Category Archives: Media

Sidd Finch, Sports Illustrated And Westport: The Back Story

It’s April Fools Day.

I may or may not have tricked you this morning, with my Keith Richards-teasing post.

But that’s nothing compared to what Sports Illustrated did on April 1, 1985.

The magazine — at the time, a must read for sports fans everywhere — published a cover story on Sidd Finch.

Sidd Finch. George Plimpton wrote that he liked to pitch with a boot on one foot, the other barefoot.

He was — according to writer George Plimpton -= a New York Mets pitcher who threw an astonishing 168 miles an hour. He was a Harvard graduate. He practiced yoga and played the French horn. He was a recluse.

He also did not exist. It was a hoax. (The first letters of each word in the opening paragraph spelled out “Happy April Fool’s Day.”)

But so much about the story seemed real. Including Sidd Finch’s dorm room at Harvard.

In reality, it belonged to Rob Hagebak. He was a 1982 Staples High School graduate — and the stepson of SI’s deputy art director, Westporter Rick Warner.

And that’s the God’s honest truth.

Sidd Finch/Rob Hagebak’s Harvard dorm room.

(Hat tip: Ted Gangi)

 

Roundup: Longshore Inn, Outdoor Dining, Ospreys …

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The new operators of the Longshore Inn have big plans.

This afternoon (Wednesday, March 31, 5:30 p.m.), Charles Mallory — CEO of Greenwich Hospitality Group, which runs the very successful Delamar Hotels — joins Dave Briggs on Instagram Live to reveal what’s ahead.

Listen — and respond in real time — via @WestportMagazine. You can send questions on Instagram ahead of time too: @DaveBriggsTV.

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The Westport Transit District recently replaced its previous fixed route system with Wheels2U Westport service, an on-demand, door-to-train station group shuttle service.

As part of the changeover, posters advertising the 50-year-old fixed route service at the Saugatuck train station were replaced with new ones highlighting the advantages of Wheels2U.

The Westport Transit District donated one of those now-historic fixed route posters to the Westport Museum for History & Culture yesterday. for its collection.

With Metro-North ridership beginning to pick up again, Wheels2U provides a convenient, reliable, and inexpensive way to get to and from the Westport and Greens Farms train stations. It serves a larger portion of Westport and meets more trains than the prior fixed route service.

Riders can order a ride using the Wheels2U phone app, be picked up at their door and then dropped off at the station platform at any time between 5:45 and 9:45  a.m., and 4 and 8 p.m. Reverse commuters can take the shuttle from the train station to their jobs almost anywhere in Westport for less than other alternatives.

Future plans for the WTD include getting more employees to their jobs, shoppers to stores, and seniors to the Senior Center.

For Wheels2U Westport’s service area, fares and other information, click here.  For information about Westport Transit’s door-to-door services for the elderly and people with a disability, click here.

Westport Transit District director Peter Gold presents Westport Museum of History & Culture collections director Nicole Carpenter with a now-historic Westport Transit District poster.

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Yesterday, the State Senate unanimously approved legislation to extend outdoor dining in Connecticut through March 31, 2022.

Local zoning or planning officials still have the final power to permit or expand outdoor dining. The law minimizes paperwork like site surveys or traffic studies, in order to expedite the process.

Earlier this month, Westport’s Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to extend outdoor dining here until further notice.

Outdoor dining on Church Lane last year.

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The ospreys are back — and not just at Fresh Market.

Chris Swan spotted one pair of the magnificent raptors at the nesting platform on Sherwood Mill Pond. He saw another on the saltmarsh at the end of Beachside Common, behind the Nature Center at Sherwood Island State Park. Welcome home to those two happy couples!

A Fresh Market — not Sherwood Island — osprey. (Photo.Carolyn Doan)

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Patagonia is holding a food drive for Homes with Hope. Bring non-perishable goods like canned chicken, tuna, salmon and soup, mayonnaise, peanut butter and jelly, cereal and pasta source to the downtown store.

They also sell “Patagonia Provisions” — items that can be bought, then given away. (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Taylor Whiteside (Whitey) Bailey, a Wesport native and member of a prominent Westport family, died March 18 in Escondido, California of natural causes. He was 88 years old.

He was the 5th child of Franklin and Mary Alice Bailey. His mother was well known here as the assistant to Miss Irene Comer at her dancing school, held in the second floor ballroom of the Westport YMCA. His father was the stepson of Arthur Dare Whiteside, a founder and president of Dun & Bradstreet, and one of the early developers of the Sylvan Road and Nash’s Pond areas of Westport.

