Category Archives: Entertainment

COVID Roundup: Racism; Thespians; Oystercatchers; More


Jaclyn Jeffrey writes:

People often talk about a moment in time that marks their life… the before and after.

We have 3 children, all adopted from China. We have lived in this area all of their lives, and have experienced nothing but total acceptance. On Sunday I took 2 of my children to Sherwood Island. We love it there.

It was not very crowded. We sat down a bit more than 6 feet away from a woman with her husband and daughter. As we put the blanket down she started screaming that we needed to be 15 feet from her. Not wanting to deal with her, we moved farther away.

Once we sat down, I Googled. She was correct: That is the current rule for shoreline state parks.

An hour later a couple sat down near her, 6 feet away. She said nothing.

As we were leaving she turned to my children and yelled, “Why don’t you go back to China?” The hatred in her words was palpable. My heart stopped.

Like many around the world I am horrified by the treatment of minorities in this country. The events of the past few weeks are beyond comprehension. I am enraged and heartbroken at what our country has become.

For just a brief moment yesterday at Sherwood Island I was witness to pure, raw, hatred for another because they are not white. As a white woman, I know I am very privileged. This was the first time seeing this up close and personal. I see it on TV, read it in the paper, watch the stories on my various news feeds, but to be in the presence of this evil was something entirely different.

Yesterday, was my before and after.

A good day, spoiled. (Photo/Amy Schneider)


Staples graduate/Grammy, Tony and Oscar-winning songwriter Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land, The Greatest Showmani) joins his musical partner Benj Pasek — and Tina Fey, Dolly Parton and more –at the first-ever Virtual International Thespian Festival

Set for June 22-26, the online event — originally scheduled to be performed in person — features college and scholarship auditions, the International Thespian Excellence Awards Showcase (“the Thespys”), performances, workshops and master classes.

Pasek and Paul will be interviewed by moderated by their James and the Giant Peach book writer Timothy Allen McDonald. There’s also a keynote address from The Lion King’s Alton Fitzgerald White, and a performance fromRuPaul’s Drag Race star Peppermint.

To register for the festival, click here(Hat tip: David Meth)

Justin Paul (Photo/Dan Woog)


Yesterday, “06880” reported on the hatching of an oystercatcher chick at Compo Beach.

Now there are 2.

Tina Green notes: “Westporters should still give the oystercatchers a wide berth while in the area. The adults and chicks will remain in the area until the young birds are old enough to fly.

“Piping plovers, a federally protected species, are also on their nest. They too should not be disturbed, to insure a positive outcome.”

(Photo/Tina Green)


The pandemic has not been easy for many independent contractors — including photographers.

Yet David Dellinger — a longtime contributor to “06880” — is thinking of others. During this tough time, in an effort to support Black Lives Matter — and encouraging others to contribute too — he’s donating 50% of proceeds from all June photos sessions to the @mnfreedomfund.

In addition, he’s giving 100% from all print sales to other verified organizations that support #blacklivesmatter. Contact info@davedellingerphoto.com.

In 2018, David Dellinger photographed this Cockenoe Island wedding proposal.


And finally … in 1968, Phil Ochs was in the middle of a concert at Coleytown Junior High School. It was a fundraiser for the school’s Peace Corps project.

Someone handed him a note. He told the crowd that Lyndon Johnson just the nation he would not run for another term as president.

As 2020 looks increasingly like 1968, the underappreciated folksinger’s words are more meaningful than ever.

COVID Roundup: Restaurant News; Graduation Gowns; Live Music; More


Looking for a list of open restaurants and delis — those with outdoor dining, along with takeout and delivery?

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has you covered.

They maintain an up-to-date list. Click here for their website. As of this morning, the list included Arezzo, Bartaco, The Boathouse, Calise’s Market, Granola Bar, GG & Joe (the new acai bowl spot in Parker Harding Plaza, near TD Bank), Joe’s Pizza, Little Barn, The Naan, Pearl at Longshore, Rive Bistro, Rizzuto’s, Romanacci Xpress, Spotted Horse, Viva Zapata and The Whelk.

