Can I recommend an unreadable book?
Let’s say I gave you the keys to a recording studio, and despite having no previous knowledge I told you to emerge in two weeks with a hit record, would you be able to do it?
Even better, would you be willing to take the risk?
No one wants to do the work. No one wants to expend the energy to be able to comprehend and play in their chosen field, they’d rather just tear down the winners.
Then again, in our sports-centric society, it’s mantra that you can’t succeed unless you play by the rules, the ones established by the big kahunas, who dominate the game you want to play. If you question them, they say WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?
And these big swinging dicks often succeed in keeping upstarts at bay via bullying.
And there you have the music business in a nutshell. The game is rigged against you, and the powers that be won’t grant you a toehold and will excoriate you ad infinitum if you try and challenge them.
In other words, Irving Azoff is smarter than you. But can you believe everything he and his compatriot Michael Rapino have to say about Live Nation and the touring market?
I was fascinated by the excerpt of "The Big Short" I read on a plane back in March, made my yearly subscription to "Vanity Fair" worth it. But I didn’t read the book right away, because it wasn’t available in a Kindle edition. And by time it was, months later, the heat was off. Kind of like the Kings Of Leon. You wanted to see them LAST year, only losers are going now.
But knowing I had a long flight to Europe, I purchased the book on my Kindle, but I didn’t start reading it until ten days ago.
Now I know why the book’s had so little impact since the "60 Minutes" hype. Despite selling so many copies, almost no one’s read it. Otherwise, there’d be an uprising, demanding the heads of all financial institutions, regulation up the yin-yang. You see, reading "The Big Short" is like gaining twenty years of Wall Street knowledge in one 266 page book. It’s like starting law school and having to pass the bar exam in thirty days, and defend a criminal in court thirty days after that.
That’s what these guys are. Criminals.
You don’t have to be convicted to be a criminal. Then again, that’s the problem, everybody’s a criminal today, everyone’s cutting corners, screwing one another, trying to get ahead. This is the essence of the tax cuts… Under the fiction of growing the economy, the rich get to keep all their money. You don’t want to kill the economy, do you? If those rich people don’t spend their money you won’t have a job and the country will go down the tubes. You won’t be able to afford a flat screen! You won’t be able to go on vacation!
So even though you rent an apartment and drive a clunker, you’d better protect the fat cats, because one day you’re gonna be a fat cat too. HUH?
"’That’s when I decided the system was really, "Fuck the poor."’"
My mother always told me the establishment knew, that the people in power were better than I was, that I could never play on their level, I was meaningless.
But at least I was better off than Snooki. You see they should cancel college, or call it trade school, or party school. Most universities are diploma mills. Kids drink and study business and think they’re equal to those in power. Hogwash. "The Jersey Shore" crew went to college. But I doubt they could finish "The Big Short".
Reading this book made me glad I grubbed grades to get into a good college. Made me smile reflecting on reading books for eight hours a day at Middlebury. You see it was all preparation, an entrance ticket to being able to read and comprehend "The Big Short", to being able to comprehend the financial system.
Hell, I’m still not sure I get it. But I haven’t read a book so slowly in eons. Because I read a paragraph and scratch my head. I have to go back to understand. Hell, I finally felt good when a footnote said:
"Dear Reader: If you have followed the story this far, you deserve not only a gold star…"
I suddenly didn’t feel so dumb. Yes, it was hard to understand.
But that’s the essence of Wall Street. The bond salesmen don’t give you the facts. It’s like buying a car not knowing what kind of engine it’s got. From the outside, it looks good. Does it have cruise control? There’s no brand. You know you’re gonna get screwed…what is a fair price?
Yes, that’s what buyers of these bonds say…they know they’re gonna get fucked.
But it gets worse.
Let’s say you’ve got insurance on your house. And it burns down. And you go to collect. What if the insurance company didn’t agree the house had gone up in flames? Wouldn’t that make your head spin? Or let’s say someone stole your new Mac, bought just the day before, and the insurance company said it was worth ten bucks. You know it’s worth two thousand! But it doesn’t matter if all your friends agree with you, it just matters what the insurance company says. Oh, you can sue, but what if the insurance company goes out of business! Yes, people bought credit default swaps from Bear Stearns, but if Bear Stearns went out of business, THEN WHAT?
It’s like when record chains go out of business. You lose everything. The debt is uncollectable.
You see everything is business. But most people don’t understand. Hell, the guy who lost $9.2 billion for Morgan Stanley had no idea what he’d bought. He tried to protect his main asset by selling insurance on a new asset that he felt could never go under. Which, of course, it did. Sure, greed played a factor, but even more important was ignorance.
The heroes of this story are those who were willing to buck the trend, who were willing to question the powers that be and lay their money down to prove their point in a game that was rigged against them. This is like believing Live Nation makes no financial sense and starting an indie promotion company. Or competing against Universal Music. Do you have the cojones?
Almost no one does.
The whole fucking country’s a free-for-all. From Obama on down. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, but Timothy Geithner plays for the wrong team and all of Washington is beholden to special interests.
Then there are the truly ignorant. Who say let’s just pray to God, cut taxes and eliminate all government spending. This is exactly what the rapers and pillagers want, don’t you see! An unregulated world where they can extract even more profit, as roads, bridges and entire cities crumble, all the while telling you that you need to swallow strong medicine while they go on in perfect health.
I’ll make it perfectly clear. The American public is TOO DUMB to save itself. And those with a brain are too uneducated, or too unwilling to do the hard work to get ahead.
Somehow we believe a bit of fame and some material comforts make a life. Hell, it’s no different from major labels who make an act a star and get rich while the act ends up broke. The system never changes because there are endless marks lining up to get famous and then go broke. The system can’t change because the vast majority of the public likes to get high and go to the sideshow, laugh at the idiots as anonymous string-pullers get rich behind closed doors.
It’s not only these financial "wizards". Try getting a major label majordomo to go on the record. Or Michael Rapino. They know it’s a scam, they don’t want the truth revealed. They’re getting rich and they want no light shed upon their enterprise. They want to retire with money in the bank, enough for not only them, but their children’s children’s children.
It’s all there in black and white.
But the public would rather watch talking heads on cable TV argue about kidnappings and other irrelevant "news events".
You can read this book and get ahead.
Or you can take that challenge and try to create a hit record from scratch.
Either you’re part of the problem or part of the solution.
And right now, too many people are part of the problem.
And too many of those who demand change don’t even understand the problem. Not only Sarah Palin, but the rest of the Tea Party. Don’t you get it! They love when you fight over immigration and religion and all the shit everybody’s got an opinion on. It just means that they can continue to make all that money doing stuff you just can’t understand.
America used to be about the best and the brightest.
Now we’re not even number one in college graduations. Shopaholics make "Haul Videos" showing off the tchotchkes they’ve acquired.
I’d like to pull you into the new world, get you to come along as we pull out our flashlights and try to peek under the rug, but you don’t want to come. You’d rather just stay home and bitch. Because if you left the comfort of your home, if you questioned authority, if you did something new, you’d be taking a risk. And the real story is we’re a nation of complacent pussies, bitching that we want our entitlements, but we don’t want to pay for them.
I’m sick and tired of it. Turn off the TV set. Sit down with this book. Read it from cover to cover. And then tell me I’m not right. Hell, if you think I’m not right then you WORK for one of these Wall Street firms. Truly, your eyes will bug out when you read "The Big Short". You’ll get angry, pissed, you’ll want to revolt. But, like I said, most people can’t understand "The Big Short". And too many who can, are not willing to put in the time. What a sad, sad state of affairs.