Tag Archives: Mark Yurkiw

Marigny Painting: The Barn, And The Back Story

As part of Westport’s fundraising for Lyman — our new sister city in Ukraine — “06880” auctioned off a painting of Marigny-le-Louzon, France.

It was donated by our friends in Marigny, Westport’s other sister city. The relationship extends more than 75 years. We helped the Normandy town rebuild after World War II. Now, together, we are helping another ravaged place, this one in Ukraine.

Wendy Van Wie won the painting, with a bid of $1,500. But there’s more to this story than just a Westport resident helping an important relief effort.

Wendy and her husband Mark Yurkiw live on Cross Highway. Their home — the Meeker homestead — stood on the route taken by British soldiers in 1777, as they headed to Danbury to burn an arsenal. (A musket ball lodged in the door provided evidence of the event.)

The home on Cross Highway. (Photo/Amy Dolego)

Wendy and Mark bought the foreclosed property in 2003. After 2 centuries, the barn and 1728 saltbox house — already half a century old when the British marched past — had fallen into disrepair.

The couple rehabilitated their home, barn and cottage. Their attention to detail earned them a 2017 Historic District Commission preservation award.

interior of the barn, after renovation.

Today it’s known as the Schilthuis-Meeker house. Sally Schilthuis was influential in preventing construction of Merritt Parkway Exit 43 in the area, resulting in the current “No Man’s Land” between Exits 42 and 44.

Schilthuis died in 1975. Her obituary noted that her barn served as a meeting place for Westporters planning aid for post-war Marigny.

Cross Highway barn. (Photo/Amy Dolego)

The barn still serves an important relief role. Mark — whose heritage is Ukrainian — has worked tirelessly since the Russian invasion began to provide help for his homeland.

His current project –besides playing a key role with Lyman — is collecting generators, chain saws, sleeping bags, phone power banks, kerosene heaters, rechargeable batteries, blankets, pillows, warm winter clothing and more. It’s sent overseas, when space becomes available in shipping containers.

The gear — all donated by generous Westporters — is stored in that very same barn. (You can still help. Call Mark:  646-873-0050.)

Donations for Ukraine outside Mark Yurkiw and Wendy Van Wie’s barn — with the country’s familiar blue and yellow symbol of resistance.

As part of Wendy and Mark’s historic preservation work, they received a perpetual easement. Their barn is protected from any future demolition.

That’s where Wendy’s new painting will hang. It will keep the story of the Westport/Marigny connection — and the 2 towns’ new relationship with Lyman — alive.

“Long after Mark and I are gone, this will remind and inspire future generations,” Wendy says.

“The painting, and its back story, will become a permanent part of the permanent barn.”

This Marigny scene by Roger Potier will soon hang in Wendy Van Wie’s Cross Highway barn.

Tax-deductible donations can still be made to Westport’s sister city, Lyman, through Ukraine Aid International. Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here).

Roundup: Ukraine Aid, NYU Scam, All-State Football …

The first day of Westport’s drive to raise $250,000 for our new sister city of Lyman, Ukraine went well.

As of last night, over $73,000 had been donated. That’s nearly 1/3 of the way to repair 150 homes destroyed by Russian forces, give generators to all, and provide a water filtration system to the town.

Thanks to a partnership with Brian and Marshall Mayer — the Westporters who founded the non-profit Ukraine Aid International — the supplies can be delivered to the desperate town within 3 days.

As noted yesterday, the goal of $250,000 — by Christmas — is certainly reachable. It’s only $10 for every resident of Westport.

Of course, not everyone can afford that. If you can, please consider a donation for those who cannot.

To donate to the non-profit, just click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo.) You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

“06880” reader Jamie Klein has a great idea. She sent yesterday’s story to neighbors and friends, with this note:

This is one example of what is special about living in this town. What a great gift for someone in your family, or as a thoughtful hostess gift for one of the parties you may be attending.

As we enter the holiday season the message of miracles and hope are a theme across all faiths, and from our small place on this earth, we can make a miracle happen.

Thanks for all who have contributed to help rebuild Lyman, and all who will do so. Let’s double that $73,000 by tonight!

Christmas in Lyman. 150  out of 240 homes have been destroyed — including this one.

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Meanwhile, another local drive for Ukrainian aid bore fantastic fruit.

When Mark Yurkiw learned there was space in a container leaving in 10 days, he acted fast.

He put out the word on “06880.” In just over a week, readers delivered 8 whole house generators, 8 gas chain saws, 8 phone power banks, 20 sleeping bags, 20 flashlights, 2 kerosene heaters, plus boxes of rechargeable batteries, winter blankets, pillows, and children’s warm winter clothing, to his door.

All those items are now on their way to that embattled nation. Each one can help change lives.

“Thank you, Westport!” Mark says. “It takes a village.”

Ukrainians Ross Voytovych (now of Ridgefield) and Dima Dovgan (Redding) move equipment to be loaded on to a tractor trailer.

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Westport’s downtown Hanukkah menorah is back.

It will be lit tomorrow (Wednesday, December 21) at 5:30 p.m., in front of Anthropologie on the Post Road at Church Lane. The entire community is invited, with jelly doughnuts and chocolate gelt for all.

