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The Cody Blog: September 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

A Revolutionary Cody Jam

So, back by rather surprising popular demand, here's yet another "real" Cody Jam, from my "band". You can click on the title below to download the MP3.

You Are Your Own Revolution (The Cody Show)

Lyrics --
You cocoon inside yourself so comfortably,
We're all fighting desperation so desperately.
Now I fall forward so uncontrollably,
It can't possibly be done gracefully.

You are your own revolution.

Your skin sheds right off of me,
My soul is unchanged, faithfully.
And despite it all, I still can't see,
But they'll never take me -- to my knees!

Can you feel the pain? Do you feel the same?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Rock and Roll Hedge Fund Manager and His Denim

I’d been asked by Handsblue for quite a while to road test a latest pair of 575s. As you'll read in the article, I've got a whole lotta' denim experience (dare I claim, even, expertise). So last week, I finally acquiesced and gave a pair a run through.

I get a bit of a kick out of how they say I'm a "self-proclaimed 'rock and roll artist'." After I gave them an initial bio, they told me to quit being so modest! LOL

Anyway, click on the link below and check it out. In the next couple days, I'm also going to be doing an update to my old "advertising revolution" columns on RealMoney.com and will talk some about how companies like Handsblue are disrupting the old models like "commercials".

Wall Street Blues: Hedge Fund Manager Tests Out 575s

PS. Tune into tomorrow -- I'll be posting another new real "Cody Jam" for downloading. Rock and roll artist indeed! Hoohah

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

59th Street Bridge Song

One of my all-time favorite songs is Simon & Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song. It always makes me happy, as most of their songs do. In fact that only S&G songs I've ever heard that I didn't like is "Sound of Silence" and "Bridge Over Troubled Waters". Those two songs were my brother's favorites as a little kid and he used to listen to them on the record player a lot. Prob was, sometimes he'd be sitting on top me after pinning me down as he listened to those songs. Or whatever. LOL

Anyway, I love the lyrics from the "Feeling Groovy" song too. And today, as I'm in the midst of another week like the last one, in which I've been working and writing and playing tennis and having dinners and am just pedal to the metal again getting almost no sleep but am pushing and pushing and pushing, I keep hearing the line:

"Slow down, you move to fast. You got to make the morning last."

My best friend from childhood, Robert Sayner, got in town today, and I'm sure we'll be out late tonight. As he put, "Bring out the Scorpions, Cody, and rock this town like a hurricane" (which, probably isn't the most appropriate phraseology right now). Oh, man. At least the guy I was supposed to play tennis against this morning at 6:30am canceled on me so I have only a group tennis match today rather than a two-a-day.

But as much as I love leaving everything I've got out on the field --- I would like a day or two of "slowing things down".

As yet another aside, my agent at CAA is also S&G's agent and, man did he hook me up with some tickets for their show a couple years ago. A girl that I was dating at the time and I had the owners box at the Meadowlands to ourselves for the show. It was a great time and quite romantic, I might add. Of course, the next day she got rather serious about getting serious and the relationship ended. Blame S&G!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

21 Gears When All I Need is 3 - Or, My Best Broken Bone Ever

I really have never understood why they make bikes with so many gears. I mean, it takes more time and energy to figure out what gear you should be in than it would to just pedal the darn bike.

My bike got stolen yet again last week. Bought a new one. $200 for these cheapie mountain bikes with 21 gears. 18 of which I've never used. I don't get it. Who needs 21 gears? I guess I can believe 10 gears. But 21? Let me switch down from second gear to first on my left hand and from 7 to 5 on my left. I find it trivial.

I'm typically, at least when I'm riding around the streets of NYC, either in second or third gear on the left hand side and fifth or seventh on the right hand side.

As an aside, I've mentioned before that I've had more than 20 broken bones in my life. I remember the best break I ever had (what a funny thing to say).

I was 11 years old, and had just inherited my brother's old ten speed. Ruidoso, NM is a very hilly place and my neighborhood was full of steep inclines. I rode that bike, on which I wasn't even close to being able to stand up -- it was way to big for me -- up to the top of the steepest incline in the hood. And took off.

Like a bat out of hell, I flew down that hill. Pedaling as hard as I could. I must have been going 30 miles an hour by the time I got 2/3 of the way down. And I started braking. But I didn't know that you needed to use the lower brakes on those old ten speeds because the upper ones didn't quite have the leverage. And so rather than slowing, gravity was at least equal to my breaking and that bike and I just kept speeding down the hill.

At the bottom of the hill was a house which had a circular driveway. I figured my only chance to avoid certain death was to try to loop through that driveway and head back up the hill using gravity to slow me. I hit that driveway easily going 30 miles an hour still and leaned left, trying to make the turn. But I couldn't make it.

I slammed the front wheel of the bike into a brick light post in front of the house and flew over the front of the bike into the post. Breaking my arm and totalling my new bike.

I was lying there, still stunned and trying to get my wits about me when out of the front door came a beautiful 20ish year old girl (man, is this gonna sound cheesey...but it's true!) in her bathrobe with her hair all wet. She'd heard me slam into the post and had thought a car had wrecked. She was so sweet and helped me into her house and sat me down and gave me a coke.

As I was wont to do with each of my many broken bones (at least when they weren't unbelievably obvious as in the couple times I shattered my ankle), I didn't let on that I'd really been messed up in that wreck, and she went to get dressed and then helped me carry my bike up the hill to my house.

Breaking bones sucks. But if you're gonna do it -- that's the way to get it done! LOL

P.S. Apparently she was just in town visiting some people who owned that house (which was almost always vacant). Wonder what ever happened to her.

