Tag Archives: New York Times

Roundup: Roe Halper, Southport Diner, Elusive Objects …

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After Roe Halper’s husband Chuck died in 2017, the noted artist wanted to make a tribute incorporating emotion, interpretation and design. She used lndia ink with Chinese brushes to create a book called Passage, about Chuck’s passage through life.

“Although I was thinking of him when I created it, it has a universal theme,” Roe says.

Passage is available at the Westport Library Store, Westport Museum of History & Culture (formerly the Westport Historical Society) and Barrett Book Store in Darien, and directly from Roe (203-226-5187; chalper@optonline.net).

A page from “Passage,” by Roe Halper.

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Once upon a time, it was the Athena Diner.

It had a grand reopening yesterday with a new name: The Southport Diner.

The website says: “Chef John and his brother Chef Adonis, aka Tony the Greek, grew up running Andros Diner in Fairfield, working with their father Leo Pertesis.”

So though the name has changed, it’s still one of those Northeast favorites: a Greek diner. (Hat tip: Isabelle Breen)

Southport Diner

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How do you capture the most elusive objects in the solar system?

I’m not sure. But Thierry Legault may.

The world renowned astrophotographer joins the Westport Astronomical Society on May 18 (8 p.m.) for a virtual talk on the topic of elusive objects.

From his home “in the light-polluted suburbs of Paris,” he’ll show some of those elusive objects he’s captured — like images of the International Space Station, eclipses and transits.

The event will be presented both as a Zoom webinar (click here to register), and a YouTube livestream (click here for the page).

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Dr. Suniya Luthar is familiar to many Westporters.

The emerita professor of psychology at Columbia’s Teachers College led a longitudinal study on youth and resilience here. She chose Westport because of its high number of high-achieving professionals, and the emphasis on status and achievement. 

That study was referenced in a guest essay in today’s New York Times. The piece looks at the mental health of young people today. Click here to read. But beware: The news is not good.

Psressures — academic, social and other — are high on teenagers today. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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“Goodbye Honey.”

That’s the name of the new movie from Todd Rawiszer. The 2007 Staples High School graduate produced and co-wrote the film.

Shot in Westport and Pennsylvania, it follows 2 women who must trust each other to survive the longest night of their lives. They are “badass, strong women,” as well as good Samaritans.

“Goodbye Honey” was screen at festivals across the country, winning Best Thriller Feature, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor at the Garden State Film Festival, Best Lead Performance at the Nightmares Film Festival, and Best Actress at NOLA Horror Film Festival.

It will be released May 11 on cable, satellite and digital HD>

Click below for the trailer:

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Nature continues to elate and inspire us. Lavinia Lawson spotted this handsome sight at Grace Salmon Park …

(Photo/Lavinia Lawson)

… while Lauri Weiser snapped this shot at the Lansdowne condominiums.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Former Westporter Alex Lasry is running for the United States Senate.

In Wisconsin.

The 33-year-old Democrat hopes to unseat Republican Ron Johnson. Lasry has taken a leave from his position as Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president. His father — a billionaire businessman and hedge fund executive — co-owns the NBA team. The Lasry family first lived on Sylvan Road North. Marc Lasry now lives on Beachside Avenue.

Before the Bucks, Alex Lasry worked in the Obama White House for senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. He was host committee chair for the 2020 Democratic Convention, which was planned for Milwaukee but held virtually due to COVID. (Hat tip: Gloria Gouveia)

Alex Lasry

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And finally … in honor of the Westport Astronomical Society’s lecture capturing the most elusive objects in the solar system:

Roundup: GF Church COVID Tribute; Real Estate; Sports News …

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A year after Connecticut was locked down, COVID has killed over 7,700 state residents. Nearly 2,100 have been in Fairfield County — 28 in Westport alone.

This Saturday, members and friends of Green’s Farms Church will mark the somber anniversary by placing 2,00 luminarias on Veterans Green.

Bagpipes and a brief service of dedication begins at 7 p.m. Thepublic is invited to walk among the lights (or view them from cars), reflect, and light their own LED luminarias in tribute to a life lost or affected by the pandemic, or as a symbol of hope for the future. The display will remain in place for 24 hours.

A Green’s Farms Church luminaria.

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Sunday’s New York Times Real Estate section explored trends in the tristate suburbs.

