Category Archives: religion

Pic Of The Day #1258

Cemetery sunrise (Photo/Luisa Francoeur)

Roundup: CHT Outreach, WPD Distracted Driving, More


Every year at this time, the Men’s Group of Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church cooks beef through the night. In the morning they carve it up, and serve sandwiches for the parish picnic.

This year, COVID canceled the picnic.

But the Men’s Group still cooked the meat last night. This morning, CHT Outreach volunteers and the Women’s Spirituality Group made sandwiches. They brought them to King’s Pantry in Bridgeport, which will distribute them to the homeless.

Taking a break from cooking (from left0: Randy Abrams, John Sarsgard, Lloyd Nash and Rob Feakins.


Never drive distracted.

Especially from October 1 through 15. That’s when the Westport Police Department plans a high-visibility enforcement campaign.

Distracted driving includes talking or texting on a cell phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in the vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that divers attention from safe driving.

Texting may be the worst. Sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field with eyes closed.

Connecticut fines for distracted driving start at $150. They rise to $1,000, depending on the operator’s driving history and location of the offense.


Due to heavy cloud cover, the Westport Astronomical Observatory will not be open for tonight’s International Observe the Moon Night.

You can of course try to see the moon at home. It’s still there.

Rolnick Observatory will not be open tonight. (Photo/Frank Rosen)


And finally … I never heard of Sterling Magee. But the bluesman who died this month of COVID, at 84 — sounds fascinating. His New York Times obituary say he “played a furious, thoroughly original style of blues under the name Mr. Satan, first as a solo act on the streets of Harlem and then as part of the duo Satan and Adam….

“Half bluesman, half street preacher, Mr. Magee was a fixture on 125th Street throughout the 1980s, parked one block east of the Apollo Theater, where he drew crowds of curious onlookers and fans. He played electric guitar, sang and stomped out a rhythm with a pair of hi-hat cymbals simultaneously, a feat of musicianship often overshadowed by his otherworldly charisma, bushy Moses-like beard and koan-like sayings.” Click here for the full story, and below to hear Mr. Satan.

Roundup: RBG, EV, IVF, More

A crowd of 75 people — of all ages — gathered last night at Westport’s Unitarian Church to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The vigil was held while the late US Supreme Court justice was being honored in Washington, DC.

(Photo/David Vita)


Pink Aid is going semi-virtual.

The renowned breast cancer organization celebrates their 10th anniversary on Saturday, October 10 at Mitchells of Westport.

There’s a fashion show featuring Brunello Cucinelli; video appearances by the CMA-winning band Old Dominion, Hoda Kotb, Giuliana Rancic and Susie Essman from “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; a photo booth, and mixologist.

But you can also enjoy Pink Aid’s gala at home.

You can pick up a “Pink Aid Party in a Box” at Mitchells’ Westport or Greenwich stores. Charcuterie boards and dinners from Marcia Selden Catering will be delivered in Fairfield and Westchester counties.

For tickets and more information, click here.


Who doesn’t love a parade? Particularly one that — these days — includes everyone driving their own cars.

As part of National Drive Electric Week — who knew?! — 1st Selectman Jim Marpe will wave the checkered flag on Sunday (September 27, 10 p.m.). The site is Donut Crazy, in the Westport train station eastbound parking.

Organized by the Electric Vehicle Club of Connecticut and Sustainable Fairfield Task Force, a parade of 30 EVs will be led through downtown and into Fairfield by

Organized by the Electric Vehicle Club of Connecticut & Sustainable Fairfield Task Force as part of National Drive Electric Week. Marpe will speak and wave the checkered flag to kick it off, and the parade of ~30 decorated & flagged electric vehicles will be led through downtown Westport and into Fairfield by Police Chief Foti Koskinas. He’ll drive (of course) the department’s Tesla Model 3.

Electric vehicles in the parade include a 1903 Baker Torpedo, Vespa Elettrica scooter, Porsche Taycan, Volkswagen E-Golf, Jaguar i-Pace, Nissan Leaf, Kia Soul, Chevy Bolt, and Tesla Models Y, S, and 3.