The Chamber site also includes FAQs, applications, and rules and regulations for restaurant owners.

There’s also this: a great new logo. It was created by (of course!) Westport’s go-to graphic designer, Miggs Burroughs.

 


On the long list of things people really, really want, then never look at again after wearing them once, the only thing less than a wedding dress is a graduation gown.

Except now. That goofy, floor-length outfit could save a life.

As healthcare workers lack personal protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19, they grab anything they can think of. Even trash bags.

Graduation gowns are a lot more effective than that. They cover legs and arms, and offer easy zipper access.

The Gowns4Good program provides graduation gowns to the men and women who desperately need them. Whether yours from years ago is gathering dust somewhere, or yours is spanking new for that less-than-raucous, socially distant 2020 ceremony: It can help.

Just click here. Fill out a short form. Select a medical facility from the dropdown list (pro tip: the closest to Westport is Stamford Hospital). Submit.
You’ll get an email back, with instructions on how to ship your gown.

Whether you graduated first in your class or last, you know: This is a very smart idea! (Hat tip: Becky Acselrod)

Despite the cigar smoke, these gowns will be useful.


Talk about “burying the lede”!

At the bottom of an email sent yesterday announcing new outdoor hours for The Whelk (Tuesday through Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m.), and the opening of a new Kawa Ni patio in “the next few days,” there was this momentous news from Bill Taibe’s group:

“With the seismic change that is happening in the world, we look at this as an opportunity to pivot and grow. Over the next few weeks Jesup Hall will evolve into Don Memo.

“While it is bittersweet to say goodbye to Jesup Hall, it is so exciting to create this new concept and be able to bring what we love about this cuisine and culture to downtown Westport. See you soon!”

“06880” will keep you posted. One thing is for sure: Don Memo won’t have to worry about creating outdoor seating. The patio in front of the old stone building next to Restoration Hardware — Westport’s original Town Hall — is already perfect.

Jesup Hall, soon to be Don Memo, aka the old Town Hall.


Westport’s Parks & Rec Department is posting clever new signs at their facilities around town.

Good thing they didn’t try to spell out “Recreation.”


If you wander by Jeff Franzel’s Saugatuck Island house any Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., you may hear him playing piano.

But you don’t have to live here to hear Jeff. His listeners span the globe, via Facebook Live. They suggest themes; he improvises. Original songs, plus those by Elton John, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish — he plays them all.

And very well. The Westport native has quite a resume. He’s played piano for the Hues Corporation (“Rock the Boat”), Les Brown, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Mel Torme and Bob Hope. He wrote hits like “Don’t Rush Me” for Taylor Dayne, and others for the Temptations, NSYNC, Shawn Colvin, Josh Groban, Placido Domingo and Clay Aiken. He mentors songwriters around the world, and brings some to his Songwriting Academy, at his home.

Intrigued? You’re in luck: Today is Thursday. Click here at 5 p.m., for Jeff’s 10th concert.

Jeff Franzel


Looking for a good read — and podcast? Persona’s Rob Simmelkjaer interviews Westporter Emily Liebert. Her 6th novel, “Perfectly Famous,” will be published June 2.


And finally … it will be a while before we get 400,000 people together in one place.

Or even 40.

But the Youngbloods’ message is as relevant today as it was more than half a century (!) ago.

COVID Roundup: Winged Monkey; Thermometers; Playhouse; MTC’s Voice; More


New York’s WABC-TV sent an Eyewitness News team to Westport yesterday, to preview today’s retail reopening.

The report showed empty downtown streets, but offered an upbeat message from Winged Monkey’s Jenny Vogel.

“We’re very excited excited to see our customers,” she said. “Don’t know how it’s going to go. Customers that we talk to all the time, they’re really looking forward to getting out of the house, shopping, going into stores again.

“We do a huge prom, graduation, so obviously we lost a lot of that. Hopefully, even though summer is usually our slowest time, this year maybe it will be a little busier since people haven’t been shopping the last couple of months.”

Jenny was excited to be on the tri-state news. As for Channel 7: They’re not yet back to pre-COVID mode.

