Category Archives: People

Rats!

Three or four times a year, for decades, Earthplace sent a truck to Charles River Laboratory in Kingston, New York.

They’d load it with frozen rats, mice, gerbils and guinea pigs. Back in Westport, volunteers would bag thousands of them, then pack them in 3 large freezers.

For the next few months, the dead animals were meals for Earthplace’s raptors and reptiles.

Dinner for an owl …

The food was free — excess from the research lab.

The last pickup was January 10. That’s when Charles River stopped donating their excess rodents.

Which means Earthplace must now find a new source of animals to feed its animals. At 75 cents a mouse and $2 per rat, that’s tens of thousands of dollars a year.

… and an eagle.

The Westport natural history museum, nature center and wildlife sanctuary already pays for chicks and quail from another supplier. (Hey, snakes like a varied diet too). And Stew Leonard’s donates salmon (!) for eagles, crows and vultures.

But, says Becky Newman — Earthplace’s director of nature programs — sourcing new rodents is tough.

So is paying for them.

If you know of a good source for rats, mice, gerbils and/or guinea pigs (be serious, please!), or can help fund them, please contact Becky (203-557-4563; b.newman@earthplace.org).

One of 3 freezers filled with dinners.

If you’re a grocery store that can donate outdated or unsalable (freezer burn, etc.) meat, Becky would love to hear from you too.

NOTE: Earthplace cannot accept rodents trapped in your house (they may contain poisons).

And — because I know my “06880” readers — no roadkill either. Sorry!

(Hat tip: Matthew Mandell)

Beachside Eraser Installed In West Palm Beach

Last month, “06880” reported that “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” — Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen’s 19-foot, 10,300-pound sculpture of, yes, a typewriter eraser — was gone, after 20 years, from its Beachside Avenue lawn.

Its new home would be the Norton Museum of Art, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

It’s now fully installed. If you’re in the area — and, given today’s weather, who wouldn’t want to be? — you can see it, tilting proudly on the front plaza. Sam and Ronnie Heyman — who commissioned the piece in the late 1990s — donated it to the Norton.

(Photo copyright Nigel Young for Foster + Partners)

The work welcomes visitors to a completely renovated museum. And the new Norton — sparkling in the sun — came about thanks in large part because of 2 Westporters.

Ronnie Heyman is a Norton trustee.

And Gil Maurer  — who brought in architect Foster + Partners, and saw the renovation through from start to finish — has lived here since the 1950s.

He and his wife Ann — equally passionate about the arts — own a winter home in Palm Beach.

The new Norton is a game-changer for the arts scene in Florida. We should all visit it, and enjoy the Heymans’ and Maurers’ efforts.

In fact, today would be a great day to go!

(For an in-depth story on the new Norton Museum, click here. Hat tip: Meredith Hutchison.)

Main Street’s Loss: The Brownstone Is Closing

For 12 years, shoppers have found great gifts — for Valentine’s Day, Mothers Day, birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, and every other type of celebration — at The Brownstone.

The warm, cozy 2nd-floor space at 142 Main Street — just past Brooks Corner — has flourished as a customer-centered, locally owned and very fun place.

It has not been easy. The Brownstone weathered one recession, two major storms (Irene and Sandy), and one move (up the street).

The Brownstone is on the 2nd floor of the building at right. (Photo/Terry Stangl)

Owners Celeste, Mariana and Victoria have always operated by consensus. Now — as Victoria retires, and moves to California — they’ve made their most difficult decision ever.

In mid-March, they’re closing.

“We’ve had the best time building relationships with you!” the owners say in their announcement.

“We felt fortunate every time you chose us to help find the right accessory or gift for you, your home or loved one. We know you had many shopping options.”

Their decision — to “say farewell to our beloved customers” — was not easy.

“Our hearts are broken. But new adventures call our names.”

Owners Victoria Schallert and Mariana Hurtado at holiday time.

The owners — classy as always — thank their landlord, the Teuscher family. “They have shown us every kindness. They have rooted for us in every possible way. They are as sad as we are about our boutique’s closure.”

As they wind down their inventory, The Brownstone continues to serve Westport. Their closing sale has begun. It includes new spring arrivals, and many hard-to-find jewelry designs.

