Pic Of The Day #2168

Fiona’s Disappearing Island returns — or at least the sign does — to the corner of Soundview Drive and Hillspoint Road. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Songwriting, Screenwriting Workshops Featured At VersoFest

Starting Thursday, VersoFest will draw music and arts lovers from around the region.

But some featured presenters will come from much further.

Longtime collaborators Amilia K Spicer and Edward Romero are flying in from California.

Amilia — a singer-songwriter — opens for the Smithereens on Friday (March 31, 7 p.m.), the second day of the 4-day music, media and more Westport Library event.

On Saturday (April 1, 3 p.m.) she leads a master class in songwriting.

Amilia K Spicer

Veteran screenwriter Romero offers a master class in that subject on Saturday, starting at 2 p.m.

Romero has known Library executive director Bill Harmer since high school, and then at Eastern Michigan University. Over the years they’ve shared music videos and news.

When Harmer asked Romero if he’d be interested in VersoFest, the writer suggested Spicer too. He’s been a fan of her Americana/blues/country music ever since hearing her play in an L.A. bar.

Edward Romero

Spicer’s songwriting workshop will focus on “empowering people to find their own voice,” she says. She found hers by “thinking cinematically, in images.”

Romero’s approach is more “nuts and bolts,” he says. He will show members of his workshop how to approach a script with a set of practical tools. He welcomes anyone who “wants to write, is struggling with what they’ve written, or haven’t yet cracked the (industry) code.”

Both look forward to VersoFest.

“I love events that feel grassroots,” Spicer says, “and towns that support the arts.”

“I know how proud Bill is of his library facility,” Romero adds. “It’s so cool what goes on there.”

A lot more will go on starting Thursday, of course. Click here for the full VersoFest schedule of concerts, workshops, panels, a vinyl fair and more.

(From Verso Fest and the Levitt Pavilion to Westport musicians and school concerts, “06880” keeps you up on local entertainment news. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Roundup: PopUp Pizza Bagels, Bank Scam Alert, Trash Pickup ….

The tagline for PopUp Bagels is “not famous, but known.”

They’ll be known a lot more soon.

The Westport-based company’s pizza bagels will now be sold at all Citi Field events in 2023.

So that’s Mets games — and NYCFC (MLS soccer) matches, and concerts.

Forget peanuts. To hell with Crackerjacks. Buy me some pizza bagels!

PopUp pizza bagels, and a Mets-ish hat.


Westport Police responded Thursday to a potential scam at M&T Bank.

A woman had told a teller that she received a call, saying he and her daughter were involved in a motor vehicle accident. The man said he had the woman’s daughter as hostage, and demanded she withdraw as much money as she could.

He warned her not to text or call anyone. In the background, a woman was rying.

The teller sensed something was wrong, and realized this was a scam. The bank called Westport Police, who advised the woman to contact her daughter at work — where she was fine.

This was the third potential scam in the past week, police say. They thank alert bank employees, and offer these reminders:

  • Do not send any money or gift cards to an unknown person.
  • Make contact with family who claim to be in danger prior to sending money.
  • Call the police if unable to contact family members.
  • Report any potential scam.


Andrew Colabella writes:

“Tomorrow’s trash pick-up (Sunday, March 26, 11 a.m.) is along Greens Farms Road.

“We will park at the Public Works Garage at the transfer station (they are closed) and make our way to Prospect Road. Depending on the size of group, we will continue on to Hillspoint Road. This location is back by popular demand from residents.

“Wear comfortable shoes or boots, and gloves — and bring a trash bag.”

Looking ahead, Andrew says:

“For 3 years our weekend group of residents, elected/appointed officials and town employees has volunteered to do weekend trash pick-ups in Westport. Our last pick was Elaine Road, which is probably the worst area of trash collecting from I-95.

“I have written and called the state. They are aware, and are picking up along the guardrail in the coming weeks.

“However, the trash that has spilt below is overwhelming. Three weekends ago a group of 12 tackled the steep hill. We completed about 1/8 of it. I have obtained further help to complete the job.

