Tag Archives: JP Vellotti

Abstract Irony

Alert “06880” reader — and ace photographer — JP Vellotti sent me this shot, from the weekend’s Fine Arts Festival. He calls it “Abstract Irony.”

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

It took me a few seconds to figure out why he gave it that title.

When I realized the reason, it fit perfectly.

If you catch the irony in JP’s image, click “Comments” below.

Meanwhile, kudos to the Westport Downtown Merchants Association for this year’s 45th annual event.

Over 180 exhibitors in charcoal, watercolor, pastel, pencil, ink, photography, digital art, sculpture, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry and wood filled Main Street, Elm Street and Church Lane.

Live music, special performances, children’s activities, food and non-profit groups’ exhibits added to the flair.

Around the corner, the Westport Library‘s annual book sale drew plenty of bargain hunters (some of whom were also paying serious prices for art).

The book (and CD) (and DVD) (and more) sale continues tomorrow (Monday, July 16, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., half price day) and Tuesday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m., everything free but contributions gladly accepted).

It was a great weekend to be downtown.

And I say that without any irony whatsoever.

New Downtown Slowly Takes Shape

To some holiday shoppers, the ongoing construction in downtown Westport is a nuisance.

To JP Vellotti, it’s evidence of good times to come.

Yesterday, the alert “06880” reader snapped a few shots on both sides of the Post Road, near Main Street.

He likes the pavers going in at the front terrace of Rothbard Ale + Larder (the former Town Hall):


Meanwhile, across the street, decorative railings are being installed at Bedford Square. “The original ones in front of the YMCA were smashed during construction,” JP says. “I never thought they’d be replaced!”


Intrigued, he also took this photo. “The old girl looks spiffy!” he notes.

(Photos/JP Vellotti)

(Photos/JP Vellotti)

Moseying back up the Post Road, JP adds, “It’s nice that Post 154” — the old post office — “is rented again (though not for food). It’s a good time for local landmarks!”

A Taste Of Saugatuck

The other day, alert — and hungry — “06880” reader JP Vellotti was walking home from the train station.

Smells from the many area restaurants were alluring. He got even hungrier.

Then he saw these cherry tomatoes growing outside  Fleishers Craft Butchery.

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

JP says, “If they don’t put a ‘please do not pick’ sign up soon, there might be a new meaning to ‘community garden.’

But he resisted temptation. And got his tomato fix at Julian’s instead.

Trump’s Thunder

Alert “06880” reader JP Vellotti graduated from Sacred Heart University in 1994.

When he heard that Donald Trump would speak at his alma mater — just 9 miles from downtown Westport — he decided to attend. His role, he says, was solely as “an observer.”

The rules were strict: No posters, banners, signs, professional cameras with detachable lenses, tripods, monopods, selfie sticks or GoPros. There was also “no dress code,” whatever that means.

JP was impressed with the professionalism of the Westport Police Department, part of the very tight security detail.

He also was surprised at the diverse demographics represented — including many folks he knows from Westport.

As Trump finished, JP says, thunder boomed. An announcement urged attendees to stay inside. JP took his chances with the weather, and sprinted through the downpour.

Here’s some of what he saw:

Plenty of vendors sold wares outside the Sacred Heart arena. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Plenty of vendors sold wares outside the Sacred Heart arena. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Part of the crowd, estimated at 5,000. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Part of the crowd, estimated at 5,000. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

A Donald Trump -- and Israel -- supporter. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

A Donald Trump — and Israel — supporter. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

The Republican presidential candidate speaks. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

The Republican presidential candidate speaks. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

This woman's shirt reads "HIllary You Suck." (Photo/JP Vellotti)

This woman’s shirt reads “HIllary You Suck.” (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Despite the sign, there was not a lot of respect inside Sacred Heart's William H. Pitt Health & Recreation Center, says JP Vellotti.

Despite the sign, JP Vellotti says there was not a lot of respect inside Sacred Heart’s William H. Pitt Health & Recreation Center.

Meanwhile, outside the Sacred Heart arena, a small “Love Trumps Hate” demonstration took place. Roy Fuchs took this photo:

(Photo/Roy Fuchs)

(Photo/Roy Fuchs)

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Buy An Oyster Knife; Build A Sherwood Mill Pond Sharpie

Three years ago, Westporter JP Vellotti helped turn century-old deck planks from the Laurel — at the time, America’s oldest oyster boat still sailing — into handsome and useful oyster knives.

The production run was limited. Many folks missed out.

One of Jean Paul Vellotti's oyster knives.

One of Jean Paul Vellotti’s oyster knives.

Now Vellotti is back, with an updated version of the Laurel oyster knife — and a new idea. It satisfies requests for more knives, celebrates history and gives back to the community.

