Author Archives: Dan Woog

The Brook Lives!

Amid all the political signs at the Greens Farms railroad station (though there’s a remarkable paucity for the presidential candidates*) — one stood out Sunday for Oliva Schoen.


(Photo/Oliva Schoen)

Then she saw a few more nearby.

And one on the Post Road.

If you’re wondering: They’re true. The Brook — aka as the Brook Cafe, and the Cedar Brook — was said to be the oldest continually operating gay bar in America, when it closed 6 years ago.

It was located on the Post Road near the Sherwood Island Connector — right across from what were then state police barracks. (It’s Walgreens today.)

There’s no word on whether SEWHIP (“so hip”) — Society to Expose Westport’s Historically Important Past — will put up a sign recalling Krazy Vin’s. That’s the strip joint that operated where Starbucks is today. You know — directly oppposite the Brook.

Those were some days!

(Want to know more about Westport’s gay bar? Click here.)

*Go figure

Follow The Cops!

Back in the day, you needed a scanner to keep up with police activity.

Now all you need is a cellphone.

The Westport Police Department has created 3 social media accounts. They’ll include arrest reports, road closures, hazardous conditions, upcoming events and press releases.

You can like and follow the cops on

Kim Kardashian: Eat your heart out!

Police - Town of Wp home page

Because On A Beautiful Fall Day, It’s Important To Park As Close To The Nail Salon As Possible

An alert — and irate — “06880” reader writes:

Here is a photo I took in the Barnes & Noble parking lot.


No, that is  not a handicapped permit hanging from the Jeep’s rear view mirror — it’s just a parking permit for somewhere.

I saw the woman park there, in the middle of the busy entrance. She was about 35 years old. She walked over to the nail salon. There were plenty of spots a few rows down.

I watched appalled with my 2 boys in tow (10 and 5). I drove to a parking spot not far away. I got out of my car, walked over to hers and took the photo.

This was a teachable moment for my kids. I explained the difference between doing the right thing, and breaking the law for your own convenience!

Cynthia Overgard: Helping Women Empower Their Pregnancies

When Cynthia Overgard got pregnant 11 years ago she was young, healthy, and low-risk in every way.

But her doctor prepared Cynthia for a C-section. She even assured Cynthia that a bikini would cover the scar.

“There was no reason to talk to me about major surgery!” Cynthia says. “I wanted to birth my own baby naturally, unless there was a compelling reason not to.”

At 7 months, Cynthia took charge of her pregnancy. The delivery — midwife-assisted, drug-free and after just 3 hours of labor, in a Jacuzzi at a Danbury birth center — changed her life.

Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia Overgard

Mother, father and newborn son returned home as a family just 8 hours postpartum. The beauty and simplicity of the birth compelled Cynthia to resign as a finance and risk management executive at MasterCard, and pursue the field of childbirth.

Within 2 years she was an author and  educator. She taught HypnoBirthing — a 12-hour course based on the premise that because fear and tension are the cause of labor pain, a focus on trust and self-hypnosis techniques helps women stay calm and in control, whether the baby is born in a hospital, birth center or even at home.

In 2007 Cynthia opened a full-service childbirth education center in Westport, where she lives. She says it’s the only such place in the Northeast.

Cynthia encourages women to empower themselves. That comes, she says, by gaining information, understanding your rights, and learning tools to remain relaxed and in control through labor and delivery.

A woman who feels fearful during labor secretes adrenaline, Cynthia says. That tightens the cervix and reduces oxygen flow to the baby. It’s a natural reaction, which evolved when women gave birth outdoors with predators lurking nearby.

In the 21st century, however, it’s important for a woman to release endorphins. But that only happens if she (and her partner) are “mentally and emotionally prepared.”

Women and their babies, at Cynthia Overgard's Life After Birth postpartum class.

Women and their babies, at Cynthia Overgard’s Life After Birth postpartum class.

