Monday, December 31, 2007

Blog Evolution: Stamford Talk Dot Com!

Stamford Talk is just over four months old. To my delight, you can now get to this site by the much simpler address So, it should be much easier to tell your friends about Stamford Talk! Click here to read more.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

1-800-AAA-HELP: Holiday Drinking

“Offer to give tipsy drivers free ride has no takers” When I saw this Advocate headline, I thought, oh man! AAA is offering free rides to intoxicated people and no one is using it? You drunk evil slackers! How could you not call a free service?
I read further and thought, this service seems COMPLICATED! Staff writer Wynne Parry writes: “The program, called Towing Operators Working to Eliminate Drunk Driving, is entering its 18th year... This year, free towing began Sunday and lasts through Tuesday.”

Towing? Who wants a TOW? A drunk person is not going to
a) have the wherewithal to call AAA
b) wait around for a tow truck.
Ever if you’re sober, nobody wants a tow. You want to be magically transported to your house. Driving drunk is closer to that than towing, and drunk people go for the easy choice.

Of course, you’re thinking, Well, the person’s friend should call! However, a host won’t want the embarrassment of a tow truck with its bright lights and the noise of the winch. Even a drunk person won’t stick around for that. I guess you can trap your friend, but those drunks sure can be pushy. And ya can’t lock them in the bathroom from the outside.

I commend AAA big time. I just wonder how we can make this service, or another service, more convenient, publicized, and less of a scene. Because drunk driving is an emergency. We SHOULD call a tow truck. But in society, people drunk drive all the time, and we’re too lenient with our friends. It’s hard; are they drunk, or just enthusiastic? Drunks can act convincingly sober.

Towing does eliminate the problem of people not wanting to have to return to pick up their car the next day. That’s a walk of shame and an inconvenience! But a drunk person might not see the value in that, and even a host or friend might not think to use that argument.

The solution is obviously to not get into the situation in the first place, but you can’t fight human nature. AAA, in the business of helping people, knows this, and we should recognize what a wonderful step they are taking to stop drunk driving. The number is 1-800-AAA-HELP, so pass the word on. If more people know about it, more people will use it.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Updates: Mill River Park, Metro-North Mistaken Identity, Stamford News 2008

--I found another Stamford Blog! Blog Stamford has a well-written and very informative post about plans for Mill River Park. One word: KAYAKS!!!!
--Update on the Metro-North incident in which Stamford Police pointed their guns at the WRONG young black man: the Advocate reports that Stamford resident Marvin Speight plans on pressing charges. I still think that's a good idea, as I did in my original post on the subject.
--Also, Stamford Times offers a good year end review of Stamford news.

Note: I'd give you the link to the Advocate's update on the train incident but the link has already expired. Sorry.
Click here to read more.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Celebrities in Stamford, for Real: 2007

I love the Advocate's "The Dish" with Susie Costaregni. I LOVE seeing which celebrities (John Travolta and Robin Williams) dined at Terra Ristorante in Greenwich or Bennett's Steak and Fish House in Stamford (Rudy Giuliani). This week's Dish has an extensive list of 2007 celebrity sightings.

My favorite sighting listed? Spike Lee at Lucky's Classic Burger and Malt Shop in Stamford.

The oddest? The DALAI LAMA eating at Bennett's... with a party of 25. Read this article with hilarious quotes from Stamford residents about the visit.

The Dish is only published every few weeks, and is usually 1/10 the size of this recent article, but it's worth every second! But listen, if YOU see a celebrity, email ME at stamfortalk[at]gmail[dot]com.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bad Drivers: Don't Get Personalized Plates

Um, bright blue BMW M5 with the license plate YRU MAD?
We R mad bcuz u r driving like n a hole.

I don't like ppl who whip by me at 80 mph on the Merritt, on a curve, at night. The 8 of us who u passed really didn't understand why u had to roar by, only to have to slow down right in front of us bcuz the car in front of us wuz going 60. So u were driving with all of the ppl u passed. What wuz the point.

I was just informed that your car cost 80,000 dollars. Good 4 freakin' u. Y don't u take ur car up 2 lime roc and drive on the race track.

Geez Louise. I wrote this post on the 25th, right after we got home from Christmas Part 2. I didn't post it because I had to pack for my trip. I woke up at 4 am on the 26th, flew to MS, then spent the evening wrapping presents for Christmas Part 3. We're taking a break from CP 3 right now, so I can finally get this post up. I anticipate getting back into my routine of google reader and blogging today!
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Stamford Holiday Shopping Analysis

sgniteerG s'nosaeS, Stamford! I snapped this picture on my 8:15 am shopping spree last Saturday. I sped down to the Michael's/Bed Bath and Beyond complex early, figuring I'd beat the rush.

I drove up and the parking lot was almost empty. I was disappointed. I wanted to beat the RUSH, not every other living being in Stamford. I took the escalator up to Marshall's, ready to freak out if they weren't open. I saw a lady inside with a toddler, thank goodness. I swept around the perimeter of the store and grabbed some mini-Breyer horses for my nephew. Things got a little more exciting at Old Navy. A teenager argued with her mom, a man looked at shirts for his wife, and I tried on a shirt and bought one for my sister and one for myself. Black, long-sleeved.