They called 1st Selectman Jim Marpe our “mayor.” And they misspelled “Winged Monkey” in the chyron (below). Click here for the full report.


First came toilet paper. Then masks.

The next hot item: infrared thermometers.

Small businesses (between 2 and 100 employees), non-profits and places of worship can request 1 thermometer per physical address. The state will deliver them to Westport; town officials will let recipients know when and where they can be picked up. The deadline for submission is “early afternoon” tomorrow (Thursday, May 21).

To request an infrared thermometer: Small businesses should click here. Non-profits, click here. (Social services and direct care nonprofits should click on this memo). Places of worship should click here.


This distribution will continue while supplies last.

The Westport Country Playhouse doors are closed this summer. But their online presence is as robust as ever. And anyone, anywhere, can join in.

In an effort to “share experiences, exchange ideas, entertain each other, and engage our hearts, minds and souls from our own homes,” they offer “Coffee Breaks” on Thursdays at 4 p.m. Th0se 30-minute conversations begin tomorrow (May 21) with Paola Hernandez of “Man of La Mancha.” Next Thursday (May 28): Rodolfo Soto from “In the Heights.” Click here for details.

There are “Post-Watch Dialogues” too — panels with artists, scholars and community members discussing films that can be streamed at home. This Saturday (May 23, 7 p.m.), Mina Hartong hosts a panel exploring “A Secret Love.” Click here for details.


Music Theatre of Connecticut’s kids’ Voice competition is tomorrow (Thursday, May 21, 7 p.m.). It’s a fundraiser for their scholarship and programming efforts — but they give 10% of each contestant’s proceeds to a charity of their choice.

Bedford Middle School 7th grader Ryan Ryan has selected RoomToRead. An avid reader, she credits books with propelling her into theater. She wants girls around the world to experience the joy of stories, and believes that education can propel them to success.

A dancer who has performed in several Westport Country Playhouse “Nutcracker”s, with the Westport Community Theatre and at Art About Town and the Westport Library rededication, she has studied voice and acting at MTC since 2017.

To sponsor Ryan — and vote for her in the Voice competition tomorrow – click here.

Ryan Ryan


And finally … who doesn’t love a little Melissa Ehteridge?!

How To Survive A Quarantine? With Staples Players!

When “Seussical” was shut down just hours before opening night — collateral damage from the COVID-induced closing of all Westport schools — dozens of Staples Players were heartbroken. Audiences never saw their months of hard work.

Seniors were particularly devastated. The spring show is a capstone to their 4-year careers. On closing night they’re introduced individually, celebrated, and take well-deserved bows.

There’s an old theater saying: “The show must go on.” For over 60 years Players’ has honored that tradition. They’re not about to let a little pandemic stop them.

The show is not “Seussical.” But this Saturday and next, the nationally recognize troupe presents a special event. It’s a gift to the community — and a tribute to the 2020 seniors.

“10 Ways to Survive Life in a Quarantine” was written by Don Zolidis. The playwright specializes in shows for high school groups. Several years ago, Players staged the world premiere of his musical “Angie” at Toquet Hall.

This spring, Zolidis recognized the need for a play that schools could produce virtually, while maintaining social distance. Very quickly, directors David Roth and Kerry Long got to work.

They invited all their 12th grade veteran members to participate. Fifteen are acting; a few others are helping behind the scenes, like stage manager Karalyn Hood.

Thirteen additional cast members, spanning all grades, bring the total “on stage” to 28.

“10 Ways” includes over 25 comic vignettes, dealing with life in isolation. One is about staging musicals with pets; others cover taking up a new sport (and thinking you’re good), perfecting the art of laziness — you get the idea.

Some sketches will be performed live (fingers crossed). Others will be pre-recorded videos. Seniors Sam Laskin and Tobey Patton host the show — and offer live commentary throughout.

For the past month, rehearsals were held via Google Meet. Three student assistant directors also held individual meetings with actors.

The concept is new for Players. So is the technology. Tech consultant (and alum) Dave Seltzer is advising on livestreaming; fellow Player alum Michael Dodd  helps.

