Friday, November 30, 2007

Weekend: Kwanzaa, Dancing, Santa Rappels

There are a few things happening in Stamford this weekend:
Saturday Dec 1, noon: 11th Annual Kwanzaa Awareness Festival at the Ferg. Crafts, African drumming workshop, candle lighting ceremony.
Sunday Dec. 2 at 1:30: Israeli Dancing with Leng & Yigal at the Stamford JCC, 1035 Newfield Ave. They do many types of dance, from Irish to Salsa to hip hop, so it's really international dancing. All ages are welcome. It's only 10 bucks for four hours of dancing, and they serve refreshments. Beginners start at 1:30, Intermediate at 2:30, ending at 5:30.
Now THIS sounds insane: Sunday Dec 4 at 4:30 pm: Santa Claus is going to rappel down Stamford Tower, the tallest building in Stamford, then walk up Bedford to do the Tree Lighting Ceremony. The Stamford Times has more details and a listing of many more weekend events, from concerts to holiday gift drives to activities at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center. The Times also has a Fairfield County Calendar.
Click here to read more.

AHHHHHHH!!! The Advocate liked my letter!!!!!

I got a letter to the editor published in the Stamford Advocate!!!!!!!
My letter is about Whole Foods. I'm proud of myself that I got off my butt and took action after posting that more of us need to write feisty letters!

"To the editor:

A Whole Foods in Bull's Head? ("Plan for Whole Foods advances," Advocate news story, Nov. 21.) Anyone who travels through that already busy intersection knows that plan is misguided.

I'm a big fan of Whole Foods, but four of Stamford's major north-south roads meet in Bull's Head; an enormously popular store will cause tie-ups on the key route that commuters take to work. A trip to the Whole Foods in Greenwich shows the traffic nightmare the store causes on a regular basis.

In a 2000 survey by the Connecticut Policy and Economic Council, 62 percent of participants from Stamford felt traffic congestion was bad or very bad. I can't help but think Stamford's residents' opinions were not taken fully into account.

If the plan goes forward, I hope traffic will enter and exit only on the Long Ridge side of the intersection. That's the only way for Whole Foods not to make that area a mess."
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stamford Police Care What I Think

In today's mail I got a survey from the Stamford Police asking about my safety. I was so thrilled to be included; it made me feel like a real member of the community. I had to run out the door, but was looking forward to filling it out, adding a nice note at the bottom about how much I like the Stamford police, and also mentioning that at night, around midnight during the week, the parking lot behind Tigin's is really empty and scary. Maybe add some floodlights, or better yet, a ferris wheel. That would light it up, yet be fun and decorative.

Anyway. Got home from errands and EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Headline in the Advocate: "Police to survey residents"! I skimmed the article. My eyes lit up when I read that I was ONE OF 13,000 residents who got the survey. Yes indeedy. Other 110,000 of you? Losers. Me? Part of the survey. Don't try to influence me; I've already filled it out.
Click here to read more.

South End Library Book Group: Awesome

On Monday I sped-read Barack Obama's memoir for the book discussion at South End Library. The book was much better than I expected. Obama wrote it 12 years ago, when he had just finished up being president of the Harvard Law Review, so it isn't a smarmy political rah-rah book. It's a memoir, written before thoughts of Presidency, so it is incredibly* honest and revealing. I only got to p. 70 ish, but I'm continuing to read it each night... at regular speed.

The book discussion was awesome. There were 16 or 17 of us total, the perfect number. I was a little anxious because I was late (got lost), and it's embarrassing to walk into a group that's already seated and talking. Well, I got there, and there was food! The group does a little potluck, um, yum, so I'll know to bring something next time. We got settled and jumped right into reactions to the book. Like the best book groups, people were opinionated but respectful, full of humor, and willing to address complicated issues. The discussion leaders were excellent moderators and kept the discussion lively yet focused. It was like being in a really cool English class.

