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Wall Street, Horribilis

There’s an idle decadence in the air, a shared feeling of invincibility that is always born in the very best of markets. Believe it or not, I was once a young man, filled with promise, fastidiously racing up and down Wall Street in search for extreme fortune. I had made a small score in late 1998 and was interested in another. The year being 2000 and all, markets at new highs, the internet renewed the spirits of those looking to invest in innovative fields; there was very little in the way of us youngsters making our mark — to be loved and cherished by our well-to-do northeast clients who hailed from families rich with tradition and power.

My partner and I had done decent enough business to deserve an office, but not one with a window. Those were reserved for the other brokers, the one’s who were producing large sums of monthly commissions for a long time. We had only recently been big producers and my age was hardly something that was viewed as an asset back then — merely 23, wet behind the years, and I looked 18.

We had a small staff of cold callers, account openers, and even a secretary. I felt as if I could do nothing wrong, since I was a genius — a providential beneficiary of a roaring bull market — one that had seen the NASDAQ climb by 85% the year prior. All of my picks outshone the others. My hand for picking the very best stocks become known around the firm — which caused a small crowd of brokers to constantly populate outside our office to find out what we were buying next. Most of the other men were too interested in spending their money, rather than learning how to make it. Even the lowest producers were making $200,000 a year back then. Money was easy, spending it was easier, and making it was the easiest.

Until it ended on March 7th, 2000. Both the Dow and the Nasdaq tumbled hard. We were heavily leveraged, so we were scared, almost instantly. Accounts that were once up 100% for the year were teetering on break even. The selling didn’t let up and the margin calls started to become a regular chore. Clients would soon be popping into our office before 8am, deeply concerned about their accounts — begging to hear about our plan to get it all back.

In one particular case, the account had gone deep into negative equity. My partner had miraculously convinced him to send in $50k to get back to zero. This helped us avoid eating that loss, something that was happening with regularity by May of 2000.

The idea pitched to us, over and over again, by management and experts on the teevee, was that the downturn was temporary and that things would come back to the way they once were — only better. For if you were able to raise money to buy the blood that was flowing freely through the streets,  it was entirely possible that you’d make such a mark that your firm would let you choose whichever office you wanted, one even with a window.

Things never were the same after that. Markets didn’t really come back with vigor until early 2003, which lasted, tenuously, until it broke apart and shattered again in 2008. Like a dream, when it ends, it cannot be continued. The faineantise illusions we had painted for ourselves were cast in water colors, easily wiped away and erased with inclement conditions that older men, who had been though previous market squalls, understood and prepared for.

When this market cracks apart, and the seams from which it was built upon come undone, how will you respond? Will you, for example, chalk it up to another buying opp, loudly declaring to “buy the dip” — for the 3:30 algo Gods will surely save you? Or, perhaps take a different tact and prepare for something worse?

Ostensibly, one thing is evergreen in this regard, hindsight is the only unspoiled and unbiased truth laid bare, most often obvious to those who were too busy keeping their heads up their backside cavities while matters took a turn for the dreadful.

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Halloween in My Hood

My grandfather used to tell me tales of halloween, growing up in Harlem, NYC, circa 1920’s. Times were tough, so they weren’t tossing protein around like kids in my day. Instead, they put flour into a black sock and used it to pound each other into dust. On occasion, he told me of times they’d store one or two eggs in a drawer for a month or two to make the eggs rotten. He said the stench it’d leave after exploding over someone’s head was enough to kill a mule, or bring back the dead.

When I was growing up, in the 80’s, no one trick or treated. Costumes were no more than a cheap plastic apron, with some bullshit sketched on it. I once walked around as a skeleton, with only the front painted, because that’s all C-town sold that year. For me, in my hood, Halloween was all about destroying the neighborhood and your friends with eggs and shaving cream. My friends and I would save our money and buy dozens and dozens of eggs, multiple cans of shaving cream, then head out to wreak havoc on our neighborhoods.

