Greenwich Gossip

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Living Technicolor!

Well, I got a bit tired of seeing the dorky gray "no photo available" box next to my name whenever I made comments on others' blogs, so I asked my author buddy Sarah Darer Littman to help me out. Sarah, whose blogs can be found at (the family version) and (the unexpurgated edition), is a technological whiz, as befits a soon-to-be (but not soon enough!) single mom who manages two kids, a dog, a back-country hilltop estate, a writing career, and who knows what all else with Hemingway-esque "grace under pressure."

Yesterday being the first day of the academic year here in Greenwich, she dropped the kids off at school (after various adventures that you can read about in her blogs) and headed for the main library, which for all too long has remained ungraced by her presence. There, in the facing carrel, sat your scribe, surfing away on the Internet. After glad greetings were exchanged, scribe told author babe about the Picture Problem. Author babe whipped out her cell phone and pointed it across the carrel. Thirty seconds later the result hit my email in-box, and shortly thereafter I was no longer an anonymous gray blob, but more of a semi-anonymous blue blob in the Elysian Fields of cyberspace. Ain't technology wonderful?

So now y'all can see what a scribe's-eye view of Greenwich looks like. The nimbus around my head represents the Blogging Muse, courtesy of the architectural genius of Caesar Pelli, who built an airline terminal right here in downtown Greenwich and sold it to the trustees of the Greenwich Library. Notice the wide-open spaces with nary a book in sight. There was a costly retrofit of the stack area when it was discovered that the overhead spots in the cathedral ceiling made little puddles of light on the carpet, but left the spines of the books in unreadable Stygian darkness. But hey - how many other towns can say they have a library designed by Caesar Pelli? (Hint: this was his first and only foray into the bibliotechnic field - he has since returned to the Fortune 500 headquarters fold from which he erred and strayed into our pastures ever-so-green(wich)....)

Now, don't get me wrong - I like Caesar, and we had some good times together palling around Yale and environs shaking our tin cups on behalf of the School of Art and Architecture, of which he was then the dean. That was back in the golden days of the consulship of Bart Giamatti, under whose aegis Yale finally began to emerge from its financial doldrums. I'll never forget the time Bart gave a "state-of-the-university" address to a passel of formerly disaffected alums, impressing the hell out of them. You could practically feel the long-dormant pride in their alma mater rising in each curmudgeonly breast. At the end one of them piped up, "I though we'd be asked for money." Quick as a whip Bart said, "You have been." He brought down the house.

But we were talking of Caesar's house, not Bart's. Most of us have become inured to the corporate-style architecture and the zillion or so cubic feet of empty (read wasted) space. And the donjon-like excresence known as "The Jewel", which lacks only a moat to be right at home in the Middle Ages, still causes first-time visitors to scratch their heads. Was Caesar playing a little joke on the good burghers of Greenwich? Your scribe, at least, tends to think so.

And yet...and yet - would Sarah's picture have been possible in another setting, in other circumstances? Would she have been able to encapsulate elsewhere the essence of what it means to blog about life here in Greenwich, even capturing the attendant muse? Dubious, I think.

So thanks, Caesar, and thanks, Sarah, for giving form and color to the life of this humble blogger, who will now excuse himself to go post the result all over the Internet....

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Noble Minds and Clear Spirits

Well, yesterday in a fit of irony I told the apotheosis of John Milton that we had few if any "noble minds" or "clear spirits" in town - as well as a distinct lack of weeping shepherds. Today I thought I'd take advantage of the tiny escape hatch I left myself, and give y'all a brief glimpse of one or two minds and spirits who may fit the Miltonic model after all.

Hard though it may be to believe, there actually are some humble people in this burg who do not crave the kind of "fame" (read "celebrityhood") featured in yesterday's New York Times article. And what's interesting about some of this rare goup is that they have a lot more to boast of (were they the type to do so) than the plethora of shallow "fame" seekers who have tended to infest this town in recent years. Exempla gratia, I offer the Rev. Ken Kieffer, pastor of the local Methodist church, who hosts a weekly radio program entitled, "Keeping the Rumor of God Alive."

