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DISCLAIMERThis blog is personal opinion, and is not representative of the views of the Westport School District or Board of Education.
It was inevitable: Alan Abel’s obituary would mention that this was not his first.
The “professional hoaxer” — who first got his death notice into the New York Times in 1980 — is now actually dead.
The Times reports that the former Westporter died Friday, in Southbury. He was 94.
Abel was a jazz drummer, stand-up comic, writer, campus lecturer and filmmaker, the Times said. The paper also called him “a master psychologist, keen strategist and possessor of an enviable deadpan and a string of handy aliases.”
Among his hoaxes: creating the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, which purported to want to put clothes on horses, cows, dogs and cats. He also created the fictitious Yetta Bronstein, a Jewish grandmother from the Bronx, who “ran for president” in 1964 advocating fluoridation, national bingo tournaments and truth serum for congressional water fountains.
Following the Watergate scandal, he hired an actor to pose as Deep Throat. The press conference drew 150 reporters.
Alan Abel is — finally, irrevocably — dead. But his website lives on.
(Click here for the full New York Times obituary. Hat tip: John Karrel)
An evening with Trevor Noah sounds special.
But the Anti-Defamation League Connecticut offers a lot more than just watching “The Daily Show.”
On November 11, the comedian/political commentator headlines ADL’s 2nd annual “Voices: A Show of Unity” event. Noah will talk intimately with the audience about his life and the world — tying it all in with ADL’s ongoing fight against bigotry, extremism and hate crimes, and for civil rights, interfaith and inter-group understanding.
Noah knows. Born in South Africa to a black mother who converted to Judaism and a white father, his youth under apartheid was difficult. His parents could not be seen in public together.
Since replacing Jon Stewart as “Daily Show” host 3 years ago, Noah has been a leading voice for unity. Last year, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
“He’s funny. But he won’t be doing stand-up,” says Steve Ginsburg, a Westporter and ADL’s statewide director. “This will be a chance to hear his take on the world.”
The “Voices” event is both a fundraiser and a community-builder. The ADL gives free tickets to many local organizations, including Project Return, Bridgeport’s Neighborhood Studio, the Triangle Community Center, and churches, mosques and synagogues.
Westporters will have a strong presence at Noah’s show. Sarah Green — co-founder of Kool To Be Kind — serves as artistic director. Claudia Cohen is event chair; Jill Nadel is vice chair.
Westporters will also sing in the choir, joining musicians from Bridgeport and other towns.
“There will be diverse voices on stage — and in the audience,” Ginsburg notes.
“We’ve seen a large spike in incidents of bigotry and bias,” he adds. “The ADL has worked hard to respond. And we’re doing education programs to try to prevent them.”
They’ve been active at Staples High School and with local police. This summer, Police Chief Foti Koskinas attended ADL training for law enforcement in Washington, DC.
The ADL event also features a civil rights award, in memory of Irwin Hausman. It goes to Lorella Praeli, who as a Dreamer child was taunted for her Hispanic heritage, and the loss of a leg.
The ADL provided support. She’s now head of immigration efforts for the American Civil Liberties Union, and works closely with the ADL on anti-bullying efforts.
“Voices: A Show of Unity” is set for November 11 — Veterans Day. Tickets are provided to vets’ groups, and service members will be honored at the event.
(“Voices: A Show of Unity” is November 11, 5 p.m. at the Klein Auditorium in Bridgeport. Tickets go on sale September 27. For more information, click here or call 203-530-7456. For a video of Lorella Praeli, click below.)
Longshore is a beautiful park.
It’s well-cared-for, lovingly maintained — almost spotless.
Yet you’d be surprised what you’d find there.
Or rather, what the Assumption Church youth group and Staples High School AP Environmental Sciences classes found yesterday.
Over 100 teenagers gathered nearly 370 pounds of trash and debris. Their haul included plastic, golf balls (a huge maritime hazard), part of a car windshield (!), and what appeared to be a rusted piece of a large boat engine.
That last piece of junk was too heavy to carry. So 2 boys borrowed a cart from the E.R. Strait Marina, and added it to the items they disposed of.
The event was part of Save the Sound‘s Coastal Clean-Up Day.
Marine life, golfers, and everyone else in and around Longshore thanks all who helped!
(Hat tip: Michele Harding)
A couple of years ago, a big snowstorm closed local roads.
Concerned that Samer “Sam” Hiba — owner of the Mobil Self-Serve next to Barnes & Noble — might not make it home to Trumbull, a nearby customer called and invited him to sleep at her house.
Not many gas station owners develop those kinds of bonds with their customers.
As of Thursday, there will be one less in Westport.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 18) is the last day for Sam’s station.
The gas company informed me that they decided to withdraw from this location only after carefully analyzing the numbers and determining that, unfortunately, the station’s projected long term revenues are not sufficient to justify investing the additional resources necessary to do the mandatory upgrade to the tanks, along with the corresponding improvements to the canopy, pumps and store.
