Pic Of The Day #2057

Compo Beach entrance yesterday — no sticker required (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Photo Challenge #414

Generations of Westporters (including yours truly) have jumped off the Sherwood Mill Pond wooden bridge, leading from Old Mill to Compo Cove.

It was done long before I was a kid. And it continues long after.

A “Danger/No Diving or Jumping” sign — installed a couple of summers ago — has done little to deter the age-old fun. In fact, parents sometimes bring their kids, so they too can enjoy the rite of passage.

The sign was last week’s Photo Challenge (click here to see). A ton of readers knew where it was — and, presumably, know that a simple sign will not stop such a long-standing (and fun) tradition.

Congratulations to Richard Stein, Matt Murray, Vanessa Bradford, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Ed Sanford, Ed Creevy, Bobbie Herman, Dave Eason, Andrew Colabella, Betty Walker, Jeff Jacobs, Tom Green, Nancie Rinaldi, Adam Starr, Rick Benson and Jim Elkind.

Long may you jump!

This week’s Photo Challenge is much more difficult. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Wendy Schaefer)

(Here’s another challenge: Please support “06880.” Click here to contribute. And thank you!)

Roundup: James Montgomery, Teens’ Songwriting Workshop, Shrimp Farming …

The “Blue Sunday” concert series at the Westport Library will end with a bang.

World famous blues rocker James Montgomery joins Mark Naftalin’s all-star lineup next week (December 11, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.).

The house band includes Blues Hall of Fame guitarist/singer/songwriter Paul Gabriel, lowdown bassman Paul Opalach, swingin’ drummer Nick Longo and the host: Westport’s own Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Mark Naftalin on keyboards.

The show is (amazingly) free, but registration is highly recommended. Last month’s show was completely sold out. Click here to register.


Speaking of music at the Library:

Verso Studios has partnered with the Song Arts Academy, with an 8-week songwriting program for 15 middle and high school students.

The program runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays, beginning January 30.

It’s free (!), thanks to the support of Fred Reynolds and family. (A refundable $25 registration fee reserves a spot.) .

The workshop offers young songwriters a chance to record songs written in the workshop at Verso Studios.

The program is led by Billy Seidman, a Westport native and veteran New York songwriter, guitarist and producer. He’s worked with Jimi Hendrix, and top pop producers like Jimmy “The Senator” Douglass, (Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams) and Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton).

Each week, students will learn new craft and perspective tools, then write an original song using them.

Click here to register, and for more information.


John Brawley grew up on Saugatuck Shores. He became a marine biologist, living (and fishing) on Cape Cod for many years.

He now owns Sweet Sound — Vermont’s first shrimp aquaculture outfit. He harvests 100 pounds of Pacific white-leg shrimp each week from indoor, aboveground recirculating saltwater pools.

Brawley was featured in Friday’s Washington Post piece on how the Green Mountain State has pivoted from dairy farms to other types of agriculture. Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Scott Smith)

John Brawley, at Sweet Sound Aquaculture.


Yesterday’s rain kept many Westporters inside.

But it did not deter the weekly Compo Beach runners. Neither it, nor the wind whipping off the water, deterred them from their jaunt down Soundview Avenue.

(Photo/Sunil Hirani)


The New Canaan Museum & Historical Society is spotlighting the Silvermine Art Colony.

Several of those artists lived in Westport between 1908 and 1922: Karl Anderson, George Hand Wright, George Wright Picknell, Ernest Funt and Edmund Marion Ashe. They met frequently, and critiqued each other’s work.

The 2 exhibits feature over 120 pieces of Silvermine artists’ work, including several of those Westporters. One of the standout pieces is Frank Townsend Hutchen’s “Compo Beach Sunset,” from  around 1925.

Click here for more information.

Frank Townsend Hutchen’s “Compo Beach Sunset.” The Saugatuck train towers are visible in the background.


“Westport … Naturally” can never resist a cute dog photo.

This one sure qualifies.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)


And finally … James Montgomery (see story above) is a blues legend. If you haven’t heard of him, check out this 41-year-old clip:


(“06880” is your hyper-local blog. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)


Strolling Along

It’s the magic of the holiday season.

Moments before the 2nd annual Holiday Stroll yesterday, the weather cleared.

Hundreds of Westporters of all ages — including tons of kids — headed downtown.

A small part of the large crowd. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

They met Santa, dropped off letters to him, and gave gifts for the PAL toy drive. They had their faces painted, and got animal balloons.

