Category Archives: technology

Roundup: Ukraine Rally, Lynsey In London, Jersey Mike’s …

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A rally in support of the Ukrainian people, and against Russian aggression, is set for tomorrow (Saturday, March 26, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown.

A rally earlier this month drew hundreds of attendees. This will be smaller, but no doubt just as heartfelt.

Georgians have suffered under Russian rule. Earlier this month, these natives of that nation showed solidarity with Ukrainians on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

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Speaking of Ukraine: The world owes Lynsey Addario a huge debt of thanks.

The Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Fellow-winning New York Times photojournalist — and, not for nothing, a 1991 Staples High School graduate — has taken some of the most riveting photos in the month since Russia invaded Ukraine. Her images have opened billions of eyes to the horrors of this war.

Yesterday, Lynsey returned home — to her home in London, anyway. Her family there — and her parents, Westporters Phillip and Camille, and her 3 sisters spread across the US — are grateful for her safe return.

Lauren, Lynsey, Lisa and Lesley Addario — the 4 sisters.

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So far, we’ve heard — from various Jersey Mike’s communications — that they are “closed permanently” (front door) and “temporarily closed for renovation” (social media).

“06880” reader Jason Stiber used the company’s “Support” function to ask if they were closing the Westport location.

The response, from “Kristin” of the Customer Relations Team at Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems, Inc. in Manasquan (New Jersey, of course) was: “The store is relocating. That is all the information we have at this time. Please feel free to check back for updated information.”

So that’s a third option. Almost as difficult as deciding what to order there …

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“06880” reader James Grogan asks: “What are the best places — coffee shops, areas of the Library, etc. — in Westport (and surrounding areas) with Wi-Fi to get work done? I have a fully remote job, and want to change my routine.”

I’m sure he’s not the only one. If you’ve got a favorite spot — and don’t mind sharing it — click “Comments” below.

When the power went out during Tropical Storm Isais in 2020, Westporters took advantage of the library’s WiFi al fresco — masked and socially distanced, of course. (Photo/Miggs Burroughs)

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The other day, Wendy Crowther spotted the first osprey of the season. He returned  — right on time — to the Fresh Market perch.

Now Peter J. Swift sends along the first photo.  He appears to be settling in well. After all these years, his family are now natives.

(Photo/Peter J. Swift)

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Speaking of nature: Aspetuck Land Trust is all about preserving the land.

Except for invasive plants.

The non-profit’s next “Lunch & Learn” is Thursday (March 31, noon to 1:30 p.m. Zoom).

Discover what to remove — and how — with an expert panel. Click here to register. Click here for some great invasive plant resources, to get started.

Invasive vines (Photo/Darcy Sledge)

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There’s a new Lighthouse in Westport.

That’s the name of the peer-to-peer social support group for LGBTQ youth (and their allies), ages 12 to 19. It’s part of Kids in Crisis, the Greenwich-based social service organization.

Meetings take place every Monday from 5 to 7 p.m., at Toquet Hall. Two adults are always present, And there is food!

Questions? Email program coordinator Joe Belisle: lighthouse@kidsincrisis.org.

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The Westport Police Department earned national recognition for its work in helping donate more than 200 previously used ballistic vests and helmets to Ukrainian fighters.

They — along with departments in Brookfield, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, Norwalk, Stratford, Trumbull and Wilton, plus Western  Connecticut State University — joined the effort.

Police1 — a national website — highlighted the donations as its Photo of the Week:

Donated vests and helmets: Police1’s Photo of the Week.

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Yesterday’s Roundup carried news of a Ukrainian relief effort spearheaded by 1972 Staples High School graduates Tom and Mary-Jo Birtwell McCann.

They’ve added a GoFundMe page. Click here to help. Click here for a story on the effort from the Nantucket Current.

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Author Marlene Hauser is a former Westport resident, from the 1990s. She lives in England– but her new book “Geraniums” mentions her former town.

Westport is mentioned toward the end. After a long search, the main character is finally reunited with her mother — right here in town.

As for the title: When Marlene was here, she was a regular visitor to a Westport greenhouse. (Hat tip: Barbara Katz)

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Connectalent — the Westport-based recruiting company that places female talent and increases diversity within companies, –has just received B-Corp certification from B Lab.

