Category Archives: Entertainment

Roundup: Still Waiting, Much More


There is hope! This was the scene at the Greens Farms railroad station staging area this morning. Fingers crossed …

(Photo/Robert Cornfield)


Meanwhile, work began on the badly damaged main transformer in Weston, on White Birch Lane.

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)


And once again, the Westport Library’s free WiFi had plenty of takers:

(Photo/Samuel Wang)


Brandon Malin — the very sharp teenager who contributes great drone photos and more to “06880” — checks in with NBC CT chief meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan’s list of Connecticut’s 5 worst storms (in terms of Eversource outages):

1: October snowstorm (803,000 outages)
2: Tropical storm Irene (671,000 outages)
3: Tropical storm Isaias (600,000+ outages)
4: Hurricane Gloria (506,000 outages)
5: Hurricane Sandy (497,000 outages).

Who knew that 2 tropical storms and a snowstorm could do more damage than a hurricane?

Saugatuck Avenue (Photo/Scott Singer)


David Meth calls this scene at the corner of Main Street and Cross Highway “a disaster waiting to happen.” I call it “morning in Westport.”


And no, it’s not just you. Optimum/Altice’s website was down this morning, with an internal server issue.

A customer service representative cheerfully suggested I check back “every hour or so. Or in 24 or 48 hours.”

Fortunately, it was back up later this morning. These days, little things mean a lot.


The CARES concert — featuring an all-star lineup of local talent — has been postponed. The new date is Sunday, August 16, at 7:30 p.m. Click here for details.

Max Herman, concert mastermind


And finally .., of course:

Pics Of The Day #1206

Jesup Green was the place to be today, post-Isaias …

… or the library steps …

… for internet access, hanging out, or even a ukulele concert (Photos/Miggs Burroughs)

Staples Grads CARE

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, many social media users observed “Blackout Tuesday” by changing their cover photos to black squares.

Max Herman was one. The 2019 Staples High School graduate was amazed at how many friends and people he followed did the same.

Max Herman

But he felt compelled to do more. The Vanderbilt University student — a double major in computer science, and the communication of science and technology, with minors in business and vocal performance — wondered what he could do.

An actor and singer at Staples, he realized fellow Players and musicians could help.

Max enlisted the help of Natasha Johnson, a 2020 Staples grad headed to Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania to concentrate in marketing or finance, and Anna Maria Fernandez, another recently graduated Player who will double major in theater and dance at Muhlenberg College.

They created  CARE. Its mission is to “educate, raise awareness, and expunge the inherent, deeply rooted issues surrounding racial inequity in voting and education in our community,” with a focus on “the next generation of young people.”

Natasha Johnson

The organizers created an online library that illustrates decades of injustices, unveil hidden biases, and challenge people to “ask themselves uncomfortable questions regarding their own relationship with race.”

Resources include books, articles, videos, podcasts, petitions and links.

“We decided to tackle racial inequity with a local lens,” Max, Natasha and Anna Maria say. “We feel it is critical to first acknowledge the issues that exist in our own community before undertaking the arduous task of stitching up our divided nation.”

So they’ve teamed up with 3 nearby organizations that target racial disparities in voting and education: Bridgeport-based Connect-Us and Faith Acts, and Project Morry.

They’re the beneficiaries of a virtual concert this Sunday (August 9, 7:30 p.m.)

Anna Maria Fernandez

Professional musicians and Fairfield County teens will perform selections by black artists, based on the theme of “change.”

The talent so far incluldes Kid Sistr, Niki Harris, Jacob Heimer, Riley Wells, Camille Foisie, Mia Kobylinski, Anna Maria Fernandez, Jake Greenwald, Avery Smith and Max Herman.

There will be brief remarks by leaders of CARE’s 3 partner organizations too.

Donors of any amount (click here) will be sent a link. The goal is $20,000.

What a great way to show they — and we — care.

Pics Of The Day #1202

Church Lane will be closed from Elm Street to the Post Road, through the end of August.