Bill Mitchell of Mitchells — long involved in interfaith efforts — will have the honor of lighting the candles.

This menorah and lighting is a joint effort of Beit Chaverim, Chabad of Westport, Temple Israel, and The Conservative Synagogue.

The downtown menorah, in 2020. (Photo/Arlene Yolles)

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Who knew so many Westporters read the New York Post?

A dozen or so readers sent links yesterday to the tabloid’s story that began:

A former New York University director of finance allegedly siphoned $3.5 million meant for minority and women-owned businesses and blew some of the cash on herself — including on an $80,000 pool for her Connecticut home, prosecutors said Monday.

Cindy Tappe, 57, was charged with diverting funds from New York State Education Department grants into shell companies that she created over a six-year scheme that was discovered in 2018, when she left NYU, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Some of the embezzled money went to expenses related to the grants or employee reimbursements — but at least $660,000 ended up in Tappe’s own pockets, according to the indictment.

She allegedly spent the dough on personal expenses, including the pool and renovations on her her home in Westport, Connecticut.

The scam started with a $23 million grant awarded to NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and Transformation, where Tappe worked, with the cash meant to go to state programs to help special education students and those learning English.

Though the press release from the New York State Comptroller lists her as a Westport residence, no one here has verified that.

And the Post’s photo shows the house below. According to Peter Blau, it’s at 87 Juniper Lane, New Canaan.

Sure looks like Westport.

Or New Canaan.

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The good news is: Staples High School has two All-State first team selections — out of only 26 in all of Connecticut. Congratulations, Caleb Smith and Tyler Clark!

The interesting twist: They’re longtime friends — and grew up on the same small street.

There are only 9 homes on Twin Falls Lane. So more than 20% of them are the homes of All-State football players!

PS: Congrats too to James Hillhouse, who made the All-LL/L (large schools) all-state squad.

(From left): Tyler Clark, Caleb Smith, James Hillhouse.

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All you ever wanted to know about white oaks is now on a video starring Westport Tree Board member Dick Stein.

Produced by fellow member Frank Rosen, the 8-minute piece covers their distinguishing features, history in Westport (the Bedford family helped with acorns), and more.

It was filmed in familiar places, like Sherwood Island State Park. Click below to learn about those ubiquitous (and handsome) species.

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Yesterday’s Roundup included an item about a car crash on Riverside Avenue.

An “06880” reader who lives on that street calls it “the lawless road of Westport.”

His car was parked legally. But a driver took the turn by Destination Haus too fast, and slammed in to the side of his car.

That was the 4th time a car has been hit in that area this year — and the second time for the reader.

The first time, he lost a mirror and the car suffered some scratches. This time, his vehicle was not as lucky:

“The owners at Destination Haus, and people working at 50 Riverside, are too scared to pull out,” the reader says.

It’s so bad that when Destination Haus has events, they have to hire police officers. But the last 3 times, the officer says he was nearly hit.

Several times.

Slow down! Even if you don’t care about anyone else, just think how much time it takes out of your day after you smack into someone.

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Speaking of traffic: Everyone (except the speeders themselves) is looking for a way to slow drivers down.

Peter Gold spotted one possible solution yesterday, on Thomas Road:

(Photo/Peter Gold)

Hanukkah began Sunday night. So — as this “tasteful” photo shows — there are “0 Days” left.

(Photo/Pam Kessselman)

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Speaking of Hanukkah etc. … The Jazz at the Post folks say: “It’s that time of year again. Why have our favorite holiday tunes been relegated to lifeless background music, advertising jingles or Muzak?

“In the hands of inspired musicians, the holiday repertoire makes for a fine opportunity for a night of hard swinging jazz.

“Name your holiday: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, even Festivus (for the rest of us) — we got it covered!”

This Thursday (December 22), Jazz at the Post (VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399) hosts a “Holiday Swingfest.” The lineup includes pianist Dave Childs, drummer Greg Burrows, bassist Joe Fitzgerald, and saxophonist Greg “The Jazz Rabbi” Wall.

“Special guests and elves are sure to drop by” too, they say.

Shows are 7:30 and 8:45 p.m., with dinner beginning at 7:30. Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

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And speaking (still) of the holidays:

Cecily Anderson is a talented art teacher.

How talented? Check out this great holiday installation piece. It’s drawing stares — and raves — at its pop-up location, right there at BMS. (Hat tip: Kerry Long)

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No, it’s not a sad little Christmas tree.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows — according to photographer Molly Alger — a “brand new tiny tree at the top of Baron’s South walking path.”

It was the only one like it she saw.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … in honor of the Tree Board’s white oak tree video (story above):

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Roundup: WestportREADS, Orphenians Sing, Playhouse Plays …

For over 20 years, the Westport Library has offered one book for the entire community to read — and celebrate — together.

This year’s WestportREADS selection is “Firekeeper’s Daughter.” Angeline Boulley’s young adult novel features 18-year-old Daunis Fontaine, a Native teen who must navigate family tragedy, new relationships, and an FBI investigation to root out the corruption in her community.