11-year-old Owen Hill (blue jacket) provided animal balloons for dozens of even younger kids. (Photo/Dan Woog)

They were serenated by Staples High School’s Orphenians, and Greens Farms Academy’s Harbor Blues. They wandered all around downtown too, joining in carols led by professional singer Nick Calabrese (plus 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker).

Nick Calabrese leads carolers. No, the teenagers are not checking their notifications. They’re reading the lyrics to holiday songs. (Photo/Dan Woog)

They nibbled free food and drank hot chocolate at a dozen restaurants, and snagged giveaways and discounts at a few dozen shops.

Garlic knots at Joe’s Pizza! (Photo/Dan Woog)

It was a magical evening. Thanks to the Westport Downtown Association, which partnered with “06880” for the event.

And to the weather gods, who delivered big time when we needed it most.

Staples Orphenians, directed by Luke Rosenberg, offered wonderful music … (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

… and the crowd grew larger with every song. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Both 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and a young constituent were decked out in blinking lights. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Aarti Khosla offered hot chocolate at her Le Rouge chocolatier. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Nomade handed out candied almonds in bamboo cones — and chocolate chip cookies. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The main tent was outside Cold Fusion. There were plenty of treats inside too. (Photo/Dan Woog)

More hot chocolate, at Manna Toast. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Savvy + Grace put out holiday treats. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

WEST owner Kitt Shapiro drew crowds with a $150 gift card raffle. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Some kids mailed letters to Santa in the Savvy + Grace mailbox … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… and some parents handed them directly to “Santa.” (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Santa greeted youngsters, who were excited … (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

… and serious … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… and who photo-bombed him. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Santa was also popular with Greens Farms Academy’s Harbor Blues, after they sang. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Westport PAL collected gifts for kids in need. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Staples freshman Ava Carter and friend Nelly Kaminski painted dozens of young faces. (Photo/Jen Cirino)

The 2nd annual Holiday Stroll was sponsored by “06880” and the Westport Downtown Association. We’re already getting ready for next year’s! (Photo/Dan Woog)

(If you enjoyed last night’s Holiday Stroll, please support “06880.” Click here — and thank you!)


Pic Of The Day #2056

Nash’s Pond sunrise (Photo/Trish Freeman)

Online Art Gallery #139

Tanks. trees, elephants, chrystanthemums, yaks — our “06880” artists cover the world this week.

Remember: This is your feature. All readers are invited to contribute. Age, level of experience, subject matter — there are no restrictions.

All genres are encouraged. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, collages, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage and (yes) needlepoint — whatever you’ve got, email it to 06880blog@gmail.com. Share your work with the world!

“Garden of Hope/Slava Ukraini” — oil on canvas (Norm Siegel)

“Spaces.” Photographer Peter Barlow says of this Compo Beach image: “Instead of seeing a tree, try observing all the different shapes defined by the branches. Every shape is unique.”

Untitled (Kathleen Burke)

Photographer Celia Campbell-Mohn asks: “Pothole on Sherwood path, or art?”

“Jazzman” – Tom Doran

“Last Chrysanthemums” (Werner Liepolt)

“Burger with ‘The Works'” (Lawrence Weisman)

Untitled (Martin Ripchick)

“A Yakety Yak” Artist Steve Stein says: “They live at extreme high altitudes in Tibet, India and China. They come both as domesticated or wild hairy bovines that produce milk used to make cheese and butter. But they don’t yakety yak — they only grunt”

“The Queen Needs Her Rest” — taken in Tanzania. (Mike Hibbard)

Roundup: Holiday Stroll Is On Tonight; World Cup Is On Today, 10 am @ The Library ….

Important note: Today’s Holiday Stroll is on — rain or shine!

Over 40 stores and restaurants — plus Santa, face painters, a balloon artist, Staples and Greens Farms Academy singers and other carolers — look forward to seeing you this evening, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Main Street, Church Lane, the Post Road and across the river. The main tent will be outside Cold Fusion.

Dress warmly. Wear reindeer — I mean, rain gear — if needed. Ho ho ho! See you there.

And for more information — including all the participating stores and restaurants — click here.



If you can’t be in Qatar this morning (10 a.m. kickoff, our time) cheering the American team on in its World Cup round of 16 match against the Netherlands, go to the next best place.

The Westport Library.

Today’s broadcast begins a series of matches, live on the 18-foot screen. The Trefz Forum will also host the quarterfinals next Friday (December 9), 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), and the semifinals on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 13 and 14 (2 p.m.).

The games will be very exciting. The players will be larger than life. But — hey, this is still a library — fans should bring a mobile device to download the Sennheiser app, and headphones or earbuds to listen.

