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Carson And Connor Einarsen’s “Silent Beat”

In 2013, Carson and Connor Einarsen made “Ryan Hood.” The 60-minute film cost $40. (They rented jackets for police officers).

Two years later, the brothers filmed “An Inconsistent Story in Stealing” here. That was more ambitious. Written by Carson, the neo-noir movie featured a former thief sucked back into the town she despises, to hunt down something she stole long ago.

With 17 speaking parts and 40 locations, it cost $4,000.

Carson (left) and Connor (middle) Einarsen, directing “Ryan Hood.”

Now Carson and Connor are moving up in the film world. “The Silent Beat” will be filmed in Georgia.

It’s more expensive too. The projected cost is $13,500.

Connor calls “The Silent Beat” “a live-action feature film that tells a small, intimate superhero origin story.”

The hero has incredible hearing. He listens to things no one else can, including an old radio that talks to him. When his best friend disappears, he dons a helmet and cape to get him back.

There’s a reason the young men are filming in Georgia. Carson — a 2012 Staples High School grad, and film and TV major at the Savannah College of Art and Design — now teaches film at Gatewood Academy, a private school in Eatonton.

Connor (Staples ’10, Carleton College with a major in cinema and media studies) is happy to travel south to help.

The new film was written — over nearly a dozen drafts — by Carson. He set it in the 1980s because that was a time of advanced analog technology. The world was about to go digital — but no one knew it.

“It was a time before total connectivity,” Carson notes. His characters are isolated — but not in the way modern technology has made us become.

In the ’80s, Carson says, “you couldn’t just pull out your cellphone and call someone. You had to talk face to face.”

He was not alive in the 1980s, of course. He used a writers’ group as “consultants” on the decade. (They told him, for example, to call a certain type of sneakers “Chucks,” not “Converse.”)

“The Silent Beat,” in the planning stages.

Filming begins November 27, and runs through December 20. When it’s done, Carson hopes it makes the festival rounds.

It’s perfect for those audiences: “an action-adventure film aimed at young adults nostalgic for the ’80s,” Carson explains.

You know: those days when life was so uncomplicated.

But before there was a YouTube to show his promotional video, and a Kickstarter website to help raise the $13,500 the young filmmakers need.

(Click here for a Kickstarter link to Carson and Connor Einarsen’s “The Silent Beat.”)


Time For Turf

Darien has built lots of them. New Canaan too. And many other Westport-type towns.

They’re not McMansions. They’re not Starbucks. In fact, they’re not even buildings at all.

They are turf athletic fields.

(“Turf fields” are actually artificial — not grass. With new technology, they’ve come a long way from “Astroturf.” They’re even more advanced than just a few years ago.)

Westport lags behind our neighbors in turf fields. We’ve got just 4: Staples football, Jinny Parker (Staples field hockey), Wakeman B at Bedford Middle School (soccer and field hockey) and PJ Romano at Saugatuck Elementary (football and lacrosse).

They’re 10 years old, and will be resurfaced soon.

But a group of Westporters is working to turf 2 fields that — ever since Staples High School was built in 1958 — have been grass: the baseball diamond, and Albie Loeffler soccer field.

It’s a momentous change. But its time has come.

The Staples baseball diamond last April. Bad weather forced the Wreckers indoors for most of pre-season. They started their schedule after only 4 outdoor practices.

(Full disclosure: As Staples’ boys soccer coach, I’ve been a grass purist all my life. But I’ve changed my tune. Now I’m helping plan the project.)

The two fields — set between the turf football and field hockey fields, behind the school — have a lot going for them. Spectators enjoy great views, from seats on a steep hill. The backdrop of trees behind the fields is beautiful in spring, spectacular in fall. For 6 decades, fans have enjoyed fantastic games played at both sites.

(Including, of course, this great season that the girls soccer team has had. They won again last night — and play Ridgefield on Saturday for the state championship. Go Wreckers!)

But the fields are nearly 60 years old. They don’t drain as well as they should. They are closed far too long after the snow melts, or it rains. Constant use has worn them down.