Now, God knows how important Ken's project is in a town where Mammon calls the tune and we erect shiny golden calves at every intersection of Greenwich Avenue. One frequently hears His name on that thoroughfare, of course, but usually taken in vain as two SUVs are jockeying to fit into one parking place. There is, thankfully, the green oasis of St. Mary RC Church midway down the Avenue, where you will often find your scribe sitting on the stone wall reading or wrestling with the double crostic; but even this sacred space has known its share of godless behavior, such as the manifold transgressions of former Msgr. Charlie Stubbs, or the mob scene that transpired at Rushton Skakel's funeral. On that occasion, the family used the "eulogy" period to hijack the service and turn it into a "free Michael" rally, culminating in the call for a standing ovation for the convicted murderer of 15-year-old Martha Moxley. Dear reader, I blush to report that everyone in that church stood up and applauded, even the priests. Only one person kept his butt glued to the pew; and I only am escaped to tell you.

But today's accent is meant to be on the positive, so let's get back to Ken Kieffer and his radio program. Ken describes his church as "a cool place with warm people," and he is one of the coolest - and warmest - people in town. His sermon titles are always catchy, and his sense of humor is rib-tickling. For him the Bible is not a 3,000-year-old fossil, but a living manual to daily life. He actually believes in the Good Book, but he doesn't hit you over the head with it, or with his own faith. Rather, he just lives that faith, and lets you see by example what a great thing it is.

Today I listened on-line to his recent radio program featuring Sarah Darer Littman, author of "Confessions of a Closet Catholic." Sarah's book, as faithful readers of this blog know, deals with young Jussy, who gives up Judaism for Lent and goes into her closet to confess her sins to her stuffed bear, Father Ted. The book has won awards from both Catholic and Jewish groups, and deservedly so. If you haven't read it yet, go get it now.

Ken and Sarah made a great on-air duo. There was warmth and wit and repartee, as well as a discussion of Mel Gibson's recent film, "The Passion of the Christ." Even though just before the release date Gibson toned down (just a tad) some of the bits in which the Jews call for Jesus' blood (while still leaving in the original Aramaic words), it was obvious to Sarah that there was a strong anti-Semitic tone to the film. Ken hadn't seen this at the time they watched it together, but in light of Gibson's latest antics offered Sarah an on-air apology and a chance to kick his shins while saying, "I told you so." Sarah allowed herself the latter, but forbore to bruise the clerical shins, thereby showing herself as capable of Christ-like behavior as the next person (who, of course, happened to be Ken himself).

Long story short, we *do* have at least a couple of noble spirits here in town, and if I can locate others I will try to let you know about them. Meanwhile, it's time for me to go off and deal with the yahoos who make life around here so much less pleasant than by rights it ought to be - if people like Ken and Sarah are to be believed.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

That Last Infirmity of Noble Mind...

It's been a week since I last felt the kiss of the Blogging Muse, who, as you all know, cannot be commanded to appear at will. Or at your will, at least - she has a mind of her own, and keeps her own schedule of play dates. Today she must have been lonely, as she has given my ear a friendly nibble.

The reason for the nibble is today's article in the New York Times Science Times section about "The Fame Motive." It appears that psychologists are only now discovering what good old John Milton knew centuries ago, that "Fame is the spur" that drives and motivates a large portion of the human race. "Money and power are handy, but millions of people want something else: fame" - so runs the blurb on the front page. Having been force-fed Milton at an early age, all I can say is, "Well, duh."

Of course, the way today's shrinks define "fame" seems a bit different from what Milton had in mind. He wanted literary immortality, hoping that his deathless prose and poetry would be read for all generations to come. For this he forswore "to sport with Amaryllis in the shade, or in the tangles of Naerea's hair," concentrating instead on learning his grammar and rhetoric. I think he would be surprised to read in this article that his idea of fame was all wet. "To swivel necks, to light a flare in others' eyes, to walk into a crowded room and feel the conversation have others care about what you're doing, even what you had for lunch..." - that, Mr. Milton, is fame in 21st century America. We've come a long way since the 17th century, baby.

