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Jeremy F. - Personal

The Day The New York Stock Exchange Almost Died - Thats How I Came To Hear Of Ron Shear

The article arrives.

All the mail was in a bundle. The envelope itself had taken on a commanding presence in the pile of mail.

I entered the apartment and dropped the keys on the kitchen table. I let the incidental mail drop, everything other than the grey envelope slipped to the tabletop. As I strolled to the second hand couch and cheap wooden coffee table I examined it. Not very heavy. Felt like a bunch of papers stapled together. I would need to smoke something before I opened it, my Dad’s office address was in the upper left hand corner.

Ten minutes later, a bag of chips in my lap, a glass of wine in my hands. I was ready to read.

“A month ago today the New York Stock Exchange died.”  The article was dated November 20 1987, “but within an hour or two, it was raised from the dead.” Ahh, my Dad had sent me some light reading,


recapping the events of the day after black Monday. But it was more than just a recap. This was a seminal market event. Those participants who would ultimately be responsible for the actions that would chart the course of the day, would set precedent for future generations. There perception of financial meltdowns had been shaped by stories of the great depression. But like many movies the great depression had become a classic. Great to watch but in practicality not relevant. Philosophically one can appreciate the lessons we learn from a classic. But time and progress ultimately limit the value of classics as a relative concept. The great depression was a classic , but the nightmare of ’87, to those who stood strong on that scary Tuesday, still in shell shock from the previous day, was reality. Their experience on that Tuesday would shape them and those they would influence for decades to come.

James Stewart and Daniel Hertzberg wrote the article. Titled: How the stock market almost disintegrated a day after the crash.

Stocks, Options and futures trading all but stopped during a crucial interval on Tuesday” October 20th. This was not some metaphoric statement or exaggeration for dramatic affect, these staff reporters for the wall street journal were stating the fact. “The stock market and by extension all the world’s financial markets faced one of the worst crises.” The article went on in great detail to describe one of the most frightening days in financial history. As I read it, I was amazed not just as to the events of the day, but the power this Industry held over the world. There were rumors through out the day that the Big board would close. That the powerhouses such as Lehman, (bankrupted), Kidder Peabody (sold at discount after Trading scandal Joe Jett), Morgan Stanley (ravaged by the credit crisis of 08) and Banker Trust (sold to Deuthce Bank after derivatives scandals and severe losses on Russian bank debt.) were rumored to be buying up bankrupt specialists who could not meet their debt obligations and collateralization needs. These same firms had all but stopped extending unsecured credit. The Arbitrage community, the predecessors of the 90’s macro hedge fund community had lost untold fortunes.

'87 Crash

Rumors flew that some of them were contacting the SEC to temporarily close the exchange, something that can only be done by the President or the exchange itself. “some big investment banks were facing catastrophic losses if the market panic continued”

The specialist firms are responsible for maintaining liquidity. On that day the New York Stock exchange that can trace its history back to 1792 when traders gathered under a tree in lower Manhattan, faced extinction. The specialist, the last line of defense could no longer support the market. There was no liquidity, just one side of the market was there. Sell. Offers. Sell at marketkt. Not held. Stock to go. Just get me out. Get me the F out.

“The Federal Reserve issued an extraordinary statement affirming its ‘readiness to serve as a source of liquidity to support the economic and financial system.” Sounf familiar? Its chairman Alan Greenspan had been made chairman only 3 months earlier. I had never heard of him. I certainly had never heard of Gerald Corrigan the New York Federal Reserve president trained by yet another foreign name to me, Paul Volcker. How little I understood. It would take nearly two decades for me to understand that these men held all our lives in the balance. That at that moment, the positions they occupied were more powerful than all but the president of the United States. This was no ordinary article and these were not ordinary people. There actions have reverberated for decades. Volcker is still hanging around making a mess of things.

The article went on to describe other key players that day. John J. Phelan was chairman of the Big Board. He was the link to the Fed. It was he who would spread the gospel of the Fed throughout the lines of Wall Street. It was he that would sigh relief as the exchange opened up 200 points regaining nearly 40% of its previous days disaster. And then watch in frightening awe as it gave up all its gains losing an additional 80 points and adding over another 5% of losses to the battered average by noon.

It was Phelanwho would have to explain how the stocks were just not trading and one could not properly value the index which meant one could not accurately value the futures.

Chairman Karsten Mahlmann, also known as “Cash” was the chairman of the Chicago board of trade. His exchange was still trading futures contracts of the MMI, the Major Market Index, the other leading index of the Day. The MMI was a blue chip indicator of 20 large cap stocks created by the American Stock Exchange in 1983. It was often referred to as the XMI, which was the ticker for the underlying cash index. It included stocks such as General Motors, Coca Cola and General Electric. He listened in astonishment as representatives from the big board alerted him to the possibility of a close for the New York Stock Exchange. They had moments earlier notified Leo Melamed, the chairman of the Chicago mercantile exchange, who at 12:15 halted trading in S&P 500 futures contracts on the MERC. Cash watched as the “relatively little used” futures on MMI dropped to their deepest discount to the cash value of the MMI index in its history, triggered by the news that back in NY on the floor of the American Stock Exchange trading in Index options on the MMI was halted.

His voice was one of authority, he was 46 and perhaps on of the most seasoned veterans on the floor of the Amex. “Trading in MMI related options is temporarily halted, no more orders.” He was Ron Shear and he was the senior specialist for the MMI on the American Stock Exchange. He was a cross between a Jewish Wall Street Godfather and your local old world Italian grocer, who sends you home with an extra bag of fruit and regards to your mother. One shadow casts the guy who sweetly offers up fruit as a gesture from a service to long-standing family customers, the other depicts a gleaming smile, which makes you wonder why your mom spends so much time at the grocery store. Ron Shear is a dichotomy. Objective/subjective, hard as stone/soft as a feather, your greatest friend/your worst enemy.