Christian Pulisic’s pulsating goal powered the US past Iran on Tuesday. The win vaulted the Americans into the knockout round. (Photo/Odd Andersen for AFP)


Also at the Westport Library: the final evening of the Short Cuts Film Festival.

Five narrative films will be screened on Thursday (December 8, 7 p.m.).

“Pragma” is a British rom-com. “Hallelujah” is a reminder that “trouble won’t last always.” “Lilith & Eve” is a feminist reimagining of Lilith, Adam’s first wife. “Life Remembered” is a hybrid live-action and virtual reality short depiction of a cowboy who leads a double life.”F^cK ‘Em R!GHT B@cK” follows a queer aspiring rapper who accidentally eats an edible. A talk back follows the final film.

Click here for more information on the films, and to purchase tickets ($25, including refreshments).


One of Westport’s favorite toy drives begins today.

The Westport Police Department and Police Athletic League will again collect gifts for underprivileged children in Fairfield County.

Officers will accept new, unopened and unwrapped toys — plus cash donations — in the ASF Sports & Outdoors parking lot (1560 Post Road East), this weekend and next, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Toy collection boxes are also available at:

  • Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road
  • ASF Sports & Outdoors, 1560 Post Road East
  • PAL ice rink, Longshore
  • Awesome Toys & Gifts, 429 Post Road East
  • The Toy Post, 180 Post Road East.

Questions? Contact Officer Craig Bergamo: 203-341-6000; cbergamo@Westportct.gov.

Westport Police toy drive at ASF.


A couple of hundred kids thronged Wakeman Town Farm yesterday, for the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Over 50 young musicians played carols …

… and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, with Wakeman relative Tom Constantino, counted down to the lighting up …

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker (far right), and the Wakeman Town Farm tree. (Photos/Dan Woog)

… and then everyone enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies.

All that was missing was snow.


Club 203 — the great new social group for adults with disabilities — is planning its biggest event yet.

A holiday party is set for Wakeman Town Farm on Tuesday, December 13 (7:30 to 9 p.m.).

Outdoor and inside activities include a hot cocoa bar, cookies, cider donuts and more. Click here to register.


The Westport Garden Club has made its annual deliveries of wreaths to non-profit and service organizations around town.

Each year the club organizes a workshop for members. They bring cuttings and natural embellishments from their gardens, making special bows for unique designs.

Among the recipients: Homes with Hope, the Gillespie Center, Wakeman Town Farm, the Westport Museum for History & Culture, the Senior Center, Westport Parks & Recreation Department, the Aspetuck Health District, and Earthplace.

Westport Garden Club wreaths are on sale today at the Westport Museum’s Holly Days Market.

Westport Garden Club members, ready to deliver their holiday wreaths.


Something from Tiffany’s” — the romcom produced by Reese Witherspoon — begins streaming on December 9 (Amazon Prime Video).

Westporters should have a special interest in it: The director is 2002 Staples High School graduate Daryl Wein.

The other day, he hung out at the official Los Angeles premiere, with her:

Daryl Wein and Reece Witherspoon

(Hat tip: Fred Cantor)


Hear ye, hear ye!

Our Local Town Crier has just published its annual Holiday Gift Guide. There are plenty of good ideas and links, plus a comprehensive list of December events. Click here to see.


Speaking of gifts: Pop down to a holiday pop-up this Friday (December 9, noon to 4 p.m., Yoga 45 at 201 Main Street).

There’s a great selection of clothing, jewelry and artwork from local businesses — and a portion of the sales benefit A Better Chance of Westport.


After 3 riveting performances of “The Laramie Project” last month, the Unitarian Church’s UU Players offer an encore.

They’ll repeat the powerful drama about the Wyoming community’s reaction to the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard next Saturday (December 10, 7 p.m., Unitarian Church of Westport). There’s a talkback with the director and cast right after the show.

It’s a benefit for Triangle Community Center, Fairfield County’s center for LGBTQ programming and resources.

Click here for tickets ($20 suggested donation; pay what you can) and livestream information.

“Laramie Project” talkback, at the Unitarian Church. (Hat tip and photo/Jill Johnson Mann)


Sandy Rothenberg notes that the Bayberry Lane bridge — which up until recently announced a completion date of November 30, 2022 — now has nothing listed.

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

Sandy wonders, “Is that a bad sign?”

I’d say yes, it’s a bad sign.

In both senses of the term.


The Westport Pod of B.I.G. Connecticut — a global women’s empowerment community — hosts a holiday cocktail networking event at the Westport Woman’s Club (December 15, 5:30 p.m.). Local women-owned businesses will be featured.

