A Westporter helps Westporters who help the world.
That was the theme of David Pogue’s telecast yesterday. He walked a few yards from his home, to Melissa and Doug Bernstein’s. There — with a “CBS Sunday Morning” camera crew — he interviewed the toy company co-founder about her lifelong battle with existential anguish and depression.
The Bernsteins’ new project — Lifelines — is an ecosystem for mental health support, resources and education. Pogue brought their work to a national television audience. Click below for that very important report.
Brian Lewis — chef/owner of the very popular Colonial Green restaurant (and OKO, on Wilton Road) is opening another Cottage in Greenwich.
The 49 Greenwich Avenue spot will seat over 60. As in Westport, it will celebrate seasonal ingredients, sourced from local purveyors and farmers. The Cottage Greenwich is slated to open later this year.
“We’ve always looked forward to the day that we can bring The Cottage to a new market after being so blessed with our devoted clientele and hardworking team in Westport,” says Lewis.
“As we experienced such continued support during COVID and after 6 successful years in Westport, the time was right to grow and find a sister location to complement the original Cottage.”
David Pogue is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Unlike most chocolate boxes though, with the Westport tech guru/writer/TV star/jack of all trades, there’s never anything you don’t like.
Yesterday, as part of his regular “CBS Sunday Morning” gig, Pogue poked behind the production of the world’s largest virtual choir.
How do 17,000-plus voices come together in perfect harmony? Click below.
Oh, yeah: Pogue himself was one of the performers. Were there any other Westport connections? If so, click “Comments” below.
Yesterday’s New York Times story on the Rio Grande Valley — where poverty and chronic illness compound the coronavirus — was sad and compelling.
It was made more powerful by the images that accompanied it. They were shot by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist (and 1991 Staples High School graduate) Lynsey Addario. As always, her images show far more than what is in the frame. Click here for the full Times story. (Hat tip: Kathie Motes Bennewitz)
Nurses surround a coronavirus patient moments after her death. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)
The Fresh Market ospreys continue to fascinate Westporters. Intrepid raptor-watcher Carolyn Doan reports that the 2 fledglings have fledged. Here’s one:
The Westport Library has reopened, with limited service. There’s an alternative, at 95 Kings Highway South.
Sure, the selection is limited. But you don’t have to worry about masks or crowds.
And finally … on this date in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk walk on the moon. Ten others have followed. The last 2 — Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt — made the journey in 1972.
A big chunk of my story was an introduction to Zoom, the video-chatting program that’s become a hero of the coronavirus crisis. It’s free and easy to use; the video’s very stable; it can accommodate up to 100 people on screen at once —and you can record the video meeting with a single click.
To demonstrate the possibilities, my producer arranged a historic first: All of “CBS Sunday Morning’s” correspondents on the screen simultaneously in a Zoom video. Even Jane Pauley, our host!
There’s David: top row, 2nd from left.
It was supposed to be a 5-minute deal. But it was so much fun, the call went on for over an hour. Even though we’re on the show week after week, most of us rarely meet in person.
(I’ll spare you the story of how the resulting huge video file somehow got corrupted and wasn’t openable … and how, panicking, I hunted down a Zoom PR person at midnight, who wrangled a company engineer into rescuing the file just in time for the broadcast.)
In my script I cited a new rule for the videochat era: Informal is the new normal. You’ll see kids, pets and untidy backgrounds in your video calls — and that’s all allowed now.
Imagine my delight and amusement then, when I interviewed neuropsychologist Sanam Hazeez — and in the middle, her twin 5-year-old boys burst into her office, crying. One had driven a truck over the other’s foot. (To be clear, it was a toy truck.) It was completely unplanned — but could not have made my point any better.
Well, except when Wilbur the Wonder Cat started pacing back and forth in front of my laptop camera during the interview.
Sheltering in place doesn’t mean you’re not allowed out of the house. My 3 kids are all home, of course. I corralled one of them into taking a walk with me beside the Bedford Middle School field, and another to pilot a Mavic Mini drone to film the scene. It came out great!
As it turns out, it’s even safe to meet friends face to face, as long as you maintain a decent distance. In hopes of finding examples to film, I posted a note on NextDoor.com. It’s kind of like a Facebook for neighborhoods, like Eastern Westport or whatever. (If you haven’t joined, you should. It’s free.)
Usually, NextDoor is full of lost-dog notices and “Can you recommend a plumber?” posts. But during the crisis it offers great social-distancing ideas, invitations to virtual gatherings, even a Help Map where you can see who needs errands or groceries, and you can volunteer.
My query led me first to a group of young women, all sent home from college, who gather in the parking lot of Weston Middle School, where they had been together years ago. They park their cars in a circle, sit on their trunks, 15 feet apart, and just hang out. It’s glorious. I filmed it from overhead, with my drone.
I also heard from Westport Library fundraiser Barbara Durham, who lives in an apartment building in Bridgeport. She told me that some evenings she gathers with her neighbors across the elevator lobby, each pulling a chair into her apartment doorway, for “Cocktails in the Foyer.” I drove over to film one of these wonderful social-distance parties.
I love how the story came out. I’m grateful to everyone who helped, who allowed me to film them, and who believed in the idea. (That includes my bosses at “CBS Sunday Morning,” who took a leap of faith in trusting me to deliver a story they wouldn’t see until it was finished.)
