Category Archives: technology

It’s Back! Wireless Tower Proposed Again In Greens Farms

In 2014, a proposal to build a 120-foot cell tower on private Greens Farms Road property roiled the town.

Some residents praised it as much-needed technology. Others feared it would ruin the view of our “gateway to the beach.”

After several months of hearings, comments and hand-wringing, the applicant — North Atlantic Towers — quietly dropped the proposal.

Now, Tarpon Towers II has retained All Points Technology. They’re evaluating a “wireless communications facility modification” at the same site: 92 Greens Farms Road. That’s on the south side, abutting I-95 and not far from Hillspoint Road. 

The cell tower was — and is again — planned for the house on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

The facility would include a 124-foot tall monopole tower with a new 35′ x 64′ gravel-based fenced equipment compound. An access drive and underground electrical and telephone service would extend from Greens Farms Road. The new tower and equipment compound would allow for multiple service providers to be located there in the future.

To comply with the National Historic Preservation Act, the public has until July 7 to submit written comments regarding any potential effects of the facility on historic properties. Send to: All-Points Technology Corporation; Attention:  Jennifer Young Gaudet; 567 Vauxhall Street Extension, Suite 311, Waterford, CT 06285. The phone number is 860-663-1697 ext. 231; email is jyounggaudet@allpointstech.com.

A cell tower.

Although the proposed tower facility location is at a private residence, under state law the Connecticut Siting Council has exclusive jurisdiction over telecommunication facilities like this monopole.

Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission and other local land-use bodies have no jurisdiction over such a facility. If Tarpon Towers continues to seek this location for its proposed tower, the CSC will have oversight going forward.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says, “As noted, we have dealt with this specific request once before. It is at the very preliminary stage of a larger process.

“Following the evaluation of the proposed tower facilities on historic properties, Tarpon Towers would be expected to file a petition with the CSC and seek consultation with the town. It is anticipated that the town attorney will seek to understand the necessity of the proposed tower facilities, as well as whether other sites may be available.

“Depending upon timing and procedure, eventually, there would be a public hearing on the matter. The town will make every reasonable effort to keep the public apprised of additional requests for input or revisions to the proposed plans.”

Drones, Sludge: An Environmental Report

A pair of environmentally conscious readers have asked “06880” to convey some important messages. I’m happy to give them both the talking stick today.

Nature lover J.C. Martin noted in a recent Roundup that oystercatchers frantically attack drones — thinking they’re predators.

American oystercatchers — and many other birds — will do anything to protect their young. (Photo/Tina Green)

He unearthed some fascinating facts. For example, The Spruce says:

When drones are flown too close to rookeries or bird nests, the noise and unfamiliar presence of a drone could drive adult birds away. This can lead to neglect or abandonment of vulnerable eggs and chicks, reducing the breeding success of sensitive bird populations.

Some birds, particularly raptors, are very territorial about their nesting areas, and if drones are perceived to be a threat, the birds may attack the remote vehicles. This diverts the parent birds from caring for their hatchlings, foraging or otherwise tending to their own survival needs. Birds that attack drones could also be injured by moving blades or other parts of the equipment.

Birds that congregate on leks for courtship displays can be particularly sensitive to disturbances, and if a drone appears to be a flying predator, the birds may scatter prematurely. This can drastically impact their ability to find suitable mates, and if the lek is not revisited, it may take generations for birds to find and begin using another suitable site with the same success.

If a drone disturbs a foraging bird, the bird may abandon a good food source and be forced to seek less abundant or nutritious resources. This type of disruption can have a catastrophic impact on overall bird populations, as malnourished birds do not breed as successfully or raise as many healthy chicks.

Hold that drone!

Drones are banned from Connecticut Audubon Society sanctuaries. Click here for details.

If you see a drone flying over a protected area, call local police. If the protected area is on state property, call the Connecticut Environmental Conservation Police: 860-424-3333.

And if you don’t care about birds, consider your drone. Large predators are more than capable of destroying it!