Much of the Connecticut focus was on Westport. The paper said:

Gains were perhaps expected south of the Merritt Parkway, whose popularity derives in part from regular train service. Indeed, in the past two months, Westport saw 33 sales of single-family homes priced from $1 million to $2.5 million, compared with 19 sales last winter, according to William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.

There were quotes from a man who missed out on a home here, despite offering a 10% premium (“There seems to be so much irrational behavior”), and retirees from White Plains who very much wanted to move to town,

After two failed purchases, they swooped in last month with an all-cash offer for a four-bedroom house, listed for $1.749 million. And it seemed to do the trick; a contract was in the works.

But a rushed title search missed problems, and on Feb. 24, (they) walked away. (The seller upped the price to $1.849 million a day later.)

The piece is illustrated with 2 photos too. Note the New York license plate! (Click here for the full story. Hat tip: Peter Gold)

(Photo courtesy of New York Times/Jane Beiles)

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1992 Staples High School graduate Susan Izzo co-founded The Sports Management Mastermind. The company helps professional athletes maximize their potential — while never losing sight of who they are as people.

At 7 p.m. today (Tuesday, March 9) and Thursday (March 11), she and another sports agent host a 90-minute virtual sports management masterclass for aspiring pro, college and Olympic athletes, and their families.

I am hosting/teaching tomorrow and on Thursday.  I am joining forces with another female sports agent and we are hosting a free 90-minute virtual sports management masterclass for aspiring professional, collegiate and Olympic athletes and their families.

Topics include building a successful career as a competitive athlete; creating and amplifying your brand; learning what sponsors, agents and coaches look for, and how to build those relationships; NCAA and Olympics regulations, and more.

The sessions are free, but spots are limited. Click here to register.

Susan Izzo

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Speaking of sports: Westport READS continues during March with a fascinating conversation about baseball.

Andrea Williams — author of “Baseball’s Leading Lady” — chats with Westport Museum for History & Culture executive director Ramin Ganeshram about a little-known woman at the center of the Negro Leagues: Effa Manley, co-owner and business manager of the Newark Eagles.

The event is set for Monday, March 22 (7 p.m.).

Williams worked in marketing and development for the Negro Baseball Museum in Kansas City. She’s now a fulltime writer.

Click here to register for the free discussion.

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Westporters keep clamoring for COVID tests.

This was the scene a couple of afternoons ago, at the Urgent Care clinic on Post Road East. It’s one of the area’s most popular sites.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

And finally … today in 1997, The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in Los Angeles after attending the Soul Train Music Awards. The case remains unsolved.

Lynsey Addario: In UK, Pandemic Takes “Almost Unbearable Toll”

In her Pulitzer Prize-winning career as a photojournalist, Staples High School graduate Lynsey Addario has trained her camera on the world’s most dangerous hot spots.

She’s done it again.

This time the place is Britain. There, the coronavirus is taking “an almost unbearable toll.”

Having covered war and humanitarian crises for 20 years, the MacArthur fellow  writes today, “I recognize the trauma I see in front-line workers. The pain and sadness can be overwhelming.”

One of 30 ICU patients in north London’s Barnet Hospital. It usually holds 15 to 19. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for New York Times)

Her story today — “It’s Still Getting Worse. Inside Britain’s Vicious Second Wave” — is visually stunning. Her words are an equally graphic reminder that the pandemic is far from over.

“Though the vaccine — which has reached over seven million people in Britain — is a light at the end of the tunnel, the darkness of what the country has experienced must not be forgotten,” she adds.

“For frontline workers and all Britons, these pictures stand as testaments to their trauma and their perseverance.”

Click here for the full story.

Funeral homes in Britain are ordering extra coffins. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for New York Times)

Westport Values Transform A New York Co-op

Earlier this month, the New York Times Real Estate section examined the challenges that coop buildings face during the pandemic.

The lead focused on Lori Levine van Arsdale. She’s the board president of a 5 -unit cooperative near Gramercy Park. Owners there have not always played nice.

Lori is also an 8-year resident of Westport. Her experience here — with great neighbors who look out for each other — has inspired her to make her city residence a more friendly place too.

That was not mentioned in the Times story. But the other day, she talked about it for “06880.”

Lori grew up in New York. She’s owned her co-op for 15 years, and loves the neighborhood.