The author will deliver a keynote address on February 16, in the Trefz Forum. Events leading up to her appearance include:

  • PageTurners Book Club discussion (January 17, 11 a.m., Westport Library)
  • WestportREADS skating afternoon (January 21, 1 to 5 p.m., Westport PAL Longshore rink)
  • Healing Legacy Trauma (February 1, 7 p.m., Westport Library).
  • WestportREADS book discussion (February 2, 7 p.m., Westport Library).

More events will be announced soon.

Boulley is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan. She served as her tribe’s education director, and assistant executive director and on the board of regents at Bay Mills Community College before becoming director for the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

At the age of 54, she recently published her first novel.

Angeline Boulley (Photo/Marcella Hadden)

“Firekeeper’s Daughter” is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and a Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine Book Club YA Pick. It is being adapted by Netflix for TV with former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground.

Copies of the book are available for borrowing now at the Library. It is also available as an e-book and audiobook. For more information on WestportREADS, click here.

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A longstanding Westport Rotary Club tradition returned yesterday. The Staples High School Orphenians performed a holiday show.

The half-hour  a cappella concert was held in the acoustically resonant sanctuary of Green’s Farms Congregational Church. From “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies” to “Silent Night,” it was a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays.

Conductor Luke Rosenberg leads the Orphenians at the Westport Rotary Club holiday show, in Green’s Farms Church. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)

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Mark Yurkiw writes:

“Yesterday was the last day to donate equipment for a shipment to Ukraine. The response was fantastic. Three more generators showed up, and a dozen sleeping bags, and more.

“But yesterday I got a message that the shipping departure date is postponed until next Wednesday.

“There were many people who wanted to donate but couldn’t do it in time. They now have one more week.”

Donations can be brought to 190 Cross Highway and left by the barn. For questions or pickup arrangements, call Mark: 646-873-0050.

Donations for Ukraine — in the country’s familiar blue and yellow colors.

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“06880” is “where Westport meets the world.”

Lake Gallery is where talented local photographers show stunning large-scale images, taken from around the world.

Westporters Ron Lake and Nancy Breakstone host an opening reception this Friday (December 16, 6 to 8 p.m., 33 Elm Street) of their work.

This is Ron’s second gallery, after opening Focus in 2020 in Woodstock, Vermont. Nancy has curated shows at Earthplace, the Carriage Barn in New Canaan and Rene Soto Gallery in Norwalk.

(Photo/Nancy Breakstone)

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When COVID shut the Westport Country Playhouse, they reached audiences with a new/old idea: Playhouse Radio Theater.

The curtain has risen again. But the innovative series continues.

Next up: a holiday audio play. “A Merry Little Christmas Carol” — with original music and clever sound effects — airs on WSHU on Christmas Eve (December 24, 6:06 p.m. following the news). It will be rebroadcast Christmas Day (December 25, 1:06 p.m.).

Click here for the livestream. Click here for frequencies and locations. Click here for the link via the Playhouse website (available through January 1).

“A Merry Little Christmas Carol” is written and directed by Mark Shanahan, adapted from his play of the same name, and based on “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Shanahan is curator of Playhouse Radio Theater, in addition to curating the Playhouse Script in Hand play reading series.

WCP artistic director Mark Lamos narrates, with noted Playhouse actors like Paxton Whitehead (Scrooge). Running time is 2 hours.

Bah, humbug!

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Longtime Westport Public Schools director of personnel Nancy Bonvini died peacefully last week. She was 88, and lived in Fairfield.

Following her retirement in 1999, she volunteered at Black Rock School, and was a tutor at Mercy Learning Center.

She enjoyed listening to good music, was an avid reader, and enjoyed time by Long Island Sound and surrounded by nature.

A service will be held tomorrow (Thursday, December 15, 11 a.m. Spear-Miller Funeral Home, 39 South Benson Road, Fairfield). Interment will follow in St. Michael’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, friends may consider a donation in Nancy’s memory to Mercy Learning Center, 637 Park Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06604.

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An almost-winter day showcases Westport’s stark beauty, in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature. This beach is on Saugatuck Shores.

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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And finally … on this day in 1782, the Montgolfier brothers first flew an unmanned hot air balloon in France. It floated nearly 1.6 miles.

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Roundup: Ukraine, Santa, Brien McMahon …

The war in Ukraine has moved off the front pages.

But it’s still very close to Mark Yurkiw’s heart.

The Westporter (who has Ukrainian heritage) continues to work on a variety of projects to help that embattled country. He writes: “Missiles are raining down on Ukraine today. They are specifically meant to destroy access to heat, light and water.

“A group I am working with was given the chance to fill the balance of the next shipping container going to Ukraine in 5 days.

“‘06880’ readers can save lives by donating used generators, chainsaws, sleeping bags, flashlights and cell phone power banks. Non-working chainsaws and generators are fine. We will repair them.”

They can be brought to 190 Cross Highway and left by the barn any time. For questions or pickup arrangements, call Mark: 646-873-0050.

NOTE: Other containers will follow soon. The equipment collection is ongoing.

Mark Yurkiw has not forgotten his native Ukraine.

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Last night’s party honoring Westport Lifestyle magazine’s 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards winners featured fantastic food, an exciting venue (Christian Siriano’s Collective West) — and the most buff Santa ever to hustle down a chimney.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

This one bore a striking resemblance to RTM member/Staples High School graduate/longtime volunteer Andrew Colabella.