Which is why I don't think Milton would be an especially happy camper in today's Greenwich, where most of our our citizens are pretty much in tune with the Times article. Everyone and their dog seem to have plenty of money and power, but they're all hung up on wanting "to be be loved" and to swivel those necks. A dowdy, frumpy Puritan would not fit in well here, and in fact might quickly wind up as road kill for our SUVs as he tried to use a crosswalk with his white cane. I know you didn't live in the easiest of times, John, but I think you can be glad you were a part of your century, not ours. We don't have much use for odists or epic poets these days; our cultural speciality is Britney Spears and rap lyrics.

So let's have no more talk of weeping shepherds or noble minds or clear spirits, Mr. Milton - we have few if any of those in town, and if you think you can become famous that way in this day and age, you're sadly mistaken. But hey - don't be depressed - a few of us still like and remember your poetry, some four hundred years on, even if we can't remember what we had for lunch.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Republicans for Lieberman?!

Well, here's a howdy-do. The latest buzz around here is that the local Republicans may ignore their own duly-appointed candidate and vote for Joe Lieberman and the Me-First Party, thereby working to ensure the defeat of the duly-elected Democratic candidate in last week's primary, Ned Lamont. Not since Teddy Roosevelt bolted to form the Bull Moose Party way back in 1912 have we here in Connecticut seen the like. I mean, Greenwich Republicans voting for a Democrat?! Unheard-of.

But Lieberman's candidacy so far has refused to die. Letters and email to his senate office about doing the decent thing and supporting the party's candidate are being bounced by a robo-mailer to his "Friends of Joe Lieberman" office in Hartford, without even the civility of a reply. One supposes that the Hartford crew are already hard at work making up a blacklist of those who are urging Jojo to stand down. Meanwhile, others who are closely tied to his apron strings are also breaking from the party line to lend their support. Case in point: James Amann (D-Milford), speaker of the CT House of Representatives, who had already indicated he would back Jojo regardless of the primary result, and has now come out and said so again.

But the most interesting aspect of all of this witches' brew is the Oz-like wizard behind the scenes who is helping to stir the cauldron. And who might that be? Well, White House spokesman Tony Snow yesterday refused to say whether the President would be supporting Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger this fall. "I'm just not going to play," said Mr. Snow to the assembled reporters, leaving open the possibility that President Bush may be hoping for another opportunity to kiss Jojo after the next State of the Union message.

Now, to be fair, there appears to be a skeleton or two in Mr. Schlesinger's closet, and it may yet be that he might step down in some other Republican's favor. So that could - and would - be a reasonable and statesmanlike reason for the lack of an official endorsement at this point. But the other scenario - that the President is not-so-secretly hoping that Lieberman can get reelected - is also a distinct possibility.

And that is the one that the Lamont camp seems to buy into; Ned's campaign manager, Tom Swan, has said: "It's been very clear since Election Day that a top priority for Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and George Bush is that Joe Lieberman is re-elected." Well, if Swan's assessment is correct, I guess we may indeed see local Republicans voting for Jojo.

But there are still some twelve weeks ahead until we all go to the polls, and much can happen in the interim. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Microphone Mouth

Well, once again, true to form, I appear to have gone all over the ionosphere without having the benefit of knowing or hearing what I said. But the reports are generally positive, so I guess the Guinness at Augie’s did a good job of lubricating the vocal chords, if nothing else. BTW, I only had two glasses of the stuff (’Struth!), but now that I look back on the scene through the rosy mists of memory, I think they may have been pint glasses. Didn’t know they had those on this side of the pond. Anyhow, it slid right down, and the words slid right out. The reporter described me as a “Greenwich blogger”, I am told, and I did my best not to disappoint. If I can find a url to my ramblings, and if they are fit for mixed company, I will try to post it here.

Meanwhile, the political scene in Greenwich continues to rise from its heretofore moribund state in truly Draculean fashion. (Did I get the Great Vowel Shift right? Or is there a better adjectival form of Bram Stoker’s immortal creation’s name?) Which is to say, now we actually have the chance to unseat some of the long-time incumbents who have been commuting to Hartford for far too long without anyone saying boo! to them. I refer specifically to State Senator William Nickerson and State Rep Claudia “Dolly” Powers. Nickerson, like Lieberman, is someone I will gladly cross the street to avoid, and whenever he barges into a conversational group of which I am a part, I simply turn and walk away. This appears to drive him nuts. So what does he do? His favorite game is to creep up behind me in the library, tap my shoulder, and say, “Hi, Bill.” Focused as I am on the computer screen in front of me, and preux chevalier that I was bred to be, I always say “Hi” back before I realize who it is. Nickerson then smirks and snickers and runs away, delighted that he has managed to get me to speak to him. This, folks, is our current state senator.