When she she married her husband Jan 8 years ago, he’d lived in Westport for nearly a decade. They blended their families — she had 2 dogs; he had 2 dogs and 4 kids — and bought a new home. It’s off Park Lane, behind Trader Joe’s.

The van Arsdales (from left): Jansen with Kipper, Stedman, Carolynn with Casey, Jane, Jan with Suki, and Lori.

Many of their neighbors are older than the van Arsdales. Yet right from the start — when a woman brought herbs from her garden — Lori felt welcomed.

Everyone socialized, celebrated birthdays, lent leaf blowers. A neighbor called Lori once in New York, when she spotted an intruder in Lori’s back yard. The Van Arsdales’ stepsons shoveled neighbors’ driveways.

When COVID struck, Lori and Jan spent most of her time in New York. Westport neighbors checked in by phone. One told Lori that her stepchildren — 24, 22, 20 and 18 years old — were doing great. One had offered to go food shopping for homebound neighbors.

“That’s the way living should be,” Lori says. “I wondered why it wasn’t happening in my 5-unit brownstone.”

Owners in the self-managed 1851 building did not get along. When 3 units came on the market, Lori decided things could change. She ran for president, and won.

Lori Levine van Arsdale on the steps of her Gramercy Park co-op. (Photo/Katherine Marks for the New York Times)

She had a long conversation with the remaining owners about working cooperatively, and showing each other kindness and appreciation for all the extra work and effort needed to make their units a home.

She brought her Westport sensibility to the new owners too. Neighborliness became the norm. Her husband shoveled the sidewalk and steps; another owner did the patio.

The co-op bought 2 outdoor heaters for the back yard. They added a table and pop-up gazebo, so people could eat together outside.

“It’s lovely now,” Lori says. “It’s like house living in a communal environment.”

Adapting suburban values to urban living has changed the dynamics of her building. “I’ll never again come home to contentious people,” she says.

She’s changed her views on city life in general too. “This is what everyone should do for someone else. I’ve lived in high rises, where the only interaction you have is with the doorman — not even the people on your floor. It shouldn’t be that way.”

Meanwhile, Lori remains connected to Westport. This is where the family celebrates Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years (it’s the van Arsdales’ anniversary).

“When we blended our family, we wanted everyone to really feel at home,” she says. “We’ve created a home there. Westport has really rubbed off on us.”

Lori laughs. “From the outside, it must have looked like I was living a ‘Sex in the City’ life. Suburbia to me meant Westchester. I always thought Connecticut would be stuffy. But Westport isn’t. It’s charming.”

COVID has caused many city residents to move here, she notes. She hopes they find this to be a great community too.

But — unless they keep their co-op — they can’t bring Westport life back to New York the way she did.

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.

Flipstand


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.

Tadeo Messenger’s Message

Every year, the New York Times’ Ron Lieber asks high school seniors for their college application essays. He selects a few, showcasing what’s on teenagers’ minds about work, money, social class or related topics. 

“We adults don’t talk about money and our feelings about it often enough,” Lieber says, “so it only seems right to try to learn from the teenagers who have figured out how to do it well.”

Yesterday, he published 4. Among them: Staples High School’s Tadeo Messenger. Lieber describes Tadeo’s topic as “an unlikely conveyance in upscale Connecticut.”

Tadeo wrote:

My friends and peers don’t understand my relationship with Big Betsy. This is mainly due to the fact that Big Betsy is far older, louder, and larger than what is considered “normal” at my school. She is constantly surrounded by others who serve the same exact purpose, but are more elegant.

Big Betsy was always different. Every time I went out with her I could feel judgmental eyes wondering why a kid like me would even want anything to do with her. Despite this, I was always proud of her and what we accomplished together. She was made fun of relentlessly, but I always knew deep down that we had something special together.

Tadeo Messenger

It was like we had known each other for years when I first laid eyes on her. I was sure that we would stay together for a long time. Since the day I bought Big Betsy on Craigslist, I have loved her unconditionally. I still remember driving down the winding country road to the seller’s sprawling ranch and instantly falling for her. The way that she glistened in the sunlight beckoned me to her. I had no problem spending the money for her that I had accumulated over years of saving birthday gifts, doing undesirable odd jobs and babysitting unruly children. To me, she was worth more than my entire bank account.