Connectalent qualifies as a full-service recruiting agency that aims to solve a social issue through its work serving an underserved population of candidates — a group that faces chronic discrimination in a particular market, which includes job discrimination based on gender.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature shows off Lauri Weiser’s photography — and her creativity. This is her work:

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … in honor of Lynsey Addario’s safe return from Ukraine:

Teaming Up For Genius Ukraine Help

It was one of those small-world/Westport moments.

Years ago Jeff Manchester met Mehmet Sezgin, a potential banking partner, in Istanbul.

They discovered a connection: Jeff graduated from Staples High School in 1985, Five years earlier, Mehmet was a Turkish exchange student there.

Jeff Manchester

Jeff moved back to Westport several years ago. Mehmet is now in Miami. But they’re collaborating on a project with global implications. It’s a way for American credit card users to raise money to help Ukraine, through purchases at 20,000 retailers and restaurants — including several here in town. It aids Ukrainian merchants too.

Jeff has over 25 years experience in the “payments space,” as an executive vice president and the leader of card programs at GE Money. He’s now in charge of business development at myGini. The  company that helps banks and financial institutions provide loyalty programs and personalized promotions to customers.

When a consumer downloads the Worthy app on their phone, and enrolls their Mastercard or Visa credit or debit cards, whenever they dine or shop at a participating merchant, they get cash back — and cash will be sent to UNICEF for Ukrainian children too.

For example, one Westport merchant — Iganzio’s — offers 4% cash back: 2% to the purchaser, 2% to the charity.

Ignazio’s Pizza helps customers earn cash back — and help Ukrainian children.

Other Westport participants include

  • Capuli
  • Finalmente
  • Julian’s
  • Mexica
  • Pane e Bene
  • Romanacci
  • Rye Ridge Deli
  • Shake Shack
  • Via Sforza
  • Village Bagels
  • Vineyard Vines

In addition, for any Ukrainian-owned small business in the US that joins myGini’s network to offer cash back to American cardholders, myGini will waive set-up and marketing fees. myGini will also match that merchant’s total amount given as cash back to consumers, and donate it to UNICEF USA.

It’s a win-win-win: for consumers, merchants, and (especially) Ukrainian children.

Thanks to Jeff Manchester and fellow Staples alum Mehmet Sezgin, myGini is pure genius.

The myGini app.

Frontier Justice

Matt Murray grew up in Weston. He’s been a Westporter for 34 years. 

But now he’s cut the cord. Well, the telephone card, anyway. He writes:

For the first time in my life I do not have a landline.

My family started with CA 7-6278 (Capitol 7-6278).

I’ve had a Westport landline since moving here in 1988. It was installed by the late, great SNET (Southern New England Telephone, for newcomers).

SNET and its employees were good. Through various mergers and purchases (AT&T, SBC), the service declined as rates went up (no surprise). But we hung on to the landline (known as POTS = Plain Old Telephone Service). We liked the reliability (more on that). For a time, a fax connection was nice to have.

As the years went on we did not need a fax. But we kept the landline. It was useful when the power went out, during or after bad weather.

Recently, when friends, family and neighbors tried Frontier after getting an incentive or “deal” to switch, they went back to their prior carrier within 30 to 60 days. They said Frontier was so bad: technical, customer service, etc..

We retained the landline for “local” calling and friends far away. Loyalty was expensive, but the landline was reliable.

Up until last week.

As I headed to bed Tuesday night I saw a flashing light on our various phones. I picked one up. There was no dial tone.

I checked the other phones: same thing. I did some troubleshooting, but could tell I would not resolve it at that point.

The next day, I went online and tried more troubleshooting actions. I even went out to the NID (Network Interface Device) on the side of the house to review connections.

A chat with tech support confirmed there was an outage in our area. It was frustrating, but it prompted me to look at my bill.

My service was a “Digital Premium Plan.“ There is nothing “digital” about my landline service. I found this a bit misleading. It added to my annoyance with Frontier. The service rep said they had no estimate of when the outage would be repaired or resolved.

Reliability of a landline no longer existed. I kept getting texts saying the outage had not been fixed, and they still had no idea when it would be.

All this was the final straw. On Friday I called to cancel the service (an action that cannot be performed online).

The person attempted to appease me with a free month. After a decade of paying too much for the landline — um, no.