“We’re working through our live run-throughs,” the directors say. “But we’re charting new ground. What a crazy world!”

The show is broken into 2 parts. The first will be broadcast this Saturday (May 23, 7 p.m.) The second is set for the same time the following Saturday (May 30). There are “encore” performances (taped) at 6 p.m. on the Tuesday following each performance (May 26, June 2).

Tickets are free for the live and encore shows (click here; if you want tickets to a Tuesday “encore,” click the Saturday prior to it).

However, Roth and Long encourage donations of any amount. The cancellation of “Seussical” (and the spring Black Box production, “Noises Off”) has hurt considerably.

That — and with this clever new show — are 2 ways by which Staples Players can survive life in a quarantine.

NOTE: After your purchase, you’ll receive an email with printable “tickets.” Ignore that — but save the other email, which includes a link to access the show. 

Technical questions about the livestream? Email shsplayers@westportps.org. Box office questions? Email sptickets@gmail.com.

COVID Roundup: Yarn Bombing; Minute Man Flowers; Masks; Movies; More


Anne Craig is familiar to Westporters. She spent 15 years on TV, as an entertainment and features reporter for Fox 5 in New York, and evening news anchor on New Haven’s Channel 8.

These days Anne is home in Westport with her husband and young kids. But  she still loves telling stories — and tells them very, very well.

This one is about Westport’s mysterious “yarn bomber.” We’ve all seen her (or their) (or his?!) work. Now Anne tries to unravel the mystery.


Two weeks ago, Staples senior Lillie Bukzin learned that Oprah Winfrey was organizing a Facebook Live graduation event — and was looking for videos.

Lillie and her friends Sofie Abrams, Meher Bhullar, Reilly Caldwell, Kate Enquist and Cassie Lang went to work. They wrote a mini-script, and Lillie recorded them all saying “Hi! We are from the class of 2020 from Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut and this how we graduate.” They also threw their Staples baseball caps in the air.

On Thursday, they learned they’d be part of Oprah’s event — which aired yesterday. Click below to see their 15 seconds of fame! (Okay, it’s more like 1.5 seconds. But the video is very cool!

PS: In other Staples/national graduation/famous people news, tonight (8 p.m., multiple platforms) is when former president Barack Obama gives a speech to the Class of 2020. It’s the direct result of a social media campaign spearheaded by Lincoln Debenham, who grew up here and spent 2 years at Staples before his family moved to Los Angeles.

The Class of 2020 may graduate virtually, but together they rock!


The Westport Garden Club had to postpone their annual flower sale. But the 96-year-old organization is growing new roots, with their “Friday Flowers” project. All around town, they’re brightening our days. Here’s one example — at the gateway to our newly opened beach.

(Photo/Ellen Greenberg)


Here’s another interesting shot. David Squires calls this “our new (ab)normal.” Personally, he says, “I prefer the fuzzy dice.”


In month 3 of COVID, you’ve gone through nearly every Netflix, Showtime and Disney title available.

But you may have missed “Batsh*t Bride.” Filmed locally — including Christ & Holy Trinity church, Longshore and Pearl restaurant — the comedy stars Meghan Falcone as a bride who pranks her fiance by saying they should break up. Unfortunately, he feels the same way. Everything spirals out of control from there.

It’s available just about any way you can watch: Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Xbox, FangangoNOW, Hoopla, Sony Playstation Video Application and console, AT&T, DirectTV, Dish, iN DEMAND (Comcast, Spectrum) and Vubiquity (Verison Fios). Enjoy the trailer below; then click here for the direct links.


There’s not a lot to laugh about these days. But people walking past Saugatuck Congregational Church have to smile when they see the signs below.

Too young to know the reference? Google John Cleese and Monty Python.

(Photo/Molly Alger)


And finally … the beach parking lot reopening was timed perfectly with the arrival of actual spring weather. Well done, Westport!

COVID Roundup: Farmer’s Market; Rive Bistro; Drew Angus; C-130 Flyover; More


Connecticut restaurants are allowed to reopen a week from today — Wednesday, May 20 — with outdoor dining only.