We’d affix aerosol caps to the shaving cream, so it would spray better. Or, if we couldn’t steal a cap from the local store or find one in our apartments, we’d take the cap, rip out the middle, and use that. It wasn’t aerosol, but it sprayed further than leaving it as is.

Everyone got bombed on Halloween. If you were walking outside and under the age of 18, you got nailed.

Because I lived in an apartment complex, there were rivalries between the buildings. I was lucky enough to live in the building that had the most athletic/most popular kids. Plus, it was like children of the corn around my way, with 30 kids running around without parental supervision, menacing the entire neighborhood. Cops never came by either, mainly because it was a low crime area in those days. Later on, when the neighborhood changed, people got shot, including several of my close friends.

One time we got caught off guard by some elder teens, who chased us into the building amidst eggs flying everywhere. We ran up the stairs, trying to shake them. Some of our slower friends got caught and egged to hell. The interior of the building was completely wrecked, strewn with cracked eggs and mountains of shaving cream. The porter would always get pissed off, cursing at us, telling us to “take this shit to the park.” The day was never complete without the psychotic, STEVE BROWN, dropping gallons of milk down the stairwell from the 7th floor, accompanied by his lunatic whistle to make it sound like it was a bomb dropping out from a bay.

Good times.

Oh, and if you ever yelled at us throughout the year for playing hardball baseball in the parking lot, your door got destroyed on Halloween.

I’ll leave the more extreme Halloween stories for another year.

Happy Halloween. Don’t eat too much candy; it’ll make you sick (Yo Gabba Gabba)

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HERE COME THE CLERKS

Back when I was starting out, I had a real bitch of a margin clerk. She had dead eyes, and a serious demeanor, like a shark. At around 2:00pm, she’d make her way around the office, like a mafia hitman, demanding payment, else face the consequences. Often times, we’d hide from her in the bathroom, lobbies or head out for an extended lunch. Sometimes we’d go play arcade games in Times Square and try to forget our misery by playing the games of children.

It was a sad time to be in this business, back in 2000-2002. No one wanted to invest in stocks and to look at client accounts, post crash, was simply depressing.

Guess what? You young fuckers might get to “enjoy” it now, for at least the next two years.

China goes offline: your whole business ignites into flames–like a homeless man wrapped in burlap.

The margin clerks are make the rounds now. Expect volatility into the bell.

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Bottled Up Nitroglycerine

Several times in my career I’ve had moments of clarity, when everything made sense and it gave me uncontrollable energy and drive to accomplish a task. When I first entered the business, poor as shit wearing chinese-man delivery shirts to work, I witnessed success for the first time and wanted it. But to get from where I was to where some of the top producers were, I needed to make changes. The first and most obvious change to me was to work on my speech patterns. Growing up in Brooklyn, I had taken on a distinct NY accent. That shit needed to go and quick.

So I skill milled every fucking night, recorded myself, and entrenched myself in the process of sales. The first thing you need to do is just do it. Get over the specter of rejection. Being rejected, in any venue, whether it be women or business, should be viewed as a learning process. What did I do wrong? How could I’ve closed that sale? Right? Soon enough, your skin will become so thick, you crave for that rejection–because you’re gonna overcome it and make that person see the light.

After the dot com crash I went into hibernation and made a modest living selling bonds and doing preferred stock offerings, raising capital through secondaries and “just getting by.” During this period, my energy level plummeted and I became a recluse, staying at home reading books and consuming information on an industrial scale. Then I saw eureka. I believe that moment came in early 2003, after the Bush tax cuts. It was like a bolt of lightening ran through my spine. Immediately I ceased all bad habits and focused my newly found, and intense, energy on building my business. I started going to work at 4am to call overseas, working late until 9pm. I was never home and my wife hated me. Frankly, I didn’t think about that because I had a mission to accomplish and nothing was going to stop me. I scaled my business and started doing 6 figures in monthly gross production again, for the first time since 2000.