Bailey’s brother and sisters included Mary Bailey Beck, Ann Bailey Hall, Franklin Bailey, Jr. and Dare Bailey Wells, all deceased. Joan Whiteside was his step-sister.

Bailey attended Bedford Elementary School and Bedford Junior High School, and was a 1950 graduate of Staples High School. He was a competitive swimmer at Longshore Country Club and a lifeguard at Compo Beach.

He joined the U.S. Marines after high school, and served overseas from 1950-53 during the Korean War. While stationed with the Marines at Camp Pendleton, he was chosen to be the jeep driver in the movie “Retreat, Hell.”

Bailey and his first wife, Allison Norris Bailey, moved to California from Westport in the late 1950s. The former sales manager of Pace Arrow motor home company, he spent the last 25 years of his life in Fallbrook, California.

Allison Norris Bailey and Mr. Bailey’s second wife, Jan Bailey, are deceased.
He is survived by twin sons Kim W. Bailey and Timothy Norris Bailey, both of Westport; Will Mason Bailey of Maui, and 3 grandchildren.

Taylor Whiteside Bailey

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Sure, you can have all the apps and video games you want. But there’s nothing like flying a good old-fashioned kite.

The good news: Tomorrow will be windy. The bad news: It may rain.

Amy Schneider spotted this colorful kite yesterday, at Compo Beach:

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … happy 336th birthday, to Johann Sebastian Bach!

Roundup: COVID Vaccine, Beach Stickers, The Remains, Invasive Plants …

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In case you missed it: Connecticut has moved up the date for all eligible residents 16 and over to get COVID vaccines. It’s now April 1 — no fooling!

An increased supply of vaccines will enable 200,000 doses to be distributed next week. That includes the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

You can call 877-918-2224, 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to schedule an appointment. Click here to schedule online.

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Beach stickers will be available this Monday (March 29). Click on the Parks & Recreation Department website, then “Memberships.”

At least a couple of beachgoers were ready yesterday for summer to begin:

(Photo/Karen Como)

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Westport hits the jackpot with this month’s Connecticut Magazine.

Local writer Michael Catarevas contributed an in-depth, insightful, and very intriguing look back at the Remains.

They’re the band — fronted by 1963 Staples High School graduate Barry Tashian, with ’64 alum Bill Briggs on keyboard — that packed clubs around New England, played “Ed Sullivan” and “Hullabaloo,” had a major recording deal — and in 1966, toured with the Beatles.

They were all set to be rock’s next big thing — until they weren’t.

I’ve written often about the Remains. Jon Landau nailed it, back in the day: “They were how you tell a stranger about rock ‘n’ roll.” Now Catarevas’ story — which includes details about their still cult-like status and recent tours — puts it all together, for a statewide audience.

Bonus cuts: There are sidebars about Briggs’ tour with the Kingsmen (“Louie Louie”),

Click here for the main story. Click here for one sidebar on ’71 Staples grad Fred Cantor’s off-Broadway play and film documentary on the Remains — and another on Prudence Farrow, the inspiration for the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.”

The Remains

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A reader writes:

“In light of the town support of our Asian community, I want to share what I saw in New Luxx Nail & Spa (near the old Calico) earlier this week.

“A gentleman in uniform came in. I’m not sure if he was a police officer or firefighter. I heard him speaking to the owner and workers, who are Asian.

“He warmly told them that we (I assuming he meant Westport law enforcement) are very proud of and value our Asian business community. He said ‘we are here to support you,’ &Sp and that anything they need, or any issues they might have, they should not hesitate to contact them.

“I am proud of our community and law enforcement, that they made this outreach to these wonderful people of whom I have grown very fond. It is these unseen acts that help make Westport the place that it is.”

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Invasive plants have invaded Westport. They crowd out natives and are harmful to our natural resources, disrupting biodiversity and ecological processes.

Earthplace has partnered with Sustainable Westport and the Town of Westport to host 2 events.

The first is an in-person walk this Sunday (March 28th, 1 to 2:30 p.m., $10). Click here to register.

The second event is a free webinar on Sunday, April 11 (1- to 1:45 p.m). Click here to register.

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The Assumption Church Youth Group holds a food drive this Sunday (Palm Sunday, March 28, 7:30 a.m. to noon). Non-perishables are needed. All donations go to their sister parish in need — St. Charles in Bridgeport — and to children in the care of Missionaries of Charity in Bridgeport.

