Excerpt from a New Book about Greenwich 28, (draft)


I woke up nearly French kissing a slender nine-month-old black lab named Pepper who, despite our being only recently acquainted, had taken a true liking to my side of my bed, and as a result, to me.  Pepper was large for his age, which meant he was only going to get larger, but for the moment he was still small enough to fit atop the mattress and yet big enough to muscle me around.  I have always been lax about dogs sleeping on my bed; it must be some kind of ancient Viking gene in there that still found the use in such behavior.

          I had already had one run-in with this lovable beast.  He had a funny way of snuggling up to you just minutes after committing some treacherous act.  In this case after violating my toiletry kit and chewing on my toothbrush as if it were a finger bone.  That was the kind of dog Pepper was, and I had grown to like him; otherwise I never would have let him sleep with me…not on the first date at least.

            Does this kind of lascivious behavior go on in the town ofGreenwich?   Quite possibly, but I could quite tell you because we weren’t even there.  In the end, we did go upstate toWest Simsbury, and we did make it without a hassle, and we did join our dear friends Vicente and Joan and their kids and a friend of the family’s and ate a wonderful turkey and drank lots of wine and cava (Spanish sparkling wine), and shared plenty of memories.  We did make merry until our bodies dropped…which was about 12:15 am.  Pathetic, isn’t it?  Things aren’t just what they used to be, and inAmerica, where most finish their dinner hours before midnight, fighting off sleepiness to ring in the New Year becomes a formidable challenge for anyone over the age of 35.  It was a great time, I tell you, and since we were a bunch of cheeky bastards, as the British would say, we even offered to sleep over at the place with the excuse “it would be more fun that way!”

       That was where Pepper came in.  The peppy pup was the newest addition to the family after a rather tough year of losses in the domestic animal department.  The list of casualties included two dogs, a cat, a handful of chickens and maybe a horse, if I could recall.  Pepper was at that cute but slightly dopey age, socially awkward and trying to make friends in anyway possible.  As you already know, he wasn’t doing a very good job of it. Sucking on someone’s toothbrush is not becoming of a host, and I don’t care if he’s got four legs, hair, floppy ears and likes to hump stranger’s on the leg.  You just don’t so that.  But I am spineless when it comes to dogs, so I forgave him.

          I went on line and took a look at the Greenwich Time website to find out the latest on the death of that girl, with the remote hope the Time would produce anything substantial.  After all, it was a death in its hometown, so I guess it had no choice but to come up with an explanation.

         Murder.  It was murder.  I suppose we knew it all along, but still the authorities had to make sure they had the facts straight before they jumped to any conclusions.  Made sense.  The Greenwich police had a history of being especially clumsy and slow-footed when it came to solving violent crimes, in part, I have no doubt, because there are so few they have to deal with.  That can make for some pitiful investigating.  Posterior analysis of the Martha Moxley case, for example, left experts dumbfounded as to how in the name of God the members of the local law enforcement could have screwed up in so many ways.  According to some, the police could have solved the case in a matter of weeks at the most.  Instead, it took twenty-five years and a conviction based on the flimsiest circumstantial evidence the judicial system has ever seen or heard.

        So why did the bungle it so badly?  I told you, they hadn’t had to solve one in decades years.  How the hell were they supposed to know?  You don’t just go to homicide school, pick up a few tips and say, “Bring on the psychos, I’m ready.”  There is nothing like on-the-job training to get the necessary experience and knowhow.  Not that they learned much from the Moxely case.  Ten years later on August 31, 1986 young Matthew Margolies of the Pemberwick-Glenville section ofGreenwich(a sweet, low-key part of town) disappeared on his way home.  The circumstances were eerily similar.  A youth, a neighborhood full of families, a wayward walk home, a frantic search.  This is time it took nearly five days for the boy to turn up beneath a pile of leaves with several stab wounds in his belly.  The Greenwich Police had checked there several times but didn’t spot him and figured he had to be somewhere else.  It took a former investigator with a little sixth sense (or maybe a proper usage of his five senses) that led to the child’s discovery.   To this day no official suspect has even come close to being charged; and believe me, a little research shows that the Greenwich Police Department had plenty to work with.  How this could be boggles me to no end.

        This time, though, they managed to bag the case in a matter of hours, though there wasn’t much to it since the culprit basically led them to the body.  Here’s how it went:  In the backcountry section where the famed large Greenwich estates get so big they look like prep schools, there was a sizable property owned by a hedge fund mogul named Donald Sussman.  Apparently Mr. Sussman was one of the first to make it big with this newfangled style of investing known as the hedge fund, and I applaud him because not only does it take a lot to come up with strategy like that, it strains the brain just to figure out what the hell it is all about.  It seems as if all of my friends are into hedge funds, and not one can really tell me how they work.  The minute I ask the question, a kind of blank expression overcomes their faces and they stare out into the distance morosely the way veteran primary school teachers do.  Mr. Sussman clearly had a good grasp on things and he did it very well.

         But let’s not get into that because the poor man had little to do with this tragic event.  His only crime was being a very affluent resident in a very affluent town, and couple that with a violent crime and what you get is a Class A news item.  And a very large property, so big, it required live-in service, including a gardener.  This brings us to the deed itself…and its protagonists.

        The live-in landscaper, Adam Dobrzanski (that “brz” combination I find particularly challenging to pronounce), was a Polish man who had come to this country with his wife and two children just a few years ago.  My guess was that it was to start a new life and search for happiness through the American dream.  Well, things haven’t turned out so well for him, or his family.  He literally lost all grip on his sanity and killed his 20-year-old daughter in such a brutal way it breaches the wall of all that is rational, reasonable and conceivable.  He slit her throat.

        Ironically, the initial concern surrounded the wellbeing of the father, as he had whizzed off frantic text messages to his wife that he was going to do himself in.  Her name was Renata.  Where was she at the time?  Well, in the Caribbean with the Sussmans who were on Christmas vacation.  What was she doing there? Well, she was the family housekeeper, and was probably there to do the cooking and help out in any way.  But that wasn’t all.  She had also filed for divorce two weeks earlier, and it would seem that this troubled personal story involving a troubled husband led to the family’s demise.   Adam Dobrzanski, it would seem, lost it.

       The police rushed to the scene fearing for Adam’s life, which turned out to be genuine because when they found the man he really had tried to kill himself about a dozen different ways, but hadn’t managed anything better than a bloody mess.  It was when the semi-conscious Dobrzanski muttered something about his daughter that the police set off a frantic house-wide search. They found her, but it was too late.