It was 10 years later that I first met Ron Shear. I would be one of the few who would come to understand him (just a bit), but it would be 16 years before he and I would make a real connection, and in doing so make some money and I would earn a seat at the Big Boy’s table for a little while.

Here, embedded in an article copied from the wall street journal, stapled together, yellow post it on the front, “Read This!” from Dad” was the description of a man that would play a big part in my movie. Coincidence? Fate? Pretty F’n crazy.

He couldn’t sleep the night before. He smoked a fine cigar as he walked the streets at 4 am. Brasserie, a 24-hour French restaurant in midtown was already crowded with other suits whispering to each other as they sipped hot coffee, eyes red, and shirts ruffled. You could hear only a few words from the huddled groups. “Disaster, wiped out, panic, what next?” Shear paid his bill leaving a 15% tip. Not a penny more , not a penny less, that is his way. He perked his lips as he often did before he entered battle. His coat was of fine cashmere, aged but in a vintage sense. He shuffled out the door and hailed a taxi.

By 12:15 as he made his way to the microphone to make his announcement, other traders on the floor turned to him in fear looking for any words of comfort?” Ron, have you heard Merrill was taking over a number of defunct

Gerald Coriiigan

specialist?” and “Ronny, I heard they stopped trading Du Pont, Merck and Eastman Kodak” “Ron, is the SEC closing the exchange?” and “Ron, are we going to be ok?” The floor supervisor approached shear

Howard Baker

confirming that over 20% of the underlying MMI stocks had stopped trading, in fact Shear believed nearly half of the underlying stocks had actually stopped trading.  After his announcement, shear turned to a number of traders standing beneath the podium, and with a grimace that both exuded confidence as much as it did submission, “It is what it is” he said. With that he sat down and lit another of his small cigars.

The white house chief of staff Howard Baker, pressed Mr. Phelan to keep the exchange open for as long as possible, knowing that the country might not sustain the trauma. The loss of confidence in our financial system would ripple through the globe. Mr. Phelan was heard to have said, “If we close it, we would never open it.” It would be 2 decades before the financial community and the greater world would once again stand on the razors edge, teetering toward the brink of disaster.

“At 12:38 with the closing of the big board seeming immanent and the market in disarray, with virtually all options and futures trading halted, something happened that some later described as a miracle. In the space of about six minutes, the major market Index futures contract, the only viable surrogate for the dow jones industrial average, and the only major index still trading, staged the most powerful rally in its history” (pre ’87). The MMI rose nearly the equivalent of 360 Dow points. The Dow ultimately rebounded nearly 10% from its lows, “setting the stage for the salvation of the worlds markets.”

While conspiracy theories abound, it is believed that a small group of the most powerful firms on Wall Street, banded together and risked it all to save the market. With trading as thin as it was, their buying, together all at once, created an upward thrust in pricing the likes of which many seasoned veterans on the floor had never experienced.

Ron shear was still enjoying the taste of a spicy small cigar as he strolled back on to the battlefield, his instincts were heightened, as he began to feel the commotion on the floor, something was happening. The blood in his body warmed, he felt the thrill of the game and just like that, the defeated army of capitalism experienced a moment of redemption. A seasoned warrior like Shear, smells that moment of opportunity and moves quickly for the kill. Momentum was his weapon and with it he and his cohorts would prevail. He bolted for the loudspeaker and announced that he would open the MMI options market in 15 minutes. I am sure he went on to kill it that day, that is, to make lots of money that day.

As I put down the article, I realized that somewhere about midway through reading, the weed had kicked in and I was baked. I thought, that’s was one F’d up article. I cannot wait to get to that battle. Ahh to be young and naive, what bliss…………In January of 2007, Ron Shear and I sold Carlin Financial Group to the Royal Bank of Canada.  My Movie Continues.

Mentoring Rebellious Kid, Cut Out Articles and Pray - My Movie Continues


Mentoring our children - He taught me life is a battle

I understand better now, but I was a kid back then, maybe 14 or 15. What the hell did I know? It was a book. It wasn’t the first one he had ever given me. In fact, he had given me many books. Why would I think this one any different? It was a soft covered book called “A Stock Market Guide For the Junior Investor”, I guess I thought it was interesting, but it didn’t seem like a tipping point moment for me. No light bulb went off and I certainly didn’t hear accompanying inspirational music in my head as I often do during epiphanies. It was more of a, “Hey kid, I want you to read this”…. “Sure”, I usually did what he told me to. Doing otherwise was relatively risky.

He had bought me other such thought provoking material such as “The Big Book of Questions”, “Life Lessons For Kids”,  “Street

Smarts 101” and of course “The Big Book of Answers”, which would have been more helpful if it had come soon after “The Big Book of Questions”. So up until the junior investor book, it was general mentor, master student-training books.

Camera pans slowly in on my father as he walks down the hall toward my bedroom. The hall is long, unusually long. It was an unusual house. An Asian looking ranch house. The hall was carpeted, a grayish white, not quite berber, but not quite white. Clean satin looking cream wallpaper covered the tunnel walls. I feared touching the walls, as I was aware of the repercussions for getting fingerprints on the wall. The walls wrer decorated with large black and white photos from an Israeli photographer. The photos were Still Life, appropriate for the house and my family life. I am 18 at this point in the movie. A senior in high school. I am a bit of a dichotomy. A rebellious, partying and often reckless kid, yet focused, aggressive and determined.

I get my first article cut out from a newspaper, I presumed this was some new level of father/son training. It was a simple knock at my door, I was probably lying around reading a comic or doing homework, in either case there is a high probability I was buzzed. “ Hey kid, I want u to read this”……. “Sure”…… I usually did what he told me to. As I previously said, doing otherwise was relatively risky.

I didn’t quite get the newspaper article “cut out thing” at first. I thought it was a one off event. Maybe some new child training idea he

Mentoring Kids - A cut out article could change my life.

had read about somewhere. I barely paid attention to what the article was about.