Her 2nd child — a girl, born 4 years after the first — weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces. During both pregnancies, Cynthia says, she was told her babies were “too big” for easy births.

She did her homework. “I know small women can deliver big babies,” she says. “It’s about positioning, not fetal weight.”

Incidents like those fueled her desire to help women take control of their pregnancies. She met “a lot of highly intelligent people who did not even know the right questions to ask.” Fifty percent of her clients, she says, have masters or Ph.D. degrees.

Her Westport center — on Post Road West, across from Whole Foods — offers childbirth classes, along with workshops and programs on breastfeeding, birth doulas, baby childcare, pumping and storing breast milk, infant and child CPR, and baby sleep. There are support groups too.

Surprisingly, she says there has been no pushback from the medical establishment.

This Stamford couple called their birth process "calm and joyful."

This Stamford couple called their birth process “calm and joyful.”

“That’s because I don’t tell people what they should and shouldn’t do. I give them the facts, and explain the full range of options. They have to take full charge of their birth process, and feel at peace with it.”

In fact, Cynthia says, because of her “delivery” — that is, the way she presents information — she knows of a few doctors who have even recommended her class.

“People go from being petrified giving birth, to feeling so empowered,” Cynthia says. That carries over into other areas of life. She’s heard that people deal with, say, cancer doctors differently too.

“Empowerment changes us as parents, and as consumers,” Cynthia claims. “And it all starts with birth.”

A woman never forgets her birth process, Cynthia says. “She deserves to feel at peace with it forever.”

(For more information click here, call 203-952-7299 or email Hat tip: Michael Goodman)

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!


Fall Fisherman

Today was a day for your favorite fall pursuit.

Westporters went apple picking, hiking and biking. We raked leaves, carved pumpkins, cheered on the soccer sidelines and played touch football.

One guy went fishing, at Sherwood Mill Pond. Nico Eisenberger was there, to capture one small but wonderful slice of autumn.

(Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

Remembering Ernie Gazdik

Alert “06880” reader John Karrel writes:

“Ernie G”‘s eldest daughter, Michele Convertito, says, “He could always make you laugh.”

Until October 3, when he died at age 65. The Fairfield native was a truck driver for over 30 years.

I serve a monthly lunch at the Gillespie Center. No person there could brighten my day like Ernie G. After his family — notably his daughters Michele, Melissa and Maria — no passion was more important for him than his Yankees.

Ernest Gazdik

Ernest Gazdik

For years, he and I traded barbs about his Yanks and my Red Sox. Neither of us would win. There was always a twinkle in his eye.

Last time I saw him, some weeks ago, we had both mellowed. We complimented each other on our teams: my Sox headed for the post-seasons, his Yankees seeing a bright future with a host of young players.

Some day, when the 2 teams meet in the playoffs and Gary Sanchez’s walk-off home run propels the Yanks into the World Series, I will be sad. Then I’ll think of Ernie G’s beaming face, and I’ll smile.

And if his beloved Yanks do lose, Ernie G will still have been “one of the greatest men I have ever known,” in daughter Michele’s words.

That’s not bad.

(For Ernie Gazdik’s full obituary, click here. Donations in his name may be made to the Gillespie Center, 45 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880.)

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #95

In honor of autumn, last week’s photo challenge featured Andrew Colabella’s orange-filtered shot of some trees and reeds.

They could have been many places in Westport. Lots of alert “06880” readers zeroed in on the Longshore/Gray’s Creek/Compo Beach Road area. They were close.

But only Peter Barlow and Diane Bosch knew that the shot was taken in Longshore’s lower parking lot — beyond the golf course. It showed the east bank of the Saugatuck River. Click here to see the gorgeous image (and read all the ohsoclose responses).

This week’s photo challenge is also seasonal. The season was spring — but this Adirondack chair perches on the grass all year long. If you know where it is, click “Comments” below.


(Photo/Fred Cantor)

Want To Ride Your Bike To School? Sign Here!