        Imagine being on the plane taking the family back and having to spend those hours thinking about the only reason you are making the trip is to go to the town morgue to identify your dead, 20-year-old daughter who has just had her throat slit by your husband…that is…her father?   I am sure that woman has lost all sense of time and space and dimension.  Her world had become shapeless, never quite defined; never quite together.  I sighed and felt like I didn’t want to talk aboutGreenwichanymore for a while.  This no longer had to do with a town.  Happy fuckin’ New Year.

Excerpt from a new book about Greenwich, 26 (draft)

Still December 31st.

Blue Laws

Now the media were getting all pumped up again because the death took place on a huge backcountry estate in Greenwich and had all the makings of a good scandal.  Details were sketchy, but just from the initial reports, the whole scene sounded good and grisly.  I rubbed my hands with anticipation and grinned, but I would have to wait and see.

         So, I focused my attention on the rest of the day which was being constructed on certain uncertainty, thanks to the current atmospheric conditions.  The storm was moving north which just happened to be the direction we were heading in, so for once I used my noggin a bit and decided to wait a few hours to see if things cleared up.

         In the meantime, I went to buy the Greenwich Time to check out what it had to say about the end of the year.  I walked down to the deli, flipped the bird at dog on the way (mainly because it was inside and out of sight), purchased that day’s edition, bid a happy New Year to the owners and returned.  I got to the doorstep and kicked off as best as I could the snow from the rubber canyons of the soles of my boots and walked in, only to pull them off again, sit down at the dining room table and set the expanse of the newspaper fully on the glass surface.

        Considering it was the last day of the year, the headlines were extraordinarily dull, as if it were the 17th of Boredemder or Tedium Tuesday. Here’s what I laid my eyes upon:

  • UnionReaches Vote Threshold.  Yawn.
  • Brushing Up on Painting Techniques. Yawn and groan.
  • YMCA nears funding goal.  Slap in the face.
  • Man dies after being tasered by police. This was not in Greenwich so it doesn’t count.
  • Lawmakers may consider wine sales in supermarkets. Bingo!

        Now that last one is what I called news!  Good news!  Long overdue news!  It turned out the state would probably give in because it could foresee a long-term revenue advantage built into the whole plan, but the rest of us believed it as something that should have happened long ago.  Then again, this was Connecticut, and things don’t always moved forward that quickly.  For example, alcohol, up until just a few years ago, could not be sold after eight and never on Sundays.  Now the closing time has been raised an hour, and the Lord’s-day thing seems destined to be shelved with all of those other former-sabbath prohibitions.

     But it sure took a while, trust me.  These religiously-based rules were called blue laws and Connecticut was notorious for them.  In fact the first mention of them in written form had to do with the rigid legislation that reigned in this state.   Some laws may have resulted in many a dreary Sunday afternoon watching the game while sipping on a glass of water, but after looking at the way things were run around here back in Colonial times, you definitely get the feeling the state has loosened up over the years.  For example, as a child you could legally be put to death for swearing or refusing to sweep the floor.  To me, that makes staring at a closed sign on the liquor store appear almost refreshing.

       The good thing about living in Greenwich, though, was that you could always cross the border into Port Chester, New York and buy booze basically at any time you want, then run it back.  Our neighboring state is generous and more flexible in that sense.  In fact, it seems to me that there was little that you couldn’t do around the clock there.  Some call it shameless, others reckless, and even others opportunistic;  we just called it lucky.

     The big place to buy at was this dumpy-looking but effective warehouse called WestConn, which still exists by the way.  The second choice was Cumberland Farms, one of the first true convenience stores in the area.  The Farms was a last resort because it jacked up its prices in standard screw-you-because-we-can-do-it-since-we’re-the-only-ones-open fashion.  It also purveyed all of those hazardous frozen cooked foods from the 1970s and 1980s that most likely have been responsible for the death of a generation or two since.

     WestConn was the main aim, though, and also where you got your kegs for the parties when getting kegs for teenagers was not so frowned upon.  Families actually supported it.  Hell, parents practically pumped the taps for the guests. I remember my older sisters and brothers throwing some of the biggest shindigs in town.  It was the kind of status that, back in the 1970s, made you proud to be a Murdock.  The police would sometimes come and politely but firmly ask us to tone things down, turn a blind eye to the dozens of wasted teens stumbling off to their cars, and when all was settled down, go back to the public school parking lots and hang out…or whatever else they did at night in those days.  In fact, having the local authorities sweep in to break up the crowd was a unquestionable sign of success.  It meant we would be the talk of school on Monday.

      They often came because one of our neighbors would always complain.  He was a self-contained kind of person who owned two nasty German Shepherds called Lothar and Himmler, or some name like that.  Most balls that floated onto their property were left there forever as acknowledgement that no toy was worth getting neutered for.

       By the time I was of the age to have my own parties, drinking laws had changed fairly radically, with the brunt of responsibility falling heavily on the owner of the home, namely my parents; that curtailed almost all activity on a legal level.  Which doesn’t mean we didn’t have parties; we just had to go underground.  I authored two major clandestine events.  One was in winter when snow covered the lawn.  The side of the driveway was full of incriminating tire tracks.  Some even curved around trees.  The morning after, as I gazed out the front yard, I pondered the situation calmly but with a degree of desperation stirring inside.  This was not going to be easy to explain.  I gave it some thought and came up with one of those unsound Grinchy ideas.   That was it!  What if…

        On paper it was a risky and last-ditch effort to salvage a lost cause.  I went to the garage and returned with a shovel and, this is the honest to God truth, started to fill in dozens of wheel tracks.  The finished product looked like, well, a lot of wheel tracks sloppily filled in with snow.   I leaned on the handle of my shovel and surveyed the results of my endeavors.  It looked like crap and there was no way in hell my parents weren’t going to nab me.  In fact, had they arrived at that moment I most certainly would have been writing these lines from a jail cell as my father, being a lawyer, would have dug up some old blue law which entailed a life sentence.

          It was hopeless, unless I got lucky and my parents return flight got delayed two weeks.  Other than that, I just couldn’t see myself pulling it off.  In fact, as I drove off to a friend’s house, I made tentative plans to seek adoption should the need arise.  It didn’t.  You see, it could not have been a sunnier day, but it was also very windy, and the blustery weather effectively swept the tracks clean, like a desert.  By afternoon, no easily detectable evidence could be found.  Only the most experienced manhunter would have possibly noticed something, and, even then, maybe not.  Mother Nature had saved my ass.

        Years later when we lived up in Darien and I tried it again, she would kick it.  This time it was summer and it was raining all day.  I even considered calling it off, but we were all in the mood, so we said what the hell.  Well, muddy soil is a far more difficult terrain to control, and I awoke the next day to go to work, I knew I was a challenge because the backyard looked like one of those battlefields in France during World War I.  It was as if Mother Nature was telling me, “You know, Brian, you are one big dumb fuck.  And this time I’m going to make you pay for it.”

