Sunday, February 8, 2009

We Can't Get There From Here

This is the kind of shit makes me puke.
Does this money buy a chief executive stockholders might prize, the writer asks, a well-to-do man with a certain sureness of stride, something that might be lost if the executive were crowding onto the PATH train every morning at Journal Square, his newspaper splayed against the back of a stranger’s head?
I'm a man who is seldom at a loss for words, but this time words fail me. I'm afraid we'll never straighten this shit out.

What those greedy and underperforming executives and that NYT writer need is a boot in the ass. See how sure their stride is then. They're not good enough to ride my PATH train or my subway.


quinn the eskimo said...

The shift from Saturday's tears of nostalgia to Sunday's ass-kicking made me laugh, BG. I appreciate a good mood swing, though....

This stuff makes me instantly revert to "farmboy with chip on shoulder" mode. Which saw me throw punches all through my 20's, and resulted in my stubborn insistence on remaining both uncouth, but committed to living low on the hog. (The "Monk in the Attic" life, as my friends called it.) I just couldn't stand the other path, to tell you the truth.

But part of the strangeness of my path has been coming of age with a lot of these guys, from college or whatever, and getting/having to watch the transformation happen. We called it the "becoming the faster rat" option. Long, late night debates on doing it or not. Selling out. And it was ALWAYS done with the fervent promise to "get out" at 30 or n40, and make the world a better place. Which I mocked pretty brutally.

You all would have seen this in your own generation, I suspect, and used your own terms. But for me, and this group that came of age after the 60's, well.. most of them were just shits, already coming from wealth - and almost never were they close friends.

But others? Came from dirt. Very very smart, aware - and with surprising moral cores. To then watch them transform, over the years, to the point where they were living that lifestyle - and not enjoying it... truly - but because the others all did it, will eventually be the stuff of a few novels.

The subject of your recent photo, for instance, was my best bud's college roommate. I don't even dare ask him what he thinks of TG now, but I DO know the incredible sense it creates in you, that you must have taken the wrong path in life. (i.e. Choosing to be poor, and into green stuff or the public good or whatever.) Others went from rabble-rousing politicos in 3rd World villages to being "worth" hundreds of millions. Others I watched, at 22 or 24, hungover, getting into a rented suit, as they'd head out for job interviews. One guy said, "Gotta strap on my McKinsey head now." Everybody picked it up as the perfect phrase to describe what they had to do. He was incredibly funny, quite kind but bone idle, very smart & presentable - an Aussie. Who got the job, and got hyper-rich. He coulda been a great comedian. And instead, he got to be... i donno.

I spent lunch today with a friend who took the other path. Lives in an austere, in-fill home. Utterly socially minded. And we were talking of this, just today. Of what a brutal injury their buying-in has inflicted on the rest of the world. Of the rationalizations they adopted to handle it. And also, the of feeling of watching your friend, the person you once knew, utterly disappear. Every bit as complete as losing them to heroin.

I just hope someday soon to see all those Hampton places turned into student residences, summer camps, and nunneries. Yeah, I'd enjoy that.

gasket said...

Whenever I read a crap article like this one in the NYT (and there are far too many of them lately), I automatically do some research on the writer. It's a habit I've developed, a kind of knee-jerk compulsion, because I want to know just exactly what kind of idle spawn of the filthy rich we are dealing with here (I always assume a person who can write fluff for the Times is super-rich and privileged).

When a piece is exceptionally flippant and facile and has attitude to spare, I hunt for information about the writer that will make me seethe with rage. Then when I'm good and worked up, I write a scathing critique of the article (and the writer) on a blog, preferably one with a fair amount of traffic. Whether other readers agree with me or not, I don't really care; I simply want people to know they shouldn't accept crap from the NYT. I want people to know they should expect and demand better. I want people to know the Times is taking a huge dump on their heads, and that is unacceptable.

This time my research was quickly rewarded by Gawker, of all places: Allen Salkin Finds Trends Where Lesser Reporters See Only Bullshit. Gawker is short and brutal:

His past investigations have exposed chicks who eat meat, revealed how no one goes on vacations any more, and uncovered prepsters who hang out downtown—as well as their rival hipsters who hang out in Atlantic City.

We're now prepared to reveal Salkin's journalistic method to the public: He solicits you to hang out with him in casual settings and mines you for minutiae, which he then seasons with his patented significance-inflating sauce.

ROFL! My assessment is correct: The writer is crap.

Thank you, Gawker. I feel better now.

Cypher Blueman said...

Sure it might get out of hand, but does the word guillotine ring a bell? OFF WITH THEIR WIGS says I.

Cypher Blueman said...

Seriously, Billy and others. If you could choose a punishment for Madoff and others, who (unlike Madoff )may not have broken the law technically, but are responsible for this catastrophe, what punishment would you exact? And here's the deal, dude. You have to carry it out. You can have help, but your hand has to make a move.

quinn the eskimo said...

