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Meeting Explores Westport’s Whiteness

She said that while people say, “It is not like that now,” the consequences of the town’s lack of diversity — with Westport’s Black population at just 1.2% — remain.

Natasha Johnson, who is Black, graduated from Staples High School in June and now attends the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke via a recorded message.

She said she “felt like an impostor” in her Westport school experience from elementary through high school. From being asked if other students could touch her hair, if she had two parents or to being on a field trip and being asked if she were from another school, Johnson said she was viewed differently.

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TEAM Westport Chair Harold Bailey at tonight’s discussion. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Ifeseyi Gayle, a Black Westport mother who moved to town a year ago, said as she was driving through a neighborhood and looking for an address, she passed a 16-year-old girl on a bicycle twice. The girl sped away and into her driveway and family members came outside.

“The young lady thought I was trying to kidnap her,” she said.

Harold Bailey, chairman of TEAM Westport and one for the event’s organizers, said that while what Gayle “experienced may be shocking to you, the strange part is that it is still going on.”

Bailey said that he has a 10-point plan he wants to present to the Westport public schools’ administration. He also urged townspeople to ask themselves if Westport is mostly white “because it wants to be that way.”

All of the proceeds from the event’s $10 admission fee are going to TEAM Westport.

At the meeting’s close, Dobin took the opportunity to ask the public to support P&Z text amendments, one which would facilitate more affordable housing by taking down “the unnatural brick wall” of a 10% housing limit on multifamily housing.

Another text amendment she touted is one that would allow accessory housing in single-family homes.

“You can’t go back to change the beginning, but you can change where you are now and go forward,” Dobin said.

Westport COVID-19 Cases Up 2, Deaths Unchanged

“I didn’t want all those emergency orders to come to an end on Sept. 9, and you have a big rush in terms of what stores open and what bars stay closed and such. We thought it was better for continuity to extend it a longer period of time,” Lamont said.

Legislative leaders from both parties seemed to acknowledged before the governor’s announcement the necessity of a new emergency order, given the impracticality of the alternatives: Letting all restrictions expire while the coronavirus is still a threat, or convening the legislature for a line-by-line review each of Lamont’s orders in the next week.

—CTMirror.org contributed to this report.

Granger at the Movies: ‘The Burnt Orange Heresy,’ ‘The Vow,’ ‘The Vanished’

According to legend, years earlier, all of Debney’s art works burned in a mysterious fire, so owning one of his paintings would be a precious prize - as who does what to whom unfolds.

Based on Charles Willeford’s 1971 novel, it’s adapted by Scott B. Smith and directed by Giuseppe Capotondi, who changed the location from Florida’s Everglades to Lake Como, Italy, because it’s situated between mountains so the lack of sunshine gives a shady, melancholic, even dreamy look.

Villa Pizzo doubles as Cassidy’s home; this picturesque lakeside mansion was where John Legend and Chrissy Teigan were married in 2013. Debney’s art work was modeled from and inspired by Claudio Verna’s analytic paintings

It’s Mick Jagger’s first big screen appearance since “The Man from Elysian Fields” (2001) and - for those who are curious - neither Claes Bang nor Elizabeth Debicki used stunt doubles for the nude scenes.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Burnt Orange Heresy” is an intriguing 8, a compelling caper.

As timely as today’s headlines, the new HBO nine-part documentary series “The Vow” delves into the so-called self-improvement group NXIVM (pronounced “nex-ee-um”).

Convicted in June, 2019, on charges of identity theft, racketeering, child pornography and sex trafficking, Keith Raniere was the charismatic guru who masterminded the secret society. Referring to himself as “Vanguard,” he explains its New Age appeal to documentary filmmaker Mark Vicente.

Headquartered in Albany’s suburban Clifton Park in upstate New York, NXIVM was as a “multi-level marketing company…working toward a better world.”

To that end, co-founder Nancy Salzman taught Executive Success Programs (ESP), showing participants how to free themselves from insecurity and negativity in order to experience more joy in their lives.

As they paid to progress from one level to another, eager acolytes would be awarded stripes, leading to different color scarves. Some were urged to participate in late-night volleyball games.

Attractive female followers might be invited to join Dominus Obsequious Sonorium (DOS), a sorority founded by actress Allison Mack (“Smallville”).  In order to gain acceptance, applicants had to offer “collateral,” an incriminating video/nude photograph or embarrassing secret, which manipulative Raniere could subsequently use against them.

Taking on all the trappings of a sex cult, wannabe members were referred to as “slaves” and placed on starvation diets so their slim bodies would merit Raniere’s approval. The excruciating, two-hour initiation ceremony involved branding Raniere’s & Mack’s initials on their pelvis near their genitals.

NXIVM attracted many famous faces, including whistleblower Sarah Edmondson (“Big Wolf on Campus”), Nicki Clyne (“Battlestar Galactica”), Bonnie Piesse (“Star Wars”) Clare Bronfman (heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune who spent $150 million over 15 years), and Catherine Oxenberg (“Dynasty”) whose 26 year-old daughter India was enslaved,

As investigative journalist Barry Meier notes, “Even people who on the surface are bright and capable, talented…have this intense vulnerability. And that vulnerability is available for someone to exploit.”

Directed by Jehan Noujaim and Karim Amer, on the Granger Gauge, “The Vow” is a sinister, sadistic 7, compelling viewing at 10 p.m. on Sunday night on HBO.