       The first to nail us was Mary Jones, the housekeeper, who had no reason to be up at that time or day, or even that day at all, but had lived with us far too long to know what was going on.  She went through the roof and I took a shellacking as a result.  But that was just the beginning of it.  Luckily for me I had to go to work and missed the arrival of my parents whose irate eruption, from what I understand, would have triggered a tsunami had it taken place on the shore.  I got my share when I got home, and a well-deserved one.  That party would end up being the final full-fledged Murdock party in history…the end of an era.

erpt from a New Book about Greenwich 25 (draft)


Now, if you are unfamiliar with the story, it is hard to sum it up in just a few lines, after all, three books and two movies have either discussed the story or been based on it, but I will kind of boil it down for those of you.  The main suspect was a dashing, reckless and attractive youth by the name of Tommy Skakel, who happened to be the nephew of Ethel Skakel, Robert Kennedy’s widowed wife.  That was what made it especially newsworthy.  That is where all the attention came from.  The Kennedy connection.

        Ethel was raised in Greenwich, and she and Robert said their nuptial vows at St. Mary’s Church on Greenwich Avenue in 1950.

        Her brother Rushton also lived in town with his children, practically next door to Martha.  His wife Anne died of cancer at the age of 42 in 1973, leaving him in charge of seven children he never really knew how to manage in the first place.  That event was said to have sent the now infamous Skakel rowdiness into an abysm.  Tommy was believed to have had a particularly troubled childhood.

       In any event, as the focus of the investigation began to center on him, so rose the interest in the case.  People seemed to feel that his wild nature made him the only real candidate, but there were other suspects.  After all, an unmonitored teenager with issues doesn’t necessarily have to vent his frustrations out by taking a 6-iron to a young girl’s head.

       There was another sibling named Michael who was also considered a suspect, but deemed to young at the time to have performed an act which required unusual strength and violence.  Michael was quieter, more introspective, and on the surface, less unruly.  But he was known to possess a sadistic coldness in his treatment of animals and could be thrown into fits of rage when he snapped.  In short, he was a potential psychopath and a motherless one at that.

       He also had an inferiority complex towards his brother the size of horse and was infatuated with Martha, who fell for the older and more confident Tommy.  These were certainly classic sibling rivalry issues which did not have to result in such a horrible outcome for the girl.  But they were conceivably valid circumstances and motives that might lead to a murder all the same.  The thing is, no one seemed to put two and two together and the case died on the investigative vine.  For about ten years.

       In those years the Moxley murder received a lot of attention for its ties with America’s royal family, and the insinuation that the rich clan was able to outwit the authorities.  How it managed to literally get away with murder, but the investigation was also heavily criticized by experts for its sloppiness.  The Greenwich police department took flak for being over its head in the case, as it had no real experience handling these affairs.  This was fair enough.  They had proceeded correctly in many ways but they had also committed several crucial errors, such as practically befriending the Skakel family and catering to its generosity unaware that they were cavorting with the doers of the deed.  When the sons became prime suspects, one of the nation’s wealthiest families suddenly shut up like a clam.

         Despite not having been formally accused, the Skakel boys earned a reputation for being a pair of crazied kids.  I remember my childlike ears being spooked by my friend once telling us “Don’t go down that way, the Skakel boys live on that street”, which wasn’t true by the way.  Then we heard a branch crack in the woods and that sent us screaming and bolting down the road towards home.  It was sort of the Boo Radley effect.

        Time went by, and we all thought the case was closed forever.  Then, one of those extraordinary events of irony occurred.

        Years after the events, when it seemed that the murder would go unsolved forever, an entirely separate set of events brought it out into public viewing once again, and this time more than ever.  Down inFlorida, the nephew of the Kennedy clan was charged with rape on the family compound and it was, for a time, thought that he might have had something to do with the Moxley death.  As it turned out, he didn’t.  But the rumor did bring renewed attention to the case, which was compounded by a novelized bestseller based on the crime written by Dominique Dunne.

        In an attempt to exonerate his children once and for all, Rushton hired some private investigators to prepare a detailed report on the events so that they would prove his children’s innocence.  Good idea?  Nope.

       The new report revealed relatively little new except for one fairly startling point: the Skakel boys (now men) had changed their stories notably, and on some very important issues.  For instance, Michael suddenly “appeared” at the scene of the crime, when for years he had claimed he was at his cousin’s house across town.  That proved very suspicious indeed.  This was just about the tie when experts began to formally discard Tommy as the perpetrator and centered their efforts on Michael’s movements that fateful evening.  Rushton had inadvertently made things worse.   When Mark Furmon of the O.J. Simpson trial got involved and wrote a book openly accusing Michael as the only possible doer of the crime, pressure began to build.  A case was presented against him andMichael was finally indicted, tried and convicted on June 7, 2002, nearly twenty-seven years after the murder.

       I will say that, even though I feel it is very, very possible that Michael committed the crime, rarely have I seen a person declared guilty on such a wealth of flimsy circumstantial evidence.  Honestly, I have combed all sorts of sources in search for that bit of hard proof that makes me say, “That’s it!  The little bastard did it!”  But as hard as I try, I have never fully understood it.  Even the sum doesn’t add up.  I’ve seen suspects get off with much more going against them.  They even tried him as an adult when the crime was allegedly wrought when Michael was a minor.  It’s as if society was going to make up for its mistakes no matter how weak its arguments were.  A Skakel boy needed to pay dues for Martha to rest peacefully.  And I’m saying this convinced that the right guy is in jail.

        Now the media were getting all pumped up again because the death took place on a huge backcountry estate in Greenwich and had all makings of a good scandal.  Details were sketchy, but just from the initial reports, the whole scene sounded about good and grisly.  I would have to wait and see.

Excerpt from a New Book on Greenwich 23 (draft)

Dec 31st

You really have to hand it to The Weather Channel when it comes to miscalling the 24-hour forecast.  They seem to excel at the skill.  One person told me, in defense of this guild, that they get it wrong more often simply because they predict it more often.  It wasn’t a question of incompetence, he continued, but sheer numbers.  If I had been a freshman in college, I would have fallen for that schlock, but I’ve been around the block a few times and know bullshit when I hear it.  I gave a brief thought to his words and then changed the subject, adding he do with an MRI.

       You see, you’d think these guys had the wherewithal to make a fairly decent stab at the kind of atmospheric conditions you can expect for the next couple of hours.   After all, that’s all they do and they boast some of the finest technology a human can possess.

       All week they had been saying there would be rain here and rain there and rain in the streets and rain in the parks; rain inside and out.  It would be soaking our shingles roofs rotten.  Then it would develop into snow late for a short period on New Year’s Eve, say an hour or two, harmlessly dissolve in the puddles that had been formed on the ground, and then turn into all rain again for the New Year.  One big goddamn mess, I tell you.  It just stirs one’s soul with glee to hear news of that kind, but if that was what they said, there wasn’t much we could do about it.

