The 5:24: If They Pay You For It, It’s Not Love

The 5:24: If They Pay You For It, It’s Not Love

For more than thirty-years, Rich Marin dominated Wall Street, producing some of the most creative investments, making billions for his clients and millions for himself. But it all came crashing down around him five years ago, when the hedge funds he oversaw at Bear Stearns imploded. The rest of the financial world followed within the year. Now Rich Marin wants to build the world’s largest ferris wheel in Staten Island, and New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has just given Marin his blessing.

Before the big recession, nobody outside of Wall Street would ever have heard of him if it were not for the publication of a June 28, 2007, story on the front page of The New York Times Business Section. In his personal time, Marin ran a blog called Whim of Iron, an eclectic mix of notes to friends, ruminations on life in banking, travel writing and a listing of his weight-loss efforts. But most of all, it was home to his movie reviews. Cinema had been a driving passion for many years, ever since Mr. Marin spent some time as a high school student in Rome.

The Times reported that on June 17 of 1997, just as Bear Stearns frantically was trying to bail out two hedge funds that were run by two of Mr. Marin’s traders: “Richard Marin, the head of the Bear unit that ran the troubled funds, ‘stole away’ from the ‘crisis-hedge-fund-salvation-workaholic weekend’ to see the new Kevin Costner thriller “Mr. Brooks.” His advice on the film? Take a ‘pass,’ Mr. Marin wrote in a review he posted that day on his blog.” Rich Marin was out of a job two days after the story ran.

While Mr. Marin may have achieved widespread infamy for blogging about movies while the Bear Stearns division he ran collapsed, he remained unapologetic about his love of cinema, so much so that he even relaunched his movie blog last year. Further, the 1997 financial blogging embroilment was not the first time The Times had written about Mr. Marin’s flare for film. Before blogging, there was his screenwriting.

In 1996, Mr. Marin submitted a script to an HBO competition called Subway Stories, a project produced by Rosie Perez. Out of the thousands of submissions, only 10 were selected for production, and Mr. Marin’s was one of them. “It was the most highly reviewed by both The Times and the Daily News,” he said. In a recent interview, Marin didn’t indicate which of the 10 shorts was his, but it is almost certainly The 5:24, which is about a young banker’s reckoning with a wise old man as they ride the Lexington Avenue subway downtown before dawn.

The Times described The 5:24 as “the most successful example” of “eerie psychological confrontation” that suffuses many of Subway Stories’ series of shorts films, a “succinct study of the traps of financial ambition” starring Steve Zahn as the banker and Jerry Stiller as the wise guy. The 5:24 follows the daily conversations between the wary young banker and the seemingly brilliant, older and allegedly retired financial analyst, who claims that working in an office, although extremely lucrative, would take the fun out his predictive talents. When the older man proposes an investment that appears much too good to be true, will the young banker be able to set aside his fears and gamble his life savings on the older man’s lucrative proposal?

Read more about Rich Marin in The New York Observer here.

The 5:24: If They Pay You For It, It’s Not Love

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Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s Co-Founder, Former-CEO and Visionary, Dies at 56

Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s Co-Founder, Former-CEO and Visionary, Dies at 56

Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s Co-Founder, Former-CEO and visionary, who helped usher in the era of personal computers and led a cultural transformation in the way music, movies and mobile communications were experienced in the digital age, died Wednesday at the age of 56. The death was announced by Apple Computers, the company Mr. Jobs and his high school friend Stephen Wozniak started in 1976 in a suburban California garage. Mr. Jobs had waged a long and public struggle with cancer, remaining the face of the company even as he underwent treatment.

He underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004, received a liver transplant in 2009 and took three medical leaves of absence as Apple’s chief executive before stepping down in August and turning over the helm to Timothy D. Cook, the chief operating officer. After leaving, he was still engaged in the company’s affairs, negotiating with another Silicon Valley executive only weeks earlier.

I have always said that if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O., I would be the first to let you know,” Mr. Jobs said in a letter released by the company in August. “Unfortunately, that day has come.” By then, having mastered digital technology and capitalized on his intuitive marketing sense, Mr. Jobs had largely come to define the personal computer industry and a wide range of digital consumer and entertainment businesses centered on the Internet.

Read more about the amazing life of Steve Jobs in The New York Times here.

Apple Confirms Steve Jobs Has Died at 56

A Steve Jobs Timeline

Steve Jobs: How to Live Before You Die

Photo-Gallery: Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s Co-Founder and Visionary, Dies at 56

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Ghosts of Shopping Past: The Failed Illusions of American Consumerism

Ghosts of Shopping Past: The Failed Illusions of American Consumerism

Photography by:  Brian Ulrich, Chicago

Ghosts of Shopping Past is a photo-documentary by Brian Ulrich, a photographer who lives and works in Chicago.  His work has been shown in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Photography.  He is a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow.