“I have just confirmed with SLOBs (Staples Service League Of Boys) group. They are on for an Earth Day trash pick on Elaine Road, where Westport’s Animal Control building is located.

“We will have 45 from that group. I am inviting employees from Town Hall, Westport Police, Westport Fire, Public Works, VFW, Parks & Recreation and other departments to join us on April 22nd, at 10 a.m.

“With 45 people plus others we can clean up the entire hill, and along South Compo where trash has made its way into the gutter line and sidewalk area.

“Wear boots and gloves, bring a garbage bag and pickers if you have them, and prepare to get dirty. Spread the word. All are welcome. Let’s clean up Westport!”

Westport Animal Control building, on Elaine Drive.


There are 2 weeks left to save 20% on tickets to the 17th annual Taste of Westport.

The event — a fantastic benefit for CLASP Homes (May 10, 6 p.m., the Inn at Longshore) — always sells out.

Particularly when folks can save big, before April 10.

More than 2 dozen establishments provide all-you-can-eat food and drinks.

Click here for tickets, and more information (including a list of participating restaurants, chocolatiers, and wine and spirits shops).

Can’t make it to the event? Click here, to be part of the Toast the Taste campaign.

To learn more about CLASP Homes, click the video below:


Staples High School Counseling Department honors Women’s History Month.

The next episode of their “Spark Your Future!” series features “Women in the Military.

The virtual event is set for this Tuesday (March 28, 6:30 p.m.). The panelists — all Staples graduates — include

Dominica Wardell (Staples Class of 2014) is an officer in the Marine Corps. She earned her Wings of Gold as a naval aviator, and now flies the MV-22 Osprey.

Asia Bravo (SHS ’11) served 7 years active duty in the Army. She has now been selected as a member of the United States Space Force.

Emily Troelstra (SHS ’13) served as a Navy officer aboard the USS Princeton. After medical separation from the military, she is pursuing a master’s degree in athletic training at George Mason University.

Amanda Troelstra (SHS ’18) is an active duty signal officer and satellite communications platoon leader in the Army.

The program is open to students in all grades, and their families. Scan the QR code below to register.

If you are not able to attend live, the webinar will be recorded and shared in a follow-up email.


Bedford Acting Group’s spring production — “Seussical Jr. ” — opened to great reviews last night.

Two more performances are set for today (Saturday, March 25): 3 and 7 p.m.

Directed by Ryan Smith, the story of friendship, loyalty and love comes through strongly with great choreography, an intriguing set, and of course excellent acting by future Staples Players.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

A scene from “Seussical Jr.” (Photo/Kerry Long)


Westporter Mike Greenberg — host of ESPN’s “Get Up” and “NBA Countdown” — is off the air for a bit.

He underwent a cardiac ablation Monday. The procedure corrects heart rhythm problems. is slowly on the mend after he underwent a heart procedure on Monday.

His wife Stacy posted on Twitter: “Recovery is slow, he has to do nothing and believe me…. he’s not great at that! We both really, really appreciate all the nice messages.”

“06880” joins Mike’s million-plus Twitter followers in wishing him a speedy recovery. (Hat tip: Jack Krayson)

Mike Greenberg


All around Westport, there are many signs of spring.

Lauri Weiser spotted this one in her yard, at Lansdowne Condominiums. It’s a “Westport … Naturally” natural.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)


And finally … Fuzzy Haskins, “a foundational member of the vocal group that morphed into Parliament-Funkadelic, the genre-blurring collective led by George Clinton that shook up the pop music world in the 1970s,” died last week in Michigan. He was 81, and suffered from diabetes. (Click here for a full obituary.)


(As you bring on the funk, please consider a contribution to “06880.” Click here — and thank you!)

Online Art Gallery #154

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of our online art gallery.

“06880” began this feature in the first days of the pandemic. The world shut down — but this was a chance for readers to share their work with others.

Some submissions were dark. Others were hopeful. Artists used a variety of mediums. It was a creative idea in a desperate time.

It worked. Eventually, the terror receded. But the artwork kept coming.

As long as you keep it coming, we’ll continue sharing — every Saturday. (We missed a couple along the way — that’s why this is only Online Art Gallery #154).