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Meanwhile, longtime Westporter Elaine Marino worries about the Saugatuck River “sludge” she sees lapping at the corner of Parker Harding Plaza, near the pedestrian bridge and “Starfish” sculpture behind Rye Ridge Deli.

Elaine says: “It appears to be composed of plant material (algae,  grasses, reeds), oils of some type and some trash. I am concerned because I saw ducks swimming near the sludge.”

Parker Harding “sludge” (Photo/Elaine Marino)

“I would be happy to use a pool leaf skimmer net and try to remove as much as I can, if that is advisable. Do ‘06880’ readers have any thoughts? I want to make sure I do the right thing.”

If you’ve got ideas for Elaine, click “Comments” below. If the answer is “go for it,” she will!

Roundup: Theaters, TVs, Films …

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Westporters know that this is a great community for music.

Now it’s official. The Westport Public Schools are officially a “Best Community for Music Education.” The designation comes from the NAMM Foundation — part of the National Association of Music Merchants.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because this is our 9th “Best Community” honor in a row.

The award is for school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. School officials answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs.

The schools benefit from partners like the Westport Library, Levitt Pavilion, PTAs, Westport Permanent Art Collections and Westport Arts Advisory Committee.

No word on whether there’s an official ceremony for the award. If so, there will be no shortage of entertainment.

Staples and middle school musicians work hard to put on good shows. (Photo/Inklings)

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Speaking of the arts: White Barn — Lucille Lortel’s famed experimental theater that straddled the Westport-Norwalk line — and the actress/director’s nearby home were demolished a while ago.

Now a number of trees have been cleared too, in preparation for the construction of 15 homes.

Some remaining wetlands won’t be touched, nor will 5 acres around the pond that are now part of the Norwalk Land Trust.

But this is the scene, not far from what was once the White Barn Theater:

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And speaking of the theater (again): The Westport Country Playhouse is still going strong. However, due to COVID, its 4 productions are online this year.

But the stage won’t be completely dark. Three cabaret performances will take place live. The special shows — music and comedy, with limited seating — are benefits for the storied theater.

On June 26, Brad Simmons and Tony Pinkins present Broadway favorites, contemporary covers, classics and more.

Larry Owens’ “Sondheimia” (July 17) explores time, love and ambition through Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics.

Tony Award winner Ali Stroker shares songs from her repertoire on July 24.

Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday (May 14, noon). Click here for information and purchases.

Meanwhile, the Playhouse is partnering with the Connecticut Comedy Festival to present Michael Ian Black. The show is this Saturday (May 15, 7 p.m.) — and while it’s live, it’s outdoors. Attendees should bright chairs, to set up in the parking lot. Food will be available for purchase in the garden.

Black is remembered for the cult classic film “Wet Hot American Summer” and the Netflix series of the same name, as well as his work in the comedy troupe The State. Click here for tickets and more information.

The Westport Country Playhouse offers limited seating for this year’s cabarets.(Photo/Robert Benson)

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The Westport Garden Club’s annual sale — a beloved event since 1928, though canceled last year by COVID — returns this Friday (May 14, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).

More than 1,000 perennials, including native varieties, will be for sale on Jesup Green. Club members will be on hand to answer questions. Can you dig it?

Getting ready for the sale.

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Speaking of which: The Westport Garden Club’s plant sale is not the only place to ask questions.

This Monday (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), Wakeman Town Farm’s Pollinator Pathway talk offers a an opportunity to ask master gardeners: What to plant where? What’s eating my plants? How can I keep them happy?

University of Connecticut advanced master gardener Alice Ely and veggie whisperer/WTF farmer Ryan Brunelle will “field” questions. Click here to register.

Master gardener Ryan Brunelle.

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Digital Eye Strain and Computer Vision Syndrome are real issues. One of Mark Motyl’s young relatives suffers from looking too long and closely at his phone.

The pandemic exacerbated the problem, with remote learning and working, followed by more hours watching TV. Light-emitting pixels damage many eyes.

Motyl offers a solution. He’s the creator of Vivid-Tek — an immersive theater whose components hide in a credenza or bench.

