Category Archives: Entertainment

Roundup: Census, Bloodroot, Shorefest, More


As the 2020 census continues, Westport’s self-response rate is 76.2%. That’s well above the rate for the state of Connecticut: 69.4%. (The figures include responses from all known addresses.)

Officials urge anyone who has not completed the census to do so. Census data informs how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed for health clinics, school lunch programs, disaster recovery initiatives, and other critical programs and services for the next 10 years.

Click here to complete the census response. Click here to see Westport’s response rate. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)


The Westport Farmers’ Market has offered great, healthy food for more than a decade.

Bloodroot has done the same for nearly half a century more.

The Bridgeport feminist vegetarian restaurant/bookstore — opened in the 1970s by Westporters Noel Furie and Selma Miriam, nurtured by ever since and still run by the indefatigable women — is the subject of a new documentary.

“Bloodroot” premieres Sunday, September 20 (7 p.m.). The film will be shown at the Imperial Avenue parking lot — home to the Remarkable Theater and its partner for this showing, the Westport Farmers’ Market.

The film — about feminism as well as food — is an homage to Furie and Miriam, says WFM executive director Lori Cochran-Dougall. They are longtime supporters of the market, and a mentor to its director. Click here for tickets.

Three local restaurants are offering tailgating options for the documentary.

Terrain’s $50 box for 2 people includes tomato salad, kale falafel and blackberry pie. Click here for ordering information.

Manna Toast’s offering ($20 for 2) includes choice of toast, salad, rosemary popcorn and iced tea. Click here to order.

Kawa Ni’s dinner ($60 plus tax and 3% kitchen share, for 2) includes tsukemono, shaved broccoli miso goma, tomato tofu pockets and a bun bowl. Call 203-557-8775 to order by 4 p.m. on September 18.

(Form left): Noel Furie and Selma Miriam, Bloodroot founders.


Speaking of food: Friends of Sherwood Island — members of the organization with that name, and those who merely love Connecticut’s 1st state park, a 236-acre gem hidden right on the Westport coast — are invited to an important fundraiser.

Shorefest on a Roll rolls out Sunday, September 20. Guests will enjoy a rolling tour of the park, accompanied by a podcast describing its fascinating history and its many features — plus a “lobster roll to go” feast.

The event includes a field of whirligigs, exotic kites, disc golf exhibitions, musical performances and model plane flyovers at the park airfield, all while cruising the loop at 10 miles an hour.

The only stop is near the end of the tour to pick up hot or cold lobster roll dinners. The entire loop takes 12 minutes.

Click here for tickets. Proceeds support Friends’ efforts, including the newly renovated Nature Center, tree planting, maintenance of the vast purple martin colony, and the 9/11 Memorial.


Dog-gone it!

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce held out as long as they could. But the 5th Annual Westport Dog Festival — set for October 4, after being rescheduled from May — has been canceled.

That’s the second major event — following Slice of Saugatuck — shelved by the Chamber, due to the coronavirus.

But they’re running concerts both weekends. Terrapin: The Grateful Dead Experience performs tonight, in a sold-out show. Two other shows are slated for October 2 and 3. Tickets go on sale next week. For more information, click here.


And finally … as we remember 9/11:

Friday Flashback #209

“Loving” is a 1970 movie starring George Segal, Eva Marie Saint and Keenan Wynn.

If you’ve never heard of it — and I sure haven’t — here’s a review from IMDB:

George Segal (not as scruffy as he typically had been at the start of the decade) plays a troubled husband and father suffering through career uncertainty who cheats on his wife (Eva Marie Saint, cast yet again as a doormat-spouse). Segal is an affable screen presence, but we never learn much about what makes him tick, what causes him to hurt the ones he loves.

Talented director Irvin Kershner hit a few snags in his career; here, the semi-improvisational ground he’s treading desperately needs a center, or a leading character we can attach some emotions to. The dramatic finale is well-realized, and Segal’s comeuppance is provocative and thoughtful–at least something is HAPPENING; overall, it’s a cynical slice of the marriage blahs, one that probably played a lot fresher in 1970 than it does today.

Somehow, Andy Laskin found it on TCM. (Turner’s definition of “classic movies” is quite broad.)

Suddenly, he spotted a familiar locale:

“Loving” was not nearly as successful as other movies filmed in Westport, like “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” or “The Stepford Wives.”