Ho ho ho!

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Westport’s has a new pop-up shop: Megan’s Martha’s Vineyard Boutique.

The women’s clothing and accessories boutique on Church Lane has a season location on the actual Vineyard.

Owner Molly Kopp is from Westport. Her family moved around a bit, and she landed on the island full-time while in college.

She worked for Megan, and after graduation asked about partnering on a Westport location.

The store opened last month. It will be here — opposite Spotted Horse — until at least January 1.

Megan’s Martha’s Vineyard pop-up.

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Staples and Brien McMahon High Schools compete against each other in many FCIAC (Fairfield County league) sports.

Now the Westport mother of former Wreckers is trying to help the Senators.

Lisa Marriott — whose sons were Staples  track stars — heard that McMahon boys indoor track coach Valerie Kalunian needs used track spikes and/or running sneakers for some of her athletes. Without them, they cannot participate this winter.

“Those shoes can be very costly for students, and hard to find in local stores,” she says. “Over the years we have tried to gather extra spikes/racing shoes/training shoes for those that may not have them, but our selection is limited.”

Running shoes can be dropped off at the Town Hall front desk starting Monday (put Lisa Marriott’s name on the bag or box). For other options, email lsmarriott@gmail.com. To donate cash, click here for a GoFundMe page.

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Ring-around-a-rosiesPocket full of posies …

Come on, Westport students. You can write a much better garden-related poem  than that timeworn ditty.

Here’s your chance. The Westport Garden Club has partnered with the Westport Arts Advisory Committee, town poet laureate Jessica Noyes McEntee and the Westport Library to sponsor a Youth Poetry Contest.

Affiliated with the National Garden Club’s Youth Poetry Contest, it’s open to public and private school students in kindergarten through 9th grade, plus those who are home schooled.

The competition encourages youth to embrace their creativity, using nature as inspiration.

The theme for the 2023 competition is “Seeds, Trees, and Bees…Oh My – Celebrating the Diversity of Nature”

Poems should be emailed to westportctgardenclub@gmail.com by January 6. Click here for guidelines, and more information.

Inspiration may come from this Westport Garden Club arrangement.

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No, the Ned Dimes Marina was not on fire yesterday.

It was just the Westport Fire Department doing what they always do, to keep us safe: checking equipment, and training.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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Everyone in Westport goes to Compo Beach in the summer.

Plenty go in late spring and early fall.

December — not so many.

If you don’t know what it looks like when the wind is whipping and the skies are gray — as they were earlier this week — check out today’s “Westport … Naturally” scene:

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … the Westport Garden Club’s youth poetry contest reminded me of …

(Promises, promises … please click here to help support “06880,” your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Online Art Gallery #135

Election Day is Tuesday.

On this Saturday — Online Art Gallery Day — a pair of artists remind “06880” readers of the importance of ballots.

Other contributors remind readers of the beauty that surrounds us — and the people, food and whimsy.

This is your feature. All readers are 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!

“Vote” (Amy Schneider)

Untitled (Lawrence Weisman)

Untitled (Jerry Kuyper)

“Fall” (Mark Yurkiw)

“Happy Schooner and Dad Enjoying a Hike at Lake Mohegan” (Rick Benson)

“Tuscan Delight, Monteverdi” (Ellin Spapdone)

“Are You Sure This is From the New Webb Telescope?” (Steve Stein)

“Balsamic Olive” (Tom Doran)

“Sacred Water on Sacred Wood” (Jonathan Prager)

“Steps” (Karen Weingarten)

Photographer Mike Hibbard jokes, “Meet me at Aster’s for lunch, and Honey, Bee hungry!”

“And So It Begins” (Bonnie Erickson)

Geoffrey Stone’s collage of Stacey Abrams was made with material from the New York Times; altered photographs, acrylic, and pencil on canvas.

(Before — or after — voting, please elect to make a contribution to “06880.” Click here to support your hyper-local blog.)

Roundup: Hook’d (Again), Compo Church, PAL …

Yesterday’s post about Hook’d struck a nerve.

Most readers agreed with the one quoted. They filled the Comments section with stories of their own, slamming the Compo Beach concessionaire for mediocre food, long wait times, and a lack of planning and care. (A couple of readers disagreed; they love Hook’d).

Much of that falls on the owners’ shoulders. Word on the street is that employees are frustrated and embarrassed — and sometimes bear the brunt of customers’ complaints.

The cooks and counter help are local teenagers. They have no control over whether enough burgers and hot dogs are ordered, the price, or the systems in place to make ordering simple and pick-up fast. They’re at the mercy of their bosses.

Give the kids a break. It’s not an easy situation to be in.

But — as many readers have noted — the owners deserve whatever they get.

Hook’d, last year. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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Speaking of Compo Beach:

Sunday church services began there this morning, near the cannons. They run every week, through the September 4.

It’s a BYOC event (bring your own chair). Parking is free; tell the gate attendant you’re going to the service.

Participating churches include Saugatuck, Greens Farms, Norfield and Wilton Congregational, and United Methodist Church of Westport and Weston. A different minister leads worship each week.

Rev. Heather Sinclair of the United Methodist Church leads this morning’s service. (Photo/Karen Como)

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Westport is still buzzing about the fantastic Independence Day fireworks on Thursday.