Despite the uninspiring lack of resistance, I kept my intensity and continued on my precisely-planned trip. I drove the 50 yards from Marshall's to the tiny, coveted CVS/Carter's lot, simply because this was probably my one chance to park there in the next year. Even at 9am, there were only 2 spots left. Like a shopping assassin, I hit Game Stop the minute after it opened, zipped down to People's Bank in Super Stop and Shop (closed until 10am!!!), and finally booked it over to the mall.

The mall wasn't crowded, either. I couldn't understand it. What were people doing at 10am on a Saturday? SLEEPING? In Fredericksburg, VA, or Dover, DE, stores would have been jammed with enthusiastic, wired shoppers. I can only guess that Fairfield County residents were out partying on Friday. If you ask me, that shows a lack of priorities.

Later that day I went to the new fancy glass store on Bedford (I'll tell you about their awesome bracelets later) and Schakolad. I'm hoping the glass store is a harbinger of increased walkable, downtown shopping.

I returned to the mall at 2pm. I saw the throng I expected, but everyone looked stressed, not enthusiastic. Those people missed the best shopping hours, and they were suffering because of it. Sharper Image was a mess. I had to flatten myself against the light saber display to let a man and his kid go by. We left the mall soon after that. Cheap electronics and boxes of chocolate just aren't worth the claustrophobia. I can't even imagine what the Apple store looked like.

I hope your Stamford weekend was as successful as mine. This is my first Christmas day in Stamford. It's going well so far. I'm jetting off to Tupelo, Mississippi tomorrow, where I should have plenty of time to work on this blog!
Click here to read more.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stamford's Board of Reps Sounds Cuckoo

What a nice letter to the editor! A woman whose car broke down was surprised that so many people tried to help her start her car or just kept her company while she waited for the tow truck. I'll include part of her letter below, but feel free to visit the actual webpage and scroll down forever to find it. You'll also see at least 4 letters from people disgusted that our Board of Representatives spent 5,000 $ to have a consultant come in to teach them how to get along.

Evidently some of them were behaving like total you-know-whats, and this consultant was going to "discretely" meet with the misbehavers. That's bizarre. Isn't there a chief rep to keep the board under control? If our Board members are paid, I'm mad they can't do their job. If they're volunteer, well, I understand why they might be inept. I know we elect them, but I'm not sure if we pay them.

Update: In an Advocate letter to the editor, Stamford Rep Scott Mirkin writes that the board PRESIDENT booked the consultant, and that if the board had voted, he was sure the board would have said a big NO. In other words, blame the leader. I'm ok with that.

I wish I knew someone who could tell me funny stories about the board being mean to each other. My email address is in the right-hand column of this webpage.

Here's the letter from the woman whose car broke down:

Last week, my car broke down in one of Stamford's grocery store parking lots. While I waited for AAA to arrive and provide assistance, I had an amazing experience. I was very surprised and touched by the repeated outreach of people who stopped to see if they could help me.

Even at this very busy time of year, nearly everyone who passed my vehicle tried to lend a hand to get it working again. Some folks just stopped to keep me company or express empathy during the wait. The experience further substantiated the conviction that I've always held, which is that people are good and helpful. I have great faith in humanity, and really believe it's important to do a good deed every day even if it's a small gesture.

Well, I guess it was my turn for payback. Who would have thought that my car breaking down would actually make my day? So just a simple thank you, Stamford, for being the great community that I always knew you were!
Click here to read more.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Guns: Busy on Stamford's West Side

If it weren’t for the newspapers, I wouldn’t know a darn thing that goes on in this town. I know I should be out talking to strangers and finding news on my own, but it’s cold, and sometimes strangers don’t know much. I made a new friend at Towne Fair Tire today, but I bet she didn’t know about Stamford’s latest shooting. I do, because I read the papers. (Love ya, RSS feed.)

Today’s Stamford Times reports a shooting on Stillwater Ave, on the West Side. West Side, again! Don’t you ever sleep? A young man was shot twice in a drive-by. (Drive-by? Am I really saying that word?) Fortunately he's OK, as OK as you can be with a bullet wound in your abdomen, poor guy. There were two other gun-related incidents on the same night, Dec. 18. In one, a man on Hope St. threatened his girlfriend with a gun. In the other, police arrested a guy with a stolen pistol and 15 rounds in the Vidal Court housing complex.

I haven’t heard of Vidal Court, so I google-mapped it like I always do for big crimes. Google maps didn’t turn up any Vidal Courts, but on the listings near Vidal Sassoon, I saw a little link that said “West Side of Stamford - Wik...... The different sections of the West Side including Vidal Court, Fairfield Court…”
Wikipedia on West Side Stamford? I’ve read general info on Stamford, but would Wikip. have such specific info on one little ‘hood? Indeed, the info was there… but is it bad that the entry made me want to laugh?

