ISIS Files Complaint With UN

After U.S. commandos launched a devastating raid on an ISIS base in Syria, ISIS  immediately filed a formal complaint against the United States military at United Nations headquarters in New York City. Charging the U.S. with using “unfair tactics” and fighting techniques that “violate Genoeva Convention standards for interacting with Islamic terrorists”, spokesman Muhamad Ali Ali Oxenfree called for severe sanctions against the U.S. and its allies.

“These [U.S. commandos] did not have their hands tied, nor were they defenseless children”, Oxenfree wrote in the formal complaint. “We are in no way prepared to fight such savages!”

“Raping children, cutting off heads of civilians whose hands are tightly tied behind their backs, this sort of thing, the brave warriors of ISIS can handle. But these cowardly Americans sent grown men, with guns and fighting skills, so of course our fighters could do nothing but immediately die for Allah”.

“We call on the United Nations to send us protection from further attacks. We also demand that any future U.S. attack forces be made up of soldiers no older than six years of age,  just to make it fair for us!”

Do We Worry Too Much About Germs?

<> on November 30, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

The germs, imagine the germs! Better hold it till you’ve landed and can use the nice, clean airport bathroom.

Here’s a typical (disgusting) scare story, in this case from the British news site, Daily Mail, that attempts to scare crap out of you about  “fecal matter on airplane tray tables”, supposedly left there by all the thousands of parents using the tray tables to change baby’s nappie.

Really? Have you ever in your life seen this happening? Unlike my clients, I regularly fly coach, jammed in back there with the mob you first-class types are barely aware of. I have never, ever seen anyone changing a damned diaper on a tray table.

Perhaps fearing likely reader skepticism about this bull-%#@% claim, the article then goes on to suggest that if you really want to be disgusted (and sickened!), you should take a look at the millions and millions of germs in the airplane bathroom, oh the horrors!

Again, I have only experience to guide me, but I consistently find airplane bathrooms to be reasonably clean looking. And if all these germs are so dangerous, how come we aren’t all constantly getting sick? Oh sure, you might trace your catching of the occasional cold to a particular flight, but are cold-virus germs the ones hiding in the bathroom?

And also keep in mind the very annoying fact that we humans keep living longer and longer and longer! Reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes spent the last 30 years of his life desperately avoiding germs and what did it get him? He died at age 70! Phooey.

Riverside Tear-Downs

58 Club Road, great old house, damn shame but it's about to enter the dumpster. Asked $3.295M, got $3.5M.  This sold months ago. Click link below for the latest two.

58 Club Road, great old house, damn shame but it’s about to enter the dumpster. Asked $3.295M, got $3.5M. This sold months ago. Click link below for the latest two.

UPDATE: I forgot to add my conclusion, namely, an over-sized Riverside parcel in the R-12 zone now easily fetches $2M+. That’s too high for builders to make money, so these lots are surely being bought by end-users.

Since so many properties in this town are sold for land value only, it’s useful to keep track of recent sale prices of houses that sell and soon thereafter have “DEMOLITION” signs put up in front of them. That removes any doubt about where the buyer thought the value lay.

So here’re two that have signs in front of them right now.

Two Riverside tear-downs

Note: when you get to the linked site, click on the property address for the full description (added bonus, you get to see a picture of me, dressed like a Century-21 agent)

Note Note: Click “no thanks” if you don’t want the Houlihan Lawrence “app” (but it is truly useful, I assure you).

Greenwich Legend, Cos Cob Hero: Dave Theis Memorial

Young Dave Theis warming up for polo practice as a wee lad in Cos Cob.

Young Dave Theis warming up for polo practice as a wee lad in Cos Cob.

Everything you need to know about Selectman Dave Theis could be learned from taking a look around Christ Church Saturday morning. The place was packed to the rafters, people standing in the aisles and waiting outside, an absolutely amazing display of how many people’s lives were touched by him. His nick-name was “Coach” because that’s what he did, he coached you to be your best, and made you feel you were one of his special friends. How he made thousands of us feel we were one of his “special” friends, I don’t know, but he did it.

So anyway, fine memorial, maybe a bit too long, but that’s usually the case with these things. My travel agent, and Dave’s longtime companion, Kerrin Coyle, set up a slide show in the reception hall featuring her best pictures of Dave being Dave. Honestly, I think I liked the slide show better than the speeches.