Donors should pull into the back parking lot. Someone will unload your trunk.

Meanwhile, tomorrow (Saturday, March 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), Weston’s St. Francis Church holds a drive-through food drive in their parking lot on 35 Norfield Road. As with Assumption, volunteers will unload non-perishables from your trunk. All donations will be delivered to the Weston Food Pantry, and Norwalk’s Open Door Shelter.

Assumption Church, from Imperial Avenue (Photo/Patrick Goldschmidt)

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And finally … ladies and gentlemen: The Remains!

 

Roundup: Firefighters, Swans, Geese …

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Earlier his week, Westport firefighters assisted the Westport Weston Health District and Department of Human Services by providing COVID vaccinations to homebound residents.

And … while delivering the vaccines, Fire Department members performed home safety inspections, including inspecting flammable substance storage, and checking and installing smoke and CO2 alarms.

Then yesterday morning, our firefighters helped Human Services by loading and unloading food boxes from the Connecticut Food Bank. 60 will be distributed to food-insecure households in Westport. Two more pick-ups are scheduled next month.

For more information on food resources, email humansrv@westportct.gov or call 203-341-1050.

Kudos to all involved. It takes a village — and ours is a great one. (Hat tip: Jennifer Gallini Petrosinelli)

Firefighter Liz Ferguson helps with food distribution.

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At the same time, Fire Department members were training downtown:

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Audrey Hertzel posted a COVID vaccine comment. It’s so good, I’m repeating it here. Every “06880” reader needs to see this — and follow through.

Audrey wrote: “I had my first shot at the Stamford Lord & Taylor parking lot last week. Everyone was so wonderful.

“Someone on a local neighborhood group suggested bringing cookies, coffee, etc. to the the workers.

“I brought 100 Dunkin’ Munchkins and a Box of Joe for them to share. They couldn’t have been more appreciative. I’m hoping more people do the same — and spread the word to others!”

Thank-you donuts. (Photo/Audrey Hertzel)

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Interested in the future of downtown?

Tomorrow (Friday, March 26, 1:30 p.m., Zoom), the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Senior Center offer an interesting online panel.

Topics include:

  • How is downtown doing?
  • Where is downtown headed, post-COVID?
  • Can people live downtown?
  • What is there for seniors?

The high-powered panelists include:

  • Randy Herbertson: President, Westport Downtown Merchants Association
  • David Waldman: Owner, David Adam Realty
  • Kim Harizman: Realtor, KMS Partners @ Compass
  • Annette Norton: Owner, Savvy + Grace

Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell will moderate.

Click here for the Zoom link. The meeting code is 889 0588 3613. The passcode is wcsa.

What’s up downtown? (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Yesterday, the Board of Selectman unanimously adopted this resolution:

WHEREAS, Asian-Pacific American communities are suffering acts of discrimination, hate crimes, and microaggressions, which have been exposed and heightened due to COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, anti-Asian rhetoric and sentiment is stigmatizing, tends to incite fear and xenophobia, and numerous Asian-Pacific Americans are experiencing increased racial profiling, hate incidents, and, in some cases, hate violence; and

WHEREAS, in an effort to bring attention to baseless and xenophobic actions, hate speech, and bias, and most particularly, those against the Asian American and Pacific Island community, the Town of Westport must demonstrate its support for neighbors, families and friends who are adversely affected and traumatized by these acts.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Westport Board of Selectmen emphatically denounces xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiment. The Town of Westport joins municipalities, counties, and states across the country in affirming its commitment to the safety and well-being of Asian-Pacific Americans and in combating hate crimes targeting Asian-Pacific Americans; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Westport remains committed to condemning all manner of racism, stigmatization, hate speech, hate crimes, xenophobia, discrimination and violence.  Protecting residents, business owners, workforce members, and victims of hate through supportive programs and policies that embrace inclusivity, diversity, civil discourse, and acceptance for all, remains at the forefront of our intentions as a community to combat hate and racial injustices.

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Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup mention of Christopher Lloyd prompted Jack Backiel to dig out his Staples High School 1958 yearbook.

Here’s what he found for his now-famous classmate:

Football? Party of the year? Lawrence (sp) Olivier? But hey — he still looks (almost) the same.

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Whitney Raith spotted this scene on Monday, just a few steps from busy Parker Harding Plaza. The swans were protecting their nest.

