Category Archives: Entertainment

Roundup: James Montgomery, Teens’ Songwriting Workshop, Shrimp Farming …

The “Blue Sunday” concert series at the Westport Library will end with a bang.

World famous blues rocker James Montgomery joins Mark Naftalin’s all-star lineup next week (December 11, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.).

The house band includes Blues Hall of Fame guitarist/singer/songwriter Paul Gabriel, lowdown bassman Paul Opalach, swingin’ drummer Nick Longo and the host: Westport’s own Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Mark Naftalin on keyboards.

The show is (amazingly) free, but registration is highly recommended. Last month’s show was completely sold out. Click here to register.

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Speaking of music at the Library:

Verso Studios has partnered with the Song Arts Academy, with an 8-week songwriting program for 15 middle and high school students.

The program runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays, beginning January 30.

It’s free (!), thanks to the support of Fred Reynolds and family. (A refundable $25 registration fee reserves a spot.) .

The workshop offers young songwriters a chance to record songs written in the workshop at Verso Studios.

The program is led by Billy Seidman, a Westport native and veteran New York songwriter, guitarist and producer. He’s worked with Jimi Hendrix, and top pop producers like Jimmy “The Senator” Douglass, (Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams) and Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton).

Each week, students will learn new craft and perspective tools, then write an original song using them.

Click here to register, and for more information.

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John Brawley grew up on Saugatuck Shores. He became a marine biologist, living (and fishing) on Cape Cod for many years.

He now owns Sweet Sound — Vermont’s first shrimp aquaculture outfit. He harvests 100 pounds of Pacific white-leg shrimp each week from indoor, aboveground recirculating saltwater pools.

Brawley was featured in Friday’s Washington Post piece on how the Green Mountain State has pivoted from dairy farms to other types of agriculture. Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Scott Smith)

John Brawley, at Sweet Sound Aquaculture.

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Yesterday’s rain kept many Westporters inside.

But it did not deter the weekly Compo Beach runners. Neither it, nor the wind whipping off the water, deterred them from their jaunt down Soundview Avenue.

(Photo/Sunil Hirani)

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The New Canaan Museum & Historical Society is spotlighting the Silvermine Art Colony.

Several of those artists lived in Westport between 1908 and 1922: Karl Anderson, George Hand Wright, George Wright Picknell, Ernest Funt and Edmund Marion Ashe. They met frequently, and critiqued each other’s work.

The 2 exhibits feature over 120 pieces of Silvermine artists’ work, including several of those Westporters. One of the standout pieces is Frank Townsend Hutchen’s “Compo Beach Sunset,” from  around 1925.

Click here for more information.

Frank Townsend Hutchen’s “Compo Beach Sunset.” The Saugatuck train towers are visible in the background.

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“Westport … Naturally” can never resist a cute dog photo.

This one sure qualifies.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

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And finally … James Montgomery (see story above) is a blues legend. If you haven’t heard of him, check out this 41-year-old clip:

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Roundup: Holiday Stroll Is On Tonight; World Cup Is On Today, 10 am @ The Library ….

Important note: Today’s Holiday Stroll is on — rain or shine!

Over 40 stores and restaurants — plus Santa, face painters, a balloon artist, Staples and Greens Farms Academy singers and other carolers — look forward to seeing you this evening, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Main Street, Church Lane, the Post Road and across the river. The main tent will be outside Cold Fusion.

Dress warmly. Wear reindeer — I mean, rain gear — if needed. Ho ho ho! See you there.

And for more information — including all the participating stores and restaurants — click here.

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USA! USA! USA!

If you can’t be in Qatar this morning (10 a.m. kickoff, our time) cheering the American team on in its World Cup round of 16 match against the Netherlands, go to the next best place.

The Westport Library.

Today’s broadcast begins a series of matches, live on the 18-foot screen. The Trefz Forum will also host the quarterfinals next Friday (December 9), 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), and the semifinals on Tuesday and Wednesday, December 13 and 14 (2 p.m.).

The games will be very exciting. The players will be larger than life. But — hey, this is still a library — fans should bring a mobile device to download the Sennheiser app, and headphones or earbuds to listen.

Christian Pulisic’s pulsating goal powered the US past Iran on Tuesday. The win vaulted the Americans into the knockout round. (Photo/Odd Andersen for AFP)

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Also at the Westport Library: the final evening of the Short Cuts Film Festival.

Five narrative films will be screened on Thursday (December 8, 7 p.m.).

“Pragma” is a British rom-com. “Hallelujah” is a reminder that “trouble won’t last always.” “Lilith & Eve” is a feminist reimagining of Lilith, Adam’s first wife. “Life Remembered” is a hybrid live-action and virtual reality short depiction of a cowboy who leads a double life.”F^cK ‘Em R!GHT B@cK” follows a queer aspiring rapper who accidentally eats an edible. A talk back follows the final film.

Click here for more information on the films, and to purchase tickets ($25, including refreshments).

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One of Westport’s favorite toy drives begins today.

The Westport Police Department and Police Athletic League will again collect gifts for underprivileged children in Fairfield County.

Officers will accept new, unopened and unwrapped toys — plus cash donations — in the ASF Sports & Outdoors parking lot (1560 Post Road East), this weekend and next, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Toy collection boxes are also available at:

  • Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road
  • ASF Sports & Outdoors, 1560 Post Road East
  • PAL ice rink, Longshore
  • Awesome Toys & Gifts, 429 Post Road East
  • The Toy Post, 180 Post Road East.