P.P.S. I broke my arm twice and my collar bone once in bike riding accidents. Many other terrible wrecks that didn't result in broken bones too. I was, as the doctor used to tell my parents after we tested and found my bones to be very normal, just a little too athletic and a little too aggressive for my own good. Always riding my brother's bike. And then there was the time I took a dare from him to try to ride over a beach ball. Flipped that bike on my head, breaking my arm. I got in big trouble for that one. LOL

Monday, September 26, 2005

How I Became a Musician

It was May 1992, and I was talking to this sexy classmate of mine at Blinn College, where I'd gone to play basketball as I tried to break into a D-1 program (I later made the team at UNM, a D-1 school, no thanks to that experience at Blinn though). This girl -- I can't remember her name -- had a boyfriend back home and I had a girlfriend back home, but we'd hang out sometimes. Looking back, I think she'd wanted to hook up, but I was a faithful guy, and never let it go there. Why I had a long distance relationship with a woman I knew I wouldn't be spending my life with is a topic for another day though. Alas, once again, I digress.

So I'm talking to this tall, blond, athletic hottie and she's like, "What'd you do last night?"

And I'm like, "Ah, I won my 100th straight game of Super Tecmo Bowl [the game's actually called Tecmo Super Bowl, but we always got it backwards] at Buc Hall [the basketball team's dormitory]".

Upon saying those words, I had an epiphany and went on, before she could answer. I said, "You know what? That has to be the single stupidest thing that I can think of to have accomplished. 100 games of a stupid video game in a basketball dormitory? Hmm, I think it's time to put that energy elsewhere."

So I went out the next day, much to the chagrin of my teammates who loved that Nintendo (we had another one in the dorm, but we'd always have two tournaments going on simultaneously), and took my Nintendo to the pawn shop. I sold it for a couple score of bucks and took that money and a little other money I'd saved up working for a real estate appraiser in my hometown the summer before and bought an accoustic guitar and a Beatles' chord book.

My mom had tried to get me to take piano lessons growing up, but I'd hated it from the start and had quit soon after. What I lacked in musical background, I made up for in effort and brains, and I taught myself all the songs in that book. I'd noticed that there were some recurring ratios in most of the songs. Checking out a music book from the library and discussing these ratios with my mom, it became clear -- ah, the I, IV, V chord sequence. And the minor parallel to the major chord. And then you go on and read about the frequencies of each note and you realize that the physics and math of music is rather beautiful in its own right.

And I was addicted. And I've been playing guitar and writing music for more than a decade now.

Rock on.

As an aside, I got this email from my best friend at Blinn College out of the blue last night. Ah the wonders of the Internet! How cool! (and maybe he'll remember the name of that blond):

I was sitting here at the computer thinking about the old days and people I’d lost track of and in your case still mention in the retelling of a story or when referencing a six foot white kid who could put it down from a standing jump (and wouldn’t doubt if he still can) when I thought to type your name, hit search and lo and behold what I found. It’s great to see you so active and that it appears you’ve found a real niche. It would be great to catch up – it’s been 6 or 7 years I think. I still have Celeste by my side and added two little girls (Eva – almost 6 and Audrey is 2). I have a commercial painting company that, coupled with the family, doesn’t allow for much else. But it’s fun and challenging and always something new.

Give me a call and maybe we can attempt to begin to catch up!

All the best,

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rock n' Roll Hoochie Koo

So here's another "real" Cody Jam. I think I'll start posting one up here once a week for a little while. I have been rather amazed and flattered at the kind feedback I've gotten on the songs.

PS. I normally hit a wall of exhaustion at 4pm on Fridays and go to bed for awhile. This week, among other things, I've written six articles for publications, attended another charity event with a friend (and this one was simply wonderful, the people were so sweet and the vibe so positive!), negotiated contracts, wrote and gave a speech at the Princeton Club, played tennis five times, did a radio interview, broke a big story on Google in my newsletter, even did some fashion stuff for some denim thingees that I'll tell you more about later, dinner with one of my editors, fashion party last night...and this blog and all kinds of other stuff...oh, and that day job of running my hedge fund --- all of which have brought the wall to my face three hours early today. I am beat and can hardly wait til 4pm. Have a great weekend.

Lonely's So Lovely (The Cody Show)
Lyrics --
Flying solo(w) and I cannot see,
One part-ner-vous play purportedly.
Crying cholo, cannot feel the pain,
Won part nurse, one part seals the game.

Love is too lonely to dance.
Lonely’s so lovely so dance.

Crashing-down-blanket, covering me,
Can’t, for giving me, smothering me,
Lashing out, by walking away,
Can’t, for getting caught, just the same,

Love is too lonely to dance.
Love is so lonely to death.
Lonely’s so lovely, so dance.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

One of the People Screwing Up America

A friend gave me this book with a fantastic title called 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken is #37). I can't figure out why the author, Bernard Goldberg, didn't put himself in there somewhere.

Oh, I guess I get it. He basically only targets Democrats because he's a Republican. He uses the terms "liberal" and "conservative", but come on now. Those terms have never accurately defined the Democratic party which caters to big business with tax incentives and tarriffs and so on and so forth, nor the Republican party which embraces welfare programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

I'm liberal because I'm for freedom. And I'm conservative because I don't want people violating freedom. The Democratic and Republican parties are both just a bunch of sold-out hypocritical socialist crony parties. But I digress.

