AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS?

“Live for nothing or die for something”
-John Rambo

Who am I?  “Say my name! Say my name! If no one is around you, you can say I love you.”

I repeat, who am I? Bro, this ain’t no “Existential Crisis” here.  I know what I mean and I mean what I say. So you think I have a god complex? Let me tell you something, when you are alone reading my words in the quiet of your home or out in the public domain on say an iPad, between you, me and the truth I am god!

So, what is my perspective? Simple.  Stand on the middle platform in Times Square, stretch arms wide and hold on to the “Third Rail” on both tracks so I can feel the electricity of dissent.

You want a piece of me? “Go ahead,  make my day” and let the first amendment be your guide. I don’t censor unless you are a spambot. But I warn you if you come with a pop gun or water pistol of an intellect you will be destroyed like one of RAMBO’s victims below.

So who am I? The way, the truth and the life? I am…I said. I am said I.  I am what you get when Bridge & Tunnel American with Spanish, Colombian, Austrian, German and Italian roots meets the school of hard knocks followed by the Ivy League. I have sat in conferences along side of titans of industry,  CEO’s, soldiers, Generals and I have worked as a Wall Street Lawyer, delivered newspapers, mopped floors and was even the deep fry guy at Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips. I paid my way through college on scholarship, work study and money saved from selling t-shirts and souvenirs at Madison Square Garden. There is not a job that I was ever unwilling to do to put a few bucks in my pocket. If we had migrant farm workers in New York City, I would have been one. My dream job? To be a crew member aboard the Bob Barker Sea Shepherd. I aspire to affect the human condition not to line my pockets or be well known or famous. I am the anti famous and that is fine with me. In the words of Jane Jacobs, “I do not know who this celebrity called Jane Jacobs is. It’s not me. You either do your work or you’re a celebrity; I’d rather do my work”

I am safely and securely ensconced in the truth of my convictions and the experience of life at all levels of society.  I care to see and understand things that most don’t and my “small talk” is the human condition, freedom, democracy and the right to challenge bad ideas, the supremely misinformed and the punch drunk fame whores who stand atop a pile of mediocrity proclaiming their short list of non-accomplishment. No matter how perfectly polished and painfully posed, I am not impressed even if Andy Warhol predicted your retarded social climb. You are still a clown to me. “This ain’t no party this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.”

Are you sure? Hold steady, ready, aim fire! Pump me full of shells and watch as I stand here like Crazy Joe Gallo dining at Umberto’s Clam House on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, except I would be at Puglia’s instead,  laughing until your little pop gun is empty. Then at least I could get back to finishing my Pork Chops Pizzaiola with Linguine. If you are not too tired maybe you can pour me another glass of Opus 1 before you get out of my sight.

Self Dealing: The New Social Media-ites Self Obsession

Kelly Killoren Bensimon at Opening Day of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge at Blue Star Jets Field

Kelly Killoren Bensimon at Opening Day of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge at Blue Star Jets Field

Social Media-ites, please do keep in mind that it’s not really “journalism” if you are in essence covering yourself. In that case it’s called “self promotion”, “self dealing” or serving as your own publicist.

There is nothing wrong with infusing yourself and your brand into a story. These are after all strange and unusual times. Many are hurting and can use a little brand extension, but then if that case let someone else write about it and photograph it. For when you masturbate unless someone else’s hand, mouth or even feet are involved than no matter how you slice or dice it, it’s truly nothing more than an exhibition of self love.  Capische?

On Saturday afternoon, July 24th as my brother drove the two of us out to the East End of Long Island to cover events for the MacDella Cooper Foundation and The Watermill Center’s 17th Annual Benefit: Paradiso my email rant via blackberry to a select friends list ended up on Scallywag & Vagabond. I was almost going to ask the publisher Christopher Koulouris  to pull it down as I suspect it would not make me many friends, although what else is new right? But then after arriving at Mercedes Benz Polo Challenge, taking photos of many of the guests of import, I found it nearly impossible to get a clean photo of Kelly Killoren Bensimon from The Real Houswives of New York City who was also the July 4th cover model for Social Life Magazine, for which I write the Society column. You see Kelly Bensimon was too busy taking photos of and videoing herself on her own iphone while her team was also videoing her, to accomodate photographers who wanted to take her photo. On a blistering Saturday afternoon in the heat, the last  thing I needed to do was get in the way of Kelly’s self love at Two Trees Farms in Bridgehampton.

