Greenwich Gossip

Monday, July 31, 2006

Murder in Greenwich

Yeah, I know the title's been used before, but the topic, it seems, is inexhaustible. Everyone knows the safest place to commit murder - or any other major felony - is right here in Greenwich, CT, where the cops are clueless and money rules. Exempla gratia, the now-convicted and -jailed swindler extraordinaire Marvin Frankel, who used to hire off-duty members of the GG to guard his two Lake Avenue houses - the cops must have seen the boiler shop he was running, which, if nothing else, violated our (often-flouted) zoning regulations. Then there was the mysterious alleged suicide of one of his harem of "love slaves" - a potential tip-off that all was not normal in Frankelland. But those nice little envelopes of cash money tended to create selective myopia, and no one said boo! until Frankel skipped town two steps ahead of the Feds.

Speaking of whom, they are what give rise to today's topic, as the local rag says the GG have finally called in the Fibbies to help on the torture/murder of another of our local swindlers, Andrew Kissel. I did not have the opportunity to know Mr. Kissel personally, but I did have a chance to review some of the interesting documents memorializing his chequered career when I went to a tag sale next door and found the stack of court papers left by a feckless sheriff who apparently thought abode service on a neighbor counted as legally sufficient. Linda the lawyer was at the tag sale, too, and together we pored over Kissel's shenanigans as treasurer of his NYC co-op. If the GG are really looking for suspects, the plaintiffs in that lawsuit sure had plenty of motive.

Historically, the GG have technically never caught a murderer. In the early 20th century a man was found dead with seven gunshots in his back, and a six-shooter by his side. The chief of police pronounced it a suicide. Michael Skakel was convicted of murdering Martha Moxley, as we all know, but that was only because the state took over the "cold case" from the GG. The GG's only contribution to the matter, as far as most of us could figure out, was managing to misplace the shaft of the golf club of the murder weapon - only the head survived their chain of custody of the evidence at the crime scene. The broken shaft, you see, not only bore Michael's mother's name, but was the instrument used to stab Martha repeatedly in the neck. At least one member of the GG claims to remember having seen the shaft, but then the Kennedy lawyers arrived en masse and shooed the cops away - and they simply folded their tents (I speak metaphorically - they didn't even have time to put any up) and went away.

Matthew Margolies, barely into his teens, was murdered while fishing in the Byram River. Local scuttlebutt has it that the GG have a pretty good idea of who dunnit, but because there is a cop connection they have not pressed too hard to bring the perp to justice. I have no way of knowing if the scuttlebutt is true or not, but I do know for a fact that after more than two decades Matthew's murder is still officially unsolved.

The only Greenwich murderer in recent history to have been arrested, tried, and convicted is A. D. Wilson, who shot Jack Peters to death in his own swimming pool - and on his birthday, no less. But the GG gets no credit for this one: Wilson drove himself to police HQ, told the desk sergeant what he had done, and said they would find the murder weapon in the trunk of his car. He spoke the truth. A. D. had once been the boyfriend of a daughter of former First Selectman John Margenot, but claimed to have had his brains fried by drugs sneaked into a drink by Dirk Peters, son of the deceased. Wilson blamed the Peters family for all his subsequent misfortunes, including the break-up with his girlfriend, and wrote long rambling letters pretty much telegraphing his intentions to all and sundry. His sister Julie tried to get the GG to take notice, but they said A. D. had (as yet) done nothing wrong and it was therefore not a police matter. Even after being told that A. D. had bought a gun, they refused to lift a finger. And so it was that shortly thereafter Jack Peters was killed in his own back yard. If A. D. had just driven back to Maine instead of GG HQ, that probably would have been the end of the story.

There are numerous other recent examples of serious unsolved crimes here in Disneyland East, but I think you get the general idea. If you have felonious intentions, and would prefer not to be caught when you carry them out, the obvious venue of choice is right here in good old Greenwich. Why else do you think "Boss" Tweed made Greenwich his second home, and when he made his break from the Ludlow Street jail, took the train straight to Greenwich (well, Cos Cob, actually)? And he was right to do so: he'd spread so much money around town in his sunshine days that no one uttered a peep. Tweed went on to Spain, where apparently they have better law enforcement: he was arrested, extradicted, and returned to the Ludlow Street jail, where he died. His big mistake, obviously, was in not hunkering down in Greenwich.