Loeffler Field, mid-season this year. Despite constant maintenance by the Parks & Recreation Department, the grass is showing its age. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Turfing the baseball and soccer fields would allow them to be used longer, and more often — and by more groups than access them now. The baseball field could accommodate Little League, and more travel teams. Loeffler Field would be opened up to Westport Soccer Association players who now struggle to find space.

The fields would be showcases for the town. Young athletes would play right at the high school — and begin dreaming of days when they’d wear the Staples “S.”

It’s a great plan. But the cost is $2.2 million. And there is no money for it in either the Board of Education or Parks & Recreation budget.

The project would be privately funded. This won’t be paid for by bake sales. We’d need a capital campaign, and the help of some big-time donors.

A preliminary plan for turf on the Staples baseball diamond and soccer field.

Right now, Board of Education policy prohibits naming the fields after a corporation or living individual. We’re exploring ways to change that.

But the most immediate needs are to raise $10,000 for a survey and soil tests before snow falls, and $100,000 for engineering and other plans by March 1. Those funds would also cover the permitting process. If all goes well, construction could start in June. The fields would be ready by fall.

Why now? With the football and field hockey turf fields slated for replacement this summer, we’d have economies of scale. Just as importantly, there would be easier access to the hard-to-reach site than for a stand-alone project in 2019.

A great group of baseball and soccer folks is working on this project. But we’re not professional fundraisers. Anyone interested in helping secure the initial $10,000, the next $100,000 — or who has expertise running a capital campaign to raise $2.2 million — is invited to email

We need your help. Let’s talk.

And next year, we’ll invite you to throw out the first pitch, or kick the first ball.

[OPINION] Bonnie Dubson: Putting The Town On Public Notice

Bonnie Dubson is a founder of the Coleytown Conservation Coalition. She’s concerned about 2 things: the way legal notices are posted, and the development of the former Daybreak Nursery property at the Main Street/Weston Road intersection.

Both issues are related. Bonnie explains:

The legal notice that piqued my interest was there – on page C13 – buried in the back of the real estate section, on a text-heavy black and white page.

I got lucky and found it, but only because all the stars aligned.

I do not subscribe to the local newspaper, and public notices such as the one I spotted announcing a public hearing on a proposed development in my neighborhood are not placed in online news outlets.

A legal notice about the proposed Daybreak development, in the Westport News.

Connecticut law requires public hearing notices be published in “a newspaper having a general circulation” in the municipality where the land that is the subject of the hearing is located. It specifies notification must be posted at least twice, and between 10-15 days prior to the hearing.

My notice, concerning the proposed “small home development” at the site of the former Daybreak Nursery appeared in the Westport News on November 3. The hearing is slated for tomorrow (November 16, 7 p.m. in Town Hall).

I considered myself notified. At least I thought I did. Then I tried to spread the word to friends and neighbors I thought might want to attend. “I don’t think so,” they said, pointing out that the notice was not posted online at the Town of Westport website.

So I went to the Town of Westport calendar to see for myself. The notice was conspicuously absent. I assured friends that yes, the matter of 500 Main Street was on the agenda for November 16, and that I had seen it in the Westport News. I even emailed them a digital clip of the legal notice.

But the seeds of doubt had been sowed by the absence of online information.

Several new homes are planned for the former Daybreak Nursery, at the corner of Main Street and Weston Road.

After phone calls and prodding on social media, the legal notice appeared on the Town of Westport website – yesterday afternoon. That was a full 11 days after it was published in the paper.

This is 2017. We live in a digital age. Failure to post legal notices online puts Westport residents at a disadvantage. How can we have an open public forum, and make sure residents’ concerns are heard, if the general public is not informed about upcoming hearings?

Furthermore, publishing a public notice in the newspaper but not following up online creates confusion. Like me, residents will ask themselves, “will there or won’t there be a hearing?”

Due process requires that government give proper notice to individuals before making any decision that would impede upon those individuals’ rights or property interests. The purpose of these notices is to alert those who may be affected by the proposed action and inform them of its nature so as to allow them the time and opportunity to prepare for and attend the public hearing.

The majority of Westporters get their news online and through social media. I believe the Town of Westport should recognize that, and ensure these vital notices are published simultaneously, both online and in print. Only that will ensure that the underlying purpose of public notice has been fulfilled.

The last of Daybreak Nursery was carted away in March.

Bloch That Cell Tower!