We celebrate year #3 with not one but two works titled “Spring Has Sprung.” I can’t imagine a better, more hopeful way to move on.

Meanwhile, as we’ve said since March of 2020: This is your feature. Everyone is invited to contribute. Age, level of experience, subject matter — there are no restrictions.

All genres are encouraged. Watercolors, oils, charcoal, pen-and-ink, acrylics, lithographs, collages, macramé, jewelry, sculpture, decoupage and (yes) needlepoint — whatever you’ve got, email it to 06880blog@gmail.com. Share your work with the world!

“Spring Has Sprung!” (Amy Schneider)

“Implications of Flowers” (Tom Doran)

Watercolor artist Eric Bosch writes: “I just completed these for the Westport neighborhood guys I grew up with (Staples High School Classes of 1972 & ’73).
This is of our 1970’s basketball team, The Klunkers. We proved ourselves competitive in the Westport Rec & Beach leagues. We play some nice golf and tennis now, but our days of driving to the hoop are behind us.”

“Looking at the World From the Side Door” (Peter Barlow)

“Peace” — child in a Panamanian rainforest (Mike Hibbard)

“Daydreaming” (Lawrence Weisman)

“A Colorful Lady in Waiting” (Steve Stein)

“Naraja” — acrylic abstract (Patricia McMahon)

“Spring Has Sprung” (Dorothy Robertshaw)

(Help us celebrate 3 years of our online art gallery with an “06880” contribution! Please click here — and thank you!)

Give Young Drivers A Brake

The other day, alert “06880” reader — and very generous and caring Westporter — Gloria Gouveia had an incident all of us can relate to.

Her reaction to it was noteworthy. So is her willingness to share it with the world.

Gloria writes:

Shortly before 3 this afternoon, in an uncharacteristic and deplorable lack of manners, I honked at a black BMW SUV with Connecticut plates in front of me, for taking too long at the stop sign where Avery Place merges with Myrtle Avenue.

As the vehicle continued toward the light at Post Road East at 15 to 20 miles an hour, it occurred to me that the driver was elderly or unfamiliar with the area.

When the car turned into the right lane going east on the Post Road, I glanced at the driver from the left lane.

I saw a pretty, young girl in the driver’s seat, with a look of trepidation that reminded me of being 16 years old — behind the wheel of our giant family station wagon, sitting on a pillow to see over the steering wheel, white-knuckle driving for months after I got my license.

My regret for honking at her was immediate, and palpable.

I am sending my mea culpa out to the Universe, in hopes that she or someone she knows sees this post, with my sincere apology for being so impatient and impolite.

Thanks, Gloria. Beautifully said.

The next day, I received this, from Steve Mochel. He signed it “Parent, and CEO of Fresh Green Light Driving School.” Steve writes:

One of our instructors, Louise Ortega, works in our Westport location. She’s also a writer, and wrote this based on her experience.

It’s something we all deal with on a daily basis: frustration with slow-moving drivers. 

We experience this daily with our vehicles — and they are bright green and say “Student Driver” on them. So I know our young new drivers experience this as well when they’re out with their parents, or just starting out driving by themselves. 

Louise says:

Louise Ortega offers tips.

We’ve all seen that vehicle. The one that comes flying around the corner behind you doing 40 mph in a residential zone. The driver races up behind you and starts weaving, bullying you to speed up. Tailgating, gesturing rudely and using their horn inappropriately.

Now imagine your 16-year-old having to deal with this, and learn to drive at the same time.

Driver aggression is a huge problem. Here are a few tips to teach your child to defend themselves in traffic. 

Model good driving behavior. I cannot emphasize this enough. Stop at every stop sign. Put your phone down. Do not road rage. Drive at the speed limit. Do not adjust your driving to please aggressive drivers.

Buy multiple “Student Driver” magnets, and put them on every side of your vehicle. Make it clear your student needs space.

Be your student’s eyes and ears. Do not assume they have identified an obvious hazard. New drivers have very narrow vision; all they concentrate on at first is staying between the lines. Their vision will expand with more hours behind the wheel.