She offered to “hold the number” so it could be used elsewhere (“you’ve had that number since 1982.” No, it was 1988.).

She offered to have it forward to my mobile. Again, no thank you.

I realized I would no longer receive spam calls, or political robo calls. I started to like that concept a lot.

No, a Cablevision/Altice phone is no better than Frontier or my mobile.

And no, I will not be a happy camper when we lose power. I hope I can text Eversource or the Westport PD when something happens.

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But that’s not all the Frontier news today.

Longtime resident Bob Weingarten is the house historian and plaque coordinator for the Westport Museum for History & Culture.  He is also very interested in, and has written dozens of articles and stories about, the environment, recycling, solar energy and social issues.

Additionally, he’s a frustrated Frontier customer. Bob writes:

In 2020 “06880” posted a story about “Dangerous Cables” of phone and video companies in Westport. But it did not mention any service issues.

I’ve had a phone problem with Frontier, For over 5 years, whenever there’s a severe rainstorm our service in Greens Farms has failed. A repair lineman always comes within a few days. We’ve been told the issue is that circuits from the pole to the house are wet and limited, so switching to an available one was not possible. Frontier had to place new cables to the service pole nearest our house.

This occurred again February 8. The line went dead. I called Frontier. They scheduled repairs for the next day, and asked me to be home.

There are more utility cables today than ever before. (Photo/Morgan Mermagen)

 

No one showed up or called. Instead I got this message on my cell:

We are aware of the outage affecting your service.  We’re working quickly to repair the outage and we’ll let you know when it’s resolved.  To check the status of your network, download the myFrontier Mobile app.

I called, but Frontier would not commit to a new appointment. I received the same message from Frontier for days. I kept calling, but nothing happened.

I missed landline calls from doctors, family members and friends etc. They emailed and called my cell, wondering what was happening.

Daily messages from Frontier kept coming. I kept calling. On February 15 I insisted on speaking to a supervisor. I waited more than an hour on the phone. Finally a supervisor was “available.”

I told him there was no other outage in my area, and I hadn’t seen any Frontier personnel trying to fix a problem. I also asked for a local repair number. He said none was available. He put me on hold, then repeated the same status.

Within an hour, my phone service was fixed. Perhaps talking to the supervisor worked!

PS: Around the block, I saw an open phone circuit box, It may not have had anything to do with my repair, but it should not be exposed.

Frontier’s open box. (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

 

 

Cell Tower Balloon Test: How High Is 124 Feet?

As noted in this morning’s Roundup, 7 a.m. — the time arranged for today’s “balloon test,” showing the actual height of a proposed 124-foot cell tower on private property at 92 Greens Farms Road — came and went, without a balloon.

So did 8 and 9.

Finally — around 10 a.m. — the “balloon vendor” arrived. He (or it) had been delayed.

The balloon is up now. Here are 4 photos, with 2 views.

From Greens Farms Road, looking west. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Also from Greens Farms Road, looking west. (Photo/Claudia Shaum)

From the I-95 Hillspoint Road overpass, looking east (Andrew Colabella)

Also from the Hillspoint Road bridge, looking east. (Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

Westporters will argue about the wisdom of building the cell tower there, If you choose to use the “Comments” feature below, please use your full, real name — and, in the interest of full disclosure, include whether you are a neighbor or not.

Roundup: Twilight Zone, Parks & Rec Registration, Cell Tower …

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Submitted for your approval: “Westport in the Twilight Zone.”

Rod Serling used that “submitted” phrase only 3 times, as writer and host of one of television’s most acclaimed series ever. But it’s come to be associated with him.

Did you know that? And did you know that — beyond the famed ““Willoughby” episode, featuring a train ride to Saugatuck, Westport influenced other “Twilight Zone”s?

And why not? He lived here in the 1950s.

Find out more about Rod Serling and Westport tonight (Wednesday, March 2, 6 p.m., Zoom) at a free webinar: “Westport in the Twilight Zone.” The host and guide is Westport author/artist Arlen Schumer.

You can journey into that other world by clicking here. The meeting ID is: 884 7739 9778. The passcode is 653762. No advance sign-up is necessary.

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Registration for many Westport Parks & Recreation’s spring and summer programs began online at 9 a.m. this morning. Registration for Camp Compo, RECing and pickleball begins later: 9 a.m. on Monday, March 28.

Spots go quickly. Click here to see all the choices.

