Yesterday’s second COVID vaccine clinic for 5-to-11-year-olds was another hit.
Kids and their parents poured into the Staples High School fieldhouse, for their second dose. Westport Weston Health District, school district and Westport Community Emergency Response Team personnel handled the crowd efficiently. Youngsters were excited to receive another jab. (Their parents were too.)
One protester stood near the entrance. Whitney Krueger (photo below) held signs reflecting her belief that not enough information has been provided about the vaccine.
He heads any list of great Westporters — and not just because his last name is first.
A World War II veteran and Westport resident since the 1950s, he’s had a long, distinguished career serving our town, in politics and many other ways. In 2018, Larry was the Memorial Day grand marshal.
He’s also the author of 4 books about his beloved home state, North Dakota.
Larry’s wife, his beloved Martha, died in October 2020. She was 90. They had been married for 66 years.
I know all of Westport joins me in wishing Larry Aasen a wonderful 99th birthday!
Larry Aasen, with his books. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)
Chris Robison — noted musician, teacher, gay rights activist and a longtime Westporter — died this week. He was 73.
Born Harold Alton Meyer in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Chris made his mark in the New York City rock ‘n’ roll scene of the 1970s as a member of the New York Dolls, Elephant’s Memory, Steam and Stumblebunny. He was also a music teacher here for over 30 years.
Chris recorded with John Lennon, Keith Richards, Papa John Phillips and Gene Simmons.
With Elephant’s Memory he toured with Aerosmith, Rare Earth and Billy Preston, and played a Circle Line tourist boat gig — hosted by the Hell’s Angels — with Bo Diddley and Jerry Garcia.
The New York Dolls toured Japan with Jeff Beck and Felix Pappalardi. A crowd of 55,000 jammed Tokyo Baseball Stadium to hear them play. Click here for a longer “06880” story on Chris’ musical exploits.
His family says, “His relentless passion for artistic expression and civil rights will be treasured for years to come.”
Chris is survived by sons Dexter Scott of Brooklyn and Tiger Robison of Laramie, Wyoming; sisters Laurel Meyer of Wellesley, Wendy Woodfield and Marilee Meyer of Cambridge, Massachusetts; brother Bruce Meyer of Camden, Maine, and 3 grandchildren.
A memorial service is set for this Tuesday (December 7) at MoCA Westport, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
And finally … Chris Robison led quite a life (see his obituary above). We honor him here with these videos.
He was not in “Steam” when they recorded their signature (and only) hit (in Bridgeport). The band did not even exist; “Steam” was just studio musicians.
But the label wanted a tour. Chris joined the group that played 28 states, in a grueling 3-week tour of 1-night stands, TV shows and festivals. They shared the bill with Bob Seger and MC5, among others. “Steam” played all original material; the only obligation was to start and end each set with …
His next gig — with Elephant’s Memory — included this 1974 song:
Then it was on to the New York Dolls. They were a key influence on later punk, new wave and glam metal groups like the Ramones, Blondie and Talking Heads.
Later Chris formed his own band, Stumblebunny, which toured the UK and Germany with the Hollies.
Yesterday’s “06880” lead story yesterday celebrated the works of members of 4 Westport synagogues. They’ll be honored December 12 by the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, as part of their annual “Mitzvah Heroes” celebration.
But there’s a 5th Westporter too — from Congregation Beth El in Norwalk.
Stephanie Gordon has been a shul leader since 2007. A lawyer professionally, she focuses her volunteerism in 2 areas: working toward “tikkun olam” (repairing the world), and improving her congregation
Committee work at Beth El includes Membership, vice president for Education and Fundraising, and the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee. But she’s hands-on too, from decorating the sukkah to greeting congregants on Shabbat.
For years Stephanie was part of Norwalk Open Doors’ shelter and kitchen crew. She then stepped up to lead. The pandemic notwithstanding, Stephanie continues to plan healthy menus, shops, recruits volunteers, and leads meal prep and service.
And finally … on this day in 1988, Roy Orbison played his final concert. The country singer with an astonishing, angelic, operatic voice — who had a 2nd career with the Traveling Wilburys — died of heart failure 2 days later, at 52.
We’re back — this time with a very cool needlepoint.
That’s the whole idea of our Saturday art gallery. Whatever your age and level of experience — professional or amateur, young or old — this feature is open to everyone. In every medium.
All genres and styles are encouraged. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage (and now needlepoint) — whatever you’ve got, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Share your work with the world.
A recent New York Times story notes that the composer was famous for writing letters. Sent to “students and professionals and fans, they were thoughtful and specific, full of gratitude and good wishes, each on letterhead, each with the elegant, sloping signature that’s familiar now from the Stephen Sondheim Theater marquee.”