The reason why I can’t sleep these days is because, for the first time since 2003, I sense a major shift in my life coming.

For five long years, I’ve tried to get PPT 2.0 finished. It is finally finished and I couldn’t be happier with the results. The PPT was built solely for an internet based audience; one that, quite frankly, I discouraged people from subscribing to. It’s actually quite funny if you look at how abrasive I am with you fuckers and you still do business with iBC. I think you sense there is something genuine and real about my intentions.

With Exodus, I’ve decided to rapidly expand the company though direct sales efforts to industry professionals, applying the skills that helped me build a multi million dollar brokerage business, twice, to software as a service.

I am sure many of you have ideas and want to find that vision or motivation to build something. The best advice that I can give you is to stop being such a fucking pussy and grab the bull by the horns, else that motherfucker up the block will do it for you.

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SHAK ATTACK!

Before I rejoice in the soon to be public Shake Shack, ticker symbol SHAK, I want to tell you a horrible story (fair warning given).

Once upon a time there was a small boy living in a foreign land. He was staying at his Uncle’s house during the summer, taking in the ocean breeze, hamming it up with his cousins. One morning his Uncle woke them up and asked them if they’d like to go on a journey. The boy and the cousins celebrated this idea with vigorous tenacity and packed a small bag to head down to the beach with their Uncle.

It was very early in the morning. The sun was barely out and the weather was a bit damp and cold. His Uncle told them of an ancient ritual that could cast away disease, bad luck and give him the vitality he needed to be a successful man. Barely 12 years old, none of these things meant anything to the young boy. But he agreed to undergo the ritual with his Uncle and cousins for the sake of sport.

While walking on the beach his Uncle said they needed to head over to the rocks. The young boy was so excited over this mysterious adventure he was nervously shaking with a smile from ear to ear.

They arrived at their destination and his Uncle stepped in the water with his eyes focused on the ground peering near the rocks. Ah, he found it! Uncle pulled a giant turtle out from the water and raised it up to the sun. The boys were ecstatic. They’ve found their treasure and now the ritual was complete!

But the Uncle wasn’t done.

He pulled 4 shot glasses out from his bag, one for the boy, two for the cousins and one for himself. He then turned the turtle over on his back, pulled out a knife, and removed the turtle from its shell. By this time the small boy was in shock, unable to move. His great Uncle then picked up the turtle, raised it to the sun and stabbed it in its heart. He then squeezed the turtle’s blood into the shot glasses and demanded everyone to “drink now”, while hot, before the blood congealed.

The ritual had been completed. The boys and the Uncle then went back home to watch a soccer game.

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A Christmas Past

My grandfather was the proudest man I’ve ever known. He was comfortable with who he was, wore his Italian culture on his sleeve, and voiced his opinions often in his classically loud baritone way. A small business owner, dealing with furniture, a stand up comedian during World War 2, and a fantastic story teller in his later years: that was my grandfather.

Christmas in our quaint two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn started immediately after Thanksgiving. He’d plaster his cheesy, one dimensional, paper decorations all over the apartment, in every room, even the bathroom. The front door was covered with Santa Claus’ greetings and the 6th story window was framed with large colored bulbs. He made a small chimney out of cardboard and wrapped it in faux brick paper, for the effect of course. Then he’d stick an oversized blow up doll of Santa Claus in it and declared the Christmas season had begun.

These were magical times for me. The whole idea of Santa Claus traveling to my house to deliver gifts was beyond amazing. He’d tell me stories of the time he actually saw Santa Claus, live and in person, when my mother was a child. This only fueled my imagination with endless possibilities.

In his spare time, he was either painting in his closet or baking. Italians express themselves through food. My grandmother was the traditional Italian cook. She never did anything differently, always the same, reliable, Italian fare. My grandfather, being the artist he was born to be, would make fantastic messes in my grandmother’s kitchen, which would lead to dramatic flare ups and eventual evictions for Grandpa Fly from the kitchen.