Vellotti hopes proceeds from the new knives will help fund construction of a Sharpie. That’s the type of old-school vessel that for decades was part of Westport’s oystering and maritime traditions.

Sharpies were stable enough to carry heavy loads, with sails large enough to go across Long Island Sound.

A double-masted Sharpie, on the Mystic River.

A double-masted Sharpie, on the Mystic River.

Saugatuck River Sharpies were used to “tong” and “rake” for seed oysters. Vellotti hopes to register his Sharpie with the state as a seed boat. It would be the first Connecticut-built sail-powered craft used in oystering since the 1950s.

“The neat thing about a Sharpie is that it doesn’t draw much water,” Vellotti says. “It can sail inside the Sherwood Mill Pond with the centerboard up, and around the islands with it down. It can also go all the way into downtown at any tide.”

He hopes to offer rides on the Sharpie — perhaps as a quick spin around the Mill Pond, or a pre-Levitt Pavilion concert sail.

A Sharpie model built by Harry Runyon, caretaker of the Sherwood Mill Pond island house.

A Sharpie model built by Harry Runyon, caretaker of the Sherwood Mill Pond island house.

“This is not an overnight project,” Vellotti notes. “But I’m 100% dedicated to it. If the community can support me, I’ll deliver a boat we can all enjoy.”

Soon, he’ll take classes at Maine’s WoodenBoat School. He has all the power and hand tools required; he just needs to learn skills like lofting and cutting a stem rabbet.

Vellotti’s instructor grew up 3 houses down from the Staten Island yard where the Laurel was built. His grandfather helped construct it — an amazing coincidence.

In an undated photo, a Sharpie (foreground) sits on braces near the old Sherwood Mill Pond grist mill.

In an undated photo, a Sharpie (foreground) sits on braces near the old Sherwood Mill Pond grist mill. The mill later burned; a private home has replaced it.

Vellotti plans to draw the lines and make the patterns this winter, and calculate the materials needed. Construction starts in the spring. If all goes well, the boat will make a splash — literally — next summer.

“Sharpies are not the hardest boat to build,” he says. “This is an attainable goal.”  He’s getting help and support from other boat builders and woodworkers.

His Sharpie is not yet built. But Vellotti is already looking ahead, beyond his boat and the Mill Pond.

“If all goes well, this might start a chain reaction of small, traditional wooden craft in our waters,” he says.

“I have a Cornish Pilot Gig in mind. It would be a great team builder, and look fantastic rowing down the Saugatuck River.”

(To order Laurel oyster knives — or for more information on the Sharpie Mill Pondo project — click here.)

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!


Alert “06880” reader JP Vellotti spotted a truck behind Compo Shopping Center:

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

The side of the vehicle offers free summer workouts at New York Sports Club.

“Lucky for members it doesn’t mean loading all the gym equipment into this truck,” JP says.

NYSC closes at the end of the month.

There Be Dragons

Everyone knows there’s an airplane hanging from the Westport Library ceiling.

But unless you’ve been there lately, you may not have seen 2 dragons lurking in the Maker Space.

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

Alert photographer J.P. Vellotti notes they’re not the only dragons there. A few feet away, the WPA mural — rescued from the original Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street — shows another version of the creature.

You can see all those dragons — and more — this Thursday (April 7, 5-6:30 p.m.). A “Geek Party” kicks off a photo campaign showing all the things library users “geek” (are passionate) about.

If you’d like to be photographed by Pam Einarsen showing what you geek about, wear a solid black top — and bring what you geek. You’ll get free digital and print copies.

Can’t make it Thursday? Photo sessions are also scheduled for Saturday (April 9, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.) and Tuesday (April 19, 3-5 p.m.).

And if you geek dragons, that would be very, very cool.

David Pogue is one of Westport's best-known geeks.

David Pogue is one of Westport’s best-known geeks.

Zipping (Or Not) Through The Post Office

Alert “06880” reader and frustrated post office patron JP Vellotti writes:

I was at the post office recently in Playhouse Square, sending wood samples to the US Forestry Service. (Did you know they’ll try to figure out up to 5 pieces a year — for free?)

It was a Saturday, at 8:53. I waited for the 9 a.m. opening. Then I walked in, used one of those semi-free Priority Mail shipping boxes, and sent my parcel.

When the clerk asked if I wanted anything else, I said, “You don’t have any post office boxes available here, do you?” She asked another clerk, who said yes.

I told her I had a box at the old Saugatuck location, then another at the trailer. Maybe I was trying to claim legitimacy.

The old Saugatuck post office -- before it moved to a trailer. It's now on the corner of Franklin and Ketchum streets.

The old Saugatuck post office — before it moved to a trailer. It’s now on the corner of Franklin and Ketchum streets.