       Well, they couldn’t have gotten it more wrong.  It was early New Year’s Eve morning and it was snowing…snowing a lot.  The trees were becoming laden with fluffy white precipitation, the highways were a mess, the commute was hellacious, and my daughters were pumped up about the idea of practicing the art of ambushing with a plump snowball.  They don’t get many chances back inMadrid, and from the looks of them, I could tell they wanted to make up for lost time.

       Where was the rain?  Not hither or dither.  Who could have missed this call?  Even as the stuff was three inches and growing, the radio predicted about an inch max!  Look out the window for crying out loud!  Honestly, just how hard is it to forecast storms these days?  Hours before, and I mean, maybe six at the most, apparently no one saw this coming, except for me I guess.  I bothered to sneak into the Weather Channel’s secret website where they have a thing called a radar image which showed a massive blue blob the size of Uranus heading this way.  That color meant only one thing: frozen precipitation, and plenty of it.  And yet the official report insisted on calling for rain, as if they were trying desperately to hold onto their blunder for the sake of foolish pride.  It’s just beyond me.  All I do inSpainis brag about how technologically advanced my country is, about how they can tell you down to the second when that thunderbolt is going to strike you in the ass, and then they turn around and do this to me!

       I bet they’ve got some awesome gadgets back at the headquarters that they show only to great scientists, foreign dignitaries or chicks they want to get into bed with.  “Ever show you my ultra-violent, heat-detecting precipitation scanner honey?  Oh, you’re gonna love this!  It rotates for hours and it makes mojitos too.”  They must have been humping on that radar screen or something like that, because someone clearly missed the latest developments.

       Once the meteorologists caught up with the rest of the world and they were able to determine just when the snow would stop, which wasn’t saying much since they didn’t know it was coming at all.  Too late.

       By northeast standards, though, the snowfall was little more than a nuisance, and somewhat of a disappointment, especially in Greenwich where everyone is equipped for the rugged backcountry with chunky SUVs, or whatever you call those things these days, so they say what a tough time they had grinding up the hill to their driveway.  Then they’ll add that they even had to get out of the vehicle to open the gate manually because the remote is frozen solid.  The cars have become more and more macho.  I find it a bit mindboggling that I should clamber up a Mercedes like a child on a jungle gym, but that is just the kind of challenges I am faced with in this town.  Once buckled in, you look out and can literally confirm that you are at an altitude.  I once asked my brother, “So, how high up are we?”  I could see the Sound from the dashboard.  Years ago, that wasn’t such a surprise.  In fact, there were dozens of spots from which you could gaze out over a stretch of miles and spot the bluish gray strip of Long Island Sound capped on top by the low-lying forests ofLong Islanditself.  That was because back then, like much of New England, farms abounded inland, and woods made up the fringes of fields and pastures.  As the New Englander finally gave up on his fight to tame the planet’s rockiest soil, the firs, pines, maples, oaks, birches, dogwoods, and all the rest began creeping back in.  Now the town is enveloped in flora.

     The ability to survey the Connecticut shore was also due to the hilly terrain of this land. Greenwichisn’t mountainous, but it is certainly hilly as ridge after ridge ripple up and down, east to west, or west to east, depending on how you look at things.  It can make for some hazardous driving conditions no matter what your annual salary is.  The snow, like hunger, has a funny way of making everyone the same.  It’s a chance to take on the world.

      This sense of impending danger caters to a classic local condition known as the Greenwich Denial Syndrome.  This is a curious affliction among some in this town who wish to seem as un-Grenwegian as possible in order to boost their manliness and readiness to tough out the ruggedness of the country, while not quite leaving the confines of the community.  They want to set themselves apart from the rest of the residents, when, in fact, this is precisely what makes so many Grenwegians look alike.  They’ve got it all wrong.  Handling snow-stricken roads while commandeering a Hummer doesn’t impress me that much, I tell you.  Try driving down one of those hairpin turns on Dingletown Road in a Chevy Chevette with baldnig tires and no rearview mirror if you want to prove your worth.  That takes balls.

       But still, by nine in the morning, the ground was blanketed with frozen precipitation and though I wouldn’t call it blizzard conditions, things were getting somewhat ugly out there.  On top of that, I had lived in Spain long enough to feel I had lost some of my skills at driving in snowy conditions, and I had some doubt about whether or not we would make it up to Simsbury, Connecticut to spend the night with our friends Juan and Vicky and their family for New Years.  After all, it wasn’t precisely around the corner, and we would be heading north.  So, we hung out for a while and gave some thought to it.  I fielded about 300 calls from my parents warning me about the dangers of road and frozen water, but since it was supposed to all get better in a couple of hours, they finally accepted my decision.

     In the meantime, we took a break and enjoyed an occurrence you don’t see to often back in Madrid.  It was especially fun for my daughters who just couldn’t believe their eyes.  Here the snow falls, the snow sticks quickly, the snows becomes one with the surroundings.

A new book about Greenwich 22 (draft)

There are basically three ways to get into the city: one is by car, which I find about as appealing as stomach flu, another is by commuter train, known as Metro North, and the third is not going at all.  Despite the cold weather stirring outside, staying home was not a serious option either, and I dread driving into New York, so, we made the railway our choice of transportation.  That made perfect sense since there was something very Grenwegian about hopping on an express or a local to Grand Central and spending the day in town.  Train travel into New York has been around for over 150 years.  In fact it was at the Cos Cob train bridge itself that the New Haven Line, was finally completed.  The station was inaugurated on Christmas Day, 1848.  According to one account, the terrible screeching sounds that the steam locomotive produced as it pulled in were so strident they literally scared the living daylights out of every living creature in the vicinity, prompting cows, horses, chickens and a handful of humans to scatter in all directions.   It must have been some sight, I tell you.

     Despite the shock of that first day the arrival of the railroad service was here to say.  Like any important invention, the train didn’t just entail a change in how people traveled; it profoundly changed the demographics of the New York City metropolitan area.  This, perhaps more than any other factor up until then, was the first step towards transforming Greenwich from a sleepy country village into a major suburban town  (God help me when the residents read the “s” word!).  Now that people could get in and out of the city with relative ease, living out in rural Connecticut became irresistible to many…especially with all the attractive tax breaks to boot.  First, came the vacationers about a century ago, who fled the city for some summertime relief out on the gentle shores and fields of this town.  They lodged in boarding houses, small inns and hotels, most of which no longer exist.  In fact, this was not at all peculiar to Greenwich.  Country tourism thrived throughout the shoreline of New England from the 1820s until about just before World War II.  Some accommodations were full-scale hotels, the two most important being the Indian Harbor Hotel, a stunning Second Empire building which turned into the summer retreat for none other than Boss Tweed.  The other famous hotel was the magnificent 150-room Edgewood Inn, considered to be one of the finest shingle structures of all of New England at the time.  These were the crème de la crème for tourists, lodgings equipped with running water and electricity.   They ran for decades until eventually their popularity waned and their maintenance costs continued to rise.   Just like throughout the region, they died off like useless animals.