It couldn’t have happened without the generosity of Melissa & Doug, the locally based, internationally beloved toy company; the hard work of the Westport Police, Fire, EMS, Parks & Recreation and Public Works Departments — and the volunteer efforts of Westport PAL.

The biggest party of the year is a fundraiser for PAL. They could not run their many sports programs for boys and girls, or scholarships for Staples High School students, without that help.

So, whether you bought a ticket or freeloaded, consider a contribution to one of Westport’s most important organizations. Click here to see all they do; then click here to donate.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Kathie Bennewitz — our talented town art curator, who tirelessly finds, documents, preserves and exhibits the Westport Public Arts Collections — has taken on a new challenge: to preserve the legacy of iconic American artist Edward Hopper.

He’s the creator of classic works like the famed diner scene “Nighthawks (1942). She travels nearly every day to Nyack, New York, to steward and shepherd the  Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center.

The other day, Westport artists Eric Chiang and Mark Yurkiw took up Bennewitz’s offer to visit. Yurkiw reports: “The walkable and vibrant destination, with the Hudson River as a backdrop, makes a fabulous day trip. See the museum, stroll down Hopper Way and around the village of Nyack, with plenty to eat and experience.”

And say hi to Kathie at the museum, before she heads home to us.

(From left): Eric Chiang, Kathie Motes Bennewitz and Mark Yurkiw, outside the Edward Hopper Museum.

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Speaking of Eric Chiang:

If you missed his fascinating talk — “The Musical Planet” — the other day at the Westport Library: You’re in luck.

Click below to hear his thoughts on his art, its place in the world — and Westport’s role as an artists’ town.

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A reader writes:

“I was at Old Mill Beach with my husband and 3 young boys. We have come at low tide for years, to swim and find hermit crabs. Today, we saw this:

“At first we thought the owners would return to pick up the bags, but there were no dogs or owners around. The tide was coming in, and these bags would have been washed away into the sea. I took them to the trash. It was very disappointing, and obviously disgusting.”

No s—.

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Paul Cohen, formerly of Westport and Fairfield, beloved husband of Barbara R. (Bobbie) Herman, passed away peacefully yesterday in Redding, He was 98 years old.

The New York City native enlisted in the Army Air Corps on his 19th birthday in 1942, the earliest that was permitted at the time. He served in the Galapagos and Central America, commanding a radio operations group to protect the Panama Canal.

After the war he attended Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. then the Sorbonne and La Cinémathèque Française in Paris, where he studied cinematography.  He was employed by the March of Time in Paris.

After returning to the US Paul worked at Owen Murphy Productions, a producer of documentaries and commercial films. After several years, he acquired the company. He produced films for clients like IBM, the USIA, Western Electric, the 1960-61 World’s Fair and the States of New York and New Jersey. and won many awards. He traveled with 3 presidents: Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

He and his wife Helene moved to Westport in 1974, and became involved in town activities. Paul produced bulletins, posters and newsletters for the Westport Arts Center, Y’s Men, Y’s Women, Westport Woman’s Club and Unitarian Church.  He won several awards in the Y’s Men annual photo contest.

Helene died in 1993. Paul married Bobbie in 1997. In addition to Helene, he was predeceased by a daughter Susan, a brother and 2 sisters.

Survivors include his son Peter, stepsons Randall Schein (Ann Reingold), Jonathan Schein (Cynthia Hewett), and step-grandaughters Samantha and Lily Jo Schein.

A memorial service will be held in the fall. Donations in his memory may be made to the Unitarian Church in Westport, or a charity of your choice.

Paul Cohen

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Longtime Westporter Stanley Bryk died Wednesday, at Norwalk Hospital. He was 87.

The Bridgeport native lived in Westport for 55 years, before moving to Southport 2 years ago.

Bryk — a Marine Corps veteran — spent 41 years with Sikorsky Aircraft. He was a member of the Frank C. Godfrey American Legion Post,  and the VFW. He was also a lifelong New York Giants fan, and an avid traveler.

Survivors include his wife, Laura Renzulli Bryk; daughters Linda (Brent) Norton of Goshen, New York, and Susan (Robert) Tierney of Glastonbury, and grandchildren Taylor, Kelly, Erika, Casey, Rebecca and Kevin. He was predeceased by his brother Frank and one sister Mary Murphy.

AMass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, July 9 (11 a.m., St. Luke Church). Internment with military honors will follow in Willowbrook Cemetery. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Saint Jude Children’s Hospital for Cancer.

Stanley Bryk

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Former Staples High School media teacher Mike Zito’s wife of 32 years, Joni Gaines, died last month after a long battle with cancer.

Despite insurance, Zito faces medical bills approaching $10,000. He has started a GoFundMe page. Click here to help.

Jodi Gaines

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Dick Truitt lives near Winslow Park. Dogs occasionally wander through his yard.

They’re not the only visitors. This midnight guest stars in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Photo/Dick Truitt)

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And finally … since everyone seems to have feelings about the Compo Beach concessionaire (story above):

 

Unsung Heroes #233

The drumbeat of news from Ukraine is relentless. It’s tragic, horrific, frightening  — there really are not enough words to convey how Westporters feel.