Obama's book was part of the South End Library's "African and African-American Authors at the South End Branch" series; the next book is Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas on Dec 17. I don't like fiction, but I'll read it so I can be part of this group again. By the way, the Ferg is retooling their website, so maybe in the future there will be a way for me to give you the calendar link and have the info about the event show up without you having to click dates or links yourself.

If you go to the library, be aware that it's in the CTE Building. When I drove up at night, the place did not look like a library. It was dark out, and the library is set back from the road, in what looks like an industrial building. All I saw was a tall chainlink fence and a blocky building. I was confused, but then I spotted the CTE sign, which the South End library site had mentioned. The library itself is quite cozy.

*When I say "incredibly" honest, I'm not using that adverb (it is an adverb) lightly. I mean to say that it's hard to believe that such a book exists, that a politician exists who would share ideas about himself like this. It's like... I actually know what he believes in. How's that for a novel idea?

Speaking of novels, here's a description of the next book from the Ferg site:
"Celeste Tyree, a young black collegian, leaves Michigan for Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to help found a Freedom School and a voter registration project. As Freedom Summer unfolds, Celeste confronts not only the political realities of race and poverty in this tiny town, but also truths about herself and her own family."
and, "New participants welcome. No registration necessary." It's at 7 pm!
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cafe Moja! Seriously! Gunshots???

Cafe Moja, things aren't lookin' so good for ya. First, a dude was arrested for selling drugs at your place. Now, a man shot at the cops outside you... I wanted to try you for lunch, but frankly, you are not persuading me.


I'm being light, but there are some disturbing things in the Stamford Advocate article about a man who fired at the police before he was captured:
One, cops were there because of a big fight outside on the sidewalk at 2 am.
Two, cops were hurt chasing the gunman.
Three, a policeman said they had come regularly to Cafe Moja, and that it was "an effort to keep it safe." Good lordy. I appreciate how hard the police work and I don't like that people are messing with them.
Oh well.
That's Stamford. A little dicey in parts... parts that you probably drive through.

Fortunately, police were able to arrest the guy, a 21-year-old from Bridgeport, right away. Thank you Stamford police, for keeping us safe.

Here are some relevant lines from Advocate Staff Writer Monica Potts:

Police responded to a 911 call about a large group fighting outside Cafe Moja, at 320 Greenwich Ave., at about 2 a.m., Dohmann said...

After being handcuffed, Ebron tried to flee but was unable to get away before officers gained control of him.
Three officers were injured during the struggle, including one who may have broken his hand, Dohmann said. Ebron also was injured during the struggle and from falling as he attempted to flee, Dohmann said...

One police witness reported that the dispute began inside the club, and shots were fired inside, Dohmann said. Police are investigating that claim and reviewing tapes from video surveillance cameras inside and outside the club.
A sign on the door of Cafe Moja identifies the permittee as Sean Evans.
"It didn't happen here," Evans said. He would not comment further.
Officers had previously responded to reports of disturbances and fights at the club. Dohmann said.
"It's been an effort for us to keep it safe," he said.
Click here to read more.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Discussion: Barack Obama's Memoir

I can't blog long, because I have to finish a whole book before tonight's book discussion at South End. It's Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father." I have two things to say about this.
1. The book was written twelve years ago, so it's not some goody two-shoe memoir to prove what an angel he is. I respect that it's a book that was written not necessarily from the perspective of, "I better write this in such a way that it makes me look like I should be the President." I gave it a quick skim and it looks like an authentic memoir rather than a, "Here's what I learned growing up that pointed me toward my destiny as President."
2. I'm officially declaring my support for Obama. We know it's going to be a Democrat, and I'd rather see Obama than Clinton. I'm officially "interested" in politics now.
Click here to read more.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

