Somewhere in the New York offices of the company formerly known as Lehman Brothers, there is a conference room in dire need of some plaster. This is likely not a priority for the top Lehman brass or the government or Barclay’s or whoever is now in charge of this sort of thing, but the plaster would be used to fill the numerous giant holes created when a prized six foot long scale model of a sailboat was ripped out of a wall a few days after said wall’s owner declared bankruptcy.
The sailboat (along with a set of smaller replicas that had been collected with great care and appreciation by a senior member of the firm) was not the only memento of better times suddenly cast into pathetic relief by the crumbling firm and fortunes around it. Bottles of expensive wine that once served as celebratory reminders of profitable deals and rainmaker relationships were now being considered and, with shrugs, popped open and poured into styrofoam cups pilfered from the hallway kitchenettes. Little Nerf footballs emblazoned with companies taken public or merged were tossed around, mini distractions flying to and fro. Suit jackets and ties, leather notebooks, and shiny pens were dumped into boxes and tote bags and lugged outside to find themselves immortalized by curious cameras and roving reporters.
"I have no idea if I still have a job," remarks Steve, who has been at Lehman for the entirety of his career, having opted to stick around even as his friends sought greener pastures at what those in the know refer to as small PE shops. (He was out at dinner with some of these friends the night his firm declared bankruptcy. Upon hearing the news, they doubled their drink orders.) “But I’m pretty sure I’m going to be unemployed in a few weeks.” He says this in a manner that is almost cheerful and not unlike the tone one takes after a particularly brutal blind date or final exam.
I’ve heard that tone a lot lately. Which makes sense, because: when your company is pulled out from under you like that, when it vaporizes into the air, when you sit at your desk and stare at CNBC as the stock of your respected employer ticks down, down, down (it’s at one times book value right now. It can’t go any lower! you think, and then you watch it tick right on through) how else can you respond? Because, really, it’s not you, it’s the econo-me.
Absurdities abound, and they provide relief. Patrick, of the late Bear Stearns, finds grim humor in the fact that his former company turned out to be a trendsetter: they collapsed before it was cool to do so. And in hindsight, he was lucky: paid double for several months - to entice him to stick around playing the violin while the ship went down - he’s now six weeks into three months of a severance deal. It was a gentle landing. First, though, he had to endure scenarios straight out of an episode of The Office and ripped from the Ben Affleck interview scene in Good Will Hunting.
"The way it worked was, if JP Morgan offered a Bear employee a job and they turned it down, they’d forfeit all severance," Patrick recalls. "But they could offer you any job. So in some ways, you actually wanted to get laid off so you could collect the package.”
Thus began a delicate dance; employees were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 3 how strongly they wanted to work for JP Morgan. Patrick, hedging his bets, marked down a 2 and then embarked on an ambitious campaign to undersell himself. (His boss was complicit, doing his part to call buddies at the acquiring bank and declare Patrick not the right fit for their departments.)
"I wouldn’t even bring a resume in to some of the interviews," Patrick recalls with a wry-but-resigned smile. "It was like when that dude meets with the consultants in Office Space. I might as well have put my feet up on the desk."
There are a lot of feet up on a lot of desks these days. Employees are told to keep reporting to work, but with assets frozen, clients fleeing, and credit crunched, what is there to do? Computer screens flicker with resumes and job search sites, but it only takes a dash of mental math to realize that this is something of a sordid exercise in supply and demand. For now, you see, these waters we navigate are raging and murky. And they’ll swallow even the most well-crafted model sailboats right up.
Here we are, at KatieBakes’. Fitting to her name, we’ve attended to that first. FEK can’t work his computer, Andrew is wearing a 1992 debate shirt, and the new commenting system sucks ass. Fortunately there’s some GM staff here to yell at about. Updates once we figure out the mechanics of commenting, and you know, the debate starts.
8:44: For invocation of ‘UrbanDaddy’ as signifier for lameness on the Internet. 8:53: Rex “Did someone delete my thread” 8:56: Eli: We came here just to comment on Gawker? 8:58: You know what? There isn’t a whole lot to blog about at a debate. 9:44: First photo hits the internet (see above — thanks Nick). Is reblogged five times already.