Sitting safely thousands of miles away, we wonder what we can do.

Some, like Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn and Buck Rosenfeld, travel overseas to help.

Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn, with supplies.

Others, like Stephan Taranko and Mark Yurkiw — both with Ukrainian heritage — use their words and art to keep the plight of their countrymen in the forefront of our minds.

Mark Yurkiw, with his Ukraine installation on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

Still others, like Darcy Hicks and Bean Corcoran, organize rallies.

Miggs Burroughs at last weekend’s rally. The QR code provides quick access to donations through Save the Children Ukraine. (Photos/Rowene Weems Photography)

And many, many more — our neighbors and friends — respond to requests by organizations like Wakeman Town Farm to collect clothes, toys, medical supplies and money.

Those who help are not doing it to be heroic. The true heroes are on the ground, 4,500 miles from Westport.

But many people here do what they can. If you’ve done anything over the past month — organized or attended a rally, donated needed goods or funds, posted information on social media, flew a flag, whatever — thank you.

It’s a small gesture, but it speaks volumes. Mark Mathias has changed his outdoor lights, to show support for the embattled nation of Ukraine. (Photo/Mark Mathias)

And keep doing it. It does make a difference.

(Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

 

“Today, We Are All Ukrainians”

For decades, the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge and Jesup Green have been the site of political rallies.

Many are controversial: Vietnam. Iraq. Black Lives Matter.

Today’s drew more than 200 people, in a united show force. Democrats, Republicans, independents; men, women, children; Americans, Ukrainians, and immigrants centuries ago and yesterday from many other lands; a US Senator, a Congressman, and their constituents.

Congressman Jim Himes and Senator Richard Blumenthal, with constituents. One had a very pointed message. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

All had one message: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is abhorrent.

Holding signs supporting Ukraine, denouncing Vladimir Putin, and bearing QR codes with ways to support the invaded nation, they stood quietly but purposefully.

Listening intently at Jesup Green. (Photo)Susan Woog Wagner)

The past week has shocked the globe. In nearly every nation, people have gathered to express outrage and sorrow, and show solidarity.

Senator Richard Blumenthal met Ukrainian President Valodymyr Zelensky 6 weeks ago. “Putin has badly miscalculated this man,” Blumenthal said.

Senator Richard Blumenthal addresses the crowd. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Blumenthal added that he told Zelensky, “Your values are America’s values. And today, we are all Ukrainians.”

Congressman Jim Himes called Russia’s invasion “something we did not think we’d see in this century, or this world. This is not a distant fight. Our parents fought against communism. Our grandparents fought against fascism. It’s time now for us to do our part.”

Many came dressed in Ukrainian colors. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker said: “Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine as they fight for their country, their democracy and their lives. Their incredible courage and resolve, and that of President Zelensky and the Ukrainian government, has galvanized and inspired the world – and Westport.”

Other speakers included Westporter Stephan Taranko, who described the terrors his Ukrainian family felt previously at the hands of the Russian government, and Yaroslav Palylyk, president of the Westchester chapter of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.

Some attendees noted their Ukrainian roots, or of similar heritage.

Other nations have suffered under Russian rule too. These Georgians showed solidarity on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

This was not a large demonstration, like Times Square or Berlin. It did not require the bravery of last weekend’s protests in the streets of Moscow.

But it was Westport’s way of showing that we do not live in a bubble. And of doing our part to let the Ukrainian people know that we are one town among many that stands with them.

Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas and his daughters were at today’s rally, with a sunflower. It’s the national flower of Ukraine. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

(Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Darcy Hicks (shown here with her husband Josh Koskoff) helped organize today’s rally. Darcy’s brother Tyler Hicks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer, is chronicling the devastation.  (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Miggs Burroughs — who is of Ukrainian descent — holds a sign he designed. The QR code opens a link for donations to help Ukrainian relief organizations. (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

(Photo/Jimmy Izzo)

The crowd on Jesup Green (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

(Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Saugatuck Elementary School students joined in too. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Westport artist Mark Yurkiw — whose parents fled the Ukraine in 1949 — decorated the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge with fabric. Blue and yellow are Ukraine’s national colors. (Photo/Dan Woog)

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Preach! (Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

(Photo/Susan Woog Wagner)

Roundup: Ukraine, Budget, Businesses …

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A technical glitch has caused some “06880” readers to fall off the subscriber list. If you’ve been receiving our emails regularly — no problem.

But you may have friends or relatives who are not getting them. So they’re not reading this. You can help.

If you know someone who says “I’m not getting my ‘06880!’,” please have them email 06880blog@gmail.com. I’ll send the info they need to get back on the list!

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Today’s rally in support of Ukraine (Saturday, 11 a.m.) will have a special backdrop. Yesterday, the site — the downtown Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge — was decorated with blue and yellow fabric. As the world now knows, those are the colors of the nation now under siege.

Westport artist Mark Yurkiw — whose parents emigrated to the US in 1949 from Ukraine — conceived, designed and created it. He installed it yesterday, with help from Miggs Burroughs and Sal Liccione. Help with funding came from Stephan Taranko, another Westporter with Ukrainian heritage.

Ukrainian colors, on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

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Julia Peterbarg’s aunt and grandmother are currently in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The rest of her family escaped to the western part of the country.