“The West Side of Stamford, Connecticut is one of the poorest and most violent sections of the city. It is located north of the Waterside neighborhood, west of Downtown and east of Greenwich, Connecticut. The different sections of the West Side including Vidal Court, Fairfield Court, Spruce Street, Friendship Building and the infamous Southwood Square (formally known as Southfield Village)…
The West Side has had a problem with violent crime for years. "Despite efforts to curb it, the area is still a breeding ground for drug dealers, and gangs, such as the Bloods, the Crips, the Merrell Avenue Posse and the Haitian Posse," according to an April 2007 article in The Advocate of Stamford. "A shootout last year [2006] between factions of the Crips that left two people injured spurred a citywide police sweep called Operation Clean Streets."

Infamous! Haha! This sounded ridiculous to me, like it was a spoof. “Most violent-“ are we in East LA? Who wrote this? Words like “Crips” and “Merrell Avenue Posse” sound absurd to me. Then again, maybe my incredulity shows that I am disconnected from that part of the city. I’m not denying that violence happens right next to my la-la life, but I’m sorry, “infamous” is WAY over the top. If it were infamous, I would have heard the words “Southfield Village” at least one time in my five and a half years in Stamford, four of which were IN Southfield. Sigh. I guess I have to go do some Wikipedia-editing.

The Times article ends on a depressingly ominous note: “Cooney said it is unusual to have so many gun-related arrests in one night. "We are concerned," he said, "and are reminding our officers to wear their vests."

You have to appreciate the work our police do. I bet they see a very different Stamford than I do. I’d like to see more of Stamford beyond say, Margot Café and Wine Bar and my grocery store.

Yesterday's Advocate reports that on the night before October’s almost-murder near Pellici’s (also on the West Side), police had “responded to reports of gunfire in the Vidal Court housing complex on Merrell Avenue.”

West Side, you are busy, restless. In the past few months, you’ve had:
An almost-murder on Stillwater near Pellici’s
On the night before the almost-murder, gunfire at Vidal Court on Merrell Ave, which is right off Stillwater.
Last night’s arrest of a stolen gun in Vidal Court
Murder of Gregory Rowell- very sad- near Stillwater.
Last night’s drive-by… on Stillwater.

Stillwater, this is not a good fall and winter for you. And you have an elementary school on you.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Funny Stuff Distill'd 4 Short Attn. Spans

I have to love Stamford when I read lines like this in the paper:

"When 61-year-old Jan Hlywa collapsed at 1:30 a.m. Sept. 23 at the Holy Name of Jesus Christ Church after dancing the polka for five hours, Judge and McAllister beat paramedics to the scene to find the man unconscious and without a pulse."

Dancing the polka for five hours, good God! Who does that? What 61-year-old would do that? Were there others dancing that hard for five hours straight? Frankly, that's just reckless.

This line was from an Advocate article titled "Stamford police recognize work of 3 officers" by Jeff Morganteen. Who knew such a dull title would contain such a funny tidbit? Clearly the author saw the humor in the situation, because he included the polka info, so shouldn't the headline have been a little sassier? How about "Polka Attack Thwarted by Stamford Cops"?

I only checked out an article with a boring title because I do this blog. How many others will skip it because they think it’s about a recognition ceremony? Let’s take this as a reminder to let our headlines do more work for us.

Recall a recent Stamford Times headline: “A Bear Scare: Bear exhibit pulled from City Hall.” That got my attention right away. My heart leapt with excitement: an animal at city hall! I pictured patrons screaming and cops in blue uniforms conquering the bear.

A millisecond later, the word “exhibit” brought me back to reality. A real bear wasn’t there. Of course not. That would be silly.

But that headline, for a second, made me imagine a fuzzy bear inside the cold marble of 888 Wash. Even after I realized it was just an exhibit, I still wanted to read about the scare.

No one wants to read about recognition ceremonies. They want to hear about bears and the polka.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cameras Watching Stamford Residents?

I only clicked on this Advocate article because it mentioned my home state, but I think it addresses what could be a hot local topic: SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS IN STAMFORD NEIGHBORHOODS!

Stamford is one of a few cities that are considering putting cameras in high crime neighborhoods. Philip Berns, a Stamford rep., is speaking at a conference in Va. about issues that arose when cameras were proposed in Stamford.

When the proposal was discussed in Stamford, there was opposition. (I don't know by whom; the article just said "opponents." Maybe it was board members.) Arguments against included concerns that cameras could easily be abused and used to observe and gather info on even those who aren’t breaking laws. Not everyone in a high-crime area is a criminal, as I pointed out in my post about Southfield. Those who supported the cameras admitted that cameras are useless unless law enforcement can keep up.

The Board of Reps. approved the cameras for use in February, but the cameras don’t appear to be coming to Stamford soon. Board members haven’t come up with general policies and procedures on how the cameras will be used. The article includes what I think is a scathing/funny comment about Berns by Public Safety and Health Committee Chairman Richard Lyons : "He's served 26 months, and now he's an expert on what works in our community? We haven't even used the cameras yet. I question the issues and ideas someone can partake when they haven't even been used yet in our community." I love the drama, love it. But, much like Whole Foods, this is something Stamford residents need to speak out against if we’re against it.