That gives pedestrians more room — and restaurants like Spotted Horse, Manna Toast and Amis the chance to put tables in the street.

To kick off the new look, the Busted Chops band played funk and soul tonight.

It was just the way developers envisioned the area to look, a few years ago.

Without, of course, the masks and hand sanitizers.

(Photos/Dan Woog)

Roundup: Busted Chops, Haiku, Suite Tooth, More


Tonight, Church Lane celebrates its closure to traffic with music.

Busted Chops plays funk and soul between Spotted Horse and Urban Outfitters, from 6 to 9 p.m. Bring your friends — and masks!

Busted Chops takes over tonight, fro 6 to 9 p.m.


First there were planters. Now comes haiku.

This weekend, the Westport Arts Advisory Committee’s is placing 20 lawn signs throughout downtown. Each contains a photo of Westport, and a haiku by town poet laureate Diane Lowman.

Rotating lawn sign “art shows” are designed to keep downtown visitors inspired and smiling during the pandemic. Here are 2 signs — still packaged — for the first round.


Among the Westport Garden Club’s many roles: maintaining the “Beach Buds” garden at the entrance to Compo Beach.

Yesterday they added more color, through their #FridayFlowers bouquet. They came from Ginger Donaher’s garden.

So even if you arrive too late this weekend and find the parking lot closed, you’ll have something to smile about.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)


It’s a syrupy name, but it does the job. SuiteTooth — already active in New York City and the Hamptons — has just started working in Westport. They solve  a big obstacle to visiting the dentist — it’s inconvenient (especially now, during the pandemic) — by offering at-home preventative dental care (cleanings, exams, X-rays and sealants), plus cosmetic services like whitenings.

Their mobile dental suite can be set up inside a home, outside, or in a pergola or pool house. (You do have a pergola, right?) They just need an 8×8 space, electricity, WiFi and a bathroom.

For more details, click here or call 347-256-1445.


And finally … it’s already August. Can September be far behind?

 

Aztec Two-Step’s New Words

The other day, WFUV’s “Mixed Bag” host/longtime Mets fans Don McGee celebrated the return of baseball by playing “Stay at Home for the Ballgame.”

It’s a new song by Aztec Two-Step’s Rex Fowler and his wife, Dodie Pettit.

Though married only 2 years, they have known each other for decades. Nearly 40 years ago, she played guitar and sang on Aztec’s 5th album. Dodie went on to a long Broadway career.

She and Rex now perform as “Aztec Two-Step 2.0.”

I loved the COVID-safe message, and asked Dodie for a link to post on “06880.” The song is so new though, that none is yet available.

But there is other Aztec Two-Step news. “Words” — released in April — dates back to 2017. Rex started writing it after his musical partner Neal Shulman’s wife died of cancer.

During the COVID lockdown, Rex and Dodie finished it. They recorded it at their Westport home, with bandmates coming in individually (wearing masks).

Dodie Pettit and Rex Fowler perform together.

“We thought it would be a song of comfort,” Dodie says. She’s lived with her own tragedy: Her husband, Staples High School graduate and Broadway actor Kevin Gray, died of a heart attack in 2013 at age 55.

Dodie adds, “We wanted to do a real grown-up, thoughtful statement of how hard the aftermath is — without using any of the standard, patronizing fare.”

They’ve performed it on Facebook, for a traumatic brain injury group.

Their next song — a mash-up of Neil Young’s “Down by the River,” focused on Black Lives Matter — will be released soon.

Meanwhile, enjoy the “Words” video below.

And keep your ears open for “Stay at Home for the Ballgame.’

Roundup: Old Mill Parking; GFA; Senior Center; More


Starting today, the Old Mill Beach parking lot is fully re-opened.

That means a reversion to previous rules: Parking is available for vehicles with beach emblems or hang tags, on a space available basis.

As in the past, Parks and Recreation Department staff will strictly enforce all parking regulations.


Greens Farms Academy has announced plans for in-person, on-campus instruction, 5 days a week, beginning September 1.

