Category Archives: Media

Post-Isaias Roundup: 78%, 90.3 FM, More

As of noon, 9,800 — 78 percent — of Westport’s Eversource customers remained without power. There is no indication when restoration will be complete.

The number of impassable roads is 14. The Department of Public Works expects all to be passable by tomorrow. At that point, DPW will work on the roads with hanging trees or other obstructions. After that, they’ll embark on a thorough town clean-up.

Westporters (and Norwalkers) worry about this situation on Post Road West. The lines are drooping lower by the hour. As soon as blocked roads are cleared, crews will take care of this — and a similar very visible situation on Avery Place. (Photo/Diane Lowman)


He was the Hero of Superstorm Sandy. Not to mention many other natural disasters — blizzards, wind storms, locust plagues — that have befallen Westport in the past decade.

Now Nate Gibbons is back, as wise and informative as ever.

The fire inspector can be heard on a continuous loop on WWPT-FM (90.3), the Staples High School radio station. He offers an astonishing array of information: what’s opened and closed, where to charge your devices, how to keep safe while using generators and extension cords, the latest on the Longshore golf course, and hundreds of life hacks.

And he does it all in a folksy, comforting voice combining the best of Brian Lehrer, Garrison Keillor and FDR.

There’s not much good about our current weather crisis. But Nate Gibbons makes it almost bearable.

Nate Gibbons


Les Dinkin was at Compo Beach today. He noticed:

  1. It’s very empty. Sure, it’s a beautiful August Saturday. But most Westporters have a few other things to do right now.
  2. A reminder about remembering all the things we take for granted. As someone whose power came back about half an hour ago, I could not agree more.
  3. Trees and bushes in the Compo neighborhood look very brown. Les wonders if it’s from the wind. Or perhaps salt water from the storm?

(Photo/Les Dinkin)


Jeff Seaver sends along this message from John Dulligan, government liaison for Altice, the parent company of Optimum. Suffice it to say, Jeff is not impressed:

As you probably know, this storm caused widespread damage. The vast majority of the service-related issues for our customers relate to commercial power impacts. To the extent that there are impacts on our plant due to the storm, we need to ensure the situations are safe prior to proceeding. We are working as fast as we can to restore services if the outage is not related to loss of commercial power. There can certainly be scenarios where power dips (on then off) which is typically the result of our services coming on and dropping again.


And finally … let’s update Sam Cooke’s 1963 classic with the words: “Another Saturday night, and I ain’t got no power …”

Roundup: Still Waiting, Much More


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

(Photo/Robert Cornfield)


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

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)


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

(Photo/Samuel Wang)


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

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

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

Saugatuck Avenue (Photo/Scott Singer)


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


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

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

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


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

Max Herman, concert mastermind


And finally .., of course:

What’s Open? Find Out!

Jillian Elder left town Monday. But her “Finding Westport” site (click on the link) could be a lifesaver for this and area town. She hopes to update its with listings of businesses that are open (or closed).

If your business is fully open, open but can take online orders, open with no phone or internet, or is closed for today and tomorrow, let her know via Facebook or Instagram (@findingwestport) or email: submissions@findingwestport.com.

You can also post info on what’s open in the Comments section. As noted earlier, downtown in the Main Street area (including Starbucks and Freshii) is open! (As of this morning though, Starbucks had no WiFi.)

Cross Highway/North Avenue intersection is now open. (Photo/Dr. Edward Paul)

Jumbled kayaks, in the wake of Hurricane Isaias. (Photo/Brian Gold)

Aztec Two-Step’s New Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dodie Pettit and Rex Fowler perform together.

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, enjoy the “Words” video below.

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

Staples Grad, Nationally Known Bridge Player, Murdered In Hartford

Victor King earned national renown as a bridge player. At Staples High School, the Class of 1973 graduate (and son of longtime physics teacher Dick King) was a member of the state and FCIAC champion soccer teams.

On Sunday, King was brutally murdered. Suspect Jerry David Thompson — now in custody — used a Samurai sword to cause “severe trauma” to King’s arms, chest, shoulder and neck. He had recent moved into a vacant room in King’s Asylum Avenue home.

Victor King (Photo courtesy of Hartford Courant, from Jim Banks)

The day before, King had called police after being threatened with the sword by Thompson over a rent dispute.

The next day, when friends could not contact King, they called police.

Thompson — who has previous convictions for assault and robbery — has refused to talk to his public defender. He claims he is a “sovereign citizen,” not subject to law.

King worked at Travelers Insurance for more than 20 years. He retired from his IT job in 2018. He was a Grant Life Master bridge player, with 15,298.55 master points, and won a national championship in 2016.

His cousin, Jim Banks, told the Hartford Courant: “He was one of the good guys. One that would never hurt a soul. One that would always reach out and help others. He was pleasant as can be. Always seemed to be happy. He was just a joy to be around.”

Roundup: BMS Masks; Heather Grahame Podcast; More


Everyone needs a mask — a good one. But just a few miles from here, plenty of kids can’t afford one.