Here’s what I think. I’m against crime, duh, but I’m not sure cameras are the right way to go. You have to admit that FILMING PEOPLE IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS is rife with potential abuse. Sure, they’re filming “crime,” but they’re also going to film people arguing with a spouse, kids sneaking home at ungodly hours, and people having affairs. Can’t you imagine a rogue cop using info about people’s private lives to threaten and coerce them into doing things? If I knew a cop had info that could destroy my personal and professional life, I might just be tempted to do anything he told me to.

What kind of crime are we talking about anyway? I assume the crimes they’re looking for are drug-dealing and… car theft? I have no idea. I don’t imagine there are a lot of assaults taking place in public places in Stamford. And, if they’re only filming public areas, like streets and parks, don’t you think people will just move their crime indoors? What are these cameras for, exactly? Anyone? Anyone? Do any of you have a better understanding of this than I do?

By the way- Berns is speaking at a U.S Department of Homeland Security conference, about ways to protect privacy rights. I’m NOT sure how crime in Stamford threatens the security of our “Homeland,” (could the language GET anymore old-fashioned?), but I’m no expert. I’m sure our government agencies know what they are doing.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New Stamford Bar and Grill: Mackenzie’s!

SCOOP: There’s a new bar and grill on High Ridge where Onyx used to be. It’s only a little over 2 weeks old, but it was jammed both times I went.
MY TAKE: It’s new, there are kinks-ola to work out, but this area needs this place, so let’s… make it work!!!!
LONG VERSION: Last week, I was informed that a new place had opened up where Onyx Bar and Grill used to be. "Stamford Talk research! Let's go!"
We drove up and saw the sign: Mackenzie’s. Oh! Maybe Mackenzie’s in Old Greenwich decided to expand their franchise! When we arrived the first time, on a Friday at 6:30, the bar was packed and jovial. Tables were full and people were queuing up at the door. "Let's stay," I said.
A harried-looking man, maybe the owner, came up to pacify the waiting patrons.
Me: "How long have you been open?"
"This is our first night, if you can believe it!" he said with a crazy look in his eye. Then I saw a woman send her burger back.
“Let’s go,” I said.

We ended up going to another cozy pub, Fireside. However, I’m looking for a place with better-quality, healthier food, so a week later, we returned to Mackenzie’s. I saw cars heading down to the parking lot in the back and thought, Oh man, this place is gonna be full. Fortunately, our friend had gotten there already, so we sat down and felt luckier than everyone else.

I perused the whole list, passing over the expensive (19-30$-ish) fish and beef entrees. If I’m paying that, I want to be in a nice place like Siena or Ocean 211. Salads were under 9 $, but you can add meat for an extra 5 or 6 bucks. They have a little section called “comfort food,” with pot pie, fish and chips, etc. We all got soup, the boys got burgers, and I went for the fish and chips. Why not, I’d just had Colony Pizza and two beers for lunch!

Well. I can wholeheartedly recommend the New Eng Clam Chowder. The fish and chips were a disaster. The burgers: one undercooked, one overcooked. The worst part? Our fries were soggy.

However, I have big hopes for Mackenzie’s. This area needs a pub. That’s obvious; Mackenzie’s is overrun with a variety of people who are eager to be there. I saw families, couples, friends, and lots of guys. I wish entrees were a little cheaper, but that’s life in Fairfield County, I suppose.

I think Mackenzie’s will improve if we give it feedback. They need to realize they are dealing with a clientele that expects good food, and they need to up their game. I’d like you all to go try Mackenzie’s and report back to me. Try the entrees and let me know if they are worth it. If you don’t like your food, tactfully/surreptitiously let them know so they can make it better for the rest of us. That’s what I did, and they replaced it with an OK little salad. Mackenzie’s just needs more practice. They need us, but we need them, so we need to go there, and soon, so they can get better sooner.

I googled this Mackenzie’s and only found it in craigslist ads for cooks. It turns out that it’s “*not affiliated with Mackenzie's Grill Room in Old Greenwich.” I question giving this bar the same name as one five miles away, but hey, if his name is Mackenzie, more power to him. Whatever. I just want good food that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. And by that, I mean over 20 bucks.

I’d definitely take a friend there for a salad and clam chowder, but see, then we’re already running to 15 bucks. Add protein, we’re over 20. Fine. I’ll take under 22 $. But it needs to be good.

You know, maybe Mackenzie’s Stamford needs to visit Mackenzie’s Old Greenwich. But you shouldn’t, because we should be eating in Stamford. I’ll post some more restaurant reviews here. I really, really like food, and I’ve been forcing my friends to eat at new places with me in the name of Stamford Talk research. I’ve hit Brasitas (new to me), Tawa, Fiesta, and Galangal. I’ll be trying somewhere else on Tuesday if my friend agrees.

Grammar note: I know I’m interchanging it/they when referring to Mackenzie’s, but that just feels right. It’s both a business and a group of people. So take that, pronouns!