Questions? Contact Officer Craig Bergamo: 203-341-6000; cbergamo@Westportct.gov.

Westport Police toy drive at ASF.

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A couple of hundred kids thronged Wakeman Town Farm yesterday, for the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Over 50 young musicians played carols …

… and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, with Wakeman relative Tom Constantino, counted down to the lighting up …

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker (far right), and the Wakeman Town Farm tree. (Photos/Dan Woog)

… and then everyone enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies.

All that was missing was snow.

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Club 203 — the great new social group for adults with disabilities — is planning its biggest event yet.

A holiday party is set for Wakeman Town Farm on Tuesday, December 13 (7:30 to 9 p.m.).

Outdoor and inside activities include a hot cocoa bar, cookies, cider donuts and more. Click here to register.

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The Westport Garden Club has made its annual deliveries of wreaths to non-profit and service organizations around town.

Each year the club organizes a workshop for members. They bring cuttings and natural embellishments from their gardens, making special bows for unique designs.

Among the recipients: Homes with Hope, the Gillespie Center, Wakeman Town Farm, the Westport Museum for History & Culture, the Senior Center, Westport Parks & Recreation Department, the Aspetuck Health District, and Earthplace.

Westport Garden Club wreaths are on sale today at the Westport Museum’s Holly Days Market.

Westport Garden Club members, ready to deliver their holiday wreaths.

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Something from Tiffany’s” — the romcom produced by Reese Witherspoon — begins streaming on December 9 (Amazon Prime Video).

Westporters should have a special interest in it: The director is 2002 Staples High School graduate Daryl Wein.

The other day, he hung out at the official Los Angeles premiere, with her:

Daryl Wein and Reece Witherspoon

(Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

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Hear ye, hear ye!

Our Local Town Crier has just published its annual Holiday Gift Guide. There are plenty of good ideas and links, plus a comprehensive list of December events. Click here to see.

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Speaking of gifts: Pop down to a holiday pop-up this Friday (December 9, noon to 4 p.m., Yoga 45 at 201 Main Street).

There’s a great selection of clothing, jewelry and artwork from local businesses — and a portion of the sales benefit A Better Chance of Westport.

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After 3 riveting performances of “The Laramie Project” last month, the Unitarian Church’s UU Players offer an encore.

They’ll repeat the powerful drama about the Wyoming community’s reaction to the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard next Saturday (December 10, 7 p.m., Unitarian Church of Westport). There’s a talkback with the director and cast right after the show.

It’s a benefit for Triangle Community Center, Fairfield County’s center for LGBTQ programming and resources.

Click here for tickets ($20 suggested donation; pay what you can) and livestream information.

“Laramie Project” talkback, at the Unitarian Church. (Hat tip and photo/Jill Johnson Mann)

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Sandy Rothenberg notes that the Bayberry Lane bridge — which up until recently announced a completion date of November 30, 2022 — now has nothing listed.

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

Sandy wonders, “Is that a bad sign?”

I’d say yes, it’s a bad sign.

In both senses of the term.

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The Westport Pod of B.I.G. Connecticut — a global women’s empowerment community — hosts a holiday cocktail networking event at the Westport Woman’s Club (December 15, 5:30 p.m.). Local women-owned businesses will be featured.

The public is invited. Tickets are $30, and include wine and appetizers. For more information, email bigconnecticutregion@gmail.com.

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Looking for a non-holiday event?

The Westport Astronomical Society’s free online science lecture series welcomes Dr. Brett Denevi, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and deputy principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera.

She’ll talk about “the moon up close and personal,” including unprecedented mapping of its surface.

The virtual event is December 20 (8 p.m.). Click here for the livestream.


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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Rick Hochman.

Let’s hope they grow their winter coats soon.

(Photo/Rick Hochman)

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And finally … in honor of tonight’s Big Event (see top story above):

(To help support activities like tonight’s Stroll, please consider a contribution to “06880.” Click here — and thank you!)

 

Roundup: Power Lines, Steve Lillywhite, OMG …

Yesterday’s rains gave way to last night’s winds.

Several trees came down, all over town. Jo Shields reports says that one, on North Avenue south of Charcoal Hill, took down power lines.

A Fire Department truck waited an hour and a half for Eversource crews to arrive. (She was told they were working on Newtown Turnpike lines.)

Power lines down on North Avenue. (Photo/Jo Shields)

Traffic was diverted, but turning around was not easy on the northern curve. It was especially tough for an 18-wheeler hauling vintage cars. It had to back down North Avenue for a third of a mile. Meanwhile, cars tried to get around it — despite the closed road ahead.

Jo directed traffic by Coleytown Elementary School, helping the truck make it down the road.

An 18-wheeler backed carefully down North Avenue, until it reached Easton Road (shown here). (Photo/Jo Shields)

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Keith Richards may not wander over from Weston.

But the Westport Library’s 2023 VersoFest will have a strong Rolling Stones presence. Record producer Steve Lillywhite — whose credits include not only “the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band ever,” but also U2, the Dave Matthew Band, Phish, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, the Psychedelic Furs, XTC, Morrissey, the Pogues, Guster, the Killers and more — has just been signed as a headliner.