Socially distant spectators welcome all along the parade route. Click here to see.


Timothy Cole’s The Sea Glass Mysteries goes on sale October 6. He says:

“I want to take the reader on a fun romp through the seamy underside of a wealthy seaside suburbia.

“In this case, the scene of the crime is a highbrow enclave within Westport, Connecticut…yes, home to solid strivers, but with a light sprinkling of moguls and misanthropes.

“Our unlikely protagonist? Ex-CIA intelligence officer Dasha Petrov. Think Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple with a Russian accent.

“She’s now retired from her secret life in America’s clandestine services. But her skills remain pin sharp as she teams with a Westport police detective and a local television reporter. Sergeant Anthony DeFranco becomes Westport’s finest as he confronts treachery in his own ranks….

To learn more — and order — click here.


What is called Connecticut’s “first non-conventional IVF center” opens in Westport on November 2.

Rejuvenating Fertility Center is founded by Dr. Zaher Merhi. He has served Manhattan residents for more than a decade. One of the managers is Jessica Haroun, a 2014 Staples High School grad.

RFC services include ovarian rejuvenation, natural (non-medication, no blood draw) IVF, and ozone sauna therapy. The location is 225 Main Street.


And finally … Roy Hammond — better known as Roy “C” — died last week at 81. A soul singer, he also wrote and produced the Honey Drippers’ “Impeach the President.” The New York Times called it “a political funk barnstormer released in 1973 as the Watergate scandal unfolded around President Richard M. Nixon. It was resuscitated just over a decade later by the Queens hip-hop producer Marley Marl, who sampled its crisp drum intro for MC Shan’s ‘The Bridge.’ Released in 1986, that track caused a tectonic shift in the sound of New York rap.”

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: Positano, Poll Workers, Church Aid, More


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

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

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

Despite what the sign says, Positano is now closed.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Westport poll workers, in 2017.


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

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

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

Saugatuck Congregational Church (Photo/Storm Sorrentino)


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

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

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

Westport Unitarian Church.


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

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


How to rehearse in a pandemic? Outdoors.

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

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


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

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


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

Grow-A-Row Sustains Bridgeport

Earlier this year, it was estimated that 25% of all Bridgeport residents lacked reliable access to a sufficient amount of affordable, nutritious food.

And that was before the coronavirus.

The pandemic has made the food insecurity situation worse — both because more people are economically vulnerable, and fewer are able or willing to donate to food pantries and soup kitchens.

Sustainable Westport is riding to the rescue.

The townwide organization — which already promotes a Zero Food Waste Challenge, encouraging composting, food scrap recycling and redistribution to food insecure people — has ramped up their efforts.

They’ve partnered with Christ & Holy Trinity Church and Westport Community Garden.

The Garden’s Grow-a-Row initiative encourages Westporters to plant an extra row in their gardens, then donate a portion of their harvest to our food insecure neighbors in Bridgeport.

Westport Community Garden provides gardeners row markers to indicate a portion of their plot for donations.

There is already a collection bin at the garden, on Hyde Lane. Now everyone else can drop off produce in green bins inside Christ & Holy Trinity’s Branson Hall. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.

Donated food is brought to the Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (the FEED Center). Student chefs convert the produce into delicious meals, for distribution in soup kitchens. Some of the produce also goes to the United Congregational Church in Bridgeport, for its Feel the Warmth supper.

Vito Pidalla is a graduate of Chef Raquel Rivera’s intensive culinary training program. Rivera, owner of a Pinch of Salt of Bridgeport, provides culinary training for low-income residents for food industry employment and entrepreneurial ventures.

Grow-a-Row is a collaborative effort between the Church’s Aileen Brill and the Community Garden’s Amy Unikewicz. Both organizations have a long history of providing food to the needy.

NEXT COURSE: Sustainable Westport sponsored a webinar on eating more with less. Click here to see.

A sampling of the food donations grown and collected at the Westport Community Garden through the Grow-A-Row initiative.

Photo Challenge #293

Seems we’re all going around in circles these days. Or caught in a maze of emotions. Or we feel like we’re in a labyrinth, with no way back to normal.