The public is invited. Tickets are $30, and include wine and appetizers. For more information, email bigconnecticutregion@gmail.com.


Looking for a non-holiday event?

The Westport Astronomical Society’s free online science lecture series welcomes Dr. Brett Denevi, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and deputy principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera.

She’ll talk about “the moon up close and personal,” including unprecedented mapping of its surface.

The virtual event is December 20 (8 p.m.). Click here for the livestream.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Rick Hochman.

Let’s hope they grow their winter coats soon.

(Photo/Rick Hochman)


And finally … in honor of tonight’s Big Event (see top story above):

(To help support activities like tonight’s Stroll, please consider a contribution to “06880.” Click here — and thank you!)


Longevity Westport: Scanning Your Fitness Needs

I’ll live to be 101.

That’s not idle speculation. It’s the informed prediction of Longevity Westport.

You may not have heard of the place. It’s in the former Shoreline Pharmacy space, near Shake Shack and Fjord Fisheries, across from Home Goods near the Southport line.

Since opening last year, they haven’t done much promotion. They never had a ribbon-cutting.

Longevity, on the Post Road in Westport.

But people find them. And because they offer something no one else does — for many miles around — they draw clients from as far as New York.

It’s not easy to explain what Longevity does. It is, however, easy to get caught in their technical fitness training weeds.

But let me try.

Longevity offers 3 types of testing. Non-invasive, quick — but highly sophisticated — they measure things like muscle mass, bone density, metabolism, cardiovascular health, oxygen consumption and more.

On a screen and with color printouts, you can see (with Longevity’s expert help) things like skeletal strength, and where and how your muscle and fat is distributed inside your body.

For example, I have less fat and more muscle on my left side than my right, even though I’m right-handed. I’m guessing that’s because of how I breathe during my daily, hour-long swims. (That regimen may be part of why Longevity determines I’ll live past the century mark.)

Not to brag or anything, but I got an A+ on my test. Look at all that green!

Detailed knowledge like that helps you (or your personal trainer) plan workouts. No more guesswork (“Looks like you could do a bit more with your abs”).

It may also help with financial planning. If I’m going to live to be 101, I can’t spend too much on gifts this holiday season, right?

One of the 3 tests — DEXA — is the reason Simon Bland decided to open Longevity. A Greenwich CrossFit athlete, he wanted some baseline measurements. The nearest DEXA testing was an hour away.

Fairfield County is filled with fitness enthusiasts. Whether they’re triathletes or folks fitting in an hour workout before or after work; older men and women wanting to live healthily (and to 101), or teenagers dreaming of scholarships for soccer, football, baseball or softball, he realized they could benefit from knowing as much as possible about their muscle, fat and bones.

A body mass index test tells very little. A DEXA scan — with over 400 points of measurement — is much more helpful.

Inside Longevity. The DEXA scan machine is at left.

It doesn’t hurt that DEXA can also provide early warning detection for coronary artery disease, and risks of diabetes, osteoporosis and hormone imbalance.

It sounds expensive. It isn’t. Longevity charges $149 for one test, $275 for two, $399 for three.

The other tests are VO2 max and Resting Metabolic Rate. Those can be used to determine exact caloric burn, maximum oxygen usage, and target heart rate. For more details — diving deep in the weeds — ask Longevity.

Much of the science went over my head. But I was impressed with the printouts, and the depth of the analysis.

So was Ryan Smith. The ESPN anchor was leaving as I arrived. He’d just been tested.

An avid runner, he — like the owner Bland, a couple of years earlier — had been looking for a convenient place for a DEXA scan.

Yet even though Longevity has been open for nearly 2 years, and is just a mile or so from Smith’s home, until recently he had no idea it was here.

Welcome to Westport, Longevity. Long may you thrive.

I will celebrate my 101st birthday there.

(For more information on Longevity Westport, click here.)

(I will live to be 101. But to ensure “06880”‘s continued health, please consider a contribution. Click here to support. Thank you!)

Pic Of The Day #2055

Burying Hill fisherman (Photo/Grayson Braun)

Friday Flashback #324

In the early 1920s, postcards were a popular way of communicating. They were quick, cheap — and the fronts told stories of where the writers happened to be.

Even if artists sometimes took liberties with their scenes.

Seth Schachter collects old Westport postcards. This one intrigued him, because the vista is so hard to determine.

Is this an actual Westport vista? If so, from where? What are those buildings, on the left and in the distance?

Click “Comments” to offer your thoughts.

(Please click here to support “06880” — and keep these Friday Flashbacks coming!)