Last spring’s inaugural VersoFest was a smash. The 2nd annual music and media conference and festival will draw even more media creators, artists and fans to the Trefz Forum, and meeting rooms throughout the Library.

Lillywhite’s April 1 appearance will include a conversation with Chris Frantz, the Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club drummer, and a Sturges Highway resident.

Lillywhite began as a staff producer with Island Records. With great success in pioneering recording ethos and technique (and popular sales), Lillywhite was made a Commander of the Order of The British Empire for his contributions to music in 2012.

VersoFest is set for March 30-April 2. Many more artists and contributors will be announced soon.

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The Westport Police have released arrest reports for the November 24-30 period.

Four people were detained in custody. One was charged with possession of child pornography; one with failure to appear; one with both operating a motor vehicle under suspension and failure to keep plates readable, and a fourth with operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, operating a motor vehicle under suspension, operating an unregistered vehicle, and improper stopping or turning.

The following citations were issued:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 8
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 6
  • Misuse of plates: 4
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 3
  • Stop sign violation: 3
  • Insurance fails to meet minimum requirements: 2
  • Speeding: 1
  • Following too closely: 1
  • Failure to obey traffic control signal: 1
  • Violation of any traffic commission regulation 1
  • Driving with an out-of-state license after 30 days: 1.

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Historical plaques from the Westport Museum for History & Culture honor the heritage of over 470 local  homes.

The latest is for the longest known continuously operating store.

Old Mill Grocery & Deli has served the neighborhood (and beyond) since 1919, when it was built by Harry F. Sherwood. He hired Sylvester and Florence Young to operate it; in 1927, they bought from him.

In 1929, the Youngs sold ½ interest in the store to Kenneth Montgomery. Both families operated the market until 1937, when the Youngs sold their half interest to Mabel Montgomery.

She died in 1960; he son Kenneth ran the store until his death in 1985. The next year, it was transferred to Old Mill Associates. Several owners followed, and the name changed to Elvira’s and then Joey’s by the Shore. The current owner — as of last year — is Soundview Empowerment Alliance (SEA) Inc.

Bob Weingarten (far right), house historian and plaque coordinator at the Westport Museum for History & Culture, presents the sign to founding members of the non-profit that rescued and preserved the community market. From left: Chris Tait, Tom Febbraio, Jim Hood, Emil Zobl, Ian Warburg. In front: Koda.

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One spot opens; another closes.

Word on the (Post Road) street is that the last day for Panera is December 6.

The sandwich/soup/salad space near Southport has been rumored to be closed permanently before — during the pandemic. But it recently was remodeled.

The Panera at the other end of town — by the Norwalk line — closed in December 2016.

The Panera Bread near the Southport line.

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Sure, it’s just the first day of December. But we’ll be hard pressed to find decorations any day the rest of this month that top these, at 134 Birch Hill Road in Weston:

(Photo/Richard Ellis)

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Westport will be well represented at “Layers Revealed” — the new exhibit at Norwalk Art Space.

Photographer Jerri Graham and artist Melissa Newman are in the show, which explores “all of life’s intricacies and complexities.”

“Slowly, the layers of our lives are revealed and once they are, we fully come through,” Graham says. Through “each frame of the camera,” she aims to highlight “a fraction of a second of a life that will be lived for a time unknown. Within these fractionated layers, we find our lives and ourselves.”

“Layers Revealed” encourages viewers to explore the many cycles and layers of humanity, nature, beauty, creation and decay.

At the opening reception December 15 (6 to 8 p.m, 455 West Avenue, Norwalk), Graham will take portrait photos at a pop-up space.

She’ll also host 3 portrait photo sessions (December 18, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.; January 8 (10 a.m. to noon) and January 15 (noon to 2:30 p.m.). Book sessions at 203-252-2840; donations are accepted. Students ages 13 to 18 who are interested in helping Graham (and learning about lighting, composition and more) can apply here.

On January 15 (3 p.m.), Graham will give a talk. On January 28 (11 a.m.), Newman — who is also a vocalist — will join guitarist Tony
Lombardozzi for a jazz brunch performance at The Norwalk Art Space.

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Also nearby: The Mark Twain Library Art Show celebrates its 50th — that is, golden — anniversary with an event about gold.

“Gleam, Gossip & Gold: Love and Loss in American Art” is the title of the December 8 (7:30 p.m., in-person and Zoom) presentation. Westport art Dr. Robin Jaffee Frank will discuss the “untold dramas behind American art objects that were crafted in the precious metal.”

Frank is the former chief curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, and senior associate curator of American paintings and sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery. Her Ph.D. in the history of art is from Yale.

Click here to register, and for more information.

Dr. Robin Jaffee Frank

Another Westport connection with the Mark Twain Art Show (December 3-11): Artist (and former teacher) Werner Liepolt has had a piece (“Dune Restoration #4) juried in.

It was originally shown in the “06880” online art gallery.

Untitled (Werner Liepolt)

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Meanwhile, seen last night on Main Street:

It’s unclear if the driver 1) never knew what he (or she) had done, and/or 2) didn’t care.

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Yesterday’s storm has moved on. Sunrises like the one Chuck Davis saw last week — today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo — are back.