New Stamford Mall Set Up: Not Bad

I just had dinner at the P.F. Cheng's at the mall and was very pleased. I mean, it was P.F. Cheng's, but service was great and so was my Columbia Crest Chardonnay for six bucks.
I'm not a big Chinese fan- Pearl East's food (on Summer St.) is OK but the decor is depressing- so maybe I'll go to PFC in a pinch. There was a nice buzz in the busy dining room, and the crowd was slightly diverse, which is rare.
I'm happy with the new mall set up. H&M, Barnes and Noble, no complaints about that. B and N is right by PFC, so if PFC gives you a buzzer to carry while you wait, you can browse for books while you wait for your table. A good marketing scheme all around.
Any other suggestions for Chinese food? Kam Pei in Bull's Head is OK. Maybe there are no great Chinese restaurants in Stamford... I hold Ching's Table in Westport up as my ideal. I think it's called that. I always call it the "Red Door Restaurant" because the facade is red.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Music: From Jimmy's to the South End?

A reader left a helpful comment at an older post called "Cold Stamford: No Love for the Music?"

"There is music but it is under the the singer at Ocean 211 on Saturdays, Jazz band at Tonic on Thursdays, Funk at Chez Jean Pierre on Wednesdays, Summertime band at the Crab Shell..."

First of all, I really appreciate the live music tips. I need to follow up on them more aggressively. I've been lazy and/or out of town.

"Funk at Chez Jean-Pierre?" my husband said. "I can't picture that." Well, I can't either, but I'm desperate. My thought: "Damn, have you seen the prices at Ocean 211? I'll just order a drink." And, where is Tonic? I googled it with no luck.

Second, Grapes are playing at Jimmy's this Friday. I'm in town, so I believe I'll be there. I don't think I've seen Grapes perform, but Charlie, one of the vocalists and guitar players, used to be in Bravo Avocado, a band I liked a lot.

Third, the reader looked to the future: "...I'll agree that there is certainly not one or two clubs booking serious bands. There is room a club like that in all these abandoned warehouses, LI Sound side of the train station, but so far it's all antiques and scrap metal. Some one should put a club where "Go Vertical" used to be..."

Amen. Who do we know that can do this? I read an article about a couple who opened an art gallery in that area. Gentrification... Stamford's SoHo... is it possible? It is possible that this wealthy-ass area will have a place that hip young adults can hang out? Young or youngish, or older; I just mean people who want to dance and listen to music, music other than a (n admittedly good) DJ at Hula Hanks.

Finally, I'd like to have some musician friends. Many of my college friends were musicians, so it's ingrained in my head that I should know people who play live music. This area makes it hard, but I'm still looking. I've actually got a friend who writes her own jazzy, sultry music, and I'm trying to get her to sing at an open mic and let me do backup vocals.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wild Turkeys: New Residents of the FC

I’ve been told I should write about more controversial topics, but all I can say is, Have you seen those wild turkeys?

Most people I ask this question say, "Wild turkeys? I didn't know there were wild turkeys." Or they say, "No.” I believe that answer, because these “birds” are pretty hard to miss.

Here’s the answer I find hard to accept: “I thought they were just turkeys.” Ah, just turkeys? Those dinosaur-looking things that are as tall as me? If you can't recognize them as not regular turkeys, you have a big problem.

Take a peek at this funny and very informative National Geographic article about wild turkeys. Finally, someone else is talking about those turkeys! However, I’ll say that the turkeys in the picture are much shorter and more attractive than the wild turkeys I’ve seen. It makes me wonder if I saw big vultures. Anything is possible in this crazy world.

I've only seen these turkeys in Greenwich, right on the Stamford border. They don’t seem scared by my car; they strolled nonchalantly around someone’s yard both times I drove by. That was near the patch of forest near the Westy storage center off exit 6. On first glance, the turkeys are ugly and a little scary, but I think they are beautiful. I like how they walk around, head high, with an “I don’t give a shit” attitude. The NG article portrays them as nice but proud animals.

My husband said he saw them in North Stamford 5 years ago, and he said he saw them running-- on Thanksgiving. He’s very imaginative, so I’m tempted to not believe him, but he really likes animals, so I don’t think he’d lie about them.