An alert “0688o” reader writes:

We moved to Westport several years ago, drawn by the gorgeous coastline, many amenities and amazing educational opportunities that the schools offer our young children.

Over time, a consistent topic on this blog, in local news, with elected officials and in conversations with friends has been Westport’s lack of safety for our bicyclists, walkers and runners. Nearly everyone I know has experienced near misses.

Recently, our school district felt it necessary to protect itself from liability by sending out a  “Permission to Ride Bicycles to School” form.

At least a few kids ride their bikes to Long Lots Elementary School.

At least a few kids ride their bikes to Long Lots Elementary School.

I understand the safety reasons behind this new requirement. But I think it’s sad it has to exist. There are so many benefits that biking or walking to school gives children.

I bet many “06880” readers experienced those beneifts themselves — independence, exercise, responsibility, social interaction, self-confidence to name just a few.

As the town nears completion of providing a safe route from the library to Compo Beach, we should be able to improve (where it makes sense) walkable/bikable routes to schools for our children.

Sweet New England

Today’s weather is a washout.

But it’s been a magnificent fall in Westport — with the kind of foliage that we (especially realtors) dream about.

Alert “06880” photographer Andrew Colabella captured this magnificent scene just 2 days ago:

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Expats: Eat your hearts out!

Ryan Lester: Arts Honoree’s Career Began Here

These days, Westport is a town of hedge funds (and their managers), ginormous new houses (even as the housing market for them slows) and a TV show featuring our 2nd fattest housewife.

You may think we’ve strayed from our artists’ colony roots.

But you would be wrong.

Tomorrow (Sunday, October 23, 2 p.m., Town Hall), the Westport Arts Advisory Committee presents its 4th TEA Talk.

tea-talkThe acronym stands for Thinkers Educators Artists. The program features remarks on our town’s arts heritage, and a panel including author/lyricist Tom Greenwald, writer/radio commentator Jessica Bram, multimedia artist Sooo-Z Mastropietro, artist/photographer Miggs Burroughs, musician Frederic Chiu, and composer Ryan Lester.

Ryan epitomizes Westport’s arts past, present and future. A 2007 Staples High School grad, he receives the Horizon Award at tomorrow’s event. It’s given annually to a Westport artist under the age of 32, who shows “extraordinary accomplishment and potential.”

It’s a great honor, and Ryan is flying in from Los Angeles to receive it. That’s his home now, where he composes music for film, TV, video games and the concert stage.


Ryan Lester

For the past 6 years, Ryan has composed for “The Daily Show.” NBC Universal recently asked him to score their animated sitcom “Mystery Island.” He’s worked as an orchestrator and synth on the NBC thriller “Crossbones,” the feature film “Barely Lethal” and Discovery Channel’s “Harley and the Davidsons.” Ryan is currently scoring “Confessions of a Boxman,” for early 2017 release.

He studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Royal College of Music in London, and the Juilliard School.

But Ryan’s path to a musical career began in 4th grade, when Long Lots Elementary School teacher Betsy Tucker introduced him to the recorder and steel drums. At age 10, he began writing music.

The next year, Frank Coppola encouraged him to play trombone. Then came middle school jazz bands with James Forgey and Gregg Winters. Both teachers stoked his enthusiasm for that unique art form.

Important Staples influences also included Candi Innaco, Nick Mariconda, Adele Valovich and Alice Lipson. “Westport was a ridiculously great place to grow up, musically,” Ryan says.


Staples Players’ pit orchestra exposed him to a whole different side of music. A decade later, he says he draws on that experience for much of his work. In fact, he notes, “Westport schools were a lot more influential on what I do now than college.”

“I always knew I wanted to compose,” Ryan adds. “I just didn’t know if I could make it a career.”

He certainly has. And tomorrow — back home — Ryan Lester will be honored at what is still the start of his musical career.

His horizon is limitless.

(Tomorrow’s TEA Talk is free. A reception follows at the Westport Historical Society. For more information, click here.)

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!