The private school on Beachside Avenue has spent the summer making numerous preparations — everything from changing physical spaces and furniture, to mandating one-way building pathways, to delivering lunch to assigned spaces.

One more change; There will be no formal uniform at GFA this year.

Meanwhile,  the fall sports season will look different this year. The Fairchester Athletic Association has canceled all regular season games and tournaments. The league cited “differing return-to- school plans and academic models” for its member schools, in light of COVID-19, as the reason.

However, GFA says, the league’s announcement does not preclude the school from scheduling interscholastic opportunities between and among like schools, if able.


The Senior Center is sponsoring 3 interesting events this month.

Next Thursday, August 6 (10 a.m., Zoom meeting), a Westport Weston Health District panel will discuss COVID-19 in Connecticut. Viewers can ask questions too. Click here for the link.

A Caregiver Support Group meets on Wednesdays (August 5 and 19, September 2 and 16, 10 a.m.). Positive Directons’ Terry Giegengack will facilitate the sessions. For more information, call Holly Betts (203-341-5096) or email hbetts@westportct.gov.

Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities hosts a free summer concert series in August and September. The stars are local musicians. First up (August 14, 1:30 p.m.): pianist Mathew Graybil, who has played around the world. He’ll feature works by Chopin, Schubert and Brahms. Click here for the Zoom link.

The Senior Center is closed. But programs continue.


At Staples High School, 2004 alum Charlie Stoebe was a soccer and track star (and captain). He graduated from Dartmouth College, and is now working with NBC Sports.

Charlie is multi-talented. In his spare COVID-related time, he created a new party game.

“What Was the Question?” tests how well you know your friends and family. But unlike most getting-to-know-you games, it starts not with a question, but an answer. Players must figure out the question. After each reveal there are fun discussions on the answer the player gave, and the predictions everyone else made.

“What Was the Question?” is now in Kickstarter mode. To help get it to market — and help out a really great Staples grad — click here.


And finally … Danish pianist Bent Fabricius-Bjerre died yesterday at 95. You may know him as Bent Fabric. Or maybe you just know his most famous song:

Remarkable Theater Adds New Features

The Remarkable Theater’s remarkable summer series continues.

And there are some outstanding coming attractions.

The Imperial Avenue drive-in — the surprise smash of the season — announces “Christmas in July.”

This Thursday (July 30), the theater shows “Elf.” Movie-goers are invited to decorate their car in a Christmas theme, and dress in Christmas-themed clothing.

The group with the best decor and costumes receives a free ticket to an upcoming film of their choice.

Other upcoming shows include:

  • “The Sandlot” (Friday, July 31)
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Saturday, August 1)
  • “Casablanca” (now celebrating its 75th anniversary; half-price, Tuesday, August 4)
  • “Toy Story” (Wednesday, August 5).

BONUS FEATURE: The idea for the “Elf” contest came from Remarkable board member Joanna Borner. She said, “We can all use a little Christmas right now.”

Great ideas come from anywhere — and the theater wants to hear all of them. Email info@remarkabletheater.org, or call 203-349-3414.

Click here for tickets and more information. Tickets may not yet be available for all shows. (Don’t wait! Last night’s screenings of “Goonies,” and tonight’s of “Grease,” are both sold out.)

Roundup: Slice Canceled; Live Music Returns; More

 


The latest victim of the coronavirus: Slice of Saugatuck.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has canceled the annual event, planned for September 12. The food tasting and retail experience draws thousands of people to Saugatuck each fall. There’s music and kids’ activities too.

The announcement is a disappointment to festival-goers, restaurants and shops — and Homes with Hope, which benefits each year from the proceeds.


Hungry for live music? Hungry period?

Head to the Milestone in Georgetown this Saturday (July 25, 7:30 p.m.). There’s an “old school music variety show,” featuring Aztec Two-Step and the Old School Revue with the Saugatuck Horns, plus surprise guest artists.