Final note: This pretty turkey, although the website claims it's an Eastern Wild Turkey, looks nothing like the birds I've seen.
Click here to read more.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Films and Fair Trade: Nov. 16 Weekend Events

I’m outta here this weekend, but there is a lot going on in the area.

1. Indian Film Festival at UConn Stamford Campus. Friday through Sunday. Cool! I free movies. Click on calendar for more info.

2. Fair trade sale at First Presby Church on Bedford St. this Sat, 10-4, and Sun 12-3. It’s run by Ten Thousand Villages. From their site: “Working with unemployed or underemployed artisans, we help them bring their crafts and cultures to North America, and to support themselves and their families.”

3. The library has a humor columnist speaking at 1:30 tomorrow at the HB branch on Vine St.

4. Heads Up: Two Mondays from now, Nov. 26, 7 pm. Book discussion at the South End library of Barack Obama’s biography Dreams of My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. I am so going to that.

5. Heads up next Wednesday Nov 21: Deep Banana Blackout, Toad's Place, 9 p.m. This isn’t in Stamford, but a girl I knew from college used to play sax for them, so I, you know, feel close to the band.

6. Chiara sounds interesting if you like non-boring classical music. It’s in Greenwich, but whatever.
Click here to read more.

STAMFORD- I WANT TO GOSSIP, and I want to do it on a chatboard.

I really wish the Stamford Advocate (a reader who grew up in Stamford pointed out that old school Stamford residents call it the Stamford Advocate- thank you very much) had discussion threads. Here's what I'd say in response to a recent letter: "I agree! Who cares if the mayor's son got arrested for drugs? It's his kid, not him! And that doesn't mean he's a bad dad; even if he was, that has nothing to with him being mayor."

Although, you know, that response sounds pretty negative, and I like the Advocate, so maybe I wouldn't say that. I probably would, and then I'd feel bad about it and wish I'd written a more organized post. Here's an excerpt of the letter, which I'm providing so you don't have to go to the Letters to the editor page and scroll down:

"To the editor:
I am a long-time subscriber to The Advocate, and I am writing to protest the coverage of Ben Malloy's arrest for alleged drug possession and dealing (news stories, Nov. 8, 9, 14)...

I think the "above-the-fold" bold-faced coverage of Ben's arrest and rehabilitation in three issues is excessive. On the days you have run these stories, you also have run, on Page 1, several stories that I'm sure are of much greater interest to most of your readers - e.g., stories about taxes, health care, safety in the city - and I find it amazing, and very disappointing, that you chose to let the Ben Malloy story take precedence over all of them...

If you continue to run these stories in the manner used to date, it will appear that you are out to get the Malloy family - whether because you disagree with their politics, or because you're using the son's issues to attack the parents, or for some other reason that has no place in professional journalism. It also will appear that the recent sale of The Advocate initiated a down-hill slide in the quality and importance of the paper, which would be a great loss to the Stamford community..."

I think that last line might be a little dig at the new owners of the Advocate and Greenwich Time, because I hear that right after the sale, they let go of several editors who had been there for a while. Worry about your terrible website, Stamford Advocate, not your writers and editors.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Advocate, Grammar, and Me

You grammar and spelling types may have noticed that in the previous entry, I switched from writing "the Advocate" to "The Advocate." That's because I learned that the paper is actually called "The Advocate" and not "the Stamford Advocate." However, I'm reluctant to call it "The Advocate" when there are clearly other Advocates in existence. Frankly, it's a little presumptuous. It's not the Advocate, so it makes me a little mad that to be correct, I have to call it that. You could say that I'm sensitive, grammar and caps-wise.

Speaking of which, I just joined Wikipedia and made my first correction, because in the entry about the Stamford Advocate (or whatever the hell this paper is) it said,

The newspaper and it's sister paper, The Greenwich Time, were sold to Hearst Corp. for $62.4 million in a deal with it's previous owner, the Tribune Corporation, that closed on Nov. 1., 2007.
OK, I'm going to tell you. "It's" is short for "it is." Even if it's the possessive "it," you do not add the apostrophe-s, because that would mean "it is." That is an exception to the possessive rule, and you're just going to have to accept it. It's one of the more subtle yet very common grammar errors that otherwise good grammarians make.

