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.

I’ll Be Home For Xmas 1

So, I just keep saying this but it’s totally true.  I’ve been in this kind of new dimension that deconstructs your molecular makeup and sends it in a universe of directions without any assurance that it would every return to its original state again…and yet it has.  It has emerged in Greenwich, Connecticut, of all places, the land of my childhood and youth. Defining this town can be done in a number of ways, but it all depends on where you come from and what you think of the town to begin with.  I came up with one a couple of years ago:


One Sunday evening in mid-October of 2009 I went to my Yahoo! home page to get a quick rundown of what is going on in the world, the way I usually do several times a day. I was feeling bored and unenthused about life in general and listlessly perused the screen.  I don・t know what it is about those moments, but they tend to get me in trouble of some kind. Anyway, after scanning the list of news headlines, I noticed something that puzzled me.  I turned away and looked up at the wall at the other end of the table, staring at it until my eyesight got fuzzy. Something I had just read wasn・t quite right. Then I went back to the screen again and reread it in search of whatever it was that was making it seem a little askew, the way I do when I read a poorly written sentence, come face to face with most modern art or watch certain French comedies.  I・t immediately put my finger on it, so I gave it another chance. And this time, bingo!  There it was!  There was no mistaking.  I sat back in my chair and chuckled. Yeap. That was it.

I decided to copy and paste the list for keep・s sake on a file, and now I have copied it for you. So, allow me to put you to the test and see how you do. Here goes:

Iran threatens U.S. and Britain after Guard bombing

Nearly a third of Afghan president・s votes thrown out

Obama offers Sudan incentives to end genocide

Autopsies expected after 3 die during Detroit marathon

Heene・s lawyer weighs in on the charges facing family

Analysis: Is life tougher for biracial children?

Rain cuts Greenwich dog show short ・ Greenwich Time

Coach says 2 teammates with victim during stabbing ・ New York Post

Queens neighborhood flooded after weekend of rain and high winds ・ New York Post

       Did you see it?  Did you pick it up?  Something make you shudder?  Was it the tragic deaths?  The godawful violence in Teheran?  The unending terrorism? The fate of biracial kids?  Please.  Not that electoral fraud and stabbings aren’t newsworthy, or that three fatalities in a road race don’t stand out as extraordinary and deserving of suspicion; and yes I did wonder about what kind of incentives the Obama administration was making to the Sudanese to reduce total annihilation of a specific ethnic group.   Yet, as eyebrow-raising as they were, they didn’t quite match up to the bombshell somewhere in the middle of the pack.  That’s right.  You got it now.  Rain cuts Greenwich dog show short.  There you had it my friends.  Looked at globally, a lot of pretty serious stuff was affecting the rest of the world at that very moment, I mean a lot, and yet in the southwest corner of Connecticut, there was a town, my hometown, a town drenched in personal wealth to a degree most people find unfathomable, a town which owes much of its national fame to its unmatchable excusivieness, which lamented the premature suspension of a canine festival due to the untimely arrival of excessive precipitation: Rain cuts Greenwich dog show short.  I repeat.

        Brilliant.  That pretty much said it all.  There is something pithy about that headline, don’t you think? Almost artistic, if you know what I mean.  A haiku of sorts.  A handful of words from a headline can tell us a lot about certain realities, I’ll have you know. Almost like a Warhol painting of a can of Campbell・s Soup. In fact, there was so much embodied in one single title that I decided to keep it. I printed it out and for a moment considered framing it as a statement about the world. A statement that screamed: This is Greenwich, Connecticut, Prepville, U.S.A. A world where nothing ever happens. A world apart. An existence oblivious to the harsh truths beyond its borders. These accusations may irk a large number of residents there, and I don・t blame them. Who wants to hear that? And yet whenever something like ・Rain cuts Greenwich dog show short・ pops up on the list of headlines aside homicide and ethnic cleansing, there is a tendency to want to say, ・See? I told you so.・

      Which is why I paused and gave some thought to this all.  Could that have been all that the town had to face that weekend?  The only tragedy inflicted there?  If that was its only problem then maybe it truly was a blessed land after all.  Such was the despair that it stood out above any other piece of news the local paper had to post that day on my homepage.  So, looked at this way, folks, it was newsworthy indeed.  Newsworthy beyond all that is imaginable.

         On a personal level, what was even more distressing is that Yahoo!, which monitors my reading and clicking habits, apparently felt that this was just the kind of news about my hometown that might interest me, me of all people!  As if I had nothing better to do with my life than fret over the fate of some soggy poodle. It just might come up, you never know.  It seems that the Greenwich Time placed this recent development high enough on the scale for it reach me 3,000 miles away, lest I should return in a few months and be unable to comment on it at my next dinner party.  And sadly enough, I guess they were right.  So, they hit it right on the nail.  But maybe not for the reasons they suspected.