It must have been something about some business leader, business deal, or maybe, an article about rebellious kids failing to recognize their potential.

Think I tossed it when I was done. I may have gotten one or two more articles that year,…. but look, the bottom line was, I was a self-self-centered and narcissistic teen. It was my Movie and I was pretty intent on method acting my way through 12th grade.

College. SUNY Albany. Pretty messed up. Freshman year ….. Flip my car on the corner of 79th St. and Broadeay..…in love with high school sweet heart. She is going to school in Israel… I moved off campus…dad dropped me off with cash, a car and a duffel bag….”good luck, and here is an article I cut out for you”. Something about the cost of sending a kid to college. I went to state school for F sake.

Summer after freshman year I worked at Solomon Brothers as an intern. It was a coveted position sought by many and rewarded to few. Solomon was a Wall Street empire of the 80s, lionized in the book liar’s poker by Michael Lewis. There I would have my first experience of the Wall Street culture I would come to embrace, for the next 23 years. At Solomon I had my first taste of the trading floor. It was sensory overload. I did not understand it then, but the trading floor emanated an aura and I felt it. In the yoga sutras of Patanjali, Sri Swami explains “normally, we only understand thins we can see. However if we develop a subtler perception we can also see the subtler things. For instance, we can see a flower but we can only sense the smell, rather than see it. Even the smell is matter, although very subtle; and, if we have developed a subtle enough perception, we can see it emanating like a magnetic force.” The trading floor is far from subtle, but it takes years to understand its energy and many more to actually learn that an individual can harness it. A trading floor can energize the human mind to develop extreme abstract thought, create an almost subconscious form of communication between individuals, and lead to unfathomable collective intelligence. I was enamored with the trading floor, from the first minute I walked onto the Solomon Brothers bond-trading floor in the summer of 1987. I spent the next 3 years hoping to make my way back to that energy.

Two months after my internship, Wall Street stood on a precipice looking over the abyss. It was “Black Monday”, the stock market crash of 1987. It is no wonder he sent me that article, what is even more amazing is that the article was just another augury in a long series, that would help shape my career, my life and my movie.

Next Scene: The Article Arrives.

Mentor the Children - The package arrives

My Movie Continues: AK47s and High School.

School Supplies

High School wasn’t so much a place as it was a state of mind. It was more like “Always High” School. Truth is I just didn’t care. I was in an “I just don’t give a shit” state of mind from 1982 to 1989. As rebellious as they come and every so often pretty dangerous to myself and those around me. I did just enough work to get by, and wasted a great deal of my potential. As you get older you realize that while you cannot go back, you can move forward. I feel a strong obligation to make sure that the next generation of family and friends do not repeat the mistakes of my past.

1982, was not the most progressive year in the field of Jewish Education. The only person who seemed more screwed up than me was the principal. He was a bit crazy. In hindsight I think I played a big part in his insanity. All my predecessors at the school probably brought him to the breaking point, but by senior year, I was the kid that made him snap. I feel awful about that. But, he was quite mad when I met him. More precisely the schools conflicted ideology drove me and all my predecesors crazy, which then in turn helped to unhinge the principal, and perhaps much of the rest of the academic staff.

I arrived at the Frisch High School  sophmore year. It was after a series of disturbing events, culminating in one really screwed up experience, as a freshman at the Yeshiva University High School called as M.T.A……. An all Boys school which I still find to be a very unnatural concept. I could review all the strange behavior of the principal, the wrestling team practices, the Rabbis’ violent tempers and the study of barbaric rituals of punishment for the most obscure and odd religious transgressions, but it was one final event that was the tipping point that allowed me to finally escape that demented school. There, at the mature age of 14, on the last day of school while most of my class was taking NY State Regents exams inside the school, which I and a few others had taken in eighth grade, I found myself playing an arcade game in a Diner on 186th and Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights, a quite insane address for a Jewish Private School, but hell, who am I to question the wisdom of my elders. There I was playing a classic arcade game called Digger at the front of the diner, the back of the arcade game facing the storefront window. I heard a few popping sounds. POP! POP! POP! And then I saw little holes appear in the glass above the arcade machine. Everything felt like it was in slow motion. The game screen got fuzzy and shook as a bullet hit the back of it. The fluorescent lights above the dining booths shattered as bullets pierced the fixtures. All hell broke lose and people were yelling, “get down”, “get the F**k down”. “It’s a drive by shooting”. Anti Semitism? Maybe. Just as likely in 1982 that it was a drug driven joy ride by a local gang who happened not to like Jews but were not ideological about the whole thing. I am told that their weapon of choice was an AK47. Again, great location for a high school. I have no idea how long I crouched beneath the table I had crawled to on my belly. Glass was everywhere and my ears were ringing with the screaming and shouting of whomever had been unlucky enough to be in that diner, that fine June morning. The following is the only excerpt from the NY Times web site, that I could find referencing the shooting.

THE CITY; F.B.I. to Examine Yeshiva Shooting

Published: June 25, 1983

The Justice Department yesterday asked the F.B.I. to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the shooting Wednesday of three students in a restaurant across the street from Yeshiva University in Washington Heights. A Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesman in New York City said the inquiry would be undertaken at once.

William Bradford Reynolds, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, said the inquiry was to see if the incident, and two other recent shooting incidents in the area involving the university and a Jewish hospital, represented a violation of Federal civil-rights statutes that would warrant a full-scale investigation.

The inquiry had been requested by the Metropolitan Council of the American Jewish Congress. On Thursday, Mayor Koch announced a $10,000 reward in the case. The New York chapter of the American Jewish Council yesterday pledged an additional $10,000 in reward money.

