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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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

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Recessionist Living: A Tiny Closet Becomes His Castle

Recessionist Living: A Tiny Closet Becomes His Castle

We’ve all heard the phrase, Home, Sweet Home. Well now, there’s Closet, Sweet Closet. That’s right, Sergio Santos’ home in the resort town of Delray Beach, Florida, started out as just a closet. But now, that closet’s become his little 77-square foot castle, a loft that’s only five and a half-feet wide, by 14-feet long. “I was really struggling to pay for the place I where used to live. I decided to look for something cheap,” said Sergio. The rent here is $150 a month, and furnishing his pad with recycled materials cost him a whopping $64. Sergio’s “room” is equipped with a small microwave oven, a mini-refrigerator and, upstairs, the loft bedroom. “I have just become very well-fitted here,” he said. The closet is part of a living space that sits above a restaurant, and he shares a community bathroom with other renters on the same property.

There was a time when Sergio questioned himself. “I really felt that I wasn’t going to survive for too long here. I really thought I was going to give up,” he said. But he didn’t give up and instead found some peaceful comfort in his humble surroundings. So although his new home might be small in size, Sergio is thinking of the larger picture. “That it’s all about saving; it’s about recycling; it’s about optimizing my time.” Yes indeed, Sergio’s teeny-tiny closet has become his peacefully, comfortable little castle.

Recessionist Living: A Tiny Closet Becomes His Castle

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The Horrible Obsession: Today’s Recession for Men

The Horrible Obsession: Today’s Recession for Men

OHMIGOD, what the hell, Jesus Christ, the entire world economy is collapsing all around us at this very moment. And the financial crumbling is worse than it’s ever, ever been. Housing, banks, Wall Street, huge industries….everything is falling down worser than the old Humpty Dumpty story. Everything’s being torn into a shattered heap. Yep, it surely is.

And what about all the poor men peoples who are caught up in this nightmare…lost their jobs, losing their homes, pensions suddenly vanished into thin air, savings just disappeared, cars been repossessed. Here our men folks are sposed to stand up so tall through sweaty toil and the worst of troubles, trying to be strong like the Rocks of Gibralter. But they’ve got feelings too, you know, and now they’re just suffering like they’re all bent down, tired and weakened-out by all this stuff. This financial collapse has turned into a bunch of horrendous nightmares for our country’s men folks. Even stolen away their menliness, ’cause now all they have left to do is think and think about this downright Horrible, Stinky Obsession, this Recession for Men calamity. And the short little video below really shows just what I mean about this Recession for Men thingee!

The Horrible Obsession: Today’s Recession for Men

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A Heartbreaking Epic: Hand-Out

A Heartbreaking Epic: Hand-Out

Photography by: Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

This photograph captures an unforgettable moment; it’s a simple image, but one that so strongly conveys of the sorrow of our times. The impact of looking at some brilliant pictures can just make your heart skip a beat. This classically understated, but sublime photograph is certainly one of those rare pictures. The photograph is a heartbreaking epic, which powerfully conveys one of those quiet experiences of sad awe.

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Laid Off, Down and Out, and Heading for Hollywood

Laid Off, Down and Out, and Heading for Hollywood

The government has reported that the American economy lost another 240,000 jobs in October, as cash-strapped consumers pulled back and businesses hunkered down, intensifying the deepening financial distress that’s gripping the country. Making the situation even worse, the unemployment rate spiked up to 6.5 percent from 6.1 percent, the highest level since 1994, and many economists now expect unemployment will reach 8 percent by the middle of next year. More than half of the job losses have occurred during the last three months.

Now if all that sounds pretty bad, things look much, much worse when we get to take a little look at what the poor average citizen is actually going through right now. One example is the financial calamity confronting poor Mr. O. Todd in the hilarious animation presented below. Mr. Todd describes a typical day in his life as a “laid off” person and his utter failures when applying for a new job. Finally, when all else has failed him, Mr. Todd shows us his trip to Hollywood, where he had hoped to land a job as a television producer. Yes, as you might well imagine, his Hollywood adventure ended up being just another disaster for him!

Maybe after watching the plight of Mr. Todd, you won’t feel quite so bad!

Laid Off: Down and Out, and Heading for Hollywood

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A Photo Haiku: Wall Street Battered, Bailouts Fail and CEOs Get Rich

A Photo Haiku: Wall Street Battered as Industry Bailouts Fail

Wall Street Has Greatest Decline Since the Great Depression

Yesterday, The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal all led with front page stories about yet another horrible day for stocks that sent one clear message: Investors are freaked out. Another grim milestone was reached yesterday as the broad Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index plunged 6.7 percent and reached its lowest level since 1997. The Congressional bailouts have failed miserably.

The S&P 500 is down 52 percent from its high reached a little more than a year ago, which marks the “sharpest decline since the Great Depression,” noted the LAT. The WSJ pointed out that if the index were to finish the year with yesterday’s numbers, it would mark “the worst annual percentage drop in its 80-year history.” And today’s not looking any better!!

While America’s Corporate CEOs Laugh All the Way to the Bank

Now in Japan, the CEOs of failed and bankrupt banks and corporations take shame very seriously. When Japanese CEOs make mistakes, they’re expected to make a big show of tearily flogging themselves in public (figuratively). But what’s going on here in America? American corporate CEOs get to screw up as bad as they want and walk away with millions, with nary a tear nor even a nice tip to the bellhop on the way out the door. They problem is that in this country, CEOs are only too happy to trade the scorn of the public for a pile of money. We can bitch all we want about golden parachutes that can top $100 million for executives who didn’t do shit except lose shareholder money the entire time they were employed, but that CEO will chuckle to himself, have his flack issue a statement, and then go enjoy his millions and millions of free dollars on a private island somewhere, full of untold numbers of prostitutes.

What the F**k: It’s Just a Recession!

We Should Send These Greedy CEOs for Some Frontier Psychatry :

The Avalanches: Frontier Psychiatry

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