Rive Bistro is raring to go.

Owner Eric Sierra already had a covered patio, off Riverside Avenue on the bank of the Saugatuck River. Now he’s extended it, making sure tables are 6 feet apart. They’ll serve a full lunch and dinner menu.

During the pandemic, Rive Bistro has been open weekends for curbside pickup only. Starting today, they’ll offer curbside dinners every day, from 4 to 8 p.m. When outdoor dining begins next week, curbside takeout will continue to be available too.


Yesterday at 10 a.m., town officials began handing out face masks at Bedford Middle School.

It was a great idea. It took Eve Potts an hour to get from Long Lots to Bedford — but she reports that the distribution was well organized. And, she says, “we now have a nice supply of masks.” Here was part of the line, spilling out to North Avenue, when distribution began.

(Photo/Eve Potts)


Two weeks ago on “06880,” Drew Angus shared his life as a gig worker in a pandemic. The 2007 Staples High School graduate is a musician. Accessing  funds through the CARES Act and PPP was a different tune than for salary and wage workers.

Today he brings us up to date on his efforts. Drew says: “My stimulus check finally came through. So did my SBA loan advance of $1,000, which is technically a grant. No word yet on the loan itself. They are processing applications as quickly as possible. The system is starting to work — slowly.

“On Friday the Department of Labor finally put the PUA application for gig worker unemployment up on their site.”

Meanwhile, Drew continues to work on his music. Here’s his latest project. It’s definitely worth checking out — and forwarding far and wide.


I’m not sure why officials have decided that a good way to honor medical workers is to spend tons of money of military flyovers — rather than, say, PPE — but another one takes place tomorrow (Thursday, May 14).

The Connecticut Air National Guard’s 103rd Airlift Wing will fly C-130s over a Connecticut hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Norwalk Hospital is on the flight path, at approximately 11:37 a.m.

Also on the list: Greenwich Hospital (11:34), Silver Hill (11:39), Bridgeport Hospital (11:43) and Yale New Haven (11:48).


Every year, MoCA Westport sponsors a student art exhibit. It’s always a remarkable show — and wonderful reminder that our arts future is alive and well.

The museum is closed indefinitely. But this year’s show is online — andn as inspiring as ever. Over 60 students from throughout the region submitted paintings, photographs, collages and ceramics. Many address these uncertain times.

Among the artists represented: Staples High School’s Alexandra Lam, Anne Machata and Caroline Rourke, and Greens Farms Academy’s Ryan Boyle and Lulu Wu.

Click here for the full gallery.

“Quarantined All Year Round” (Emma Costa Norwalk High School), part of the MOCA High School Student Art Exhibition.


Several Staples High School sports teams have provided meals to front line personnel. The latest is the boys hockey squad.

Parents and players partnered with Staples culinary instructor Alison Milwe Grace — who also owns AMG Catering — to have 50 meals delivered to Norwalk Hospital workers.

Each player sent a personal note; the team added a bigger one, thanking the healthcare workers for all they’re doing.

PS: Several players eat gluten-free diets, so they made sure half the meals they donated were gluten-free too.

PPS: Following up on a previous “06880” story: In 11 days, Staples’ girls track team raised over $7,000 (and ran over 190 miles) for the Stamford Hospital. The boys swim team provided sandwiches for Norwalk Hospital too. And girls golf has been involved with Homes With Hope.


Buried deep in Westport’s RTM Rules of Procedure is this: the “first right-hand seat of the left-hand section as you face the Moderator” should be left empty. It’s a memorial to Maclear Jacoby, one of the original members, and to all deceased RTM members.

Now comes word that Maclear Jacob Jr. died last month, after contracting the coronavirus. He was 93, and had quite a life. After growing up in Westport he spent 65 years at Landon — the elite, all-boys prep school in Bethesda, Maryland.

He served in the Navy in World War II, graduated from Trinity College, joined the Air Force and fought for a year in Korea, and became a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve. But, the Washington Post says:

In 1955 Jacoby turned his attention to educating children…. 