UPDATE: I went back in January and was pretty happy with the meal.
Cobb salad was huge, which made it hard to eat, but hey, I have no problem with big salads. Husband got the clam chowder (he thought it was too chunky, and I had to agree, but I'd eat it no complaints) and sliders, which were a bit dry. Overall, though, a good place to go for cozy pub food. We went there on Sunday at 430. Giants game was on the screen, table of well-behaved high-schoolers, football fans at the bar- really, what a pub should be.
My one big complaint: the place is a bit small, but I think it's our only pub other than Black Bear, right? I'll deal with M being small.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Paper Mache Bear Ejected from 888 Wash!

I'm going to post later today about a new Stamford restaurant, but first I must share (what I think is) a really funny article from the Stamford Times. I think when I tell you the title of the article, you'll see what I mean:

"A Bear Scare: Bear exhibit pulled from City Hall"

A bear exhibit at 888 Wash?
Alongside the DMV?
Recycling Bins?
The Senior Center?
The Town Clerk?
And... bears?

Evidently local students made a statue of a giant bear that was part of their exhibit about a book. The problem was not so much the bear, but that the bear was... standing over a person, menacing him. Yeah. In the book, a bully accepts the Native American-inspired challenge of surviving in the wilderness for a year rather than go to jail. He foolishly tries to kill a legendary bear, and probably learns a big important life lesson, besides getting all scratched up. The exhibit also included a synopsis of the book, reflections, and some totem poles.

I’m glad the bully got his due, but I see why City Hall took down the bear statue. Parents said it was scaring their kids. (Although, have you ever seen a kid at 888 Wash? I haven't.) I said the bear was giant, but considering the skill of an average middle-schooler, I assume it was 4-ish feet tall.

The art teacher at Cloonan Middle School expressed outrage, but I'll add a "DUH" to Mayor Malloy's very sensible comment: "No one is seeking to take a bite out of art, but this is not an art museum, this is a public space, and it was scaring children."

I'm all in favor of kids' work being displayed in real life; that's motivation, that's cool! The statue looks really well-made, and the bear confrontation sounds like the crucial part of the book. However, kids need to also get a clue and think about how other people might view things. I feel bad for the kids, but that's real life, and life is about dealing with other people. I know that bear would have scared the CRAP out of my 4-year-old nephew. So, bye-bye, bear.

I love the Times because they write about topics the Advocate doesn't! Nothing personal, Advocate; I gave you props yesterday on your train station/racial profiling article. I love both of you equally, just in different ways.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stamford Police Terrorize Stamford Resident

If you don’t subscribe by RSS to the Stamford Advocate like I do, you might not know that Stamford Police stormed two Metro-North trains on Saturday and pulled off two young black men, in handcuffs. In typical cool Stamford style, the police captain told reporters, “We're right in the middle of something.” Weird! Exciting! I thought. Another post I’m working on (about extremes of rich and poor in Stamford) is taking forever, so I thought, I’ll post about the train station to tide me over, and I’ll call it “Crime? Train Station Drama.”

A Dec. 9 article filed at 7:18am Tuesday describes how police stormed the train— with guns. Passengers panicked when the train pulled up and they saw a crowd of police officers. The train was headed for Grand Central, and I’m sure it was packed with shoppers and families headed in for a fun day in the city.

Before I posted, I checked my RSS feed again and saw a Dec. 11 article titled “No charges filed after Metro-North train search”. When I read that article, my take on the “drama” changed.

What the first article didn’t say is that before they arrested the two men on that train, the cops stormed another train. On that train, again, cops were shouting and waving guns, passengers were screaming, and police ordered a man to face the train doors. The article describes how the man was so terrified by the guns pointing at him that he fainted. That man was Martin Speight, a Stamford resident, and Martin Speight was the wrong guy.

When I read this, first I was sad. Speight’s friend said Speight was so scared that he could hardly follow directions to keep his hands up- and that he was sobbing. Can you imagine taking the train home, or to see friends, and all of a sudden cops are screaming and pointing guns at you? I don’t think I’d ever be the same.

I also felt outraged. A passenger on that train said cops had mentioned a homicide suspect wearing a blue sweatshirt and a black coat, which was what Speight had on. HM. Really? That’s exactly what I wore to chorus rehearsal last night. And, I was probably wearing that on Saturday.

I guess cops were right to grab Speight. He matched the description and cops may have thought he was armed. However, if you ask me, the description “wearing really common outfit and black,” in a city where 15 % of residents are black, isn’t good enough.

What really makes me angry is that police did not even know the name of the man they had wrongly accosted. I’d certainly expect the first incident to be included in the official police report, and I’d sure as hell expect the traumatized person’s name to be in it. It’s a matter of respect. It’s a matter of acknowledging that if you mess up, and terrorize your own residents, you should at least know the relevant facts. Thank God for reporters. It seems like the police didn’t bother. I’m glad reporters did.

