Category Archives: Library

Roundup: RBG Vigil, Paving Project, Teen Photo Contest, More


Tomorrow night — as Americans pay respect to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Washington — the Unitarian Church will honor her here.

The outdoor vigil begins at 7 p.m. (Thursday, September 24). Guests can bring a candle in a mason jar, an RBG quote, or a story to share.

Masks are required. If you feel safer in your car, you’re invited to stay there.

Children are invited to be part of this memory-making event too.

Artwork courtesy of Stephen Goldstein.


If you live on a few local roads, you’re in luck. Starting tomorrow, Westport’s Public Works Department will begin paving:

  • Ellery Lane
  • Ambler Road
  • Main Street
  • Myrtle Avenue
  • Reichert Circle
  • Dover Road
  • Janson Drive
  • Janson Court
  • Harborview Road
  • Meeker Road
  • Crestwood Road
  • Coleytown Road
  • Old Hill Farms Road
  • Winding Lane


The Westport Library’s 8th annual Teen Photography Contest has an apt theme: “Together Apart.”  

It’s open to all Fairfield County residents in grades 6 -12. Renowned photographer Pamela Einarsen is the judge.

Click here to enter. The deadline is October 30. So there’s plenty of time for young photographers to take photos — alone or together, but of course apart.


The Richmondville Avenue Mill building is being renovated. Offices will be converted to condos. Michael Pearl was there, and warns: “Beware of flying doors!”

(Photo/Michael Pearl)


And finally … Bruce Springsteen turns 71 today. There were only a zillion songs I could have chosen, to honor one of my favorite artists and human beings. This one made it to the top. (Hat tip: Amy Schneider)

Roundup: General Wesley Clark, Odd Photo, Flipstand, More


The pandemic has not been good to the Westport Library. Just a few months after its grand transformation, it’s had to curtail hours, programs and services.

But there’s an upside. With virtual programs, it can offer access to speakers who otherwise could never travel for a live appearance. (And whose honorariums are far beyond the library’s budget too.)

One of the biggest names of all “comes to Westport” on Thursday, October 1 (6;30 p.m.). General Wesley Clark — the 4-star general. former NATO Supreme Allied commander and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree who since retiring from the military in 2000 has become a businessman, commentator, author, teacher and presidential candidate — will discuss the need for American leadership, civility and unity during these polarized times.

Last year, Clark created a nonprofit aimed at reducing partisan division and gridlock.

Click here to register for the free event.

General Wesley Clark


The New York Times home page includes — among links to dozens of articles — a rotating gallery of photos. They have nothing to do with the stories, and offer no explanatory text.

Yesterday, “06880” readers noticed this shot:

What’s up with that? What’s going on? Where was it taken? Huh?!

If you know the back story to this shot, click “Comments” below. Inquiring minds want to know! (Hat tips: Drew Coyne and Tracy Porosoff)


Longtime Westporter John Rizzi is multi-talented and creative.

Early in his career, he was Cannondale’s first industrial designer. He’s got a new company — Utilitarian Products — to develop useful, beautiful, well-priced ideas.

We are excited to introduce you to our new company, Utilitarian Products.

The first — Flipstand — is a simple lightweight bike stand. It weighs only 18.5 grams, and is far better than kickstands weighing much more.

A Kickstarter campaign launches Tuesday (September 22). Click here to see.

Flipstand


I grew up on High Point Road. I know how many drivers barrel past this stop sign on Long Lots Road, headed toward Hyde Lane (and all the traffic, and little kids, from Long Lots Elementary School).

So I was intrigued at this photo. Looks like some residents of my old road — many of whom have young kids — have taken matters into their own hands.

It’s advice that can be heeded all over town.

(Photo/Ed Simek)


And finally … my tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I think the choice of group and song is appropriate.

Roundup: Laddie Lawrence, Christian Siriano, Stephanie Szostak, More


Starting Monday (September 21), the Board of Education will resume in-person meetings.

Board members, administrators and invited speakers will all be present. Members of the public can participate via real-time broadcasts, and comment via Google Docs.

“Unfortunately, we cannot predict or control the turnout at our meetings, and a large gathering at a public meeting of the board could pose a public health risk,” the Board says.

“In evaluating the viability of a limited number of socially distant seats for the public in person, the logistical challenges of ensuring social distancing and mask-wearing, determining who is allowed into the meeting and who is turned away, etc., are substantial and might interfere with the work of the board in real time.

“We are heartened by the substantial increase in public participation through our use of Google Docs. This method will continue to afford anyone who feels uncomfortable about coming out to a public meeting during a pandemic a voice in our decision-making process.”


