It’s the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis. My comfortable, dull, ordinary life was upended to a point whereby I still haven’t fully recovered. While gainfully employed these past five years (thank god), I’ve only managed to find consulting work. A staff hire with full benefits remains elusive.
In an interview reflecting on the TARP program that bailed-out failing financial institutions, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson commented:
“There was a total lack of awareness from the firms that paid big bonuses during this extraordinary time. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. There was a colossal lack of self-awareness as to how they were viewed by the American public.”
Allow me to enlighten Secretary Paulson. I’ve spent my entire career working in asset management (except for one whorey detour in advertising). I know what lurks in the hearts and minds of investment bankers and, believe me, it’s nothing good. There was no “colossal lack of self-awareness.” They knew exactly what they were doing. Those guys couldn’t give a flying fuck what the American public thinks of them. They possess a single-minded obsession with money. Wives, children, reputations, everything, takes a back seat to their manic pursuit of wealth. They’d sell their own mother’s burial plot (with her in it) to a strip mall developer if they could get a good price on the land.
The asset manager I currently work for allows company officers to choose original artwork to decorate their office walls. There’s a sizable budget for it. The Head of Fixed Income chose to decorate his office with beautifully framed currency from around the world. HE FRAMED MONEY. Money is their art. Their art is money. From what I’ve observed over the years, it seems that people who are drawn into this line of work are afflicted with a dreary psychosis. Happiness can only be achieved through wealth accumulation. Money is love. I’m actually kind of stunned that my career inadvertently became intertwined with these vampires. Henry Paulson is an idiot.
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Speaking of art. (You knew I’d get around to it sooner or later.) There was an exhibit at the Whitney that, by description, didn’t sound very interesting to me. I had no enthusiasm for seeing it but I was in the neighborhood so I popped in.
Robert Irwin’s Scrim Veil—Black Rectangle—Natural Light was a reinstallation from 1977. It’s a simple idea. In an empty gallery (the one on the fourth floor with the odd-shaped window), they hang a translucent scrim along the length of the room. Doesn’t sound like much, does it?
I’m not sure the photos do justice, but it was actually pretty great.
The only light in the room pours in from the window and plays off the scrim.
The scrim is mounted on the ceiling and stretches the length of the gallery and falls halfway down. There’s an aluminum beam across the bottom holding it taunt that you can easily bang your head on if you’re not careful. I almost did.
There’s a black line painted around the perimeter of the gallery that’s the exact same hight and width of the aluminum beam. In this photo, the border extends from the camera, down the wall and then turns a corner. From this viewpoint, your eye is tricked into thinking it’s a giant triangle.
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Professor Xavier and Magneto (or, if you prefer, Captan Picard and Gandalf) stroll Times Square hawking tickets to their upcoming Broadway production of Waiting for Godot.