In one of the most brilliant partnerships since the pandemic struck, the Bedford Middle School PTA and Westport Masks has teamed up to help the Read School in Bridgeport, which serves 800 youngsters in pre-K through 8.

The PTA is selling masks (and gaiters). For every one sold, two will be donated to Read. The program launched less than a week ago, yet enough orders have already been received to supply 250 masks to Read.

Westport Masks’ team volunteers hand-create each donation mask. The PTA sourced a 2-ply, 100% cotton style mask with a filter pocket. The design is a royal blue and white bandanna print, with 2 layers of 100% cotton and reinforced stitched nose for a comfortable fit. There are adjustable ear straps; another strap allows the mask to hang from the neck. There is no logo. Sizes are teen and adult.

As for gaiters: They are less likely than masks to be lost, can be easily pulled up and down as needed (for drinking water, eating lunch and outside during PE), and are comfortable. Designs include blue camo, blue and white shibori tie-dye, and micro-stripe/blue fade (the only one with the BMS bear logo). One size fits all.

Both styles are washable.

The cost is $20 for the gaiters (1 for your child or yourself, 2 others donated), $14 for the masks. The PTA notes that sales are not restricted to Bedford; everyone can (and should!) buy the face coverings.

To order, click here. To arrange pickup (a week before school begins) or for questions, email bms_pta@westportps.org. To help WestportMasks with sewing or fabric cutting, email westportmasks@yahoo.com.

Gaiters and masks


Heather Grahame has been an athlete all her life. In 1972 she captained Staples High School’s field hockey team. She played 2 more years at Mount Holyoke College, then transferred to Stanford University.

During college summers she leveraged her experience as a Compo Beach lifeguard to teach swimming, water safety and first aid in rural Aleut villages. The state of Alaska funded the program, to combat a high drowning rate.

After graduating from the University of Oregon law school, Grahame headed to Anchorage to practice public utility law. In 2010 she moved to Montana.

She’s on the road a lot. But she finds time to train for triathlons. Though she began when she was 56, it’s a natural for her.

In the 1980s Grahame competed in bicycle racing on the US Women’s Circuit. She placed 6th at the 1988 Olympic team time trials.

She and her family then became competitive sled dog racers. Her top international finish — 6th — came at the 2000 Women’s World Championships.

As for triathlons — well, okay. Grahame actually did a full Ironman. That’s a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run.

The other day, she was a guest on the Purple Patch Fitness podcast. Host Matt Dixon is a top fitness and triathlon coach. She’s lived most of her life out west, but Grahame talked quite a bit about Westport and Staples sports. Click here for a very entertaining hour.

Heather Grahame (Photo courtesy of Helena Independent Record)


And finally … tonight the Remarkable Theater screens “Elf.” It’s “Christmas in July” — and drive-in moviegoers are encouraged to dress (and decorate their cars) appropriately.

And because we need a little Christmas (right this very minute), here’s “06880”s contribution. Starring, of course, our talented and beloved former neighbor, Eartha Kitt.

 

Roundup: PPE Trash; Comet; More


Westporters’ habit of dropping our trash wherever we want has caught the eye of the New York Times.

In fact, it’s the first anecdote in a story on a growing worldwide problem: PPE litter.

Yesterday’s story begins:

Helen Lowman looks at litter a lot. It’s her job. But while walking her dog in Westport, Conn., in March, she noticed an alarming trend. First she passed some dirty wipes on the ground. Then there were gloves. And finally a mask. Four months later, she said the litter of personal protective gear has only gotten worse….

“This pandemic is causing the face of litter to change,” said Ms. Lowman, chief executive of Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit group that organizes cleanups. “We’re seeing a real shift in what is in the litter stream.”

Click here for the full story. Then clean up after yourself!

Seth Schachter created this collage from discarded gloves and masks he saw, in and around downtown.


Want to see the comet Neowise — bright and visible for the next couple of weeks —  but not sure where to look?

Click here. Hat tip to Chris Swan. “06880”‘s go-to guy for much information now adds “astronomer” to the list.

Comet Neowise, as seen from Saugatuck Elementary School (Photo/Elyse Heise Photography)


And finally … the Beastie Boys famously belted, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).” Governor Cuomo disagrees. Based on recent news out of Greenwich and Darien, he has a point. Westport, stay smart — and safe. (But you can still enjoy the song.)

Tyler Hicks Tracks The Amazonian Pandemic

COVID-19 is everywhere.

After the US, Brazil has the highest COVID death toll in the world. People are as likely to fall ill in Amazon River villages as in New York City.

Tyler Hicks — the 1988 Staples High School graduate who has earned international renown (and multiple Pulitzer Prize winner) for his New York Times photojournalism — traveled from his home in Nigeria to the Amazon Basin.

His images illustrate an important story, published online today. Along with powerful text and graphics, the piece demonstrates the global reach of the pandemic.

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for The New York Times)

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for The New York Times)

Click on or hover over the photos to enlarge them. Click here for the full story, and all photos.

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for The New York Times)

Harvey Brooks: A Bassist’s View From The Bottom

It sounds like a New York Times “Styles” section wedding story.