      They must have been amazing hotels.  The fact that they are no longer around, the fact that they are just evasive shadows, the fact that something grandiose could meet such unfitting ends, makes their stories somehow more tragic and even spooky.  I have seen old pictures of them, they aren’t hard to find, and they are alluring but eerie at the same time.  You can almost see a ghostly figure in every window.

       As a result of this industry, New Yorkers, especially the wealthy ones, who found the bucolic surroundings as well as the personal income taxless state so appealing eventually began to turn the town into a permanent residence.  After all, it was just a stone’s throw away from Manhattan and yet in an entirely different world. Greenwich’s population rose steadily as did its fame as an upper-class haven.

      And to think, all of that began with the final spikes being hammered into the tracks at Cos Cob.  Yeap, this was where it all began.  All those mansions up on the northern end of town owe their existence to this cute little station.

Excerpt from a New Book 17

DEC 29th

If you ask me, and I think I’ve got a point here, there really is no satisfactory word for an inhabitant of Greenwich, Connecticut.  More often than not, residents limit themselves to being called “people from Greenwich”.  In fact, whenever anyone from this town gets to a point where they have to refer to themselves, their mouths make funny faces as if they are experiencing the initial effects of stroke and they struggle to come up with something natural.  The problem is there isn’t one.  It’s that simple.  Which doesn’t mean there haven’t been attempts.  It’s just that the ones that exist as candidates are hardly ever used if at all, and when they are, sound utterly ridiculous.

      For example, I’ve heard “Greenwicher” before, but that comes across as more like a kind of Bavarian sausage than anyone who plays golf with any consistency, so that simply won’t cut it.  Too unsophisticated.  REJECTED.  You can also try “Greenwichian”, which actually refers to a person from the famed borough inLondonand home of the Royal Observatory, the Greenwich Meridian and all that.  That may be just fine and dandy for the folks over there in England, but to me it uses one or two too many syllables in it.  It’s the “ichian” part.  It’s a mouthful.  Just doesn’t flow right.  Try it.   REJECTED.  Back in lower Connecticut, the most common word used to allude to a local is “Greenwichite”, which I simply cannot stand and will not stand for.  It comes across as a mix between a name for a hard rock surface you use for your kitchen counter and a debutante at a cotillion in Memphis.  I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work for me.  REJECTED BIG TIME.

       The main problem with all of these, as I see it, is one of phonetics.  It’s those two last letters “ch” at the end of the name which make anything added on at the end sound awkward, forced and out of place, like the way I try to dance salsa.  If it weren’t for that pair of letters, life would be a lot easier, but alas all inspiration had abandoned me. There must be some kind of solution.

         Well, I gave it some thought, and it didn’t take me long to come up with a snappy alternative.  I propose something radical like changing the “ch” to a “g” and saying something like “Grenwegian”, pronounced /grenwedjien/.  You know, like from Glasgow to Glaswegian….Greenwich to Grenwegian.  Now that’s what I call a word!  It gives it that Old World distinction, it’s got character, it’s got build, and yet it’s sonorous and elegant at the same time.  And what the hell, it just has a nice ring to it.  So, “Grenwegians” of Greenwich, stand up for your rights!

       Let’s give it a test.  Am I a Grenwegian?  Not by birth, I’m afraid to say.  Close, but not quite.  I have to admit this before anyone has any misgivings or calls me out as an imposter.  My father is from Meriden, Connecticut, and my mother fromDavenport,Iowa.  They met in New York in the 50s and started a family there.

       Then in 1962 (I wasn’t around yet) they moved out toGreenwichwhere she continued to populate the state.  My mother’s doctor did not join us though, so whenever it was time to deliver, mom would pack her bags and make a trip back into Manhattan to have a baby.  It was a hospital with one of the silliest names around, Doctors’ Hospital.  After that, it was back to Greenwich a few days later, or however long it took.  I took a little longer and hung out in an incubator – you can tell I had difficulty adjusting to the world from an early age. The minute I found life tolerable, we headed out to Connecticut.  So, I am.  I say that because that’s where my family lived and that’s the only place I ever lived throughout my childhood.  My family lived inGreenwich, so that is where I am from.  I am a Grenwegian.

      I just recently learned that Doctors’ Hospital no longer exists, by the way, which is kind of a bummer because no one likes to see the place they were born in razed to the ground, but I guess worse things could have occurred.  It could have been razed while I was being born.  Before it was reduced to rubble, it was sold to the Beth Israel Medical Center in 1984 and then resold to a developer in 2004, who quite promptly demolished it to make way for some of the most select apartments around.  The average 3-bedroom apartment has an asking price of something like $6 million.  I don’t care if the fact I was born there has incremented the land’s value tenfold, I can’t imagine anyone forking over that kind of dough for a flat.  All the same, I am able to find something symbolic in it all, I suppose.  At least, I should.

Excerpt from a New Book 15 (draft)

You see, a visit to Tod’s Point is also a return to the very origins of Greenwich itself, since it was at this spot that the first settlers landed and purchased the land from the Sinoway Indians which would eventually be known as Sound Beach, or Old Greenwich.   They bought it for what in hindsight turned out to be a steal: 25 coats.  The Indians, as usual, got the short-end of the deal, but they wouldn’t realize that until later when it was too late.

       The agreement was settled by Daniel Patrick, Robert Feake and Elizabeth Fones Feake.  They are considered to be the founders of the town.  Instead of a majestic moment of burying a flag in the sand in the name of king and country by a crew of courageous explorers, it appears the arrival at Greenwich was carried out rather unceremoniously by small group of misfits in search of freedom from the restraints of the puritanical New Haven Colony.  In other words, they were social outcasts.

       Elizabeth Fones Feake’s story is particularly interesting.  She was the former daughter-in-law of John Winthrop.   According to the story, his son Henry, her husband, knocked her up in the backyard of her home in England and then was sent off to Massachusetts to get his act together, leaving her behind in England due to her pregnancy.  When she finally crossed the ocean to join him she discovered that he had drowned in a river.

       Not long after that, John Winthrop arranged for a marriage between her and Robert Feake, a man who owned a lot of land in New England but who was also considered by many to be off his rocker.   He was often stricken by fits in the middle of the night and had a feeble character.  A real oddball.  Winthrop had never been very fond of Elizabeth to begin with, so maybe this was his way of getting even.