I don’t think they ever caught the culprits. I was lucky to be alive. But in my own F**d up way of manipulating situations I quickly realized that this was my ticket out. There is no way my mother could turn down my wish to transfer schools now. I was overjoyed. Yes for a few moments I actually thought how lucky I was to be in this restaurant. Yes that seems pretty screwed up. But I examined myself quickly, realized I was alive and acclimated quickly to the predicament. I had seen enough movies to know the drill. Fort Apache The Bronx, The Warriors, Night Hawks, and Scarface were just a few of the movies that helped children in the late 70’s and early 80’s prepare for drive by shootings. Reality set in. The ringing in my ears was replaced with moans from some wounded and sirens as the police rapidly arrived on the scene. Those of us not hurt were ushered into a classroom in the school. We were checked over and each given a chance to call our parents in private and tell them we were ok. Right before I got off the phone with my tearful mother, I quietly asked “Mom, may I please change schools now?” “Of course Jeremy” she said, “I promise”. And I knew it was sealed, she would not break her word to me. I hated that school but more importantly I did not like the Principal, George. Not liking authority figures, particularly school principals had  become a bit of a habit for me. Again not too proud of that. With age comes wisdom and, I am discovering, a decent amount of remorse.

A few minutes more of settling in the classroom and receiving instructions from George. “Children, we will be escorting you to your school busses to take you home. There are many reporters out there. Do not respond to any questions or we will take disciplinary action with you”. Real nice presentation to a bunch of mentally scarred kids. I had no idea what the hell he was talking about, or why we couldn’t talk to the reporters, nor did I care. I was out of there. 10 more minutes and I would never step back in that insane asylum ever again. Freedom and more importantly my new high school was coed. As we stepped out of the school in single file marching toward the busses, rabbis, teachers, police and reporters all over the place, all the kids looked down. They were frightened of the Principal’s warning and would not make eye contact with the reporters. All of a sudden there was a microphone shoved in front of me, “Were you afraid?” a young female reporter inquired of me. I could feel George, who again, was not particularly fond of me, or me of him, staring right at me. Slowly I turned to look at him. I gave him a big “F**k You Smile” turned to the reporter and gave her my full expletive recounting of the event. There was pandemonium as the Rabbis rushed to push me on the bus. All the kids were cracking up as all the reporters converged on us while we were racing in full sprint to the busses. It was pandemonium. I turned to see George’s gauntly raging face staring directly at me. I waved goodbye, both of us knowing we would never see each other again. And we didn’t.

At 14 I was evolving from that “living in my own world, in my head stage.” Many 14-year-old boys experience it. Looking back on it, 14 was like one year of a single long “trip” where you wake up in the real world. Freshmen Year is that transition period. Some kids experience it a bit earlier some a bit later but it is all the same in the end. It’s the year a guy changes over to kissing chicks from karate kicks. It’s the year you move from enjoying action movies to getting “some action” at the movies. You transition from riding your bike to the 7/11 for a Slurpee, to riding the bus to Time Square for a peep show of a girl named Slurpee. I was being weaned off of Jan Michael Vincent movies like Defiance and Bruce Lee’s enter the dragon in favor of watching Jennifer Beal’s strip in Flashdance or Jodie foster getting high in foxes. Dungeons and Dragons is replaced by some violent first person killing video game, and flipping baseball cards is replaced with a game of poker, risking bar-mitzvah money for some kid’s Warriors VHS tape or handheld Coleco football game. It’s also when that blindfold gets taken off and you finally see your parents as parents not mommy and daddy. Parents are very different than mommy and daddy. Mommy and daddy say “no sweetheart, please don’t use those words” parents say  “&*@&%$  %@$#* @$%^”. One year you’re home sick at camp and the next year, you are sick at the notion of returning home after living free in the wilds of summer camp.

My group was referred to in more than a few conversations as “the f**k ups”, it meant that we had all this promise and potential, but we kept wasting it. Of the 55 kids in my grade, we represented about 20%. I had a bad attitude. The Jewish private school, or the more prominent “modern orthodox yeshiva”, as it was known, was a world of rules. We spent half the day in secular studies and the other half studying the religious rules that were to encompass our life until the day we died at which point we were told we would be greatly rewarded for obeying the rules. The reward was kind of vague, but the alternative, the punishment, I understood. I was alittle fuzzy on Heaven, but Hell seemed crystal clear. As a teenager I wasn’t a fan of rules in general. This is not something I am advocating but rather an attempt to establish a point of reference. Refer to this point the next time you are sitting at a parent teacher meeting right there in your kids own desk as you get a lecture on how your child has no respect for authority and is undisciplined. That same kid who the next morning will occupy that desk may grow up to be a wonderful husband, father, respected in the business community and involved in outreach and charitable programs. He may have scores of employees who rely on his discipline and authority to maintain the balance at a business, day in and day out. Then again he may turn out to be pretty screwed up as well. Either way, food for thought.

I often confused no with yes and yes with no. I believe it’s genetic, as I have found my children today stricken with a similar disorder. As high school progressed I became more aggressive, it was more than just my attitude, it was calculated. I took thinking everything through to an extreme. I started to see the whole world as a giant game of Stratego. I wasn’t a big chess player, Stratego was more my speed. I was able to see how actionstaken in the present would affect the future. I became obsessed with mapping out my future. My aggressiveness led to a sort of internal as well as external expectation of personal success. This then led to a form of self confidence and security that others found off putting and probably arrogant, and in hindsight was on my part, quite delusional.  It was more of a sense of self-inflated purpose, or a bit too much self-awareness. It rapidly evolved into a hunger for success. An exaggerated desire to win.  I became insanely competitive. Not in the classic sense where I couldn’t stand to lose a board game. More in the disturbed sociopath way where I actually believed the whole thing was one big competition. Life was just a long ongoing game. Ultimately this natural progression led to competing with myself, constantly trying to one up myself…… A competition in which the only way for you to win is for you to lose. Then you hit bottom.

“The more freedom you have in life the happier will you be. I strongly believe that in order to reach the top in life – you need to hit rock bottom first. You just have to be down there if you want to get the willpower and motivation to climb to the top of “Mountain Success”. (Fight Club)

Credits end.

My Movie Continues: The Privileged Few

My movie continues.