(Photo/Chuck Davis)

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And finally … Christine McVie — Fleeetwood Mac’s noted singer/songwriter/  keyboardist — died yesterday. She was 79, and had been in ill health. Click here for a full obituary.

(Say you love “06880” with a donation! Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Popup Bagels, Spirited & Small Town Movies, Staples Football …

Popup Bagels — the Westport-based company that has taken the tri-state area by storm (including several out-of-the-suburbs-and-into-the-city awards at Brooklyn BagelFest) — has some eye-popping news.

They just closed on a second round of (poppy) seed funding. Founder and CEO Adam Goldberg calls it “a few million dollars — more than a couple.” That’s on top of about $250,000 last year.

The most recent funding was led by film producer John Davis. Other investors include actors Patrick Schwarzenegger and Paul Rudd; swimmer Michael Phelps, and NFL players JJ and TJ Watt, and Michael Strahan.

The company will now hire a team to examine expansion ideas, including more locations in the New York area (and possibly adding Los Angeles). They’ll also add production capability.

Click here for the full story, from Restaurant Business.

Adam Goldberg, with his Brooklyn BagelFest awards.

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Spirited” — the Christmas-themed musical comedy retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” — has opened to great reviews. It’s in theaters, and streaming on Apple TV.

The music-writing team includes 2003 Staples High School graduate Justin Paul, and his songwriting partner Benj Pasek (“Dear Evan Hansen,” “La La Land,” “The Greatest Showman”).

Justin — also credited as an executive producer — said he had “a blast” working on the score during the pandemic, on Zoom.

In this quick, intriguing interview below, he provides a bit of the back story:

(Hat tip: Julie Whamond)

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Speaking of cinema: “Small Town Movie” is making its way to distribution.

And that “small town” is Westport.

Jarret Liotta — a Staples High School graduate, now a journalist and writer — filmed the dark satire that tries to make sense (“or non-sense”) of racism, gun violence and modern cancel culture in an “average, upper middle class, affluent Connecticut town.”

The timely script will make audiences laugh. “Or furious, depending on their mood that day,” Jarret says.

His goal is to “poke fun at everyone equally, regardless of their social or political views. Hopefully it provides a minor epiphany for everyone — about themselves and the comical world in which we live.

“If Westporters enjoyed my smarmy columns and editorial writing in the past, they’ll probably adore this flick,” Jarret — former editor of Westport Journal — adds.

“If they hated them, this will help them hate me even more.”

The film includes original music by Staples grads Tom Shaner and Margot Liotta.

Jarret plans a screening in Westport after the holidays. Then, he hopes, it will start getting attention from film festivals.

For more information, click here.

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The Staples football team’s quest for a state tournament semifinal berth fell a few agonizing inches short last night.

The Wreckers — seeded 4th in the “LL” (extra large schools) division — dropped a 23-22 heartbreaker to #5 Fairfield Prep, at Paul Lane Field.

The game came down to the final seconds. With no timeouts left, Staples junior quarterback Caleb Smith brought his team 77 yards in the final 2:22. A pass into the end zone was broken up with 3 seconds to go. A final 29-yard field goal attempt was just wide.

Congratulations to coach Adam Behrends and his squad for an excellent 9-2 season. This was the Wreckers’ first playoff game in 7 years.

Quarterback Caleb Smith. (Photo/John Nash courtesy of The Ruden Report)

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WestportMoms’ Holiday Shopping Event always draws a huge crowd to the Westport Country Playhouse. Vendors offer nearly everything shoppers need to complete their gift list.

This year, it’s moving inside, to the Playhouse barn. (Some tables will be outside too). It’s set for this Friday (December 2, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Warm drinks will be provided. Those WestportMoms think of everything.

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Westporters raveled to Guatemala this month to help expand a local English academy, and also create healthy cooking stoves for local families.

Led by Howard Greene, chair of the non-profit Friends of BEA, the group spent a week building 2 middle school classrooms, painting the exterior, erecting a fence, and working in homes to build energy-efficient and properly ventilated cooking stoves. They also met students, and observed classes.

Among the volunteers: Howard and Joyce Greene, Jeff and Nancy Plotkin, Dan and Ivy Guetta, Robert and Heidi Flicker, Tony and Amy Riggio, Steve and julie Lewine, and Mark Mathias.

The Guatemala group.

Balanya English Academy provides high quality, English-based education, and supportive services to students, their families and the local community.  The goal is to prepare graduates to work in an increasingly globalized world.

For more information, click here or email hgreene@balanyaenglishacademy.org. Check out the drone video below too, shot by Mark Mathias:

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Longtime Westport resident Dr. Paul Schulman died peacefully in his sleep last month, doing what he and his late wife Susan loved: traveling overseas. He was 89 years old.

He was the highly respected chief of hematology and oncology at Norwalk Hospital. He also served at both Yale New Haven Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York.

Paul was born in New York, graduated from Columbia College and SUNY Medical School, and served in the US Air Force.

After he and Susan married in 1965 they moved to Westport, and purchased a home on Twin Oaks Lane in 1968 in anticipation of a family. They raised Heidi and Bruce, both of whom graduated from Staples High School.

Paul coached Little League baseball and softball. He played tennis with friends, enjoyed Westport Pizzeria, and dropped in at Harvey’s Liquor Locker and Klein’s (to purchase action thrillers). Paul and Susan spent many weekend nights dining at Mario’s.

