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Friday, November 30, 2007

the foreward to the auotobiograpy I never got around to writing

So as sit here wondering if gazing back though time to discover just exactly how the fuck I ended up here, daily fighting the tides and fates to not resemble a caricature of a mid 40’s oft divorced, smoke too much, drink too much, always falls for exactly the wrong girl kind of guy. I poke gingerly at the corners of history to see if the story is worth the telling. And perhaps it is.

It is, if nothing else, an interesting story, full of sordid moments and overcoming ones own stupidity. I am never sure if the high points of my life were when I was a so-called solid citizen or those moments when I drunkenly consorted with women of a certain morally casual attitude. More and more I suspect the latter. It was Wilde who said we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. I have been in the gutter and at times I have glimpsed the stars. I enjoyed both equally as each inspires a different sort of passionate reflection on life. I suppose somewhere in this mixed up collection of memories and lessons learned as well as forgotten there is a story to tell. I doubt that I will be able to deliver it in traditional time line fashion as my brain rarely works that way.

I look into some of the mixed up memories that are pulled form the grab bag and pause even now to savor them, mary jo porter in a hotel room in Akron fucking Ohio, she of the ungodly long legs and born to give head pouty lips; that shit smeared hell hole of a jail cell in Albuquerque new mexico where I spent 36 fucking hours waiting for the bail money to arrive; my first wedding on a frozen house day in Minneapolis, looking at my bride to be thinking, this is some stupid shit you re doing right here ,tim. Problem was she was one of the leading salespeople in our little company. I had to follow through on my drunken promises or lose the revenue. At the time, God knows we needed the revenue. Might have run anyway if she hadn’t been knocked up. Trading yen futures in my office at the crack of dawn while puking last night’s good whiskey into the can under the desk in the little desert wasteland town of Merced to raise a stake to get back on the right side of the world. Unfortunately, the bitch followed me.

Hiding in a shower stall in Blythe Arizona when the cops were trying to find me for passing bad paper (not my checks but check given to us by customers. We had developed masterful talents at passing these gems onto local merchants) all over town while my female co-conspirator of the time, wrapped in only a towel explained to the nice officer that I had left and returned to LA.then she backed the car up to the door and I jumped in the trunk and left town, quickly heading east. Walking snow blind down rush street with the great Mr. Crossman in Chicago at three in the morning accompanied by a sweet little girl from Kentucky with a melodious voice and wondrous ass; the piss and blood feeling a real honest to go someone is not walking away from this street fight, the pain numbing elation when it was me that walked away, the pain numbing morphine from the nice nurse lady when it wasn’t; Driving a purple pt cruiser already drunk out of our minds to find ourselves in a skin head bar in Louisville, Kentucky; poker hands, whiskey bottle, tumbling horses ;a chubby redheaded girl on a boat deck at sundown.

Then there is of course my grand tour of the jail cells and holding tanks of all the grand American cities and towns, the aforementioned Albuquerque. Lubbock, Texas, Hattiesburg Mississippi (a true hellhole with dirt floors and a kitchen trustee with gangrene. I was there 4 days and then spent two days on Bourbon Street drunk as blind, one legged billy goat to chase away the memory), Annapolis and of course the waxters juvenile detention center, my prolonged stay in the Albany state penitentiary at the kind invitation of the state of new york, Mars, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, Reno, Blacksburg, Virginia, corpus Christi, Dallas (I have a love-hate relationship with the state of Texas. They loved locking me up, I fucking a-well hated it.) Boulder, Colorado, the nicest jail I have ever been in with real carpeting and macramé classes. I am sure I have left some of the fine facilities where I have whiled away the hours off the list but memories fade over time and I just cant recall all of them.

There have been the more socially acceptable memories as well. The birth of my children, of course. But for those who want to make that out to be this wondrous thing of great beauty it s a actually a bloody nasty brutish mess of a thing to actually watch, but to hold my daughter the first time and have those huge brown eyes looking at me, knowing who I was somehow, my son pulled out by c-section and taking his first piss all over the poor doctor lady; watching my daughter at age 12 playing out in the waves during a beach vacation dancing with graceless and timeless beauty as the waves lifted her, the crashing sea pushing her long thick hair forward to frame her face as she rose with the tide, floating along in a oceanic fantasy dance all her own, till the wave crashed over leaving her once again a slightly clumsy pre-teen finding her way in a gravity bound world; my son at third base moving to his right with a fluid grace his father never had, looking like a 10 year old Brooks Robinson; high school graduations, prom nights. My kids have been a grace and a blessing and I just hope I haven’t screwed them up too badly.

