Tag Archives: “06880″ blog

No More Trolls: The Sequel

We’re in the midst of an important Westport anniversary.

At dusk 237 years ago yesterday — April 25, 1777 — 2000 British troops landed at Compo Beach. Tory loyalists planned to guide them up Compo Road to Cross Highway, across to Redding Road, then north through Redding and Bethel to Danbury, where they would burn a major munitions depot.

Patriots fired a few shots at the corner of the Post Road and Compo, but the British marched on. In Danbury they destroyed the Continental Army’s munitions, then headed back toward their waiting ships at Compo.

Hastily assembled patriot forces fought them in the fierce Battle of Ridgefield. Led by Brigadier General Benedict Arnold — not yet a traitor — and outnumbered 3 to 1, the patriots deployed a strategy of selective engagement.

British forces landed at Compo Beach, marched to Danbury, marched back south and — after the Battle of Compo Hill — retreated to Long Island.

The next day — April 28, 1777 — patriot marksmen waited on Compo Hill (the current site of Minuteman Hill road). They did not stop the redcoats — 20 colonials were killed, and between 40 and 80 wounded when the British made a shoulder to shoulder charge with fixed bayonets — but they gave them a fight.

A very different fight took place in the days leading up to April 26, 2013. Here on the “06880″ blog, a post about the new town arts curator devolved into nasty attacks on her and her appointment. Accusations flew about a waste of town dollars. Even after it was noted that she is a volunteer, she continued to be vilified.

A post about a summer party planned for the “06880″ community quickly degenerated into a political catfight. Much of the joy of the announcement was sucked away by anonymous commenters.

There is a word for anonymous internet bullies: trolls.

There is a word for anonymous internet bullies: trolls.

So a year ago today, I pulled the plug on anonymity. In a pissed-off post, I described the reasons I finally had it with “trolls.” By stirring the pot so virulently, they were poisoning the blog for everyone. They clothed themselves in free speech garb, but in reality they were just cyberspace bullies.

That post drew 91 comments. Almost all were positive. A few people predicted the end of “06880.”

So what’s happened in the year since, now that commenters have to use their real, full names?

Well, I’m working harder. Not everyone follows the rules. I spend time deleting occasional anonymous posts — I have not gone as far as to demand pre-registration — and sending requests to re-post (I’ll even do it for you).

The number of comments is down a bit — but not significantly. Instead of 2 or 3 bozos shouting at each other, we’ve had (for the most part) civil conversations.

The dark spirits are gone. “06880″ is lighter, freer.

We now know who is part of the “06880″ community. And doesn’t any community — a blog, a town, whatever — function better when everyone knows their neighbors?

In the nearly 2 1/2 centuries since the Battle of Compo Hill, the British have never ventured inland again.

And — as the past year proves — the trolls are also gone for good.

 

Happy Anniversary To Us!

Today, “06880″ turns 5 years old.

What a wild, wacky and wonderfully Westportesque that half decade has been!

When I hurled my 1st post into cyberspace on March 6, 2009 — click here for that baby — I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I thought I’d offer some moderately interesting stories about the people, places, events and history that make this town our home. My goal was 1 post a day.

I had no idea — even though my tagline was “Where Westport meets the world” — that I would find connections everywhere: from Broadway to the Boston Marathon bombings, from Sochi to Syria.

Rafaella Sforza -- who last month closed her tailor shop in Colonial Green -- got a well-deserved send-off in "06880."

Rafaella Sforza — who last month closed her tailor shop in Colonial Green — got a well-deserved send-off in “06880.”

I did not realize that — right here at home — so many amazing people are doing such amazing things. Children, teenagers, busy businesspeople, retirees, merchants, volunteers — this town rocks the universe.

I had no idea either that so many talented, accomplished people could suck so bad at driving and parking.

I could not imagine that my vision of a nice “comments” section would explode into a snake pit of controversy, as packs of anonymoids turned the milquetoastiest stories into rants about Obamacare, socialism, and that big bad socialist, Obama.

I also could not predict that after pulling the plug on anonymous comments (click here for that epic post, last April), “06880″ turned into a far more thoughtful, civil place to hang out. A discussion last month on climate change/global warming — always a hot topic — was certainly intense. But it ended with the blog equivalent of “Kumbaya.”

Not every "06880" story needs to be told in words. (Photo/Betsy Phillips Kahn)

Not every “06880″ story needs to be told in words. (Photo/Betsy Phillips Kahn)

I’ve kept my promise to post at least once daily. Sometimes I post 2 or 3 times. Thanks to ever-increasing tips from readers, and increasing bad weather (thanks, climate change!), I occasionally post 6 or 8 times a day.

That translates to nearly 3,400 stories. Hopefully — if you’ve read this far — you realize you like at least some of them.

For me, “06880″ is a labor of love.

But, like any love, it takes work.

As “06880″ has grown, so have the hours I spend on it.

There’s writing, sure. But also interviewing, researching, responding to comments (public and private), moderating comments (removing those from people who do not use full, real names), taking and sizing and framing photos, and scouring the web for appropriate (and occasionally inappropriate) graphics.