Speight is talking about filing a complaint. I think that’s the right thing to do. If that happened to me, and cops didn’t make a big deal about apologizing, I’d want something done. Would you want an apology if that happened to you? I’d want more than an apology, especially after I didn’t get one. I’d want publicity that tells the city what happened to me, and tells the city that police have trouble identifying black suspects. Most African-Americans have black hair, so that variable is out. If you’re black, and the right height, and wearing a black coat, you’re screwed.

Our neighbors shouldn’t have to deal with that.

Here’s some text from the article, which I think is excellent, written by Advocate staff writer Zach Lowe:
Passengers said they were terrified when the armed officers boarded the train. Some yelled "Get down!" as others ducked for cover. Several passengers said officers spoke about a homicide suspect wearing a black jacket and a blue hooded sweatshirt. Passenger Marvin Speight of Stamford said he will file a complaint against the police officers who pointed a gun at him and ordered him to put his hands up because he matched the description. Speight, 28, sobbed as two or three officers ordered him against the train door at gunpoint, said Speight and another witness. The officers did not explain why they singled out Speight and never searched his bag.

Speight fainted and fell onto his back, said his friend, William Foster, who was on the train with him. Once Speight got to his feet, the officers explained why they had acted aggressively and let him go, he and Foster said. Foster said Speight was so intimidated by the guns he had trouble following orders and had to be reminded to keep his hands over his head.

"It was wrong," Speight said. "Even if they were doing their job, it was wrong. It was traumatizing, and it was an experience no one should have to go through." Speight said he has called the NAACP and Al Sharpton's National Action Network.

Police defended the operation and said officers were right to approach Speight if he matched the description of a suspect believed to be armed and dangerous. They could not confirm Speight's account or identify him by name, but said the officers followed regulations. "That would be appropriate under these circumstances," said Lt. Sean Cooney, a department spokesman.

One last comment: I like the word "approach" in the last paragraph. I hope the Stamford police never "approach" me, especially if they're looking for a white woman with brown hair.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Colony Pizza: Stamford's Solution to... Everything

Lunch on a cold December Friday? Colony Pizza sounded good to me, and Colony Pizza did not disappoint. Outside, the street was empty and grey; inside, Colony's bar was bustling, the pizzas were rolling out of the kitchen, and I was instantly happy.

If you like pizza, and you haven’t been to Colony, you don’t really like pizza. When people say pushy things like that, I get irritated, but I’m asserting Colony’s excellence because it’s indisputable. I won’t tell you it’s the best pizza ever, because so much good pizza is out there, but I will tell you, when I see a Colony pizza and it’s not mine, I want to cry.

The lunchtime crowd was enthusiastic, which makes sense: at Colony, you get half of a pizza, all for you. There’s only one size pizza, and it’s the perfect size for two. You have to eat half a pizza. The crowd was 2/3 men, which to me indicates that women either work too hard to justify an hour-long lunch of pizza and beer, or have enough sense in their head not to eat so many carbs in one sitting. Now that I think about it, 3 out of the 4 times I’ve been to Colony, it’s been with guys. (Ladies, head to Colony at noon and sit at the bar.)

Colony is old-school. When we sat down and ordered beers, our waitress said, “And on the pizza?” We were marked as novices when I said, “Oh- do you have a menu?” She turned around, grabbed a menu, slapped it down, and strode off. When my friend asked if they had pineapple, the waitress picked up our (8 ½ by 11 paper) menu, spread it out on the table in front of him, and ran her finger down the list of 11 toppings- none of which included pineapple. I so knew that was going to happen.

We sat in the booth closest to the kitchen and ogled each pie as it sat waiting on the counter. A dozen pies passed by, none of them mine. I really did feel like crying; I hadn't had Colony in over 3 years, and I was hungry. At one point a pizza appeared that was piled high with what looked like… mushrooms??? "What is that?" I said. "I hope there’s not a mountain of toppings like that on our pizza." We watched the waitress carry it to the end of the bar, where commotion and laughter occurred. On her way back we heard her mutter, perhaps scornfully, “Extra mushrooms.”

We got pepperoni and sweet peppers (I feel like crying right now), and on my half, sausage, and on my friend’s half, mushrooms. Three pieces each. I only gave my friend half of my last piece because he had already finished his three, and I didn’t want to be rude. Plus, he weighs 50 pounds more than me, and much as I hate to, I have to accept that I’m a 130-pound girl and adjust my food intake accordingly.

I hate to mention price, because that’s the least important thing about the meal, but for two people, 2 beers each, it was 30 bucks. Did you hear me? 30 bucks. I had a great Friday, and I got some important work done on my blog after lunch. I thank Colony Pizza for that, and I’m writing lunch off as a business expense.
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Friday, December 7, 2007

In the Interest of Overall Traffic Safety

This Stamford Times article is not about Stamford, but I got a kick out of it. Their IT director had to throw himself out of the way of a runaway truck, which then slammed into a pole and flipped over into his yard, destroying his wife's award-winning garden. He called 911, smashed the truck's window, and got the driver out. The article says that his wife was really upset about the garden, but didn't mention if she was freaked out that her husband almost got killed.
Let's take this funny story as a reminder that other people drive like maniacs. In today's snowy weather, Stamford, let's take it down a notch. I don't have a garden, but many of you do come close to mowing me down when I walk my dog.
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Stamford's 3rd Murder: Sad and Creepy