During his 65-year career — the longest in Landon’s history — Jacoby served many roles. In addition to math teacher, he was head of Landon’s middle school. As varsity tennis coach, he led the squad to 42 Interstate Athletic Conference titles and produced more than 20 individual championships and team titles. 

Even after he retired, Jacoby stayed close to campus, attending nearly every tennis match and keeping stats at football and basketball games.

(Hat tip: Charlie and Sandie Cole)


And finally … yesterday marked 2 months from the day Westport schools closed. Suddenly, things got real.

We had no idea how we would adapt. Could we last a couple of weeks at home? A month without a haircut or styling? How about 2 months of no sports or concerts?

Well, we’ve done it. There may be light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps that’s just the light of a big freight train coming at us.

Either way, we know we’ve been able to do things we hadn’t thought possible. It hasn’t been easy. But now we can all say — like Michael in “A Chorus Line” — “I can do that!”

COVID Roundup: Masks; Mother’s Day Around Town; More


The town of Westport has bought surgical masks — and they’re available free to the public tomorrow (Tuesday, May 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or as long as supplies last, Bedford Middle School).

You’ll need proof of Westport residency (driver’s license, vehicle registration or utility bill). You’ll be asked how many people live in your house. Masks will be dropped into the car, to reduce personal contact.

Masks will also be distributed to Westporters receiving groceries or frozen meals through the Senior Center, saving them a trip to the distribution site.

Seniors not receiving groceries, and members of other vulnerable populations without access to transportation to the Bedford site can email humansrv@westportct.gov or call 203-341-1050 for help obtaining masks.

The town had help from New Canaan’s Grace Farms Foundation in obtaining the masks.


The Longshore golf course opens this Friday. Yesterday, the Overboard Band — Westporter John Harness and his Quinnipiac College friend Mike Pualski — took the opportunity of the closed links to entertain anyone strolling by.

The weather was nice. The music was great. You could almost forget there was a pandemic all around.

(Photo/Tomoko Meth)

How to celebrate Mother’s Day in a pandemic?

Karen Weingarten was honored yesterday with masks, social distancing — and love. Three grandchildren from one family, and 2 from the other, all came over. They all had a good time. And they all made sure to be safe around Mom.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)


And finally … as we start week #2,397,648,012 of our lockdown/isolation/ quarantine, we can all relate to the Beach Boys’ tune. There’s a very dark story behind Brian Wilson’s lyrics, but the harmonies are exquisite.

COVID-19 Roundup: Supper & Soul; Plants & Earthplace; Technology & Masks; More


“Supper & Soul” was a great, popular concept. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce organized dinner, a concert, and dessert/drinks. It was a moveable feast, great downtown entertainment, and tons of fun.

It was also something you could do in a pre-COVID world. But — undaunted — the Chamber and Westport Library have partnered to offer a new, socially distant (but still very cool) “Stay Home & Soul” program.

The first one is next Friday (May 15). There’s curbside pickup dinner from any of 15 local restaurants, and a livestream concert by folk/roots rock band David Wax Museum. The husband and wife duo earned raves for their Supper & Soul concert last year. The opening act is Staples graduate and multi-talented musician Drew Angus.

$35 a person gets you a 2-course dinner, and access to the show. Want the concert only? That’s just $11.

$1 of every ticket will be donated to the Homes With Hope food pantry.

Participating restaurants include Dunville’s, Jesup Hall, Kawa Ni, Match Burger Lobster, Pane e Bene, Pearl at Longshore, Rive Bistro, Romanacci Xpress, Tarantino, The Boathouse, The Whelk, Viva Zapata, Walrus Alley (formerly Rothbard Ale + Larder) and Wafu.

For more information and tickets, click here.


Today would have been the Westport Garden Club‘s annual Plant Sale.

It didn’t happen. But the 96-year-old organization is not letting any grass grow under their feet.

Today they launch Friday Flowers. Each Friday, members will share pots and bouquets of colorful flowers at locations around town.

The first “flower bombing” is at Saugatuck Congregational Church. That’s appropriate — for years, the downtown landmark has hosted the Plant Sale.