Truth told when this old man first leveled a critique at GuestofaGuest for its practice and promotion of self love, many dealers critiqued me for raining on their parade dismissing me as envious of the success of the Gen Y Social Networking site which has since, not surprisingly, given the history of their financial backers, morphed into Facebook Lite. Generation Y’s self absorption seemingly knows no bounds and has made them drunk with indifference, hooked on bad art/culture and thus the ideal consumers of the culture of distraction. While the country has gone to hell in a proverbial hand basket our best and brightest are consumed with everything Lohan, Hilton, Gaga, Kardashian et al etc.—wondering how they can in essence be like them and similarly cash in. Example of the culture of the social retard is no better exemplified than Micah Jesse and his following band of twit-idiots who represent nothing of character, substance or lasting value in our society other than I am here, I want to be famous and will stand next to be people who are famous and have my photo taken with them. By comparison, American Porntrepreneur,  Joe Francis and Girls Gone Wild almost seem to have redeeming societal value, even if merely attending one of Joe’s gatherings, in some states serves as a woman’s implied consent to be sexually molested, turning her into a veritable Samantha from Sex & The City or just another Christine Saunders

While the social whales referenced above search for the right price for their barren hustle, even famed game show host Bob Barker knows that The Price is Right when he donated $5 Million to the Sea Shepherd’s whale rescue missions.  Maybe if more of us were saving those whales, we could allow the Japanese to harpoon some of the social whales referenced above and rid our society of the social blubber, rather than the endangered species that they continue to hunt with abandon, and save the cause of humanity in the process.

Where prior generations asked questions about the state and future of humanity, this one doesn’t bother cause its too phucking busy looking at itself in the mirror, taking pictures of itself and jacking off on Facebook.  In America at the present time there is no Beat Generation to question whether society sucks, just one over run with narcissists beating off to their 15 Minutes of fame and hoping to turn that famegame into the cause of a lifetime. The tools of the trade for the new Social Journalist are a mirror and a camera aimed in their direction at all times. Critique of these folks can even potentially make one persona non grata at events where these exhibitionists are on display and allowed, if not encouraged to document and exhibit themselves with your event as their backdrop.

The TRIAL PRACTICE Presidency of OBAMA

President Obama is a lawyer.  He is a graduate of Harvard Law School who practiced briefly for several years as a full time attorney with Miner, Barnhill & Galland in Chicago. That got me thinking as to what kind of lawyer he was in his practice days. As one who was trained as a Bankruptcy and Restructuring Lawyer (a multidisciplinary practice) one might think that this was perhaps the perfect time for the Chris London Presidency. But if that were the case they would probably tap Harvey Miller of Weil Gotshal & Manges, the leader of the Business Finance & Restructring Group at WGM which I started with ironically.  In that case then my experience relative to his would sort of look much like……President Obama’s on economic matters. I digress

So, I started thinking even more deeply. What kind of lawyer is or was President Obama? What set of skills or perspective does he bring to his view of the world?  As a Summer Associate he hooked Michelle, then an Associate at Sidley & Austin–nabbing your mentor slick. As a mentor to some brilliant and charming young Summer Associates, I wish someone had nabbed me. I was not so slick. I was just trying to tread water in the brilliance around me. And Weil Gotshal’s Bankruptcy Department had some great minds.

America hates lawyers but I LOVE em, if only because you can tell a lot about their persona and philosophy by which craft they choose. Did America get a Transactional Lawyer such as an M&A Lawyer, a Venture Capital Lawyer or a Litigator or perhaps even a Trial Lawyer?  I know he is not a Real Estate Lawyer. We have those, in the name of Privatization everything is sold off to a foreign entity.  He is not a Bankruptcy or Restructuring Lawyer because if he had the skills of Harvey Miller we would be out of this Chapter 11 by now.