So this joker goes around digging up quotes (most of which are quite funny and the type of thing I'd enjoy making fun of) from Democrats and what mainstream America considers "liberal" and ignoring the many identical quotes and commentary from Republicans and what mainstream American considers "conservative". How about a little objectivity and even-handedness? I mean, why kill his credibility by only going after like-minded people (Democrats being essentially equal to Republicans after all) who happen to pretend they're liberals and give themselves the title of "Democrat"? Sigh.

But what really ticks me off is his utter hypocrisy exemplified by such things as starting off the book whining about how our standards for civility have fallen because cussing in public isn't the horribly unsocial thing it was 50 years ago. He uses a quote from some dude he sat next on a plane:

"It's all f**ked up," he tells the guy at the other end of the phone.

And then Goldberg finishes the introduction saying:

I'm afraid he got it right: It really is all f**ked up.

What an utter hyprocrite. As if 50 years ago this very author would have been able to print "F**ked up". And as if we the readers aren't somehow fully subjected to what the term really means and sounds like anyway!

And worse he later complains about some jokes from TV shows like Will & Grace which center around husbands and wives cheat on each other so much that it's almost accepted as standard. So he's upset that someone would put such humor on the TV. But in his book he later (rightly, btw) makes a point about how it's seemingly acceptable to sell T-shirts that say:

"Stupid Factory -- Where Boys Are Made"

But he makes his point by printing in his book:

So here are a few suggestions, which I offer to them [the guys who sell these T-shirts] free of charge
"Stupid Factory -- Where Mexicans Are Made"

So we, the reader are supposed to be intelligent enough to understand that he's being sarcastic by printing his joke. But the viewers on TV apparently aren't smart enough to know that said joke on Will & Grace was also sarcastic?

Gimme a "frickin" break.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Few Real Cody Jams

You guys didn't think I was joking about writing and recording music, did you? Here's how I spend my sleepless nights and weekend mornings. It's a good thing I live in a corner apartment and soundproofed my "recording studio". ;)

You can download an MP3 of each song by clicking on the title. Rock on.

Drink the Water (The Cody Show)
Lyrics --
You cannot be like this.

Prepare to be repaired but never be prepared.
If only I could destruct my own self-destruction.

Oh, you’ve got to risk it all.
It’s not better to be safe than sorry.

Repair the prepared but better to be repaired.
I destroy all the things I work so hard for.
If only I could destruct my own self-destruction.
I destroy all the things I work so hard for.

You cannot be like this.
Drink the water.

So They Come After Me (The Cody Show)
Lyrics --
And I get up, see you

Well, I don’t know, but I’ve been told,
A fat man can’t see his toes.
And I don’t know, but I’ve been told,
A pretty little woman done stole your soul.

And I get up and die, and I get up and die.

And I don’t know much of anything,
But I know that you’re all the same.

I felt used when you thought of me,
So confused with what you do to me,
I’m abused, what do they want from me?
I’m accused, so they come after me.

Well, everybody’s a cliché,
Repeating what they heard them say,
Everybody’s a cliché,
Repeating all their yesterdays.

And I get up, see you, and die.

Up and Up (The Cody Show)
Lyrics --
Forget me.

Whoa this is trouble, can’t you see it won’t stop?

Are you on the up and up?

You can’t really reach them, be him, siege them,
I can’t really teach them, see them, saw them,
What if I teach them, treat them, retreat them,
Besiege them, bring them, brought them?

Whoa this is trouble, can’t you see it won’t stop?

Are you on the up and up?

Out of Nothing (The Cody Show)
Lyrics --
Deflect the reflex.

Out of nothing at all.

Recognition defeats the distance,
You just gotta look, you just gotta look.

It’s only there if you don’t see it.

Out of nothing it came so fast,
Out of nothing it goes so fast.

Take that chance, chance that take.

Out of nothing, so we got something.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Napkin Junior

Who designed the napkin junior? Who in their right mind buys the little napkin? I just don't get it.

Let's say you own a deli, coffee shop, restaurant, whatever. You know you'll have to give away paper napkins to "to go" customers and to include paper napkins in your deliveries. Why on earth would you choose to make your customers suffer through the napkin junior.

You know the napkins I'm talking about. The little 1/2" by 3/4" toilet paper quality pieces of bleached cardboard that you disentegrate when they come into contact with a liquid.

I suppose the guys buying these stamps, er napkins, do so in an effort to save a little money. But you know that they don't. Because we, the customer, end up going through 3281 napkins per mouthwipe.

And, of course, the worst culprits of the napkin junior are the bars where you order things like, oh, I don't know, wings. You sit there eating those wings, trying to wipe your fingers and mouths after each and you end up with this 18 foot high pile of used napkin juniors on your table. Do you really think the bar owner saves a dime using the little napkin?

It's gotten so bad, I can actually name for you the places in my neighborhood from which I pick up and/or deliver that have the good (read: normal!) napkins. And frankly, I think I'll start including that in my criteria of what makes a good place to order from.

Best napkins in my neighborhood, btw: Good ol' Starbucks. The worst? Paquitos' Tacos.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Un-unemployment and Safe Safety Nets

I've got real problems with charity and government programs that undermine prosperity. When I write that, I'm referring to entities like the UN and NGOs that go in and flood an economy with free goods like corn repeatedly and thereby don't allow capitalist, self-sustaining transactions to develop. You think Nigeria can ever create a self-sustaining farming economy when a farmer has to compete with free corn?

Now that said, I want to be clear that one of the very few things I want the government (or charities) to do is to go in and help save lives when a catastrophe like Katrina hits. I wish the Dems and Repubs in power had done so much more so much more quickly when the Superdome and surrounding areas were in such bad shape.