Problems? Email recreation@westportct.gov or call 203-341-5152.

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Kitt Shapiro hosted an overflow crowd last night at WEST, the great downtown women’s store she owns.

But the focus was not on shopping. She was there as an author. Her book “Eartha & Me: A Daughter’s Love Story in Black and White” — published in November — is already in its second printing.

It’s a memoir of growing up with her mother, Eartha Kitt. Nearly everyone there had already read it. They asked pointed, poignant and provocative questions. Kitt described her mother’s influence and legacy — on her, and on the world.

The event was sponsored by AWARE (Assisting Women with Actions, Resources and Education), the non-profit that — like Eartha Kitt and Kitt Shapiro — empowers women every day.

Kitt Shapiro, and the WEST crowd. (Photo/John Videler Photography)

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A “balloon test” scheduled for Presidents Day — to show exactly how high a proposed 124-foot cell tower would rise, on private property at 92 Greens Farms Road — was canceled the night before. It was hastily rescheduled for 7 a.m. today.

Westporter Don Bergmann wrote several local officials, expressing anger at the late notice provided to the town and its residents.

At 8 a.m., Jaime Bairaktaris — publisher of Westport Local Press — drove by. He reports not seeing any balloon.

Neither did RTM member Andrew Colabella.

Westporter Steve Goldstein headed to the site an hour later, and saw nothing — except, that is, 2 police officers who had been there since 7.

A cell tower been proposed for the property on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

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Jesse and Sefra Levin grew up in the comfort of Westport. Life here is almost always safe.

But for nearly 20 years, the Staples High School Class of 2003 twins have been on a mission: helping prepare people around the globe to survive any kind of disaster, natural or manmade. They’ve taught “readiness skills” to veterans, disaster response teams and entrepreneurs. The Levins call themselves “bespoke readiness outfitters.”

A couple of years ago, they had a pop-up shop in Bedford Square. They outfitted customers with gear, and offered advice and training, for every conceivable emergency.

Now they’re in Poland, at the Ukrainian border. In less than 2 days they gathered medical supplies, and made their first delivery.

Their goal is to ramp up a medical supply chain, and help coordinate between international military veteran first response efforts and in-country operational elements.

A growing network of Polish and Ukrainian contacts helps identify and relay real-time needs from conflict areas, and ensure effective distribution of supplies and equipment to where they are needed most.

(Hat tip: Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Jesse and Sefra Levin

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There’s less than a month to go before dogs are banned from Compo Beach. Which means we won’t be able to run “Westport … Naturally” photos like this, from April 1 through the end of September.

Tessie on the Compo jetty (Photo/Gwen Tutun)

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And finally … on this day in 1498, Vasco da Gama’s fleet visited the island of Mozambique.

Roundup: Ukraine Rally, Nic + Zoe, MOMBAS …

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Hundreds of cities and towns around the world are rallying in support of Ukraine.

Weston is one of them.

First Selectwoman Samantha Nestor inviting everyone to join her tomorrow (Monday, February 28, 5:30 p.m.), on the front steps of Weston Town Hall.

She says: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is devastating, infuriating, and heartbreaking. I assure you all that you are not alone in feelings of despair. One thing we can do is come together for the sake of unity and peace. As such, please join me to express in solidarity our support for the Ukrainian people, and pray for the safety of those whose homeland is under attack. I’ll be there with my candle. Feel free to bring one of your own.”

The Weston rally will show Ukrainians that they are not alone. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for The New York Times)

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Nic + Zoe — one of the first stores to open in Bedford Square — closed Friday.

A manager for the women’s clothing store was packing up yesterday. She said, “We’re sad to be leaving. We’ll miss everyone.”

Ten other locations remain open, as does online shopping.

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It’s clear from a quick look around any part of town: the babies are here.

Which means there are plenty of new moms. Which means there are plenty of people looking for a group.

The Westport Library is strolling (ho ho) over to help. On Friday (March 4, 10 a.m.) and again April 1, they’ll host meetings of the new MOMBAS: Moms Offering Moms Baby Activity Support.

It’s the brainchild of longtime Westporter Sooo-z Mastropietro. The mother of 3 became a birth doula during the pandemic to provide essential support for pregnant women, who really needed it.