The large patio offers plenty of space for social distancing. But — as it always does — great music draws everyone together.

There’s not even a cover charge!


Westport was well represented in this year’s Connecticut Entrepreneur Awards.

Sarah Deren of Experience Camps took home first place in the “Entrepreneur of the Year: Scaling Company” category, while Mark Mathias won in the “Community Favorite — Entrepreneur — Social Good” division for his work with Remarkable STEAM.

Mathias also earned honorable mention in the “Judged — Entrepreneur — Social Good” category.

Remarkable STEAM received honorable mention in the “Community Favorites – Event” category, for producing Maker Faire Westport.


Traffic has picked up lately — though it’s still lighter than pre-COVID levels.

Nevertheless, this sight on Morningside Drive South is one you don’t see too often here. The riders are Greens Farms residents.

(Photo/David Squires)

A group of friends gathered at the Longshore golf course 10th tee last week, to unveil a bench and plaque honoring Greg Tapfar. He died in December, of complications from ALS.

And finally … the Summer Olympics were set to begin in Tokyo this Friday. The pandemic has pushed the quadrennial event back to 2021. So it will be another year before we hear:

Roundup: P&Z; Ospreys; Justin Paul; Bridge Lights; More


This Thursday (July 21, 5 p.m., Zoom session), the Planning & Zoning Commission considers 3 COVID-related items.

Two are text amendments aimed at striking a balance between promoting economic vitality and protecting nearby residents.

One would extend the current temporary outdoor dining regulations through March 31, 2021. The other would allow fitness businesses to use certain outdoor spaces, enabling them to serve clients in a socially distanced way.

In addition, Pierrepont School is seeking to use additional space at 220 Post Road West — across the street from its current home at 1 Sylvan Road North — to provide more social distancing space for its approximately 48 students in grades 7-12, and staff.

The meeting will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and shown on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Public comments may be sent by noon on Thursday to PandZ@westportct.gov, and during the meeting as well (PandZcomments@westportct.gov. For full details, click here.

Outdoor dining has been successful on Railroad Place.


Yesterday’s Roundup featured a photo of the Fresh Market osprey fledglings.

A bird-watching friend writes about other osprey platforms in town. They include:

Two on the exit road from Longshore. One is along Gray’s Creek at the back of the out-of-town parking lot for the marina. The other is along the exit road just past Gloria’s mooring, opposite the 12th green.

Two are at Sherwood Island. One is north of the Nature Center in the salt marsh between the island and Beachside Commons; the second is on the west side of the island, in the marsh alongside Sherwood Mill Pond, north from the end of the second bridge at the tidal gates,

One more is off Beachside Avenue, east of Burying Hill Beach and Harvey Weinstein’s former home.

All 5 are occupied, and have 2 or 3 hatchlings each. They’re practicing flying and fishing prior to their late summer migration to South America for the winter.

A local osprey nest (Photo/Jen Greely)


Staples High School 2003 graduate Justin Paul has gone on to fame (and many honors) for his off-the-charts songwriting (“Dear Evan Hansen,” “La La Land,” “The Greatest Showman”).

But he has not forgotten his home town. He recently volunteered as a judge for the Norwalk-to-Bridgeport Project Census Throwdown contest, encouraging high school students to write creatively and educationally about the 2020 Census.

Justin was very impressed with the winning rap submission, from Elijah Atkins of Bridgeport’s Bridge Academy. He encouraged Elijah to further explore his gift for lyrical structure and creativity.

Congratulations, Elijah — and thanks, Justin!

Justin Paul


A few spots remain for the Earthplace Summer Teen Volunteer Club. Daily activities include animal care, special event preparation, and maintaining the Earthplace private preserve.

Sessions run July 17-August 7, and August 10-21. For information, click here.


The Westport Downtown Merchants Association has decorated the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown with summer-color lights: blue, green and white.

Pretty lit!


And finally … Happy 72nd birthday, Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam). There are so many songs to pay him tribute. Here are 3. What’s your pick? Click “Comments” below.