His opponent—and thankfully, there is one, for the first time since when the memory of man runneth not to the contrary—is Frank Farricker. Now, make no mistake: I would vote for a zombie in order to rid the political world of Nickerson, but happily FF is completely human and seemingly well-adjusted. I do not foresee him lurking in libraries and ambushing the voting public in order to get an inadvertent word of greeting. Rather, I see him doing his best to preserve the character of Greenwich, North Stamford, and New Canaan against the marauders who would despoil them in pursuit of the riches of Mammon (did I mention that Nickerson is reportedly a major player in the local real estate market?). FF held an opening shindig for his new headquarters in Riverside last night, and although we all sweltered in the close-packed room, the feelings and the karma were good. Being a member of the ABN (anybody but Nickerson) party, I was pleased to know that the voters of Greenwich finally have a choice—and a good one, at that—in the state senate race.

Also present was Ed Krumeich, who is running to unseat the aforementioned “Dolly” Powers (another local pol who has been in office far too long). “Doll’s” voting record on the environment, and just about every other issue of local importance, can only be described as abysmal. I have long been a member of the ABD party, but until Ed stepped forward, all I could do was scratch her name off my ballot in protest. She’s a parvenue from California, and one could only wish that she would go back there and leave us alone.

Ed, by contrast, has long and deep roots in the community. He’s a lawyer (though we shouldn’t hold that against him, since it shows he’s ten times smarter than the “Doll”), and more to the point, he knows how to sing and perform in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Clearly he has the skill set necessary to tap dance successfully up in the opera bouffe we call our State Legislature in Hartford, and since he will be a Democrat among Democrats (they control the chamber), I suspect he will get a great deal more done for our town than the “Doll” as an ineffectual token Republican ever did. Does that make sense to you? It does to me.

So, folks, as Greenwich goes, so goes the nation. The status quo is being challenged, and the impetus is emanating right from here. Ned Lamont throws a stone into the pond, and Lieberman is unseated. Snickerson and the “Doll” may be next. The winds and tides of change are afoot, as Bulwer-Lytton might have written, and it may be that the dark and stormy night of the past will give way to a new and glorious dawn in which Greenwich shows the country, and perhaps the world, that there is an alternative to the sad history of the last six years. Deo volente.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Greenwich Wins the Bill Clark Challenge!

I must admit I am impressed...according to yesterday's LR report, some 51% of our local voters *did* make it to the polls. So my somewhat tart comments of two days ago do not apply to them. But as for the other 49%...shame on you, and try to do better in November.

Your local roving scribe went to the Lamont victory party at Augie's on Tuesday night. The place was jammed, and the noise level deafening. Channel 12 did only a so-so job of reporting - the results were updated very slowly, it seemed to me. A reporter from NPR stuck a microphone in my face and asked me to share some opinions with the world at large, which is something I am always happy to do. But the Guinness at Augie's is strong, and although my pronunciamentos seemed brilliant at the time, I'm not exactly sure what they were. Did anyone happen to listen to NPR that night? Did I make a complete and utter ass of myself?

One of the dangers of being a boulevardier here in Greenwich is the profusion of microphones. Many a time I have heard from a friend in the midwest or on the left coast saying that they saw me on TV. From eulogizing Dottie Bush to spouting off re: the occasional PowerBall invasions, yours truly always has a choice word or two to offer. And on a slow news day, guess what? - it gets spread all over the ionosphere. If aliens really are listening in to our human babble, they must be scratching their little green heads, IMHO.

Now we will have to wait and see whether the rest of my Ned Lamont predictions come true. Will the power structure of the Democratic party lean on Lieberman and get him to withdraw his independent candidacy? Because if he siphons enough votes away from Lamont, it's entirely conceivable that the senate seat could go to the Republicans instead. Thus I still believe that Lieberman will eventually see the light - either that, or he will marginalize himself so much that he will not be a serious contender come November.