But every Christmas he did it right. He’d take out his Mother’s 19th century, hand written, recipe of struffolis out from his little tin box and get to work. For those who aren’t familiar, they are small balls of dough, infused with anisette, and deep fried in glorious oil. After they were fried, he’d lather them with honey and candied sprinkles. Sometimes he’d sneak me a shot of anisette when my grandmother wasn’t looking.

He’s also made us zeppoles, which is essentially deep fried dough with tonnes of powdered sugar on them. For a kid who loved sweets, this was my favorite time of year.

We’d buy a real tree down the block, lug it home on foot; and then he’d saw off the end and stick it in a tree stand. He always said the trunk of the tree needed to be cut so that it’d last longer. I have no idea whether this was true or not. All I do remember was the force he’d administer to saw that damned trunk apart. The decorations were something out of the 1920’s. My grandmother would literally string popcorn together and wrap it around the tree. Throughout the month of December, Christmas music would be playing, from real vinyl records, never from the radio. Sinatra was never played in his house, since he hated him. I think he knew one of Sinatra’s cousins and had a personal beef against him. Back then, Italians in the tri-state area all seemed to know one another. If you were in politics or owned a business, you vacationed in the same places and went to the same nightclubs.

Christmas eve was for the kids. My grandparents would wake at 5:30 am to a boiling pot of black coffee. He’d start his “gravy” with braciole, sausages and meatballs. The spread was kid-friendly: sweets, home made anti-pasta, linguini with sauce and meats, baked macaroni with cheese, lots of bread, roasted sausages, peppers, onions with potatoes, and of course lasagna. My sister and I would run around like wild animals, playing hide and seek, then open our presents at night. When we woke up the next day, like magic, Santa Claus’ presents had arrived and we were smitten with joy.

Christmas day was a traditional Italian holiday, one that pushed the annoying kids aside and celebrated the birth of Christ. Coincidentally, my Grandmother’s birthday was Christmas Day too (Happy birthday Grandma!), so it was a really big deal in my house.

Seafood of all kinds was made. He favored mussels, clams and shrimp. I hated all of that stuff, so I usually ate leftovers from the night prior. But I remember how happy they all were, dancing and celebrating over plates of their favorite food and glasses brimming with wine.

You only realize how special things are when they’re gone.

Cheers to the past and to making new memories.

Merry Christmas.

NOTE: My grandparents would play this song every Christmas and every Christmas remind me that my Uncle would always cry when he heard it. To this day, I have no idea why he’d cry.

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The Banana Republic

After the apes lost their banana trees to arson, foreign apes visited their jungle to offer them some of their bananas. These apes wore elaborate head-dresses and spoke with exotic accents. Normally bananas would sell for $30 per bushel. But give the situation at hand, lack of bananas and excess supply of crazy eyed monkeys, the new imported bananas were to be sold for $60.

At first, the exchange went fucking apeshit. Everyone sold their banana stocks and panic ensued. The Grand Wizard ape stepped in to calm the bloody waters. He lowered the cost of borrowing from the Bank of Ape by an unprecedented 100 basis points. The little apes on the exchange were delighted, throwing shit back and forth between one another, bashing skulls in for fun–the works. Stocks recovered, and not before long, expensive bananas were to be enjoyed.

After a period of 5 years, the apes grew accustomed to fancy imported bananas. Slowly but surely, the price rose from $60 to $100. With the price north of $100, industrious apes began exploring new places to find bananas. Shortly thereafter, they found a bunch of banana trees way up in the mountains. You’d have to be fucking insane to climb up there to get them, so they hired the dumbest apes and paid them a fortune to do the work.

Within a few years time, the jungle was booming with rich apes who worked in the new mountain ranges. The stock market roared, led by mountain range banana stocks. The president of the jungle promoted his new mountain range banana economy like crazy, all the while talking shit about the jungle’s addiction to foreign bananas. He told the citizen apes that the jungle didn’t need those fancy fuckhead apes with funny hats. Soon enough, the jungle would be producing their own bananas and could easily tell those foreign apes to fuck off and to burn in hell.