Several posters have asked me if I have any history with government assistance. Let's tackle that one. I came to NYC on a one way ticket from NM the day I finished college -- didn't wait around for the graduation ceremony. Nobody in my family had ever been northeast -- or gone to NYC. A buddy of mine from college from NYC hooked me up with his sister who was gracious enough to let me sleep on her couch for a couple days upon arrival.

I didn't have a job, prospects for a job or even any real contacts. But I wanted to take on the world, and I figured Wall Street was the place to do it. I found an apartment on 101st Street and Amsterdam for $825 a month two days into my move and paid a $1000, more than 10% of my savings, as a broker fee to move in. I immediately started going on job interviews from ads for "account executives" and what not from the NY Times classifieds. It didn't take but two interviews at these schlock boiler room places before I realized that such a job was not something I would be willing to do.

I didn't file for unemployment and I didn't ask the government or anyone else for any assistance. I went and convinced a diner manager to give me a job as a waiter though I didn't have any experience. After two disastrous hours, he nicely told me I could be a busboy if I wanted to stay. I went and got a job at Starbucks for $6-something per hour plus tips. I spent the next two months looking for a real job by sending my resume to any one's who's book I'd read or I'd seen quoted in the newspaper. And blew through most of my savings as 160 hrs a month x $7 per hour after taxes barely covered my rent, much less new clothes for interviews, transportation, food, and an occassional movie. I never once took a dime from the government.

After pestering the author of a book I'd bought at B&N's office for weeks on end, I finally got an interview with the office manager. She liked me enough to bring the boss in. He told her to "hire him" when we finished the interview. She offered me $22k per year salary. I told her I needed $24k. She said okay. 15 months later I became his first ever partner. And, after receiving a check that was equal to half my initial year's salary, I quit a month later, as I wasn't entirely comfortable with all of our strategies.

I went to Europe for two months, spending most of my savings, and wrote most of a novel (the novel's a good story, but not well-written...will rewrite it someday). I came back and lived in a tiny, delapidated apartment in Brooklyn for $350 a month, and finished the book in another few weeks time. After failing to get a publisher or agent to even look at the book, I began to look for work again. I spent another month or two going on interviews that I'd again found in the NY Times classifieds. I never once filed for unemployment or took a dime from the government.

I finally got a job as an analyst at an incubator, and a few months later I was running their research and analysis division. We went from 15 employees to 75 back to 15, and I took a job offer from a telecom service provider, heading up their wholesale division. Two months into that job, we'd closed on three contracts -- and two of the three companies had gone bankrupt in the telecom depression before we could turn on services. When the CEO called me and asked me what I thought of the other 20 prospects we had in the funnel, I told him I thought 18 were going to go bankrupt before the year was out. He asked me why we were in the wholesale services business. I told him I didn't think we should be. We closed the division on September 4, 2001.

The WTC fell on my apartment in Battery Park City on 9/11,

but I tried to move back into the place anyway at some point soon after because the landlords told me that if I didn't they'd charge me the whole lease's rent anyway. Waking up the first morning back in the place with my eyes swollen shut and coughing uncontrollably, I bought a ticket to NM and went home. Fighting with the landlords, they finally settled with me and let me out of my lease without any attorney involvement (though I do seem to recall signing away something that inlcuded me promising that "forever in this world" I'd never sue them. Whatever.). Anyway, I went to NM, homeless and jobless and completely messed up in the head from my 9/11 experience. I didn't take dime from the government or any charities.

But I do drive on public roads, though I consider them the biggest subsidization of any industry ever (automotive and all related). And I did go to public schools. And I did go to a state college (heck, on that note, I have and always had fundamental objections against the NCAA -- but I did play in the NCAA).

Now all that said, I've been as adamantly against public assistance as I am today for as long as I can remember, as you can tell from the periods of time when it was certainly within my "rights" according to US law to take government assistance like unemployment and even welfare at times in the last ten years. But I'll ask this: so what if I had outright taken public or charitible monies at some point? If I'd later changed my mind about the morality of such, would that make my logic any less valid today?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Saving Up By Bleeding

As a kid, I used to wonder why the highest quality products always cost the most money. I used to wonder if the old saying was true that "You get what you pay for". Why is an Egyptian cotton shirt so expensive? Why are the highest megapixel cameras the most expensive? Why do the items that are most durable cost the most money? It's all about craftsmanship and supply and demand.

Everybody wants the best stuff out there, but there's a limited amount of it, so the prices go higher, since suppliers want to maximize their profits. And it obviously takes more time, more stitching, more material, and more craftsmanship to manufacture the best clothes. And it takes more resources, more research and development to create the best visual modules. So if you want the best, you have to work for it. To earn it.

And it's the same in relationships, unfortunately. There are a limited number of amazing, talented beautiful people out there. And everybody wants the best quality. So the price goes higher and they're the most expensive. Of course, the capital involved in the transaction isn't money. It's soul. It's heart. And let's be keep it real -- looks, style, and charisma. It's the very quality of the person making the "purchase".

I've often found that I like myself better when I'm not in a relationship. I've never really understood why that is. Relationships require commitment, and I'm an honest guy so I never cheat or lie and I strive to treat the other person right. But somtimees those actions themselves make me feel like I'm not being true to myself. Or something like that.

I made myself stay single for a long time when I first came to NYC. I didn't date and certainly didn't get involved with anyone. I was looking for myself. Hurting. Being lonely. On purpose. I didn't even want a TV to distract myself. I wanted to work, to work out, to write and play music, to read, to learn, to experience life. To bleed. And, boy, did I bleed. I was lonely, and homesick. But I worked hard. And I played hard. And I lived life hard. And I succeeded in finding who I was. And I liked that.