He and Susan shared a passion for art and antiques, especially clocks, which he collected and wound every Sunday. Their collections were fueled by their intrepid travel. Paul and Susan were among early visitors to Antarctica, Burma (now Myanmar), China, and New Guinea, among many other destinations.

After spending nearly 40 years in Westport, Paul and Susan retired to South Carolina and Marbella, Spain. After Susan died in 2016 Paul moved into Fox Hill Residences in Bethesda, Maryland, near where his son lives with his family.

Paul was an active member of the Fox Hill community, participating in the quarterly “radio show,” passing evenings at his end stool at the bar, and watching his grandsons in sports and school activities. He became dear friends with the late Rhoda Herman. Together they enjoyed weekends at her country home in Leesburg, Virginia.

Paul is survived by his children Bruce (Frazier) and Heidi Greenwald (Brad), and 5 grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family has set up a memorial page at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

A service to celebrate his life will be held in Bethesda in January. Email Bruce (bschulman@hotmail.com) for details.

Dr. Paul Schulman

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Whether you’re a buck — or you’re paying big bucks for a sticker — it can be tough finding a spot at the Greens Farms train station.

David Hyman spotted today’s “Westport … Naturally” scene yesterday afternoon.

(Photo/David Hyman)

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And finally … Louise Tobin died Saturday in Texas. She was 104.

In 1939, the vocalist with Benny Goodman’s orchestra was ready for national fame. But her husband — bandleader/trumpeter Harry James — had her put her career on hold, to further his own career.

They divorced 4 years later. She raised 2 sons, and was forgotten. But her career was jump started years later in New Orleans, when Al Hirt recognized her and invited her on stage.

Click here for her full, fascinating obituary.

(Louise Tobin may have been forgotten. Please don’t forget “06880.” Just click here, to help support your hyper-local blog.)

Roundup: Tree Lightings, World Cup, Staples Football …

‘Tis the season to be … tree-lighting.

Twin ceremonies take place this week.

The “official” town event is Thursday (December 1, 5 p.m., Town Hall). The evergreen by Myrtle Avenue will glow, and Staples High School’s Orphenians will sing.

The next night (Friday, December 2, 4:30 p.m.), it’s Wakeman Town Farm’s turn. This one features treats from The Porch, hot chocolate from The Granola Bar, a bonfire and local musicians.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker does the honors at both. She’ll be joined at WTF by Wakeman family member Bill Constantino.

The Christmas tree at Town Hall, following a lighting ceremony.

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The huge Trefz Forum screen at the Westport Library is not just for author talks and music concerts.

Today (Tuesday) at 2 p.m., they’ll show the equally huge US-Iran World Cup first round match.

How huge? If we win, we advance to the round of 16. If we tie or lose, we’re out.

You don’t need to be a soccer fan to enjoy this one. Everyone is welcome.

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Are you a fan of the other football, but didn’t get a chance to see the Staples High School football team’s dramatic 39-38 win over archrival Greenwich on Thanksgiving Day?

Click below, for a very cool highlight video. It was produced and edited by senior Daniel Burgin, with video shot by junior Charlie Scott.

The win vaulted the Wreckers into tonight’s state “LL” quarterfinal playoff game against Fairfield Prep (6:30 p.m., Staples’ Paul Lane Field). It’s the blue-and-whites’ first post-season appearance in 7 years.

Can’t make that one either? Click here for the livestream.

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“Fine jewelry” and “rescue animals” may never have appeared in the same sentence.

Thanks to JL Rocks, they do now.

The high-end Post Road East retailer partnered with designer Peggy Reiner, for a new collection of whimsical animal-inspired pieces. Proceeds benefit PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society) in Norwalk and 4LittlePaws rescue in Southport.

“It’s a great gift that gives back to pets in need,” says JL Rocks founder/owner Jamie Camche. “Animals have given us so much. We want to give back to them.”

The collection features 3 diamond-studded designs: petite 14K gold pawprint earrings, 14K gold chains with diamond pave dog bone, and paw charms. It’s  available at JL Rocks’ Westport and Greenwich stores, and online.

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Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?” debuted on Netflix this month. The docuseries is about the Leonard v. Pepsico, Inc. court case — you know, the one where the college kid thought he found a loophole in a Pepsi promotion, and sued them to win a fighter plane. Reviews were good.

The “06880” connection: 2007 Staples High School graduate Nick Boak is an executive producer.

Spoiler alert: The guy never got his jet. (Hat tip: Mark Mathias)

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Face painter alert!

We need a face painter for this weekend’s Holiday Stroll (Saturday, December 3, 5 to 7 p.m., Main Street and environs).

If you (or your daughter or son) are available to help with this great kids’ activity, please email 06880blog@gmail.com.

For more details on the Holiday Stroll — co-sponsored by “06880” and the Westport Downtown Association — including the nearly 40 participating retailers and restaurants — click here.

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The weekend weather report is good. But Bedford Middle School will be “Frozen.”

On December 2, 3 and 4, Bedford Acting Group takes the stage in “Frozen Jr.”

The 7th and 8th grade actors were toddlers when the movie hit theaters in 2013 (!),  Yet they know its characters and songs well. At last, they can perform it.

