Sunday, June 28, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Now that summer is here we're letting the kids start Facebook pages. There were enough distractions during the school year that it was verboten. So when our 16 year old "friended" me, I had to think - do I want him privy to all my content. Answer - hell, yeah. I already tell him everything that comes across that may be of interest to him, and any of these blog posts that end up as Facebook notes he's already read. No problem with that, in fact, I'm pretty pleased that I made the cut.
Another kid, another story.
Our oldest graduated from High School last Sunday. Growing up, I never saw High School Graduation as such a major accomplishment. All the kids are doin' it, right? But our senior is high functioning autistic and, I gotta say, it seemed like a huge deal from the parental end of the telescope. And there he was, marching down to his seat, Otsego Lake in front of him, Fenimore Art Museum behind. A breathtakingly lovely setting. When his row was called up, he was nothing but himself, right index finger in the air, scribbling some imaginary words. While waiting to receive his diploma, he tried to catch his tassel in his mouth, like a puppy gaming a chew toy.
Was I embarrassed? Nah, that's just him. His classmate next to him in line just laughed, but not in a mean way. And when he received his diploma and sat down, checking it out briefly before turning to his encyclopedia of Looney Tunes cartoons, it was all good.
Speaking of all good, three cheers for Mark Sanford. I love this story. It's not that screwing around is the problem, at least not for me. Certainly it must be number one on Mrs. Sanford's list of complaints. What cracks me up is how Sanford types can preach so-called "values" while KNOWING that they are fuckin' around! I mean, it's one thing to go back on past rhetoric - people change their minds on things, experience shows that earlier ideas were wrong, stuff like that. It's another to be in defense of traditional marriage AT THE SAME TIME you are cheating on your wife. It's just delicious.
And why Argentina? Couldn't he have found someone closer to home to commit adultery with, or at least bring his Argentine lover to South Carolina and put her and her family on the payroll? That plan was good enough for Republican Senator John Ensign, last week's hypocrite.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
No names. I was going to use his name as I thought about this last night, but I realized by laying it out so personally, it was an invasion of the family. They shouldn't have to deal with some blog out for all to see if they preferred keeping things quiet.
I met my friend in 2001. Even though we had worked on the same exchange for decades, we never met up until we were in the same office together. We hit it off right away, pretty much around baseball. He was a Cubs fan and I wasn't, though I was a season ticket holder at Wrigley. We would talk every day, mostly baseball, sometimes trading or finance. He had just gotten involved with raising money for a hedge fund that was investing in some deal regarding electronics, China and big box stores.
Everything was going well for him. He made more money in this deal than in trading, and it was a more comfortable life. After I moved to Cooperstown in June 2003, we would talk often. He even came to visit us in late 2007. We went to the Hall of Fame, his first time there and had a great time. He stayed with us and took us out for a lovely dinner at the Hoffman Lane Bistro, one of the better restaurants in the Village.
I called him a few months ago, and he didn't call back. Not like him. But, sometimes people get busy, or friendships fade. It happens. I was thinking about him two days ago, wondering why he had fallen off the face of the earth.
Now I know. It turns out that the deal his company invested in was a fraud and his investment firm lost everything. I don't think he was a fake. Not likely. He was a good guy, very caring, and through his fund he directed a lot of people into a total loss. Not to mention that he was probably wiped out. It's one thing to ruin your own life; destroying other people's lives is something else. I can only speculate that's what drove him at the end, the guilt.
Then the call. Suicide. I subsequently heard that my friend was seen around the exchange, looking wasted away, unshaven and possibly drinking. Things have to be entirely hopeless to make the move he did.
It took moving to Cooperstown and being with my wife and kids all the time to understand the proper place for money in my life. When you're involved in dollars and cents 24/7 as a trader, and your only purpose is to create more and more money, it's awfully hard to not have it be your number one priority. Even tougher is thinking of a life without financial security. It's the single most important thing in your life, the ultimate joy and the ultimate focus.
Only it turns out that it's not.
Friday, June 19, 2009
My two favorites memories of the Arena show. One, a classmate offered me cocaine as we milled around the floor.
"Want some coke?"
"It's free." Cost was the only possible reason for my refusal.
Friday, June 12, 2009
They hit the stage on the dot at 8. Although it took a bit to get in the groove, they sounded great. Crosby seemed genuinely unhappy to be there, hands in pockets, no guitar, but once he got revved up, he shone. His voice was beautifully clear and his rhythm guitar playing on "Wooden Ships" a marvel. People forget that David Crosby was at the apex of the L.A. rock scene in the late '60's - The Byrds, CSN, discovering and producing Joni Mitchell, singing on Jackson Browne's first LP - and more.
