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The Cody Blog: February 2005

Monday, February 28, 2005

Confessional: P Diddy Isn't the Anti-Christ

Looking back, I suppose it was the unbelievably cheesy tribute to Biggie that killed any chance for Sean Combs in my book. I mean, nothing wrong with a good tribute and there's nothing wrong with sampling a great song to rap to. But those lyrics and that production of "I'll Be Missing You" -- so cheesy they made MC Hammer's "Too Legit to Quit" seem cool. Just look at these lyrics --

Verse One: Puff Daddy
(Yeah... this right here... goes out to everyone who has lost someone they truly love)

Seems like yesterday we used to rock the show
I laced the track, you locked the flow
So far from hangin on the block for dough
Notorious, they got to know that
Life ain't always what it seem to be (uh-uh)
Words can't express what you mean to me
Even though you're gone, we still a team
Through your family, I'll fulfill your dream (that's right)
In the future, can't wait to see
If you open up the gates for me
Reminisce some time, the night they took my friend (uh-huh)
Try to black it out, but it plays again
When it's real, feelings hard to conceal
Can't imagine all the pain I feel
Give anything to hear half your breath (half your breath)
I know you still living your life, after death

Chorus: Faith Evans
Every step I take, every move I make
Every single day, every time I pray
I'll be missing you
Thinkin of the days, when you went away
What a life to take, what a bond to break
I'll be missing you

Verse Two: Puff Daddy
[Puff] I miss you Big
It's kinda hard with you not around (yeah)
Know you in heaven smilin down (eheh)
blah, blah,

Faith Evans:
Somebody tell me why, One Black Morning
When this life is over, I know I'll see your face

112 Outro:
Every night I pray, every step I take
Every move I make, every single day
Every night I pray, every step I take
[Puff] Every day that passes
Every move I make, every single day
[Puff] Is a day that I get closer
[Puff] To seeing you again
Every night I pray, every step I take
[Puff] We miss you, Big... and we won't stop

etc etc

Can it get cheesier? Even the intro is a transparent pandering to the public's feelings for Biggie. Gimme a break.

Oh, and then Puffy's "Come with Me" destruction of Led Zep's "Kashmir". Again, conceptually a sampling of "Kashmir" could rock. But Puff was all puff and no substance and over-the-top and, yes, transparent.

So I've long hated Puffy and his whole schtick. And then came last Thursday night. As with my foray into becoming an American Idol fan, exhausted and braindead from a long day/week of work, I ended up watching a marathon of Making the Band II, as reality show of P Diddy taking some rough rappers and turning them into a hip hop band.

And goddammit if he wasn't the real deal. He broke these kids down and then rebuilt them. He had a strategy for it from the start. They show up expecting to be entitled now that they'd been selected to to be in the band. P Diddy puts 'em in a Best Western -- in one room for the six of 'em. They're so pissed. Then he makes do all kinds of seemingly pointless tasks -- like walking to Brooklyn to get him some cheesecake at 4am or reading Russell Simmons' biography outloud on the street.

They were so pissed, but they learned several important lessons --

1. Getting a break just means that the work really starts. It's what you do with your break that makes the great ones great.

2. Appreciate the opportunities in front of us.

3. Respect your elders and those supporting you.

Frankly, P Diddy's strategy for handling these kids reminded me of how Andrew Lanyi, my first boss on Wall Street, handled me. P made these kids professionals despite themselves.

And now I have to confess that I admire the man. Hate that.

Words Worth Reading (February 28, 2005)

Whether it receives attention elsewhere or not, this is news that matters (updated throughout the day):

Film Download, Search Firms to Link Services
Key phrase: "We've kind of been waiting for Yahoo, MSN and Google to get serious about video distribution."

Relief, and Bewilderment, Over Arrest in Kansas Killings
About damn time.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Geometry...er, I mean Geography

Speaking of Slovakia (read the "Communications" post below and do the math) -- Nice how the editors at the USA Today bother to check the map before sending out their publication to 22 million subs. Slovakia, Slovenia -- eh, what's the difference.

My first boss on Wall Street, who taught me so very much about being a professional used to tell me, "Cody, vwot is zis bullsheet? Zer is no 'double-check'. Check it vwonce and get it right ze first time."

Also reminds me of trying to buy an official USA Olympic T-shirt over the phone in 1984. The sales lady told me "We don't ship out of the US."

"But I'm in New Mexico."

"Yes, and we don't ship out the country."

Spoke to her manager too, and he told me the same thing. I never got that T-shirt, because even as a kid, I was very impatient, and I ended up hanging up and getting on with my life.

One of the fifty is missing.