But I obviously started dating again. And I got into relationships. A couple serious relationships. And sometimes those feelings of non-truth to myself would creep back in. And, obviously the relationships ended. Sometimes I wonder if I always know from the start that the relationship is doomed. Is it because one of the party hasn't paid the price? Because there's some sort of inequity in the relationshp? The transaction isn't economical enough?

I hate to make it sound like I see relationships in an economic sense. I don't. But I know from recent experiences, that I'd spent too much of my soul, of my blood, of my essence on women who weren't right for me. And that's the point of this post, I guess. That sometimes you have to rebuild those internal assets so that you can make the purchase when the right one comes along.

Save up. And bleed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sleepless in Somnia

I used to hate nights like tonight. When I was a kid, I'd have sleepless nights, and I'd worry myself sick over how unhealthy it was. Nice vicious cycle that was.

I remember a sleepless night before my first game as quarterback of Ruidoso Middle School. I'd always been a great athlete and had lead the Colts to Ruidoso's Little League Football Superbowl the year before in a 56-0 blowout, scoring all the touchdowns except for the two I'd thrown.

But I was a late bloomer. And by the time we'd started 8th grade football, I wasn't as dominant as I'd been, simply because I wasn't as physically developed as my teammates. And I was nervous about that first game, worried that I wouldn't dominate the other team, that I'd let my teammates and myself down, anxious that we'd lose. I had a tumutuous relationship with my father growing up (to put it kindly), but it was times like that when he really was there for me.

He must have heard me getting up to walk around, to go to the bathroom, to drink water, and he came downstairs and sat on my bed to talk to me. And told me stories of his football days, when he'd been a reciever on a great high school football team in Madison, Kansas. It didn't help me sleep, but it did calm me down. And I did finally get a few hours sleep that night.

And I got up the next day and helped my team to a victory against some middle school from Roswell. As an aside, I shattered my ankle into 8 pieces two games later as I ran a trick play around the end and got hit wrong. I wonder how much of that injury was from being underdeveloped but going all out against a bunch of men in pads.

As I've gotten older, the sleepless nights come more often. And I still don't like it much. But I embrace it. I use it to my advantage. I write. I play music. I go on walks through the wacky East Village. I watch TV. I read.

Tonight I had myself two 45 minute "naps", I guess you'd call it. Slept a full 8 hours last night though.

I average 5 or 6 hours of sleep anyway. That means I sleep 2 hours less than most people. That means I have 14 extra hours per week. That means I have four extra days per month of "awake time". That means I have 48 days extra per year -- the equivalent of a month and a half.

Sigh. How's that for a "flip it" of looking at insomnia upside down and making it a good thing.

PS. Speaking of "Sleepless"...Meg Ryan, Melanie Griffith -- still can't tell them apart, despite all that plastic surgery. Or maybe it's gotten harder to.

PPS. Andy Roddick, Leyton Hewitt -- maybe it's just me and my lack of sportsfanmanship, but I can't tell them apart either.

PPS. Was going to note this. But tried googling it instead and found I am certainly not the only one thinking it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Comments Dilemma

You know, I have to say I'm pretty sick of the angry and hateful comments that these coward anonymous idiots have been writing. Not all anonymous writers are problematic obviously, and I've had some great questions and comments from anons.

But I'm thinking about either ending the ability to allow readers to post comments on my blog at all or to just stop the ability to post anonymously. Though this blog is not a democracy, I'm interested in what readers think about this.

Should I just let people continue to post anonomyously and then have to delete the violent and more hateful comments -- and at times those comments will be up here on the site for hours or even days if I'm not checking on it? Or should I eliminate the ability to post anonymously? Or just eliminate all comments?

Monday, September 12, 2005

This Little Brother Is Watching the WSJ

So much for objectivity in the mainstream media, huh? Here’s another great example of a supposedly a non-commentary, independent “reporter’s” article that is so laden with subjective under- and overtones that it makes my skin crawl. From the Wall Street Journal (you know, that supposed “capitalist” newspaper):

Volcker Probe Is Unable to Resolve
Questions Regarding U.N. Officials

September 8, 2005; Page A2

You only have to read the frickin’ title of the thing to see that it’s going to be a defense of Kofi Annan, that corrupt leader, of that corrupt bureaucracy called the UN. But it gets better (worse, that is), starting off with the first paragraph:

A sprawling report into the United Nations' scandal-tarred oil-for-food program derided the world body's management of the program as corrupt and inefficient, but was unable to definitively address politically explosive questions about the personal culpability of senior officials there.

The italics are mine. But if you read this report (just skim it, if nothing else) http://www.iic-offp.org/Mgmt_Report.htm, you’ll see that the Paul Volcker team “definitively addresses the politically explosive questions about the personal culpability of senior officials there”. I about fell out of my chair when I read the second and third paragraph, which immediately and directly followed that first one above: <>

The 800-page report from the independent panel headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, which was officially released yesterday, said the mismanagement and outright criminality allowed ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein easily to exploit the humanitarian program for financial gain, with his cash-strapped regime wringing $10.2 billion out of the system through a combination of smuggling and illicit kickbacks and surcharges. (See the full report.)

"Obviously there was corruption, and obviously there was mismanagement," said Mr. Volcker in an interview. "If the U.N. has a special responsibility in a corrupt world to provide an example by maintaining ethical standards, they fell far short."

