It’s time for the annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival

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Whatever you do, don’t try to get a hold of me on Sunday. I’ll be busy. All day. And by the time I get home, I’ll be dog tired (literally), hot and bothered. But I’ll also be happy.

Cute Kitten, courtesy of FURRR 911. Photo by A. Bogdanovic
Bolt, a kitten rescued by FURRR 911, at Puttin’ On The Dog & Cats, Too 2016. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

On Sunday, I’ll spend the entire day shooting the 30th annual Puttin’ on the Dog festival, which will be held at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT. Hosted by Adopt-a-Dog, the event is billed as the biggest of its kind between New York and Boston and benefits several local animal rescue and welfare groups.

In addition to raising money and awareness for worthy causes, the festival gives animal lovers a chance to meet some of the dogs and cats that are available for adoption. It also gives dogs and their people a chance to show off by participating in various contests.

You can learn more about the fun and games here.

This will be the fifth straight year I’ve volunteered at the event. And personally, I’m looking forward to hanging out in the cat pavilion, photographing the action in the demonstration rings and on stage, and checking out the silent auction.

On that note, I’d better run. Hopefully I’ll see you on Sunday. If not, don’t call me. I’ll call you!

Football controversy and a wealth of ignorance in Greenwich, Connecticut

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As someone who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, I am proud to say I defy every stereotype about this place. As someone who has lived in Greenwich for most of my life, I am also happy to say I defy the stereotypes about Greenwich residents.

I am not filthy rich. My family isn’t filthy rich, either. I don’t live in a McMansion. I don’t drive an SUV or crossover, or even a luxurious car. The only time I go overseas is to see family and I haven’t done so since 2015. I don’t work in New York City and I don’t have a house in the Hamptons.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I am not a snob. I am not fake. In fact, you won’t find anyone more forthright, honest, or genuine than I am — if I do say so myself. What you see is what you get. And what you get isn’t always perfect. But for the most part, I’d like to think I’m a fairly decent person.

Having said all of that, perhaps you’ll understand why I’m not only ashamed of what’s been going on around here — I’m disgusted.

According to recent media reports, a Greenwich High School football coach decided to use some rather “unique” signals to counter certain defensive formations. Under his direction, the team used “Stalin” to signal an offensive line shift to the left, and “Hitler” to signal a shift to the right.

No, I’m not kidding.

In an open letter to the community recently posted on the school district’s website, the interim superintendent of schools said the following:

“The shift is called at the line of scrimmage. There is no defensible reason for using those two names. The coach clearly displayed bad judgement, but it was not intended in any way to be an anti-Semitic remark and there is no ‘Hitler’ play. This is not an excuse, only an explanation. It was a bad decision because of its insensitivity. But it is also important to understand that these were not slurs that were directed at anyone. It was an inappropriate use of names that have a horrific history attached to them and we should have been mindful of that. Our coaches should know better and it should never have happened.”

Understandably, the use of Hitler’s name spurred the most visceral reactions and received the most emphasis in Interim Superintendent Salvatore J. Corda’s public apology.

Frankly, as a first-generation American of Eastern European descent, I am outraged by the use of Stalin’s name. And no one has apologized to me.

For those of you who don’t know, Joseph Stalin was just as ruthless as Hitler. And just as evil. Although the exact numbers may never been known, some estimates indicate he may have been responsible for up to 20 million deaths from the time he seized power in the late 1920s until his death in 1953.

A brief summary of Stalin’s “achievements” on history.com includes the following:

“Stalin ruled by terror and with a totalitarian grip in order to eliminate anyone who might oppose him. He expanded the powers of the secret police, encouraged citizens to spy on one another and had millions of people killed or sent to the Gulag system of forced labor camps. During the second half of the 1930s, Stalin instituted the Great Purge, a series of campaigns designed to rid the Communist Party, the military and other parts of Soviet society from those he considered a threat.”

What’s even more disgusting than the repeated use of the names “Hitler” and “Stalin” by a high football team is the community’s reaction to the ensuing controversy on social media. You can read more about that here.

For people outside of Greenwich, it is simply a wealthy New York City suburb. But all this goes to show is that there’s a wealth of ignorance here, too.

And that’s a shame.

A lawyer accused of bank robbery — now that’s rich

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Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

So did you hear the one about the lawyer who (allegedly) robbed a bank?

Are you waiting for the punchline?

There isn’t one.

It really happened. Allegedly.

According to published accounts, Meighan Marie McSherry, 46, of Manhattan, has been charged in connection with a recent bank robbery in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is also the suspect in another one, which happened in New York City last week.

I’m not too sure which Wells Fargo branch in Greenwich McSherry allegedly robbed. I seriously doubt it was the one across the street from my house. But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if the incident did happen there.

For one thing, there’s no shortage of drama in this neighborhood. Secondly, from what I understand, police caught her on West Putnam Avenue. I don’t know exactly where on West Putnam Avenue, but the beginning (or end) of that particular road isn’t too far from my house.

But anyway, that’s all beside the point. The point is that an attorney who, by all accounts was once very successful, is now facing felony charges. Specifically, Greenwich police charged her with first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery.

Authorities said McSherry left the bank with an untold sum after she passed a note “demanding money and claiming that she had a weapon.” No one actually saw any sort of weapon during the alleged commission of the crime, but police reportedly found other evidence linking McSherry to the incident when they apprehended her.

So we know what McSherry is accused of doing — but lots of questions remain unanswered. The most puzzling of those is why.

Perhaps we’ll learn more as the case wends its way through the court system.  McSherry is reportedly scheduled to make a preliminary appearance in state Superior Court in Stamford in a few weeks.