Yes, folks, we're right proud of our crime rate here in town. To hear the GG tell it, it's all but non-existent. But we who live here know differently, and the facts pretty much speak for themselves. Meanwhile, the GG have finally called in the Feds on the Kissel case, a sure sign that after many months of their trying to go it alone, nothing has gone anywhere fast. And so it goes....

Friday, July 28, 2006

0 for 4; Lamont vs. Lieberman

Well, guys, that's four blogs posted and zero comments, so it looks as though I'm getting skunked here. But who's counting? Except for me, no one at all, obviously.

Undaunted, I press on. Today's headlines in the local rag concern the number of locals registering to vote in the Democratic primary in a couple of weeks. The choice is hometown boy Ned Lamont vs. long-time incumbent Joe Lieberman. Guess who the locals are probably going to vote for.

And so would I, except that the deadline to switch party affiliations passed sometime back in May. Only new registrants or unaffiliated voters can sign up to play at this point. Here's why I like Ned Lamont: 1) I used to study at the library named for his grandfather; 2) I first met him at the home of Tom and Olive Watson, which gave me a chance to admire the terrific Helga painting in the Watsons' foyer; 3) he's approachable and articulate; and 4) he doesn't kiss George W. Bush. Oh, yeah, and I agree with his positions, too.

Lieberman, by contrast, is sounding whinier than ever. I know I shouldn't dislike a candidate just because his voice gets on my nerves, but the fact remains that it does, and therefore I do. He's also inundating the town with attack robo-calls, which is hardly a gentlemanly thing to do. Ned Lamont's well-written radio ads are much more clever: in one, the narrator purports to present us with George W. Bush, but the voice is actually that of Lieberman parroting Bush's positions. In another, we are warned that over-exposure to Lieberman can be dangerous to our political and economic health. Both ads are fun to listen to, and let Lieberman's words speak for themselves, as it were.

So my guess is that Lamont will out-poll Lieberman on August 8. Lieberman has already promised to run as an independent if he loses, thereby obnoxing many long-time Democrats who feel that the loser in the primary should support the winner. Can Lamont win a three-way race in November? Stay tuned.

That is, if anyone's listening...if you are, please let me know. Writing in the vacuum of cyberspace is a lonely business.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Security Issues"

Today's local radio headline bemoaned the fact that Greenwich is getting next to nothing in the latest round of the Homeland Security sweepstakes - a paltry $53,000, as opposed to almost half a million bucks two years ago. The headline was delivered in a tone of pained disbelief, as though the morons who run Homeland Security (and yes, by and large, one suspects that they *are* morons) were acting in an even more moronic fashion than usual.

But let's look at the record here. Has Greenwich been threatened with, much less subjected to, a terrorist attack? Methinks I can hear the terrorists LOLROFing all over the map at the very idea. The closest we've ever come to an invasion, at least since the British left, was when a boatload of black inner-city youngsters, led by a minister, attempted to land on our then-private beaches. The Greenwich Gestapo sent an armed contingent in a police boat to repel the would-be waders at the high-water mark, and to be sure they did not wriggle their toes in our pure white sand. Chalk up another victory for Law and Order, Greenwich-style.

Oh, yes, and then there was the elderly cyclist from Stamford, who breached the perimeter of the beach last summer. The GG promptly arrested him, and issued him a summons to appear in court. When he did, this time it was the prosecutors who fell all over themselves doing the LOLROFing routine, and the trespass charges were immediately thrown - er, laughed - out of court. Thereafter, the gentleman cycled into the beach another eleven times, and the bureaucrats in Town Hall came up with the bright idea of sending him a bill for $120 - a dozen visits at $10 a pop. The gentleman sent back a check for $25, the amount that local residents pay for a beach card, and the town started to make noises about taking legal action over the remainder of the alleged "bill". The gentleman responded by making noises about suing the town for discrimination (he had a recent Connecticut Supreme Court decision on his side). A group of alarmed and anonymous citizens quickly delivered an envelope of cash to Town Hall to pay the putative "fine", and no doubt thought that would be the end of it.