She offers these ways for “06880” readers — friends, neighbors and strangers — to help

And more ways to help…

Years ago, Bobbi Essagof attended summer camp. Yesterday, the longtime Westporter received an email from the current owner. He passed along information from a camp family with ties to Ukraine. It offered several ways for Americans to help:

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Yesterday’s “06880” story on Westport’s FY 2023 town budget said that the first 2 Board of Finance meetings about it would be held March 8 and 9.

Yesterday, those meetings were canceled. BOF chair Sheri Gordon says the delay to discuss the operating budget is caused because the Board of Education has not yet presented its working capital plan.

A Finance Board discussion will be held as scheduled with the BOE on March 10 (and beyond as needed) to allow the town and Board of Ed to come up with a realistic capital budget. Once that is done, discussions will proceed on the town’s operating and capital budgets.

Click here to see the FY ’22 budget.

Decisions on how tax dollars will be spent begin soon,

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88 houses closed in Westport over the past 3 months (December through February).

That’s a 40% decrease from the same time a year ago. But it’s still the 2nd-most closings for the period since 2005.

Houses spent 78 days on the market — and buyers on average paid 101.4% of the list price. The average closing price during that 3-month period was $1,952,335, up 9.1% from the previous year.

There were 91 active listings at the end of February. (Hat tip: Roe Colletti, Brown Harris Stevens)

This house at 50 Compo Mill Cove is on the market for $13.5 million.

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Fleet Feet has officially moved. They’re celebrating at their new location, in the Fresh Market plaza, a couple of doors down from the supermarket.

They’ve got Karhu and Kane Footwear there today (Saturday), and TAP tomorrow. Run on down!

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Good news for fans of The Cottage — particularly those in Greenwich, Stamford and Westchester.

Chef Brian Lewis’ 2nd location opens at 49 Greenwich Avenue (Greenwich) on March 22.

The seasonal menu features classic dishes from The Cottage Westport, including Wagyu beef brisket steam buns, duck fried rice and The Cottage Burger, along with new small plates for sharing, house made pasta, signature items, vegetable-centric dishes and gluten-free options.  also heart into every dish and drink that is served to a guest.”

Westport architect Rick Hoag collaborated with Lewis on a modern interpretation of the intimate Westport location. For more information, click here.

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It’s taken a year. But yesterday at the Cavalry Road bridge, one of the new deck pieces was dropped into place.

Mixing a metaphor, is there light at the end of the tunnel?

(Photo/Walter Greene)

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Tonight, Westporter Suzanne Tanner promotes world peace and harmony, with a benefit performance of 1970s love songs, Broadway ballads and selections from her original solo musicals. It’s set for 7 p.m. at the JCC in Sherman.

Proceeds will benefit environmental initiatives, and aid to Ukraine.

Suzanne Tanner

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As the Ukrainian refugee crisis worsens, a long-planned International Women’s Day event seems especially timely.

This Tuesday (March 8, 7 p.m., Westport Library, in-person and Zoom), the United Nations Association Southwest Chapter hosts “The Refugee Experience.” Aid workers will discuss how the process works in Connecticut — specifically, how it affects women. Click here for details.

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Westport Book Shop‘s featured artist of the month is a familiar face: 1971 Staples High School graduate and lifelong resident Michael Brennecke.

An abstract painter, he attended The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and earned a BFA at Tufts University. Click here for his website.

Michael Brennecke with his paintings, at the Westport Book Shoop.

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JD Dworkow calls today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo “false spring on Ferry Lane East.”

(Photo/JD Dworkow)

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And finally … in honor of today’s rally for Ukraine in downtown Westport (and hopes of better days ahead):

Roundup: Ukraine Rally, Mark Yurkiw, Mexicue …

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For the past few days, Westporters have watched citizens around the globe rally in support of Ukraine.

We get our own chance this Saturday.

The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge — the go-to site for local political activity — is the site March 5, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The theme is “Stand With Ukraine.”

The event’s organizers — DefenDemocracy CT — say: “Represent. Bring signs. Be safe.”

 

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Westport’s Mexican dining scene — already hot, with everything from “mama y papa” (Border Grille, Cuatro Hermanos) and fast-casual (Salsa Fresca) to upscale (Mexica) and of course old standbys (Viva Zapata, Bartaco) — gets another player soon.

Mexicue moves into the 2nd floor of 38 Main Street. The newly designed space was formerly occupied — in a much different configuration — by Bobby Q’s and Onion Alley.

Founder Thomas Kelly — who does not sound as if he’s from south of the border — writes on Mexicue’s website that he began by mixing a street food sensibility with fine dining. His experimenting, mixing and combining has led to Mexicues in New York City (Chelsea, NoMad, Midtown), Stamford and Washington, DC. Besides Westport, another is in the works in Bethesda, Maryland.

Target date for opening is early May.

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Westport artist Mark Yurkiw’s parents emigrated to the US from Ukraine, in 1949. They had spent years in displaced persons’ tent camps.

As a teenager during World War II, Mark’s mother was enslaved .For almost 50 years, the United Nations paid slave labor reparations to her.

Mark was born in New York, but his first language is Ukrainian. He has followed the news from his parents’ homeland closely, and fearfully. He knows its history well.