As Architectural Digest notes, fashion designer Christian Siriano moved to a modern house near Compo Beach a few months ago.

And as alert “06880” reader Mary Hoffman notes (via the Wall Street Journal), the backyard of that home was the site yesterday for a fashion show. Among the guests: Billy Porter.

Siriano famously dressed Porter in a tuxedo ballgown for the Oscars.

Billy Porter in Westport. (Photo/Charlie Sykes for AP)


After 55 years as a summer staple, the Westport Parks & Recreation Roadrunner races went virtual this year.

The weekly events — starting first with a couple of miles, increasing each Saturday to a 10-mile run just before Labor Day — are the baby (and now near senior citizen) of Staples High School’s longtime track coach and guru Laddie Lawrence.

The most recent Road Race Management newsletter — aimed at race directors and industry professionals — highlights Lawrence’s long involvement with the series. There’s an extensive interview looking back on 55 years, and vintage photos. Click here to see.

Laddie Lawrence, at a Roadrunner race finish line.


The Westport Library edges one step closer to normalcy. On Monday (September 21), the Library Store begins offering personal shopping appointments.

The 15-minute sessions can be in person or virtual (via FaceTime or WhatsApp). Slots are available weekdays, from 2 to 6 p.m. Click here to schedule.

The Store accepts credit cards, checks, Apple Pay and Google Pay — no cash. Purchases made virtually will be scheduled for pick up weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, click here.


Last night’s Remarkable Theater screening of “Top Gun” — a fundraiser for the Catch a Lift Fund — drew a great crowd to the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Fall is almost here. But Westport’s love of the pop-up drive-in theater — and support for excellent causes — has not wavered one bit.


Dave Briggs’ intriguing Instagram Live interactive interviews continue today (Friday, September 18, 6:30 p.m.). The former CNN, NBC Sports and Fox News anchor’s guest is Westport’s own noted actor Stéphanie Szostak (“A Million Little Things,” “The Devil Wears Prada”).

You can listen — and participate — on Instagram:@WestportMagazine.


The other day, “06880” mentioned Positive Directions’ new Teacher Support group. It meets weekly via Zoom. The cost was $40.

Now, however — thanks to the generosity of Positive Directions’ board of directors –this group will be underwritten. It’s now free to all teachers and school personnel. Email amiceli@positivedirections.org, or call 203-227-7644 to reserve a spot.


Groove is known for its trendy clothes, for women, children and babies.

But on Saturday, October 24 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), the Post Road West boutique welcomes Dana Ciafone to a book signing. The author of Celebrating Bentley — the kids’ book about a boy and his dog — will be there. All profits go to Little Black Dog Rescue.


And finally … in these days of wildfires, hurricanes and much more, it’s nice to hear James Taylor’s soothing voice. No matter how dark the lyrics. (Hat tip: Jerry Kuyper)

Roundup: Old Dominion, The Sun And The Moon, More


COVID kept the live audience away from last night’s 55th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

But a nationwide television audience watched Old Dominion walk off with 2 huge awards: Best Group and Best Song (“One Man Band”).

Country music may not be huge in Westport. But we’re hugely proud of Old Dominion. Lead guitarist Brad Tursi is a 1997 graduate of Staples High School, where he was known not as a musician, but as a soccer star. He’s in the far right in the clip below, wearing a flannel shirt.  (Hat tip: Claudia Bradley)

He’s the first musician shown, in the official “One Man Band” video too:


Staples High School sophomore Phoebe Miller took this picture yesterday evening. She says that smoke from the wildfires out west has drifted far east. It blocks the sun’s rays, making it appear much larger and more orange than usual.

(Photo/Phoebe Miller)


This news will brighten your day:

International Observe the Moon Night will be celebrated in Westport (and everywhere) on Saturday, September 26. The Westport Astronomical Society says the annual worldwide public event “encourages observation and appreciation of the moon.

“All are invited to observe the moon, learn about NASA planetary science and exploration, and celebrate cultural and personal connections to our nearest neighbor. All you need to do is look up!

This year the moon will be just past 1st quarter – a great phase for evening observation.

If the skies are clear, the WAS will open the dome to its observatory on Bayberry Lane. Telescopes will be available.

The WAS adds: “The giant satellite has been our constant companion for 4.5 billion years, and viewed by every human who ever walked the Earth. It’s one of the solar systems’ most remarkable objects, and is quite likely a major reason that life even exists on our planet.”

Amazing full moon at Compo Beach (Photo/Michael Tomashefsky)


Seen at Compo Beach. Beware!

(Photo/Les Dinkin)


Crank up The Machine!