In the meantime, there will be plenty of time to come up with some really bad jokes. I mean, I’ve heard of an attorney robbing someone blind, but this is ridiculous…

Cue rim shot!

Come take a look at the ‘big picture’

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I rarely mix business and pleasure.  Or should I say, I try not to mix the two. So — even though this blog can sometimes be a bit snarky — there are certain things that are out-of-bounds. Forbidden topics include religion, politics (especially anything having to do with Donald Trump) and, well, blatant self-promotion. I will talk about Eli, but I won’t plug my book here. Nor will I discuss any other extracurricular activities.

Of course, having said all of that, there are exceptions to every rule.

So for the next couple of days, I’m taking a break from writing about murder, mayhem, animals, the nanny state, fantasy sports and our judicial system. Instead I’ll focus on a couple of things that might help you get to know me a little better. And who knows, you may even find them interesting.

An official invitation

First of all, I’d like to invite any of you who live in the New York City area to the opening reception for a group photography exhibition in a couple of weeks. It will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. April 3, at the Art and Sound Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut.

You are cordially invited to a group photography exhibition featuring photos by Alexandra Bogdanovic, founder and owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services
Invitation to opening reception for a gallery event including photos by In Brief Legal Services Owner/Founder Alexandra Bogdanovic.

Located on the Greenwich side of Mill Street near the Byram River bridge, the gallery is actually just a short walk from the Port Chester train station — so all you have to do is jump on the train if you don’t want to drive. Plus the owner, curator and exhibitors are really cool, so you will definitely have a good time. And just as importantly — okay maybe even more importantly — you’ll get to see some of my work.

Yes, when I’m not working on research, writing or editing projects here at In Brief Legal Writing Services, I am an amateur photographer — among other things.

Picture this

To begin with, I was born in Bronxville, N.Y., and raised in Greenwich, so I am definitely a child of the New York City suburbs. Even so, I’ve always identified with the City, and think of myself as an (unofficial) New Yorker.

Now I channel my passion for the single greatest city on the face of the planet through my photography. I see something new every single time I go there, even if I go to the same places over and over again. The time of day, time of year and the weather all make a huge difference in the types of pictures I can get. It’s always challenging and it’s always fun. I never get bored.

Black and white photograph of New York Police Department barriers taken by Alexandra Bogdanovic
NYPD barriers. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Out of all the places I go in New York City, Times Square is probably my favorite place to shoot. I think I’m drawn to it because I love big, bold, graphic images — but my interest in photography isn’t limited to urban settings. I also love beach and nature photography, automotive photography and travel photography. In addition to the Big Apple, I’ve shot in Barcelona, Belgrade, Munich,  Virginia the Hamptons, Greenwich, Rye, N.Y., and rural Australia. Last year I documented a train trip up and down the east coast, from New York City to Orlando, Florida.

My work has been shown at the Rye Nature Center in 2003, and at the Byram Library in Greenwich last year.

At any rate, it’s kind of ironic that I love photography so much, since it’s something I really started doing as part of my job back when I was a reporter at papers with limited resources. But on the other hand, it’s an interest and passion I share with my mother. It’s also a fantastic creative outlet. When I am behind the camera, I can relax, forget all about any stress or drama I’ve got going on at work or in my personal life and focus on the task at hand.

The Martha Moxley murder and her killer’s fate: a personal perspective

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In the fall of 1975, a heinous crime rocked Greenwich, Connecticut. A teenage girl was brutally murdered in Belle Haven, an especially private and wealthy neighborhood in what consistently ranks as one of the wealthiest communities in the country.

A cautionary tale

I grew up not far from there. But as a kid, I was blissfully unaware of what had happened on the other side of the tracks — or more accurately — on the “right” side of I-95, just a few short miles away. As the years went by and the case remained unsolved, my friends and I spent countless hours playing on our own street, less than a five-minute drive away from the spot where someone had beaten Martha Moxley to death with a golf club.

At some point — probably in my early teens — I learned all about the girl who was killed on “Mischief Night,” the night before Halloween when teens egg cars, houses and decorate their neighborhoods with toilet paper. Adults used Martha’s story as a cautionary tale, warning us not to go out on Mischief Night, or not to stay out too late if we did. Being teenagers — and more accurately being teenage girls — we also swapped stories, gossiped and speculated about the  unknown killer and unsolved crime.

‘Super Cop’ comes to town

As a young reporter my first “real” newspaper job in Greenwich in the 1990s, I worked with one of Martha’s closest friends. As you can imagine, that gave me a whole new perspective on the matter. It was no longer just a brutal and senseless crime that rocked my town; it was a brutal and senseless crime that directly affected someone I knew.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Given that, you can also imagine my reaction when, as a reporter for the same paper, I witnessed  former LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman’s arrival in town. Although I wasn’t the police reporter at the time (I had happily given the beat to a colleague) I do know the Greenwich police — long frustrated and embarrassed about their inability to solve the Moxley case — weren’t exactly happy about it, either.  Apparently Fuhrman got what he wanted — and then he wrote a book. In it, he identified Michael Skakel, who is related to the Kennedys, as the “prime suspect” in the case.

The wheels of justice

As so often happens, especially in big cases, the wheels of justice seem to turn very, very slowly — until something happens to speed things up. In this case, it just so happened that a grand jury investigation was authorized in 1998, the same year that Fuhrman’s book was released.

The grand jury investigation itself took more than a year. As a result, Skakel turned himself in to authorities in January, 2000. Two years later, he was tried and convicted of murder, and he was ultimately sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

He remained in prison for more than 10 years, until a judge ruled that his attorney made mistakes that resulted in a wrongful conviction.

According to a Hartford Courant account, however, prosecutors now want Skakel “back in prison.”

So do I.