First murder: young man in Cove. Second murder: young woman killed by ex-boyfriend at the Sheraton. Third and I hope final: Young man shot in his car.
According to the Advocate, the Dec. 5 murder occurred on Myano Lane on the West Side of Stamford. That's off Havemeyer Road, which divides Stamford and Greenwich just above Rt. 1. That's right by my NYSC. The shot was fired at 10pm, no one reported it, and no one found his body until 6 am.
Except… I read today's Advocate that a friend called the victim's family at midnight and said he may have been shot. The family called the police and the hospital, but at that point, no one had found the body. Police are now interviewing the caller. I find that mysterious phone call very disturbing.

The little neighborhood where the murder took place is beside the Stop and Shop. SEE MAP. One time, after I went to SandS, I cut over on Catoona to Havemeyer. Wow, I thought, what a dumpy little street! That was a year ago, and that was just my impression, but I never took that shortcut again. Myano is off Catoona. And that's where that poor guy was shot!!! Ahhhhhhh!!!!!! Stamford, what? What?

I’m kind of tracking Stamford crime (not professionally), so I can tell you that the most recent almost-murder happened over on Stillwater, late November, not too far from Myano. A high school student was shot twice, but survived. Stillwater would be just off the right quadrant off the map I drew. (Just googlemap it if you have any questions. It was near Pellici’s, 97 Stillwater Ave., where I had dinner last week.) Oooh I just googled it, and guess what, Myano connects to Connecticut which connects with Stillwater…

To wrap this up: Crime. Police officers are busy. I went to Pellici’s just a few days after they found the high school kid shot on the same street. Approaching the restaurant, there were 3 or 4 police cars blocking our way, and I saw a cop talking to several Hispanic men gathered in a driveway. They were illuminated by the car’s lights. It looked like they were just hanging out, drinking some beers, and the cops either had questions or were investigating something. I was struck by the fact that everyone was calm. Cops: calm. Men: calm, waiting for the cop to come back from his car. The cops appeared respectful, and so did the men.

I saw that and thought, You go, Stamford Police. You’re looking into an incident near where a recent assault took place, everyone is calm, you’re not being racist or rude, and it seems to be going smoothly. You don’t care if you are blocking the road, you’re just doing your job, and I appreciate it.

I wrote in my police survey that what I liked best about Stamford police was their presence. I see them all the time: talking to someone, pulling someone over, walking around an area where I’m glad to see them. This is a CITY, and all types of people live side by side, and having cops around makes everyone feel safe. We all like having someone in charge, some one who can resolve our disputes. I think the Stamford Police are doing a good job.

Note: I did not draw this map to be funny. I thought it would be the easiest way to show you where Myano is. The map is not drawn to scale. Myano is actually a curvy road, and shoots off to the right of Catoona. I just want to give you a general picture.
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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Target Under Attack by Trump Parc?

Today's Advocate article "Target closes after heating breaks down" first seemed unimportant. Why is a heating snafu a big deal? Then I read that the Trump Parc (ah, is that supposed to be French?) construction crew caused it! Does this remind anyone of RBS's dangling crane that caused the evacuation of the surrounding neighborhood? I happened to snap a pic of the TP construction site last week (drive-by paparazzi). I believe the yellow structure in this pic is a crane. In light of yesterday's TP mistake, I'm feeling a little nervous about the proximity of UConn's enormous glass front. Correction: the Dec. 7 Advocate reports that Target neglected the gas line that caused the heating breakdown, but I still feel nervous about that crane. (Click on the image to enlarge if you wish.)

Obviously, corporations who build in Stamford need to be a little more careful. Maybe the headline should read "Trump Parc builders wreak havoc on innocent Target." (Whoa- a pun! I've always hated puns. This is the first one I've ever made.)

And why are Target employees working overnight to raise the temperature of the building? That hardly seems right. The last line of the article reads, "Trump Parc representatives could not be reached last night." Where were they? Not helping out Target! Come on Trump Parc, step up to the plate. This is NOT how we do things in Stamford! Repeat correction: This does not seem to have been TP's fault, and if you read the Advocate article, you can tell that the company building Trump Parc is not happy with Target.

I feel like writing a letter to the editor. I don't think the Advocate will publish it, because I just had one in last week, but maybe it will give them a heads up that this news is part of a larger issue! That reminds me, I haven't checked out the letters to the ed site this week! It's juicy stuff; I'm going to go look at it right now.
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Revisiting Stamford's New Garbage Cans

I've gotta admit, these new trash cans make my sanitation men's life way easier. They're so fast that it's hard to get a picture of them when I'm spying. I keep seeing bumper stickers that say something like, "They raised my taxes and all I got was this stupid trash can," but it's much physically safer for the workers.
Thank God they didn't put Stamford's name on that bumper sticker. I saw it yesterday in Greenwich, and I'd be MORTIFIED if Stamford's name was dragged through the mud for all of Fairfield County to see! I've seen other versions of the bumper sticker, making me wonder who made them, and making me think, maybe you can make your own bumper sticker, and what would I put on a bumper sticker of my own?