Brian Ulrich’s photographs of closed-down malls and big-box retail stores reveal the potential ghost towns lying inside successful shopping complexes all across America.  His photo-documentary is a testament to the devastating impact of the current financial recession, as well as to the failed illusions of a lifestyle based upon unbridled American consumerism.

Slide Show: The Ghosts of Shopping Past

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Switch: If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!

Switch: If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!

Switch is a 4-minute short animated film by the young French filmmakers Jean-Julien Pous and Pierre Prinzbach, who describe the film as “a metaphysical thought on the pressure of time on our society.”  Switch recently won the Jury Grand Prize, Folie-Ô-Skop, in Québec. The film takes place in a surreal world where people are born with clocks on their backs, and life nothing more than a constant rat-race.  Humanity, as portrayed through the eyes of a business-calibrated mannequin, is in a struggle within itself about the ever-increasing demands of time in the face of important choices that need to be made.  The mannequin attempts to cope with this struggle by doubling itself, which then leads to an infinite re-doubling of itself.  Its attempted solution only leads the mannequin to experience a sense of anonymity among the rapidly accumulating multitudes of its identical selves.  Further, the unsuccessful solution leads the mannequin’s frustrating journey to end in a state of solitude, confronted by a timeless, boundless oceanic world.

Switch: If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!

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My Biggest Weakness? It’s Right Inside My Brain, But Right Now I’m Uncertain

My Biggest Weakness? It’s Right Inside My Brain, But Right Now I’m Uncertain

The Biggest Weakness is a humorously bittersweet, but quite serious and absorbing 5-minute short film directed by Bradley Jackson.  The story takes place within the context of one of today’s most widely spread urgent concerns, unemployment and the grave difficulties one faces in trying to secure a new job in a very competitive environment.  Specifically, in this film Leonard needs a job, but in order to get one he has to come up with an answer to everyone’s least favorite interview question: “What is your biggest weakness?

Leonard rehearses a number of different approaches that he could take in answering that question.  First, he tries to come up with an answer that would turn weakness into strength (he works too hard, cares about the job maybe too much), but that wouldn’t work.  So then Leonard practices a script based on how confident he is, but that only makes him sound like an obnoxious bragger.  For his next attempt, he takes an opposite approach, preparing a scenario based on honesty, confessing his weaknesses in terms of how personally flawed and vulnerable he is.  Well, that approach sounds just plain awful.

Finally, he rehearses an approach that’s like a delicate dance, a balancing act between seeming too humble versus acting overly confident.  But that doesn’t work either.  In the end, Leonard concludes that for him it all comes down to having a sense of humility, as he responds to the interviewer’s question by admitting that his biggest weakness is being indecisive, for example that he was completely uncertain about how to answer the question.  But he continues by vowing to do his best to find out more about his weakness, and that he’ll try his hardest to turn his weakness into a major strength on the job.

My Biggest Weakness? It’s Right Inside My Brain, But Right Now I’m Uncertain

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Hmmm….Looks Like He’s Doin’ Something There On Company Time….

Hmmm….Looks Like He’s Doin’ Something There On Company Time….

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Just Found Some Money in That Ponzi-Scheme Hedge Fund! Let’s Have a Drink!

Just Found Some Money in That Ponzi-Scheme Hedge Fund! Let’s Have a Drink!

Ah, those wonderful hedge funds, they were all so sexy with their “rich people only” requirements and secretive investments. When Bernard Madoff, finally admitted that his hedge fund was “all just one big lie” and a “giant Ponzi scheme”, it was estimated that his investors lost over $65 billion. This makes it one of the largest cases of investor fraud and definitely largest Ponzi scheme in history. The SEC said it appeared that virtually all of the assets of his hedge fund business were missing. Ooops! Now, five months after Madoff’s massive fraud was revealed, very little of his victims’ money has been found. It appears increasingly likely that the worldwide hunt for the missing billions could drag on for years. So far, only about $1 billion has been located, a tiny fraction of the $65 billion the confessed con man stole from his investors.

But our secret, super-duper professional accountant team has been hard at work in their undercover investigation of every tiny, itsy-bitsy detail of this horrible detailed financial web. And lo and behold, the two of them just found some more money that had been hidden away in that Ponzi-Scheme hedge fund! Yes indeedy, the financial figures are looking better and better, and our super-duper accountant investigators are goin’ to celebrate their glorious achievement by having themselves a little drink! Or maybe two. Or just maybe more….

Found Some Money in That Ponzi-Scheme Hedge Fund! Let’s Have a Drink!

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