And the women, my god the women. Some I loved, some I liked, some, I just fucked. Others I would have liked to have loved or fucked but they were way too smart to get anywhere near me. I would be so much better off without my endless pursuit of the great two-legged North American vaginal support system but, alas, I have never been able to do so. Their look, their touch, their feel. I live for that shit.The chase, the catch, the way their eyes shimmer in the candlelight. The way the look in the morning in the unlikely event I woke up before whoever last nights she was. Hotel rooms, bedrooms, stairways, back seats, the amphitheatre stage of the Fresno zoo. So many places and memories. A plethora of memories of mammories, and the women attached to them. There have been magic moments of falling in love, star lighted nights of romantic bliss and a soft tender kiss. This, of course, being before the fucking hammers comes down and there are myriads of lawyers involved.

There has to be some talk of the stock market in any recall of my short stay here. I have toiled at many things in life. Dishwasher, cook, door-to-door salesman, car salesman and even an insurance agent. But I didn’t begin to come into my own until I realized I was spending more time trading options at the local EF Hutton office than I was selling insurance and sought gainful employment as a broker that I came into my own and started developing into the person I am today. I love the markets and have from day one. I have been privileged to have met and learned from several of the greatest investors and traders alive today, starting with a fellow broker in the Modesto, California dean witter office, a quiet unassuming ex nasd investigator who is a master at the art of value and distressed investing and to this day has the greatest ongoing track record of anyone I have ever heard of. He taught me the ins and outs of this business and although he is content to this day to work as a broker and makes his millions in his own account, eschewing the fund or hedge fund life for the quiet one he has, I consider one of the giants of the investment game. The free wheeling math genius in Weston, the inheritor of the Ben Graham legacy in new York, the car racing high performing value guy in LA, the growth stock guru from Lake Tahoe, the aged almanacer, the shaggy haired new yorker who married a beautiful boxing writer and has done more than okay in the markets, the inventor of the bands, the how I made a zillion trading this crap and moved to the virgin islands, all these and more I have met and learned much from all of them. So naturally we will have to talk some in this discourse on good trades, bad trades, epiphanies and outright fucking stupidities. In the midst of dumping the wanderings of an amorous and avaricious mind onto pages, do we dare discuss such mundane things as stock valuation, using quantitative methodologies to uncover value situation, the creative use of options to enhance returns on stock portfolios, societal and economic trends that affect the stock market and out likelihood for investment success. We must, dear reader, we must.

The friends must enter the picture here as well. From the kids I ran around with in my misspent youth, fighting, drinking, stealing and just trying to get dead or imprisoned before we could figure a way out. Sad to say the number that did not achieve even that very unlofty goal is too high to contemplate too regularly. I look at this mix of friends I have today and its a true mystery how in one mans ramble through life he could have picked up such an eclectic and wonderful group of friends. A semi retired options trade of notoriously regular habits. A tire shop owner whose affection for adult libations and naked women may surpass my own. A fast boat loving fellow broker who has become a fast friend and boon companion on many misadventures the past year or so. An Iranian Jewish futures trader who is so young I have shoes older than he is.but he is smart as hell and a damn good friend. A backhoe operator. A restaurateur. Traders of virtually every stripe in Chicago and new york. Guys from the old office in California I still talk to every day. Couple of doctors. A few nurses. Computer geniuses. Gamblers, lots of gamblers.A cloth shop owner in Kansas, A futures trading geologist. A publisher. Even a couple of lawyers. Ceos, Cfos, plumbers, builders, accountants They are here in Maryland, in New York, In Chicago, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Florida, California, Virginia, conneticut,new jersey, Arizona,Kansas, Lousiania. Next to my children the biggest blessing in my life has been my friends.

There will be stories. Some will be hysterical. Some almost fucking tragic. Some lessons learned, many mistakes repeated. There will be no long drawn out boring discussions of what I learned at sainted ivy university. I didn’t fucking go. Could have. Was too busy being a screw up. Stories of how life on the road forced me to grow up a little and learn how to live. Of true love and failed marriages. Stories of my love and pride for my children, stories of being almost normal for a few years before the hedonistic madness sets back in. Of good trades and bad trades, champagne celebrations and hiding form the margin clerk whole vomiting in disbelief at how fast that went against me. Will there be stories of redemption. Unlikely but one never knows.