       The couple had been living in the New Haven Colony until they were pushed out not only because he was a lunatic, but also because their servant was suspected of witchcraft, which was certainly a handicap in the household in early Colonial America.  So, they picked up and went down the Long Island Sound until they moored on the shores of Greenwich and started a new life there.

      The Dutch were also in those parts and a few years later claimed the territory of Old Greenwich to be theirs; this was all right with the settlers as they felt more at ease under Dutch rule, since the colony of New Netherlands had a reputation for being laid back morally.  Even back then, they were known for having all the fun.   In fact, it is quite possible that the Dutch had explored there previously.

       Elizabeth was a strong-willed woman and led a hard-fought life.  She had plenty of children and worked diligently.  She owned land, fended off Indians, built a new life until Robert finally took the big plunge off the deep end and abandoned his family.  She marries again without getting divorced and nearly is hanged for it.  The couple moved to New Netherlands to avert trouble.  There they start up a new life only to have their house burned down by the Indians.  They start yet anew in an area what is now Flushing, New York, where she eventually died.  Has all the makings of a good romantic historical novel, right?  Well it is.  In 1958, the life of this extraordinary and determined woman was turned into a book called The Winthrop Woman, by Anne Seyton.  It was very successful.

     Elizabeth’s legacy lasted a long time in town.  For many years, Greenwich Point was known as Elizabeth’s Neck.  And the house where her first daughter lived, the Thomas Lyon House, still stands and is claimed to be the oldest in town.

       But Tod’s Point was where it all began.  The first sand castle, the first sunburn, the first fishing, the first meals, the first music, the first bonfire, the first drinking and probably the first sexual act took place there.  Many of the foundations of modern beach life, if you think about it.   I wonder if the Greenwich Historical Society has this on record somewhere.  In 1730 the point was sold to the Ferris family, not of the wheel fame I understand, and it stayed that way until 1883, when it was purchase again by a man named J. Kennedy Tod, not of the political fame as I understand, but rather a banker from New York.  The Tod family took the property and turned it into an estate called Innis Arden in honor of the family’s Scottish roots.  Though the main mansion itself unfortunately burned down many years ago, much of what we see today is thanks to him.  Other structures, like the old stone buildings, a number of the sheds and even a chime tower still stand as relics of that past.

     The property was then transferred to the Presbyterian Hospital of New York, of all places, in 1940 and then sold to the town for $550,000 in 1944, on the promise it would take good care of it, which it did.  It turned it into the municipal beach for Greenwich residents.  Only for residents.

         It was this last decision that would bring Greenwich and its beach, once again, to the national forefront, and once again, for all the wrong reasons.

Excerpt from a New Book 14


Hitting the beach

In Spain, December 28th means something.  There, it is known as the Day of the Innocent Saints and it marks the anniversary of King Herod’s highly questionable Messiah-control policy of ordering his men to slay every child under the age of two.  Of course, none of the tragedy ever would have occurred had those three big-mouthed Wise Men not blabbed about the Savior being born to begin with.  Once Herod got wind that the Son of God was residing under his jurisdiction, he sensed his reign might be in danger and decided to do something about all the rampant adoration going on.  He decided to rub the kid out.

      Herod was fully aware that the threat came from a newborn babe, a week maybe two at the most, but just for safe measure Herod took no chances and raised the legal execution age to toddlers.  I tell you, the bloggers would have had a field day with that one.  Although the historical accuracy of the biblical account is greatly disputed, a number of scholars even claim the entire story was entirely made up, the feast has been observed for some 1,500 years.

      At some point in history, the Spanish converted this historical moment, that is, the brutal slaughtering of scores of innocent preschoolers, into their version of April Fool’s Day, a time for playing practical jokes like sticking “Kick Me!” signs on each other’s backs or putting shocking but totally false reports in the newspaper.  I have come to understand, appreciate and even love countless traditions inSpain, but choosing mass infanticide as a premise for pulling the old “got a stain on your shirt” joke still escapes my grasp of this culture.   Somehow, I missed a step.

       Here in Greenwich it was just Monday.  Plain old Monday and there was little amusing about it.  Monday after Christmas weekend; Monday when we could do a few everyday things that did not require being stuffed like an animal prepared for slaughter.  Seeing that it was a sunny day, we decided it was the right time to go for a good healthy post-Christmas walk to work off some of those excess calories, which, by then, had run into the tens of thousands.  Back inMadrid, all I would have had to do is tie up some shoes and lose myself for the long walk in the endless streets and neighborhoods of the capital.  However, back home, things were different, and we needed a car to go somewhere to use our legs.  I chose the beach down in Old Greenwich known as Greenwich Point.

       That’s the official name at least, but locally everyone calls it Tod’s Point and if you are really from Greenwich, you know that.  An impostor doesn’t.  Tod’s Point is a small peninsular hook which affords one of the few true sandy refuges for the town’s sun seekers, which isn’t saying much considering its fairly modest size for a coastal community with over 60,000 residents.  Compared to other places in the northeast, the beach is a mere sandbox.  In fact, Connecticut beaches as a whole, with their painfully gentle waters and sometimes crusty unrefined sand, have never really impressed me very much.  I guess they improve as you head out towards the eastern end of the state, but the closer you get to New York where Long Island sound begins to shrivel up, the less enthralled you are about the shore, and the more suspicious you are about the quality of the water you are wading in.  It gets tested weekly in the summer, and on occasion the bacteria numbers become problematic, but for the most part they are deemed clean.  I noticed that over the years I glow in the dark from time to time.  But that may be a coincidence.  And it certainly doesn’t keep the town’s people from flocking to its sands time and time again.  Plus, the point can be very peaceful and strikingly beautiful, when it isn’t overrun with beachgoers.  This is especially in the fall and winter.

       But that wasn’t the only reason why I wanted to go down there.

Excerpt from a New Book 13 (draft)

Leaving the Bubble

Oh, well.  Fun and games with numbers.  Finally it was almost time to get them to the train station. I was not waiting for the call to mobilize.  This moment did not come until a eight minutes before the train was scheduled to arrive.  Bridget announced as I started the car, “We’ll make it.  Just have to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee beforehand.”

      “The train is about to arrive and we’re still two miles away.  I think I can hear that whistle blowing.”  That was me feebly trying to avert disaster.

      “Oh, we’re doing better than I thought.  Come on.”

      I was being a Eurowimp, as some say, and had no understanding of how aNew Yorkcommuter runs under this pressure.  That may have been possible, but it didn’t get us any closer to the station.  She crabbed as she told me to relax.  Bridget, you see, possessed her own reality distortion field.  We could be at the donut counter paying for our coffee while the train was pulling out of Cos Cob and then be pulling into the station three minutes later and yet two minutes before it even arrived.  I don’t know how she did it, but we did it…coffee and all.  In any event, I have sent this data to MIT in hopes someone there could provide an explanation that adhere to the basic laws of physics.