(Photo/Whitney Raith)

But, she notes: “When I walked by, one of the parents got very upset. I know swans can get nasty. I hope people are aware, and keep their distance.”

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On the same day, Daniel Hoffman spotted this guy at Compo:

(Photo/Daniel Hoffman)

“Spring is officially here,” Daniel says.

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After 38 years as founder and chair of the Susan Fund — where she oversaw raising and distributing nearly $2 million in scholarships to 285 Fairfield County students diagnosed with cancer — Ann Lloyd has stepped down from her role.

Incoming chair Jeff Booth’s first official act was to name Ann chairman emeritus.

That’s her second recent honor. Last month, the indefatigable Westporter was an “06880” Unsung Hero of the Week.

Ann Lloyd

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And still another sign of spring — and the (hopeful) end of the pandemic:

(Photo/Bill Ryan)

Bill Ryan says that the Longshore golf course sand traps are raked — and rakes are in place, ready to be used.

Last year, COVID restrictions included the removal of all rakes. Fore!

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And speaking of sports: Dave Briggs is a great interviewer. (He should be: He spent more than 2 decades at Fox News, NBC Sports and CNN.) His Instagram Live sessions have become must-see viewing for ever-larger audiences.

It helps that he snags great guests.

Today’s is Jay Williams. The NBA analyst and ESPN radio host is — like Dave — a a Westport resident.

It’s live at 2 p.m. today (Thursday, March 25; @WestportMagazine). The 2 guys welcome your questions. Shoot!

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In January 2020, “06880” reported that Little Beet was coming to the Fresh Market shopping center.

The chain offers “wholesome, healthy food that not only tastes great, but makes you feel great.” Food is “carefully sourced … from farmers and purveyors we trust, guaranteeing all of our food is gluten-free and better for you.”

The menu includes make-your-own rice and quinoa-based meals, poké and other bowls, vegetable sides, and breakfast sandwiches, parfaits and oatmeal.

Little Beet would open that summer, I confidently said.

COVID and (perhaps) other issues intervened. The storefront sat empty. But now, work has begun.

Perhaps a summer 2021 opening is on the table?

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Last month, “06880” paid tribute to Bob Comstock. After a legendary career in New Jersey journalism, he spent nearly 20 years in Westport. He was active in the Unitarian Church and Y’s Men.

Yesterday, at his daily COVID press briefing, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy added his own tribute to Bob. Click below to watch:

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And finally … we celebrate 2 big musical birthdays today: Aretha Franklin and Elton John. What a duo they would have made!

Roundup: Joey’s, Vaccine, Seniors’ Blog …

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Yesterday’s gorgeous weather brought beach-lovers to Compo.

It also kicked off the season for entitled drivers. First off the mark: This person, who believes the only way to enjoy the water is to park as close as possible to it.

(Photo/Roseann Spengler)

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Another sign of spring (and summer): Joey’s by the Shore (featuring Elvira Mae’s Coffee Bar) opened yesterday.

Hours are currently 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather dependent. Joey, Betsy and the crew say hi!

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After all the stories about difficulties scoring a COVID vaccine appointment, I heard the other side: how efficiently the process runs, once you actually get a slot for a shot.

The operation at the former Lord & Taylor parking lot in Stamford sounded particularly well organized.

That’s where I was scheduled yesterday, for my first dose. It’s all true.

From check-in to the shot itself and on through the 15-minute observation period afterward, the process was top notch. It was run with military precision. That’s not surprising: Connecticut’s National Guard was in charge.

Kudos to all involved. A big shout-out to the Guardsman pictured below. We had a great time chatting. He represents his unit — and the entire operation — exceptionally well.

The only tweak needed is laughably minor. The address given for the Lord & Taylor lot is 110 High Ridge Road. But the entrance for vaccines is on Long Ridge.

I can live with that.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Westport Police say:

“The Westport Police Department is shocked and saddened by the murders that occurred this past week in the greater Atlanta area. Our hearts go out to the victims as well as their loved ones. Violence committed against a person because of their race is something that should never be tolerated or excused.

“The Westport Police stands with law enforcement agencies nationwide as well as our partners at the Anti-Defamation League in condemning this horrible crime.For more information and resources please go to the Anti-Defamation League’s website.”

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Electric vehicle brands and state legislators hold a press conference tomorrow (Monday, March 22, 10 a.m.) at the Westport train station’s eastbound side.

They’ll discuss what they call “outdated dealer franchise laws that have plagued direct electric vehicle sales for almost a decade.”