Then it hit me. We have a series of legislative victories from Stimulus Act, Health Care and now Financial Reform which have been panned by critics on the left and the right for a variety of reasons, including specifically that the assault on capitalism has not put anybody back to work yet. And what kind of symbolism is there that Jamie Dimon who is as responsible as anyone for saving Wall Street will not be there when the Financial Regulatory Reform bill is signed today?  Maybe that is not entirely fair but “Smart money” in America remains on the sidelines not sure where they should place their bets, entrepreneurs frozen in their tracks not sure if this game is even one they want to play as the outcome is far from certain.

It became clear:  Obama is a Trial Lawyer selling America on his victories on the court house steps, while engaged in a Motions practice, which inch by inch seems to give his case for rebuilding America some forward momentum. But the rest of us are scratching our heads because yes, he has won some procedural motions allowing him to frame the debate but the case is not yet won, testimony has not yet been heard nor have any jury deliberations been held,  resulted in a vote much less a verdict.

If America’s case is still being held back in a Motions Practice in 2012, many may be fooled but ultimately we as a people, all LOSE. In the alternative, American Citizens may file a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment against him.

Note: The author is “currently” a Registered Democrat who voted for and supported President Obama. But in terms of full disclosure, he has voted for members of both parties, including Independents like Mike Bloomberg at the local and national level. He wishes to note that he has no issues with lawyers being President but just believes that maybe in retrospect, if we were going to elect a lawyer to rebuild America, we should have elected a transactional lawyer instead of a litigator.

The Midnight Ride of Jack Kerouac

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh.”

-On the Road (Viking Press 1957) by Jack Kerouac

I never said that I am the way, the truth and the life but ye who believe and trust in me, well maybe, just maybe, we’ll live a new life.  Our metropolis. Our country. Quiet conversations in the shadows. Some in plain view. The comforting nods, a knowing glance, comfort. Brief verbal exchanges about nothing and everything. How you doin? We are not alone. You know. Our experience is shared, even when we don’t know it.   This blog, a farce or dangerous even maybe? Yeah.  What I express herein, it is not some vanity play or a famegame.  Hell no, I will not expose  fellow patriots who communicate in silence, in the dark or who walk away not to associate with me. Your concern and your defiance although shared,  it is yours alone to reveal in due course. If you want me to stand a post with ya I will.  Who am I?  Just a citizen, one of the  Ordinary People.  I expect to get few BRAVO’s along the way as I do not have some well styled Real Housewife from New York City to jazz me up and make what I have to say more palatable or attractive to the current generation. Lost and they will ignore me.

A simple man, weathered by my life experience?  Sure, I am. Yet at this point in time,  I believe, still in possession of all my faculties, if not all the worldly possessions and financial security that I once had before….before  9/11 turned my economic world upside down. The pain of that loss is a subtle reminder, whatever security I have I know it can be taken away, undermined or destroyed, if not by me by forces I have no control over in this universe.  The trade off of my journey through “The Dark Night of the Soul”, what keeps me going, is a rebirth as Jack Kerouac with soul of Paul Revere, assuming a Beat Generation leader could be a freedom fighter (of note, I am of the same age as was Mr. Kerouac in the year of his death).

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the lord my soul to take

Free spirits seek liberation not confinement and subservience for the greater goals of a collective. That quote’s mine, don’t forget it. You feel me yet? Somehow yes I do suspect that they, Revere and Kerouac, might have more in common than one might think.  This side of me I have tried to suppress,  to peacefully co-exist, as a pragmatic survival mechanism, even as I witness the slow erosion of what I once revered as the American Way of Life. That Indian with the tear, its me, so I am not an Indian but I am a native son.  While I was certainly no Superman, The Secret of my Success was always a simple belief in Truth, Justice and the American way.