Teach your student to scan 360°. They have to learn to watch the car in front of them, observe changes in traffic 15 to 20 seconds ahead, scan for vehicles merging from side roads and businesses, and check their rearview mirror for aggressive lane changers who may cut them off.

Emphasize adequate stopping distance. Extra stopping distance allows students that extra second they need to assess rapidly changing conditions. It also allows the aggressive driver a  possibility to pass.

Do not be afraid to steer from the passenger seat. Do not shout if you have to take over for a moment. Use a calm, modulated voice. As a parent, you don’t have the advantage of a passenger-side brake. Make it an inviolable rule that if you say “STOP!” your teenager stops. You can explain why once the car is at a standstill. Students have what we as experienced drivers consider a lag when reacting to changes in traffic around us. We have years behind the wheel and have developed the reaction time to match. A student with 10 hours of driving time has not. If your child needs extra time in school, they will also need extra time behind the wheel.

Allow your teen to make mistakes. If need be, pull over to explain what went wrong. Use positive reinforcement. Shouting is not positive.

Teach your child to defend himself or herself in traffic, and obey road rules under pressure. It will help them pass their test. Their focus should be to follow the rules and please the examiner who sits beside them, not the driver behind them. It will keep them safe, and help them develop good lifetime driving habits.

Remind them that if they get honked they are probably doing it properly. Just because an adult appears angry with them does not mean they are in the wrong.

Do not allow your student to gesture at another driver. Do not engage. Avoid eye contact, and simply pretend that driver is not there.

(“06880” is honored to post public service messages like this. Please support our work by clicking here. Thank you!)

Pic Of The Day #2167

Izzo & Sons Country Gardens, ready for spring. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Friday Flashback #340

Every Post Road driver smiles at the sculptures in front of Winslow Park Animal Hospital.

The Playhouse Square light ensures we have plenty of time to enjoy the ever-changing holiday decorations there.

St. Patrick’s Day 2021 at Winslow Park Animal Hospital. (Photo/Molly Alger)

But long before veterinarians named their practice after a neighboring dog park, a restaurant was named for a nearby theater.

The other day in the animal hospital, Bob Weingarten spotted a photo of the building on the mantle.

The local house historian and experienced researcher was intrigued.

Bob asked the Westport Country Playhouse about the photo. Company manager Bruce Miller supplied a few more photos.

Playhouse Kitchen interior.

But the Playhouse archives had no further information about the Kitchen — except to say they had not operated it.

Digging further, Bob learned that the building was moved from Long Island to Westport around 1835, with 2 adjacent structures.

(That was around the time the town of Westport was officially established, breaking off from Norwalk, Weston and Fairfield. The meeting was held at the Saugatuck Congregational Church — directly across the street, where 2 gas stations are now. The church moved diagonally across the Post Road in 1950.)

All 3 buildings were called the “Tannery Cottages.” They were used to house employees for the Morocco Manufacturing tannery, first owned by R. & H. Haight and then Charles H. Kemper until the beginning of 1900s.  

In 1931, the tannery behind the cottages was transformed into the Westport Country Playhouse. 

The WCP sold the building in 2012. Winslow Park Animal Hospital was established the next year.

Winslow Park Animal Hospital, today.

(“Friday Flashback” runs weekly on “06880.” If you enjoy this — and our other looking-back features — please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Roundup: Linxweiler Trees, Races & Champions, Ukrainian Eggs …

The Post Road East improvement project has begun.

The first step — long before installing turn lanes, crosswalks, shoulders and sidewalks on the stretch between Volvo of Westport and New Country Toyota — was the removal of a dozen or so trees.

They stood for decades in front of Linxweiler House — the former blacksmith shop between Fresh Market and McDonald’s, now owned and operate by Homes with Hope.

That property looks a lot different today, than it did last weekend:

Linxweiler House, as seen from Crescent Road …

… and looking east, from near Fresh Market. (Photos/Molly Alger)

The good news: The 2 cherry blossom trees in front of Sakura still stand.


