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- Pic Of The Day #312
- Friday Flashback #80
- Remembering Patsy Englund
- The Most Interesting Person In Westport Drinks Tea
- Pics Of The Day #311
- Paris Gordon’s Tank Tops Ready To Take Off
- Alisyn Camerota Video Goes Viral
- Pic Of The Day #310
- Unsung Hero #36
- “I Am …” The Westport Library Photo Campaign. Are You?
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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.
The other day, “06880” celebrated the end of WestportREADS — this year’s book explored World War I — and the 100th anniversary of the “Great War” armistice with a story on military contributions of Westport artists a century ago.
This photo did not make it into the story. But it provides a fascinating peek into a local link between two wars that, today, we think of as completely distinct from each other.
As the caption notes, the photo above shows “soldiers, sailors and veterans from World War I and the Civil War.” They posed together on “Welcome Home Day.”
Three Westport Civil War veterans were there: James H. Sowle, Christopher Tripp and Edwin Davis. Sowle — in the 2nd full row, 2nd from right — presented medals to the newest veterans.
Three things strike me as noteworthy.
First, for a small town, the number of men serving seems remarkable.
Second, though Westport was still a small town in 1918, much had changed in the more than half century since the War Between the States.
Third, 50 years after this photo was taken, American would have fought — and helped win — World War II. We fought to a standstill in Korea. And then got mired in Vietnam.
There would be no more “Welcome Home Day” ceremonies then.
(Hat tip: Kathie Motes Bennewitz)
“06880” Mark Basile was surprised that the death in January of his longtime friend — and fellow actor — Patsy Englund did not receive any local notice. She was 93. Mark writes:
I knew and loved Patsy for 26 years. We met at the Theatre Actors Workshop. She was a very impressive woman.
Patsy’s mother, Mabel Albertson, played Darren’s mother on “Bewitched.” Her uncle was Jack Albertson, Academy Award-winning actor for “The Subject Was Roses.”
Patsy was raised in Beverly Hills by Mabel Englund and her husband Ken. He was a screenwriter whose credits include “No No Nanette” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
At UCLA, Patsy was directed by Charlie Chaplin in a production of “Rain.” After college she went into the Broadway company of “Oklahoma!” She then did the London production, returning to New York to take over the role of Ado Annie. She also toured the US with that show.
Patsy was then cast in Katharine Hepburn’s Broadway production of “As You Like It.” That’s where she met Cloris Leachman — who married Patsy’s brother George.
During the 1950s Patsy did dozens of live TV dramas, including “Playhouse 90” and “Studio One,” while continuing to perform on Broadway and in regional theater. She married Dunham Barney Lefferts. They had a son, Nick, who survives her.
For several years, the family rented a 1920s cottage on Norwalk Avenue in Westport. They then bought it, and Patsy lived there permanently from about 1962 to 2002.
She was visiting Nick when Hurricane Sandy destroyed the house. She moved back to California, and lived there until her death.
In the early 1960s — while living in Westport — Patsy performed in the groundbreaking political satire TV show “That Was the Week That Was,” with David Frost. She also starred on Broadway in “The Beauty Part,” with Larry Hagman.
Throughout the ’60s Patsy commuted to New York while acting on several long-running soap operas. She also worked at Long Wharf, the Manhattan Theatre Club — and the Westport Country Playhouse.
In the mid-’80s, Patsy helped Keir Dullea and his wife Susie Fuller form the Theatre Artists Workshop. Longtime members included Theodore Bikel, Morton DaCosta, David Rogers, Haila Stoddard, and Ring Lardner Jr.
They met once a week to workshop new plays, scenes and songs, to audition pieces, and get constructive critiques from peers. The Workshop was housed at Greens Farms Elementary School and the Westport Arts Center, before moving to Norwalk.
Patsy performed many play readings — including benefits for the Westport Library, Westport Historical Society and Westport Woman’s Club — during her 55 years in Westport.
She loved Westport very much, and is one of the great Westporters who contributed so much to the artistic legacy of this town.
In a town filled with world leaders in finance, entertainment and industries that don’t even have names, there is no shortage of candidates for The Most Interesting Person in Westport.