“Please drop by to say goodbye before mid-March,” the owners say. “We hold many, many happy and special memories of you, our customers, in our hearts. We send you all our love, and our very best wishes.”

The World’s Greatest Snow Day Announcement. Ever.

Nearly every school district in Fairfield County is closed today, because of an impending snow and ice storm.

Most of them announced it last night, the old-fashioned way: via Twitter.

Greens Farms Academy took it one — okay, many — steps further.

Bob Whelan — the popular, fun-loving and very involved head of school — posted a video.

But not just any video. This one stars himself — and Westport’s own Mike Greenberg, host of ESPN’s “Get Up!” morning show.

Plus famous athletes Domonique Foxworth, Marcus Spears and Jalen Rose.

Trust me: This is the most entertaining 3 minutes you’ll see all day week month year.

Sure, it costs a lot of money to go to Greens Farms Academy.

But this video is priceless.

(Hat tips: Michelle Levi, Tom and Stacey Henske)

More Grammy News

I knew there would be more than one Westport connection to last night’s Grammy Awards.

In addition to Daniel Tashian’s part in Kasey Musgraves’ Album of the Year, Staples High School grad Justin Paul picked up his 2nd Grammy. He and his songwriting partner Benj Pasek were honored for “The Greatest Showman” — named Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.

Pasek and Paul are great showmen — and songwriters — for sure. They will pick up many more Grammys (and other honors) for years to come.

Justin Paul (left), Benj Pasek and their Grammys.

 

Happy Galentine’s Day!

Everyone knows Thursday is Valentine’s Day.*

Some people know that the day before — Wednesday, February 13 — is Galentine’s Day. (The spinoff from a 2010 “Parks and Recreation” TV show has since become a day for “ladies celebrating ladies.”**)

To help women celebrate their always-there-for-you friends — and honor all the special friends she’s made during more than 15 years in Westport — Bonnie Marcus is throwing an open house at her private design studio.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, she’s giving away beautiful, personally created Valentine’s (and Galentine’s) Day cards — plus custom-designed chocolates and sparkling lemonade.

A few of Bonnie Marcus’ many cards.

It’s a perfect way to pick up something for a friend who needs a pick-me-up (particularly if she does not have a Valentine).

The Bonnie Marcus Collection is at 5 Riverside Avenue. Look for the pink and red balloons next to Arezzo restaurant.

And if you don’t, this is your warning. Stop reading immediately, and buy flowers AND chocolate.

** Don’t believe me? It’s right there on Wikipedia.

And The Grammy For Album Of The Year Goes To…

… Kacey Musgraves, for “Golden Hour.”

But there — standing right next to the country music star last night, at the 61st annual awards in Los Angeles — was Daniel Tashian.

He shared in the award — twice. He’s one of the album’s 3 producers — and one of 3 songwriters too. He shares both credits with Musgraves and Ian Fitchuk.

Daniel also played multiple instruments and provided background vocals. Previously, both the Country Music Association and Apple Music named “Golden Hour” Album of the Year.

Daniel Tashian and Kacey Musgraves, at last night’s Grammy Awards.

The “06880” connection: Tashian is the son of Barry and Holly Tashian. Both are Staples graduates.

Their names are familiar to Westporters. Barry fronted the Remains, the legendary band that toured with the Beatles. He went on to play guitar with the Flying Burrito Brothers and Emmy Lou Harris, among many others.

A longtime resident of Nashville, he carved out a rewarding performing, recording and songwriting career alongside his wife, the former Holly Kimball. She’s got a beautiful voice. Together, they’ve performed all over the world.

Neither the Remains, nor Barry and Holly Tashian, won a Grammy — though they sure should have.

But they’re just as proud today as if they’d won a dozen themselves.

(Do you know of any other Westport/Grammy connections? Click “Comments” below. Hat tips: Marc Bailin and Fred Cantor)

Word

Daria Maya is a sophomore at Staples High School. But the teenager sure has a way with words.

The other day, she was chatting with her parents. Casually, Daria said that American politicians and the media engage in missuasion.

Daria’s parents, Joseph and Susan — both lawyers — looked at each other. They’d never heard that word. They asked her what it meant.