And then, of course, it's "Mr. Lamont Goes to Washington." I should probably mention the fact that I emailed Bill Richardson about six months ago recommending Ned as a running mate, and if Bill likes that idea, it may be that Ned winds up as VP before making a run for the top. The crystal ball is still a little murky, but by and large I stand by my predictions of Big Things Ahead for Ned.

And now it's time to start the daily round of small things ahead for Bill....

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

With Bated Breath and Muffled Oar...

...we're all awaiting the outcome of the Lamont-Liberman senate race. The final poll showed Lieberman making up some lost ground, but Lamont still in the lead. The Secretary of the State (CT, naturally) says a slew of new and unaffiliated voters have recently registered for the primary, and she expects a record or near-record turnout. Inasmuch as the primary is being held earlier than usual, during the dog days of August rather than in early September, many people have requested absentee ballots; and in fact a delay in sending out those ballots means that the results may not be finally and officially known until August 25. But that eventuality is unlikely, as today's result would have to be razor-thin to send the contest into overtime.

So, you may wonder, what constitutes a record turnout? According to the LR, the usual primary turnout is around 25%, but this one is expected to be about 40%. So where, I hear you ask, are the other 60-75%?

Good question. It seems the majority of Americans would rather leave the choice of their leadership to someone else. Why is that, do you suppose? Are most Americans inherently lazy and indifferent? Can they not find a few minutes to drive a few miles to the nearest polling place? For the non-drivers, is is too difficult to pick up the phone and call for a ride to the polls? The weather is not an excuse today: it's bright and sunny and warm but not hot or humid - perfect high-summer weather. Geez, on a day like this one, you could even walk to the polls!

But the fact remains that 60% of those eligible to vote in this primary will not do so. I find that a sad commentary on a state that is one of the wealthiest and best-educated in the nation. It's one thing to sell your birthright for a mess of pottage - at least you get a good meal out of it - but it's something else entirely just to ignore it and let it fust unused. No wonder they say that Americans get the government they deserve....

On the microcosmic level, will Greenwich voters beat, meet, or fall short of the state-wide participation average? I'll be interested to find out tomorrow. My guess is that a lot of locals will in fact do their civic duty today, largely because we have a hometown horse in this race. But I'll still bet we don't hit 50% participation.

Go ahead, Greenwich - prove me wrong. Show me and the rest of the world that you *do* care about matters other than golf dates, play dates, and salon appointments. Demonstrate that you have a commitment to something higher than your bank balance. Show the world that the values of good citizenship are not dead in this corner of Fairfield County.

Or not. Stay home, or drive your SUV all over town everywhere but to the polls. Spend hours on your cell phone, and fritter away your day, so that you can tell everyone tomorrow how you really meant to vote but simply couldn't find the time. And then be sure to complain loudly and long the next time local, state, or national goverment does something that doesn't meet with your whole-hearted approval.

After all, over half of your fellow countrymen do exactly the same. Ain't America wonderful?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Portents of the Latest Poll: Will Lamont Go the Distance?

Well, according to the local rag, the Lamont-Lieberman race is all over but the shouting...oh, yeah, let's not forget the voting, too. But Ned clearly has the "big mo", as well as the endorsement of the Gray Lady. The LR, natch, is backing Lieberman, but that's only because they can't ever seem to get anything right in that paper.

So what will happen in November? Can Ned win a three-way race with Lieberman as the spoiler? I think so. Here's why:

Lieberman will tick off so many people with his "Joe first" platform that there will be an organized backlash among Connecticut Democrats to squelch what remains of his tattered candidacy. Remember how he wanted to have it both ways six years ago, staying on the ballot for senator even while running for vice president? People weren't too pleased about that, and will, I suspect, be even less pleased by his so-called "independent" candidacy. Lieberman independent?! It is to laugh....

Thus the great majority of Connecticut Democrats will, I predict, vote for Ned in November. And since CT has more Dems than Reps, that alone should give him a majority. But let's not forget the many registered Republicans (::ahem::) who will undoubtedly vote for him as well. They will, IMHO, provide the icing on the cake of what should be a strong and convincing victory for Ned.