Uh, doesn’t that just about give you a “definitive address of the politically explosive questions about the personal culpability of senior officials there”? Was Mr. Volcker mincing words? Do I suddenly not understand English? What the hell is the WSJ and this jokey Yochi guy talking about?!

In the next paragraph:

Mr. Annan's management of the world body during the program's tenure was "a litany of deficiencies," he said.

Do I have to comment on the continued irony?

Heck, the article even tries to pull a “hey look over here! This other stuff isn’t corruption that’s too bad!” by moving from the outrageous multi-billion dollar UN-Saddam-cahoots scam to the still-plenty-outrageous topic of:

The report said the younger Mr. Annan used his family name to communicate regularly with U.N. procurement officers -- including one close family friend, Dianna Mills-Aryee, who he referred to as "Aunty D" -- while Cotecna was finalizing its ultimately successful bid for oil-for-food work. Kojo Annan also saved nearly $20,000 on a new Mercedes by buying it in his father's name, enabling him to receive a diplomatic discount and have it imported to Ghana without paying customs duties, the report said.

In his statement, the younger Mr. Annan says the car incident was an "indiscretion" and that he was sorry if it embarrassed his father.

<>Wow, geez. I guess if he apologized to his poor victimized father for the “indiscretion” (what the rest of us would call a crime of corruption!), the whole thing should be okay. Got it, WSJ and Yochi. Thanks for the objective reporting.

Hey, mainstream media -- Little brother is watching you!!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Charity Event for People -- and for Pigs

Two nights, two benefits. I was supposedly doing good for this world by going to these things and giving money to charities. I feel disgust instead.

Oh, Thursday's night event was pretty good actually. Put on by a major newspaper, it was held at a club/bar in the 20s. There were people there from all walks of life, and everybody was amicable and cheerful. A big reason why was the way you were greeted when you got there. Two very pretty women with brains and without pretensions, smiling and chatting with you. Talking about "the cause", which in this case was the Red Cross. Frankly, I had a good time and met good people. See the italics below for my issues with charity.

Friday night, and one of my good buddies had invited to go to a 3rd annual charity formal at the high-falutin' "Boathouse" in Central Park. It was a black tie event, and just as I didn't have a suit when I got to NYC, I don't have a black tie outfit today. I do have a couple very nice black suits, and I went out yesterday after the market closed to a nice men's store, Rothman's, in my neighborhood and dropped five hundred bucks in total on an Egyptian cotton cuff-linked dress shirt (I didn't have a white dress shirt with cuff links), some new cufflinks (I only had one pair -- old NYC subway token cuff links -- that had been given to my by Andrew Lanyi in my first few months as his assistant when I'd worn a hand-me-down shirt someone else had given me with paper clips as cuff links at work one day -- hey, I was young and poor...and I digress), a formal black and silver diagonally stiped tie and a silver handkerchief (what a strange word). Anyway, I got all dressed up and looked quite formal.

We caught a cab uptown to 72nd where the Boat house is and joined the throngs of formal-wearing folk streaming into the Boathouse. My buddy's a pretty big hedge fund manager (he was wearing a brand new Zegna tux and stuff from Bergdorff, btw) and we'd been "upgraded to VVIP status" -- yeah, VERY very important people. Ironically, we had to stand in a long line with the other "lesser important" peeps, while the "junior ticket holders" streamed right in. Standing in line chatting with three ladies from Pfizer, I noted that the reason there's no line for the juniors is because anyone who's going to bother donating money and wearing a black tie is gonna pony up that last $75 to get VIP status.

Anyway, I don't do lines. I'll walk right out of a drugstore if there are more than two people in front of me when I'm ready to check out. But what could I do. I breathed deeply and tried to enjoy chatting with these three ladies and the dude behind us. But I couldn't get into the people. It' s not that they had nothing to say. But they just weren't really there. They didn't want to talk, they didn't like standing in line either, and they didn't ask anybody anything. Just telling us what they do for a living.

And the throngs of rich white people surrounding us didn't want to be there either. So the atmosphere was ugly and restless. And people were cutting. Somehow, from being in the middle of this long line, we ended up being the last -- the LAST -- five people with our public swimming pool wrist bands to go in.

And inside it was even worse. All these pretentious, fake, rude, disgusting white people looking and acting like they belonged at some mindless meat market fraternity formal that I'd rather die than go to, were mulling around bumping into each other, cutting in front of each other at the bar, at the buffet, at the dance floor -- I still can't get over how rude -- with undertones of violence -- the atmosphere was. What a bunch of pigs. All in the name of charity. Whatever. The only people who were nice to me at all were women who literally grabbed me as I'd walk by and demand to talk to me. One drunk grabbed me and then ran her fingers through my hair -- while her husband stood next to her in dismay. Pigs.

This is charity? Aside from the fact that I have seroius reservations about the concept of charity -- does it actually help except in the very short run? Does it undermine what would otherwise be self-sustaining virtuous productivity? -- this is not how money should be raised. Creating a meat market of a formal event for rich white upper East Siders and other New Yorkers to stand in lines to pound free vodka and wine is not a charitable event. It's a crock. And it left me feeling empty, depressed, and even angry.

That said, I am SO glad I went. I guess in some Taoist-type respect, I totally loved that experience. I loved seeing that environment full of those angry, detached people. Even as it makes me sad.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Last Song of My Life

What an interesting question someone asked me in that Cody Jams post below:

"Just out of curiosity, if you were allowed to listen to only ONE more song/ tune/ symphony and it would be your last..(hypothetically speaking of course) what would you choose to listen to?"