       The rest of the day I spent hauling my butt up to Durham,Connecticut to pick up the car we would be using for the next couple of weeks.  I went up with my nephew Kevin, who had the kindness and patience to plow through I-95 Sunday traffic, which was exacerbated by the fact it was the end of the Christmas holiday weekend.  The minute we hit the highway, it stopped.  We stopped.  Then it was stop-and-go for the next60 milespractically.  I had taken along the entire case of the Beatles digitally remastered albums, 13 albums in all, figuring we had enough musical entertainment to tide us over, and should the need come to start over again, ten hours was a respectable span of time.

      We also engaged in a little chatting here and there.   My nephew was at an age where he was starting to think more seriously about what he wanted to do, though I am sometimes wonder what that age happens to be because I am just beginning to exit that stage.  Still I felt I had lived enough to at least act as an older and sager uncle who could cunningly extract his thoughts out about his future.  I might even contribute some tidbits of wisdom.  Cars are good for this purpose because the listener-victim normally won’t open the door and abort while driving throughBridgeport, Ct, at 70 mph.  That was the plan at least.  Instead it came out more like this:

        “So, do you have any fucking idea what you want to do with your life?”

         “Uh…no, not really.”

         “I know how it is.  Well, you’ve still got time.  Lots of time, trust me.  It helps to listen to the White Album for guidance and escape.  Now, listen to John’s lyrics on this song, they’re awesome.”

       I-95 is not a very scenic national road.  It doesn’t even seem to pretend to be.  Its purpose to expedite travel, or at least that was the original idea, and to take you through the major coastal cities which about a century ago bustled and generated the majority of the state’s economy.  Like much of Eastern Coast America, that all fell apart during the second half of the 20th Century.  Major efforts have been made to renovate these downtrodden areas, some with greater success than others.  There are townships which have jumped to life while others which are still limping by.

       Once you slide inland from the shoreline, you realize you are in a decidedly different part of the state all together, if not in a different state all together. Durhamis a scant21 milesfrom then center of urbanNew Haven, but you might as well be in upstateVermont.  It was rural.  Rural big time.  Rolling roads, acres of farmland and woods, barns with roofs falling in.  The downtown itself boasted a splendid green with all the major houses and local important buildings literally separated from each other in classicNew Englandfashion.  It was delightful and spooky at the same time, a sentiment which may have been compounded by the fact I had just passed an awesomely and deliciously frightening cemetery on the way in.  It was set on a hill so steep I couldn’t imagine how in God’s name they could stick bodies in there.

      We weren’t in Durham for long, just enough to meet Janet and Bill, the parents of a good friend of ours who had the generosity to lend us their wheels.  We had been in touch for quite some time but we had never formally met.  They are sweet and wonderful people, the kind that set you down a plate of freshly baked cookies as a welcoming gesture.  Either that or a beer.  They were thinking about making a little dinner and they were being joined by a friend of hers.  Just as I walked in the kitchen, Sue said, “Martha (to be honest I can’t recall her name), do you know who this is?  It’s Brian Murdock!”  Music and applause, maestro.  That’s what should have come next.  I wish someone at the time had had a camera to fully capture the stupefied look on my face, because I had been in that town for little more than ten minutes and I was being introduced to perfect strangers who were supposed to know me, and, as I feared even more, whom I was supposed to know.  That wouldn’t have been the first time, but inDurham?

        “You were in his house!”

        This was beginning to freak me out because now I really didn’t know what was going on.   I knew there was something spooky about that town.  I looked around the room to see if there was a mirror for me to check if they actually had a reflection, but I didn’t see any.

      “Oh, yes!  How do you do?” I said timidly.  She extended her hand, I looked to see if it was a skeleton, and engaged in a nice warm shake.   I played along not wanting to look completely clueless.  “This is my nephew, remember?”

        “Oh hi!  No.  What’s your name?  We’ve never met before.”

          Something wasn’t right.  I needed more careful explaining, but none came.  “And, Martha, you slept in his bed!”

          Ew.  This woman was sixty years old.  I certainly would have recalled that.  I interrupted.  “That’s enough!  What is going on here?”

          It naturally turned out that they had been in my house back in Madrid.  I knew Janet had, actually, I just couldn’t recall the part about the friend.  It kind of happens that way when your home is a kind of inn.  I like it that way.  I grew up with my house being that way, why would I want it any other way.  Just the thing was, so many people had passed through these doors that long ago I lost count, and when you do that, heck, you’re bound to bump into someone in a place like Durham who says “Hey, thanks for the digs.”

         We all had a good laugh.  We stayed a few minutes and made some friendly conversation then decided to head back as it was getting dark.  Taking their advice we stuck to the back roads hoping to get to theMerritt Parkway.  We ended up on I-91, the turnoff must have been at some unforeseen road a few miles back.  Before we knew it we were just north ofNew Havenin a neighborhood Greenwich kids dread to find themselves in.  Empty parking lots, half-abandoned warehouses, gas stations encased in robbery-proof bunkers, parts of old American cars strewn along the sides of the street.  Good oldBrunswickSchoolfor boys, my training ground for life, had never prepped me for this.  Since then, I have lived in some pretty skanky places, and slept in some nameless holes, acted like a bum and mingled in hostile atmospheres; but there are still times when my goddamn upbringing told me once again…“man…you just don’t belong here, so get out!”

         And out we went.  Calmly but without a pause.  And we pulled on to the highway and drove to the junction with I-95.  It was backed up like hell the way it always is, but this time, worse still because of the day and time at hand.  People were leaving every place and going back to every place and there was no way out of it.  I had lost touch with Kevin’s car.  He had lost touch with me.  We would meet back home at some time.  I put the Beatles’ White Album back on and took the trip in stride.

Excerpt from a New Book 12 (draft)

A wealth of numbers

While waiting for the gang to head into the city I continued with my newly acquired morning routine.  I walked down to the local deli again, slinked by the dog, and bought the Sunday Greenwich Time to snoop around and see what was up there for today.  The year was coming to an end so the news level was at a minimum as the papers spent most of their time reviewing those previous twelve months.  The Greenwich Time had a small section on the best pictures of 2009, an exhibit which did little justice to the creative capacity of this town.  Maybe that was all they had available to fill up pages 3 and 4.  Of all the snapshots, the one that particularly caught my eye showed two elderly people, Eugene and Rusty Moye, who were featured because they formed the first biracial couple in Cos Cob (probably Greenwich, added the caption) when they married in 1951.