Once we’re allowed to be close to each other again, I’ll thank you all in person —with a tender, heartfelt elbow bump.
But enough about David’s back story. Click below for his piece — and Westport and Weston’s contribution to surviving in our new work-at-home world.
One of the highlights of the holiday season — far better than fruitcake, much less stressful than holiday parties — is Techno Claus.
That’s “CBS Sunday Morning”‘s annual present to viewers. “Santa” — who for some reason has a New York-ish accent — offers viewers a whimsically rhyming musical look into some of the season’s more intriguing high-ish tech items.
It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that Techno Claus is really David Pogue.
His clever patter and fun piano playing are no surprise. The nationally known tech writer/journalist/author/TV star majored in music at Yale, then spent his first 10 years after graduation working in New York, with a theatrical agency, and as a conductor and arranger on Broadway.
Pogue is also a longtime Westporter. Yesterday’s gift to viewers had a decidedly local flavor.
Nearly all of the scenes were filmed at his house: inside, in front and out back.
The only other locale was Granola Bar. That was for a segment on a reusable straw. Okay, it’s not exactly high tech — but it is important.
Click below to see Pogue’s Santa’s take on a speaker with scents; a spy camera for pets (it dispenses treats too); a keyboard for phones, and a wallet with tracker.
And buried there, halfway through the piece, was this: the 67-year-old, 4-foot-9 star of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 1984 Oscar winner for “The Year of Living Dangerously,” and (of course) narrator in the God of War video franchise grew up in Westport.
“Everybody either wanted to take care of me or push me around,” the woman born Lydia Susanna Hunter told Lee Cowan. “I was teased a lot…. Fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, everybody was taking their spurts except me. I was not growing up.”
A form of dwarfism stunted her growth, “Sunday Morning” said. But when her parents took her to her first Broadway show — a production of “Peter Pan” — Hunt realized the stage was a place where she might feel taller. There, she could pretend to be anything.
Wikipedia says that Linda’s mother, Elsie Doying Hunter, taught piano at the Westport School of Music, and accompanied the Saugatuck Congregational Church choir.
Yahoo! Movies says she “took her first stab at acting at age 12 while performing in a production of ‘Flibbertigibbet’ at Westport’s famed Silver Nutmeg Theater.”
Linda attended the Interlochen Arts Academy— s0 it appears she’s not a Staples grad — and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago.
In 1969 she returned to Westport to study acting with Robert Lewis at Bambi Lynn’s studio, TCM.com says. The next year her career took off. She played Joan of Arc in a 1-woman show at Long Wharf.
Linda Hunt, with her Oscar.
Since then she’s been a 2-time Obie winner, and a Tony nominee. She played alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger — as opposite from her as anyone can be — in “Kindergarten Cop.”
She’s been in a 26-year relationship with Karen Klein. They married in 2008.
Her current contract will take her into her 70s. “CBS This Morning” concluded:
Not bad for a woman whose own parents feared might be too small to stand out on stage. Half a century later, their small wonder still has audiences looking up.
And — thanks to a show nearly everyone but me seems to watch — looking back on a career that began 55 years ago, right here in Westport.
(Click here for a great WestportNow.com photo of Linda Hunt as a Saugatuck Elementary School 1st grader — standing next to future first selectman Gordon Joseloff.)
If you think being David Pogue is hard work, try being Pogue plus Santa Claus.
David “Techno Claus” Pogue
You’ve got to be a whiz-bang expert on every tech gadget. You’ve got to travel the world distributing the right gadgets to every (good) boy or girl.
And you’ve got to rhyme everything. Every year. On national TV.
Here’s how Westport’s resident tech expert/ Christmas icon started yesterday’s CBS “Sunday Morning” shtick:
You think you get stressed when you get on a flight?
Try my job: to fly the whole world in one night!
I got reindeer with rabies, and scrapes on the sleigh,
And that hurricane – hoo! Nearly blew me away!
But I do it. You know? For it’s all a good cause:
To spread joy via gadgets – that’s me, Techno Claus.
Now, this year, some folks are in financial jams,
So everything here’s below 100 clams.
Techno Claus went on to list 7 great gifts. Far more impressively, he rhymed “wealthier schmucks” with “70 bucks.”
Pogue’s poetry is particularly blog-worthy because the video was filmed entirely in Westport. Even Christie’s Country Store takes a star turn:
Ho ho ho!
(Click here to see the entire CBS “Sunday Morning” video.)
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A national audience heard Wilkes describe “Coney Island.” The right side of the photo — the beach — was crowded during the day. The left side — the amusement park rides — were equally packed at night. The dividing line, though, was nowhere to be seen. Day morphed subtly into night, just as it does at the real Coney Island.
Coney Island. (Photo by Stephen Wilkes)
CBS showed other Wilkes works. There was the Flatiron Building — taken on September 11, 2010 — with “ghost lights” from the Twin Towers. Central Park, in an ice storm. Washington Square Park, where brides kept appearing at different times during the day.
Though New York offers a seemingly endless array of “Day Into Night” possibilities, Wilkes may soon turn his 15-hour lens on Shanghai. Or Jerusalem.
Months later, the world will see his spectacular images.
All of which he works on — day and night — right here in Westport.
Flatiron Building (Photo by Stephen Wilkes)
(Click here to view the CBS-TV “Sunday Morning” video clip.)
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