I spend a few bucks too. I pay to keep “06880″ ad-free. I pay for domain mapping. I pay for photo-editing software.

So, once a year — on my anniversary — I put out my tin cup.

Will work for food. Or cash.

Will work for food. Or cash.

If you like what you read, please consider supporting “06880.”

Am I worth $1 a month? $1 a week? Perhaps (my choice!) $1 a day.

If my 3,400 stories are worth a penny each, that’s $34. If half of them are worth a dime each, that’s $170. I’ll leave other calculations to you.

I hope that if “06880″ has ever

  • made you laugh, cry, think or wonder
  • spurred you to go to an event, read a book, try a restaurant or patronize a store
  • kept you up to date in a blizzard, hurricane, windstorm or power outage
  • delivered news about a favorite person or store
  • galvanized you to support a cause
  • helped publicize your event, book, appearance or concert
  • published your photo
  • paid tribute to someone you loved or admired
  • connected you to your hometown from many miles away
  • opened a window on Westport’s history, helped you think about its future, introduced you to someone in town you never knew, or helped you look at someone or someplace in a new way
  • given you a voice in the “Comments” section
  • inspired you
  • made you sit up and say “Wow!” (or “holy f—!”)

– you will consider tossing something my way.

Thanks for 5 great years. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, whether anyone sends an anniversary gift or nice.

And we’ll still have our now-annual summer “06880″ party at the beach.

But hey. You tip a taxi driver you don’t even know for a 5-minute ride, right?

You can donate by PayPalclick here. It’s easy (and safe)! You don’t even need a PayPal account. If you get an error message, try www.paypal.comthen log in, create an account, or send money from the drop-down menu by entering this email address: dwoog@optonline.net. Or click the “Donate” button on the home page of “06880.”

Checks (or cash, if you’re paranoid I’ll find out who you are) may be mailed to:  Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880.  Put “06880″ on the memo line.  It won’t do anything for the IRS, but it may help you remember at tax time why you sent me something.

Next year's "06880" party will NOT be held on the hottest day of the year. (Photo/Jo Shields)

Next year’s “06880″ party will NOT be held on the hottest day of the year. (Photo/Jo Shields)

I Resolve…

Happy New Year!

In the spirit of the season, “06880″ offers up a few resolutions.

In 2014, I promise to…

Run only a few photos of selfish, entitled drivers taking up 3 spaces, parking almost on the jetty at Compo Beach, and using the sidewalk in front of Silver’s to enter and exit the Post Road. And I will make snarky comments about them only if they really, truly deserve it.

You won't see more than 20 or 30 of this type of photo in 2014!

You won’t see more than 20 or 30 of this type of photo in 2014!

Try my best to find a story that highlights how great it is that a family with no ties to Westport buys a handsome, well-maintained, 200-year-old home; promises the owner to keep it and love it; then levels it and constructs a 12,000-square foot behemoth filled with rooms that don’t even have names, after chopping down more trees than George Washington ever dreamed of. I know you guys are out there — I can’t wait to tell your inspiring tales!

A blight on the neighborhood. Good to see it go!

A blight on the neighborhood. Good to see it go!

Limit my trips down memory lane. After all, how many times can I mention the Remarkable Book Shop, Clam Box, and a time shrouded in nostalgia when a 5-year-old could walk from home all the way downtown, spend a day shooting baskets (or billiards) at the Y, then wander along Main Street while shopkeepers came outside, greeted him by name, fed and clothed him, and put the bill on the back of a paper bag for the parents to settle, hey, whenever they wanted.

Good riddance!

Good riddance!

Like any New Year’s resolutions, I’ll do my best to stick to these as long as I can. I figure at least through Saturday.

(Have your own resolutions? Click “Comments” to share — and please, use your full name!)

Giving Thanks (“06880″-Style)

Thank you.

Thank you to Westport, for being — despite the ease and frequency with which we/I often knock it — a wonderful, warm, creative, arts-supporting, involved and ever-evolving community. At the dawn of a new administration, the best is yet to come.

Thank you to the people I spend so much time with: Westport’s teenagers. You are smart, passionate, compassionate and clever. You work far harder than I did when I was at Staples. You’ve got far more pressures on you than I had. Yet you handle it all with maturity and poise (most of the time). And you do it with plenty of smiles.

Thank you to the readers of “06880.” You are never without opinions, information and feedback. You feed me ideas and photos. You read my words at 5 a.m., noon and midnight. And — thankfully — you are no longer anonymous.

Those are my thanks, this Thanksgiving day 2013. I’d love to hear yours. And — more importantly — so would everyone else in this great “06880″ community. Just click “Comments.”

Thank you!

I am thankful I live in a beautiful town. I am also thankful I'm not a turkey.

I am thankful I live in a beautiful town. I am also thankful I’m not a turkey.

The Sun Always Shines On “06880″

Sure, it was the hottest day since global warming began.