The curtain rises Friday (7 p.m.), Saturday (3 and 7 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.). Click here for the few remaining tickets.

The Bedford Acting Group cast and crew of “Frozen Jr.”

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What has the Greens Farms Garden Club been up to?

Every year they design and maintain the Atrium Garden at Earthplace in Westport, and the Victorian Cottage on Fairfield’s Town Green.

They provide horticultural therapy events at STAR in Norwalk, and make flower arrangements for the Pequot Library Art Show.

The Greens Farms Garden Club also manages 3 “Growing for Good” gardens:  Prospect Garden and Wakeman Town Farm in Westport, and St. Timothy’s Church Garden in Fairfield.

They were planted and cared for throughout spring, summer and fall, with over 180 buckets of fresh organic produce harvested and donated to help with food insecurity at Mercy Learning Center and St. John’s Family Center in Bridgeport.

A highlight of the year came at the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut 93rd annual awards luncheon. Wynn Herrmann — a 30-year veteran — was recognized for Civic Development. Dina Schmidt and Jude earned Certificates of Merit for the club’s monthly newsletters and website, respectively.

For more information about the Greens Farms Garden Club, including events and membership, click here.

Greens Farms Garden Club members (seated, from left): Chris Supernaw, Wynn Herrmann, Judy Reynolds, Ann Watkins. Standing: Kate Carroll, president Kathy Mitchell, Carol Shear, Jude Smith, vice president Maybette Waldron.

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Fewer than 5% of rainbows occur in the morning (according to Google). And the ones that do are most often seen in summer (ditto).

But yesterday — driving to work on the Merritt Parkway — this is what Larry Bartimer saw:

(Photo/Larry Bartimer)

We could probably blame the same culprit as everything else. (No, not Joe Biden — climate change.)

Nah. Just chill, and enjoy this very rare late November scene.

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Melissa Newman headlines a cool evening of hot jazz this Thursday, at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399.

Westport’s own vocal star is joined for Jazz at the Post by guitarist Tony Lombardozzi, bassist Phil Bowler and drummer Bobby Leonard,

There are 2 shows: 7:30 and 8:45 p.m. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Melissa Newman

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“A Charlie Brown Christmas” — Vince Guaraldi’s timeless, feel-good music — gets the jazz treatment on Saturday (December 3).

The Heather Pierson Trio comes to the Westport Unitarian Church’s Voices Café at 4 p.m., for an in-person and livestreamed holiday concert.

Show-goers can bring snacks and beverages. Groups of 4 or more can reserve tables. For more information and tickets, click here.

Voices Café and its artists are committed to social justice. A portion of the proceeds benefit the battle against food insecurity, through Mercy Learning Center.

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It’s late November. But the leaves on a few trees are still hanging on.

Fred Cantor photographed one of them at Old Mill Beach. Its a vivid reminder of the “Westport … Naturally” beauty that surrounds us everywhere we look.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

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And finally … in honor of today’s crucial World Cup clash between the US and Iran (story above), here is the greatest pump-up soccer song ever. Crank the volume up to Spinal Tap 11, and enjoy!

(Wave that flag for “06880”! Please click here to  support our work.)

Roundup: Little Barn, Kelli O’Hara, Alan Fiore …

On Friday night, Little Barn was the place to be for Hibachi Dinner.

The popular Post Road restaurant’s menu has not changed. Hibachi Dinner is the name of an equally popular band, featuring 3 Brannigan brothers — Terry, Eamon and Seamus — plus Maddy Cerito, and special guest Dylan Curran.

The place was packed. Some of the most energetic fans were members of Staples Players. A week after their great “Guys and Dolls” show closed, they were there to support Seamus, a cast member.

Friday’s Little Barn crowd.

The high school band Dulcit (Grant Hill, Freddie Aldridge, Liam Donaldson and Jake Weissman) opened for Hibachi Dinner. Last night, it was Strictly Business. (That’s the name of another local band that played.)

High school audiences don’t buy drinks at the bar. But Little Barn owner Scott Beck doesn’t mind. He’s happy to provide a venue for them, and their friends.

Kudos to him and his staff. And of course, to Hibachi Dinner, Dolcit and Strictly Business, we say: Rock on!

Hibachi Dinner (from left): Seamus Brannigan, Maddy Cerito, Terry Brannigan, Eamon Brannigan, Dylan Curran.

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Speaking of entertainment: Our neighbor Kelli O’Hara opened at the Metropolitan Opera last week as Laura Brown in the new American opera “The Hours.”

Her costars include legendary star Renee Fleming and multi-Grammy winner Joyce DiDonato.

This is Kelli’s 3rd Met appearance. She starred previously in “The Merry Widow” and “Cosi Fan Tutte.”

Brava!

Kelli O’Hara acknowledges a standing ovation, after her Metropolitan Opera debut. Joining in: Renee Fleming (white dress) and Joyce DiDonato (red dress). (Hat tip and photo: Nancy Diamond)

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Alan Fiore has done it again.

The 2021 Staples High School graduate and current Berklee College of Music student has just released his new single, “A Matter of Time.”

It’s part of an EP, with several previous songs.

It’s just “a matter of time” before Alan hits the big big big time. You heard of him first on “06880.”

Click here to listen, on your favorite streaming platform.

Alan Fiore

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Remarkable Theater closed for the season last month, with some blockbuster Halloween films.