Stephen Bloch and his wife moved to Stonybrook Road in 2002. He’s a partner in a Westport venture capital firm. In an earlier career, he was a practicing physician.

The Blochs have spotty cell service at home. There’s a dead zone in the area, not far from Earthplace.

Verizon wants to enhance coverage. You’d figure the Blochs would be happy.

They are anything but.

The company plans to put a mini-cell tower on a utility pole in the couple’s front yard, 60 yards from their home. Verizon says that’s the best place for it.

The Blochs — and their neighbors — disagree.


The Blochs’ home (left), and the utility pole (right) where Verizon hopes to install a mini-cell tower.

Bloch — who, you will recall, has a medical degree — is concerned about possible biological effects of radio frequency waves emitted by the mini-tower.

And — just as disturbing — Bloch says that Verizon refuses to share any technical details about performance and safety of the devices.

“There’s no information about shielding, direction of the beam – nothing.”

“We’ve gotten no specs” from the company, he adds. “So we can’t even tell whether it’s compliant” with existing laws and regulations.

Bloch notes that current rules were written for large cell towers — not these new mini ones.

“Whenever I ask, all they say is, ‘We follow FCC regulations,'” Bloch says. “I’ve asked them to demonstrate the need for these. I’ve never gotten any answers.”

Bloch says there was “a big uproar” in Palo Alto when Verizon proposed a similar mini-tower. Ultimately, he says, the utility got what it wanted.

A typical mini-cell tower.

“They want to do this here by fiat,” says Bloch. They hide behind legal precedent, and a weak appeals process.”

The appeals process requires them to spend a day at Public Utilities Regulatory Agency headquarters in New Britain. They’re slated to meet December 15. Verizon must appear that day too.

But, Bloch says exasperatedly, “Just getting that appointment was incredibly difficult.”

He says there is only one other similar mini-cell tower in Westport: in front of Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach. That’s much further away from any homes than Verizon’s proposed Stonybrook site.

First selectman Jim Marpe and town attorney Ira Bloom have written letters supporting the Blochs, and helped propose alternative pole locations either on public land or further away from houses. But, Bloch says, “Verizon will not consider it.”

He doesn’t think Verizon will listen on December 15 either. But, he notes, “PURA has to consider public comment.”

He doesn’t expect Westporters to flock to New Britain to support him and his wife, in their battle against a large utility company.

But, he says, “we welcome public comment on ‘06880.’”


Unsung Hero #21

Laura Blair’s official job at Staples High School is running the copy machine. It keeps her busy. Scores of teachers — plus administrators, coaches, paraprofessionals, nurses, you name it — have constant copying needs.

But Laura does much, much more.

She’s the schools unofficial #1 cheerleader. Soccer, football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, lacrosse — she’s at nearly every game and meet.

Nearly always, she bakes brownies for the athletes. If it’s Senior Day, she decorates cupcakes with players’ numbers. If it’s cold, she delivers blankets to the boys and girls on the bench.

Laura Blair, with her brownies.

Whatever goes on at Staples, Laura is all in. On Blue and White Day, she dresses from head to toe. She celebrates every holiday. When a team holds a car wash, she drives over.

She has a smile for everyone, and an upbeat word for all.

This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Laura and Staples school counselor Tom Brown dressed all in pink.

Yet Staples is just one of Laura’s jobs. For many years she’s taken care of a woman with severe disabilities. Laura drives her, cooks for her, pushes her wheelchair and carries her everywhere.

In what little spare time she has, Laura helps STAR. She’s particularly proud of being a top fundraiser every year, at their May Sherwood Island Walk/5K/Run and Roll.

Laura is proud to be known as the “Copy Lady” and “Brownie Lady.”

We hope she’s equally proud to be this week’s “Unsung Hero.”

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Nominate him or her by email:

Pic Of The Day #188

Westport Country Playhouse (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Joe Valiante’s Badge, George Bush’s Library

Joe Valiante spent 35 years with the Westport Fire Department. He fought some of the town’s toughest fires, and rose through the ranks to become assistant chief.

When he was not working, the 1961 Staples High School graduate rode with New York City’s Rescue 1. Based on 43rd Street near the Intrepid, the elite company faces situations seldom seen in Westport.