The temperature was 12 squintillion degrees, but with the humidity at 27 bazillion and the breeze blowing at minus-2 miles an hour, the day seemed quite a bit hotter.

As hot, in other words, as a typical day on “06880,” back when JeffXS, Emma and The Dude Abides were allowed to not use their real names.

Still, more than 100 people who were not wusses braved the heat last evening for the 1st-ever “06880″ beach party.

Audrey Hertzel's banner welcomed partygoers.

Audrey Hertzel’s banner welcomed partygoers.

There were little kids, a 95-year-old, politicians, normal human beings, and a couple who moved here 6 months ago. I thought that was pretty impressive, until I met another couple who just arrived 2 weeks ago.

Honest.

And, in typical “06880″ fashion, those newest newcomers once almost moved to Mill Valley. The same California town that was the subject of a Westport/Mill Valley comparison blog post, back in 2011.

"06880" does Compo Beach proud -- and vice versa. (Photo by Katherine Hooper)

“06880″ does Compo Beach proud — and vice versa. (Photo by Katherine Hooper)

Huge props go to party organizers Mary Hoffman and Jennifer Hershey; tent provider and rafflemeister Audrey Hertzel; Cuban chef Maite Hernandez; cupcake maven Lisa Marie Alter; name tag man Fred Cantor — and all others who helped, came, ate, drank, wandered over, or in any way, shape or form contributed to a wonderful time.

Lisa Marie Alter's cupcakes were snapped up right after this photo was taken.

Lisa Marie Alter’s cupcakes were snapped up right after this photo was taken.

It was so good, no one even noticed the heat.

Or the sand flies.

Hardly.

See you next year. According to global warming experts, it will be even hotter.

But the party will be even cooler.

PS:  If you left your sunglasses on a table, contact me. I’ve got ‘em.

The party went on long past dusk. When the last person left, it was a mere 112 degrees.

The party went on long past dusk. When the last person left, it was a mere 112 degrees.

Counting Down…And Up

Just a few days remain before the “06880″ party at Compo Beach.

(It’s this Thursday, July 18, 6 p.m. at the far end of alcohol-is-legal South Beach — the furthest spot from the cannons.)

Please bring your own food, beverages, beach chairs and blankets. Then mix, mingle and enjoy the evening with the “06880″ crowd.

Though it’s BYOEverything, we’re trying to get a handle on numbers. Just so, you know, we know.

Please fill out the survey below. There’s no obligation — you can still change your mind. It’s all very casual — that’s the “06880″ way!

One Week Left Until The “06880″ Party

The 1st-ever “06880″ party is just a week away.

And if you’re reading this, you’re invited.

Thursday, July 18 (6 p.m.) is the day and time. The far end of Compo’s South Beach — away from the cannons, near the boat and kayak launch, the best place to watch the sunset — is the place. (Still confused? See the aerial view below.)

Every member of the “06880″ (as in, this website) community is invited. We welcome frequent commenters and lurkers; people who want the new Saugatuck firehouse at Luciano Park, and those who want it next to Riverside Park; folks who have lived here all their lives, and those who moved here yesterday.

The tagline for “06880″ is “Where Westport meets the world.” Next Thursday, that world comes to Compo.

Bring your own food, beverages, beach chairs and blankets. Then mix, mingle and enjoy the evening with the “06880″ crowd.

There’s no charge. It’s a “fun-raiser,” not a fundraiser.

See you next Thursday!

Compo party 1

Thanks, Katherine Hooper…

…for the photo of the downtown view — taken from near Bartaco — that serves as “06880″‘s new header.

In addition to being a good friend, Katherine is a fantastic photographer.

Check out her “Photography in My Life” blog here.

Meanwhile, here is a look at the woman behind the lens:

Katherine Hooper

See You July 18: The 1st-Ever “06880″ Party

Mark your calendar: Thursday, July 18 (6 p.m.). That’s the date of the 1st-ever “06880″ party.

Every member of the “06880″ (as in, this website) community is invited. Frequent commenters and lurkers; political activists and those-were-the-days buffs; longtime residents and newcomers — we want you there!

We extend a special invitation to our New York friends. Please, though, park well!

Good parking spots will fill up quickly for the "06880" party. Please don't invent your own.

Good parking spots will fill up quickly for the “06880″ party. Don’t invent your own.

We’ll gather at Compo Beach — the alcohol-is-okay end. Bring your own food, beverages, beach chairs and blankets. Like the website, “06880″ simply provides the space to get together, have a good time, chat, laugh, and of course bitch.

There’s no charge. It’s a “fun-raiser,” not a fundraiser.

The “06880″ tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.” Let’s call this party “where ’06880′ meets each other.”

The weather should be nice and warm, so we all can chill.

National Doughnut Day — Part 2

Alert — and very creative — “06880″ reader Joe Witz could not let National Doughnut Day go by without a proper shout-out.

So he sent this along:

DW National Donut Day

Thanks, Joe!

I can hardly wait for the next celebration: National Chinese Food Day.