, Jamie Tanzer and Maggie Fair with their new friend, Khalil Calixte.

Then — according to a story on a great celebrity website, Business Insider — the girls looked at each other.

“We were like, wait, he needs to come to the concert with us,” McNicholas said.

He was all in. So instead of dropping the girls off at Penn Station, he headed out to Jersey.

They all had a great time — especially Calixte. It was his 1st concert ever.

“It was like we were already friends,” Fair told Business Insider. “We danced and sang the whole night. It was so much fun.”

Well done, girls!

And thanks too to Will Haskell — himself a Staples grad (and, oh yeah, a Business Insider writer) — for telling that tale so well.

(For the full Business Insider story, click here.)

Diddy Wah Diddy!

Willie Dixon was born 100 years ago this month. The Chicago blues musician, arranger and record producer influenced many generations of artists, from Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley to Bob Dylan, Cream, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

Willie Dixon

Willie Dixon

He wrote over 500 songs, including “Back Door Man,” “Little Red Rooster” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You.”

Willie Dixon also wrote “Diddy Wah Diddy.” It’s been recorded by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Captain Beefheart.

Westporters know — and love best — the version by The Remains.

Featuring Staples grads Barry Tashian (vocals/guitar) and Bill Briggs (keyboards), they opened for the Beatles on their 1966 tour. The Remains performed on “Ed Sullivan” and “Hullabaloo.”

Rock journalist Mark Kemp said if they had stayed together, “we might today be calling them — and not the Stones — the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band.”

Springsteen’s guitarist, Little Steven Van Zandt, called the Remains “living history, and one of our most valued American treasures.”

And Rolling Stone magazine described them as “a religious totem of all that was manic and marvelous about mid-’60s pop.”

But they dissolved before most Americans ever discovered their greatness. They got back together a while back, and — though drummer Chip Damiani died last year — still occasionally perform to ecstatic audiences.

Now “Diddy Wah Diddy” is about to get a new life — with another Westport twist.

Staples Class of 1970 grad Bill Banks — whose real job is banking — spent the past year developing Billion Planets Music. Emerging artists and seasoned veterans to work together, in music and video production.

Westport's Charlie Karp, at the hometown Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, has long known

Westport’s Charlie Karp, at the hometown Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, has long known “Diddy Wah Diddy.”

A group of those musicians — including Charlie Karp, who dropped out of Staples in 1970 to tour with Buddy Miles, and later played with Hendrix — has recorded a new version of the song. Banks calls the 2015 genre “blues/hop.”

He liked the collaboration so much, he contacted Willie Dixon’s family in Chicago. They loved it. During the centennial of his birth, it may be included in some of the Blues Heaven Foundation events they’ve planned.

Meanwhile, Banks is starting work on a movie about life in North Miami, as seen through the eyes of Hans Louis. He’s the “emerging artist” singer on the new recording.

“Hans grew up there,” Banks says. “The theme is that it’s an urban/modern ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ place.” (The Remains’ Tashian sang: “She don’t come from no town, she don’t come from no city/She lives way down in Diddy Wah Diddy.”)

You’ll have to wait to hear the blues/hop version. But just click below for the Remains’ take. They’re still rockin’, after 50 years.

(If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.)

BONUS HIT: Click here to link to a Gap commercial — shown only in India — featuring “Diddy Wah Diddy.”

Route To The Royals

Westport is known for many things. Producing professional baseball players is not one of them.

So we’ll take full credit for Joey Markus — even though his athletic career in Westport consisted of just a season in Little League.

Joey Markus in Little League...

Joey Markus in Little League…

But the 9th round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals has a decent local pedigree.

His father, Steve Markus, graduated from Staples in 1976, and played baseball and football there.

His mother, Robin Greenhut Markus, was a 1981 grad. She captained both the volleyball and ski teams.

Joey’s academic career in Westport consisted of a few months at Coleytown Elementary School. His family then moved to DeLand, Florida, where he was a power-hitter who played several positions.

Delayed puberty and and growth plate issues in his shoulder hampered his high school career. He coached the high school girls softball team one year; as a senior he was a designated hitter on a team that reached the state finals.

Still, he received a full athletic scholarship from Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida. Last year, he finally pitched. Scouts liked what they saw: 1 6-6 left-hander who throws 91-93 miles an hour.

Joey is playing now for the Burlington Royals, a Rookie-level team in the Appalachian League.

...and as a Burlington Royal.

…and as a Burlington Royal.