Light from Vivid-Tek’s screens is reflected — not direct. Without sacrificing resolution, it is gentle, tolerable, and more “cinematic.”

Motyl’s screens can be used during the day for remote learning, Zoom calls, exercise classes, gaming and more. When not in use, they disappear into custom furniture.

Vivid-Tek’s showroom is at 1252 Post Road East (the former Splatterbox, near Fortuna’s). For more information click here, call 203-(203) 246-2011, or email info@vivid-tek.com.

Vivid-Tek’s screen and controls can be hidden in a bench.

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Last month, “06880” reported that 2 Bank of America branches — the one next to the Starbucks drive-through, and another further east on the Southport line — had been permanently closed.

But, BOA said, customers could use the main Westport branch — next to Design Within Reach.

Yesterday, I had a non-ATM banking need. I headed downtown.

Nope! Still closed!

That’ll teach me to read “06880.”

That about sums it up.

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Work on the Aquarion water tank opposite Staples High School is moving along. Earlier today, a huge concrete pour was captured by alert “06880” reader — who was probably stuck momentarily in traffic — Seth Schachter.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Speaking of Staples: The boys rugby team is having a great season.

They’ve qualified for one of 16 spots at the national tournament in Kansas City June 17-19 — and are raising $50,000 to cover travel expenses. Click here for more information, and to help.

The 2021 Staples High School boys rugby team.

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Staples High School Class of 2011 graduate (and swim team captain/musician) Margot Bruce is finishing up an MFA in cinema at San Francisco State University. Her thesis project is a film called “Harbor.” But she needs to raise $15,000 to make it.

Margot has launched an Indigogo campaign (click here). Click below for a short video, in which she explains the film’s intriguing themes.

Click below to see Margot’s first-year film. Filmed entirely underwater, it is a metaphor for grieving the loss of a loved one.

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The canal separating Canal Road from Saugatuck Island floods regularly.

But not always.

Other times — like yesterday — it looks like this:

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografik)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Eve Potts. Even the roadway near her Regents Park condo are beautiful this spring.

(Photo/Eve Potts)

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And finally … on this day in 1989, Ron Wilson died of a brain aneurysm, at 44. You may not know his name — but you sure know his drumming:

Roundup: Bus Accident, Sundance, Itzhak Perlman …

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There’s a “For Lease” sign outside the old Post Road West building, near Wright Street.

But, Frank Rosen notes, the building is in disrepair. Paint is peeling; shingles are askew. It will take a lot more than a new tenant to bring back some of the beauty to this once-handsome mansion-turned-office.

Demolition by neglect?

(Photo/Frank Rosen)

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There was a school bus accident yesterday, on Easton Road near Bayberry Lane. In the photo below, a small car was wedged under the far side of the bus.

Sandy Rothenberg says: “I have traveled this intersection for the past 35 years. It has become increasingly dangerous. The sight lines are very limited, and cars fly around the curve on Easton Road towards Westport. A very small sign indicates ‘slow curve.’ I hope this brings needed attention and improvements to this road.”

(Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

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Sundance has opened on Main Street — by appointment only, anyway.

A sign on the former Anny Taylor store instructs shoppers to scan a QR code, for a link to an email.

No word yet on when the physical doors will open.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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Don’t miss Itzhak Perlman in Westport!

Tickets are still available for the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” event this Thursday (May 13, 7 p.m.).

This year’s livestreamed “Booked” fundraiser will include videos, live musical tributes, and a conversation with Perlman that is just for this audience. No recording will be made of the program.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Itzhak Perlman

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Speaking of the Library: One of the “star attractions” of the transformed space is Verso Studios. The state-of-the-art audio and broadcast studios can help anyone become a music, podcast, video or audiobook star.

Yesterday, the library launched a new Verso Studios website. Click here to watch and listen to a wide variety of recordings, podcasts and videos — and to find out how to use the studios yourself.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

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In March, “06880” reported on a proposal by Abilis to turn 136 Riverside Avenue into a home for special needs affordable housing.