Mark says: “To get a sense of what Ukraine has endured, watch the film Mr. Jones. It is a true story about a British reporter trying to warn the world about what is now referred to the Holodomor during the early 1930s, when Stalin starved Ukraine and untold millions died.

“The rise and acceptance of the ruling authoritarians around the world is the most frightening aspect of our times. What is happening now in Ukraine will affect the whole world for years to come.”

Mark Yurkiw, with a patriotic t-shirt.

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WestportMoms reports that in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, BevMax has taken Russian vodka off its shelves. Instead, the chain is encouraging customers to buy vodka from Ukraine.

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Today’s New York Times features a compelling photo from 1988 Staples High School graduate Tyler Hicks. It shows civilian volunteers sorting empty bottles in a parking lot in Dnipro, Ukraine. They’ll be used for Molotov cocktails.

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

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Following CDC guidelines, superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice announced yesterday that students are no longer required to wear masks on school buses or vans. Anyone wishing to continue wearing them may do so.

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Pass the Torch is a popular sports podcast. Each episode examines the life journeys of athletes and sports personalities.

The most recent one highlights David Lloyd. The 1979 Staples High School graduate and SportsCenter host has been at ESPN for 25 years.

Click here for his insights into his career, including the long road from Westport to Bristol. (Hat tip: Tommy Greenwald)

David Lloyd

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Speaking of sports: With spring almost here*, the Joggers Club is warming up some great program.

The Kids Running Camp for kindergarten through 8th grade runs (ho ho) Sundays, April 3 through May 29 (Staples high School track, 2 to 3:15 p.m.). It’s $40 for members, $99 for non-members.

The Minute Man 10K Build-Up Series is Saturdays throughout April (Compo Beach, 8 a.m.); free for members.

Track Night (every Wednesday, Norwalk High School, 6:15 p.m.) and Fun Run (every Saturday, Compo Beach, 8 a.m.)) are both free for members.

Click here for more information, and membership ($50 per year; includes a free Brooks technical running shirt). Instagram: @TheJoggersClub.CT.

*Please, dear God.

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“What is a healthy fat?” “Should I do a juice cleanse?” “How can I improve my diet?” “Are all carbs bad”?

Dietician and wellness expert Katie Andrews answers those questions and more tomorrow (March 1, 7 p.m., TAP Strength Lab, 180 Post Road East). She’ll cover the basics of healthy nutrition, from macro and micronutrient needs, to how to manage a healthy diet.

It’s free; please RSVP to nancy@tapstrength.com. The first 30 people to respond get a free ready-to-eat chef-crafter meal from Azuluna.

Katie Andrews

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Because of an online glitch and snow that prevented hand delivery of essays difficult, TEAM Westport has extended the deadline for its Teen Diversity Contest to Wednesday, March 2.

Click here for full details, and an application form.

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Fulvio Vladimir Dobrich — a longtime Westporter, and husband of civic volunteer Maggie Mudd — died earlier this month in a sailing accident off the British Virgin Islands. He was 74.

His family writes: “Fulvio was a larger-than-life figure, a successful multi-lingual international financier who was energetic and ever-curious, with a strong grasp of world history and politics.

“He felt most at peace roaming the world on his beloved S/Y Istria.

“Youthful, adventurous and endowed with a passionate and enduring zest for life and risk unusual for a man of his age, he influenced the lives of many, showing them extraordinary generosity, warmth, moral support and always a guiding sense of greater possibility.

“Everybody could count on Fulvio for help. His devoted friends are spread across the globe.

“A teen emigrant who left a poor Istrian village in Croatia with his family to escape Communism, Fulvio became an ardent New Yorker, intensely proud of his public school education in Hell’s Kitchen and at City College, where he was a devoted alumnus.

“He served on the Advisory Council and the Board of Visitors of CCNY’s Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, and was a member of City College’s 21st Century Foundation board.

“He also created the Fulvio V. Dobrich New American Scholarship Fund. He instituted a similar program for first generation students at Wake Forest University.

“An anti-snob, he held an abiding compassion for the many worthy deprived of privilege or opportunity.”

In addition to Maggie Mudd, his wife of 27 years, he is survived by their sons, Jack Dobrich of New York and Andrew Dobrich of Los Angeles, and his daughter from an earlier marriage, Erin Dobrich of Westport.

In addition, a celebration of Fulvio’s life will be held at City College, New York, at a date to be determined.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Colin Powell School at CCNY.

Fulvio Dobrich

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No, Jo Shields Sherman admits, it’s not the best photograph.

But her shot of “the first robin” on North Avenue is a great “Westport … Naturally” reminder that spring is not too far away.

(Photo/Jo Shields Sherman)

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And finally … yesterday we noted the death of Sally Kellerman, “Hot Lips” Houlihan in the original “MASH” movie.

On this day in 1983, the final TV episode of “M*A*S*H” aired. Almost 106 million viewers tuned in. Nearly 40 years later, that’s still the record for highest viewership of a season finale.

Anyone who saw that emotionally stunning 2-hour show recognizes the key role Mozart’s “Quintet for Clarinet and Strings” played in that memorable broadcast.

And if you haven’t seen it — or want to watch it again — click below. War is indeed hell.