Nor is it as well remembered as (my favorite) “Manny’s Orphans.”

But it reminds us of a time when nearly every Westporter commuted to New York.

And of a train station that — except for that long-gone wooden building — still looks almost the same as it did, 50 years ago.

Roundup: Big Top Ribs, “Best In Show”, EV Club, More


Owner Pete Aitkin wants to add some new “flashback” items to the Black Duck menu.

And he needs “06880” readers’ help.

“Many readers have fond memories of the Big Top,” he says, referencing the beloved, mouth-watering burgers-and-more joint on the Post Road and Roseville Road that is now (aaaargh) McDonald’s. “Some even worked there.”

Pete wonders: What kind of ribs did they serve? Baby backs? Beef? He thinks they were pork spare ribs. Any info on sauce or seasoning would be great too.

Email duckpeter78@gmail.com, or call 203-227-7978.


Yesterday marked the start of another school. It’s different than any that came before. But — as students, staff and parents saw yesterday at Coleytown Elementary School — some things never change:

(Photo/Stephanie Mastocciolo)


The Artists Collective of Westport knows about shows. So they’re proud to collaborate with the Remarkable Theater on a showing of “Best in Show.”

The drive-in movie — a biting satire about dog shows — will be shown Thursday, September 17 at 8 p.m. at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. The gate opens at 7.

Tickets are $50 per car. Click here to reserve.


Who says parades must be loud?

The EV Club of Connecticut is sponsoring a (socially distanced) electric car parade. It’s set for Sunday, September 27 (check-in at 9:30 a.m.

It starts at 10 a.m. at the eastbound Westport train station, by Donut Crazy. The parade ends at Fairfield’s Old Town Hall.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas will lead the parade in the department’s Tesla Model 3 police cruiser.

All makes of EV are welcome. To register, click here.

The Westport Police Department’s electric car.


And finally … today is September 9. Which means, whether you’re using American or European style, it’s 9/9. Which means …

 

Roundup: American Graffiti, Baseball, Parking, More


“American Graffiti” is a classic end-of-summer film. Which makes it an appropriate — if last-minute — choice for tonight at the Remarkable Theater.

Showtime on Imperial Avenue is 7:45 p.m. And it’s half price! Click here for tickets.


Mark your calendar! Director/producer/screenwriter Craig Davidson’s “Island of Baseball” will be available for streaming through the Harlem International Film Festival at 7 p.m. on September 13. (Click here for more information.)

The documentary explores the special relationship between baseball in Cuba and the US, and the central role of Black Americans and Afro-Cubans in that history.

Covering American Negro Leaguers, major leaguers and Cubans of every race, it offers insights into the complexities of race in both nations in the first half of the 20th century, and the crucial role Cuba played in breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball — an important early success of the civil rights movement.

Davidson is a 1970 Staples High School graduate. He’s also the owner of Westport’s greatest Ebbets Field mural. It decorates the inside of his fence, near Compo Beach.

Click below to see the trailer. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)


New Westport resident Mike Zitomer spotted these contradictory signs by Church Lane. He wonders what to do.


And finally … time for a little “September Grass.” Thank you, James Taylor!

 

Catch A Lift With “Top Gun”

It’s hard to believe, but 2020 marks the 19th anniversary of 9/11.

Several Westporters were killed on that tragic day. Nearly everyone here knew someone who died. All of us were affected — and remain so today.

The Catch a Lift Fund is a living memorial to that day. CAL helps thousands of post-9/11 combat-wounded veterans regain their mental and physical health through gym memberships, home gym equipment, personalized fitness and nutrition programs, and a peer support network.

Neighbors like Adam Vengrow have woven Catch a Lift into the fabric of Westport life. They sponsor events that are life-changing for veterans, and the men and women who attend.

Another tragedy — the coronavirus pandemic — has not slowed them down. On Thursday, September 10 (7 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot), they offer a Catch a Lift night of remembrance — and a classic film.

Working with the Remarkable Theater, they’ll show Top Gun (and, before it, a special 9/11 and CAL trailer). It’s a great addition to their summer drive-in movie lineup.

It should be an inspiring — and fun — night. Tailgating is encouraged (in each car’s designated space). Each car receives a homemade pizza from Colony Grill, and a goodie bag with snacks and surprises from local businesses and CAL. Athletic Brewing Company will be there too, offering free (non-alcoholic) craft beer.