The Planning & Zoning Commission has granted a permit for a second floor addition, interior and exterior renovations, and site work for apartments for 4 special needs people, and another unit for an income-eligible staff member.

More approvals are needed. But this is good news for special needs individuals and their families. And it’s 5 more important affordable housing units for our town.

136 Riverside Avenue.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci and former 2nd Selectman/Board of Finance chair Avi Kaner shared a stage last night.

The New York Board of Rabbis honored both men with Humanitarian Awards , for their work during the pandemic.

Dr. Fauci’s contributions are well known. Kaner’s may be less famous. But the co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets was cited for the work his family-owned business did during the pandemic.

Morton Williams stores never closed. Employees kept working; senior executives ensured that the supply chain continued.

The company became a lifeline to New York. They worked with the CDC to adjust trucking regulations so that truckers would be comfortable making deliveries. They were among the first in the nation to set aside special hours for seniors and immunocompromised customers; they lobbied aggressively for mask use, and ensured that supermarket workers were included in phase 1B of the state’s vaccinations.

Click below for a clip of the introduction:

Click below for Kaner’s speech:

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Thomas Quealy spotted this on North Compo Road.

“Time to update our signs,” he says.

(Photo/Thomas Quealy)

He’s right. The Westport Arts Center moved over a year ago from Riverside Avenue to Newtown Turnpike.

In fact, it no longer exists. It’s now called MoCA Westport.

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Staples High School Class of 2019 graduate Anthony Salgado met Pierce Slutzky years ago, at Camp Laurel. Anthony says:

“Pierce was an amazing kid who was taken from us at age 17. He was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 14, and tirelessly fought medulloblastoma for 3 years.

“Pierce did not complain. He continued in high school, achieving an A average and making National Honor Society and Foreign Language Society.

“It is my honor to ask people to join in a CT Challenge bike ride to keep Pierce’s fight alive forever. I want to help those who are currently diagnosed, and those who may be diagnosed in the future.” Click here for the link.

Pierce Slutzky

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” shot comes from Roseann Spengler. She spotted this cute couple by the Saugatuck River:

(Photo/Roseann Spengler)

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And finally … Lloyd Price died last week in New Rochelle, from complications of diabetes. He was 88.

He had “Personality.” He had many other hits, including “Stagger Lee” and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” He’s a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. He led quite a life inside and outside of music. Click here for a full obituary.

 

David Pogue Spaces Out

The “06880” tagline is “Where Westport Meets the World.”

Today, Westport went beyond. We met outer space.

Let David Pogue — our Westport neighbor/tech guru (New York Times, Yahoo, Missing Manual books)/Scientific American writer, PBS “NOVA” science and tech correspondent, and (most importantly for this story) “CBS Sunday Morning” reporter — tell the tale.

David Pogue , reporting.

Reporting for “CBS Sunday Morning” is the best gig in TV journalism, hands down. The stories are long enough (6 to 9 minutes) to really develop them. There’s enough budget to travel, and shoot multiple interviews for each story. And you can pitch your own segment ideas.

In my 19 years as a “Sunday” correspondent, I’ve been to some exciting places and met some fantastic people. But nothing was as thrilling as making the story that aired this morning.

The idea was to report on an important milestone for the International Space Station: 20 years of continuous occupation by astronauts and scientists. Would NASA help us tell the story?

Yes, they would. They offered to make a 35-minute guided video tour of the station, conducted by Colonel Mike Hopkins and Commander Victor “Ike” Glover. And they offered me an interview with Mike and Ike, in space. A video interview. From my living room in Westport.

When I was 6 years old, my parents shook me awake one night so I could run to the TV to watch the Apollo 11 moon landing. Shortly thereafter, President Nixon, in the White House, made a phone call to Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface. That technological, improbable feat left a powerful impression on my 6-year-old self. He made a phone call to the moon?!

And here I was, about to do the same thing — but over Skype! (Yes, NASA uses Skype. Not Zoom. I’m sure they have their reasons.)