A month later, here’s the scene at the Imperial Avenue parking lot:

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

No worries. There’s plenty of time before the 4th season begins next spring.

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Before this holiday weekend gets too far in the rear view window, here’s one more turkey-themed “Westport … Naturally” image:

(Photo/Rusty Ford)

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And finally … Irene Cara, the Academy and Oscar- Award-winning singer most famous for her title songs from the films “Flashdance” and “Fame,” has died. She was 63. Click here for a full obituary.

(“06880” is your place for all kinds of entertainment news. Please click here to help keep it coming. Thank you!)

Roundup: Staples Football, Alumni Soccer, Community Theater …

Congratulations to the Staples High School football team!

In a wild Thanksgiving game at Paul Lane Field with 7 lead changes — and an especially crazy final 1:30 — the Wreckers prevailed over Greenwich, 39-38.

Victory for the Wreckers! (Photo/Greershotz Photography)

Staples’ first victory over the Cardinals in 5 years — despite several nail-biters — was an important one.

The blue-and-whites — now 9-1 — secured a home game for the first round of the state class “LL” (extra large schools) playoff. They host Fairfield Prep on Tuesday. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m.

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Also Thursday: Over 50 alumni and varsity players participated in Staples boys soccer annual Turkey Bowl.

The oldest participant was Dave Wilson, a former Wrecker captain and Dartmouth College captain from Staples’ Class of 1975. The youngest were current sophomores — a 50-year gap.

The event raises funds for the Albie Loeffler Scholarship.

Turkey Bowl participants. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

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This is the final weekend for the Westport Community Theater’s (and long-COVID-delayed 65th season) presentation of “Ghost-Writer.”

The 90-minute play ia directed by Alexander Kulcsar, and features Ann Kinner, Rob Pawlikowski, and Deborah Carlson.

Performances are tonight (Saturday, November 26, 8 p.m.) and tomorrow (Sunday, 2 p.m.), at Town Hall. Tickets are $25. For reservations, call 203-226-1983. For more information, click here.

 

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The Westport Book Shop’s second annual Winter Family Fest is set for next Saturday (December 3, 10:30 a.m. to noon).

Children will enjoy snowflake-themed crafts on Jesup Green, and holiday story readings inside the store.

The event is on, whether there are real snowflakes or not.

Fun for kids next weekend, inside and out.

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The sign near the Bayberry Lane Extension bridge project says it will be completed by November 30.

This was the scene yesterday:

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

They’ve got 4 days to meet their deadline.

And today and tomorrow are the weekend.

I’m just sayin’ …

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And finally … James Connaughton snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo near Center Street.

“Turkeys that got away?” he wonders, surveying yesterday’s scene. “Or late to dinner?”

(Photo/James Connaughton)

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And finally … the photo above reminded me of …

“Another Lime Jimmy”: Honoring Walton Amey

The sudden death last summer of Walton Amey — a multi-talented musician and athlete, and a 1971 Staples High School graduate — stunned his many friends and admirers. He was 69.

Grammy-winning musician and producer Brian Keane, writes:

I lost my dear friend Walton Amey while we were vacationing at our mutual friend and former bandmate Stephen Schneider’s beach house on Fire Island.

Walt was an amazingly talented, engaging and entertaining person. He was an accomplished actor, singer, comedian and athlete. He was a rugged non-conformist who refused the high expectations and restrictions of traditional societal values.

Walton Amey, in the 1971 Staples High yearbook.

Walt viewed life as a playground — one with which he was constantly engaged, always thinking of ways for people to have fun, get involved, be entertained, enjoy being ridiculous.

Walt was a showman. Being engaged in a show that delighted even one other person truly made him happy.

Stephen Schneider wrote a wonderful song in tribute called “Another Lime Jimmy.” He performed it at Walt’s touching (and sort of wild) celebration of life on the shores of Lake Onondaga in Syracuse this past summer. The song is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Very catchy too.

I produced the song with Stephen performing it, using people from various bands and theatrical productions that Walton performed with over the years.

I’m sure we didn’t get to everyone who would have wanted to contribute. But as Walt often said, “what’s good is good.”

The most valuable thing about Thanksgiving is the appreciation of gratitude. So this seemed like an appropriate way to say thanks this year.

I hope that, even if you never knew Walton Amey, watching the video will give you some sense of that joy, fun, and spontaneity with which he approached life.

“06880” agrees. Click below, for the best 6 minutes of your day.

(From graduates to current students — and those not yet there — “06880′ brings you news of Staples High. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog.) 

Roundup: Stevan Dohanos, Police, Fire …

It’s a tradition for “06880” to run Westport artist Stevan Dohanos’ Saturday Evening Post 2 famous Thanksgiving illustrations. Both used Westport models (including the former “gingerbread house” on Long Lots Road):

Today, we’re adding a third from Dohanos. (Though the turkey was probably for Christmas.)

This was not a cover. As the caption (“Here they come, Mom! And Jim won need the wishbone — they’ve got their Plymouth!”) suggests, it was an advertisement.

Still, it’s an evocative illustration. You can almost smell the turkey.

And the seats in the brand-new Plymouth. (Hat tip: Anthony Dohanos)

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The Westport Police have released arrest reports for the November 16-23 period.