Apparently we’ll be liveblogging the debate over at Gawker tonight with others who are exponentially - and thankfully - more qualified. Not really sure how it’s gonna work but we’ve stocked up on supplies.
We interviewed Jewish celebrities ranging from Matisyahu to Ed Koch, plus editors at New York Magazine, Huffington Post, Radar, Esquire, and Gawker Media — in addition to up-and-coming comedians, stars, and more!
Laugh out loud at the funny things they have to share about the High Holidays, from blowing shofar to confessing their sins.
Four half-hour episodes are airing on TJC, and here are some clips that provide a sample of what you’ll see.
I’m the “and more” in this cavalcade of Jew’s Jews. This clip marks one of my proudest moments. That’s right, Maer and Rachel, blow me.
A long time ago The Boss promised to start Twittering if he hit 100 followers. He’s at 97. Like a child who needs to learn how to swim the hard way, can we get five or six people to just push him in the deep end? - FEK
Moe, baby. Can we talk for a sec? We know working at New York magazine, kind of a nice gig to have, no? But when you steal their graphic, lube them up, regurgitate their faux-outrage, and finally, dedicate a few thousands words to the small, mostly insignificant revelation (and accompanying article) which ends in the sentence is simply to persist in the cowardly humoring of the delusions born of the propulsive myopia (all this time not forgetting that you’re helping draw attention to it, which every Gawker post inevitably does to its subject), one might want to check out the curb, to be sure for a soft spot somewhere on it. Nick ain’t no bitch, and them wondering eyes are so far on the side of your head they can see inside your ears. It’s freaking us out, man. - FEK
Emily Gould: “I know this is not going to make sense to anyone except the 10 dorks who follow blog politics closely, but tonight was kind of historical because I finally met and accepted the apologies of Andrew Krucoff, who has led a cabal of bloggers over at Young Manhattanite in being … let’s just say unsupportive of me, in ways that started out predictable and eventually just got weird…”
It gets better, she sings a little Lisa Loeb to me.
There are several ways to interpret this, one not being that Emily has a deep-seated crush on me, even though I once told Rex and Choire I would eventually meet her, I’d preemptively pour a beer over my head (saved by the setting this time), we’d stumble smilingly through an awkward conversation (we did, lasting over an hour) and then we’d probably make out. (Ha, that’s the benign kind of crazy, but look, she ended her post with a picture of two people making out. Close enough!)
Anyway, all pigtail-pulling creepiness aside, I could go on for a thousand mainly inarticulate words about this but I’ve stated some of it before. If not ultimately responsible, I am at least associated with anything that YM publishes (much of it by me directly) and I’m tired of the white meanie’s burden to keep others “honest” which is, let’s be honest, bullshit under most circumstances. If this sounds like Jess Coen’s Gawker repentance or Emily’s own mea culpa, there is one huge painful difference - no one paid me to be an asshole. It’s time to move on…
(Explanation: It’s quite possible that Katie Bakes has infected me with neuro-syphilis.)
Time to bust out that Fucking Jews tag again: this time, trouble in gan-eidn. It’s like The Warriors meets Munich, except in Munich there aren’t that many Chasids because the truth is Chasids are just a bunch of pious misogynist pussies. There, I said it.
So I guess because I was Friday Night’s Catcher I ended up at this thing with these people and saw someone had written something on the Gawker whiteboard about David Karp having a big dick. Hysterical! Anyway. That should’ve been the most important thing I saw but it wasn’t. That, my friends, was Julia Allison speaking with Malcom Gladwell. If that isn’t a Tipping Point, I don’t know what the fuck is. Woah, brah. Meta. ‘Scuse me while I resign myself to some hits.
Fuck I am so hungover I can’t feel my face here’s some unplugged Jay-Z which I woke up to this morning and now I am going to go drink some more now because that’s what uncharitable fucking heathens do on Sunday mornings we take an unnecessarily long trip to Brooklyn and get booze and eggs fucking eggs man they’re almost animals but they’re not and THAT’S THE POINT don’t miss it because really we’re all just eggs, just eggs, barely animals, just eggs that we eat on Sunday with organic orange juice and bad champers.