It’s an opportunity to exchange resources, birth stories, and talk. Sooo-z says, “Whether it’s your first or fifth, having the support of people in a similar point in life can be rewarding, informative and empowering.”

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Eight years ago, “06880” highlighted Clay Garner.

The lifelong Westporter and recent Greens Farms Academy graduate was unknown here.

But hundreds of millions of Chinese people knew — and loved — him. Using the stage name of 高山 (“Tall Mountain”), he was a recording sensation there.

Singing his own songs — a combination of traditional styles, R&B and pop — in both English and Mandarin — he was all over the Chinese versions of YouTube and Facebook. He has a huge following on Weibo (the Chinese Twitter), and appeared regularly on Beijing TV and China Radio International.

Because of strict government control of websites, “Tall Mountain” made no money from his fame. “It’s my contribution to international relations,” he said.

At that point, Clay was a freshman at Stanford University. Today — 5 years after graduation from there — he is …

… the chief innovation officer for San Jose, California.

The other day, he was a guest on the “Think Civic” podcast. Click here for a transcript of his insights into a wide range of topics, from how technology helped his city respond to the pandemic, to his advice to young people on the importance of local government.

Clay Garner

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Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup included a reference to Sam Waterston, the “Law & Order” Manhattan DA who was also filmed in Westport for “Gatsby in Connecticut” — the documentary about F. Scott and Fitzgerald’s 1920 summer her.

Jeanne Reed notes that the film was not Waterston’s only connection here.

Turns out Sam Waterston was married to Barbara Rutledge-Johns. Known as “Barby” Johns, she and her younger sister Sandy (Alexandra) both attended Bedford Junior High School in the 1950s.

They are not Staples High graduates, though. Both went off to the Mary A. Burnham School in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Sam Waterston

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Registration is open for Challenger baseball. Focusing on fun and building life-long friendships, it’s Little League’s adaptive program for people with physical and intellectual challenges. Those born between September 1, 1997 and August 31, 2017 are eligible. Out-of-towners are eligible, if their community does not have its own Challenger program.

Through generous donations, Challenger is completely free. To register, click here. For more information, email commissioner Beth Cody: westportball@aol.com.

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Stop the presses (or the pixels): “Westport … Naturally” offers what may be the first hint of spring. The photo is from Thursday morning — the day before our latest snowstorm — in Bob Weingarten’s yard.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

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And finally … Sally Kellerman died Thursday in Los Angeles, of heart failure. She was 84.

Kellerman was Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, in the 1970 “MASH” movie directed by Robert Altman. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe award, and an Oscar nomination.

Loretta Swit is better known for her portrayal as the lusty head nurse in all 11 years of the TV series that followed. But Kellerman was the original. Click here for a full obituary.

South By Southwest Meets Westport: Library Hosts Music & Media Festival

It’s been a while since a librarian “shushed” a patron at the Westport Library.

Like many other libraries, ours evolved into a town center. It’s a place for conversation and community. There’s a MakerSpace for discovery, a café for coffee, a stage with a beautiful piano.

But it’s unlikely that any library has done what Westport’s will do April 8-10. That’s the weekend for VersoFest: a unique, immersive music and media festival and conference.

For 3 days, the Library will rock even more than usual.

Concerts, panels and workshops with Grammy winners, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, actors, movie studio executives, legendary journalists and famous songwriters — VersoFest promises something for everyone.

Lez Zeppelin — a Led Zeppelin tribute band — kicks off the festival Friday night. Spin Magazine calls them “the most powerful all-female band in rock history,” and Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page gave thumbs-up to their blistering arrangements and note-for-note sounds.

Lez Zeppelin will rock the Westport Library.

Talking Heads fans get a double dose on Saturday. In the afternoon, co-founder and drummer Chris Frantz joins WPKN general manager Steve DiCostanzo in a livestreamed conversation about Frantz’s new memoir, Remain in Love.

Chris Frantz

That night, Chris Frantz Presents Emerging Artists showcases Enid Ze, a futuristic African pop band from Bridgeport. Their debut album was produced by composer Chris Ruggiero.

The opening band is Deniprobably, an indie group from New Haven.

Saturday’s schedule is filled with other workshops too.

Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White, a Bridgeport actor/writer/director with over 100 film and TV credits, is building an international production center in New Haven. His keynote speech will cover his life, career and vision for Jaigantic Studios.