Anyway back to the school. The principal was a real ass hole. I am sure in his movie he was the hero or the savior. In mine, he was a prick. He was the kind of guy that pulled my sister in to his office at the mature age of 8, and told her to sign a confession of misbehavior and a follow up contract as to the repercussions for further disregard of lunchroom policies. But my father had taught his kids well. My sister appropriately replied to villainous disciplinarian, that she “cannot sign these documents, I am a minor and will need my lawyer to review them.” She was eight years old. This had much to do with my fathers attempting to prepare his kids for the real world right out of the womb. But this preparation was an uphill battle with many headwinds.

There were a couple of hotties or as I we would refer to them today as M.I.L.Fs at the “Yeshiva”. I am pretty sure my fourth grade teacher was smoking hot. If I was wrong, I would prefer to hold onto that memory. I do remember she drove a 70’s Corvette. That was pretty hot too. But for the most part, the teachers looked like characters out of a Tim Burton nightmare cartoon movie.

Couple of other visuals as the credits continue to roll across the screen. There’s me and my mom shopping for clothing at Bambergers. It no longer exists, but it was like the Nordstroms of the 70’s just much lower class. The truth is, we were all lower class in the 70’s and early eighty’s. Modern upper class, the Nuevo Riche didn’t begin to evolve until the late eighties. So perhaps Bambergers then was like Kohls today, but Kohls then was like Nordstroms today. Stay with my trend of thought here. It was supposed to be some kind of privilege to shop at Bambergers, or maybe not, but every time she bought clothing for me, I seem to remember hearing how thankful I should be that I have clothing on my back and that we get to shop in a store like Bambergers. When that shit gets drilled into your mind enough, you start to actually believe you are amongst the privileged few. In fact, as a kid you dramatically misinterpret those statements. I thought it was a signal to me, to walk amongst the masses, my classmates, camp friends, teachers and any authoritarian, as if I was special, a “chosen one” to exist for some special reason amongst the privileged ones. Man, was I F**k’n Brain washed. My whole fricking school was brain wahed because we were all told these things. A whole community of f**ked up kids growing up in a bubble. Now here is the real irony. I have a theory as to why that community, that generation of Jewish parents brainwashed a generation of kids to walk into the modern secular world believing they were a privileged group.  Because…..ready for this?……..they were right, or at least they were right from their perspective. They were a whole generation brought up to believe that they were lucky to be alive. They were brought up by families, who were basically all in one way or another devastated by the Holocaust. I mean, they either witnessed or knew that their parents had watched over a third of their people be murdered through systematic genocide as the entire world sat by and watched. Our generation’s parents really were the “CHOSEN ONES”. They were the ones chosen to live. In those days, success meant breathing the next day. Not a vacation home and sports car. Our parents were right. We were a privileged generation, living in our own bubble. Privileged to be of this generation and not the one that was nearly wiped out by Nazi death camps. Privileged to be alive.

And out into the world we all went. As F**ked up as could be and completely ill prepared for the insanity and struggles of real life. My father did his best to prepare me. But ultimately these things can only be fixed by proper medication. Through Lexapro eyes can one truly see the word. Through Clonazpan ears can one really hear the world. And through Tamazapam hands can one really touch the world. Throw in some yoga and everything is fixed.

The Movie continues……………………………………..

Final opening credits soon coming to an end.

Pan in on 70’s style brick building on Airmont road.

Doctors office, cough, “wait out here son”, some sort of old time crank, operated a silent video machine in the waiting room. You turn a handle and it moves slides in a metal box with a viewer. The slides move fast enough to make it appear like a motion picture. Something out of the 50’s. This was what a kid had at his disposal while waiting a half hour for the doctor to “see you”. No Itouch, no cell phone to text your BFF, and no Nintendo DS or Game boy.

Have a lollipop. “He will be fine”, “just a couple of days in bed. School? Oh, no school for him, just rest.”  Yeah baby. Sweetest thing a doctor ever said. “No School”. I couldn’t believe it worked. How is it possible that I could fake this doctor out each and every time? I wasn’t sick. But I must have been a privileged gifted child actor.

Now I could go home get into bed and think about my fourth grade hottie teacher as I watched wheel of fortune all afternoon. One of the privileged few.

Opening Credits Of My Movie, Monsey NY filming

Can You Keep A Secret

Lets move through this next part of my movie relatively fast. Think of it as that part of the movie where we see credits or titles after a 10-minute opening sequence. Title of movie - “Work in Progress”, Producer – Overnight Films, Director – G-d, Star – Me, etc. etc., another 20 different production company titles flash on the screen. They all seem to be the Schools I attended, the Firms I worked for, friends and family. Everyone seems to want a credit.

Next, we see one of those aerial shots looking down on New York City. We travel quickly up the east side and cross the George Washington Bridge. Hang a right onto the palisades parkway. Palisades parkway to NY state thruway to exit 14b, Airmont road. Monsey NY. Hang a right at the light. Better if at this point we switch from aerial view to quick shots of roadside scenes, like in the opening credits of The Sopranos.  Very normal looking, suburban houses, shrubbery, a seven eleven, local dry cleaners, some sort of constructions sight, putting up some strip mall. Beneath the surface of this very plain looking suburb lurks a twisted world of hypocrisy, extremism, and every so often deviance and aberrance. I don’t mean to imply that there wasn’t a great deal of good honest hard working family people. But they were living in a bubble. A bubble where they believed their town folk don’t commit crimes, their married couples don’t cheat, get caught and get divorced. They believed their kids don’t do drugs or have premarital sex. They believed a man with a title of respect always deserved this respect even in the face of flagrant transgressions that people would rather turn a blind eye to. Meanwhile beneath the surface, Wall Streeters were scheming and scamming, arsonists were burning down warehouses for insurance scams, politicians were cross dressing, kids were dealing dope, a vacation for parents meant a home filled with “kids behaving badly”, psychotic teachers who might take a slug at a kid and every so often a local night club owner would get murdered. Yes, you read all that correctly. I will address the murder in a later blog along with a couple of drive by shootings that happened while I was a freshman in high school.