I'm still a little bitter about "The Advocate." If I call it that, no one knows it's Stamford. So do I call it Stamford's The Advocate? That's awkward. This is just one more case of the Advocate messing with my mind. Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Do Local Papers Suck? I Think Not.

I’ll tell you again, the Advocate letters to the editor page is where you should be going to see what Stamford-ites feel strongly about. Often, it’s really, really boring things, which should tell you something about Stamford. Oh shoot- that’s mean. I want Stamford to be interesting; I hope it’s interesting. Maybe a lot of people with lively opinions complain to their friends and don’t take time to write the paper. We need more people writing in with fun complaint letters. Speaking of, I wonder if they take emails to the editor? I bet they do.

This recent letter caught my attention (just barely):

Over the decades, The Advocate has been reduced to a shallow form of its old self. More newsprint is used on things like Connecticut's film industry than the high school graduation rates in the state's urban areas, the over-incarceration of minority youth or the plight of the poor.
I think I’m going to write in saying that this person is wrong. The Advocate does cover that. Sure, it could cover it more, but that would be a really depressing newspaper. I think that would only work if The Advocate also amped up it’s fun factor, you know, balanced that deadly serious stuff with more articles by me on local nightlife and colorful characters. Advocate, I’m available. Actually, they’ve rejected two of my proposed articles, but no hard feelings. Maybe things were hectic with Tribune's pending sale of the paper. They were good ideas, too- but I covered them on the blog.
We all suffer when a vibrant city and region lacks a local newspaper that will challenge and question public officials and keep a watchful, informed eye on issues and trends, interpreting them for the rest of us.
I find politics dull, so I agree with the writer on the need for other people to do the interpreting for me. I know politics are important, but I’ll leave them to the people with the interest and attention span to follow them. I hope those people will report back to me with short yet accurate accounts of the important info, why I should care and what I can do. Seriously, someone needs to do that for this blog. I challenge you to tell me why local politics are interesting. I think papers believe they are doing a good job reporting info, but I need bullet points.

I must warn you, the letter about the paper is the 13th one down; you’ll have to scroll. That three foot long scroll is just one more example of The Advocate's poorly designed web page. It makes me want to cry if I think about it, because they obviously need help. I feel bad that they either can't afford a web designer, or no one is being honest and telling them how un-navigable their page is. I suppose I should write a letter about that.
Click here to read more.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Nov 13- Speed Dating!

Heads up on an interesting event:
Tuesday, November 13- 7:00 PM. Speed dating at Tiernan's Restaurant! ages 39-49, $ 35, and you have to enroll online or by phone. Call Catherine at 203-400-1052 or check out to register. (I wonder how they ensure you're single? Isn't that kind of creepy?) Too bad it's for 39-49... I wonder how this event would fly with a younger crowd? Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My NYSC: Through Good Times and in Bad

My NYSC on Commerce St. used to be a ratty gym full of tough guys. You felt like a badass by proxy when you went back to the free weights section. Yeah, I'm doing bent-over rows too, and chest presses, big guy.
The NYSC got completely redone a couple of years ago and now has squash courts and a pool. It's packed at 530 am with high-powered NYC types, pounding away at the treadmill before hopping on the train to NYC or heading over to the hedge fund. I do like that jolt of energy when I go there at 6am (this rarely happens). The Moms take over at 9 am, with yoga and cardio. The gym is almost all women at that point. I'll admit, it's kind of pleasant and mellow.