Words Worth Reading (February 25, 2005)

Whether it receives attention elsewhere or not, this is news that matters (updated throughout the day):

Viacom cuts radio stations' value by $11B
(You mean the traditional radio model is dead? iPod and satellite radio are the future? Really? Fascinating!)

Russia not forsaking democracy, Putin says
(Putin can put on this bullshit facade about how "Russia has made its choice in favor of democracy." The facts speak for themselves -- see next headline below.)

Yukos Loses U.S. Bankruptcy Bid
(The cronies who claimed Yukos as the Soviet Union collapsed are horrible gangsters themselves. But property have to start somewhere. This final step of nationalization of a privatized asset is a blast to freedom and fundamental property rights in Russia.)

Five Internet danger signs to watch for in 2005

Whither The Wall Street Journal?

Headlines That Shouldn't Be (February 25, 2005)

The mainstream often focuses on the pointless. Here's the pointless headlines of today (updated throughout the day):

Qwest Revises $8 Billion Bid for MCI
(Qwest accelerated some aspects of the payout period -- who cares?!)

Snow Blankets Northeast
(Ooh, it snowed in February!)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Communications -- not the telecom kind either

I've got a pretty ideal single guy's life. I live in a great apartment in NYC. I write for a couple of magazines and websites and go on TV sometimes -- and I run a hedge fund. To be frank: chicks dig that stuff.

Doesn't mean it's all roses though. Last summer I was getting sorta' serious with a young professional ball room dancer. She was great -- fun, sweet, passionate about her work...and hot. Long story short (and I will tell the long story long sometime in these pages): she cheated on me. That really hurt, and there's no getting around that. As far as I know, that was the first time I'd ever been cheated on. I certainly hope it's the last.

I'm now dating a beautiful former runway model, seven-language-speaking, marketing executive (now that is a resume!). She's just wonderful.

Last weekend we got in a couple arguments over nonsense. Blows me away that, no matter how smart and rational two people might be, they still argue sometimes. Wanna know what most of the arguments in my relationships are usually about? What we're arguing about.

Yeah, it drives me crazy. One of the two of us will get upset, and somehow instead of just expressing it and resolving it, it seems like we spend hours discussing whether we should be discussing what we're discussing. I'm convinced that's what most fights in a relationship end up being about -- simply about the fight itself. And sometimes about the fight about the fight about the fight itself.

(And in case you're wondering -- no, I certainly didn't actually read those sites hyperlinked over (hyperlinked over the hyperlinked over the hyperlink?) the word "argue".)

Confessional: Selling Out to American Idol

I have a confession to make. A few weeks ago, beaten and exhausted and braindead after a 14 hour work day, I was sipping on a couple Bass beer and lighting a cigar when I flipped on the tube (though I guess I can't call my new plasma TV a "tube"...and why didn't I get HD? What the hell was I thinking saving a few hundred bucks when spending a few thousand and not getting the full package -- digression again).

Tivo wasn't recording anything and the channel was on 5, which in Time Warner's network in NYC, means Fox. And this show -- maybe you've heard of it -- "American Idol" was on. A very pretty young lady was belting out a song, which is something I like to watch, so I sat down on my uncomfortable blue couch.

Turns out "American Idol" is really entertaining. I mean, that Simon is cut throat -- I like that. And Paula Abdul -- oh what a sweetie. And that other guy -- gimme a break with all his "that was the bomb" crap. But I found myself coming to tears watching these kids going after their dreams, putting themselves out there, taking huge risks in the public eye (then again, I'm sure some of those tears had to do with the cigar smoke and buzz I got from the cigar).

Maybe I relate in some twisted manner because I launched my hedge fun and do so many trades in the public eye. I took huge risks and put it all out there too. I don't know, all I know is despite the show pushing for hipness so bad it can taste it ("Seacrest out" zzzz) and despite the annoying format of elimating people one at a time for an hour last night -- I like that damn show. It stirs some emotion in me.

So much for contrarianism. I'm like a trader getting long XOM at $60, jumping on this bandwagon. Sigh.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Goth Revival and Coming Meatpacking Decline

So last night I'm at dinner with my boy, James Altucher, at the new overly trendy new Hotel Gansevoort. Hell, even the name itself is too cool for its own good. What's up with the meatpacking district anyway?

I mean, this place used to actually have a personality and very cool tinge to it -- at least it did before it went mainstream cool. Now it's all these great looking people who want to be seen running around. (Of course, one might ask if James and I were wanting to be seen, but that would require self-analysis to a degree I'm not looking to go into at this moment.) Anyway, the whole area had a feel to it that it's losing its soul. Even old-school staple Hogs and Heffers felt like, as James so eloquently put it -- the Chuck E Cheese (where a cheesedick can be a cheesedick) of the Meatpacking district.