Sam will shut off the pumps at 10 p.m., then spend Wednesday and Thursday cleaning out the station he loves.
He is devastated. So are his many customers — many of whom prefer the word “friend.”
From the day Sam bought the business 5 years ago, his life has been intertwined with the men and women who come in for gas, coffee, snacks and conversation.
He has brightened their days. They’ve supported his major community work: caring for Syrian refugees.
Sam left his native country 25 years ago. He’s now a proud American citizen — as are his 5 children, all of whom were born here. But he’s never forgotten that war-torn nation.
His long list of friends include Westport residents, local businesses, even St. Luke Church. Sister Maureen and the entire staff has been particularly strong supporters of Sam’s Syrian relief efforts.
“From the first day, I loved my customers,” Sam says. “They are part of my family now. They know about my life, and I know about theirs. We chat all the time. I will miss them, big time.”
As customers hear that Sam’s Mobil Self-Serve is closing, they’re shattered. Today and tomorrow they’ll fill his small but well-stocked mini-mart, and say thanks.
“I see their tears and concern for me,” Sam says. “That’s very special.”
He promises to keep in touch with his customers — er, friends. He knows they’ll do the same.
Yet life on that stretch of the Post Road will never be quite the same.
A number of former Westporters live on the North and South Carolina coasts. Some current residents have 2nd homes there.
“06880” has not yet heard from any readers in the direct path of Hurricane Florence. However, Dave and Marianne Harrison — longtime Staples High School social studies and physical education teachers, respectively — now live in Chapel Hill, a couple of hours from the ocean.
Miraculous is the only word to describe our good fortune. Disaster is all around us, but the immediate area seems to be in a pocket which is avoiding the worst of the storm.
A number of deaths are being reported, and more are expected. Thousands have been ordered to evacuate their homes and businesses. Shelter spaces are full; more shelters open hourly. There is massive flooding already. Several dams reportedly will be breached sometime today or tonight.
Rain and wind continue into tomorrow night, possibly into Tuesday. The storm is very slow moving, but the worst of it is staying just south of us.
We have strong wind, torrential but intermittent rain and flickering electric. We lost power for only 90 minutes on Thursday. It has remained on since it was restored.
One nearby supermarket has stayed open 24-7 since Wednesday night. Somehow they’re restocking basics daily. We made a quick trip there yesterday during a lull in the storm. Otherwise we’re hunkered down, waiting for the rest of the storm to pass by.
Very slow moving as it goes inland, Florence is headed as far west as Asheville before it is expected to turn northeast and lose force. I can’t even begin to imagine the ultimate toll in death and destruction.
While we’re not yet clear, with rain and wind continuing for at least another 24 hours, I think we have dodged the worst of it.
(If you’ve got a Hurricane Florence story to tell — or want to let “06880” readers know you’re safe — click “Comments” below.)
John Leimseider — a 1970 Staples High School graduate, who went on to play with Iron Butterfly, then became one of the world’s leading electronic instrument and equipment technicians — has died. He was 66.
At Staples, Leimseider was a member of the legendary band Smoke. They still get together, and play at class reunions.
This story was posted on the CBC website. Leimseider worked in Calgary as the National Music Centre’s electronics technician since 2002. The CBC story quotes the NMC:
He was an incredibly kind, talented and gifted person. He was one of the world’s most sought-after electronic instrument and equipment technicians who had serviced instruments for many of the most celebrated musicians of our time. Throughout his 40-year career, he was a mentor to countless technicians, engineers and musicians.
According to the CBC, in 2015, Leimseider restored a legendary mobile recording studio that was owned by The Rolling Stones.
Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Fleetwood Mac and David Bowie, and many other artists, made music with the recording equipment.
Leimseider spent decades as a musician in Los Angeles. In the late ’70s and early ’80s he was a keyboard player for the psychedelic rock band Iron Butterfly.
He also recently restored The Original New Timbral Orchestra — one of the world’s largest analog synthesizers — for the NMC.
Leimseider is survived by his wife Laura, his son Noah and daughter Zoë.
(For the full CBC story, click here. Hat tip: Fred Cantor)
Last Sunday’s Photo Challenge showed a glass display case, with notices about dogs: registration, adoption, fixing.
I said: “We’ve all walked by it — often. But how many of us actually notice it?”
Apparently, no one. A couple of folks guessed Winslow Park. Logical, but wrong.
Only Bob Colson said Town Hall. That’s where it is: Just outside the front door, at the top of the steps next to the big white column.
Hopefully the info is also available at the Town Clerk’s office — the “spot” (ho ho) for dog licenses.
Because it’s clear no one sees it where it is: hiding in plain sight. (Click here for the photo.)
This week’s Photo Challenge comes from Peter Barlow.
He offers 2 hints: This photo does not show the object’s original location. It’s now in his yard, but that’s not where Westporters would have seen it.
And this is not the only one. At one point, there were a dozen or so.
If you think you know where you might once have seen this, click “Comments” below.