On your mark … get set … and get ready for the 44th annual Minute Man Races

The popular Westport Young Woman’s League — set for Sunday, April 30 at Compo Beach — includes a 10K run, 5K run/walk, and kids’ fun runs (from 50 yards to 1 mile).

For professionals, it’s a USA Track and Field-certified event. For kids, family-friendly activities will take place during and after the races.

As always, there will be music, food trucks and more.

Student and first responder discounts are offered for the adult races. Contact minuteman@wywl.com for a discount code. Click here to register, and for more information. Proceeds benefit local non-profits.


Registration is open for the 5th annual Day of Champions.

The event — family-friendly fun (and fierce competition) that raises funds for Experience Camps, the Westport-based network of activities for children who have lost parents or siblings — is May 21 (8:30 to 11:30 a.m., PJ Romano Field).

To create or join a team — or donate — click here.

To get psyched for the event, click the video below.


Ukrainian Easter Sunday is not until April 16.

But Westport artist Mark Yurkiw — who has Ukrainian heritage, and is a member of the group that raised $252,000 for our sister city, Lyman — is celebrating early.

Throughout his career, he’s been decorating Ukrainian Easter eggs. He sent “06880” a sample of his work:

The red egg in front celebrates the birth of Mark Yurkiw’s son Cooper, in 1994.

In 2001, he created this 5-foot “egg” for the White House.

It was signed by 256 members of Congress.

Slava Ukraini!


More progress on the house at 233 Hillspoint Road. Town officials halted construction there in 2019, after finding violations of the building permit.

Workers yesterday removed several feet from the top of the chimney. It had been built higher than its legal height.

Workers removing the top of the chimney at 233 Hillspoint. Road. (Photo/Matt Murray)


In 2020, COVID forced Saugatuck Elementary School to cancel “The Little Mermaid” at the final dress rehearsal —  before the opening curtain.

She’s back!

A new cast of 125 students in grades 3-5 act, sing and dance — and run the lights and sound, help construct and decorate sets and props, and operate special effects.

Saugatuck alums from 2020 (and even some of their parents) have helped with the show! Set designer Julie Colotti, costume designer Miriam Young, and prop managers Alexandra Dodwell and Amy Kopisz incorporated many original pieces, along with new additions.

After his daughter Phoebe returned as a student acting coach, John Nunziato jumped in as artistic designer and special effects consultant.

Shows are Friday, March 31 (7 p.m.) and Saturday, April 1 (1 and 6:30 p.m.). Click here for tickets, and more information.

“The Little Mermaid,” at Saugatuck Elementary School. (Photo/Kerry Long)


You can’t autograph an Mp3 download.

But you sure can sign a vinyl album.

VersoFest’s headliners and guests, including producer Steve Lillywhite, Psychedelic Furs front man Richard Butler, and Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth, will autograph copies of their records, for giveaways and auction items during next weekend’s VersoFest.

Festivalgoers can submit their entries for the giveaway starting with the March 30 kickoff concert featuring rising American rock band Sunflower Bean.

Submissions are open through Sunday, April 2. That final day features a record fair (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and a vinyl record panel brunch with WPKN DJ Alec Cumming, producer Dooley-O, Kraftjerkz Records’ Kid Ginseng, WFUV DJ and House of Wax host Eric Holland, New Haven Independent arts reporter Karen Ponzio, and moderated by the Zambonis’ Dave Schneider.

The silent auction (April 1-2) offers a chance to bid on a variety of signed albums associated with the festival’s speakers and guests. All proceeds support future VersoFests.

For more information, including concert tickets and workshops registration, click here.

VersoFest vinyl.


Speaking of music: The Grammy for Best Children’s Album went to Kaitlin McGaw, and her group Alphabet Rockers. (Sure, it was in February. But I just found out. It’s still worth sharing!)

And it’s “06880”-worthy because she’s the granddaughter of longtime Westporters Ed and Kay See.

Ed — an attorney — was longtime town counsel. He played a key role in Westport’s purchase of Longshore, in 1959.

Kay supported many local causes. She was on the Westport Library board, when the new building was built.

The See family’s stained glass window hangs over the altar of Assumption Church, near the Josê Feliciano window.