Click here for tickets (only 75 parking spots available). Click here for a donation to Catch a Lift. And click here to learn more about this great organization.

Roundup: Goodwill, Chadwick Boseman, Native Plant Sale, More


Like most state senators running for re-election, Will Haskell has a corps of helpful volunteers.

They knock on doors. They make calls.

On Friday though, they turned from campaigning to community service.

Over 40 people — of all ages — headed to Westport’s Goodwill. The organization often gets more book donations than they can use. Haskell’s crew plowed through 16 bins, finding over 8,000 appropriate for elementary school children in Bridgeport.

I’ll resist the urge to make a pun like “Good, Will!” (Hat tip: Jeff Wieser)

Sorting through books at Goodwill.


The death of Chadwick Boseman on Friday at age 43 saddened his many fans. It also brought renewed attention to his starring role as Thurgood Marshall — America’s first Black Supreme Court justice.

The 2017 movie “Marshall” was written by Westporter Michael Koskoff — a noted civil rights attorney — and his son Jacob, a Staples High School graduate who is now a screenwriter.

The film takes place in 1941, when a young Marshall defended a black chauffeur against his wealthy socialite employer in a sexual assault and attempted murder trial. Marshall was partnered with Sam Friedman, a young Jewish lawyer in Bridgeport who had never tried a case. Click here for the amazing back story. (Hat tip: Mary Gai)

Chadwick Boseman at the premiere of “Marshall” with Mike Koskoff’s wife Roz and grandson Eli. (Photo courtesy of Darcy Hicks)


Aspetuck Land Trust is staying true to its roots. The non-profit announces its first-ever fall native plant sale. All are grown at Planter’s Choice in Newtown.

The goal is to encourage biodiversity, as all offerings — from perennials to trees — attract pollinators and wildlife.

All come with plans, kits and instructions for all locations, levels of sun and soil conditions. Four landscape partners are also available to help (click here for details).

They can be picked up at Earthplace, or delivered to your home. 50% of each purchase is tax-deductible.

Online orders are open while supplies last, or until September 17. The spring sale sold out quickly. Click here for all offerings.


Westport artist Michael Chait offers an outdoor exhibit today, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the courtyard outside 11 Riverside Avenue.

He’ll show his “fun and kooky experimental videos” on vintage television sets. He pays homage to television’s beginning, and explores where it may be going.

He calls it “Video Paradisio,” and it plays on a continuous 10-minute loop. The public is invited.


And finally … it’s Sunday morning!

 

 

The Rachel Rose Of Texas

Earlier this summer, Savvy + Grace sponsored a great afternoon of sidewalk music.

Some of the entertainers were current Westporters. Getting to the Main Street gifts-and-more shop was easy.

Rachel Rose’s route to the Main Street gig was a bit more circuitous.

The Long Lots Elementary, Bedford Middle and Staples High School (Class of 2014) grad was fortunate that her grandmother, Sylvia Wachtel, lived in Westport too. A huge Turner Classic Movies fan, Sylvia shared her love of jazz films — and the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Etta James — with Rachel.

Rachel’s parents were also music fans. They played Bryan Adams and John Mayer CDs in the car. Her dad liked the Dead, Steve Miller and Dave Matthews.

Rachel Rose

After graduation, Rachel — who sang with Staples’ Orphenians, and took private lessons with Cynthia Gibb — headed to the University of Texas. She calls Austin “the live music capital of the world,” and figured it was the perfect place to get a general degree (she majored in psychology) while also performing.

She joined an elite UT vocal group, Ensemble 109, and formed a band. Austin’s 6th Street bar-and-music scene was indeed hopping. She played everywhere, met plenty of people, and got an A&R job with a music streamer.

Rachel calls her musical style “Jewish soul., contemporary soul and R&B.” She identified with Amy Winehouse, whose “Back to Black” album was particularly influential.

Jazz remained important to Rachel. New York had a more robust jazz and sould scene than Austin, Rachel says, so in 2018 she reluctantly left Austin, and relocated to Brooklyn.

As soon as she arrived she began writing songs. “It was a leap of faith,” she says. “I tried to find my image, my music.”

What emerged was “a melding of Austin and Brooklyn.” This past February she quit her job with a music distribution company, and concentrated full time on her career.