Big Betsy has been loyal to me throughout the past couple of years. She even provided me with the opportunity to set up my own business, The Westport Workers. My friend and I realized that all the dump-run services in our town were grossly overcharging their customers, so we decided to provide an inexpensive alternative. We have worked countless jobs together, including transporting an antique bar counter 50 miles away for a Gilmore Girls fan club meeting and hauling a battered boat motor through knee-deep sludge to dispose of it at the dump.

Big Betsy and I are constantly relying on each other to get things done. In the blistering summer heat she would wait patiently for me while I pulled weeds for hours on end. With sweat trickling down my face, I would take shelter from the sun in her soft embrace. She and I made a respectable living through our business, and I would always make sure to buy her the things that she required to keep her going.

In case it isn’t obvious, Big Betsy is my beloved truck, a 1998 Ford F-150 with over 230,000 miles. The first months I had her, I spent all my time between early morning football and work fixing her up, and it was worth it.

Tadeo Messenger, with Big Betsy. (Photo/Ike Abakah for the New York Times)

Not only has she been a great truck, she also helped me to realize how little other people’s judgments of me matter. I used to be shy and avoided differentiating myself from my classmates because I was very concerned about what others would think about me. In a school almost entirely minority-free, I was always uncomfortable with my ethnicity, and even my name. I felt extremely self-conscious every time that I pulled into the high school parking lot filled with Mercedes, Jeep Wranglers, and BMWs.

However, as time went on, Big Betsy became a bit of a local celebrity and I became more confident, and not only while driving. I found myself less anxious when voicing my opinions, applying for leadership positions, and challenging myself to do better in all aspects of my life. Big Betsy made me realize how damaging it can be to my potential when I become unwilling to stand out or take the risks required to achieve my goals. If it wasn’t for her teaching me how to be confident in myself and that it is good to be pushed out of my comfort zone, I would not be nearly as happy as I am today.

(Tadeo Messenger is now a freshman at the University of Michigan. Click here to read all 4 college application essays from the Times. Hat tips: John Karrel, Jim Honeycutt, Stefanie Lemcke, Jo Ann Davidson, Mary Hoffman and Carl Volckmann.)

Roundup: PPE Trash; Comet; More


Westporters’ habit of dropping our trash wherever we want has caught the eye of the New York Times.

In fact, it’s the first anecdote in a story on a growing worldwide problem: PPE litter.

Yesterday’s story begins:

Helen Lowman looks at litter a lot. It’s her job. But while walking her dog in Westport, Conn., in March, she noticed an alarming trend. First she passed some dirty wipes on the ground. Then there were gloves. And finally a mask. Four months later, she said the litter of personal protective gear has only gotten worse….

“This pandemic is causing the face of litter to change,” said Ms. Lowman, chief executive of Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit group that organizes cleanups. “We’re seeing a real shift in what is in the litter stream.”

Click here for the full story. Then clean up after yourself!

Seth Schachter created this collage from discarded gloves and masks he saw, in and around downtown.


Want to see the comet Neowise — bright and visible for the next couple of weeks —  but not sure where to look?

Click here. Hat tip to Chris Swan. “06880”‘s go-to guy for much information now adds “astronomer” to the list.

Comet Neowise, as seen from Saugatuck Elementary School (Photo/Elyse Heise Photography)


And finally … the Beastie Boys famously belted, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).” Governor Cuomo disagrees. Based on recent news out of Greenwich and Darien, he has a point. Westport, stay smart — and safe. (But you can still enjoy the song.)

Tyler Hicks Tracks The Amazonian Pandemic

COVID-19 is everywhere.

After the US, Brazil has the highest COVID death toll in the world. People are as likely to fall ill in Amazon River villages as in New York City.

Tyler Hicks — the 1988 Staples High School graduate who has earned international renown (and multiple Pulitzer Prize winner) for his New York Times photojournalism — traveled from his home in Nigeria to the Amazon Basin.

His images illustrate an important story, published online today. Along with powerful text and graphics, the piece demonstrates the global reach of the pandemic.

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for The New York Times)

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for The New York Times)

Click on or hover over the photos to enlarge them. Click here for the full story, and all photos.

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for The New York Times)

Beach Access Back In The News

Westport has made the New York Times again.

This time, it’s in an opinion column by Andrew W. Kahrl. He’s a professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Virginia, and the author of “Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America’s Most Exclusive Shoreline.