One of those notes — written very early in his career — has a Westport connection.
In the spring of 1950 Sondheim graduated from Williams College, and was accepted for a summer apprenticeship at Westport Country Playhouse. He replied to managing director Martin Manulis (below).
He apologized for his delay in responding to the offer , said he would not need a room as he would be commuting from his parents home in Stamford — and asked for a delay of 12 days before starting.
He wanted “a few days’ rest before transferrin from the ivory tower of education into the cold, cruel world.”
The Playhouse agreed.
More than 50 years later — in preparation for a Playhouse tribute to him, hosted by Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward — Sondheim was asked by the Times about that letter.
“I just wanted a week off,” he said.
The Westport Country Playhouse, as it looked for many years.
Sondheim’s summer at the Playhouse was eye-opening.
“You learn about all the intricacies of putting on a play: how many people are necessary to make a moment work onstage, from the writers to the stagehands,” he said.
“At Westport I got to work with non-musicals and have different actual jobs instead of just fetching coffee and typing scripts. Now the best way to learn the theater, always, is to be a stage manager, and one of the great things about the Westport program was that you got to be an assistant stage manager on at least one show during the summer.”
He did that on “My Fiddle’s Got Three Strings,” directed by Lee Strasberg and starring Maureen Stapleton. When the actors started reading, I couldn’t hear one word. You want to talk about mumbling.
He was surprised how many actors mumbled during the read-through. And the reality of watching Strasberg direct was far different than hearing him talk about his craft.
“There is a difference between theory and practice,” Sondheim said.
“To listen to what Strasberg said was amazing. To see it was terrible.”
Stephen Sondheim (crouching, top of photo), during his 1950 apprenticeship. The photo was taken at the Jolly Fisherman restaurant. Also in the photo: future film director Frank Perry (front row, left) and Richard Rodgers’ daughter Mary (2nd row, 4th from left).
Sondheim’s apprenticeship covered a range of duties. He — and fellow apprentice Frank Perry, who went on to a noted career directing films — fetched props, sold Cokes, parked cars and “cleaned latrines,” among other duties.
Stephen Sondheim’s association with the Westport Country Playhouse was long and important.
And today, his long-ago letter — with that very recognizable signature — is an important piece of Playhouse momoribilia.
There are many ways to mark the holiday season in Westport.
The lighting of the tree in front of Town Hall is a great one.
1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker did the honors a few minutes ago. She was joined by her father and daughter, the Staples Orphenians, a gaggle of kids, and plenty of Westporters who are glad that — after a COVID-induced year off — this hometown tradition is back.
The Orphenians sang holiday tunes …
… former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe wheeled his grandson Charlie …
… his successor Jen Tooker led the countdown …
… and the 2021 holiday tree was lit. (Photos/Dan Woog)
First Selectwoman Jen Tooker offers this COVID update:
We are fortunate in Westport that the expertise and experience of our health and administrative professionals is first-rate. Throughout the course of the pandemic, these individuals have played a vital role in keeping us informed and updated.
Westport’s COVID-19 Emergency Management Team continues to monitor and assess the trends and transmission rates in Westport, neighboring municipalities, the state and beyond. It is aware of the potential of strains of the virus such as Delta, as well as tracking the new Omicron variant, and the impact they may have on the community at large.
Like many cities and towns in Connecticut, Westport has seen a recent increase in the number of COVID cases. As of today, Westport remains in the “orange” category (10-14 cases per 100,000 population). It is crucial that we stay vigilant in avoiding the spread of the virus to those at risk.
Vaccinations and Boosters:
All individuals who are 5 years of age or older and live, work or attend school in Connecticut are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Health officials urge all who are able and eligible to get fully vaccinated, including receiving a booster shot, as soon as possible.
For more information on vaccinations and boosters, visit ct.gov/covidvaccine. For availability of local boosters, text your ZIPCode to 438829 (GETVAX).
Westport’s masking guidelines have not changed.
Masks are not required to be worn by anyone.
Vaccinated individuals are generally not required to wear masks.
Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks.
Masks will still be required in healthcare facilities, facilities serving vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools (public and non-public, when students are present), and childcare facilities.
Some businesses, state and local government offices, performance spaces, and certain events, may still require universal masking.
As always, cooperation, patience and understanding are appreciated when visiting Westport establishments and locations where mask requirements remain in effect or where some may choose to maintain a full mask policy for the health and safety of their staff and customers.
The Emergency Management Team continues its oversight of the pandemic and the effects it may have on the health and safety of all Westport residents, businesses and visitors.
Again, we urge all those who are eligible to get a booster.
Additional information is available on the WWHD website: www.WWHD.org.
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