A proposed bill would give “innovative companies the ability to have an uncorked presence in Connecticut.” Without this legislation, they say, many EV manufacturers will continue to be blocked from opening sales sites, offering test drives, and selling directly to consumers.” Click here for more details.

Westport is an appropriate site for the press conference. We have the highest percentage of EVs registered in the state — over 250 Teslas alone.

Electric vehicles lined up by the Staples charging stations (from left): Chevy Bolt, Tesla S, VW, Tesla X, Nissan Leafes,

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For nearly 2 years, Rosemary Cass’ blog has enriched the lives of people age 55 and older.

“Seeing it Clearly Now” inspires everyone — retired or not — be better with age. Her focus is on learning new things, finding purpose, and exploring the arts.

The blog features creative works of older writers and artists. For example, a recent post explored the writer’s gratification from her volunteer work with Al’s Angels.

Many contributors are members of the Westport Senior Center. Cass herself is a student in Jan Bassin’s writing workshops.

She’s always looking for submissions. Click here for the blog; email cass.rosemary@gmail.com.

Rosemary Cass uses the pen name “Rosy Prose.”

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And finally … Happy 436th birthday, Johann Sebastian Bach!

 

Roundup: Rabbit, Flag, Book, Music …

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Yesterday, while researching a potential training location, Westport firefighters discovered a dislodged vault cover that needed re-seating.

Then they found something else: a rabbit. It was trapped 6 feet down inside the vault, with no escape route.

Westport Animal Control officer Peter Reid helped the firefighters remove the rabbit, and transported it for evaluation.

Peter Reid, Peter Rabbit … what a great pre-Easter story! (Hat tip: Westport Police Department)

Peter Reid and friend. (Photo courtesy of Westport Police Department)

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Flags at Town Hall fly at half staff, in memory of the 8 people killed in Atlanta earlier this week.

The town’s Facebook page says: “The Town of Westport condemns the horrific attacks on our Asian neighbors, families and friends. An act of violence and racism against anyone is an affront to those among us who promote love, unity, and acceptance for all.

“Westport stands in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.”

(Courtesy of Town of Westport/Facebook)

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Today is the first day of spring. At Comp Beach, Amy Schneider captured the first spring sunrise:

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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Christy Colasurdo writes:

Joan Isaacson, my neighbor of many years, recently wrote a book: The Red Velvet Diary.

“When I saw a post on Facebook, I figured I’d buy the book to be supportive. Little did I know it would be a heartfelt page-turner, and that my longtime next door neighbor, a grandmother of 6 teens, is also an excellent wordsmith with an emotional multigenerational story to tell.

“An avid reader, I was impressed. I believe other Westporters will also enjoy this captivating tale by a woman who has lived and raised her family here for the past 26-plus years.

“The story spans 3 generations of strong women, from the wartime 1940s to today. It deftly shifts perspectives and countries, between Joan, a modern woman coming of age in the tristate area and her star-crossed ’60s romance; her mother, an innocent teen in Athens during the Axis occupation who toughens up, joins the Resistance and falls in love with the enemy; and grandmother, the young daughter of a rabbi who is forced to leave her doting Jewish family in Turkey and flee to a convent in Greece under an assumed Christian identity to escape the pogroms.

“Isaacson has a steel-trap memory, a knack for period details, and a penchant for describing the music and food that pulls you directly into each era and country, from Weehawken, New Jersey to Odessa, Russia to Athens, Greece to Westport.

“It’s a story of struggle, survival, sisterhood, and of enduring family love that spans 3 generations. Pour yourself a cup of Ibrik (strong Greek coffee) and put your feet up for a good read by a local author.”

Joan Isaacson with her husband Sheldon, at Compo Beach.

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Ten Staples High School students made it through several auditions. They’ll  participate in the Connecticut Music Educators Association All-State Festival next month.

The young musicians will participate in master classes and workshops with world renowned artists. The event culminates in a virtual ensemble performance. 

All-State honorees include

  • Orchestra: Zachary Bishop (viola); Janna Moore (double bass); Izabela Pauliny (oboe); Samantha Taylor (trombone); Sarah Thomas (viola)
  • Concert Band: Jason Capozucca (bassoon); Alexandra Hermus (euphonium); Nina Lauterbach (mallet percussion) 
  • Jazz Ensemble: Witt Lindau (drums)
  • Treble Choir: Maya Vogelmann (alto). 