“There’s misinformation that politicians and the media are trying to persuade me to believe,” she replied. Then she gave Mom and Dad that oh-my-god-everyone-knows-what-I’m-talking-about look.

The Maya family (from left): Daniel, Joseph, Daria and Susan.

So Joseph did the natural thing: He emailed Merriam-Webster.

The dictionary folks were all over it. Associate editor Neil Serven wrote back that they found no previous use of “missuasion” anywhere in their citation database.

It wasn’t in the LEXIS-NEXIS periodicals database either.

There was one hit on a Reddit Bernie Sanders forum — “Cult-like powers of missuasion” — from June 2017. It described another politician.

Digging deeper, Serven discovered that the OED includes the verb “mis-suade” (labeling it “obsolete, rare”). Google Books found examples too, including 2 from an early 20th century Scottish writer.

“At a glance it strikes me as a useful and relevant word that could catch on,” Serven concluded.

“But since we only enter words in the dictionary once they’ve demonstrated established use (particularly in edited media), that work of getting other people to use it is up to you and your daughter.”

So what do you think, “06880” readers? Can we persuade enough people to use the word so that it earns a spot in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary?

Or would that simply be missuading them?

The Sun Comes Out On “Annie” Actors

Since opening night in 1931, Broadway actors have starred on the Westport Country Playhouse stage. Their talent (and famous names) have contributed to the magic of the long-running theater.

The current production is no exception. Many members of the large cast of “Annie” boast Broadway credits. (Sunny — who played Sandy in the 2012 production — revives her canine career here too.)

Joining them are 45 young members of Broadway Method Academy. For them, “Annie” is the latest — or in some cases, first– production that they hope leads them to their own Broadway shows.

Among that group: Westporters Brenna Connolly and Jackie Peterson.

Jackie Peterson and Brenna Connolly in “Annie.”

BMA offers training in acting, singing and dancing. Its Fairfield facility — including a 130-seat black box theater — is designed to feel like a New York boutique studio.

BMA serves as the resident conservatory of the Playhouse. Brenna (a freshman at Staples High School) and Bedford Middle School 8th grader Jackie are excited to be on the storied stage.

They’ve learned a lot about professional theater. Rehearsals began last month. During tech week, they were at the theater from 4:30 to 10 p.m. every day.

But the cast and crew have been welcoming. Brenna and Jackie are all in.

“Annie” is a great opportunity for friends and family members to see them perform. It’s a popular show, in a historic theater.

And it’s only an hour from what may be the Broadway Method Academy actors’ ultimate destination: Broadway.

(“Annie” is performed this weekend and next, at 1:30 and 7 p.m. Click here for exact performances and tickets.) 

Westport’s Goal: A World Record Duck

Each spring, a giant inflatable duck floats in the Saugatuck River. It’s a fun, funny promotion for the Sunrise Rotary Club’s Great Duck Race.

This spring, he gets a companion.

On April 27, the 8th annual Maker Faire features a Great Duck Project. Attendees will try to set a world record for the largest 3D printed duck.

It’s “the first of its kind global crowd-sourcing science and art initiative,” says Mark Mathias. He’s the founder of the Westport’s Maker Faire, and a Sunrise Rotary member.

Artist’s rendering of the 6-foot 3D duck.

“Global” is no exaggeration. People from around the world are invited to 3D print and submit pieces. They’ll be combined into a 6-foot tall, 476-piece duck.

Mathias takes “around the world” literally. He reached out to the McMurdo station in Antarctica, to see if they’ll participate.

He even went galactic, asking if the International Space Station could print a part, then return it to earth on a supply mission. (Party-pooping NASA said no.)

But keeping the Great Duck Project terrestrial should be interesting enough.

Don’t have your own 3D printer? No sweat. There are plenty around, in libraries, schools and offices.

Once the world-record duck is printed, it won’t disappear. You can see it at the Memorial Day parade — and, of course, the Great Duck Race.

Quack!

(The Great Duck Project is a collaboration of the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club and Greens Farms Academy, which serves as the “technical lead.” For more information or to participate, click here. or contact Mark Mathias: mark@remarkablesteam.org; 203-226-1791.)