Eloise See — Ed and Kay’s daughter — is Kaitlin’s proud mother. Sandy is her equally proud uncle.

The award was even more special, because the presenter was presidential inaugural poet — and Kaitlin’s fellow Harvard graduate — Amanda Gorman.

Alphabet Rockers produces and performs music and dance that promotes racial and gender awareness.


The Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport is a beautiful building.

On April 1 (8 p.m.), its the site too of Damn Tall Buildings.

That’s the hot bluegrass/indie/roots/old-time/vintage swing/Americana band from Brooklyn. The trio will headline the UU’s Voices Café.

There’s table or individual seating. Bring your own beverages and snacks, or buy at the sweet treats table. General admission: $25 per person. A portion of the proceeds support the congregation’s Social Justice Council. Click here for tickets (live and livestream), and more information.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo proves: There’s nothing like a nice early spring day to put the top down, and enjoy the sun.

(Photo/Matt Murray)


And finally … on this date in 1721, – Johann Sebastian Bach dedicated 6 concertos to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg-Schwedt. Today we know them as the Brandenburg Concertos.

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog. We’re a non-profit, dedicated to bringing the community together. We rely on your (tax-deductible) contributions. Please click here to help. Thank you!)

Houdini: The Great (Westport) Escape

You’ve probably never seen a movie of Harry Houdini.

You’ve also probably never seen a movie of Longshore, back in the day when it was Frederick E. Lewis’ private estate.

But now — thanks to Facebook — you can see both.

At once.

On the “Westport, Connecticut: Old Photos from the Westport of Our Youth” page, Colabella  — the young Representative Town Meeting member who was not even alive when the Longshore bathhouses were torn down — posted what is said to be the only surviving film of Houdini doing his “overboard box escape.”

The information comes from John Cox’s “Wild About Harry” blog. It covers all things Houdini.

For nearly a century, the date and location of the film — edited by the magician/ stunt performer’s brother Hardeen — has been a mystery.

Now — thanks to a letter at David Copperfield’s International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts — the back story is known.

The escape took pace on June 30, 1917, during a Red Cross And Allied War charities drive at Lewis’s home.

The film shows Houdini being lowered into Long Island Sound, at what is now Longshore.

It purports to show his escape too (though according to a YouTube commenter, that footage was spliced in from Houdini’s film “The Master Mystery”).

But there is no mystery about the gala affair in Westport.

Bridgeport Times story previewed it 3 days earlier:

Nearly every woman of prominence in the shore colony is busily engaged in the arrangements, which will continue throughout the week. Workmen and architects are transforming the Lewis estate into a veritable fairly land; tents are being put in place for the society circus, side shows, concessions and charity booths, while the boat house will be utilized as a petite theatre … and for moving pictures.

Frederick Lewis’ palatial home. Parts of it are recognizable today, as the Inn at Longshore. (Photo/courtesy of Alden Bryan)

There would be elephants, stage stars — and “one of the really sensational engagements … the wizard Houdini.”

He was expected to “make a new experiment which is filled with excitement and daring. The fearless magician will perform what he calls the ‘submarine submerged box mystery.'”

He would be:

shackeled hand and foot, placed in a packing case which is securely nailed and sealed by a committee and after the box is weighted a huge crane which is being placed on the landing pier of Mr. Lewis’ boathouse will carry the box out over the water and drop it into the Sound.

Houdini wagers that he will appear on the surface two minutes after the case has been submerged. This will be Houdini’s first appearance in the state of Connecticut and his last public appearance in America for some time.

As the film shows, that’s exactly what happened. The “wizard” was shackled, nailed in a packing case, dumped in the water … and then he re-appeared.

How he did it was one mystery.

Where he did it was another one.

Now — thanks, the Facebook post says, to “David Copperfield and the Westport Museum for History & Culture” — that mystery has finally been solved.

(Click here, then scroll down to see the Facebook post.)

(It’s no mystery that “06880” relies on readers’ support. Please click here to contribute to your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Pic Of The Day #2166

Saugatuck train station (Photo/Patricia McMahon)