Today’s candidate is Jonathan Greenfield.
I can’t — in one blog post — do justice to the many things he’s done. But here’s a brief summary of his life (so far):
He dropped out of NYU, then found himself a member of Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires.
Without even an undergraduate degree, Greenfield was accepted into the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s avant-garde MFA program.
But he left.
His sister had been a child actor, and Greenfield himself had been on “Another World” before he was 5. So when an agent invited him to California, he went.
He drank coffee, hung out, picked up a camera, and started shooting: homeless people in LA, the beach at Venice.
During Operation Gatekeeper — President Clinton’s attempt to halt Mexican immigration — Greenfield talked his way into photographing what went on on both sides of the border, in San Diego and Arizona.
He also made money photographing actors, and doing other photography “stuff.” This phase of his life is not suitable for a family blog.
In New York, he started photographing for brands like Laura Ashley. He said “yes” to everything. No one knew how little experience he had.
Greenfield had grown up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Now he was drawn to Camden, the dangerous city a few miles — and many worlds — away.
He photographed it all, from churches to crack houses. He also made a documentary about Camden. That hooked him on filmmaking.
At the same time, Greenfield was freelancing for the New York Times. One of his photos showed Governor Christine Todd Whitman in a muskrat swamp.
He met a woman named Susanne. They applied to an elite master’s degree film program in Germany. Both were accepted.
He made documentaries for German TV, on subjects like drug addicts in rough neighborhoods, and homeless neo-Nazi transvestites.
A project filming German Jews serving in the Israeli Defense Forces during the 2nd Intifada was — among his many projects — one of the most memorable.
On an extended visit in New York, Greenfield met Iris Netzer. She got pregnant. He stuck by her side. That was the end of his European career.
Greenfield had a show in development with Animal Planet. It featured high-end dog groomers from Yonkers, working in Scarsdale. He got great footage, but it was never greenlit.
Greenfield and Iris had a 2nd child. then a 3rd. Fatherhood changed him dramatically.
His father — a doctor who gave up his practice to trade commodities — told him to give it a try.
Greenfield did. He did very well.
But he missed the adventure and excitement of filmmaking.
In 2015 he got a concussion playing ice hockey. He was drinking a lot of tea.
He had an epiphany: He should focus on tea.
Greenfield found the Tea Association of the USA. He learned as much as he could. He traveled to Seattle, to become a certified tea specialist.
These days, Greenfield is branding a budding tea company. He teaches for the Specialty Tea Institute.
He also surfs year round in Rockaway Beach. And he’s training for a triathlon.
He no longer feels the need to travel the world. He’s put his camera down. He loves tea. He’s at every game or swim meet for his kids. He skateboards with his son.
He does the books, and assists with marketing and social media for Iris’ acupuncture practice — she’s got a thriving business in New York, and a new studio called Noa (specializing in women) on Franklin Street near the train station.
“I’m just trying to go moment to moment,” Greenfield says. “I’m living the stoke.”
There may be other, equally interesting people in Westport.
But I know there is no one else in the world with a story quite like Jonathan Greenfield’s.
Paris Gordon is a seasoned designer. She honed her skills with fashion houses like Ralph Lauren. Adding technology to fashion, she created a custom-made pant business that was produced around the globe.
In 2009, the economy crumbled. Apparel was hit hard. At the same time, she endured several personal disasters.
Heartbreak seemed insurmountable. “Designing comes from a place of love,” she says. She closed her business, and focused on healing.
As she worked to help a friend raise money for charity, Paris also looked to find a slimming updated garment. During her troubled times, she’d gained some weight.
She found nothing.
She knew she was not the only woman who wanted to look “sculpted, smooth and sexy.” So she set out to make the ideal little black dress and tank top for everyone.
It took over 3 years to find the right engineer. But finally — and after receiving a patent for her seamless shapewear liner inside — the Paris Gordon line of classic separates was born.
Paris explains, “We took out the uncomfortable factor of shapewear, and put in tummy control, bra support and silicone lace hem to keep it all in place. No need to wear a bra or added foundations under our garments. Our 2-in-1 classic garment is half the price, and comes with all the functionality you need for your lfie.
