Tag Archives: John Rizzi

Roundup: General Wesley Clark, Odd Photo, Flipstand, More

The pandemic has not been good to the Westport Library. Just a few months after its grand transformation, it’s had to curtail hours, programs and services.

But there’s an upside. With virtual programs, it can offer access to speakers who otherwise could never travel for a live appearance. (And whose honorariums are far beyond the library’s budget too.)

One of the biggest names of all “comes to Westport” on Thursday, October 1 (6;30 p.m.). General Wesley Clark — the 4-star general. former NATO Supreme Allied commander and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree who since retiring from the military in 2000 has become a businessman, commentator, author, teacher and presidential candidate — will discuss the need for American leadership, civility and unity during these polarized times.

Last year, Clark created a nonprofit aimed at reducing partisan division and gridlock.

Click here to register for the free event.

General Wesley Clark

The New York Times home page includes — among links to dozens of articles — a rotating gallery of photos. They have nothing to do with the stories, and offer no explanatory text.

Yesterday, “06880” readers noticed this shot:

What’s up with that? What’s going on? Where was it taken? Huh?!

If you know the back story to this shot, click “Comments” below. Inquiring minds want to know! (Hat tips: Drew Coyne and Tracy Porosoff)

Longtime Westporter John Rizzi is multi-talented and creative.

Early in his career, he was Cannondale’s first industrial designer. He’s got a new company — Utilitarian Products — to develop useful, beautiful, well-priced ideas.

We are excited to introduce you to our new company, Utilitarian Products.

The first — Flipstand — is a simple lightweight bike stand. It weighs only 18.5 grams, and is far better than kickstands weighing much more.

A Kickstarter campaign launches Tuesday (September 22). Click here to see.


I grew up on High Point Road. I know how many drivers barrel past this stop sign on Long Lots Road, headed toward Hyde Lane (and all the traffic, and little kids, from Long Lots Elementary School).

So I was intrigued at this photo. Looks like some residents of my old road — many of whom have young kids — have taken matters into their own hands.

It’s advice that can be heeded all over town.

(Photo/Ed Simek)

And finally … my tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I think the choice of group and song is appropriate.

Bella’s Black Belt

Every karate black belt is special.

Bella Rizzi’s is just a little more special than most.

Bella is a freshman with Down syndrome at Staples. Her parents raised her to know that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to.

For the past 6 years she’s studied at Kempo Academy of Martial Arts in the back of Compo Acres Shopping Center, between Soul Cycle and Chipotle. The instructors demanded the same from her as everyone else in the dojo.

Bella Rizzi, warming up.

Bella Rizzi, warming up.

At times — like everyone else — Bella got discouraged. Some of her classmates dropped out. Bella stuck it out.

She got through the tough times. She learned to work hard, and dream of earning that faraway black belt.

Many mornings before school, her parents — John and Markley — heard Bella hitting the punching bag.

Twelve belts precede the adult black belt. Each one presents its own unique difficulty. Bella earned all 12.

Last Sunday’s test was grueling. For over 3 hours Bella sparred, and recited more than 27 combinations of exercises.

The last hour took place outside, at Compo Beach. Three candidates performed their tests, wearing only their lightweight gi garments.

The wind blew. Most people watching were bundled up — or stayed in their cars.

Bella Rizzi prepares for her final black belt test, last Sunday at a very cold Compo Beach.

Bella Rizzi prepares for her final black belt test, last Sunday at a very cold Compo Beach.

To get to that point of karate, Bella had learned to block out all distractions, and focus only on the task at hand. She and the other 2 candidates had so much resolve, they did not feel the cold.

Bella was pushed to her limits. But that was not the first time. She’d been bloodied, humiliated, bruised and battered. Through it all, she never wavered from her goal.

On Sunday, Bella became an adult black belt. Fewer than 1% of all martial arts students attain that level.

She and the 2 other candidates — Max Bonehill and Kyle Ehrlich — had broad smiles. They’d created a bond that will last forever. And they’d made their dreams come true.

Bella is not finished with karate — not by a long shot. Recently, the dojo asked her to be a junior sensei. She is now teaching what she has learned.

Bella Rizzi: black belt!

Bella Rizzi: black belt!

Karate is a meritocracy. All students are respected for their rank. They wear their accomplishments on their belt. They don’t brag about it.

Bella is not a bragger anyway. But everyone in  Westport should know about her remarkable accomplishment.

Actually, her accomplishments — plural. She has written and published a book, “Time Travel Girls,” about being open to new opportunities. She has modeled for Girl Scouts of America.

Bella is only in 9th grade. She has a long way to go, and much more to achieve.

But the next time you see her — at a Staples event, writing in the library or running at Wakeman — give her a high five.

No one in Westport deserves it more.