Saturday, February 23, 2008

Local Happenings and Non-Happenings

It's been a busy/non-busy couple of days here in Greentown. Busy, because there is new news to chew on. Non-busy, because the Town was bascially shut down yesterday.

In the new news sector, Scott Frantz has decided to run for Skippy Snickerson's state senate seat. This is basically good news, because Scott is the kind of intelligent and motivated person that we need many more of in our political landscape, both local and national. He helped start the Arch Street Teen Center, flies kids ill with cancer in his private plane to medical clinics for treatment, is active with the Boys' and Girls' Club, is chairman of Bradley International Airport, and is involved with the ill-fated Hartford Civic Center, the roof of which fell in because of heavy snow just over thirty years ago, on January 18, 1978. Your scribe, flying out of Bradley to Chicago that morning, looked down on the scene from several thousand feet - just a big black hole where the roof used to be.

So Scott's candidacy is welcome news, although it was a bit of a slap in the face to Janet Lockton, who had just filed her papers a few days before his announcement. Being the gracious lady she is, she will now be withdrawing said papers, but she has to feel a tad whipsawed here.

Also feeling whipsawed are many members and friends of Christ Church, especially those who have had children in its outstanding musical program. The former music director, Bob Tate, was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison on Thursday, and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine. Each time the case has come back to the courtroom, more bombshells have been revealed by the prosecutor. It now appears that a former assistant organist from the 1970s with a known history of pedophilia molested a choirboy here in Greenwich, and two former choir men are alleged to have done the same. This is sad news for all those who are grateful to Bob for the superb musical training their children received under his aegis; one hopes that all the bad news is now out, and the community can begin to heal again.

Meanwhile, a pesky winter snowstorm bascially shut down the Town yesterday. The public schools are on vacation this week, and the private schools all decided to close to give their students an early start on their vacation week. The local radio station, always the best place to go for the latest misinformation, stated that the main library and its branches would be closing at noon. Your scribe therefore hastened to get there at 9, only to find out a sign on the door saying the library would OPEN at noon. So much for WGCH - World's Greatest Communications Hoax.

Of course, when your scribe returned at noon, there was another note on the door, now saying that the library would remain closed all day. This, of course, is the same library that tried to rescind permission for a forum to which a few people objected. When the library's attorney said this would very likely violate the speaker's First Amendment rights, they did a second about-face. Attendance at the two presentations was considerably higher than it would have been without the library's gaffe - as a friend of your scribe's said to him, "What were they thinking?!" Obviously, there isn't a whole lot of clear thinking that goes on in the board and administration of the library, but hey - it's been that way for decades, so why should things change in the 21st century?

It was interesting to walk down Greenwich Avenue yesterday and notice all the dark storefronts. The snowfall wasn't all that heavy - less than six inches - but the snowplows had not cleared the parking spaces, so it wasn't exactly the best day on which to shop. The few stores that were open were devoid of customers. Between school vacations and the weather, one would guess that February will be a disastrous month for most of the chain stores on the Avenue; your scribe, however, will not be shedding any tears for them. In his opinion, the sooner they go away and stay away, the better.

Now it's time to go out and see what the lay of the land is today. Things are probably back to near-normal, whatever that may mean in this Town; "normal" in Greenwich often means the opposite of what it does in most other communities, where they tend to obey red lights and stop signs and drive sensibly and speak politely and otherwise follow the norms of the civilized world. Here, of course, all bets are off. "Do it unto them before they do it unto you" is the unwritten rule of the road - and not just when behind the wheel. It was not always thus, dear reader, and of course there are many in Town who are better behaved than the parvenus and nouveaux-riches who have been flocking here in recent decades. Unfortunately, however, a community tends to be judged by its worst-behaved citizens, not its best; and thus the phrase "Greenwich entitlement" has come to summarize for all too many the "me-first" attitude of the arrivistes.

In the old days, Greenwich required letters of good character before allowing people to move in and become citizens of the Town. It's a pity that fine old custom has lapsed. Now anybody who wants to can move to Town, tear down a historic structure, build an ugly McMansion, and drive a Hummer while talking on their cell phone or texting on their BlackBerry. After all, they're entitled - just ask them, they'll tell you so in no uncertain terms.


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