Having reviewed this, dear reader, should we write it?

Why the fuck not?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

savage beatings and football

Thank Christ. A break in the latest project as the somewhat twisted gold bugs have decided for the third time that we are changing direction on this book and we have to start over from scratch. With the outline I asked for the first day naturally. Ah well so I was three quarters done. I can use the break for fiscal crisis and financial meltdowns. Screw it, the check cleared. So I can take this brief break to write something of my own for a welcome change. We are deep now into fall marching to the precipice of winter and so far it is pretty uneventful. Except of course that sick sick, twisted weekend in Ocean City of which I have only the vaguest memories of long wavy hair, handcuffs, too many Manhattans (is there really such a thing?) shaky’s demented drunken laughter and some incident involving a one-string guitar. It must have been a hell of a time judging form the bruises and police reports.

College football has developed into an interesting year. What should have been an absolute coronation of USC and LSU as football dynasties has been turned into a very tight BCS race with Missouri and West Virginia the highly unlikely 1 and 2 teams in the standings. Maryland has been average with sophomore quarterback Chris Turner being brilliant when facing top ranked teams but woefully less so against run of the mill ACC teams. It does bode well for next year however to have a QB coming back as a junior. They are bowl eligible but does anybody but alumni really want to see this team play again.?I find it doubtful. Navy has been an outstanding offense team but ludicrously bad defensive team. They won what is now the highest scoring game ion NCAA history and finally beat Notre Dame after 43 years of losses to the Irish. Of course the Irish have not been this bad in 43 years but the win still looks good to the Navy faithful. All that’s left is Army-Navy this Saturday.

I know I comment on this game every year and I will try to be brief but I am going to do so again. This is not just a football game or even just the oldest rivalry in college football. Each and every young man on that field was a scholar athlete in high school and had a wide range of choices for higher education and athletics. All of the members of the brigade and the corps made a choice to enter the service if their country after 9/11 and after the start of the Iraq war. They know they are entering wartime service after they graduate. They chose to serve. That defensive tackle lowering his shoulder to take out the halfback of the opposing team may well find himself calling that guy for fire support next year. The safety who has clobbered the quarterback on a blitz is likely to be counting on that guy to fly air support as he slogs through the twisting desert sand as he chases insurgents. Opponents on the field and brothers in arms off it, these men deserve our support regardless of our feelings on the war. Looking at te resumes of past service men tells us that these young men on the filed, and the men and women on the field are the future of our nation. They are smart, they are brave and deserve out applause. GO NAVY!

ACC basketball is starting and the Terps look good. We are cursed with having North Carolina who is good enough to spank the shit out of many pro teams and the always good goddamn dukies in the conference but Maryland is young and coachable. They have played well against top teams this year including hanging in against #1 UCLA and beating Illinois last night in the big ten challenge. It is doubtful they can win the conference but they should be highly entertaining and win enough to get into the dance in march There will be some good college basketball stories this year. The Billy Gillespie era unfolds down in Lexington and we find out Saturday just how good he is when the cats take on Carolina and that phenomenal roster of freakishly good ballplayers. For now, Tennessee has replaced them as the toast of the SEC and if he expects to survive being lynched by the faithful he better be on track and soon. Racing season doesn’t start until April in Lexington and these people have nothing to do but drink heavily and watching Kentucky basketball. Everyone in town knows where Billy lives and if he doesn’t win he can expect to see a brutal pack of bourbon soaked blue-faced savages on his lawn before the winter ends. Memphis is playing a high paced game that leaves viewers winded never mind their hapless opponents. They may be the only team that truly challenges Carolina down the stretch. Going to be fun. Grab a beer and some hot browns and settle in.

Pro football. We aren’t talking about pro football. The freaking ravens are so bad they would struggle in Pop Warner for gods sake. No offense to speak up, no quarterback who has mastered the deeply complicated and complex skill of simply not dropping the fucking football six times a game and grasping the idea that you only thro the ball to people whose shirt is the same color as yours. They face the inhuman New England Patriots team on Monday. The line is 20 points and I think it might be too low. With the exception of a por outing against the Eagles last wee the Patriots have disassembled and disemboweled other teams this year and expect Belichick’s boys to be looking to improve over last week. $0 points might not be enough. The Colts are good but nowhere near the level of New England. This week also goes us Dallas against Green bay for bragging rights in the second best conference. They are both good and are probably playing for the rights to get their asses royally kicked by New England in February.