But wait, there's more. When I chose the headline for this post, I was already looking past November. With all the national attention this race has attracted, what will happen once "Mr. Lamont goes to Washington"? Will the inevitable comparisons with JFK be drawn? You betcha. Youthful, charismatic, you think the Democrats will have the good sense to glom onto Ned as a standard bearer in the next national election? They'd be fools not to.

For Gore is a goner, and Lieberman a has-been. There's Kerry, who can play the RC card as Kennedy did, but who may be excommunicated by, Benedict...for his liberal stance on social issues. Besides, he went to the wrong college...the last thing we need right now is another Yalie as president, wouldn't you agree?

Ned will be 54 in another two years, which means he could devote the prime of his life to trying to fix the problems of this country, and those with whom we have been messing for the last decade or two. He could then retire at 62, take partial Social Security (just to show that he fixed that problem, too), and write his memoirs. Or, more likely, go back to running his company and doing good in the local and international community.

Well, there you have it, folks: the crystal-ball scenario for the next decade of our national life. Just remember, you read it here first!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It's August in Greenwich...Where is Everyone?

Well, I'll give you a clue: not here. When I got to Town Hall yesterday, there was *no line* at all. Astounding. The day before (7/31) the wait was over an hour and a half, according to the two clerks on duty (the third was on a coffee break, of course). One can posit two reasons for this phenomenon: 1) people don't read the fine print on their tax bills, which says that you have until August 1st to pay without penalty; or 2) it is social death to be seen in town during the month of August.

Both explanations no doubt have some validity, but the latter one probably prevails. We all know that Parisians are wont to "foutre le camp" during August, and of late the same has been true here in Greenwich as well. Which is a tad odd, as the amenities here - beaches, islands, ferryboats, concerts in the park by the water, etc. - are equal if not superior to those available almost anywhere else. To me, this has always been the kind of place I want to come to during August, not get away from. But we do have a large French-speaking community in town (and a very active chapter of the Alliance Francaise), so perhaps they have persuaded their American friends that being in town this month is simply not comme il faut.

Which is why when I went to Greenwich Avenue yesterday to buy the soon-to-be-rare First Edition of Diana Peterfreund's book, there were a gazillion empty parking places. Of the many dozen available near the bookstore, I chose a nicely shaded one with time still left on the meter. I almost parked parallel to the curb, thereby taking up three spaces, just because I could. But with my luck, one of the sub-human specimens of the GG would come along while I was in the bookstore and rustle up a tow truck to disappear my car on a charge of improper parking, or some such. So I stayed between the pretty white lines and abided by the applicable laws and regulations (except the one that says you are technically not allowed to use someone else's leftover meter time - you're supposed to put in your own quarter. Note: the more recently-installed parking meters automatically reset themselves to "expired" when they sense a car pulling out of the space - after all, Greenwich needs the money - ::cough, cough::).

Anyhow, let me encourage any and all to come to town while the arrivistes and parvenus are out of the way (guess I'm in a Francophone mood/mode today). Most of the locals are still here, and it's almost like we have our town back again, just like in the good old pre-yuppy days.

Today is another scorcher, hotter even than yesterday. And just to show that my comment then about Greenwich not being immune from power outages is true, the radio this morning said that 200 homes in the burg were juiceless as of 7 AM. The library (one of our four, in this case the main one) has turned off about half the overhead lights as a nod in the direction of energy conservation. So I have moved to a computer nearer to the windows, where I can watch all the smoke-spewing diesel trucks and gas-guzzling SUVs go by. Let it not be said that Greenwich does not contribute more than its fair share to the greenhouse effect....

Alas, it is now time for me to go out and play in the heat and the traffic. Each is bad enough by itself, but the combination is more execrable than words can describe. And there seems to be no end in sight: the weather may eventually cool off by December or thereabouts, but the traffic simply gets worse, week by week, month by month. If one extrapolates the trends of the past 20 years or so, it is clear that total gridlock will prevail in about 20 more. Maybe *then* the town fathers will finally listen to my long-standing proposal that we ban cars from the downtown area and bring back the trolleys we used to have - just as many European cities have done in their central business districts. Imagine Greenwich Avenue as a pedestrian mall - wouldn't it be great? No more fistfights over parking places, no more spandex mommies in their SUVs idling in the lanes of travel waiting for a lesser mortal to vacate a space, no more meter feeding to rent the primo spots for half a day or more. Why, even the locals might start coming back to Greenwich Avenue to shop.