My world, always full of those more successful, affluent and well connected making me what?; a veritable Sabrina looking through the glass, across the lawn or into the ballrooms and clubs: clubs which I was not a member wondering, wondering  how the other half lived. Beautiful.  A taste here and there? Yes, yummy, feels good and tastes nice. Envious of those who possess more and who are living the American Dream?  Absolutely.  Steal or destroy their dream? Or pray and hope for  Government Central Planning to dilute and redistribute their wealth?  NO. It’s not mine. They earned it.  An example of something to aspire to…the hunger to learn from the example of their life’s success? YES.

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1532)

Masks worn by many in our society; that I am able to see through them  is not always useful or helpful. Often more of a curse than a blessing indeed. Feeling exposed knowing that they know that I know.   Islamic change agents make Machiavelli proud with their mission to breed greater interfaith and cultural understanding? Improving Muslim-West relations? Then why in an ever so subtle fashion do they work to unravel the Constitution and install a societal framework in the spirit of that designed by the  Warrior Prophet or the General of Islam? To provide greater justice, fair play and equality? No.  Democracy? No. Their terms? YES! How Prince like indeed.   But let us first discount the culture of intolerance and oppression that takes over wherever Sharia Law has been installed. The labeling of critics as intolerant of their religious freedom may stifle the PC Crowd but not me and hopefully not you.

Socialism, Marxism, Collectivism, Nazism all purport to come to liberate humanity but they kill the free and independent spirit of man. And ironically in this country, there was once a time that we sought to stifle the creative genius of the Beat Generation when it in earnest posed no threat but Sharia ironically poses a threat to the very idea of such a generation ever reconstituting. Then why, why why don’t those with the spirit who challenged our society then, why is that the alternative crowd insisting on more tolerance for this movement?  Oh I see, it is counter cultural so they ignore the oppressive aspects until they find themselves being ruled by it. Only then will it be too late.

The collectivism of Islam and Sharia Law, however, is plain; it’s simple and purely antithetical to democracy and the free will of man; as an anti-democratic force even arguably a form of terrorism on the freedom, independence and spirit of the individual. As a movement it must be challenged, questioned, subdued,  reformed or at least held  accountable for the more radical elements disguised in spirituality and ultimately forced to modernize to peacefully co-exist with  the modern world.  For in uncertain times the people hunger for spiritual fulfillment and will attempt to drink from an empty sand trap if it looks like an Oasis for their soul. If religion is the opiate for the masses, then is Islam cocaine or PCP?

Their agenda may be camouflaged from the masses who have been numbed, confused and stifled by the culture of distraction and mainstream media disinformationalists who steer them away from focusing in a manner which allows them to comprehend that their freedom, independence and democracy is becoming more diluted which each and every passing day and the American Dream vanishing before their Eyes Wide Shut.

My hope is that our people awaken before the coming Caliphate causes everything near and dear to your heart to evaporate in a puff of smoke. Make no mistake that a government which targets the affluent and turns its citizens against capitalists, free enterprise and silences its critics, while supporting those who preach Collectivism, is one which ought to be challenged. Ride with me. How far we get is not certain.

Obama: Rebuild America Not A European Styled Caliphate State

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”  – Thomas Paine

Dear President Obama (and those who are paying attention):   

Congratulations on the series of legislative victories you have achieved in your first 2 years as President. By any measure your political victories in gaining passage of the (i) Stimulus Act  (ii) Health Care Reform  and now (iii) Financial & Regulatory Reform designed to curb Wall Street abuse are significant achievements and evidence your ability to get things done. Were these any other times you could coast into 2012 your reelection virtually assured. These are not, however, ordinary times. The people can’t eat Caviar for policy wonks without bread or a spoon. Most citizens will not be able to hang a hat on your administration’s achievements, hence the reason that these legislative victories have not thus far translated into voter approval. Please know that in terms of full disclosure, I am but an ordinary citizen who supported, rather enthusiastically, your candidacy for President but I am concerned in a manner diffferent than those others who have written  letters offering encouragement or historically inaccurate  critique.