But nothing could have prepared them for September 11, 2001.

The next day, Valiante rode with them to the still-smoldering World Trade Center. For a week he worked the bucket brigade, hauling material from the site.

Joe Valiante (center, in white) working at Ground Zero.

Valiante was there 4 days later, when President Bush addressed the volunteers through a bullhorn.

Valiante was back a year later too, on the 1st anniversary of 9/11. In fact, he was in the honor guard (with fellow local firefighter Todd Denke). After the ceremony, Bush stopped to chat.

Joe Valiante and George W. Bush, on the 1st anniversary of 9/11. Just before the photographer took this photo, a Secret Service agent diverted the president’s attention.

Valiante then gave the president his Westport assistant fire chief badge.

The next year, Valiante retired. From time to time, he wondered what became of his gift.

Joe Valiante’s Westport Fire Department badge.

Last January, Valiante took his grandson to Trump Tower. They watched a parade of famous people — Ben Carson, Kellyanne Conway, Senator Joe Manchin and others — head through the lobby to meet the president-elect.

Fox News correspondent John Roberts was there as well. Valiante asked if he knew what happens to the gifts people give to presidents. Roberts told him to contact the George W. Bush Presidential Library, at Southern Methodist University.

Valiante emailed the curator. Then he forgot about it.

A month ago, a library official got back to Valiante. She knew exactly where his Westport badge was.

It’s in the permanent collection.

Joe Valiante has not been down to Dallas to see it. But he doesn’t have to.

Just knowing it’s there makes him proud.

The front page of the New York Post on September 12, 2002. Joe Valiante (white hat) is in the lower right corner.


Parker Kligerman Wins Talledega

Staples High School graduates follow many interesting career paths.

But only Parker Kligerman traveled down victory lane at Talladega.

The 2009 graduate won the Truck Series at the Alabama race track this weekend. It was his 1st victory since 2012 — and his 2nd at Talladega.

In his post-race interview, Kligerman dedicated his trophy to breast cancer survivors everywhere.

In addition to racing, the Westport native is also working as a “NASCAR on NBC” analyst.

(Hat tip: Tony Coccoli)

News From The Boneyard

The latest news from Willowbrook Cemetery includes a new president, longtime Westporter Sal Lucci; more daffodils, plantings, trees and irrigation, and a renovated mausoleum section.

Also this: A large expansion of Section 14, with over 5,000 new graves.

A press announcement attributes this to “increased demand.”

Apparently, people are dying to get in.

Daffodils at Willowbrook Cemetery. Frederick Law Olmsted helped design the Main Street property.


Westporters Feast on Restaurant Week(s)

Westport’s dining scene has exploded over the past year.

It’s tough to get to all the new places — while also staying true to old favorites.

So here’s some food for thought.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s “Restaurant Week” starts this Sunday (October 1). Actually, it’s 2 weeks — all the way through October 15.

Throughout the event, 26 restaurants — from Saugatuck to Southport — offer prix fixe meals. They range from $15 to $25 for lunch, $25 to $35 for dinner, $15 and up for brunch.

This is a perfect chance to try out 3 new spots: Amis in Bedford Square, Bistro du Soleil by the train station and The ‘Port in National Hall.

In June, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (with scissors) joined Munoz del Castillo family members and friends too open Bistro du Soleil. It’s a great new restaurant on Riverside Avenue, just steps from the train station.

Then you can go visit an older one you’ve always wanted to try.

And after that, hit up an old standby.

That still leaves plenty of time to visit other participants.

On October 16, you can head to the Y.

The ‘Port is a family favorite — with a great riverfront deck.

Participating restaurants:

  • 323 Main
  • Amis
  • Arezzo
  • Bistro du Soleil
  • Boca
  • DaPietro’s
  • Gray Goose
  • Harvest
  • Julian’s
  • Le Penguin
  • Pane e Bene
  • Pearl
  • Positano
  • Rio Bravo
  • Rive Bistro
  • Rizzuto’s
  • Rothbard Ale + Larder
  • Sakura
  • Spotted Horse
  • Tarantino
  • Tarry Lodge
  • Tavern on Main
  • Terrain Garden Cafe
  • The ‘Port
  • Tutti”s

For more details, click here