The place looks great, and the feel of the gym has totally changed. There are good and bad parts to that.
: top-notch machines and at long-last, a towel service. There are no men there who look the scary kind of tough.
Bad: The front desk guy and/or trainers used to get to pick the radio stations, so you didn't have to work out to the generic NYSC soundtrack, which consists mostly of Elton John tunes. How does that make you want to lift weights or do one more set of sit ups? No, sweaty men make you want to do that, and I miss them.
I concede: The generic mix did introduce me to Jojo ("Too Little Too Late"), so the Elton John crap is not a total loss. The pleasant smorgasbord of pre-renovation crowd still comes in around 5, so I see some familiar faces and get to exchange pleasantries, like in the old days when people actually talked to one another. One is a postman and he is so damn cool, and a couple of the other guys are contractors/builders. A couple are from Stamford, and a couple from Greenwich.

The new gym is impeccable, clean and has more energy, but I'm a little nostalgic. No relaxed chatting at the front desk; the gym now has a rushed clinical feel as the front desk people check you in without a glance. If you're interested, I'd try sneaking in. They're usually talking to each other or on the phone, so go for it. I do like my gym better in many ways, but not feeling welcome makes me want to go to the gym less, because there's no one to ask me where I've been if I've been slacking.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Parking Complaints and the Ferg

I've been holding my tongue on the topic of parking in Stamford. When I started Stamford Talk in August, I thought, I'll go downtown and take some pics! Then I thought, oh... and park in the Tigin lot and pay 1.00 $ for one hour. Fine, but it's on the northern edge of the main shopping/social area. That's annoying, but like several defensive Stamford Letter to the Editor authors point out, this is a big city and to expect free, central parking is foolish. OK. Fine. I’ll suck it up like you suggest.

However, I've been pushed to edge by the one-hour parking meters outside the Ferguson. One hour? ONE HOUR??? Do they think this is a city of dummies? One hour in the library? I spend at least two! I'd like to be able to park in the spaces along Bedford, in front of the Schakolad and Bradford's and Tigin, without having to stress about how many minutes I'm looking at books. I think if I find a free space, I should get at least two hours.

Case in point: Last week I happily went to the Ferg for the Wed. 12:00 movie showing. Not only was I finally getting myself over to the library for the movie, I was exicted to see a quirky-sounding documentary called "Who the %@^%$ is Jackson Pollack?" I arrived ten minutes early, just enough time to grab a good spot in front of Bradford’s and make it in on time. OH. The meter is for an hour, and the movie is 75 minutes long. I don’t do parking tickets, so I had to pull out and go to the Tigin lot with its tiny spaces where other cars always ding you. I rushed in just in time for the opening credits. Where did all those other people park?

Parking pacifists say, "Parking's not that bad. In any major city..." Well, guess what. This ain’t a major city. If it were, there would be decent public transportation and more things within walking distance. When the parking spaces outside the library only let you park for one hour (ONE HOUR!!!!!) and your only option is to park in creepy Target or the lot behind Tigin, something is off. I’m trying, but walking from those lots in the rain or a very cold day in February… how does that encourage reading???

I'm willing to pay for the Tigin or Hula Hank lot if I'm out for drinks or dinner. I expect to spend money. But to have to spend money to go to the library? That just doesn’t seem right. Nor does having to root around for quarters; many people don’t carry cash, much less quarters. That’s so 1950’s.

What has kept my sanity is the fact that I don't have to return books to the Ferg; I can hit any other branch, therefore avoiding double parking trauma. I don’t mean to whine, but I really want to use the Ferguson, but doing so takes longer than it should.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Video Hut's Virtues: Like the Early 90's