War on Capitalism & Free Enterprise

Whether the problems are of your creation or prior administration(s) no longer matters to the American people. Our country is divided, idle and angry. In fairness to you, the wind is not at your back largely because of the disinformation campaign to discredit you and your progressive agenda which only gained steam the morning after your victory in the Presidential election of 2008. Despite your legislative successes there continues to be considerable pain and suffering in the heartland as well as America’s urban centers from the used to have’s, nor long have’s and still have not’s which has eroded much of the “Hope” generated by your campaign. The Great Recession will continue to feel like a modern Depression until the vast majority of our unemployed citizens are put back to work in a substantive and constructive fashion to rebuild America. In  the words of Nouriel Roubini, the NYU economist credited with predicting the global financial crisis, Obama needs to “Treat Americans like adults”.

Of even greater concern is that in the push to create a more “equitable” society the successful entrepreneurial and investment classes, many of whom are highly philanthropic and have invested in America now feel under attack. Painting these folks as gluttonous, selfish, robber barons or villains who deserve to be more heavily taxed and scrutinized simply because they have succeeded and live the American dream may help score populist points but aside from being an unfair characterization, it is creating deep wedges in our Society from which we may never recover. Your administration’s rhetoric is dangerous in that it creates an environment where it is politically correct to demonize and condemn wealth creators, if not capitalism itself. My fear is that a continued rhetorical and policy assault will cause many of these people to hold on to their chips, remain on the sidelines and disengage if not bail entirely on further investments in the rebuilding of American society.

Equity vs. Efficiency: Individualism vs. Collectivism 

Truth told, the problem with equity vs. efficiency arguments in running a Capitalist Democracy is after a while, folks will begin to question who’s deciding what is equitable as the inefficiencies mount. The crash of free markets and the Madoff Economy provided the perfect  opening for the proponents of equity to come forth, preach for more economic justice and fair play.  To a certain degree this was necessary to resintill confidence in the markets. There is, however, a danger of going to far the other way in attempting to manage the capitalist system. Where the government serves as referee, judge and intervenes to create designated or preferred outcomes picking winners and losers, moving us further away from “survival of the fittest”,  that is truly when we all lose. My fear is that we will in essence create a society that punishes the strong and that props up the weak with entitlment programs, in effect reversing the laws of evolution and in effect the American Dream.

I will know that we are on the verge of better times, however, if the forces of efficiency take hold once again and fewer people are worried as much about equity as they feel empowered enough to create their own. Perhaps our country must go through these cycles so that the have-not’s look at the have-more’s with a bit less contempt when they come to the realization that their elevation is going to come not from the President or Congress but by the sweat of their own brow.

Symbols of Freedom Rendered Irrelevant By Elite Political Class  

In the words of Daniel Pipes: “Islam remains  the world’s leading anti-democratic force.” (See also: Is Islam Compatible with Democracy?). As we attempt to remake America, my concern is, however, with the unquestioned subtle seeping of Islamic Collectivism and creeping Sharia Law into the American psyche, which will lead ultimately to the destruction of individual rights, freedom and democracy. Criticising Islam is not racist. The myth of Islamophobia is however a way to stifle debate and is evidence of  the coming Caliphate and its effort to use political correctness to silence critique under the veil of religious freedom and to get the public  to ignore the warnings issued to the world’s democratic governments by the rise of Militant Islam

What kind of messages are we sending when the members of our elite political classes, incuding Mayor Bloomberg and Community Board 1 President Julie Menin, will not even listen to the majority of our citizens and (i) stand up to support the Rebuilding of the Twin Towers (which still have not been rebuilt almost a decade after their collapse on 9/11), and (ii) instead members of these same political classes expend more time and energy, with all due respect to arguments about religious freedom and tolerance, on fast tracking and expediting the building of a Mega Mosque at Ground Zero that is widely opposed by a majority of New Yorkers and Americans and even Muslim intellectuals.  The ruling political classes along with the mainstream media continue to paint the opposition as that of right wing fringe radicalsTea Party members, random  9/11 Families, Islamophobes or simply bigots. Fact is that the dissent is far more widespread and has been largely uncovered and the rationale for their opposition misstated.  Are a majority of New Yorkers really idiots or bigots? The Mosque project has also been condemned by some leading Muslims but that is irrelevant to folks like Julie Menin who was silent on rebuilding the Twin Towers, not seeing it as at all central or relevant to her mission at Wall Street Rising,  but outspoken on the building of a mosque at Ground Zero. Do we  even pledge allegiance to the same flag Julie?  With the growing Muslim population in Lower Manhattan, this is simply about votes, money, the branding associated with being the well styled voice of tolerance for the financially well healed community of Muslims downtown and to extend one’s media persona.  It would be harder ultimately to sell a nuanced position to that voting bloc and maintain your standing. Just like how London has become Londonistan, I hope you will always remember who was behind the creation of NewYorkistan.