But the gentleman has doffed his cycling togs to press his suit, as it were, and in recent weeks the town has spent thousands of taxpayer dollars attempting to defend the indefensible. Nothing new here, of course; when jogger Brenden Leyden filed his original lawsuit seeking to open the beaches of Greenwich to the public, the town spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a vain attempt to hold back the tides of change. A tame rock-ribbed Republican judge in Stamford, known for his unflinching support of the status quo and outspoken dislike of The New York Times, gave the town an initial victory in a deeply-flawed memorandum of decision, but the State Appellate Court overruled him unanimously. The town, ever eager to spend the aforesaid tax dollars on legal frivolities, appealed the case to the State Supreme Court, which likewise ruled unanimously against Greenwich. The Board of Selectmen muttered loudly and publicly about appealing to the U. S. Supreme Court, but even the myopic attorneys in the town's law department could see this was a non-starter, and managed to call the Board of Selectmen off.

Ah, yes, we were talking about terrorist threats to Greenwich, and our need for our place at the Homeland Security trough. One needs to understand, dear reader, that Greenwich has a very solipsistic world view; the meridian that used to pass through Greenwich, England now runs through Greenwich, Connecticut instead, at least in the minds of our town bureaucrats and nouveaux riches citizens. Thus it was that on September 11, 2001, the town fathers sent the GG to the beaches to close them and post armed guards lest they become the next target of al-Qaida that day. Likewise, the GG SWAT team, in full combat gear, encircled Town Hall to be sure that no terrorists would be able to walk in and apply for a beach card, if not worse (as though!). It all would have been quite comical, if it weren't so pathetic, and the day itself so tragic.

Obviously, dear reader, all of these exercises, however inane, require funding; and that is why Greenwich is today taking umbrage at sucking hind tit at the Homeland Security piggy bank. BTW, I hope you don't think that I make this stuff up. It is totally factual, I assure you.

One last vignette: I was going into a local bank today, and noticed that all the adjacent plantings and yew bushes that had been there for decades were being hacked down by employees of a tree "service". I asked the branch manager what was going on, and he replied darkly, "It's a security issue." What? I said - do these 15-inch-high bushes provide cover for terrorists and their bombs? That was the general idea, he implied. Who, dear reader, has ever heard of a terrorist blowing up a bush when there was a perfectly good brick bank building nearby? I can understand them perhaps taking a moment to pee in the bushes if the excitment of the moment became too great for them, but other than that it was hard to see what aid and comfort the poor bushes could offer a malefactor. So today - which is already uncomfortably hot and muggy - we have sacrificed some harmless oxygen-providing decorative plants in the name of the war on terror. Who's winning here, one wonders....

Ah, Greenwich! Ah, humanity!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What If You Wrote a Blog and No One Read It?

...'cause that's how I feel today. I was so excited on Saturday when I zapped my maiden effort into cyberspace, believing that the world would surely beat a path to my blog's doorway. I mean, catchy title, interesting info about tornadoes and Sisyphus complexes, and vague promises of more to come - what more does the world want in a blog?

But so far the silence is deafening. Is anybody out there? Or is it all a hoax designed to keep me indoors on a beautiful high-summer day tapping away on a plastic keyboard connected to...well, to what?

But all is not in vain. A young lady just sat down next to me and said "Hello" and we started to talk about another Greenwich syndrome, judgmentalism. In this town, appearance becomes reality, the book is judged by the cover, and the size of the bank account has replaced penile length as the local macho measurement of choice.