Janna Moore and Witt Lindau earned the highest scores in Connecticut on their instruments. Zachary Bishop and Izabella Pauliny both scored 3rd in their instrument categories. 

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And finally … today is the first day of spring. We may not be out of the woods yet. But winter is already in the rear view mirror. Word.

Roundup: Amazon — And More Books …

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Connecticut — already in the Top 5 states nationwide for its COVID vaccine program — took a huge step forward yesterday.

Governor Lamont announced the expansion of the vaccine to everyone over the age of 16. The planned date to begin scheduling those shots is April 5. That’s significantly ahead of the previous target date.

This Friday (March 19), scheduling opens to all residents age 45 to 54.

For information on making appointments and finding the closest available clinic. click here. You can also call Connecticut’s vaccine appointment assist line: 877-918-2224 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Other vaccine providers include:

Yale New Haven Health
Sign up online here, or call 833-275-9644

CVS Health (limited locations)
Sign up online here, or call 800-679-9691.

Walgreens (limited locations)
Sign up online here, or call 800-925-4733

Stamford Health
Sign-up online here, or call 203-276-7300.

Hartford Healthcare
Sign-up online here, or call 860-827-7690.

Infants are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine. Maybe soon though …

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The best selling book on Amazon yesterday was LifeLines: An Inspirational Journey from Profound Darkness to Radiant Light.

And by “best selling,” I mean just that. Westporter Melissa Bernstein’s book about her battle with existential anguish and depression was #1.

Not just in the self-help category. Not in “books by women authors.” Not in any of the dozens of other categories that Amazon uses to try to create buzz.

Lifelines was Amazon’s best selling book, among the bajillions of titles the retail behemoth sells.

It may have gotten a boost from fellow Westporter David Pogue’s segment about it on “CBS Sunday Morning,” the day before.

But it also benefits from being a very important book, by a well-known and very honest writer, at a time when talking (and reading) about mental health is crucial.

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Alec Lobrano graduated from Weston High School in 1973. Until he landed a job in the Paris office of Women’s Wear Daily, his experience with French cuisine was limited to browsing cookbooks at the Weston Library, where he worked as a teenager.

But he carved out a niche as a food critic in Paris. The lessons he learned from leading culinary figures helped him master fine dining, and also find his place as a gay man navigating the alluring city and his exciting career.

Lobrano has won several James Beard Awards. He writes on food and travel for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Food & Wine, Eater, Condé Nast Traveler and more.

His memoir — My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris — will be published June 1.

The book is filled with vivid descriptions of Parisian restaurants, his favorite and least favorite meals, and run-ins with figures from like Julia Child and Ruth Reichl. It’s also a coming-of-age story about the healing power of food. Click here for details.

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On March 30 (7 p.m.), Westport takes center ice in hockey world.

NBC Sports’ Emmy-winning NHL broadcaster Mike Emrick sits with USA Today‘s veteran beat writer Kevin Allen, for a discussion about Emrick’s new book, Off Mike.

The candid discussion about his exciting life is free. Click here to register.

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Weston’s beloved Jolantha celebrates St. Patrick’s Day:

(Photo/Hans Wilhelm)

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And finally … though the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, was officially ratified in 1865, it took 130 more years for Mississippi’s formal approval. It happened on this day in 1995.

Jamie Mann: Good Ol “Country Comfort”

“I sucked at soccer,” says Jamie Mann. “I knew I wasn’t going to be a pro.”

But the Staples High School senior sure can dance. And sing. And act.

After being mesmerized by a performance of “Swan Lake” at 3 — and always dancing whenever he heard music — his mother suggested he try ballet.

Jamie was hooked.

“Dance is a special art form. It’s the purest form of emotional experience,” he says. “You tell a story without speaking. It’s graceful, unique and fulfilling.”

Jamie Mann (Photo/Curtis & Cort)

Jamie studied at the Alvin Ailey Athletic Boys program — dance is also a pure form of athleticism — as well as the School of American Ballet and Ballet Etudes. He has performed in “Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake” with the New York City Ballet, and did “Nutcracker” at the Westport Playhouse too.

Then came “Billy Elliot.” The first Broadway show he’d seen, he felt it called him to be on stage.

Soon he was — in 4 regional productions around the country. He learned as much about singing and acting as did dancing.

Working with a director for the first time, during long, strenuous rehearsals, Jamie became resilient. Seeing the “insane number of people” involved bringing a show to life solidified his desire to make theater his life.