The final Supper & Soul drive-in concert of 2020 features The Machine — a longtime internationally touring Pink Floyd-style band. The event — co-sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library — is set for Saturday, October 3 (7 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Tickets for the always-popular event are $150 per car (5-person maximum. They go on sale tomorrow (Friday, September 18) at 10 a.m. Click here to purchase.


And finally … in honor of International Observe the Moon Night (see above):

Dracula Highlights Library’s StoryFest

From F. Scott Fitzgerald and J.D. Salinger to John Hersey and Peter De Vries, then on to A.E. Hotchner and Jane Green, Westport has long been a writer’s town.

Back in the day, a special Rabbit Hill festival celebrated the works of local children’s author Robert Lawson.

In 2018, the Westport Library introduced a new community-wide literary event. Dedicated to every genre imaginable, it celebrated the written word, in all its forms.

Because of COVID, StoryFest 2020 will be virtual. From Sepetember 15-29, more than a dozen live and pre-recorded events will feature top authors and creators in fiction, comics and young adult literature.

Highlights include:

  • A live opening: “Stoker on Stoker,” featuring Dacre Stoker — best-selling author and great-grandson of Dracula’s own Bram Stoker (Tuesday, September 15, 7 p.m.), followed by “Beyond Stoker: Contemporary Visions of Vampires in Fiction” (8:30 p.m.).

  • Bestselling thriller writes Wendy Walker and L.C. Shaw share their latest books, “Don’t Look For Me” and “The Silent Conspiracy” (Wednesday, September 16, 7 p.m.).
  • A panel with speculative fiction writers Charlie Jane Anders, Sarah Galley, Stephen Graham Jones, Tochi Onyebuchi and Paul Tremblay, diving into “The World in the Mirror: How Genre Imagines the Present” (Wednesday, September 23, 7 p.m.).
  • Josh Malerman explores the terrifying world of “Bird Box” and its recent sequel “Malorie” (Thursday, September 24, 8 p.m.).

Also scheduled:

  • “Displays of Affection: How Love Stories Reflect the World” (Thursday, September 17, 7 p.m.).
  • “What the Dark Teaches Us” (Friday, September 18, 7 p.m.).
  • “How the Story Tells Itself: The Unexpected Narrative” (Monday, September 21, 7 p.m.)
  • “In Our Next Issue: Comics and the New Worlds in Their Pages” (Monday, September 21, 8:30 p.m.).
  • “Then and Now: How History Shapes Stories for the Present” (Tuesday, September 22, 7 p.m.).
  • “Final Cuts: New Tales of Hollywood Horror and Other Spectacles” (Thursday, September 24, 7 p.m.)
  • “Valuing the Spectrum of Identities in YA” (Tuesday, September 29)
  • “Finding Bravery Through Books (Tuesday, September 29, 4 p.m.).

All events are free. Click here for full details; click on an individual session to register. An email link will be sent 48 hours before the event.

Roundup: Lobster Rolls, Le Rouge, Library Cards, More


It took a while, but the Compo Beach food trailer is now open in the grassy area between the concession stand and lifeguard shack. The limited menu includes a ($19.99) lobster roll. Bon appétit!

Not the beach lobster roll. For illustration only.


Aarti Khosla — owner of Le Rouge Chocolates — gives plenty of love. Her chocolate hearts have brought smiles to first responders, Bridgeport high school graduates and more.

As she has read about the COVID dilemma facing teachers — who must balance being true to their calling with protecting the health of their families — she decided to give hearts to every Westport teacher and staff member.

“They are someone’s sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives. They also happen to be our local heroes,” Aarti says.

School reopens next week, so she needs the community’s help. And fast.

Click here to purchase hearts ($8 each). You can also stop by her store (190 Main Street).

As always, 10% of all proceeds goes to charity. This campaign will benefit Mercy Learning Center, the wonderful Bridgeport women’s organization.

You can help package the hearts too. The last time she did this, she had people from 8 to 80 helping.

Lend a hand. Have a heart. Give a heart!


Welcome to September. The calendar includes Labor Day, the Jewish High Holy Days — and Library Card Sign-up Month.

The Westport Library issues free cards to Westport residents, town employees, and Westport public and private school teachers. Non-Westporters can purchase a card.

You can apply for in person at the library, or click here.


And finally … speaking of Library Card Sign-Up Month:

 

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.

Photo Challenge #295

After thousands of Westporters spent hundreds of hours squatting on Jesup Green and the Westport Library steps after Tropical Storm Isaias, conducting essential business or watching movies thanks to the library’s free WiFi, I thought more readers would recognize last week’s Photo Challenge.

