Roundup: Smoke Shops, “06880” Header, Grief Awareness …

Smoke shops threatened to join nail salons as Westport’s most ubiquitous businesses.

But a Planning & Zoning Commission vote last night snuffed out more openings.

After lengthy debate on the proliferation of the stores — which sell vaping and related products, and often include bright lighting — the board voted 5-2 on a text amendment to prohibit all future shops with more than 20% of the inventory or square footage devoted to smoking merchandise.

Danielle Dobin, Michael Cammeyer, Neil Cohn, Paul Lebowitz and Jon Olefson were in favor of the regulation. Patrizia Zucaro and John Bolton were against it.

In addition, stores selling smoking- and vaping-related products below the 20% threshold must now secure a special permit via a special hearing. The regulation will prohibit “candy stores” from skirting the smoking rules.

The P&Z also voted to ban all neon-like signs and displays (including LED lights) that project outside stores.

The P&Z meeting was chair Danielle Dobin’s last. Earlier this month, she was elected to the Board of Finance.

Current members — and attorney Eric Bernheim, who represented a client on a non-smoking matter — praised her for her service.

This morning, she told “06880” that she was proud to have accomplished the smoking-shop text amendment before leaving the P&Z.

Savvy Smoker on Post Road East drew criticism last night, for its products, its exterior signage, and its bright interior displays.


“06880” app users, and those who read our blog in an email, don’t see it.

But visitors to our website are always greeted with a “header” image of Westport. It changes ever couple of months.

Our new photo is particularly intriguing: a nighttime view of downtown, reflected in the Saugatuck River. Jeanine Esposito provided the shot.

Click here to enjoy. Or just look below:


Six million American children experience the death of a parent or sibling by the time they turn 18 — 1 in 12 kids. Yet many people struggle with what to say when someone dies, making kids (and adults) feel different and alone. 

November is Children’s Grief Awareness Month. Doing its part, Westport-based non-profit Experience Camps offers concrete language tweaks everyone can use, to create a more grief-sensitive society.

They’re “flipping the script” — literally. Click here to read some comments we often say (“You need to be strong”); then click the comment to flip it to something more meaningful (“You may feel like you need to be strong, but you don’t have to be with me”).

Experience Camps helps children cope with the death of a parent or sibling, with an extensive and innovative series of summer camps and year-round programs.


Two Staples High School teams have reached the semifinals of state tournaments.

Both games are today. And both promise to be great matches.

The 2-time defending state champion girls soccer squad — ranked #3 in the CIAC “LL” (extra large schools) division — faces #2 St. Joseph at 6:30 p.m. tonight, at Fairfield Warde High.

It will be the third meeting of the year between the longtime rivals. In the regular season, they battled to a 1-1 draw. The Cadets eked out a 1-0 victory in the FCIAC (league) final.

Two hours earlier — 4:30 p.m., at Amity Regional in Woodbridge — the #2-ranked Wrecker field hockey team takes on #3 Glastonbury.

The timing is tight. But with a little luck, fans can catch at least part of each game.

And with all their talent (and a little luck), both Staples teams will be victorious.


Amazon Fresh — the highly anticipated, high-tech grocery store that was supposed to replace Barnes & Noble near Little Barn, then turned into a half-finished, unopened “zombie store” — may soon sprout back to life.

Bisnow reports that Amazon is moving forward with expansion plans.

Stores will be redesigned, and add coffee and donuts. It’s a pivot away from what Bloomberg calls its “tech-heavy strategy” of the past.

Amazon will redesign stores and add offerings like coffee and donuts, with an emphasis on these items instead of the tech-heavy strategy it employed in the past, according to Bloomberg.

“We will have a good pipeline for next year,” Amazon Fresh worldwide vice president Claire Peters said. “What we won’t do is open stores aimlessly.”

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Don Spiegelman)


Was politics on or off the table last night at Tarantino?

We’re not sure. But there definitely was a ton of experience last night, at the Saugatuck restaurant.

Five current or former members of the Board of Selectmen/women got together, along with a former Board of Finance member. Can you name all these once and present town officials?

Sitting (from left): Former 3rd selectman Charlie Haberstroh, Karen Hess, current 2nd Selectwoman Andrea Moore, former Board of Finance member Ed Iannone, former 2nd selectman Avi Kaner. Standing: Former 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, current 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.