So it was fitting that last week’s Photo Challenge showed the labyrinth on the front lawn of Saugatuck Congregational Church. It’s actually a calming spot, a place to wander, de-stress and focus.

Saugatuck’s labyrinth spans 50 feet, lined with over 1,500 bricks. Its 7 rings are designed to “traverse the material world through to the realm of higher consciousness.” Renowned dowser Marty Cain helped determine the optimal location of the rings, spine and entrance.

The labyrinth was part of church member and then-Staples High School student Liam Borner’s Eagle Scout project. He got help from various parishioners, and pastor Alison Patton. Installation was done by members and friends of the church. Click here for last week’s photo; click here for more info on the labyrinth.

Morley Boyd, Iain Bruce, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Susan Iseman, Lois Himes and Katherine Ross all knew exactly where Lee Scharfstein’s photo was — and what it showed.

How about this week’s Photo Challenge? If you know where in Westport you’d find it, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/David Loffredo)

A Tu B’Av To Remember

The email heading yesterday was “Look what you started.”

Uh oh. I’ve tried to do my best in this crazy post-Isaias world. What had I done now?

Instead, alert “06880” reader Ken Kantor’s message made my day. If not my week, month and year. Sure, the bar is low in 2020. But read on:

Dan, I want to share a special moment from today that was partially your doing.

I am a Staples High School grad (Class of 1986). I moved back to Westport 10 years ago with my wife and 2 daughters.

I read your “06880” post this morning about charging stations and WiFi at The Conservative Synagogue. My family went over to charge all our devices and let our girls update their Tik Toks. The building was closed due to COVID-19, but they had charging stations setup under a tent outside.

I soon realized that we were at temple on our 16th wedding anniversary, standing under a tent (which can double as a “chuppah” — a Jewish ceremonial canopy under which a Jewish couple stands during their wedding ceremony). So, I thought: What a perfect moment to renew my wedding vows with my beautiful wife Rachel!

I knocked on the door to see if Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn would be willing to perform an impromptu ceremony. The staff said the rabbi had left, but they would call him.

He very graciously came back to the temple. During the mini-ceremony, Rabbi Wiederhorn noted that this is also the week of a small Jewish holiday, Tu B’Av. In modern Israel it is celebrated as a holiday of love, similar to Valentine’s Day. So, another good sign!

From right: Rachel and Ken Kantor, with Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn.

Thank you to Rabbi Wiederhorn for the wedding ceremony and the WiFi! Thank you Dan for unknowingly setting this up! And thank you to my wife for marrying me again — in a parking lot, while charging our devices, while social distancing, and while completely embarrassing our 2 teenage daughters, Ruby Kantor (grade 9) and Emma Kantor (grade 8)!

Happy anniversary — and Tu B’Av!

 

(Traffic) Lights At The End of The Tunnel

Happy Friday!

It’s happier for people living near the Post Road, from the Roseville Road (McDonald’s) light to the Southport line.

Their power is back on. Congrats, guys! Let’s hope the rest of us follow soon.

Eversource says that the “vast majority of customers” will have power restored by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11. Customers in isolated areas or those with issues close to individual homes may be without power for longer.

As of 9 p.m. last night (Thursday), Eversource had restored power to 434,919 customers across the state. It was still out for 480,125 customers.

That includes 10,169 Westport customers. That’s still 80.5% of the town without power.

In Weston, meanwhile, the emergency dispatch center — damaged by fire — has been restored to full capacity. Power is out in that town to 93% of customers.

Evesource says crews arrived yesterday from Massachusetts. We saw some here from Pennsylvania. Others are coming — hopefully soon — to Connecticut from New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Canada.

Drive safely, guys. But quickly!

Valley Forge Road in Weston is still closed. (Photo/Steve Mochel)


This will put a smile on your face — and keep you smiling all day.

Lisa Russ lives in Georgia. Her parents — both in their 90s — live on Rocky Ridge Road, off Valley Road. It’s impassible still, due to a downed tree.

Concerned about ambulance access in case of an emergency, Lisa called Westport’s Department of Human Services. Margaret Pinheiro and Kristen Witt sprang into action.