One surprisingly moving moment was when the squadron of Greenwich cops in full dress uniform stood in formation outside saluting in the freezing wind as two others ceremoniously folded a Town of Greenwich flag and presented it to Kerrin and Dave’s sister.

Oh, and the “bugle salute”! Christopher Hughes played Taps spectacularly. Taps is always poignant, but Hughes elevated it to something new, with the individual notes reverberating in that cathedral, floating around so beautifully, it was particularly powerful.

If you ever happen to find yourself in charge of a Gideon Fountain memorial, you could do worse than to copy Dave Theis’s. I want the cops, the firemen, the bugle guy. Oh, and I want the entire front row to be taken up by hot looking “tootsies”, as my granny used to call ’em, all dressed in black, crying into handkerchiefs. If there are no volunteers, for goodness sake, hire actresses or real estate agents or something…think outside the casket, people!

Fire Department salute to Dave Theis.

Fire Department salute to Dave Theis.

Police Department flag presentation ceremony.

Police Department flag presentation ceremony.


Backcountry success stories


747 Lake Avenue, one of three built on one site by the team of Kaali-Nagy and The Fieber Group...

747 Lake Avenue (fetched $7.5M 6/2014), one of three built on a 7.35 acre site by the team of Kaali-Nagy and The Fieber Group…

Beneath my attractive façade of glib self-confidence and amusing “beach club lightheadedness” *  there lies, as you know, a serious and thoughtful fellow. No surprise then when comments from intelligent readers manage to sway my opinion. Such swaying has just occurred regarding my theory that Greenwich’s backcountry has been permanently depressed by the 2008 “crash”.

Readers have reminded me of certain backcountry success stories, particularly involving new construction, that belie the myth that well-heeled buyers have given up on this part of town.

Case in point: The three new-construction sales at 747, 749, and 751 Lake Avenue

This successful spec project began in October, 2012 with the purchase of a tear-down on 7.35 acres for $6,000,000, at 751 Lake Avenue, about a half mile south of the Merritt (around 5 miles north of Greenwich Avenue).

Builders Alex Kaali-Nagy and The Fieber Group, both great builders, teamed up for this project and got ’em built and sold in less than two years! Kaali-Nagy, I have long observed, has tended to sit on over-priced spec projects w-a-a-a-y too long, so it would appear the addition of Fieber added some needed discipline. In any case, these are exceedingly nice houses, tastefully done, modern design, everything you could ever want, and here is the key point: These houses were so nice, they would have sold easily in any part of town.

The lesson? New, high-quality housing defies the “backcountry prejudice”. Builders, be not afraid!

If the damned Greenwich MLS link doesn’t work, try the one below, and check out the pictures of this amazing interior:

749 Lake Avenue (sold for $8,175,000, Oct. 31, 2014)

* Playwright Philip Barry’s invention.

When a broker earns his commission


135 Field Point Circle: a perfectly nice 50's colonial, but its time has come...

135 Field Point Circle: a perfectly nice 50’s colonial, but its time has come…Asked $12M, got $10.250M (decent price for a tear-down). Closed 10/2014.

We Greenwich brokers tend to whine a lot, and whine not? Seems like we spend half our time chasing false-leads, tire-kickers, and future residents of Darien and New Canaan.  So when a deal gets signed and actually closes, it’s cause for celebration! Today we celebrate the perseverance of broker Russell “Prune Man” Pruner, founder of Shore & Country Properties.

Russ and I recently *  put a deal together on

135 Field Point Circle, off Greenwich’s fabled Belle Haven peninsula.

Negotiations began over two years ago, the listing then expired, but I continued to show. Pruner continued, too, urging his buyer on. That’s one of the advantages we have in wealthy Greenwich; when customers stick at a price, it’s not because they can’t go up, it’s because they won’t. The difference between can’t and won’t is where the broker’s role really begins. Russ and I engaged in numerous discussions of recent sales, plot-plan details, FAR calculations, etc.  He talked to his clients, I talked to mine. Gradually, achingly slowly, the two parties came closer and closer until finally, around September, we had a deal and it closed October 9th, $10,250,000.

* months ago, but I wasn’t in a writing mood, for whatever reason