She finished writing songs for her EP this spring. In mid-August she released her first single, “You.” It’s available on every major platform.

The second single followed. The full EP is available September 7.

Her Savvy + Grace gig represented a great “homecoming” for Rachel Rose. There could not have been a more appropriate venue, for this savvy, graceful — and quite talented — rising star.

(Click here for Rachel Rose’s website.) 

New Westporters Offer Energy, Excitement

On March 11, our world changed.

COVID had lurked here for a while. But that day, schools closed. Stores, restaurants, the library and Y followed quickly. In a head-spinning 24 hours, the entire town shut down.

Every Westporter had a multitude of fears. We worried about interrupted educations, job losses, wiped-out savings. We wondered how to juggle childcare and eldercare. We had no idea how or where to shop for groceries. We hoarded toilet paper. We thought we might, literally, die.

A few industries flourished. Most suffered greatly.

Real estate professionals bunkered in. With buyers and sellers confined to their homes, open houses canceled and the entire Northeast locked down, they imagined they’d never sell another property.

To everyone’s amazement, the market sizzled. First came rentals; sales followed soon. Buyers purchased houses sight unseen. Sellers juggled multiple offers, above the asking price. In a world gone crazy, the real estate market was truly insane.

Some of those newcomers have been here since spring. Others arrive every day. Almost unnoticed — kind of like the coronavirus, but in a good way — they snuck up on us.

They haven’t taken over our town. But all these new arrivals will inevitably change it.

As a native Westporter, I am truly happy and excited

In a thoroughly unscientific sampling, it seems that nearly every new homeowner comes from Manhattan or Brooklyn. Some had already thought about moving to the ‘burbs; the virus sped up their plans. Others had no intention of leaving New York.

During a pandemic, the advantages of city living take a back seat …

But here they are. They bring youth, energy, fresh eyes and young kids to our town. They are smart, talented and creative. They are diverse and intriguing.

They want to take advantage of the best that Westport offers. They love what they’ve seen so far — and they haven’t even seen us at our best.

They want to contribute something to their new community, too. With so many of them working from their (new) home offices, they’ll have time to give back. All we have to do is let them know what’s possible, and invite them in.

… to amenities like space and grass.

If you’re a newcomer, get involved!

When social distancing restrictions are lifted, the Westport Library’s Forum will once again be a community hub.

The Westport world is your oyster.

And we’ve got plenty of them. Find them at a restaurant (and discover your favorite eating places). Learn about the Saugatuck River by kayak, paddle boat and rowing vessel (Westport Paddle Club, Saugatuck Rowing Club, Sea Kayak. Work out at the (soon to be expanded) Westport Weston Family YMCA. Spin at Joyride or Soulcycle. Jog or bike on the roads (be careful!).

Fun at the Westport Paddleboard Club

I’ve left out thousands of ways for newcomers to get the most out of their new home — and contribute to it. Feel free to add your own; click “Comments” below.

Our new arrivals will add new ways to this list, too. They’ll bring new ideas, create new organizations, take our town in new directions.

This is a wonderful time for our town. Out of the bleakness of a pandemic has come an opportunity for reinvention, growth and progress.

Our realtors have done their part. Now it’s up to all of us — the Westporters who have been here awhile, and those who have just joined us — to do the rest.

Roundup: Positano, Poll Workers, Church Aid, More


A sign in Positano’s window says, “We are closed.”

The phone message elaborates: “We are now closed. We wish the new owners the best of luck. We thank our customers for their patronage over the last 20 years. Arrivederci!”

The popular Italian restaurant opened in July 2015 next to the Westport Country Playhouse. It relocated there from Old Mill Beach after a long run, replacing the Dressing Room restaurant founded by Paul Newman and Michel Nischan.

Despite what the sign says, Positano is now closed.


It’s the perfect storm: Election Day this November will be held during a pandemic. Officials traditionally rely on retirees to serve as poll workers. But finding willing workers may be hard this year, as older people opt not to spend hours indoors, assisting voters in close quarters.

Which makes this the perfect opportunity for another group affected by COVID-19: college students, forced off campus and back home for distance learning.

Poll workers earn around $200 a day. Some work half days (5:15 a.m. to 1 p.m., or 12:45 p.m. until the end of voting) for half pay. During the recent primary election, full-day workers also received a meal allowance of about $40 (subject to change).

