Category Archives: Downtown

Pic Of The Day #1317

The flags are gone from the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. But a few days before they were removed for the winter, Joel Treisman snapped this shot.

Roundup: Christmas Tunes, Food, Tree And More


The Senior Center is filled with fascinating people.

High on the list: pianist Irwin Lebish. A veterinarian since 1954, he is still — in his 90s —  a general practitioner at Schulhof Animal Hospital.

That’s not all. He also plays piano with the hands of 20-year-old.

The other day, Dr. Lebish recorded a Holiday Piano Recital — jazz, standards and more — for the Senior Center. He was joined by a young whippersnapper: his son Scott, on bass.

Jim Honeycutt and Nick Pisarro videotaped it all. Click below to enjoy!


Everyone knows about stress eating. But what about stress cooking?

If the thought of making another — or any — holiday meal fills you with dread, click here.

The WestportMoms’ Food Delivery & Catering Guide is filled with businesses that have pivoted during the pandemic to provide — in addition to their usual delicious fare — catering, weekly meal plans, delivery and curbside pickup.

No cooking? No problem! Click here.


MoCA Westport invites all high school students to submit works of art for a student exhibit. “Hindsight is 2020” will run open January 23, and run through March 6.

This is the first student in-person show at MoCA’s Newtown Turnpike space. The museum presented an online student exhibition in July.

“Hindsight is 2020” will feature submissions created this challenging, unique year.

All high school students may submit 1 work, of any kind. The deadline is January 8. Cash prizes of $500, $300 and $100 will be awarded by judges. Click here for details, or email liz@mocawestport.org.


Downtown’s newest Christmas tree stands outside Savvy + Grace, near the steps to the old Tavern on Main.

Check it out — and don’t worry. It will be trimmed soon!


And finally … happy 55th birthday to Björk! Now — can anyone name another Icelandic singer-songwriter?!

Roundup: Michael J. Fox, Big Bucks, Downtown Dollars, More



Two days after the high school sports governing body pushed the start of interscholastic winter sports back to January 19, Governor Lamont did the same for youth teams.

His order — effective Monday — ends club team practices, games and tournaments, indoors and outdoors, for the next 2 months. Several COVID outbreaks have been traced back to youth sports.

Youth basketball has been played in Westport since the early 1900s. This was an early YMCA team. It — and all other kids’ sports — have been canceled through January 19.


The other night, Ian O’Malley’s Ring app notified him there was a visitor at his Greens Farms-area door.

The Westport realtor and New York radio personality was not expecting anyone.

“He was a lot bigger than he looks” (below), Ian reports:

He was not the only buck hanging around. James Chantler Brown has seen this handsome animal several times in the past few days, off Whitney Street:


Speaking of big bucks: The Westport Downtown Merchants Association has just launched “Downtown Dollars.”

The goal of the digital gift card is to encourage local shopping. Purchasers can write a personal message on the card, and send it to family, friends and colleagues by email, text, even physically (!).  

Click here to purchase; then scroll down for a list of participating merchants.


David Krasne has created a Google spreadsheet that tracks daily coronavirus updates in Connecticut. Each tab reflects a different town in southern Fairfield County.

David also tracks the rolling 7-day and 14-day average new case rates, per 100,000 population. Click here to see Westport; click other tabs at the bottom of the page.


Two years ago, Westporter Andrew Goldman launched an independent podcast, “The Originals.”

In April — with his interview with “The Nanny” Fran Drescher — it became the Los Angeles Times‘ only official podcast. Since then he’s chatted with Danny DeVito, Joan Collins, Barry Sonnenfeld and many others.

Goldman’s most recent guest is Michael J. Fox.

The episode is “different and more personal than any I’ve done,” he says. Goldman begins by talking about his “almost inconceivable privilege” — but admits he is still not particularly happy.

Fox, of course, has many more reasons to despair. His Parkinson’s is increasing; a recent accident took away his ability to walk, and send him into depression.

Yet the actor found a way to rekindle his optimism. His message is inspiring — and particularly meaningful at this unlike-any-other-holiday time.

Click here to listen.

 

Michael J. Fox’s book was released this week.


Gabriel Marous is a Westporter teenager, Pierrepont School student and Saugatuck Rowing Club racer.

He’s also seen the effects the coronavirus has had on area residents. So, with 2 friends, he formed the North Stamford Youth Action Group.

Their first initiative — a drive-through food pantry — helped them feed 33 families. A second one is set for this Sunday (November 22). With the holidays coming, the need is even greater.