Opening with an Emily Dickinson poem about loss and grief, writer/director/actor Peter Facinelli has created “The Vanished,” a dark psychological thriller, pivoting around a missing child.

Set in the woods, not far from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the convoluted plot revolves around Wendy (Anne Heche) and Paul (Thomas Jane) Michaelson, who are first seen in their RV with their 10 year-old daughter, Taylor (twins Kk and Sadie Heim), and dog Lucky in the back seat.

As they indulge in happy road-trip sing-alongs, Paul maneuvers their mobile home onto the lakeside campground where they plan to spend Thanksgiving vacation.

Because they’ve arrived later than expected, neither the cranky, middle-aged proprietor, Tom (John D. Hickman), nor his creepy, meth-head groundskeeper, Justin (Alex Haydon), seem eager to welcome them.

Nevertheless, they settle in, parked next to a camper that’s occupied by flirtatious, bikini-clad Miranda (Aleksai Archer) and her husband, Eric (Kristopher Wente). Soon after, Taylor mysteriously disappears - without a trace.

Arriving on the scene, Sheriff Baker (Jason Patric) and his deputy Rakes (Peter Facinelli) share ominous news that an armed and dangerous convict has escaped from a nearby prison, although they doubt that he’d kidnap a child.

Despite being told not to join in law enforcement’s search, traumatized Wendy and Paul are determined to help find their daughter - which leads to one agonized complication after another, particularly when Miranda and Eric join them.

Eventually, there’s a harrowing revelation, reminiscent of an M. Night Shyamalan script. It’s complicated, particularly since alcoholic Sheriff Baker has marriage problems, stemming from his own lost child. There’s violence, language, brief sexuality and drug use, as separate stories unfold.

In interviews, Peter Facinelli revealed he was inspired by a real-life incident when he went to an RV park and realized there was a prison nearby. Given the inherent melodrama and Heche’s hysterics, it certainly seems far more suitable for the small-screen then the big-screen.

On the Granger Gauge, “The Vanished” is a sinister, suspenseful 6 – available at Redbox & VOD.


Susan Granger

(Editor’s Note: Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See her reviews at www.susangranger.com.)

Monday, Aug. 31, 2020


Westport Town Offices, Schools, & Senior Center are closed.
10 a.m. – 646-876-9923 ID: 848 8939 5525 – Board of Finance Audit Subcommittee
2 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Westport Library – open for limited services
6 p.m. – MoCA Westport (19 Newtown Turnpike) – TEAM Westport benefit: Conversation, Why is Westport So White?
7:30 p.m. – Electronically – Board of Education: live streamed on http://www.westportps.org, Optimum ch. 78, Frontier ch. 6021

Westport Senior Center YouTube Channel
Westport Library Event Calendar
Westport Library YouTube Page
Earthplace YouTube Channel
Virtual Westport Museum for History & Culture
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar

Compo Food Truck Finally Opens

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About a month later than promised, a food truck opened at Compo Beach today behind the former Joey’s by the Shore. New York concessionaire Upsilon Entertainment Group LLC won the Compo and Longshore five-year contract. Limited offerings today included chicken tenders and fries ($9.99), grilled cheese ($4.99), sunset salad ($6.99), signature cheeseburger ($7.99), hot dog ($3.99), lobster roll Maine style ($19.99), Italian ice and Popsicles ($3), and seasoned french fries ($3.99). (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ben Joseloff for WestportNow.com

James M. Curran, 59

In addition to the love of his life Stacie, his wife of 21 years, and his amazing children Dylan, Shea, Carly, and Charlie, he is survived by his beloved brothers and sisters, Kathy Hurley and her husband Tom of Boca Raton, FL, Chris Curran and his wife Diane of Shelton, Trish Adams and her husband Bill of Boca Raton, Florida and Michael Curran of Delray Beach, Florida, his loving mother-in-law Rhona Lieberson, and several nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles.

Jimmy was a loving husband and father who was dedicated to the care of his family and was a staple in the community, coaching his kids in Little League and basketball. Jimmy, known by some as Jim, was a die-hard Boston sports fan and enjoyed watching and attending as many Patriots and Red Sox games as possible.

His love of sports came at a young age as he played baseball, basketball, football, softball, golf, and anything in between. As an avid golfer, Jim was a longstanding member of Brownson Country Club, which became home away from home and a staple in his life.

He was known for his upbeat, loving, fun, and hilarious personality and will be missed by all.

Friends are invited to an outdoor Celebration of Life at his home away from home, Brownson Country Club Golf Course, on Monday, Aug. 31 at 1 p.m.

Maxima M. Trambert, 96

With her husband, she moved to Norwalk where he opened an office for the practice of obstetrics and gynecology.

As her children grew up, she worked toward and obtained a Teaching Certificate from Fairfield University. She taught Chemistry at Staples High school in the 1970s and 1980s, where a number of her students were recognized by the Connecticut Chemistry Society for their high standing in state competitions. She was very active in the Norwalk Chapter of Hadassah.

Maxima is survived by her three children, Jonathan Trambert (Dovelet Shashou) of Riverdale, NY; Ann Trambert (Chris Lewis) of West Hartford; Michael Trambert (Jacquelyn Klein-Brown) of Santa Barbara, California and five grandchildren: Steven, Emily, Jacob, Talia, and Sarah.

Maxima was buried in Santa Barbara next to her husband.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Hadassah Hospital, in the form of memorial certificates.