Hmmm, that's tough. I think I'd have to narrow it down by band, then by album -- but maybe there's a random song out there too.

I think my favorite band to listen to is Led Zeppelin. And I love Neil Young. And Pearl Jam. And the Beatles, the Who, The Beastie Boys. Up and coming favorite bands/artists of mine include Mos Def , Mars Volta and System of a Down.

Some of my favorite albums include NY's "Rust Never Sleeps", any of Zep's first four, Pearl Jam's "Vs.", the Beatles late 60s stuff...man, there are a lot. And the prob is I'm doing this off the top of my head without having thought it completely through.

But I'm gonna throw a curve ball at you guys anyway. If I could only listen to one song ever again, I'd choose Mozart's Fantasia in C Minor, K 475 for piano. My mom is an amazing classical pianist, and as a little boy I loved lying next to the piano on the carpet and listening to her play that song.

I know every nuance, every note, every beat, everything move in that piece and it always gives me the chills. Especially when I hear her play it. I don't go home very often -- haven't been to Ruidoso since the Christmas before last -- because it takes 12 hours to go door to door (no direct flights, and a three hour drive from the airport). But everytime I do go home, I request that song.

And it's just great. Sorry to get all sappy on ya', but as you know, I call it like I see it. Or in this case, as I hear it.

Unfortunately, even with three versions available on iTunes, all are bundled with entire albums. I listened through the 30 second sample of all three as I was writing this post, and the best one on there seems to be this version by Maria-Joao Pires.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Random Cody Jams (September 8, 2005)

Been a while...how about some tunes for yours and my new iPod Nanos? You did order one already didn't you? I ordered a black one inscribed with -- what else -- "Flip it! They can't stop the revolution!"

Time of the Season (The Ben Taylor Band) -- Great cover, funky beat, nice tone to Ben's voice. Lots of "feeling" to this updated version of the classic.

Tomorrow (Silverchair) -- I remember when this song came out when I was at UNM. Total Pearl Jam rip off sound, but these guys were 16 at the time as I recall. And man, it's got a good riff to it. Love these lyrics:
"There’s no bathroom, and there is no sink,
The water out of the tap is very, hard to drink,"
That just cracks me up to this day.

The Street Beater, Theme from Sanford and Son (Shane Theriot) -- Another great cover of a great Quincy Jones jam. Love it when they throw Redd Foxx's "Elizabeth, I'm coming to join ya'" in the mix.

Acadian Driftwood (The Band) -- Cheesy flutes, but such a great jam band, I've bought a lot of their tunes.

New Slang (The Shins) -- Broke out last year, and I won't claim to have known of this New Mexican-rooted band until they did break out. Great song though. Reminds me of great hippy music from the 1960s.

That Much Further West (Lucero) -- Don't know anything about this band. But this is a great song that I have no idea how I found.

Signs (Charlie Wilson, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Doggie Dogg) -- An orthodox Jewish friend of mine told me I had to download this song. He was right. I point out my friend's belief system, not his race as the reason of irony, by the way. Big difference.

One Love (Nas) -- I don't really like this song, but it came up on my random shuffle as I'm writing this. All well.

Hey Bulldog (Toad the Wet Sprocket) -- Saw the former lead singer of this band open up from some other dude I went to watch. But after staring an hour late and then another opening act came on I bailed. Horrible as an solo act, Toad the Wet Sprocket was a decent enough band.

Toxicity (System of a Down) -- Great band, complex jams. I've really grown to like these guys.

Click here to download this iMix.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

They Really Can't Stop the Revolution

I'm not pulling an Amazon.com when they patented the "one click", but I've been adding to my trademarks from the US office of bureacracy in charge of such (you can do it online -- what a world we live in, which of course is why I'm trademarking these phrases). A few so far:

Flip it.

Keep on bloggin' in the free world.

They can't stop the revolution.

Little brother is watching you.

And guess what: flip it, baby -- let's keep on bloggin' in the free world where little brother is watching you because they can't stop the revolution!

P.S. Finally, an outright positive post! LOL

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Passionate About Feeling Dispassionate About Katrina

I guess having been so close to 9/11 and having had my whole life turned upside down (and not in the good "flip it" kind of way) in its aftermath, I might not understand how the rest of country felt, acted, and continued on immediately following those events.

But as I'm sitting at the very trendy (and yes, in Meatpacking District) Bumble & Bumble salon today getting my haircut by a very attractive woman looking out on at a beautiful view of downtown NYC and, frankly, enjoying myself, I kept wondering if people were doing this on September 16, 2001. To be clear, it is extremely important for our economy that we do continue to do these things, but it does make me feel strangely dispassionate and uncaring.

As I'd run from the WTC back on that fateful day in 2001, I, along with so many other people, was just hearing snippets of the newsflow -- the Pentagon was hit, the Prez is hiding, etc etc -- and I was sure that the US had gone into war and that I'd soon be off to fight it. When I finally got to midtown and secured a bike rental (not that the guy was open, I traded my credit card itself for a bike -- which was later stolen from me off the street in midtown, but that's another story) and rode into midtown off of the West Side Highway, I was absolutely flabbergasted to see stores open and people milling on the streets, and sitting at bars. Again -- that is the right thing to do, it's just that I was shocked to see it.

In so many ways this tragic Katrina event is far different from 9/11. But as I'd noted in the "Commercializing Katrina" post below, I'm having a hard time understanding all the differences in the aftermath.

On Perpetual Singularity

I remember sitting at a Thanksgiving dinner when I was 17 with my family and my high school sweetheart and fielding the question from my grandfather, "So, Cody, when are you two gonna' get engaged?"