A reader posted a comment to my "You're Killing Me, Blockbuster" post. He suggested Video Hut on Hope St. as an alternative to Blockbuster. I checked it out last night. It felt like back in the day- shelves you could see over with easily visible labels. Video Hut may have less movies than Blockbuster, but the shelving is manageable, the guys at the front desk are knowledgeable, and it's locally-owned.
PRO: Video Hut is smaller, but seems to have a wider selection of videos. The owner picks out the DVDs, meaning there are choices that aren't standard hits since an individual's taste plays a role, rather than just numbers.
PRO: Knowledgeable staff. The guys who worked there enthusiastically recommended movies and chatted about them as if they cared, unlike the helpful but clinical BB staff.
PRO: The new comedies are in the comedy section, so you don't have to wade through all the other genres. At Video Hut, I wandered over to the comedy section-and under "new" I saw A Dog Year with Molly Shannon. I remember seeing good reviews of it in the New York Times and People Magazine, and thinking I'd like to see it. Did I see any sign of it in Blockbuster? No. Was it there? Maybe, but I never would have stumbled upon it at in BB's extensive mish-mosh of new movies.
BB has hundreds of "new arrivals" along the wall, but each shelf has 30 copies of a popular movie that stars well-known actors but got mediocre reviews. And, all 30 of the copies are gone. The genres are all mixed together. If you're super-lucky, you might see that movie you wanted... but it's probably checked out. If it's an older movie you're looking for, good luck finding it in the maze of shelves.
SORTA PRO: Video Hut may have LESS copies of the newest hits, but at least there's only 5 copies. You feel more like you have a chance of getting it. When you see 30 copies of a movie and they are all gone, you feel hopeless that you'll ever get it... but maybe that's just me.

Check out Video Hut. Don't have crazy-high expectations; just enjoy it for what it is.
Click here to read more.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Capriccio: Changing Seasons

Even as the weather gets cooler and the outdoor seating at Capriccio's goes away, they still have quite a bit of seating indoors. Go there for light but tasty Italian food. Tigin is cozier, but I think Capriccio's food is more fun and more healthy. I do wonder if there's some competition between the two neighbors on Bedford. I look over at Tigin, and the Irish-ish crowd looks different from the Euro-ish crowd at Capriccio. Light Italian food is very different from heavy Irish food, and so are the portions; normal bordering on small at Capriccio's, and a heaping plate at Tigin. I'll be eating at Capriccio and then heading over to Tigin for drinks, and keeping my fingers crossed that they'll have an Irish band on a Friday! Merci a Yoann LeGoff for just one photo from his many clever flickr sets. This is from a set called "Drinks," and here's another shot that I like. Click here to read more.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Salsa at The Palms

My friends and I hit the Palms one Sunday evening, and the crowd was suprisingly mellow yet lively. (Thirsty Turtle next door was a mob of sweaty people, the dance floor packed.) The Palms has:
Ballroom dancing on Wednesday, 6:30-12 am
Salsa on Thursday- free lessons at 7 p.m. (that sounds really cool and I should add it to weekly events!
Friday, Corporate Happy Hour 5-8 pm (cool! Possible singles location?), followed by salsarengue.
Saturday, Latin rhythms and free salsa lessons at 8 pm
Sundays, Reggaeton at 9 p.m. I guess we were there for Reggaeton. It was a little awkward because my friends and I aren't very Latin, but we danced anyway and had a good time, although we slowly realized that it was all couples... and us. Probably dancing totally wrong. Oh well. Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Library Ho Strays from Stamford

I don't like the word "ho," but there's no other way to describe what I do with libraries. I shamelessly use the part of it that I need, then tramp on over to the next town and take something else from their library. I go to Greenwich, Stamford, and Darien- this shocks many people. How can I do this? Well, I don't know why I am the only one who knows this, probably because I read (or used to until I got this laptop) obsessively: any CT resident with a library card can go to the library in any damn town they want. Did you hear that? You can go to the Darien Library, park easily, and get a book or CD. Small library, great magazine room.

Ever since I've moved to the Northeast, I've worked in Greenwich, so it's been very convenient to use their sickeningly amazing library. I say sickeningly only because now that I have a new alliance to Stamford, the superiority of Greenwich's library angers me. I've also lived in Darien and Norwalk and have seen how their libraries operate. It's not that the Ferguson Library is inferior; it's fine. However, the ease of parking at all other area libraries (even Norwalk!!!) make the Ferguson seem... inaccessible. Absurdly so. I'll complain about parking in another entry.