Growing up in 1950s Queens, Bonnie and Harvey were friends. But she only dated college guys. He figured she was out of his league.

In the late ’80s, after life’s twists and turns for both — Bonnie contacted Harvey. They reconnected, a bit awkwardly at first. It took a while for Bonnie’s daughters to warm up to this new man. She herself was not ready to commit to a guy who had lived all around the world, and still enjoyed a free, unfettered life.

But they had great chemistry. Harvey moved into Bonnie’s Compo Road North home. Her girls eventually came to love him too. They lived happily ever after, even after they moved — first to Arizona, then to Israel.

Bonnie and Harvey Brooks

It’s a charming tale. It becomes even more intriguing when you learn that Bonnie Behar was well-known locally, as marketing director for Bridgeport’s Discovery Museum, and a Cablevision public access coordinator covering arts and politics.

And that Harvey is Harvey Brooks, a bass guitarist.

You may not have heard his name. But you sure have heard his music.

Harvey has played and/or recorded with Jimi Hendrix, Richie Havens, Stephen Stills, John Sebastian, Seals & Crofts, Mama Cass Elliot, Boz Scaggs, Judy Collins, Loudon Wainright III, Phoebe Snow, John Cale, Phil Ochs, Al Kooper, Mavis Staples, and Peter, Paul and Mary.

Al Kooper, Buddy Miles and Harvey Brooks at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Miles and Brooks were the rhythm section for The Electric Flag, which debuted at the festival and inspired Kooper to form Blood, Sweat and Tears. (Photo by Pat Murphy)

He’s featured on Miles Davis’“Bitches Brew,” the best-selling jazz album of all time. He laid down some of the most famous lines in music history — including “Like a Rolling Stone” — and his work was the hook on the Doors’ “Touch Me.”

On July 4 (his birthday), Harvey published a memoir. “View From the Bottom: 50 Years of Bass Playing with Bob Dylan, the Doors, Miles Davis and Everybody Else” is a music-lover’s romp, from Greenwich Village to Monterey Pop. What could sound like name-dropping is instead a fascinating look behind the scenes of some of rock, jazz, folk and pop’s most memorable moments.

Harvey is the real deal.

But this is “06880,” so I’ll focus on the chapters that deal with Westport.

The globe-trotting musician settled down to life as a suburban stepdad. He drove Bonnie’s daughters to school. He went to yard sales. But he always came back to music.

At one of those yard sales, for example, he saw Weston resident Keith Richards. Harvey’s around-the-corner neighbor was Eric von Schmidt, who he knew from his folk days at Boston’s Club 47. Bonnie threw him a surprise birthday party at Eric’s bocce court; Keith, famed songwriter/session musician Danny Kortchmar, and legendary local guitarist Charlie Karp came too.

I wanted to know more about Harvey’s Westport life. Responding from Israel, he talked about his friendships with music industry heavyweights like Chance Browne, Gail and Terry Coen, and rock photographer Michael Friedman.

Writer Max Wilk and his artist wife Barbara were friends. Max was also a jazz musician. Harvey played at one of his Westport Arts Center concerts. They wrote a country song together: “You Can’t Cut a Deal With Jesus.”

Harvey had a side gig, teaching young musicians. He must have been great: Staples High School grads Dan Asher, Trevor Coen and Merritt Jacobs have all gone on to professional careers.

Harvey had a fulfilling life in suburbia. He and Bonnie now enjoy Israel. It’s a world away from Queens — but then, so was Westport.

He is certainly not without a home. And — after more than half a century in the studio and on stage, and now with the publication of his book — Harvey Brooks is definitely not a complete unknown.

(To order “View From the Bottom,” click here.)

Roundup: David Pogue; Lynsey Addario; Ospreys; Lending Library; More


David Pogue is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Unlike most chocolate boxes though, with the Westport tech guru/writer/TV star/jack of all trades, there’s never anything you don’t like.

Yesterday, as part of his regular “CBS Sunday Morning” gig, Pogue poked behind the production of the world’s largest virtual choir.

How do 17,000-plus voices come together in perfect harmony? Click below.

Oh, yeah: Pogue himself was one of the performers. Were there any other Westport connections? If so, click “Comments” below.


Yesterday’s New York Times story on the Rio Grande Valley — where poverty and chronic illness compound the coronavirus — was sad and compelling.

It was made more powerful by the images that accompanied it. They were shot by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist (and 1991 Staples High School graduate) Lynsey Addario. As always, her images show far more than what is in the frame. Click here for the full Times story. (Hat tip: Kathie Motes Bennewitz)

Nurses surround a coronavirus patient moments after her death. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)


The Fresh Market ospreys continue to fascinate Westporters. Intrepid raptor-watcher Carolyn Doan reports that the 2 fledglings have fledged. Here’s one:

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)


The Westport Library has reopened, with limited service. There’s an alternative, at 95 Kings Highway South.

Sure, the selection is limited. But you don’t have to worry about masks or crowds.


And finally … on this date in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk walk on the moon. Ten others have followed. The last 2 — Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt — made the journey in 1972.