You should have seen the faces and silverware drop when I answered, "I don't believe in the concept of marriage."

Asked by everyone to delineate, I continued, "I have no problems with committing to being exclusive and honest. But how the heck can I promise someone that I'll love them the rest of my life when I have no idea where or what or who I will be in three years, much less ten years, much less in fifty years? I've got a lot of plans and whole lot of things I'm going to do in this life. And I don't want to pretend that I know I'll want to be with someone forever when I can't possibly know that."

16 years later, and I've never been engaged nor married. And I still agree with the thesis I had at 17. (Throw kids into the mix, and the thesis has problems -- but I don't have any kids either.)

But while I wouldn't change my life experiences -- good, bad, wonderful, and horrible -- for anything, I sometimes wonder if my gramps had a point.

One of my best friends married one of my ex's the day after graduation. I've always admired this friend. Having practically raised himself after his father was sent away for drug crimes, he took his wife and went to put himself through college. Never having been a stereotypical great athlete or great student, he worked harder at football than anyone I've ever seen. He took his wife with him to a D-1 college and worked 40 hours a week, took 18 credits per semester -- and made it as a walk-on on the football team.

His wife got pregnant soon into his collegiate career, so he quit the team and focused on supporting his family and getting his degree. He's now a coach and they have a beautiful family. To be clear, I'm not sure he's happy. But he certainly seems to have done what he set out to do. And I certainly admire him still. And there's just some beauty to the purity of his approach.

Meanwhile, I've experienced so much. I had several wonderful girlfriends in college. I spent the first several months in New York without so much as a hug (cried when my mom came to visit and hugged me...finally realizing that I'd been so long with out human touch). I've since had many great girlfriends and random experiences with incredible, beautiful, and successful women of all kinds of backgrounds.

But I bleed in every one of those relationships. I give up part of myself even in the most casual relationship. And I always feel so saddened and depressed when a relationship ends. Especially a serious relationship.

I know a lot of my married friends envy my status. And frankly, I don't envy theirs. But it doesn't mean that I've done it "right". We all sacrifice, since we can't have our cake and eat it too (at least if we want to be honest with our lovers).

P.S. Man, one of these days I'm gonna have to post some outright positive thoughts and introspectives on here! I think Katrina's got me bummed out.

P.P.S. It's not like I just got out of a relationship. Last one ended months ago. Just had this on my mind this morning.

P.P.P.S. I used "singularity" incorrectly on purpose.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Commercializing Katrina

Before I pose the question on my mind here regarding the commercialization of Katrina, I want to reprint something I wrote at Realmoney.com earlier this week:

The devastation in the Southeast is just sickening, and hard to fathom. From the Northeast we see the heartbreaking images on TV and we read about the suffering. But as money managers, our minds immediately and constantly grapple with what the economic and investment implications of all this devastation will be. And we feel guilty for doing so.

But while we all can do what we can to help the victims logistically and financially in the near term, going on with our jobs, working for our investors, creating more value and economic productivity -- these are the things that will help in the long run. It's economic productivity that has created the wealth and health that the majority of Americans have access to every day. In other words, the most important thing we can do right now is to keep on keeping on.

I want to be clear that I don't have a problem per se with the networks and cable channels using interstitial advertisments to create profits for their owners, if that is what they choose to do. Further, I've never bought the argument that the networks have some sort of an ogligation to the public good because they've purchased "a valuable and limited resource" known as our airwaves. I mean, following that same logic, can't we argue that any land owner has an obligation to "the public good".

Now all that said, I'm very confused as to why the networks and cable channels are profiting from their coverage of Hurricane Katrina when they chose not to do so in their coverage of the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Is this a Northeast snobbery issue? Is it that this is a natural disaster whereas 9/11 was a human attack on our country?

I will say that as I watched the saddening opening segment of 60 Minutes on CBS tonight that I was appalled that the segment was immediately followed with a voiceover from the same guy who introduces 60 minutes saying "60 Minutes is brought to you tonight by Cialis....(and I do believe he even read some marketing slogan too)." And then they immediately cut into a commercial pitching this penis impotence drug.

Disgusting and tasteless -- even as it is CBS and that drug company's choice to be so. I do think there is a difference between continuing on with our obligations and creating economic prosperity in the face of and off of the ramifications of Katrina. Perhaps I'm rationalizing my own actions as a fund manager -- but there is a difference between "commercializing Katrina" and "profiting off of Katrina".

I don't know though. Even this discussion makes me feel sad and guilty. My heart goes out to all those affected by Katrina.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Boycotting NBC News

I had to stop watching TV a couple days ago because the images of the Southeast devastation were simply too much after a while. But last night, I was at a friend's house for dinner and they had NBC's special coverage of the aftermath of Katrina on the tube.

As I started watching, some reporter from NBC who had gone into the areas affected in New Orleans was standing in waist-deep water talking into a microphone. He then talked about and showed footage of how he and his cameraman were picked up by some volunteer who was out on a windboat picking up stranded people.

I was sickened and angry beyond words when I heard him say that the boat was full and they couldn't pick up any more people. As they showed footage of stranded people screaming after the boat for help, he said that it was very sad and hard to hear their screams.

Why the hell are a reporter and his cameraman taking up a spot on a rescue boat?! People are dying because there are not enough rescue boats and not enough time out there -- and this NBC reporter and his camera man took up two seats that otherwise would have gone to stranded people.

I'm hoping I misunderstood the situation, and if anyone out there saw that report and has a different take on it, please post it in the comments section of this blog entry.

As it is, I'm boycotting NBC news.