To help, email digital gift cards from a local grocery story to contact.NSYAG@gmail.com. You can also search for Cash App under the name “NSYAG.” To volunteer, use the email address above or call 203-744-9796.

Gabriel Marous


Fourteen Staples High School seniors have been named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. They are among more than 1.5 million students who took the PSAT exam. Congratulations to:

Back row (from left): Alexander Toglia, Simon Rubin, Sebastian Montoulieu, Rishabh Mandayam. Front: Charoltte Zhang, Mira Mahendru, Gary Lu, Lucas Lieberman, Frederick Linn.

(From left): Elana Atlas, Reed Caney, Mohit Gupta, Hannah Even. Missing: Max Montoya.


And finally … 35 years ago today, Microsoft unleashed Windows 1.0 on the world.

Roundup: Real Estate, Good Deeds, More


We all sense it. Now we have proof.

Jason Mudd of Cindy Raney & Co. realtors sends a Bloomberg statistic: This fall, Fairfield County had the fastest-rising real estate prices in the country.

Sales rose 80% in September county-wide from a year before. The median home price increased by 33%.

Westport saw a 72% rise in all sales, from January 1 through October 27, 2020, compared to the same time frame a year earlier. It was highest (135%) in the $2 million-plus price range.

Jason hears the same thing as realtors all over town: As quarantine cases increase, buyers (many from New York City) want more space — in their yards, and in their ability to work from home.

They want good schools for their children — and room for their kids to spread out, if they need to learn remotely.

Interestingly, open floor plans are not always the most popular. With families increasingly confined to their homes, “nooks and crannies” enable people to separate from family members for privacy.

Westport is attractive for many reasons, Jason says, beyond space and schools. There’s a vibrant restaurant scene. Plenty of shopping.

Another selling point: proximity to New York. Though the railroad station parking lot seems abandoned, the ease of hopping a train to the city is a big selling point for our town.

Plus it’s just a really pretty place, with tons of great people. But we already knew that.


Among the many people moving from New York to Westport (see above) is Maxx Crowley.

It’s a return home. His father Steve is the longtime owner of SCA Crowley Real Estate Services, and Maxx has joined the family business.

He’s also a new Westport Downtown Merchants Association board member. It did not take him long to help beautify Main Street and environs. He and his dad helped repurpose the summer barrels.

They’re also providing the holiday community tree. It goes up tomorrow, just outside Savvy + Grace.


Just in time for the holiday season: Good Deeds.

Westporter Bill Pecoriello launched the cashback app on Tuesday.

Good Deeds lets shoppers earn cash back while accessing their favorite brands and retailers, then automatically give some or all of those earnings as donations to the causes and nonprofits they care about.

Bill created the app after facing challenges raising funds for his nonprofit Sweet P Bakery, and The Porch to sell those baked goods. For more information, click here.


For 3 decades, ABC News correspondent and anchor Jay Schadler reported around the globe for “20/20,” “Good Morning America,” “Nightline” and “World News Tonight.”

He hitchhiked 20,000 miles across America.

On Tuesday, December 8 (7 p.m.) he lands in Westport.

Virtually, anyway. The Westport Library and “Live at Lincoln Center” producer Andrew Wilk team up for this online presentation.

“I come not as a teacher or a guide, but as a fellow traveler who’s still somewhere between being lost and finding his way home,” Schadler says.

Wilk adds, “I worked with Jay when he anchored the National Geographic Channel. I developed great admiration for his talent as a storyteller. Storytelling is at the heart of what we do in television. There aren’t many in Jay’s league.”

Click here to register for the free event.

Andrew Wilk (left) and Jay Schadler.


 

And finally … On this day in November 19, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. In just 271 words — at a time when the nation’s very existence was in doubt — the president reminded listeners of our highest ideals.

He concluded by urging “that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

 

Pics Of The Day #1311

The Riverwalk in autumn sunshine … (Photo/Amy Schneider)

… and at dusk (Photo/Heli Stagg)

Pic Of The Day #1307

Levitt Pavilion (Photo/Michael Tomashefsky)

Roundup: Basso Restaurant, Hotel Marcel, Santa Claus, More


First it was the Fine Arts III movie theater. Then it was Matsu Sushi restaurant.

Now 33 Jesup Road is poised to become Basso Restaurant and Wine Bar.

After 13 years in Norwalk, Chef Renato Donzetti is moving here. He and his crew will double their current space, and have access to outside dining.

Donzetti says he will “introduce contemporary, inventive menu items to the already beloved Mediterranean repertoire.”