“It’s cozy, comfy and totally chic. I designed this line for all women. It’s a paradigm shift. I’m happy to say we have 25- to 80-year-olds wearing my clothing.”
In October, Paris moved her company to Westport. She’s in the Loft, across from the train station. In November she moved here to live full-time too.
Paris has found Westport to be very welcoming. She made a good friend in Mersene — the unique Indulge store owner just down the Railroad Place block — and has joined organizations like the Westport Woman’s Club.
Meanwhile, Paris is introducing a Kickstarter campaign. She hopes it will help kick off her launch this spring.
She saw a problem, and addressed it head-on.
Too many women, she says, “struggle to get undergarments on, feel like a sausage and are uncomfortable and miserable too.”
The solution to that worldwide problem may be found across from the train station, right here in Westport.
(Paris Gordon is hosting a cocktails-and-“dress-up” party tomorrow — Friday, February 23, 5 to 8 p.m., The Loft, 101 Franklin Street — to celebrate her Kickstarter launch. The public is invited.)
As Parkland High School students have spoken about gun violence — drawing the admiration and awe of much of the nation — there has been, predictably, a counter-narrative.
Some people don’t believe young people can be so passionate, articulate and motivated — even after watching as 17 of their classmates were gunned down.
Alisyn Camerota was having none of it.
The Westporter — co-anchor of CNN’s “New Day” — interviewed 2 former Republican congressmen on Tuesday. One was David Jolly of Florida. The other was Jack Kingston of Georgia.
Kingston began by disputing the notion that 17-year-olds can plan a nationwide rally. He believes they are being used by left-wing organizations, to further adults’ purposes.
Camerota pushed back. “I was down there. I talked to these kids before the body count,” she said.
“They had not been indoctrinated. They were motivated.”
Kingston continued to insist that the teenagers were being used. Camerota insisted they were not.
It’s a remarkable 9-minute interview (click below to see). Camerota manages Kingston and Jolly well.
The video has become a microcosm of many debates: about school shootings, gun legislation, and the power of teenagers to change the world.
And at the center of it all is Westport’s newest TV anchor.
On Super Bowl Sunday, alert “06880” reader Beth Saunders asked her husband to run to Whole Foods for cilantro. (You know: guacamole.)
He had just played squash. Not until he left the store did he notice his wallet had fallen out of his gym pants.
He headed back inside. Someone had already turned it in — with $500 still inside.
He told Beth the story. She peppered him with questions.
“Who do you think was so kind? An employee? A shopper? A woman? Didn’t you ask? Who was at the desk? And who carries $500 in their wallet?”
There were still no answers.
So, Beth says, “I’m just throwing out a ‘thank you’ to the universe.”
We don’t know who this week’s Unsung Hero is. But as John Wooden said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is looking.”
In the summer of 2016, over 500 people had their “geek moment” at the Westport Library.
Talented family and portrait photographer Pam Einarsen snapped them, as they held or wore objects identifying their particular passions. The “I Geek…” project portrayed an astonishing array of talents and interests, all of which the library encourages and helps us fulfill.
Among our geeks: human biology, burgundy, Harry Potter, Greek Islands, Toquet Hall, astronomy, break dancing, coffee, archery, knitting, astronomy, the Green Bay Packers, folk music, dragons, baking, and sleeping.
It all ended with a big party. The Great Hall was filled with food, entertainment — and Pam’s compelling portraits.
Now she’s at it again.
This time, when library users sit for their photos, they’re asked for 3 descriptors. Pam’s images, and those self-identifying phrases, are then shared on the library’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
It’s part of the library’s goal — in the midst of its Transformation project — for folks to imagine how the library can help them, in entirely new ways.
“What are you passionate about?” library director Bill Harmer says the “I Am…” campaign is asking.
“And how can we work together, with you and your passions, in this great new space?”
The new library, Harmer adds, is “all about building community, and creating spaces where human beings can interact.”
More photo sessions will be scheduled soon. Check the library website for details.