Nash, early in the show sporting a Hall of Fame with the #3 on back, kidded Crosby constantly.
"I don't know what they were thinking when they made Crosby the lead-off hitter."
"You'd know what a bad idea it was if you ever saw me hit," replied Crosby.
Later, Nash told the crowd, "We're going to play every song we remember. For Crosby, that will be three more!"
Great covers, including a highlight version of the Stones' "Ruby Tuesday," blues melding into "Rocky Mountain Way" (co-written by drummer Joe Vitale), and plenty of Buffalo Springfield, which always makes me happy.
One other moment. Nash noted, "Some of you are holding up Hollies albums. Well, here's a song they didn't want to record." The band launched into "Marrakesh Express." As Nash wanted to widen the Hollies horizons, they balked and insisted on sticking to Top 40 stuff. It led to Nash quitting and opening the doors to the possibility of CSN's existence.
The show ended with "Teach Your Children." Such a popular tune, it's easy to overlook how unique it is. For songwriters of that generation, the easy way out was to rail at parents, shouting how they didn't understand the younger generation. But "Teach" is more than that. While, sure, it implores parents to understand their kids, it makes the same demand of the young. Pretty thoughtful stuff.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
On MSNBC just now, Contessa Brewer did a report on the prospective deal in which the US will send 17 Gitmo detainees, Chinese Muslims called Uighers, to the Pacific island nation of Palau. We have to pay them $200 million for this service. A mere bag of shells. Why? Because cowardly Republicans and Democrats in Congress do not want terrorists in the US. They wouldn't be here as tourists, visiting the zoo or going to the movies, mind you. They'd be placed in Super Maximum Security Prisons.
No sooner does this report end does that Brewer tells us convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a plane, is on a hunger strike. Where is he incarcerated? Gotta be Gitmo, or some undisclosed rendition site. Couldn't have a terrorist in the US, that's a huge security problem?
Colorado. He's in Colorado in prison.
No comment from me. Also, no comment from Contessa Brewer.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I'll go out on a limb here. My favorite Bruce Springsteen album is 1987's "Tunnel of Love." It is the most soul searchingly personal collection of songs in the whole Boss canon. At times '80's production values interfere, but the tunes are deeply moving. Written as his marriage to starlet Julianne Phillips began to unravel, Bruce goes deep. "Brilliant Disguise, "Two Faces" and "Walk Like a Man" give a glimpse into the Springsteen psyche in a way that his more popular works never do. I always thought that he was emotionally spent after this LP, and that explained the weakness of the next decade - "Lucky Town," "Human Touch," "Ghost of Tom Joad" - were all subpar efforts. Once you've spilled your guts on "Valentine's Day," there's no where to go but "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)."
Getting back to the Dylan quote, those who have read KatzKomments from the beginning know from back in November ("Two of My Favorite Things") I have a predilection for apes. Planet of the Apes is at the top of my list of favorite movies and one that I always watch to the end if caught on TV. As my son said, "There's something enjoyable watching you watching Planet of the Apes." Fox Movie Channel, in the mid-100's on my digital dial, seems to show PotA every day. A couple of moments have surged to the fore. Now, the best scene is unequivocally the trial, when the orang judges do a "Monkey-See, Monkey-Do" while sustaining all Zaius' objections. Lately, I have been revelling in a priceless bit of thespian skill as Roddy McDowell's Cornelius sucks in air when Charlton Heston kisses his wife. Pretty hard to evoke multiple emotions behind layers of latex, but Roddy pulls off shock, anger and jealously with one inhalation. Even better is a tiny mistake that follows. Heston and his girl Nova are riding off on horseback, pursued by gorillas. Dr. Zaius yells for the gorillas to stop, and of course they do. In the distance you can see Heston's horse stops as well. It's the ultimate in fairness. If the hunters have to quit, then the hunted should stop too.
Ha Jin's A Free Life, is the story of a Chinese immigrant who gives up his intellectual pursuits to make money in America. He becomes disgruntled with his position as his true love, writing poetry, has been submerged by material pursuits. I'm not done with the novel yet - about 100 pages or so to go- but it looks like the protagonist, Nan, will begin writing again. It's an unlikely jump from a Chinese ex-pat to me, but my story is the same. After 20 years of trading options I was completely resentful of what my life had become, how empty a life it was screaming and yelling over a series of meaningless numbers and I needed a change, quickly. Like Nan, I too am trying to figure out how to become successful in something I love doing, writing. I can't wait to see how both of our stories turn out.