There was a lot of prep. The audio would be 2-way, but not the video. I’d be able to see Mike and Ike on the station, but they would not see me. A couple of days in advance, my producer Alan Golds and I joined NASA for a practice call.

I was determined to make the most of my 20 minutes. I didn’t want to ask questions the astronauts had heard a thousand times. I didn’t want to waste time with queries whose answers anyone could find with a quick Google search. I asked my Twitter followers for suggestions (they came up with great ones). Not so much “Is it fun to float in zero gravity?”; more like “Is there any reason to wear shoes?” and “What do you miss most from Earth?”

I didn’t sleep much the night before the shoot. I really, really wanted to nail this interview. OK, sue me—I’m a space nerd.

Just another day in Westport: calling the International Space Station.

On the day of the shoot, CBS sent a camera crew to the house, to film my end of the conversation from 3 different angles. On the Space Station, they’d have only one fixed camera.

NASA requested that we place the Skype call a full hour before the conversation was to begin—and to place a cellphone call simultaneously, on speaker, as a backup. The interview would be limited to 20 minutes — not because that was all the time Mike and Ike could spare, but because the Space Station orbits the earth once every 90 minutes. Beyond 20 minutes, they’d be out of range of the satellite that beamed their signal back to earth.

NASA had also sent me a script as a Word document, indicating how to begin the call. Every audio or video call to Station begins with this exchange. (Yes, NASA refers to it as “Station,” not “the Station.”) Following the script ensures maximum efficiency and clarity:

Capcom: Station, this is Houston. Are you ready for the event?

Astronauts: Houston, this is Station. We are ready.

Capcom: “CBS Sunday Morning,” this is Mission Control Houston. Please call Station for a voice check.

Pogue: Station, this is David Pogue with CBS “Sunday Morning.” How do you hear me?

Station: (reports voice quality. If acceptable…) We are ready to speak with you.

Finally, at 1:25 ET, Capcom said the magic words — “Please call Station for a voice check” — and that was it. Mike and Ike appeared on my computer screen, and they began the interview.

FROM SPACE!

The delay was about one second; it reminded me of making phone calls to Europe back in the day. But jokes still worked, and the conversation flowed nicely. In what seemed like a couple of minutes, it was time to wind it up.

I had just placed what must be the world’s first Westport-to-space video call. I still feel high as a kite.

(Watch the resulting six-minute “CBS Sunday Morning” story and full 20-minute interview below.)

Library Partners With Major Recording Artist

The Westport Library’s Transformation Project turned a great building into an amazing one.

The Forum, new stage, upgraded MakerSpace and welcoming café drew most of the attention.

But the Verso recording studios — with state-of-the-art recording equipment and spectacular post-production technology — is one of the revamped library’s most impressive features.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

And it’s about to get more impressive.

A major — and I do mean “major” — recording artist has just signed a contract to use the studio for an upcoming album.

“It doesn’t get bigger or more exciting than this,” says Library executive director Bill Harmer. “Trust me. This is huge.”

I am not allowed to use his name in the body of this story (apparently, to avoid it being picked up by search engines). But here are a couple of clues:

  • He lives in Weston.
  • In the 1960s, he could not “get no satisfaction.”
  • Yet he did have some “sympathy for the devil.”
  • And though “wild horses” couldn’t drag me away to write his name here, I am allowed to link to it. Click here to see.

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.

Collective’s Virtual (And Very Cool) Art Gallery Opens

When the pandemic struck, Westport’s many artists kept creating. Stuck in their studios, they produced some astonishing work.

The downside: Stuck in their studios, they had little opportunity to showcase it. Galleries shut down. Auctions ended. Art shows stopped.

Sure, they could post images on their websites. But art is 3-dimensional. Technology is only 2.

Fortunately, our artists think in many dimensions. Longtime Westporter and Staples High School graduate Trace Burroughs developed an interactive 3D gallery space, to show his work. It won an innovation award from the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County.

Since the Artists’ Collective of Westport — a lively, hard-working and fun group of 150+ — could not have live exhibits, Trace’s brother Miggs Burroughs suggested they hire him to create their own 3D gallery.