First, let's say what makes the Ferg amazing. It's not the Starbucks, and it's not the Passport Office, although that can come in handy. No, the Ferg's claim to fame is its used book store attached to the library. I don't know of any used book stores in the area. I'm sure they exist, and it's on my list of things to look into. For now, give all your old books to the Ferg, and scour the ample shelves for new ones for you. I've found some good books there. That little store, run by Friends of the Ferguson, makes around 100,000 a year for the library. So, readers sustain the library. That's pretty cool, but it makes me even more irritated that the city recently proposed cutting library hours (as if the library isn't hard enough to get to) since the library was 100,000 dollars short- on their 8.4 million dollar budget. Huh? Visualize that tiny sliver of the pie chart. Stamford and Mayor Malloy, can't ya throw the library a bone, or tiny pie piece? One with 100,000 dollars in it?

Despite the fact that the Ferg obviously needs you, I still encourage you to try other libraries. The Ferg can't do it all, and the exploration will make you appreciate what the Ferg does offer. (A good selection of books, good ESL and Literacy Programs, cultural events like Italian Heritage Month and the Haitian Book Festival, nice librarians- and I hope you'll discover something else). Thank you to Lanamaniac for her photo of Stamford Library, part of her great flickr set on Stamford.

Here's what you need to know:

First, Stamford:
Ferguson- decent selection of books.
Weed Branch- small but packed full of books; it's right near the Hope St. NYSC. I love it.
Bennett- no clue.
South End- no clue.
You'll find the smaller branches useful. For example, when you visit the Ferg's online card catalog, sometimes the Weed Branch might have the book. And, parking is easier at the three smaller locations. Although I can't vouch for South End parking, I can't imagine how it would be harder than the Ferg.

The main branch, on Route 1 off exit 3, is stunning. It's hard to go anywhere else after going there. The "new arrivals" section feels almost as big as the whole non-fiction section of Stamford's Weed Branch. There's a nice CD collection upstairs, an art gallery... oh, you get the picture. Great magazine selection with the old issues archived on shelves right there... it's just gross. It's wrong to be so good. However, I go to the Ferg because it's in my town, and I'm trying to make it work.
Greenwich's smaller branches are Cos Cob, Perrot, and maybe one other; they are small but very nice, and may have a book that the main branch doesn't.

Embarassingly, Norwalk has better parking and as good of a book selection as the Ferg. It's off Rt. 7, first exit. Like the Ferguson, half of the non-fiction books are on one floor, the other half, downstairs. (Greenwich has all non-fic except music on floor one, and all fiction upstairs, which makes more sense to me.) Norwalk's downfall: a very small "new arrivals" section. It is absolutely pathetic.

Lovely sunlit magazine reading room and a good CD collection. The book selection is small, but it's near Post Corner Pizza, a personal fave with its chicken souvlaki and crazy-good pizza.

Other info for library virgins:
You can look at the card catalog online, and access your account with the card's bar code. And, if you get a book from one library in the town, you can return it to any other. So, if you manage to get to the Ferg to check out a book, you can return it elsewhere: say, the Bennett branch on Vine, on your way to Border's or Kit's Thai Kitchen, or the Weed Branch on your way to the Hope St. NYSC or the mega-efficient Camp Ave. Post Office.

Dear City of Stamford and Ferguson Library:
You are the only library in the area who does not have free, convenient parking. Dammit. I just don't know how to fix this. I understand that your library is one of the few right in the downtown area, and you are the biggest city in lower Fairfield County (I don't count Bridgeport, because their local papers don't really pay attention to Stamford, so there).
Here is my one suggestion. The parking spaces on Bedford right past the library only let you pay for one hour. Any serious book browser will laugh in your face. An hour to pick books and check out? Let's at least get those set to two hours, and get them to take credit cards, or for god's sake, dollar bills. Does anyone in this world carry 8 quarters? And I mean, anyone in their right mind?
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