Vibe Magazine editor Datwon Thomas, Grammy engineering winner Emily Lazar and Verso Studios’ audio producer Travis Bell will join Dick Wingate — a Westport record executive who worked with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Peter Tosh and Pink Floyd — to discuss music production .

Hands-on workshops will be led by Joe Bouchard, co-founder of Blue Öyster Cult; Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and New York Times writer Joe Hagan; country singer-songwriter Drew Smith, and hip-hop legend Dooley-O.

Sunday’s “bagel brunch” features international best-selling author (and Westport resident) Jane Green. Her new novel Sister Stardust looks at the Rolling Stones’ 1960s travels and travails in Marrakesh.

Josie Jo Armistead — a soul music Renaissance woman, former Ikette, recording artist, record label owner and songwriter — will be interviewed by Beehive Queen and “Saturday Night Live” tour de force Christine Ohlman.

The final performance is by groundbreaking young blues visionary Selwyn Birchwood. His band includes a sax, bass, drums and keyboard.

In the works for over a year, the event is an extension of Verso Studios — the Library’s media resource and production hub/cultural and learning center. Verso offers cutting-edge facilities for multimedia production and events, including a hybrid-analog recording studio, and a stage with an 18-foot LED screen; state-of-the-art lighting, video and digital projection, and seating for over4 00 people.

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker hails the Music & Media Festival as one more way for the Library to build innovative community. She calls Verso Studios “the perfect venue.”

“06880” is proud to join WPKN as a media sponsor of this event. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce is co-producing all 3 concerts.

The panels are free. The concerts and workshops are ticketed events. Click here for more information.

Roundup: Olympic Snowboarding, Cell Tower, Dogfight …

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Julia Marino has qualified for the Olympic snowboarding final!

The Westport native — who now trains in Breckenridge, Colorado, and has faced a number of obstacles during her time on the team — fell twice on her first slopestyle run yesterday. But she blazed to a great 71.78 in her second attempt, finishing 6th.

She’ll be joined by teammates Jamie Anderson and Hailey Langland in the final. It’s set for Sunday in China — which is 8:30 p.m. tonight (Saturday), on NBC. Click here for the streaming link. Click here for more information on Julia, and the US team. (Hat tip: Dave Briggs)

Julia Marino

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It’s back to the drawing board — and 92 Greens Farms Road — for a new cell tower.

Tarpon Towers/AT&T had originally proposed a structure for private property there, abutting I-95 near Hillspoint Road.

Then came a new site: the office park at 55 Greens Farms Road next to Assumption Cemetery, a couple of hundred yards west and across the street.

Now, the owner of that property has withdrawn the site from consideration.

A public information will still be held on Tuesday (February 8, 7 p.m., Zoom), to consider the 92 Greens Farms Road location.

The Public Information Session scheduled for Tuesday, February 8, 2022 at 7:00 PM will concentrate on the originally proposed location at 92 Greens Farms Road.

Click here for the legal notice. Click here for the Zoom link for the meeting.

A cell tower been proposed for the property on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

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More local government news: Next Tuesday’s Board of Finance meeting to discuss using ARPA funds for low-density affordable housing on the Post Road near West Parish Lane will be held in the Town Hall auditorium — not Room 309 of that building.

This Post Road site next to Walgreens has been proposed for low-density affordable housing.

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“06880” is “where Westport meets the world.” But the University of Michigan is no slouch. It’s “where Staples Players meets the theatrical world.”

A student group is producing “Dogfight.” Players alums Jamie Mann (musical theater) and Brandon Malin (lighting) — both first-years there — are deeply involved.

“Dogfight” is a 2012 musical adaptation of the 1991 coming-of-age-during-Vietnam film. Staples 2003 grad Justin Paul wrote the music and lyrics with his writing partner Benj Pasek. Both also graduated from Michigan.

The book was by Peter Duchan (Staples ’01). He has known Paul since Coleytown Middle School (and has no connection to Michigan — Duchan went on to Northwestern University).

Paul and Pasek did a Zoom call with the cast. No word on whether they asked Mann and Malin how Players is doing.

Click here for a link to Michigan’s “Dogfight” page.

Brandon Malin (left) and Jamie Mann, in the “Dogfight” theater.