Working — virtually, of course — with a programmer in the Netherlands, they made it happen.

The Burroughses and Susan Fehlinger created a members’ Call for Entries. Nearly 90 responded.

Of course, digital files are not canvases or prints. There were new details to work out — font and image sizes, gallery lighting and shadows, decor and more, and to simplify things all images are square — but Collective members figured it all out.

Enter the 3D gallery …

The artists are thrilled. And the public — anyone, anywhere, around the world — who wants to appreciate (and buy!) Westporters’ art can now do so, 24/7/365.

No masks or social distancing required!

Click here to enter. For the best immersive experience, use a desktop computer. 3D graphics are robust, so it may take a few seconds to load.

… and then click to view individual works. This is by Jay Petrow.

 

Ian O’Malley: Hear, Hear!

Ian O’Malley is a noted Westporter. A 30-year New York radio personality (currently on Q-104.3) and a realtor with Compass Group, he’s on the board of directors of Homes with Hope. Many “06880” readers remember him for raffling off a bottle of single malt for Experience Camps.

Ian speaks frankly about his hearing loss. Yesterday was World Hearing Day. To celebrate, he sends along these thoughts:

If I can positively affect even one person by writing this, it will be worth it.

An old adage about music is: “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!” That’s a bunch of nonsense.

Ian O’Malley

During my long tenure in radio and TV, I’ve been exposed to “loud” a lot. It’s primarily from the constant use of headphones, whether for radio shows, voiceovers, or privately listening of music.

Yet without question the real culprit for me is concerts. I’ve never counted how many I’ve attended, but it has to be north of 1,000.

Much of the music I love doesn’t have excessive volume, such as big band/swing, classical or even blues. But my love of rock, and even more so heavy metal, definitely does.

Until I met Debbie, I had never worn ear plugs to a concert. I now realize that was pure insanity, with a price to pay: significant hearing loss.

Lack of proper hearing is something I’ve dealt with forever. My go-to relief was simply to turn things up. When I couldn’t do that, I suffered through whatever situation I was in.

I got adept at reading lips, leaning in during conversations to try and hear what was being said, and/or frequently asking someone to repeat themselves.

This could be especially nerve-wracking when meeting with potential real estate clients. Retaining information during an interview is our number one priority.

Yet especially in a restaurant or setting with plenty of background noise, I might as well have been trying to listen Charlie Brown’s teacher. It got to where I just made a point of laughing when the person speaking across from me did. They could have been saying “Ian, you are such an idiot.” I would have replied “Yup!’ and laughed along, completely clueless and not hearing a word.

My wife Deb finally got me to bite the bullet and get my hearing tested. She had repeatedly urged me to. Half was genuine concern for my well being. The other half was for her sanity.

Even though husbands are genetically predisposed to tuning out their better half on occasion, clearly I was not hearing her much of the time.

I finally got tested at the Audiology & Hearing Center in Fairfield. Though not as bad as Brian Johnson of AC/DC — whose doctors told him he could never be near concert amplification again unless he wanted to go completely deaf — my own hearing was very damaged.

Brian Johnson of ACDC, rocking on (and loudly).

Was I a candidate for hearing aids? I asked.

Yes.

Like the vast majority of folks, I always associated hearing aids with the elderly. I’m no spring chicken at 56 years old, and knew I would have to pony up for all those Van Halen concerts eventually.

Still, I was guessing more along the lines of 75 when I would have to come to terms with things.

Linda, a lovely and smart audiologist, suggested I try on a demo pair, use them for a week and get back to her with my thoughts. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I said sure. She put the hearing aids on me (which are all but invisible) and pressed the “on” button.

There was a wonderful video on social media a few years back. It shows a deaf baby getting fitted with hearing aids for the first time, and the reaction when they are turned on. The kid’s eyes go as wide as pie plates, and he  smiles. The same happened to me.

(Another analogy: It’s like the first time watching your favorite TV show or sport on HDTV.)