The angry letters to the editor about the unweildy-ness of the cans have died down, but I do want to say, my driveway slopes up, and the trash can, when heavy, can be a bitch to handle with one hand. However, it's a good calf workout if I walk backwards. And, I don't have to feel guilty for all the weird stuff I put in my trash can. They do glance in before they hook it up to the truck, but don't seem concerned if you have something unorthodox in there... like another trash can.

So Stamford, take off your bumper stickers! (Say in Reagan-esque, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" voice.)

Oh man, I just put an old rug in my garbage can before I dragged it out to the curb. It froze outside over night, so it's stiff and unrug-like. I tried to hide it under a trash bag to no avail. Still, I predict it will pass inspection.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Southfield Area: Diversity, Boats, Hoods

A reader recently wrote a heated comment on Would You Like a Drug Deal With That? In that post, I wrote about the Southfield area of Stamford, where I lived for four years. My neighborhood was in between a gated community and a run down area. My reader took issue with the word "gated." Other than that, she shares my opinion that SF is a kickass place to live. I've had the Southfield area on my list to write about since August, so this seems like a good time to do so.

Quibble: you have to admit, that little community, I think called Dolphin Cove, is gated; there's a little guard stand. But is there actually anyone in it? If not, I take back the word gated. The intersection by the guard shack was the site of my most spectacular rollerblading wipeout. More about that at the end of this post.

There are three parts of Stamford that jut into Long Island Sound: Southfield, South End, and Shippan. (Zoom in on this map if you want.)
Southfield, the southwesternmost part of Stamford, is officially called the Waterside area, but I call it SF because of Southfield Park. And, I could only see a tiny sliver of water from my window, and only in the winter.

What I liked about SF/WS, as the reader points out, is that it's one of the few areas in Stamford where people of varying socioeconomic groups live in VERY close quarters. I think of the area as having three parts. From south to north:
1) Gated community, in which some houses have their own docks on another inlet. There are a few newish condos, and the Playtex and Conair buildings that bring in a good chunk of (speeding) employees every AM.
2) My neighborhood of families, middle-aged residents, and older people and their renters. I lived in a 2nd floor apt with 2 roommates, above our awesome Italian landlords and their yappy dog. Southfield Park is on the inlet, as are the gigantic Avalon apartment buildings.
3) A popular summer restaurant called Crabshell, a very nice marina, the run-down area by Café Moja, and I-95 and the RR tracks. People call this section the “hood,” but I’ll tell ya, I read the police reports, and most crime is NOT in that area. (It’s in the South End, the West Side north of the tracks, and the Cove area near the Grade A, where my bank got robbed.)

A 2002 New York Times article, about the building of the Avalon complex, describes the area in more general terms:

“Luxury Apartments Open in Former Industrial Area”:
"One of the most diverse neighborhoods imaginable lies between the west branch of Stamford harbor and the border of Greenwich between Interstate 95 and Long Island Sound. A vestige of old industrial Stamford called Waterside, it covers a little more than a square mile, into which are crammed small, well-kept working class homes as well as houses that are falling apart; contemporary office buildings and dilapidated old industrial buildings; tumbledown stores and yuppie restaurants, a marina, $400,000 condominiums, private homes and an affordable housing project called Waterside Green." The article says that the Avalon complex cost $ 60 million to build, and that the houses in Dolphin Cove are valued at over a million bucks.

There are a lot of great areas in Stamford, and I think Southfield/Waterside is definitely one of them. I highly recommend Southfield Park for a weekend visit. It has a baseball field, tennis courts, a playground, and a NICE path along the water. I have a feeling the majority of Stamford is unaware of this park, because the tennis counts are often free.

The rollerblading incident: I’m not a good rollerblader, but Dolphin Cove is a good area for blading because there’s hardly any traffic. So, I roll out of my hood, up to the 3 way stop by the guard shack. As I roll up, so do three other cars. Well, I can’t stop, so I hold out my arms in a grand “STOP PLEASE, COMING THROUGH” gesture. I take maybe three strides, then hit some gravel and TOTALLY WIPE OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INTERSECTION, landing right on my back. Well, the cars can’t very well drive over me, so they have to wait while I look up at the sky for a moment, carefully pick myself up, and roll away. This wasn’t one of those “when you look back on it, it’s really funny” incidents. It was really, really funny at the time.

I don’t fall too much. Since I can’t stop, I don’t go very fast. And, after my “throw self onto grass to avoid high speed descent” on a slope in Darien, I know to avoid hills. I suggest the very flat Cove Island Beach for your rollerblading pleasure.
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Check Out the Library's Flickr Site!

Verrrrrrrrry cool: the Ferguson has a Flickr site! There are photos of the Haitian book Festival, wrestlers from WWE visiting for a book event, and a therapy dog listening to a little girl read. I commend you, Ferg, for getting with the program in a visual, fun way. Our library is making a splash on the modern frontier! Click here to read more.