The citizens enjoyed this rhetoric and re-elected their president for another term.

When the fancy apes heard this shit, they got pissed off. But they didn’t react right away. They continued to sell the jungle apes their overpriced bananas, all the while encouraging them to expand their jungle economy based off the premise of ‘banana independence’. After the jungle apes built it up nice and strong, the foreign apes flooded the jungle with excess bananas, crushing the price and the stocks associated with it. The little apes on the exchange floor went nuts, selling banana stocks left and right until they passed out from exhaustion.

The mountain range banana business went bust and the jungle apes went hungry again.

The end.

Part 1

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ENTER PORTFOLIO HERE

You must admit, this market has a certain, shall I say, je ne sais quoi about it. The death knell has stricken equities. In accordance with the inverse of their mandate, the Federal Reserve is strongly considering a surprise rate hike, in order to expedite the 2nd coming of the great depression.

Jim ‘bow tie’ Rogers, long term commodity champion, died today of stupidity of the brain. Everything is drek, except HABT. As Americans, we do enjoy a hearty burger, or three.

As I gaze into my monitor and bear witness to my own demise, I had a vision, one that had to be relayed to you, the ordinary pleb from the housing tenements.

I envisioned a world without people, a vast sea of silence sweeping the landscape. The apes were running the show and banana stocks were all the rage. These new lads swung from vines and defecated in the jungle, whilst eating plants and worms. But they loved to eat bananas, atop all. At night they’d fornicate with one another and then attempt to bash in the skulls of their enemies. They eventually set up exchanges and started wearing suits. They appointed a “Grand Wizard” ape to run their monetary system, who in turn provided the jungle with the liquidity needed to function as a dysfunctional cabal of shit eating apes.

This Grand Wizard made elaborate speeches. He was a King of garb and liked to see the price of bananas swing around wildly, almost uncontrollably wild, whenever he decided to make a change in his monetary policy. The little apes on the exchange would throw shit at him, whenever he appeared, as he always seemed to fuck them, one way or another. The price of bananas were cratering and although it was good for them as consumers of bananas, their fucking banana stocks were going lower.

Until one day a terrorist ape set fire to all the banana trees, sending the price of bananas through the fucking roof. The little apes were jerking off in public, elated, drinking fermented piss and getting drunk about the jungle. When all of the apes went home that night for supper, there was nothing on the dinner table but worms and plants. All of the fucking bananas had been destroyed.

The end.

Part 2

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A Working Theorem on America

state_map

Current map of America, as presently situated

When America was founded, the people chose to live along the east coast, mainly the northeast corridor. There is a specific reason for this, much to do about migration from europe and the like. Not before long, men of extreme importance and industry took up quarters in the northeast, establishing it as the stalwart section of this great, new, vibrant world.

Then poverty crushed the skulls of the lower middle class. Couple that with the fact that low-brow immigrants streamed into the nation; we, the people, desperately needed a place to store the third estate.

So we sent them out west.

We published elaborate tales of splendor and riches to be had in the Dakotas and California, most of which were wonderful lies. But it did the job. We used these pawns, these whiskey swillers and grave robbers, to settle the lands, kill off those annoying Indians and build us a fucking railroad. After they did all of that, we simply took the choice real estate for ourselves.

So the question I pose to you is this:

What sort of lineage and genetic gene pool resides in these “utterly useless” areas of the Unites Steaks? One might argue it is a gene pool passed down from charlatans and hucksters, persons of low standing who thought it made sense to take the whole family on a 3,000 mile road trip through dense forests and Indian arrows, just so that they could mine for some gold and become rich. These were the original lottery players, the lady at the bingo machine trying to make it big.