They worked with the Fire Department to evaluate the situation. They offered to find hotel space, if needed.

Then last night, director of Human Services Elaine Daignault surprised Lisa’s parents with dinner, fruit, water — and toilet paper.

“Their level of care and concern is amazing,” Lisa says. “I can’t thank them enough!”

Rocky Ridge Road is still cut off from the rest of Westport. (Photo/Linda Doyle)


Other Westporters are helping too. The Conservative Synagogue on Hillspoint Road, near the Post Road, now has power and WiFi. Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn says all are welcome!

And Jacques Voris has a generator, which anyone can use to charge devices. Call his cell (203-505-4957) for details.


Some folks have wondered why the Longshore golf course has been closed. Here’s one reason:

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)


Pippa Bell Ader of Sustainable Westport proudly announced that thousands of food scraps have been recycled since the program began July 6.’

But it’s temporarily suspended. The transfer station employee who oversees the project is helping with other duties after the storm. And not enough volunteers are available to assist either.

The food scraps recycling effort will begin as soon as possible, Pippa promises.


Cynthia Mindell understands this is a First World problem. She empathizes with everyone sitting in a car in a parking lot trying to use WiFi. But, she cautions, please don’t idle! It’s against the law — and it can be harmful to people sitting nearby.


Speaking of free WiFi: Is the Westport Library parking lot, Riverwalk or Jesup too crowded?

Sharon Fiarman reports you can log on at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. That’s where the Farmers’ Market and Remarkable Theater drive-in movies are (in better times).

And speaking of our great (and new) Westport tradition of hanging out on Jesup Green, scarfing up the library’s internet access: With all the folks there, I’m surprised no one has taken it upon him or herself to pick up the many branches and limbs still scattered all over the green.

A big branch lies in the foreground of this peaceful, post-Isaias Jesup Green scene. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)


Need an absentee ballot to vote in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primary elections?

They’re available this Saturday (9 a.m. to noon) at the rear entrance to Town Hall (accessible, if Myrtle Avenue is still closed, via St. John Place).

That’s also where you can return completed ballots — in a secure drop box — any time before 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Pick up absentee ballots here on Saturday morning; drop them off here before Tuesday at 8 p.m. (Photo/Pippa Bell Ader)


A warning to art lovers: There will be no “06880” Saturday morning art gallery tomorrow. All the great works I planned to run are locked up on my desktop computer, inaccessible for (hopefully) not too much longer.

A blast from the past: “Mid-July Flowers” (Amy Schneider)

And finally … sure, markets are opening up in town. But this is still an appropriate tune:

Church’s “Black Lives Matter” Sign Vandalized

In 2016, the Unitarian Church in Westport hung a “Black Lives Matter” banner at its Lyons Plains Road entrance.

A few months later — just days after neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups marched in Charlottesville — the banner was ripped from its post.

(Photo/David Vita)

Church officials replaced it — and added a “Hate Has No Home Here” sign next to it.

This time, it took just 5 days before it too was gone.

Another replacement was ordered.

Senior minister Rev. Dr. John Morehouse said, “Every time the banner is vandalized it fortifies our resolve to replace it and underscores the very need for its existence.”

Last week, the Unitarian Church sign was vandalized again. Written under the phrase “Black Lives Matter” was scrawled: “Is A Racist, Terrorist Organization.”

Someone then covered the graffiti with black tape, in an attempt to blot it out.

Each time haters struck, the church — well known for known for its commitment to diversity, inclusion, openness and social justice — contributes $100 to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Each time too, community reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Strangers have sent words of support, and offered to help pay for a new banner.

“Black Lives Matter is a movement dedicated to the proposition that black lives should matter as much as white lives do today,” Rev. Morehouse says.

“But the fact is that currently, white lives matter more by almost every measure.  Our Unitarian Universalist faith community has been, and continues to be, dedicated to defeating racism. The fact of the matter is that Black Lives Matter is avowedly anti-racist in its call for black and brown lives to matter as much as white lives.”

Once again, the church will repair the sign.

Once again, representatives say, “it will remain as a testament to our community’s aspiration.”

Westport’s Unitarian Church.