The goal of Friday Flowers is to encourage a love of gardening, while respecting the current limits on public interaction. Providing fresh flowers reflects the club’s mission to participate in civic beautification, and its dedication to the community.

Photos of each week’s display will be posted on Facebook and Instagram. Anyone can post their own photos too; just use the hashtag #FridayFlowers.


Speaking of nature: Here’s an update from Earthplace.

“We cannot say enough how much we miss our visitors, families and students during these difficult times.

“Our building may be closed to the public, but we are very active behind the scenes. Our 50+ animals need daily care, our building and grounds maintenance is ongoing, and our critical river monitoring work continues. The Earthplace trails remain open. We hope you come visit and (safely) spend some time outdoors in nature!

“Meanwhile, our wonderful staff has been working hard to support the Earthplace community with online resources including stay-at-home activities and educational nature videos. Click below for a virtual visit of Animal Hall, and check out our new YouTube channel.”


Early in the pandemic, Dream Spa & Salon owner Lori Dodd got a surprising — but welcome — call.

A group of concerned, caring citizens were making anonymous donations to businesses in town. Dream was on the list.A

An attorney played Santa for a day. He delivered much-needed (and greatly appreciated) checks to places that met certain criteria:

  • Long-time Westport business
  • Owned and/or operated by Westport residents
  • Impacted by Covid-19
  • “Westport would not be the same without them.”

That last meant a lot to Lori. She cried — and was told other men and women did too when they got their donations. It helped a lot to keep her salon going.

And it’s still going. She’s got a Mother’s Day special: For gift certificates of $150, you can pick up a major spa swag bag (prepared of course by healthy, gloved and masked staff!). Just click here, then text 203-349-0680 to say you’ll be picking up the certificate and gift bag on Saturday, May 9 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), as opposed to the e-gift option.


Many Staples High School students have access to technology. Many students elsewhere do not.

Some of those Westporters — members of Staples’ Girls Who Code chapter –have joined a national fundraiser to provide underprivileged girls the technology they need, now more than ever. Without it — and with libraries and community centers closed — virtual learning is virtually impossible.

The effort runs through May 12. Girls Who Code’s partner Citrix will match every donation, up to $50,000. To help, click here.


Staples High School Class of 2000 graduate Shane Smith had plenty of success as an entrepreneur with Med Spa. But through a connection with one of the country’s largest laser cutters, he’s now helping provide masks to those who desperately need them.

CT (Connecticut) Masks began as a charity effort. He and partner Nuwan Foley first donated 170 masks to the Westport police department. They shared the news on social media; residents soon asked if they could buy the same type masks.

The masks are laser cut in the US, and machine packaged. That eliminates human contact, while the “no-sew” style makes them more comfortable than most. There is a lightweight “jersey” style, and a thicker “fleece” option.

Shane and Nuwan sold some, bought more, and donated even more. Up next: Norwalk Police Department, and a New York City precinct.

To order your own — and help them pay it forward — click here.

 


And finally … back in the day, Friday marked the end of a tough week. Work, school, whatever — it was all over. Time to cut loose, kick back and par-tay!

Now, Friday is just another in an endless line of similar days. You may not even know today is Friday. But it is. So cut loose, kick back, and get down with the Easybeats.

COVID-19 Roundup: OneWestport/ASF Stuff; Aztec Two-Step; Tech Help; More


Just days after COVID-19 slammed into town, OneWestport provided residents with a one-stop spot to learn which restaurants, stores and services were open — and how to access their websites.

It still does. But now — just in time for Mother’s Day — OneWestport has added a new feature: an online store.

Partnering with ASF — the sports-and-more store that supports every local team and fundraiser that asks — they developed a design matching the style Staples High freshman James Dobin-Smith used to create the look of OneWestport.

They’re selling hoodies, t-shirts, tank tops and hats, in a variety of styles, for all ages. As with most ASF merchandise, you can add your name to the sleeves.

In keeping with the site’s we’re-all-in-this-together ethos, 100% of profits go to Homes With Hope, Westport’s supportive housing agency.