I realize fly over country is now populated with plenty of good people, most of whom are bible thumping maniacs who pride themselves on being good mid-western folk. But I remind you to keep a close eye on these people, for they are the direct descendants of persons of ill-repute, gamblers and vagrants who embodied the term ‘hobo’ and thrusted chaos upon the American landscape, all for the sake of some quick money and cheap opportunity.

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An Un-Gentleman’s Guide to Fourth of July

July 4th is a day for white trash to bask in their undignified glory. For those of you living that sort of lifestyle, oblivious to how one might throw a proper white trash 4th of July party, “The Fly” is here to help. With the assistance of my readership, as well as many other people who I’ve met growing up in Brooklyn, this is your “how-to” guide on having an ‘un-gentlemanly” Independence Day.

When you wake up in the afternoon, after a solid night of drunken debauchery, you should feed the children something sugary, like Captain Crunch cereal and/or frozen panned cakes (extra syrup).

Now that your parenting for the day is done, you can prepare for the 4th of July BBQ and drinking extravaganza!

Head on over to the local liquor store and buy a few kegs of beer, several bottles of Jack Daniels and a whole lot of cases of budweiser (CANS ONLY!!!).

After hauling in your treasure, prepare the old charcoal BBQ by spraying massive doses of lighter fluids on it. Have the kids throw things at the flames and play with the fire. Prepare to welcome some of your guests.

After your guest walks through the open screen door, welcome them by saying “what’s up bro” or “yo, man, have a bud”, then carelessly throw a frozen aluminum can of budwesier at him. Every once in awhile you will errantly strike his girlfriend in the head/face with it, so have an extra frozen can aside for the purposes of suppressing swollen bumps about the face and head.

As the party progresses, it’s time to serve your guests of dishonor food. Grab some styrofoam plates and slap a few hotted dogs on them, preferably with bun. If, by chance, you do not have buns, as they weren’t within your budget, feel free to use Wonder Bread as a substitute. Some people actually prefer good olde fashioned white bread anyways. Be sure to douse all hotted dogs with copious amounts of generic ketchup.

As the day drifts on, and the beer cans begin to pile up around the house and yard, ask the children to pick up the cans and place them into the giant black garbage bag that you have hanging off the side of your metal fence. The kid who picks up the most cans of bud gets to drink a can of their own!

FIREWORKS TIME!

You and your friends should now head on over to the front of the house to light some fireworks. It’s important that 90% of your fireworks be of the deafening loud, explosive, variety and not that “color crap.” You will light all fireworks with a lit cigarette butt and be sure to let the children light and toss M-80’s too, as it is their right of passage to do so.

After the fireworks, the real party begins. Parenting is over and has been over since breakfast, so feel free to let the kids roam off into the woods or nearby junkyard for a little childhood curiosity. You and your friends will begin, in earnest, drinking excessive quantities of Jack Daniels, while decrying how “fucked up” this country has become, especially honing in on the immigration issue and how people who don’t speak english should be deported and/or killed.

After 1am is the witching hour. By now, you and your guests should be comfortably buzzed. But it’s time to take it to the next level. Marijuana filled “joints” should be passed around at this time and a side table filled with lines of cocaine should be displayed, for all those interested. Shots of tequila with slices of lemon are appropriate chasers after “partying”, so be sure to have that in stock.

By 3am, 70% of your guests will be asleep (including the children), strewn out across the yard and furniture. Now would be an excellent time to partake in a little innocent adultery. Anything that transpires now is subject to denial and is easily excused, as everyone was “so wasted” that he or she could barely remember what happened.

By 11am on July 5th, most of your guests have woken up and should be asking for coffee. DO NOT PROVIDE THEM WITH COFFEE. By failing to provide them with coffee, they will be forced to leave your residence and find it elsewhere.

The party is now over. It’s now time for you and the kids to clean up the vomit and bottles of Jack Daniels and prepare for the hangover to come.

FUN TIP: Storing beer in aluminum trash cans is good, but getting rid of the water can be a hassle. ENTER BATH TUB.
Bathtub o'beer

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