He honed his craft with Staples Players. Jamie sang and acted in 8 shows, from “Newsies” to “Curtains.” The summer before junior year, he starred in “Because of Winn-Dixie” at the Goodspeed Opera House.

“I’m so fortunate to have grown up in this artistic community, where so many people helped me on this path,” he says.

He gives shout-outs to his first acting teacher, Jill Jaysen, and Cynthia Gibb at Triple Threat — his voice teacher, acting coach and mentor for 10 years.

Jamie Mann (right) in “Because of Winn Dixie” at the Goodspeed Opera House. 
(Photo/Diane Sobolewski)

Last year he auditioned in New York for a new project. “Country Comfort” is a Netflix comedy about an aspiring country singer who finds new life as a nanny for a handsome widower and his 5 charming children.

In the middle of rehearsals for Players’ “Mamma Mia!” Jamie got the job. He flew to California, for rehearsals and taping.

Jamie Mann (5th from left, in blue) in “Mamma Mia!” Photo/Kerry Long)

He had never been on a film set. He had to learn different blocking, not to look into the camera — and adapt to constant line changes. Every night brought a new script.

It was Jamie’s first time originating a role. He developed “Brody” — the 2nd oldest kid — as a character. “I found his mannerisms, and explored his character,” Jamie explains.

Brody is “someone I’d be friend with in real life. He’s a good brother. Parental in a way. He’s a little insecure. He doesn’t really know fully who he is. But he grew as a character from a blank slate. And I grew with him.”

Meanwhile, the entire cast — including Katharine McPhee, Eddie Cibrian and Ricardo Hurtado — had to create “a convincing family dynamic.”

They did. Jamie — who in real life has 3 younger siblings — feels like he now has a “second family.” He can’t wait for the world to see it, when it debuts this Friday (March 19).

Jamie Mann (left) with his “Country Comfort” family. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

But the show’s path from California set to Netflix distribution was not as smooth as it sounds.

Right after the 4th episode was filmed, COVID struck. The cast dispersed. They did not get together again until September.

“Up to then we didn’t know if we’d ever be back,” Jamie recalls. “But we jumped right in.”

Six more episodes were completed by the end of October.

Jamie Mann (center), ready for prime time. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Post-production takes time. Back in Westport, Jamie watched “Bridgerton” and “Stranger Things” on Netflix.

“It was weird to see them, and think I’d be on that platform soon,” he admits.

“But it got me excited. It’s cool that people all over the world can watch this.”

And in other languages. It felt very strange to watch a trailer in Spanish — his body, but his voice dubbed in by someone he’d never met.

As an actor, it’s always hard to watch himself, Jamie says. He will probably view the first episode on Friday with his “real life family,” at their Compo Beach home. But he’ll see most of the other shows by himself.

“Country Comfort” billboard in Times Square.

Then he’ll wait to see if “Country Comfort” — which has earned strong pre-reviews — will be picked up for another season.

Meanwhile, he’s reveling in being a Staples senior, even in this COVID-crossed year. He was part of Players’ radio show “Dracula,” and is waiting to hear from colleges.

He’s applied for musical theater programs. Competition is tough.

Yet it’s hard to imagine many other candidates have the ballet, singing — and “Country Comfort” — resumes of Jamie Mann.

BONUS REEL: “06880” first noticed Jamie in 2016. As a Bedford Middle School 7th grader, he danced a “Billy Elliot” routine in the talent show. I described the support he got as a young dancer from his friend Josh Suggs — and the thunderous applause he earned on the middle school stage. Click here for the story, then below for the video.

Roundup: Melissa & David, The Cottage …

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A Westporter helps Westporters who help the world.

That was the theme of David Pogue’s telecast yesterday. He walked a few yards from his home, to Melissa and Doug Bernstein’s. There — with a “CBS Sunday Morning” camera crew — he interviewed the toy company co-founder about her lifelong battle with existential anguish and depression.

The Bernsteins’ new project — Lifelines — is an ecosystem for mental health support, resources and education. Pogue brought their work to a national television audience. Click below for that very important report.

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The Cottage is expanding.

Brian Lewis — chef/owner of the very popular Colonial Green restaurant (and OKO, on Wilton Road) is opening another Cottage in Greenwich.

The 49 Greenwich Avenue spot will seat over 60. As in Westport, it will celebrate seasonal ingredients, sourced from local purveyors and farmers. The Cottage Greenwich is slated to open later this year.