But his reference to our town is not from the 1960s and ’70s, when Greenwich and other suburban towns famously excluded non-residents from their shores.

Writing yesterday in a piece titled “Who Will Get to Swim This Summer?” — with the subhead “History is repeating itself as pools, beaches and clubs open — but mostly for the privileged few” — he says:

In the summer of 1929, residents of the town of Westport along Connecticut’s Gold Coast reported a “new menace” threatening the health and safety of their community: New Yorkers fleeing the squalid, scorching city and flocking to a new state beach located on neighboring Sherwood Island. Because it was state-owned land, all the residents could do, one reporter noted, was “to make access as difficult as possible.” Which they did.

Westport officials hired a contractor to dredge a creek and flood the road connecting the state beach to the mainland. The move, one state official said, “will effectively prevent visitors from reaching the state property.” Westport officials insisted that they were simply seeking to eliminate a mosquito breeding ground — but as another state official remarked, “the real object is to keep the people off state property.”

Shewood Island State Park: 232 acres of prime real estate, right here in Westport.

The people in question were the “unwashed masses” from neighboring cities: the blacks, Jews, Italians and others denied membership to country clubs, who had few options for summertime relief. As America slipped deeper into the Great Depression, the nation’s swelling homeless population was added to the list. A state park, one resident decried, “would be an invitation to the scum.” Sherwood Island, another bemoaned, “looks like a gypsy camp and new tents are being erected every day.”

While Westport’s residents privately fumed over the park’s impact on the area’s property values, in public hearings they claimed to be concerned solely about the park’s purportedly unsanitary conditions. It was no coincidence that during these same years, several towns along Connecticut’s Gold Coast first adopted ordinances restricting access to town beaches and other places of outdoor recreation to residents only.

Westport has followed the lead of many municipalities in the tri-state area in banning out-of-towners — wherever they live — from parking at local beaches.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Kahrl concludes:

Public health experts agree that so long as people take precautions, outdoor activities are not only safe but also necessary for coping with the stress of the pandemic. But the exclusionary tactics of privileged communities and cost-cutting measures of underresourced ones this summer will force many Americans to suffer inside or seek out unsupervised, potentially dangerous bodies of water to cool off. And it’s not hard to imagine that pools and beaches with restricted access could become flash points of conflict with law enforcement officials, endangering black and brown youth.

It’s simple, really. Our ability to find relief from the heat, and to enjoy time outdoors this summer, should not be determined by where we live and the social and economic advantages we enjoy.

(To read the full New York Times column, click here.)

Everyone Into The Pool!

It’s something I’ve noticed on my daily bike rides around town: Lots of people are building swimming pools.

Ginia Bellafante noticed it too. The New York Times‘ “Big City” columnist jumps in to the phenomenon in a story for this Sunday’s edition.

With camps closed, and many people realizing they’re not going anywhere for summer vacation, the itch to swim has skyrocketed.

After noting the beach turf wars between cities and suburbs, Bellafante turns trenchantly toward pools.

Throughout Westport, backyard pools are already open.

You know what’s coming.

Midway through the story, she writes:

Traveling farther down the coast to Westport, Conn. — Cheever country — the pool obsession is no less frenetic. If you want a pool in Westport, you need a permit from the town’s building department. The number of requests has jumped this year, with 10 coming in just the past two weeks. Michele Onoforio, who works in the department, found herself really taken aback when she got three separate calls about aboveground pools recently.

Were people really that desperate? “I hadn’t seen one of these requests in 10 years,’’ she said. “I didn’t even know the protocol.’’ An aboveground pool in Westport is like a bag of Sun Chips on a table at Per Se.

Westport is one of many aesthetically pleasing places where affluent New Yorkers fleeing the infection have decamped. Some have chosen to move permanently. “The New Yorkers all want pools, and the inventory is very low,’’ Suzanne Sholes, a real estate agent in town told me. The houses that have them receive multiple offers both on the rental and sales sides despite the catastrophes afflicting the economy.

Just thing, for New Yorkers looking to leave the city.

To the rest of the country, Westport is now the town with a super-spreading party, drones that almost picked out social distance cheaters, and now a swimming pool shortage.

Something to think about, as you lounge by the water this holiday weekend.

(To read the entire Times column, click here.)