The VFW is well known for its “Jazz at the Post” Thursday night series.

But there’s more jazz at Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 on Riverside Avenue this Wednesday (November 15 (7 p.m.).

The US Air Force Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble — featuring Westport trumpeter Michael  Mossman — comes to town for a concert. It’s part of their extended Veterans Day tour in the tri-state area.

They’ll also host students from Westport and Bridgeport, for pre-concert workshops.

It’s all free — courtesy of the United States Air Force.


Speaking of Jazz at the Post:

The long-running series has brought international greats to VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399.

This Thursday (November 16; shows at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.; dinner at 7; $15 music charge), the star is a legendary local musician.

Weston’s own Chris Coogan is a pianist, composer, teacher, choir director and producer, rooted in jazz and gospel traditions.

Coogan — who needs no introduction, really — will be joined by his rhythm section for decades: bassist John Mobilio and drummer Jim Royle.

Reservations are highly recommended:


Yesterday’s Roundup included the great news that Clemson University’s men soccer teams won their 2nd ACC championship in 4 years, with a penalty kick win over the University of North Carolina.

The Tigers boast 2 Westport connections: Head coach Mike Noonan (a star on Staples’ 1978 state championship team), and reserve keeper Paddy Donovan (Staples ’22).

Somehow, a photo of the 2 was not published. It’s a great one (below). Go Tigers!

Coach Mike Noonan and goalkeeper Paddy Donovan.


Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green pushes the bounds of theatrical experience with live score/narrated documentaries like “The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller” with Yo La Tengo, “A Thousand Thoughts” with the Kronos Quartet, and “The Weather Underground,” chronicling the rise and fall of the radical political organization.

On December 8 (6:30 p.m.), the Lundberg Family Foundation Master Film Series welcomes Green’s latest Sundance and South by Southwest-selected documentary, “32 Sounds.”

The film is “a meditation on the power of sound to bend time, cross borders, and profoundly shape our perception of the world around us (through a) wholly unique, sensory rich experience.”

Each member of the audience receives headphones for an immersive “binaural audio experience” (spatial sound technology that gives listeners a clear sense of space).

Green will take part in a post-screening Q&A with the audience. The event is free. bit requires registration (click here).


“The One Note Man” — an award-winning Christmas love story about a lonely bassoonist, produced by Westporter Rita Marcocci — will be shown at the Westport Library on December 10 (2 p.m.).

A talkback follows with the film’s actor star Jason Watkins; Oscar-winning composer Stephen Warbeck, writer/director George Siougas, and executive producer — and Westporter — Rita Marcocci.

Click below for the trailer.


Matt Murray describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” image, of Compo Road South near Bradley Street:

“Every year since I’ve lived near the beach. I go by this street as it changes colors. Some years it’s very red. Some, like this year, it’s this shade of orange.”

(Photo/Matt Murray)


And finally … on this day in 1900, composer Aaron Copland was born. The “Dean of American Composers” died 90 years later, leaving behind a rich legacy of music evoking the vast American landscape, and pioneer spirit.

(Joy, grief; music, sports, film — it’s all here, like every “Roundup” every day. If you appreciate this feature, or any other on your hyper-local blog, please click here to support us. Thank you!)

3 responses to “Roundup: Smoke Shops, “06880” Header, Grief Awareness …

  1. Re Aaron Copland: as you, I believe, have written about in the past, there is a strong Westport connection here. Renowned music scholar, the late Vivian Perlis (mother of our talented classmate Mike Perlis), collaborated with Copland on his autobiography.

  2. As I suggested the last time smoke shops were mentioned, you can expect a lot of applications that use that 20% rule to create “snack shops” up front, with the vape stuff in the back. Doritos for everyone!

  3. Happy to report we have an alumni group of Staples Soccer ’79-ers alum in a text group cheering on Mike Noonan (and now Paddy Donovan) in his many Clemson Soccer exploits! The group includes Noons himself, plus Tod Barrett, Stuart McCarthy, Larry DiPippo, Steve Lichtman, Andy Meyers and myself, plus lowly underclassmen Eric Zuckerman and Jeff Kates. Any other alumns from that team want to join, give me a holler. NCAA’s are about to get started!

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