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Speaking of Staples Players: Congrats to 2021 graduate Sophie Rossman. The New York University freshman appears in the short film “Clare,” which premieres at the prestigious SXSW Film Festival next month.

Click here for details.

Sophie Rossman (Photo/Kerry Long)

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And speaking still of Staples Players — though in a very different way — Meredith Boak is Harvard Law School’s new assistant dean for clinical and pro bono programs.

The 2001 Staples graduate — yes, she was in Players the same year as Duchan — most recently served as senior vice president of revenue and development at Teach For America, overseeing and executing its sustainable funding strategy.

Boak has been a lecturer at Harvard Law since 2013. She earned an undergraduate degree in political science from Columbia University, and a master’s in secondary English education from Pace.

Meredith Boak

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Through all kinds of weather — snow, rain, mist, fog — the Earthplace foliage hangs on. Rowene Weems snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo there.

(Photo/Rowene Weems Photography)

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And finally … if you enjoyed the item about “Dogfight” (above), and want to know more — click here:

Roundup: Cell Tower, Health & Wellness, Will Haskell …

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The northeast corner of the office building complex at 55 Greens Farms Road — the one that seems oddly out of place, next to Assumption Cemetery between Hillspoint and Hales Roads — may be the site of Westport’s next cell tower.

The site is an alternate for previous discussions about a tower at 92 Greens Farms Road. Both were proposed by Tarpon Towers and AT&T.

Construction at the office complex would involve a wetland crossing. It will be reviewed by the Westport Conservation Commission on January 31. A public information session is set for February 8 to discuss the 2 locations. Both meetings will be held virtually.

Click here for more information.

55 Greens Farms Road: proposed site of the cell tower.

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With COVID still hanging around, health and wellness is more important than ever.

WestportMoms just released their 2022 Health &Wellness guide.

They say: “Whether you need new motivation for working out, new ideas for what to cook each night, some CBD to help you sleep, or even someone to help you organize that closet or garage, we have you covered.”

Referring to fellow moms, they add: “We spent 2020 and 2021 making sure everyone else was feeling ok. Now it’s your turn!”

Click here for the free guide.

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You’ve read about Will Haskell on “06880.” Now hear him live at the Westport Library.

The State Senator dons his author’s hat on Thursday (January 27, 7 p.m., in-person and Zoom). He’ll talk about his new book: 100,000 First Bosses: My Unlikely Path as a 22-Year-Old Lawmaker.

It’s the story of his campaign for the State Senate at age 22 — and then learning

Will is both a gifted politician and an entertaining author,. For a seat at the Library or to watch from home, click here.

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And finally … Jon Lind, who wrote hit songs for Earth Wind & Fire, Madonna, Vanessa Williams and others, died recently. He was 73, and had battled cancer for 2 years.

Among his biggest tunes: “Boogie Wonderland,” “Sun Goddess,” “Crazy for You” and “Save the Best for Last.”

Click here for a full obituary. (Hat tip: Amy Schneider)

Party Time At Vivid-Tek!

Vivid-Tek is one of Westport’s best “wow!” ideas.

Mark Motyl — a longtime resident, and former bond trader-turned-home builder — has created a unique product.

He’s taken those huge in-home theater screens — which look so great when you’re watching them, and so intrusive when you’re not — and hidden them in plain sight.

The screen hides in a credenza or bench — which the buyer helps customize — and emerges with the press of a button only when needed.

The 4K picture is crisp and clear. Great sound comes from Dolby Atmos speakers.

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

An Apple 4K TV controls the system. Anything on your phone (or other devices) can be projected onto the screen.

And it’s great not just for movies and sports events. Westporters have used the technology for Zoom conferences, calls with Grandma, even online piano lessons.

Game on at Vivid-Tek.

I’ve written about Vivid-Tek before. Now there’s another angle. And it comes just as cabin fever may be setting in.

Motyl is opening his 1252 Post Road East studio — located between Fortuna’s and the same-day COVID testing center — to families or small groups of up to 6 people, for private evenings of fun.

Just reserve a time on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday night. Select what you want to watch. Then enjoy a private movie, show or game in what would be the comfort of your own home, if you had a 110-inch screen that rose up whenever you wanted it to.

Click here, then click on “Visit Showroom” for a reservation. Then, if you’ve watched a particularly cool event, let “06880” know. We’ll post a photo!

A small group gathering at Vivid-Tek.