How can it be considered so politically incorrect to question the sources, funding and motives of a quasi political organization called the American Society for Muslim Advancement spear headed by Feisal Abdul Rauf (a guy who is somewhat of a critic of contemporary American Society)? Furthermore, how can someone who claims to want to build bridges of understanding and interfaith dialogue with non-Muslims, not understand that building a headquarters near Ground Zero might actually open new wounds and otherwise be perceived as being an effort to erect a political symbol or planting a flag of Islamic conquest at Ground Zero? What would the Voices of September 11th be saying to us now, were they to realize what we had allowed to rise in their place 10 years after they died for no good reason at all?

A revolution is brewing because people have too much time on their hands and the government seems to be ignoring the will of the people and/or finding ways to de-legitimize it. Symbols of freedom, democracy and free markets need to be elevated and reinstalled where necessary, not sacrificed as inconsequential in the reinvention of an America. Have we no national pride? Are we ashamed to be “too” American?  Recreating a European styled caliphate state in place of American democracy is not the answer. Islam deserves critique. In my estimation, Political Islamists have no standing nor are they in any position to lecture the west about democracy. 

Dare I Ask? The Vulnerability of America 

Truth is that I do not believe our political classes are naïve. So I am left to wonder, do the Globalists really intend to bring about the collapse of America by suffocating the independent spirit of our citizens, free enterprise and our national pride and silencing those who dare offer critique? Have we (America) become so weakened financially, structurally and our value system so compromised by our thirst and dependence on foreign oil, particularly from the Oil Producing Export Countries in the Middle East and financing from the House of Saud, the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia that our leadership is willing to discard most of what America is based or founded upon to appease and accommodate NWO Globalists who have become empowered by the current state of the Global Economy and the vulnerability of the United States of America and the opportunities that it presents? Are we on the verge of a new paradigm rebuilt on Saud(i) House of Cards with an Islamic quid pro quo at Ground Zero? Is this the end of the American Dream for many of us? Perhaps the establishment of  a new currency is not so far fetched. 

REBUILD AMERICA: The Clock is Ticking 

The time has come to Rebuild America. If America’s political elites have not already cashed in their chips, we can still rebuild America’s future through rebuilding it’s infrastructure.  Doing so is the only thing that will unite laborers, entrepreneurs, architects, engineers and reinvigorate the nation’s economy by getting the engines of commerce, banking and finance working in concert with the American worker. 

We ought to Rebuild America with the same sense of urgency and determination that we have sought to Rebuild Afghanistan.  We are headed to the point where celebrities will head to Detroit to adopt abandoned children rather than flying to Africa. 

The clock is ticking on America. Mr. President, if you want to reinvent or re-engineer American Society through central planning you might want to do so while putting folks back to work, engaging entrepreneurs and financiers. Not every capitalist is a crook and I fear alienating them will be the End of America. Furthermore, sewing resentment of the entrepreneurial classes in America may misdirect some anger and score political points but in terms of the people who create jobs, we need to stop demonizing them.  

Like most Americans, I would rather get a paycheck from a “greedy capitalist” who built an enterprise than food stamps from Uncle Sam. Capitalism does NOT suck. Try not to forget that. If I were you, I would get more CEO’s, Business Owners and Investors on your side. That more are not worries me.