What happens in Monsey stays in Monsey

The camera pans over the elementary school. For a while it was named Hebrew Institute of Rockland County (HIRC), then they ran out of money, so a family named Schreiber gave some dough, built a gym and the school became the Adolph Schreiber Hebrew Academy (ASHAR). A couple of points here. The following is an excerpt from the schools history, published on its website.

“First housed in Monsey’s Community Synagogue on Cloverdale Lane, the school was originally called the Hebrew Institute of Rockland County (HIRC). Although other day schools and yeshivas existed, it was this need to incorporate Ahavat Yisrael into their children’s education that inspired a handful of parents to establish a school that provided a religious Zionistic environment mixed with a strong general studies curriculum.

In 1956, Rabbi Irving Levy, the first Chairman of the Board of Education, encouraged Rabbi Nachum Muschel to join the Monsey community and HIRC. Over the course of more than four decades, Rabbi Muschel led the school through tremendous growth and success. During his tenure as Principal and later Dean, Rabbi Muschel created a groundbreaking Jewish Studies curriculum that continues to  anchor our limudei kodesh program and remain  a model for numerous other institutions.  In his current position of Dean Emeritus, Rabbi Muschel’s daily presence and devoted guidance serve as  a constant source of inspiration.”

I asked for an onion bagel

It was obviously a Hebrew school, sort of, I guess we called it Yeshivah, but there was another type of Jewish school that “really” was the yeshiva. Then what was my school you may ask? Well it was more like a modern orthodox Jewish school that tried to teach much of what was taught in yeshiva but do it in a way in which the kids who would one day leave the school and go out into the real world, might ultimately be able to socially straddle two cultures, the religious and secular. For me it was an utter experimental failure and today it is a full-blown ultra orthodox Yeshiva. I believe they still may whack around a kid every so often though. Quite frankly the place was a lunatic asylum and the head Rabbi was a psychotic warden, the vice principal who was quite the eccentric. Truth be told the school was the natural reaction to a whole generation that was making the break from their Jewish, eastern European, Shtetl, small one oxen town, closed and isolated world.  They were attempting to adapt to the modern age here in America, many having escaped the Holocaust, and to this day over half a century later are still not much closer to resolving many of the fundamental problems resulting from assimilation. Perfect example, the uproar at the announcement of a same sex marriage in the Jewish Standard (A local publication) and there subsequent pathetic apology.

The way my grandparents lived

Editorial from the Jewish Standard

Published: 04 October 2010

“We set off a firestorm last week by publishing a same-sex couple’s announcement of their intent to marry. Given the tenor of the times, we did not expect the volume of comments we have received, many of them against our decision to run the announcement, but many supportive as well.

A group of rabbis has reached out to us and conveyed the deep sensitivities within the traditional/Orthodox community to this issue. Our subsequent discussions with representatives from that community have made us aware that publication of the announcement caused pain and consternation, and we apologize for any pain we may have caused.

The Jewish Standard has always striven to draw the community together, rather than drive its many segments apart. We have decided, therefore, since this is such a divisive issue, not to run such announcements in the future. “

50 years of progress, set back with one retraction.

Monsey Movies

This is just a taste of complex and sometimes disturbing cultural issues that have evolved from towns like the one I grew up in. As a side not, the entire town has changed over, and is now an ultra orthodox and extremely religious environment. Housing prices have dropped dramatically and I am not sure if the 7/11 made it. It is practically a foreign country, which oddly enough is how I viewed it as a kid, but I was always a bit of a forward thinker.

Kosher Kitchen

“They call it the holy shtetl” Gitty Grunwald - July 08

Monsey NY

To be Continued………………

1968: The Year I Was Born

Next scene in my movie is some kind of “Year I Was Born Montage”. Music kicks in. Born to be wild, Steppenwolf, number 31 on the top 100 songs of 1968.

“Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way.”

Scenes from ’68 flash in front on screen, a turbulent year unfolds on the screen.

January 31 1968

At half-past midnight on Wednesday morning the North Vietnamese launch the Tet offensive at Nha Trang. Nearly 70,000 North Vietnamese troops will take part in this broad action, taking the battle from the jungles to the cities. The offensive will carry on for weeks and is seen as a major turning point for the American attitude toward the war. At 2:45 that morning the US embassy in Saigon is invaded and held until 9:15AM.

February 4 1968

Martin Luther King Jr. delivers a sermon at his Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta which will come to be seen as prophetic. His speech contains what amounts to his own eulogy. After his death, he says, “I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody… that I tried to love and serve humanity,. Yes, if you want to, say that I was a drum major for peace… for righteousness.”


I was born in a year of turmoil and violence.

“Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
 And explode into space.”

March 16

Senator Robert Kennedy, former Attorney General and brother of former president John F. Kennedy (1961-63) ends months of debate by announcing that he will enter the 1968 Presidential race.

March 16 (same day)

Although it will not become public knowledge for more than a year, US ground troops from Charlie Company rampage through the hamlet of My Lai killing more than 500 Vietnamese civilians from infants to the elderly. The massacre continues for three hours until three American fliers intervene, positioning their helicopter between the troops and the fleeing Vietnamese and eventually carrying a handful of wounded to safety. View the BBC Special Report on the incident.

April 4

Martin Luther King Jr. spends the day at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis working and meeting with local leaders on plans for his Poor People’s March on Washington to take place late in the month. At 6pm, as he greets the car and friends in the courtyard, King is shot with one round from a 30.06 rifle. He will be declared dead just an hour later at St. Joseph’s hospital. After an international man-hunt James Earl Ray will be arrested on June 27 in England, and convicted of the murder. Ray died in prison in 1998.