French, Portuguese and Greek specialties will be added, along with artisinal Neapolitan pizza made in a wood-fired oven.

He expects to open later this month, after renovations that include exposed brick walls, recycled wood and leather furniture, and artwork that pays homage to Donzetti’s Mediterranean background. (Hat tip: Jeff Jacobs)


I really like the men and women who work at CVS. Though overworked and (I am sure) underpaid, they are always polite, eager to help, and friendly.

And they do it all despite having to put up with what they know is corporate imbecility.

The other day, I made an appointment online for a flu shot. 10 this morning worked perfectly. And sure enough, at 9:30 a.m. I got a text reminder. It included instructions on how to check in online.

“Welcome, DAN!” the next screen said. “When you arrive at the store, tap the button to let our pharmacy know you’re here.”

“I’m here at the store,” I tapped.

The pharmacist seemed surprised to see me. “We’re out of flu shots,” she apologized.

“But I made an appointment online!” I said. “They told me to come in. Why couldn’t they have told me you ran out?”

“I’m sorry,” she apologized again. “They don’t have that capability.”

“That’s pretty stupid,” I said, stupidly stating the obvious.

“I know,” she agreed.

My blood pressure was dangerously high. I should have asked for some medicine.

Then again, it was probably out of stock.


Every I-95 driver knows the former Armstrong Rubber Company headquarters in New Haven. That’s Marcel Breuer’s 1960s-era concrete box on the left as you head north, just before the I-91 merge.

The former Armstrong Rubber Company headquarters. (Photo/John Muggenborg for New York Times)

It’s been vacant for a while. But it’s being converted into what the New York Times says “could be the most energy-efficient hotel in the country.”

Hotel Marcel’s developer and architect — Westport-based Bruce Becker — is building it to meet net-zero energy standards. It will generate as much energy as it uses.

“It’s probably the most challenging project I’ve ever undertaken, particularly since we’re doing it during a pandemic,” Becker told the Times.

“But I’ve been intrigued with the building at least since I was a graduate student at Yale in the late ’80s, and I thought it could be fascinating.”

One more Westport connection: Saugatuck’s LANDTECH is the project’s site/civil engineer.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Mark Mathias)


A while back, Katie Larson’s daughter asked what would happen if Santa Claus fell asleep on Christmas Eve. Cute!

Just as cute: The 1995 Weston High School graduate (Katie — not her daughter) has just published a children’s book. “The Night Santa Fell Asleep” is now available in paperback. Click here to order. (Hat tip: Erin Regan)


And finally … Booker T. Washington died 105 years ago today. The educator, author, orator and adviser to US presidents was 59 years old.

Pics Of The Day #1304

“06880” photographer J.C. Martin cruised around town yesterday. Here’s what he saw:

Flags on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge

“Tunnel Vision,” in the walkway between Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza

Sorelle Art Gallery, Bedford Square

Anthropologie prepares for the holidays (All photos/J.C. Martin)

Our Doughboy

Today is Veterans Day.

We celebrate November 11 because — 102 years ago today — World War I ended. The armistice took effect at 11 a.m., on 11/11.

Twelve years later — on November 11, 1930 — we dedicated our doughboy statue.

That was 5 years after the town voted to erect a monument to soldiers in “The Great War.” According to Woody Klein’s history of Westport, the commission was offered to Laura Gardin Fraser.

Yet her design — showing a bronze relief figure of Victory — did not meet the committee’s approval.

Three years later the Veterans of Foreign War and American Legion raised $10,000. They commissioned J. Clinton Shepherd, an illustrator, sculptor — and pilot — to memorialize a soldier from “the war to end all wars.”

The doughboy statue. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Six months after Westport’s first-ever Memorial Day parade, the Doughboy was dedicated. But it was not at Veterans Green, across from what is now Town Hall (and was then Bedford Elementary School).

The original site was the grassy median on on the Post Road 2 miles east — across from what is now Shearwater Coffee, near the foot of Long Lots Road.

A crowd of 3,000 turned out for the dedication of the 20-ton statue. Governor John H. Trumbull was there, along with hundreds of veterans, and 7 bands. Children pulled ropes to unveil the statue.

The doughboy was moved to its present location in 1986. A formal re-dedication ceremony was held on Memorial Day 1988.

Pic Of The Day #1301

All summer long, and into the fall, the Remarkable Theater provided pop-up entertainment — and employment for people with disabilities — in the heart of downtown.

Last week — just before it closed — John Videler took this remarkable drone photo. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

(Photo/John Videler for VidelerPhotography.com)