Back home, I walked into the kitchen where Deb was standing. She talked to me without knowing I had the hearing aids in (unless you’re inches from my head you can’t see them). I immediately got weepy. I’d honestly never heard her voice properly before.

She could tell they were tears of joy and relief. Realizing my hearing was now assisted, she said, “You idiot, I told you to get these years ago!”

Deb and Ian O’Malley, with their sons. (Photo/Xenia Gross)

For the next 10 minutes I stood on our porch, listening to the true sound of wind rustling through the leaves and birds chirping. It was like living in a whole new world. Not an hour goes by still without a “Wow!” moment.

My ego, pride and fear got in the way of something that clearly needed to be addressed. I’m so glad I did.

I probably could have said nothing about wearing hearing aids, and no one would have noticed. But I know that someone reading this is either like me, or knows someone suffering like I was for so long.

You don’t have to suffer. If your sight was headed south you’d go get glasses, right?

Maybe the term “hearing aids” has a stigma. Kind of like suggesting that if it’s too loud, you’re too old….

Meanwhile, if anyone has any questions, please reach out to me (ian.omalley@compass.com; 646-709-4332).

I’ll hear you loud and clear!

Roundup: Albert Pizzirusso, Sidewalks, Optimum,

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Albert Pizzirusso, a longtime Westport resident and owner of A&S Fine Foods in Westport and Stamford, died Sunday. He was 46

The Yonkers, New York native graduated from The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. He became chef at legendary restaurants, including the Rainbow Room, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and others. 

At the Rainbow Room he impressed Julia Child with his dedication. He was the only person in the kitchen who did not stop working when she entered. She noted that that commitment and focus proved he had what takes to go into business for himself. She was right.

Albert combined his love of Italian culture, great food and old school “let me make you an espresso” traditional service in his businesses, with quality of service and offerings from a bygone era.

He added value to his community through great generosity to local charities and organizations.

He is survived by his wife Patricia, with whom he ran A&S Fine Foods for 2 decades; parents Agnes and Angelo; brothers Mario (his twin), and Michael; sister-in-law Laura; nephews Matthew and Eric, and his beloved Yorkie, Eddie.

Due to current restrictions, services will limited to family and close friends. A lover of celebrating just about anything, a Celebration of Life will be held in his honor in Westport this summer.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Connecticut Humane Society in Westport.

Albert Pizzirusso

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On Sunday, Carole Schweid noted that the Treadwell/Riverside/Saugatuck Avenue intersection in front of Riverside Barber Shop had not been shoveled.

That spurred Robbie Guimond — owner of Bridgebrook Marina, across the street — into action. He was happy to help.

Ta-da! Here’s what the sidewalk looked like yesterday. Thanks, Robbie!

(Photo/Carole Schweid)

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For years, Optimum/Altice has had a monopoly on cablevision services throughout the area.

A new group — the Tristate Coalition for Fair Internet Service — is working on legal challenges 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.

Click here for details.

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Connect-Us Academy is a great Bridgeport-based after-school program that helps young people ages 16 to 21 cultivate professional business skills.

This Thursday (February 18, 4:30 p.m.), they welcome a new class. Students will share their experiences, and their excitement at what’s aheda.

Westporter Rich Eldh — co-founder emeritus of SiriusDecisions will deliver a keynote address. Click here to watch via Zoom.

Richard Eldh

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Valentine’s Day is gone. But love remains in the air.

And in cyberspace.

Play With Your Food’s performance of “Love Notes” — an evening of thought-provoking play readings and stories — is available online for a limited time.

Click here for the selections: “I Was Fine Until You Came Into the Room,” “My Life in France,” “Bar Mitzvah Boy,” “Love Poems for Married People” and “The Diaries of Adam and Eve,” followed by a talkback with the director and cast.

For more Play With Your Food information click here; follow on Facebook (@PWYFood) or Instagram (@playwithyourfoodct), or call 203-293-8729.

The Play With Your Food cast.

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As we slog through mid-February, Lou Weinberg provides a burst of color — and a reminder that spring is only 32 days away:

Female cardinal (Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … on this day in 1923, Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.