Robert Kennedy, hearing of the murder just before he is to give a speech in Indianapolis, IN, delivers a powerful extemporaneous eulogy in which he pleads with the audience “to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”

The King assassination sparks rioting in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Newark, Washington, D.C., and many others. Across the country 46 deaths will be blamed on the riots.

May 11

Jeremy Frommer is born in unknown hospital in brooklyn N.Y. to parents Marc and Alice Frommer.

Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King Jr.’s designated successor, and the Southern Christian Leadership Corps are granted a permit for an encampment on the Mall in Washington, DC. Eventually, despite nearly a solid month of rain, over 2,500 people will eventually occupy Resurrection City. On June 24th the site is raided by police, 124 occupants arrested, and the encampment demolished.

Obama also pleaded for reunited nation

“I like smoke and lightning
 Heavy metal thunder 
Racin’ with the wind
 And the feelin’ that I’m under”

June 3

Andy Warhol is shot in his New York City loft by Valerie Solanis, a struggling actress, and writer.

June 4/5

On the night of the California Primary Robert Kennedy addresses a large crowd of supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in San Francisco. He has won victories in California and South Dakota and is confident that his campaign will go on to unite the many factions stressing the country. As he leaves the stage, at 12:13AM on the morning of the fifth Kennedy is shot by Sirhan Sirhan, a 24 year old Jordanian living in Los Angeles. The motive for the shooting is apparently anger at several pro-Isreali speeches Kennedy had made during the campaign. The forty-two year old Kennedy dies in the early morning of June sixth.

July 7

Abbie Hoffman’s “The Yippies are Going to Chicago” is published in The Realist. The yippie movement, formed by Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Paul Krassner, all committed activists and demonstrators, is characterized by public displays of disorder ranging from disrupting the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange to the destruction of the Clocks at Grand Central Terminal, the main commuter station for workers in New York City. The Yippie’s will be in the center of action six weeks later at the Chicago Democratic National Convention, hosting a “Festival of Life” in contrast to what they term the convention’s “Festival of Death.”

August 8

At their Party convention in Miami Beach the Republicans nominate Richard Milhouse Nixon to be their presidential candidate. The next day Nixon will appoint Spiro Agnew of Maryland as his running mate. Nixon has been challenged in his campaign by Nelson Rockefeller of New York, and Ronald Reagan of California.

“Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
 Fire all of your guns at once 
And explode into space”

September 7

Women’s Liberation groups, joined by members of New York NOW, target the Miss America Beauty Contest in Atlantic City. The protest includes theatrical demonstrations including ritual disposal of traditional female roles into the “freedom ashcan.” While nothing is actually set on fire, one organizer’s comment - quoted in the New York Times the next day - that the protesters “wouldn’t do anything dangerous, just a symbolic bra-burning,” lives on in the derogatory term “bra-burning feminist.”

October 11

Apollo 7 is launched from Florida for an eleven day journey which will orbit the Earth 163 times.

October 12

The Summer Olympic Games open in Mexico City. The games have been boycotted by 32 African nations in protest of South Africa’s participation. On the 18th Tommie Smith and John Carlos, US athletes and medalists in the 200-meter dash will further disrupt the games by performing the black power salute during the “Star-Spangled Banner” at thier medal ceremony.

October 31

President Johnson announces a total halt to US bombing in North Vietnam.

“Like a true nature’s child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die.”

November 5

Election Day. The results of the popular vote are 31,770,000 for Nixon, 43.4 percent of the total; 31,270,000 or 42.7 percent for Humphrey; 9,906,000 or 13.5 percent for wallace; and 0.4 percent for other candidates.

November 26

After stalling for months, the South Vietnamese government agrees to join in the Paris peace talks.

December 11

The unemployment rate, at 3.3 percent, is the lowest it has been in fifteen years.

December 21

The launch of Apollo 8 begins the first US mission to orbit the Moon.

with great struggle comes great success

“Born to be wild…..Born to be wild”

“Year I was born Montage” ends. I am still lying in bed, thirteen years of age, 8th grade. My real movie has yet to begin. More background is needed. Another Montage perhaps, a little more specific though. The next montage has more to do with my first thirteen years, background stuff. Helps the audience sympathize with my plight, relate to my Karma, or perhaps just explain how I got on this crazy journey I call my life.

It is a journey of balance

Time magazine proclaimed 1968 as “The year that changed the world.”

Don’t Take Any Wooden Nickels

But then my movie fades, kind of like a haze, just when you were about to deeply buy into this 40 year old guy and hear about his upcoming battle, the demons he fought back, the family he endeavors to support and protect and the ideals he fights for…. It feels like the kind of haze one experiences after a few too many chardonnays as you await a friend’s arrival at a bar, she is late. You start to stare into space and the whole bar seems to be enveloped in a fog.

I awake again, but I am in another bedroom. This one is more visible, sort of, actually as I wake up and look around its very clear in some spots but the hazy in others, similar to the feeling one would have scanning the room with a telescope, sometimes the landscape is crystal clear and you shift a bit, and then not. Faded wood paneling stained that white grayish color, a carpet of geometric patterns. Can’t quite make it out defiantly a lot of Blue. There is a dog on the floor. German short hair pointer. Very clear, crystal. Not crystal clear, the dogs name was Crystal. Loved that dog. Oddly enough as I stare at the clock it looks like a very familiar white cube. Bookcases, lots of Judaic studies books, huge books, 18 inches high, 28 inches wide when opened, 3 inches thick when closed. Tons of books, filling dozens of shelves. Gifts from family, friends, synagogue or temple. Two to three hundred books. Many were given on the day my movie production was green lit. Bar mitzvah or coming of age books. Bibles, Prophets, Judaic law books, the Talmud and all the logic, wisdom and epic stories they held. My movie’s director and producer must have said, “here are the scripts the “how to” on production casting and stunts, theatre 101, acting for dummies, special effects for dummies (very helpful), comedies, action and quite a bit of depressing tragedy. “Go fourth, read them, and you shall understand your movie” I didn’t do much of the reading, I got a bit distracted. I am sure my teen age stage of the movie did not turn out quite like my director had hoped. The bookshelves fade. I am up like a robot. Don’t think much. Or at least I don’t think I am thinking as I make my way to the bathroom. I’m thirteen. I don’t hear the bell go off yet but I am methodical in my morning routine, preparing for the battles I do not understand but I know are coming. I have been told they are coming. I have been in training to face them since as far back as I can remember. He was constantly preparing me. I am told from as far back as my mother’s womb, he would whisper to me. “Its really hard out here kid, get ready and toughen up”, and other sage advice such as “Don’t take any wooden nickels”. I was born in 1968, he was 25. He must have been through a great deal of difficult times, or at least be a pretty intense guy, to be warning his unborn son of the perils that might await him rather than sing a lullaby. I never did see a wooden nickel, but it was some of the most useful advice he ever did give me.