I wanna get some useful work out of these clowns, Cypher. Screw prison. My old man was always a fan of sending out-of-control teenage boys off to the North Woods for a year or two. Not a bad idea, I thought. I'd like to see idea that extended to the financial guys. Tree-planting, though, not cutting. Just day after day of bending, in the cold, planting. Housing could be a series of trailers. Sure, they'd whine about their backs
& knees for the first few years, but after a while, you get a good rhythm going. We'd need to hire a bunch of widows who'd been kicked out of their homes as site supervisors though. Instant feedback. They'd tug on a newly-planted tree, if it came out, you have to replant. Simple.

And then, 40 years from now, when they'd dead & gone, and their forest towers high overhead, our children would go in & cut the Bankers Forest to the ground.

And burn it.


Cypher Blueman said...

So quinn, you opt for a post-modern gulag. I'm guessing they get healthcare too. Criminal ecology sort of. You Canadians seem so civilized. ;) (That's a wink in C-speak.) Burn their forest but not them.

OK. I'm down with it if you make a documentary and get some money for your artfulness.

Civilized socialists, you Canadians. You have (had) Norman McClaren and his animation of Glenn Gould playing a Bach Fugue. We, on the other hand, have Clint Eastwood and his animation of Make My Day.

You wouldn't waste Madoff's sweat. Clint would just waste him.

gasket said...

Of course they should be sent to build public housing in New Orleans so low-income residents have a place to live.

GirlFromTheBronx said...

That's some obscene shit! Let them take their bonuses and buy a shred of humanity cause these people have no moral center. Sick, depressing shit this all is.

Did anyone catch Ben Stein on TV last night trying to get us all to understand the unfortunate predicament of these sad, poor, CEOs who would have to get used to flying coach and give up their private jets? Sick, sick, sick....

Billy Glad said...

Here's the deal, Blueman. Madoff should get a break, because he mainly ripped off his fellow swine, most of whom were negligent in managing their own clients' money. And I don't favor putting him to work. He'd be a danger to other people at the work site.

I'd take all his money and jail him. For how long?

I was on a jury in Texas once. The accused probably stole an air conditioner from a church. His fingerprints were on the inside of the window sill, but he claimed he looked in, changed his mind and left. Someone else took the AC.

Was the guy's third conviction, which, in Texas at the time, meant automatic life in prison. Only there was a mix up on one of his sentencing dates, so the judge threw the sentence to the jury. Nobody was up for giving him life, except two women who figured he and his friends were part of the crowd had been harrassing them and their kids at the bus stop. So they dug in.

Ten for a "reasonable" sentence, two for life in prison.

So I say, look, what short of the rest of his life in prison will satisfy you? And I swear to god, one of the women whips out a calculator and they huddle over it. Then she says, well he's in good shape and all they do up there is lift weights all day, so we're going to need 28 years.

I figure 10 in a real prison, serving real time is enough for Madoff.

Cypher Blueman said...

This guy got 28 years for stealing an air conditioner?

Do I have that right?

Billy Glad said...

No. He got 28 years for just THINKING about stealing an air conditioner and for harrassing kids at a bus stop. And, except for a technicality, the judge would have had to give him life, which meant 8 to 30 in those days.

But don't you worry, Blueman baby. He never did one day of those 28 years. As a matter of fact, about six months later, I was in a jazz club, and he sat at the table next to mine, sipping bourbon and smiling sideways over his glass at me all night.

Cypher Blueman said...

That's a real tale you ought to write up. How many more in that life of yours? Can I be you agent?

quinn the eskimo said...

I want to see Billy & his jury recalled to pass sentence on these financial guys. The defense can just say, "28 years for almost stealing an air conditioner. How many for these guys?" That should do the trick.

Billy can argue to cap their sentences at 500 years. I'd be ok with a slightly more severe compromise.

But my God, what a hellish story, Billy. Glad the guy got out, but I hope you never met any of your fellow jury-members ever again.

gasket said...

Here's a shocker:
Just thinking about money makes people selfish.

Double-shocker companion piece:
Rich people are ruder than poorer people. Why? Because they can be, apparently. Interesting to consider thinking back on the presidential debates when McCain refused to look at Obama.

Cypher Blueman said...

Depressing, la gasket, but thanks for the links. I'm getting a little itch for Robin Hood, Rob Roy, or.... hmmm.. another"R" .......yeah, Ropespierre.

Antepilani said...

The best way to hurt rich people is to make them poor people. No matter how long they rot in a jail if it is anything less than life, they are going to get out and have their money right where they left it. Take it all and you take their lives. Because if they are as morally bankrupt as we suppose, they're dead already. Taking the money gives them the death sentence...I pray to god America