Seth Schachter’s shot showed a sculpture resembling 3 bowling balls. It’s actually part of the Westport Library’s logo — and it sits, appropriately, at the top of Jesup Green, adjacent to the police station parking lot and a few yards from the library. (Click here for the image.)

Susan Iseman, Pat Saviano, Valerie Smith-Malin, Jo Ann Flaum and Amy Schneider were the 5 who nailed the challenge.

FUN FACT: The 3-dot logo is replicated on the clock that hangs outside the children’s section, visible from just about everywhere on the main floor.

Today’s Photo Challenge is our first ever two-fer. The images are both gorgeous — but they show different spots. If you know where in Westport you’d see both scenes, click “Comments” below. You must correctly identify the 2 sites, in order to “win” our non-existent prize.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Roundup: Library Book Sale; Parks & Rec Programs, More


The Westport Library Book Sale is back! Yes — it’s live and in person!

A 3-day sale is set for Friday, September 4 through Sunday September 6, in the Library’s main level.

Thousands of books are available in over 30 categories, including children’s books, graphic novels and comics, classics, fiction, sci-fi, mysteries, art, photography, history, science, psychology, biographies, cookbooks, gardening, performing arts, travel, even antiquarian books. Vinyl records, CDs audio books and DVDs are also on sale.

For safety, the number of volunteers and employees on site will be limited. Masks and social distancing are mandatory.

Admission on the first day of the sale (Friday, September 4) is by timed admission tickets only. They go on sale this Monday (August 24, 8 a.m.; click here.) There are just 25 tickets per time slot: 9 to 10:50 a.m. ($50), 11 am to 12:50 ($40), 1 to 2:50 p.m. ($30) and 3 to 4:50 p.m. ($25).

Admission to the book sale on Saturday and Sunday is free — first come, first served.

Book sale hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.  For more information, click here.

Can’t make the sale? It’s also online. A curated selection of books, CDs and jigsaw puzzles is available for purchase on the book sale’s website, with pickup of purchased items by appointment in the library’s upper parking lot.


Parks and Recreation Department fall program registration begins next Wednesday (August 26, 9 a.m., online). Click here to see the offerings.

If you have trouble accessing your online account, or have an address change, do not create another profile. Instead, call 203-341-5152, or email recreation@westportct.gov.


And finally … in 1985 Aretha was (as usual) way before her time:

Roundup: Staples High School, Book Sales, Eversource, Landmark Preschool, More


“06880” seldom reports “survey” results. Best Nail Salon in Fairfield County, Greatest Towns for Beach Strolling — those stories land in my inbox every day. Clickbait, all of them.

But I’ll make an exception for this one. It comes from a legit source — and it involves one of our town jewels.

USA Today just published a list of the best public high school in every state. Criteria included student and parent survey responses, teacher absenteeism, standardized test scores, and other measures of academic performance.

The Connecticut representative — complete with a handsome photo — is Staples.

Congratulations to all. At a time of so much educational uncertainty, it’s great to get even a glimmer of good news.

Staples High School. (Photo/Jennifer Kobetitsch)


The Westport Library Book Sale lost its spring and summer dates. But they sold “book bundles” online — and that encouraged them to open an online book store.
that it has opened an online book store.

They’re opening with a curated selection of “Surprise Book Bundles”: used books and CDs in various categories, for adults and children. More categories and items will be added soon. Click here to “enter” the store.

Purchases are available for pickup, by appointment, within 7 to 10 days after purchase, at the library’s upper parking lot.

The Westport Library Book Sale is operated by Westport Book Sale Ventures, a
nonprofit enterprise that supports the library, while providing employment for adults with disabilities.


During Tropical Storm Isaias, Frank Accardi got tired of seeing this message:

“OUTAGE UPDATE: Eversource crews are working hard to safely restore power as quickly as possible. While we always provide the best information possible, sometimes we may need additional time to provide our estimated times of restoration.”

He suggests this replacement, for customers to send after receiving their next bill:

“PAYMENT UPDATE: Westport families are working hard to safely restore solvency as quickly as possible. While we always provide the best information possible, sometimes we may need additional time to provide our estimated time of financial recompense to Eversource.”


Landmark Preschool in Westport reports that 23 new students have enrolled since June. While the school on Burr Road provides in-classroom learning, it also provides “parallel remote learning” from home, via classroom cameras and monitors.

Students will stay in small cohorts; hand washing will be increased, and ventilation improved; there will be additional cleaning crews and disinfecting foggers; faculty and staff will be given special training, and every teacher will be provided a special COVID sanitation kit, and clear face masks so youngsters will not miss visual cues.


And finally … folk/Latin/rockabilly singer Trini Lopez died this week, from complications of COVID-19. He was 83.