Me Too

My most comfortable state of existence is anxiety.

I have spent much of my life trying to figure out how to enjoy a moment.

I don’t remember much from the real early days.

We lived in a Brooklyn. Maybe I was 4 or 5, what’s the difference. At best, everything going on around you shapes some unique personality traits and sets in place foundational attributes. If everyone around you is smiling, then you smile. If everyone around you is depressed and gloomy, then you don’t smile. I smile some of the time. At worst your just part of someone else’s movie. Who knows? Not really in your control anyway.

Lights, camera, action, quiet on the set. Quiet on the set. “Hey money guys that means you too….. Yes, your murmuring makes it onto my soundtrack. Who is that some friends of the producer’s assistant? They’re in the shot. Someone ask them to leave the set.”


Boring growing up segment. No real horror show but quite frankly no exciting action sequence. Other than a few birthday cakes and dreading the bus ride to school, nothing happens for almost 8 years. At least nothing I give a shit about now.

It’s about 13 that your movie really begins. Maybe God is like a producer. You can’t have a leading role until your 13, but you can play a bit role in someone else’s home movie. But your real show doesn’t begin until your 13. Then the grand production really starts up. You are the star. It takes about 27 years to film. It makes the “Apocalypse Now” shoot seem like a “High-School Musical” shoot. At 40, you begin to understand how you did domestically; everything from then on is foreign receipts, DVD and On Demand residuals. At 40 you start filming the sequel. Its not until you are 80, or at least way past 40, that you will know if your movie has become a classic or another small film that just fades into history and is forgotten.

My movie opens up with my heart, it is beating fast, when I put my hand to my chest, I can feel it thumping. It is quiet in my mind except for the thump. Cue the sound effect. Thump, Thump, Thump. I am turning 40, my eyes are adjusting to see the time on the clock cube. The colors of my room come into focus. Mind starts turning, work, check blackberry, shower, dark suit, tie, maybe no tie, roll over, images flashing before me. Take a minute, roll over in bed and stare at my wife. I’m crazy about her. Deep in sleep, her slow calm breathing brings me peace, not a lasting peace, but a peace for preparation. Heart slows, the thump slows. Cue the sound effect but slow it down a bit and add a shallow but long breath, inhale then exhale…slowly. Colors, Sounds, Clarity. Each move now part of a choreographed routine. These are the quiet moments. Control sets in. I stand up. The bell goes off echoing inside me. I see the center of the ring. The crowd starts roaring off in the distance. It is getting louder. I can feel the blood start pumping. It is hot. My whole body starts to heat up. The heated blood, flowing through me, my heart start to thump more rapidly, the crowd gets louder. But now I feel in control of the rhythm. The heat keeps me alert. The Breathing is deep and strong. And the feeling hits me. I cannot wait to get to the center of the ring. The battle to begin soon. The journey is underway again. The morning is upon me. It is 5:45am.

To be continued

Cheating Time With A Picture

I hang up lots of pictures, photos of people, places, things; it’s a form pf clarification for me, like a receipt from god for the sale of life. I view it more as a philosophy than a hobby, but taking pictures, and “do I have enough pictures?” shows up more and more on my list of top questions, these days. I am obsessed with taking a picture of every personal event or occasion. I had that appreciation for the value of time, even as a kid. Photographs are a way of cheating time and reliving an experience. Hedgefundlive.com is filled with photos of the evolution of our business. In years to come, I will look back on them with joy or sadness. Either we will have failed or succeeded. That is the irony of cheating time by reliving memories with pictures. Pictures don’t change, but perceptions do.

Do I Have Enough Life Insurance

Do I have enough life insurance?  Also known as ‘pre-financing for the character spin offs’.

Definitely one of my top 10 questions. I like the top ten concept. It is a universal application designed by the all mighty. In fact, the original top 10, the commandments, has for me, held up pretty well.  It establishes certain absolutes that are required for relative judgment. My top 10 maybe different than someone else’s, but can be used for comparatives. So by understanding my top 10 and some one else’s top 10, I can understand how much we have in common, how similar our lives may be, what makes that person happy or sad. What is loved and what is despised. Top 10 is a life measurement tool. It is morally ambiguous in its application, absolute in its temporal prioritization, yet constantly subject to change. I have a top 10 favorite movies and a top 10 worst movies. I have a top 10 best moments of my life and a top 10 worst moments.  My top 10 lists are ever evolving. They are a metaphor for my likes and dislikes.

Age is the driving force of individual change. The priority of my top ten life questions is constantly changing even when there are no additions or deletions. As I turn 40 life insurance is hovering around the 3 to 4 level having been an 8 to 9 at 30, and previously not having made the list. If that question is on your list in your 20s, your movie production has some problems..

At 40 it feels like someone just turned off the fast forward on the screen and u can actually understand what’s going on, even if it is just for a moment. It’s a good time to decide whether you’re even watching the right movie. Until 40 , the whole movie is fast paced.

That “time is relative” stuff makes a lot more sense after 40. Before 40 you never worry about time, after 40 time is all you ever worry about.