“We’ve always looked forward to the day that we can bring The Cottage to a new market after being so blessed with our devoted clientele and hardworking team in Westport,” says Lewis.

“As we experienced such continued support during COVID and after 6 successful years in Westport, the time was right to grow and find a sister location to complement the original Cottage.”

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And finally … well, it’s March 15, so beware!

Roundup: Leaf Blowers, Paper Source, Cable Monopoly …

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Leaf blowers — those must-have yet most-hated suburban scourges — are the subject of a proposed Representative Town Meeting regulation.

The RTM Ordinance Committee meets March 25 (7:30 p.m., conference call). They’ll discuss these rules:

  • Summer (May 16-October 14): Gas-powered leaf blowers not permitted; electric/battery-powered leaf blowers allowed.
  • Fall cleanups (October 15-November 30): Gas- and electric/battery-powered blowers allowed.
  • Winter (December 1-March 31): Gas-powered blowers not permitted; electric/battery-powered blowers allowed.
  • Spring cleanups (April 1-May 15): Gas- and electric/battery-powered blowers allowed.

In addition:

  • No leaf blower of any kind may be used before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
  • No more than 1 leaf blower (regardless of power source) may be used simultaneously on any site less than 2 acres in size.
  • No gas-powered leaf blower may be used on any state or federal holiday.
  • Exceptions: If the 1st Selectman declares an emergency, then gas-powered leaf blowers and/or electric/battery-powered leaf blowers may be used as necessary.

Fines (property owner is responsible):

  • $100 for 1st offense (after a warning)
  • $200 for 2nd offense
  • $500 250 for third or subsequent offense.

The public can call in to the meeting: 646-876 9923. The meeting ID is 850 4769 6393. The passcode is 788806.

 

 

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Paper Source — the Chicago-based stationery store chain — closed 11 stores in the past year.

The downtown Westport shop — between Bank of America and Barnes & Noble — remains open.

It is corporate owned. A recent story on the Well-Appointed Desk blog notes that headquarters “bought a bunch of product from small makers, declared bankruptcy so they would not have to pay the bills, then sell it in the stores for 100% profit.”

It’s great to shop local. But caveat emptor: Supporting this Westport business may mean complicating situations with its corporate owner. (Click here for the full story.)

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The weather’s nice. Time to get the kids moving!

The Joggers Club has opened a group for youngsters. Led by experienced runners, the focus is on form, endurance and fun.

It “runs” Sundays, 2 to 3:15 p.m., April 4 to May 2 at the Staples High School track.

Space is limited to 20 children, grades 3 to 8. The cost is $50 per child.

The Venmo account is “TheJoggersClub-Westport.” Questions? Email thejoggersclub@gmail.com.

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This evening Wednesday, March 10, 6:45 p.m.), Congressman Jim Himes hosts a “telephone town hall.” He’ll discuss the American Rescue Plan. Audience members can ask questions during the call. Click here for the link.

Congressman Jim Himes, at Bedford Middle School.

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Looking for another COVID test center?

There’s an under-the-radar spot right under our noses. Yale New Haven Health operates a drive-through operation at 140 Mill Plain Road in Fairfield, just off I-95 Exit 21.

Hours are by appointment only. Click here for more information, or call 833-275-9644. (Hat tip: Carol Waxman)

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Westport’s MaryGrace Gudis is one of 4 new members of Norwalk Hospital’s board of directors.

Director of the Norwalk Hospital Foundation Board since 2011, she has spent more than 1,000 hours researching and compiling the hospital’s history.

Active at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, MaryGrace is also involved in initiatives providing college educational assistance to disadvantaged students.

The Southern Methodist University graduate has held senior communications positions in the financial industry, including director of public information and senior liaison to the board of directors at the Federal Reserve Bank. Her husband Mark is on the board of directors for Nuvance Health, Norwalk Hospital’s parent company.

MaryGrace Gudis

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Last month, “06880” reported that the Tristate Coalition for Fair Internet Service is working on legal challenges to Optimum/Altice through the New York State Attorney General’s office, and promoting alternate providers. They’re also collecting data on customer experiences with the longtime cable service.

That survey data was lost when Google disabled the account without the group’s knowledge. They’re appealing. Meanwhile, they created a new survey.

They ask people to complete the Optimum/Altice survey, even if it was already done before. Click here for the link.

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The Webb Road goose is ready for every holiday. Next up: St. Patrick’s Day!

(Photo/MaryLou Roels)

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And finally … exactly one year ago today, COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

You know: WHO.