Two people were detained in custody. One was charged with threatening, 2nd degree. One was charged with stalking, 3rd degree, and breach of peace.

The following citations were issued:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 12
  • Stop sign violation: 5
  • Operating an unregistered vehicle: 4
  • Insurance coverage fails minimum requirements: 3
  • Misuse of plates: 3
  • Failure to obey control signal: 3
  • Failure to keep plates readable: 2
  • Cell phone, 1st offense: 1
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 1
  • Violation of any traffic commission regulation: 1
  • Misuse of plates: 1
  • Failure to display plates: 1
  • Illegal use of tinted glass: 1

There were several license plate violations this past week. This was not one of them. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

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Meanwhile, Fire Marshal Terrence Dunn notes that many offices and businesses will soon have Christmas trees and holiday decorations. These can pose a serious safety risk.

Natural trees with a root ball attached pose a less significant fire hazard than a cut tree, which dries out faster. Artificial trees and decorations should be flame retardant or flame resistive. Decorations should not block exits.

Dunn says, “All lighting should be turned off, or better yet disconnected, when the area is unattended. This is especially important in residential occupancies when the occupants are asleep. Make sure the tree is not situated near open flames, and that it does obstruct any fire doors.”

Be careful!

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When “Jersey Boys” comes to the White Plains Performing Arts Center next month, there will be a full tri-state connection.

Staples High School Class of 2015 graduate Jack Baylis is part of the cast. He’s not a 4 Season — but he does sing a great number in French.

The curtain rises December 9, and runs through January 8. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Jack Baylis. He does not play guitar in “Jersey Boys.”

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Yesterday, “06880” reported on Ryan “Shoeless” Smith. The Bates College men’s cross country captain lost a shoe in the first mile of the 8K NCAA East Division Regional Championship. He still finished 11th — out of more than 200 runners — and qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships.

That race was last weekend, at Michigan State University. Ryan kept his shoes on — fortunate, considering the snowy, 25-degree weather — and finished 59th out of 294 competitors. His 25:49.5 time over 8K was the best on his team.

He was not the only former Staples cross country runner there. Nick Taubenheim (SHS ’20) finished 146th for Claremont-Mudd Scripps (26:18.9), while Luke Lorenz (SHS ’19) took 179th for Middlebury College (26:29.9).

Ryan Smith

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Sure, it’s Thanksgiving. But pumpkins are still hanging around.

And — as Pam Kesselman points out, with today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo: “Someone was hungry.”

(Photo/Pam Kesselman)

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And finally … well, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Arlo and Alice.

Unsung Heroes #264

For over 60 years, Staples Players have entertained, touched and inspired audiences. Some shows are fun and funny; others, thought-provoking or  provocative.

Over the years, we’ve grown to expect spectacular quality: acting, singing, directing, choreography, sets, costumes, lighting, the pit.

We always rave about Players’ productions. But we sometimes take them for granted.

“Guys and Dolls” — the 7th time they’ve put on that musical — closed Saturday night. It built on the tradition of previous versions, and all the other successes.

But it sure wasn’t easy.

Henry Carson — the senior playing Nathan Detroit — was laid out by flu just before the show opened. Freshman Will McCrae stepped spectacularly into the breach. (His late grandfather — Jack Lemmon — would have been very proud.)

Will McCrea as Nathan Detroit, and Jackie Peterson as Adelaide. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The next day, understudies Graham Griffin (also a 9th grader) and junior Finley Chevrier took the stage, in other roles. A spot operator was also out sick.

In the week between opening and closing, nearly 2 dozen of the cast and tech crew caught whatever was going around. By the final performance, all but one had recovered. The show went on — fabulously.

But without its regular pit orchestra conductor.

Staples music teacher Carrie Mascaro was ill. Her colleague Luke Rosenberg — the school’s choral director — stepped up big time. He learned the score, then led 14 musicians in a flawless performance.

Luke Rosenberg took over as pit director last weekend. (Photo/Dan Woog)

The show must go on. And it did.

How about one more standing ovation for:

  • The understudies who got the call, and quickly responded
  • Their replacements, who had to instantly adapt too
  • The costume crew, who did incredible work before the show, then kept working as actors took on new roles
  • The tech crew, which never gets enough praise — and their creative boss, Jeff Hauser, who made sure set designer Jordan Janota’s imaginative vision was brought to life

“Rockin’ the Boat” — on the great “Guys and Dolls” set. (Photo/Kerry Long)

  • Choreographer (and expectant mom) Rachel MacIsaac Myers, whose wonderful work continued with each new actor
  • Luke Rosenberg, a true professional who stepped into the big conducting breach with virtually no notice
  • Directors David Roth and Kerry Long, who solved problem after problem, and weathered storm after storm, by modeling the show biz tradition that everyone involved will remember the rest of their lives.

“Guys and Dolls” — the 1950 show — is all about luck.

“Guys and Dolls” — Staples Players-style — had plenty of bad luck. But every person involved, on stage and off, came through a winner.

Congratulations, guys (and dolls). You’re our “06880” Unsung Heroes of the Week.

PS: Missed the show? check out the highlight reel below. It’s an easy bet: This will be the best 8 minutes you spend today.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Let us know! Email 06880blog@gmail.com)

(“06880” entertains — and, hopefully, inspires and provokes — you several times a day. To support your hyper-local blog, please click here.)