For the time being, however, we tend to quote Yogi Berra: no one goes there anymore - it's too crowded. (Except, of course, in August - I wonder if some of the chic boutiques hanging by an economic thread may finally wake up to the fact that paying $100+ per square foot to some rapacious landlord is not a guarantee of untold riches for life. Even some of the chains have recently begun to leave the Avenue - what a great reversal of the trend of the past several decades! Maybe there's still some hope that Greenwich will avoid the fate of Westport and other towns that have recently turned into outdoor malls....)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hot, Hot, Hot!

We're talking the weather here, of course - I just wanted to let you all know that Greenwich does not enjoy any special immunity from the excruciating heat and humidity that have been wet-blanketing much of the country. We even, as you know from a previous post, get our share (if not more) of the power outages that seem increasingly to be a part of life in the 21st century. The only redeeming feature of living and paying taxes here in Greenwich is that you get to ride the ferryboats for the price of a beach card and $2 a pop. At this time of year, they're the coolest non-airconditioned places in town.

Speaking of taxes, today is the last day to get down to Town Hall and fork over without incurring a penalty. This is the day when everyone gets to rub shoulders with everyone else while we wait in line. Last year I stood with Marlyn Tsai, ex-wife of Gerry Tsai of Wall Street fame, who indignantly showed me her large five-figure check for the tax on her beautiful Byram Shore property. Marlyn pays, according to the local rag, the highest assessed tax on a single residential property here in Greenwich (if you could see the incredible views from her house, you would know why). I, on the other hand, owe all of $8.18 this year. But we both got to stand in the same slow-moving line and be waited on by the same municipal employees who probably relish this day as their one chance to impress us with their importance. It's not that the line doesn't move - it does, of course - but one always has the impression that it could move faster if fewer clerks were taking less frequent coffee breaks.

As someone other than myself may possibly have noticed, I finally have received some comments on my prior posts. Thanks, saraclaradara! (And, BTW, what *were* your parents thinking when they named you?) Sarah is presently in Merrie Olde England, so part of what I write here is to keep her up to date on events in her home town. God forbid she lose touch with the momentous events of our daily life here on the other Greenwich Meridian.

Sarah has recently received a national award for her book, "Confessions of a Closet Catholic" - way to go, Sarah! For those of you who haven't read it yet, the heroine, Jussy, gives up Judaism for Lent and goes into her closet to confess to her stuffed bear, AKA "Father Ted". The story is tender, touching, and riotously funny. And, as I have already told you, phenomenally well-written.

Speaking of literary phenomena, Diana Peterfreund's brand-new book, "Secret Society Girl", has sold out in less than two weeks and is going into a second printing. Don't say I didn't alert you to this possibility in my very first venture into the blogosphere (see below). BTW, I find it curious that Diana's book was originally titled "Confessions of a Secret Society Girl" - and yet neither she nor Sarah know each other, or have read each other's book. Weird, huh? Gives some credence to the old saw that great minds think alike. Anyhow, congratulations to them both.

Vignette of the day: as I was jay-walking down Greenwich Avenue to the post office this morning, a squad car pulled up to me and the driver asked, "Would you like a bottle of water, Mr. Clark?" Not quite what I expected to hear, natch. Anyhow, I thanked him kindly and said I was staying well-hydrated, and he moved off to hand out bottles to the cops directing traffic on the Avenue. Some of you may possibly have received the impression that I view the GG with a jaundiced eye...I thought you should know that there are a few human beings among them.

Well, guess what - it's time to get my butt over to Town Hall, or I might incur a late fee of $2.00. In this weather, maybe that's not such a bad price to pay to stay off the streets. But then, I wouldn't be able to report on who my lucky next-in-linemate is this year, and that would be a pity. So here I go, filling my lungs with cool air before venturing out into the blast furnace....