Like my "oil is toppy" commentary on Realmoney.com, I'm not calling the top in the Meatpacking District's rise to the mainstream. In fact, it's probably got another year or two of ascent. But it's not for me.

Anyway, as we wrapped up the night, back at the Hotel Gansevooooooort bar (which is a not-so-good, but very expensive and -- yes, you guessed it -- trendy sushi spot), I spied a beautiful Goth-style woman. Goth died at some point in the last decade, and it's rare to see Goth style out and about anymore. This woman's Goth look was very nice, in that it had some modern-day classic look to it -- not blue hair and black lipstick. Just sorta' Goth for the 21st century. Very cool, very hot. Unlike the Meatpacking district itself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Society is Alive and Well, We Have Expanded into the iWorld

Fascinating article from Andrew Sullivan today called "Society is dead, we have retreated into the iWorld" -- at least as far as his writings about the iPod is concerned.

Having an ever-increasing number of news and analysis sources doesn't put us in cocoons. It allows the public to get ever closer to the "truth".

I get a kick out of Andrew Sullivan's commentary about how the iPod is affecting life in NYC -- and indeed, he's right about how so many of us lock ourselves into our own little world when we're out in the bustling outside world of the city. But to imply that the ability for us to draw upon so many new sources of news somehow indicates that "Americans are beginning to narrow their lives" is completely upside down. Flip that -- all these new outlets and sources enable us to broaden our lives. Technology hasn't given us, as Sullivan states, "a universe entirely for ourselves", but a more diverse, realistic and honest universe.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S Thompson: The Original Blogger

"I remember saying something like, 'I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive...'" -- Hunter S Thompson

Hunter S Thompson helped push the mainstream into an initial acceptance of the inate subjectivity of jounalism. Unfortunately, as the hippy movement sold itself out and morphed into yuppy-ism(heaven forbid we call "yuppy-ism" a movement) so too did Thompson's outlets like Rolling Stone and other evolutionary media of the hippy age lose their edge.

Thompson and the other gonzo writers of the hippy age had the right idea. But they failed to follow through on the promise of an honest journalistic approach. Turn on the tube -- mainstream news is the same as it always has been. Fox News' clearly rightist slant or CNN's clearly leftist slant, and most other outlets continue to mindlessly try to quietly portray themselves as objective while skewing most news to their respective political agendas. One of the most annoying aspects of the entire hippy culture -- and the entire so-called "left" -- is the mass embracing of democrats like Al Gore and more recently, John Kerry. One of the themes of The Cody Blog will be to continually blast the conventional perceptions that the Democrat's are somehow not beholden to big business and that the Republican's are anti-socialists. Both are neither, if you follow what I'm saying. Let's be real, folks.

While Thompson clearly helped highlight the subjectivity of jounalism, let's face it -- he was no revolutionary. But just as Kurt Cobain was a good rock star and decent lyricist whose suicide propelled him to stardom in death beyond even the tremendous success he had ante-mortem, each so-called star will be more so because their suicide will be glamorously accepted as some sort of martyism. Each man was talented and creative, but neither revolutionized anything. Thompson was, in many ways, a socialist who let his disdain for the Republicans, skew his view of the Democrats and hurt his ability to reveal the hypocrisy and corporate cronyism of the left. Of course, the mainstream media loves to paint him as embracing the Democrats, which isn't entirely accurate. Kurt's music, while pretty listenable and less-contrived than the hair metal he ushered out, doesn't often venture away from the basic tried-and-true three chord structure that's always been the staple of mainstream rock -- complex pieces having a minor chord or two thrown in for good measure.

Hunter S Thompson's suicide, while clearly tragic and sad, will help to propel the concept of subjective jounalism and honest coverage of news in ways that his later writings failed to do. The democratization of the media and the many outlets of news that the Internet and new modes of communication enable will push Thompson's so-called "gonzo" jounalism past any boundaries that have ever existed. Hang on tightly -- it's a wondrous time to be alive.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Opening

Blogs -- the democratization of the media. Forget Big Brother, brother, little brother is watching you.

The world talks about how the Internet and telecom were a terrible bubble that destroyed all kinds of capital and have doomed the global economies for depression in the coming years. Nope, you gotta flip it: The Internet has produced billions of dollars in profits for companies like eBay, Google and Yahoo. The Internet, via email, instant messaging, and websites, blogs, chat rooms, as well as cell phones and all the other modes of communication that we have now have enabled exponential efficiencies and gains in productivity and outright wealth.

The world tells us how the media is being concentrated and commercialized and, frankly, corrupted by big business and big government. Sorry, Charlie, let’s flip that: Internet blogs, news sites like TheStreet.com, email newsletters -- not to mention all the new modes of communication exploding off the Metcalfe network effect -- are the democratization of the media in action.