It’s a win-win-win: for the organization, the store and us. Click here to see what’s available, and place an order.


For nearly 50 years, Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman were Aztec Two-Step. After Neal’s wife died in 2017, Rex started working on a song about love and loss.

He lives in Westport, and his wife Dodie Pettit has replaced Neal in the duo. Like musicians everywhere, when the pandemic hit they had to cancel all upcoming concerts

Rex and Dodie spent a month reworking and recording the song — “Words (How Do You Tell Someone)” — in their home studio. Bandmates came over — one at a time, masked — to overdub their parts. Among them: Westport flutist Joe Meo.

“With all that’s going on, it feels relevant,” Rex says. “Give it a look and listen. If you think it will help a friend or loved one, please pass it on.”


Claire Lee is a junior at Staples High School. Starting as a freshman, she volunteered at the Westport Library, helping patrons with technology-related issues.

COVID-19 has forced her to stay home. However, she still wants to help the community. And — as many folks work from home without their usual tech report, and others grapple with new technology to try to keep in touch — the need is greater than ever.

But — thanks to technology — help is at hand. Claire created Tech Check, a free website through which she offers assistance for tech-related issues.

Just click here, scroll down, fill out the info, and look for a return email from “TechCheck06880@gmail.”

Claire is available by Zoom too. If you don’t know how to use it, that should be part of your first request!

Claire Lee


More Staples news: Yesterday, the “We the People” team celebrated their spectacular 5th place finish at the national competition the previous weekend.

It was held virtually, of course — via Zoom — so yesterday’s event was equally COVIDian.

The team met in the Trumbull Mall parking lot, not far from where Suzanne Kammerman, their social studies teacher and advisor, lives.

All were spaced 6 feet apart. They cheered Kammerman; the parents cheered their kids. It was not the same as hugging and high-fiving.

But it’s still a season, and finish, they’ll remember forever.


There’s a new thing on Instagram, called Yorkshire Silly Walks. It comes from Monty Python, and includes “The Ministry of Silly Walks.”

Yesterday, Robbie Guimond’s 3 daughters borrowed the idea — complete with a sign. So if you find yourself on Riverside Avenue, in the vicinity of his Bridgebrook Marina, be warned: You are commanded to walk silly.


And finally … as the greatest city in the world starts to emerge, slowly, from the worst of the pandemic, here’s its greatest tributes ever:

Levitt Cancels 2020 Season

Things may inch back to “normal” this summer.

But it won’t be normal on the banks of the Saugatuck River. 

The Levitt Pavilion has canceled the entire 2020 season. The reason, of course, is the coronavirus. 

One view of the Levitt Pavilion … (Photo/Claire Bangser)

The Levitt board says:

This decision is first and foremost based on our commitment to your safety, and the safety of our artists and audiences, staff and stakeholders, and the community at large.

2020 would have marked our 47th summer season under the stars. This will be the first time in our history that we will not produce a season. Sharing this news is difficult — but we know it is the only responsible thing to do.

As a not-for-profit organization, the Levitt Pavilion produces one of the largest and longest-running free outdoor festivals in the nation. We are committed to being able to ensure our future ability to deliver on our mission: To provide abundant free access to the arts, to compensate and support artists at every stage of their careers, and to preserve and cultivate an outdoor destination where people of all ages can come together safely to enjoy the arts, nature – and each other.

… and another … (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

The Levitt Pavilion is also an anchor organization for a vibrant downtown Westport. We will continue to work to be in a position to light up Westport once more, when it is safe to do so, in our unique way, and to continue to attract thousands upon thousands of people to come back to Westport and support our local businesses, restaurants and our esteemed cultural institutions.

We are working to ensure we can still be here to deliver on our mission in the future, to help serve and rebuild our community, and to help mitigate the effects this cancellation, alongside countless others, has on the artists and team that make our season and special events possible.

To support these outcomes and maintain our very lean operations, we will continue to fundraise. So that we can remain functional, we ask that if you’re able, to please consider making a tax-deductible donation.

… and the view from the stage. (Photo/Dan Woog)