DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is a Contributing Editor for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.




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The Met proudly calls the recently redone space fronting the museum the David H. Koch Plaza. I call it a failed “piazza”, a banal public space with dull orange market umbrellas more appropriate to a down-at-heals provincial Sicilian trattoria than New York’s grand Fifth Avenue.  

The piazza has one hundred and six trees imprisoned by iron collars planted in two banal rows in an arid wasteland of paving, some 70,000 square feet stretching four city blocks. Nothing breaks the angular monotony of the plain geometric granite blocks that anchor the fountains and the orange parasols that mar the Museum’s classic façade. The very best of second rate architectural design that money, some $65 million can buy.   

This piazza boasts two marble fountains prominently branded with David Koch’s name in gold letters. They sit in what has become a de rigueur feature of modern affluence, the infinity pool, if you can bend that low to enjoy the view. The fountains’ 48 computer controlled streams of water remind of Brussels’ famed Mannekin Pis, the naked little bronze boy statue urinating into a fountain; the Met’s fountains however just keep pissing away without discernible rhyme or reason.

About the blight of garish food carts that sell halal souvlaki, hot dogs and $1 water bottles, please do not patronize or placate me by claiming this Civil War tradition allows disabled veterans to be gainfully employed. If the best we can do for our disabled vets is to give them a sidewalk on which to freeze their asses off in winter and sweat their balls off in summer, then we are indeed a sorry country.  

When originally announced it was promised that the plaza would not be branded with the Koch name. Two years and $65 million dollars later Thomas P. Campbell, the Met’s director “thought it was the right thing to do”. Money does talk. I guess I should be thankful that I do not have to walk by the Donald J. Trump Plaza on the way to work.



A version was published as the lead Op Ed article “There Oughta Be a Law”, Litchfield County Times, November 20, 2004

In 50’s and 60’s the cartoon “There Oughta to Be a Law” mocked the foibles and frustrations of everyday life: arriving at a supermarket with the cashiers idle and then trying to leave when they were overwhelmed; the guy pleading poor mouth while living in luxury; the couple who dropped by for a minute and stayed ‘til midnight. Occasionally it targeted larger issues: your New Year’s resolution for patience, toleration and consideration while the rest of the world was going to hell in a hand basket with wars and revolutions.

That comic strip was the bellwether of what has become a national disaster – hundreds, thousands of laws submitted, debated and passed to solve each and every one of our problems, no matter how large or small.

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A Romanian language version of this article was published as “Banii – noul censor”, Scrisul Romanesc, November, 2014

Censor - to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable; to suppress or delete as objectionable. Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Once upon a time The New York Times was one of the yellow press -newspapers that sensationalized crime, war and scandal. The truth of the lies was not the point, selling thousands of newspapers was the goal. Over the years The Times exercised self-restraint and evolved into “The Grey Lady”, America’s newspaper of record that has “All the News That’s Fit to Print”.

The Times had to fight public and private censors to achieve this exalted status. L. B. Sullivan, the Public Safety Commissioner for Montgomery, Alabama tried to censor and suppress an advertisement supporting Martin Luther King’s civil rights struggle. The Supreme Court in New York Times v Sullivan decided in The Times’ favor making publication subject only to the laws of libel and slander.

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“Execution of Louis XVI”, Etching, graveur: Isidore-Stanislas Helman [1743-1806?], graveur [eau-forte] Antoine-Jean Duclos [1742-1795]. Illustrateur: Charles Monnet [1732-180?]  Bibliotheque Nationale de France  - nota bene: the severed head being exhibited to the crowd


The world is aghast and revolted by “the savage, barbaric” beheading of two journalists and a tourist by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS or ISAL] and an Algerian jihadist group. Taking a high moral ground President Obama denounced these dastardly deeds with statements from the White House and the United Nations. 

Yet America’s closest ally England has a proud and colorful tradition of beheadings, beheading being an equal opportunity employer. Between 1076 and 1697 more than 190 notables, ladies-in-waiting, earls, duchesses, barons, a couple of Queens [Ann Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scotts, and lest we forget Lady Jane Grey, the Queen For-9-Days from July 10 to 19, 1553], Secretaries of State and Lords of the Privy Seal [Thomas Cromwell] were executed for various misdeeds real and imagined at the Tower of London and elsewhere. Some were beheaded posthumously [Thomas Cromwell], which seems pointless and a bit much.

With the advent of a unified Great Britain in 1707 beheadings continued apace but the tradition was expanded by the execution of Jeremiah Brandeth in 1817 first hanged and then gratuitously beheaded while others were drawn and quartered after the beheading, overkill if you ask me.  

France is the hands down winner of the Execution Olympics having beheaded by guillotine some 40,000 of its citizens, commoners and aristocrats alike, during its glorious Revolution celebrated every Bastille Day on July 14 with pomp and circumstance. I do not wish to rain on their parade by reminding them that they decapitated, in broad daylight and in public, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Madame du Barry and even Antoine Lavoisier, the Father of Modern Chemistry.

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A version of the article was published as the Featured Op Ed Article: “The Serb Houdini – The King of the Pickpockets”, Britić, The British Serb Magazine, Sunday, September 17, 2014


There was not much that brightened your days in post war Austria in 1949. For hapless Yugoslav refugees, such as my family, the future, if in fact there was to be one was uncertain. Food was rationed, fuel scarce, days damp and cold. Scarce pleasures were to be relished and became indelible memories.

One day billboards and posters went up all over the small town where we refugees had been billeted. The circus was coming to Bregenz, the provincial capital of the Vorarlberg Province some miles away. The featured performer was the magician Borra who spelled his name “mit zwei ‘R’”, with two “R’s”.  

Borra, would you believe was a Serb, a magician, once a rising star whose fancy cabaret performances my Mom and Dad had attended in Belgrade before the war. Even then he was hailed as the next Houdini, the next Blackstone, an act not to be missed. Somehow my parents managed to come up with the money to have us travel and attend a packed performance. I do not recall much about it, after all I was 9 years old; I might well have dozed off midway. But I do remember that my Grandmother, Mom, Dad and my older brother extolled and breathlessly relived the experience for weeks thereafter. Ah, yes I remember that well.   

This week I was searching on eBay for a birthday present for someone who happens to be a collector of vintage posters when I chanced upon some for sale that triggered my memory:


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