The stock markets continues to be a violent place with the mortgage and credit problems exploding across the financial markets with a diarrhea like splattering of asset write downs, loan loss provisions and earning reduction. The FDIC reported yesterday that write offs and losses at banks were at historic proportions unmatched since 2002 and 1987. The dollar is going down like a cheap tart in search of diner at Denny’s and if the Fed continues to cut it will continue to do so. I suspect the cuts will continue until fed funds trade unde 30-day tbills, which could have the effect of heightening inflation. The government continues to insist that with the exception of food and energy everything is fine. So out house prices are going down and the cost of eating, driving and staying warm are up. Sounds Perfect.

UI do think stock prices are rather steeply oversold here and may find a way to rally to year end. With that in mind, ad vol at good levels, I like the idea of selling puts on stock we like BGP,ICO,SYMC and CSE look like candidates to pick up premium and if the stock get put to me, I am comfortable owning them here. Along with my studious libertarian anarchist friend from Chicago I like the idea of being long the Swiss franc. Also I think that Eurodollar guy has a worthwhile idea with the money transfer stocks. I will be looking at these with the idea of selling puts to build a position.

In the long run, community banks are setting up a chance to make two and a half shiploads of money over the next few years. Many of what I call Jimmy Stewart banks are at or below book value and historically this has been a great place to buy them for large profits. I still dislike the money center and regionals but the tinys are appealing for the long run. SVBI is under book and a buy.ANNB is getting close. There are hundreds of these little banks across the country and if you get them near book and less than 10 times earnings it’s a steal. These are local guys; they don’t trade Cdos or other toxic derivatives. The only subprime loan they have is the one they made to their shifty cousin Leroy and that can be collected rather simply. One phone call to Aunt Ethel and she will administer a savage beating with a drumstick at the next family dinner until the worthless bastard, stinking of blood and day old gravy, shuffles in to make the loan whole. It’s a low risk business and what I think is a very low risk, high potential investment.

So we stand now on the brink of December the last bright month of the year before we descend into the despicable, dreary and dreadful crappy day of January and February. Soon enough the bay will likely be covered with a sheen of ice and nasty cold crap will fall from the skies and the damn wind will hit harder and quicker than Flay Mayweather ever dreamed of doing. But for now the bright lights began to sparkle across lawns and Giant Blow ups of Santa Clause and goliath size demented looking reindeer and elves dot the landscape. The bright call of the holiday rent the sky. Hey fuckhead get out f my parking spot” What the hell do you mean you don’t have any hooker barbies left. What the hell am I going to tell little Erlene!” Yes the holidays. An orgy of lights, visits from relatives we never really liked in the first damn place, shopping for stuff that will break by new years, Holiday parties where you accidentally end up in a closet with the chubby secretary form accounting and all the blessed events that make up the Christmas season. Here will be parties, bashes in the Chicago and this year’s inaugural bash for the Island of misfit toys. The tire man is getting married this month and one suspects the hangover will be felt by teetotal ling virgins in the woods of Minnesota after that one. I love this time of year as much as I hate it. Too much food, too much booze and just plain too much. I can hardly wait.

It is this time of year when one stops to ponder over ones life. Is it finally the time to admit that one is too old to continue reeling through life, scotch in one hand, cigarette in the other, one eye on the stock ticker, the other roving in search of Ms. Right or her twin sister Ms. Right now? Shouldn’t one be living a more serious, sober life as we head into the second half of life? Oddly enough I always arrive at the same conclusion. “Are you fucking kidding me?” Life is here; it is now. There are friends to make, love to fall into, lips to kiss, books to read, scotch to drink. Sunsets, Jazz, rock and roll, Beethoven and Coltrane, late nights, long talks, laughter to the point of unconsciousness, learning, loving, living and breathing. If this means that I eventually arrive at the pearly gates with my rock hard liver in a wheelbarrow and my lungs bleeding out my ears, it seems a very low price to know that while I was here, I lived ferociously. So bring on the holidays, light the tree, ring the bells and lets get on with it.