Training is required. Before the coronavirus, the session was 2 hours. Video conferencing may lengthen the presentation.

Registrars also seek high schoolers in the past. They’ve been great in the past — especially with recent technological advances. There is no school on Election Day.

Interested students — or anyone else — can contact registeredvoters@westportct.gov for more information. (Hat tip: Lynn Goldberg)

Westport poll workers, in 2017.


This Sunday (August 30, 1-4 p.m.), Saugatuck Church runs a food drive to support Person to Person in Norwalk.

Non-perishable food can be dropped off in the church parking lot. Volunteers will collect donations directly from drivers’ trunks. Among the most needed items:

• Spaghetti sauce
• Pasta
• Canned vegetables
• Dry red or black beans
• Jam and jelly
• Mac and cheese
• Granola/snack bars.

Saugatuck Congregational Church (Photo/Storm Sorrentino)


In other religious/community caring news: Every Saturday, David Vita — director of social justice of Westport’s Unitarian Church — brings hundreds of brown bag lunches to take Bridgeport shelters.

The lunches — of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, a drink, snack and a treat — are made by church members.

Since April 18, over 4,000 lunches have been made and distributed. To help, email david@uuwwestport.org or call 203-227-7205, ext. 14.

Westport Unitarian Church.


Yesterday’s Roundup noted that Balducci’s parent company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

An email from the store’s CEO Judy Spires to customers says: “Our stores will continue to be fully operational, offering the quality product and selections you have come to expect. And of course, they will continue to be staffed by all of your favorite people. Please be assured that the wages and benefits of all of our Associates will continue as usual, and our Associates will continue to provide you with the top-quality service you depend on.”


How to rehearse in a pandemic? Outdoors.

The other night, Any Given Thursday — that’s the band’s name — held its final session before their show at Black Rock’s BRYAC (Thursday, August 27, 5 p.m.). They tuned up outside the Gig Center on the Post Road, near Southport.

A small crowd stopped by. It will be bigger on any given Thursday — well, this coming one, at least. (Hat tip: Lou Weinberg)


“06880” loves the Little Free Libraries popping up all over town. It’s simple: bring a book, or borrow a book. That’s it!

Amy Schneider spotted this one at 11 Hillyfield Lane, off Marion Road:


And finally … Happy 76th birthday to Walter Williams of the O’Jays!

Paul Newman Says: Research. Register. Vote!

During his 50-plus years in Westport, Paul Newman was everywhere in town.

We saw him in supermarkets, shops and restaurants. He picked up hitchhikers. When I played summer soccer, his helicopter landed on the Coleytown Junior High School field (we scattered first). “Hi boys!” he said as he hopped out — wearing shorts, carrying a briefcase — and walked around the corner to his home.

Paul Newman, in a photo project promoting community involvement. (Photo by Robert Satter)

The actor/philanthropist/race car driver/all-around great guy died in 2008. But this Saturday, he returns to Main Street.

Once again, he’ll do something great — for his town and his country.

Newman’s daughter Melissa is a giver in her own right. For 20 yeas, she volunteered at a woman’s prison.

She was casual friends with a social worker there. For 2 years, he said he had a present for her. Finally — a decade or so ago — he handed her the gift.

It was a framed poster of her father. Looking straight at the camera — and pointing sternly — the young actor urged all “Young Citizens for Johnson” to register to vote.

Melissa had never seen that poster. “It was one of the best presents I ever got,” she says. She hung it on her kitchen wall. It’s been there ever since.

Melissa always wanted to share the poster’s message — register and vote! — with a broader audience. Now she’s got her chance.

In these polarized times, she wants the poster to be non-partisan. Besides, LBJ is no longer on the ballot.

So Melissa enlisted her friend Miggs Burroughs to help. The talented graphic designer changed the message to “Research. Register. Vote.”

Last weekend, Melissa handed out copies of the poster on Main Street, near Brooks Corner. She’ll be there this Saturday (August 29) too, at 12;30 p.m. — complete with mask and hand sanitizer.

“I’m literally a poster child for voting,” she laughs.

She hopes everyone — whatever their political affiliation — will pick up a flyer, reminding themselves to register and vote.

And why not? It’s one more Paul Newman/Westport story to add to our list.

Melissa Newman last weekend, with her poster on Main Street near Elm.