She asked for 2 forms of ID — one photo, one not.

My insurance card turned out to be expired. The clerk rejected me.

Now I really wanted that new box. I was having business cards printed Monday. They’d look great with my new 06880 PO box — much better than my home address.

On my 4th trip to the desk, I asked which numbers were available. The clerk said a computer picks them.

I told her my Saugatuck box was 2261, and that was pretty cool. She didn’t get the connection.*

I outlasted my welcome. I was passed to another clerk, who offered me a choice between 502 or 815.

I chose the latter. He finalized the form, handed me the keys, and wrote down my new Zip+4 address: 06881-0815.

The scene outside Westport's main post office is often as tough to manage as the one JP Vellotti found inside. This was the scene last Saturday, at 12:30 p.m. Yes, the Albert's Organics truck was parked there.

The scene outside Westport’s main post office is often as tough to manage as the one JP Vellotti found inside. This was the scene yesterday, at 12:30 p.m. Yes, the Albert’s Organics truck was parked there.

I live right around the corner! This is downtown Westport — 06880!

This clerk said the boxes in the post office building are 06881. Any mail that says 06880 with a PO box takes an extra 3-4 days to be delivered.

I walked to the door, dejected. Could I get a refund? Why did I even attempt to get a box in the world’s worst parking lot, when I really wanted to be back at the new Saugatuck facility?

Another clerk — selling stamps at a mobile kiosk — asked why I looked so sad.

I went through the whole story.

It was my lucky day. Turns out he’s the one who takes care of all the mail at the Saugatuck branch.

He said 2261 was taken. I told him that a really long time ago — when I was in high school and worked at CamerArts in Sconset Square — I had 2122.

I went back to the desk. It took a while, but the transfer was made.

My new Zip+4 is 06880-2122. It’s music to my ears.

Westport is always #1. But for me, it will never be 0688-1.

*Do you? Think phone numbers.



Trump This Story!

As the Iowa caucuses near — and front-runner/self-described potential Fifth Avenue shooter Donald Trump commands outsized headlines — it’s time for a Westport-connections story.

Everything here is true. I couldn’t make this up — even if I wanted to.

JP Vellotti is a longtime Westporter. About 10 years ago — working as a photojournalist — he was a stage photographer for ABC Studios in New York.

He worked mostly on the Tony Danza morning show. It was filled with B-list guests, but the host was always polite and attentive to his staff and crew.

JP never knew who would be on the show until he arrived. One day, during the height of “The Apprentice,” it was a rare A-lister: Donald Trump.

He was there to promote his show, plus an officially licensed line of board games, towels, etc.

Donald Trump and Tony Danza. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Donald Trump and Tony Danza. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

In typical The Donald fashion (literally), he brought suits with his own label to plug too. The staff found some mannequins, and rolled them onstage.

Trump was — well, Trump. But it’s what happened afterward that JP never forgot.

As the star was leaving, JP mentioned he’d read his book.

“Did you like it?” Trump asked.

“Yes,” JP replied. “I learned more about negotiating from it than anywhere else.”

Trump — carrying one of his suits from the segment — immediately asked JP what size he wore. “44 regular,” JP replied.

Trump handed it to him to try on. It was awful: baggy, badly cut, with very cheap fabric. But JP thought it was a nice gesture for Trump to give him a suit.

Hah! As JP was taking it off Trump said, “These are $1200 suits. But I’ll give it to you for $200.”

“This is a 46 long. It’s too…” JP protested.

Trump was undeterred. “Do you know anyone who can sew? Your mother? Grandmother? You can bring it to a tailor. I’ll take something off the price.”

Donald Trump bookJP actually started thinking, This is a good deal. But he looked at the pants: They were a 40. He’s a 36.

“The pants are too big,” he said. “Thanks anyway.”

It’s hard to imagine the insanity of haggling with Donald Trump, in the back of a TV studio. He clearly didn’t need the money — or to sell a suit — but JP could tell he was burned at not being able to make the deal.

“Look, I can tell you read my book,” Trump persisted. “Just give me $50 for the suit. You can sell it and make a profit. It’s got my name on it. That’s worth it alone.”

“No thanks,” JP said. “But have a good day.”

As he walked away, Trump moved on to someone else.

Since then, JP has always thought of Donald  Trump as a cheap suit salesman. But he really is a master negotiator. Perhaps, JP says, “if he can’t convince America of his latest deal, he can try somewhere else.

“Like Uruguay.”


You Are A Westporter If…: The Sequel

Following up on this morning’s very popular post:

You are a true Westporter if you recognize this photo, taken earlier today during our unexpected pea-soup fog by alert “0688o” reader JP Vellotti:

Pea soup fog - December 11, 2015 - JP Vellotti