       Say, now that was something!  1951.  Fifteen years before Martin Luther King belted out his I had a dream speech, this enclave of white dominance was already opening its doors up to a certain degree of tolerance.  It may not have been a first in the world, like Johnson’s electric house, but certainly a rarity in most parts of the United   States at that time.  It still is in some parts.   So much so, that you barely see a biracial couple in this town some sixty years later.  Heck, you can barely see a black person at all.  According to statistics, there are fewer than a 1,000 African-American residents inGreenwich.  That constitutes just 1.6% of the population compared to 10% statewide and 13.6% on a national level.  So, integration may have jumped to an early start in this town, but it didn’t go very far from there.  More than a statement about town attitudes, it seems to me an anomaly.  But there you have it.  It happened.

       On one hand racism has hardly been an issue in Greenwich because there has hardly been another race in the town to make it worth there being one.  It may be that some residents like it that way very much.  But does that mean that this entire town is racist?  Well, if we are to go by the 2008 election results, it would appear not.  Nearly 60% of those who voted chose Obama; that’s about 7 percentage points above the final tally nationally.  So, there certainly is something to say for that.  And as a youth, the black friends I had were not given a rough time, as far as I am aware.  As far as I am aware, I insist.  Maybe my awareness wasn’t keen back then.  But diversity of the kind you would find in many other parts of the country is clearly lacking here.  And, as I said, there most certainly is a percentage of the population that likes it that way.

        I studied the picture again; Eugene and Rusty Moye looked like a couple still very much in love.  She gazes at him lovingly as he looks ahead with smiling eyes.

       I went on perusing.  For all my poking and nudging at the Greenwich Time, I have to acknowledge that the newspaper has always been fairly adept at presenting other sides of life here.  Today was no different.   For instance, page 8 featured a list of requests sent by local people, many of whom lived in this town and were in want of some very, very basic needs.  Rice, milk, bread.  Some were single mothers, while others  were elderly widows or teenagers struggling to get by.  That’s right, even in upscale, elite Greenwich.

      To a foreigner, which is anyone who comes from beyond the Fairfield County border, this may come as a big surprise, but not to someone who grew up here.  There are working class neighborhoods, lower income families and even housing projects.  4% of the local population lives beneath the poverty line.  4% of 60,000 comes to about 2,500 people, which is no trifle figure.  And 2.5% somehow make it by with an income of 50% below the poverty line.  In a town whose median home price soars above the 1 million dollar mark, to affront that kind of standard of living on just a measly few bucks boggles the mind.

       Just what explains that number and how it should be explained is not easy, but let it be known that there are many residents here who have a hard time of it.  And it has been like that for long as I can remember.  I recall as a teenager taking boxed Thanksgiving meals to several low-income housing apartments.  It was awkward for me as a junior in high school, but it was especially awkward for them.  Most wouldn’t even show their faces and would call back to us from their living rooms telling us where to put the stuff.  They would ask us to leave the food at the door.  And we would.

      Are these people representative of Greenwich?  Hardly.  You would be hard-pressed to find visual confirmation of poverty there.  I am also glad to say they aren’t, if it only means that no one in town goes hungry.  But it would be equally misleading.  I feel it is my duty to bring to everyone’s attention a part of the town which so many people seem to overlook.  Just because this community is home to estates that cost over $50 million doesn’t mean the other half doesn’t exist, even though it is not a half at all.  It is much less, but there nonetheless.  It is facts like these that made me decide to write this book.

        If Greenwich did not boast the status that it does, this section would be meaningless.  But it does.  It is rich.  Filthy rich.  Let’s not deny it or hide it.  It’s has a collective prosperity which, more than any other aspect of the town or achievement of its residents, gives it its fame.  But exactly what was Greenwich’s wealth anyway?  How rich was it?  How big was this patrimony it possessed?  Does it deserve the reputation as being the “richest town in the country” as it is often casually referred to?  Can the numbers back up the claim?

       People in general need to measure themselves up to something.  It’s a constant in human behavior.  They need lists and more lists to prove where they are in life and this is no exception.  In fact, in America particularly, people indulge in assessing each other through money and personal assets.  Where does Greenwich stand?  Is it really the wealthiest community in the nation?

      Well, by some indicators, it isn’t.  Not by a long shot.   One statistic known as the “highest-income place based on per capita income” places Greenwich at a humbling 55th in a list of the Top-100 richest communities with at least 1000 households.  This register is considered the best and supposedly most reliable because it eliminates very small communities which could distort reality.  There is another list of the most affluent places of a thousand people or more, in other words, including these much smaller towns, and that tells a very different story.   There are tiny hamlets around the nation with 5 residents and a median income of 200,000.  Greenwich is also listed there too, but due to the stiff competition, it slides back to 79th position.

       I guess I should have accepted all of this as good news since it would finally silence all those people who have bad-mouthed my hometown without knowing the facts.  Now they would know that everyday people are from Greenwich.  Now they would know that disadvantaged people live there too.  Finally, its residents could free themselves of such an unhealthy stigma.  The town didn’t even make the top 50.   It was just an ordinary place with ordinary citizens leading ordinary lives.  Right?

       Well, unfortunately that wasn’t what I thought.  Not at all.  In fact, I was pretty miffed.  How could all of these other place be out-asseting it my hometown?  What was up with that?  What do they mean this isn’t the richest own in the country?  “That’s bullshit,” I grumbled.

      I plowed on in search of just the right data that would back up my hypothesis, as any lame researcher would do, and I wasn’t going to give up until I found it.  No one was going to debunk my assertion by playing around with a few wimpy statistics.  Why don’t we start by getting rid of those shitty little villages and show what a real town can do!

       My efforts paid off.  You see, a closer look at the those endless lists showed that Greenwich was far larger than any of the other municipalities – it’s a veritable metropolis in comparison – suggesting that not only was there a lot of wealth there, but  it also was on a massive scale.

       Consider the list of the towns with 1000+ population.  Greenwich’s populace is, according to the statistic, 61,171.  The next largest town is Westport, Connecticut with 25,749 people and third place goes to Lake Forest, Illinoiswith 20,059.  Of the 100 towns, 67 have less the 10% of Greenwich’s population.  Similar results come up when you analyze the second list which pits communities of 1000+ households.  Here Greenwich(55th) weighs in at 23,230 households, while the next closest is none other than Beverly Hills with 15,035, and places a pitiful 99th!!   83 towns register 5,000 households or less.

      What happens when we stand the town up against the big boys, say 50,000+ residents?  What do you know!  Not so surprisingly Greenwich leads the pack, and by quite some margin.  So, not only does the town have wealth, it has a wealth of wealth.  No other town, none of those dinky little municipalities can stand up to it.  It was at the top.  Still numero uno after all of these years.

      “Damn straight,” I said to myself with the maturity of a high-schooler, before standing up and flipping the bird at the screen.  “Fuckin’ A.”

       That issue having been solved, I now had other things to do that day.