It was not always thus. Time was, back in the day, when most people in town were just folks, regardless of physical or financial endowment. That era, IMHO, died with Dottie Bush back in the early 1990s. She was the mother of a sitting president, who even in her 90s would walk down Greenwich Avenue by herself - no nursemaid, let alone a gaggle of Secret Service types dogging her heels. She was candid, down-to-earth, full of fun, and utterly approachable. A real lady, in every sense of the word.

Today, by contrast, the typical Greenwich matron is a trophy wife, driving an ostentatious gas-guzzling SUV, who spends her time having her hair and nails done, and buying baubles for her personal adornment. She is usually too busy with her cell phone (even while driving) to pay attention to you, or whoever else with whom she may be sharing the road. If she happens to cut you off and you beep to let her know there are other people on the road, she is likely to lower the window, flip you the bird, and let fly with a string of four-letter words that would do a sailor proud. Her young children in the back seat get an early education in both the vocabulary and manners of a Greenwich parvenue.

Well, I'm going to stop there for now, with thanks to Laurie for giving me the Topic of the Day. If there really is anyone out there, leave a comment or two. I know there are Greenwich airheads who will walk down Greenwich Avenue with their cell phones at their ears pretending to carry on a conversation so that everyone will think they have friends, but I'm not one of them. So if you happen to read this, click the little comment button and let me know you're there. Thanks!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Diana's Diversions: Diana on the Radio

Diana's Diversions: Diana on the Radio

Diana is also in the funny pages! Check out Doonesbury for 7/21/06, which makes it pretty clear that Alex has been reading SSG. Father Mike (whom she sometimes calls "Poppy" - clearly a hidden reference to George Herbert Walker Bush of Rose & Grave fame) is his usual amiable clueless self. Probably Garry Trudeau (who is a member of Scroll & Key...oops, er, Quill & Ink) is suggesting that if you want to know what your child is thinking, check out his/her bookshelf.

Day One at Blogger

Yep, I'm a newbie. But hey, everyone's gotta start sometime, somewhere, somehow, no? If not here, where? If not now, when?

OK, so now is 12:05 PM EDT and here is at the local library (one of them, anyhow). I plan to keep y'all informed of what goes on not only in my head, but in and around the town of Greenwich, CT. Plunging in head-first:

I'm only doing this because I wanted to post a note on Diana Peterfreund's blog ( and Blogger made me become a member to do so. The note I want to post is about yesterday's Doonesbury cartoon, in which it appears that Alex Doonesbury has been reading Diana's new book, "Secret Society Girl". I emailed a copy of the strip to Diana, but haven't heard back if she got it - no, Diana, it's not spam - if you see my email address as the sender it's legit. I even sent a cc to myself and opened it, no problemo - Garry Trudeau is not into Trojan horses, though I 'spect he's into your new novel.

A plug for Diana's novel (not that she/it needs it): very well written, very funny, and very worth reading. Look - if you visit her website you'll see all the purple prose that others have already written about her book, so I'm not even going to try to compete. My nine words say it all, so I'll stick with them.

Also: not bad for a Yalie, Diana! (I went to the Other Place.)

Now for Greenwich: I saw another author friend at the library (well, one of them - we have four in town at last count) the other day: Sarah Darer Littman, whose book, "Confessions of a Closet Catholic", also merits my nine-word encomium. I wish I could write half as well as these two young women.

Sarah also writes a column for our local rag, Greenwich Time, and of course outshines all of the other so-called writers who appear in its pages. I find the paper useful mostly for the obituaries and the comics page (I don't have a parakeet, or that would provide a third use). You can find a link to her columns on her website,

Things are fairly quiet in Greenwich today, after a period of reasonably yukky weather that included a tornado (the real thing!) and severe thunderstorms that knocked out power lines and even closed the major north-south roads in town for close to a day. You'd think this town would get smart and start to put its electrical cables underground, but no...they just put them back up on poles and within a few months Mother Nature does her thing again. Sometimes I think this town has a Sisyphus complex.

OK, that's enough for Post Number One. Now I'm gonna try to post to Diana's blog, which is the only reason you are lucky enough to have a newbie to read and critique. Stay tuned - there's more to come, ready or not.