Thursday, August 24, 2006


I finally figured out everything that's wrong with the world, and that is that God hasn't chosen to grant me the power of life and death over all humanity. Don't give me that look — this guy and this guy both have the power to obliterate life on Earth with the push of a button, and frankly, Lord, I think I'm a little more qualified to make blithe life and death decisions than George W. Bush is. I might strike, say, Frank Quattrone down with a lightning bolt out of a clear, blue sky, but at least afterwards, I'd take his money and use it to buy body armor for the soldiers in Iraq, because I'm just magnanimous like that.

Yesterday evening, for instance, I was at this Columbia Young Alumni Reunion — not that I actually thought I'd get reunited with anyone from school, but I figured my chances were a bit higher at the reunion than, say, in my bedroom. The whole event was, even by my humble standards, a huge failure. There's the Peninsula Hotel in New York City, "specifically designed for the needs of the executive traveler," so lots of rich white guys wearing ties. The reunion was at the terrace bar on the hotel's top floor and is also crammed with rich white guys wearing ties, as well as wannabe rich white guys wearing ties. Thing is, what do Columbia young alumni typically look like? You guessed it: wannabe rich white guys wearing ties. Figuring out who was a junior associate at a midtown law firm and who was a junior associate at a midtown law firm plus a Columbia undergrad wasn't exactly trivial. We should have a secret handshake or something.

For all I know, we do have a secret handshake but, for $140,000 tuition, no one bothered to show it to me.

Okay, not being let in on the secret handshake made me a little cranky, and the twenty-third story view was a little disappointing (lots of rooftops), but here's why I'm really called upon to set the world straight. While I was waiting for my friends to not show up — it's not like I invited them, or like they even respond to my emails when I do invite them — I got a hold of the Pen-Top's menu, a bound and embossed booklet that's four pages long and about an inch thick and, ugh, a guy without a tie could go broke. A shot of rum for fifteen bucks, twenty-one for some chocotini novelty drink thing, domestic beers: twelve dollars. I don't think I'd make it very far on The Price Is Right, but beer goes for what, three, maybe four bucks? There was this woman I saw out on the terrace with a bottle of Bud Light, wearing whatever the rich white female equivalent of suit and tie is, and I had this incessant need to interrogate her: "Do you realize that bottle of beer you're holding is worth, like, four bottles of beer?"

I want to blame the Pen-Top Bar & Terrace for getting rich taking advantage of stupid white folks with too much disposable income, but I suppose I'm really just pissed that I didn't go to the market around the corner, buy a couple of six-packs, and sell them at the bar for ten dollars each. It's not the bar's fault we have a laissez-faire economy with market forces regulated only by the caprice of tie-wearing, money-burning douchewads, but the reason I can't afford to get drunk at snobby happy hour is that someone else is willing to pay a four-hundred percent markup on liquor. And as I walked home, sullen and sober, these examples of complacency struck me and I'm sort of wondering to what extent the corporations and the government and the Man can push the rest of us before we'll all stop and ask ourselves what we're getting out of this deal.

I have a couple of friends, for example, who do grunt work at law firms in the city, and they all have Blackberries — the most bourgeois, corporatized technology since the invention of the alarm clock — provided generously by their firm. Let me say this right now: if any of my employers ever tries to give me a Blackberry, all smiles and excited about e-mailing me wherever I am, that damn thing is getting run over by a truck within a day. Here's the thing, Corporate Overlords: I don't want you getting in touch with me wherever I am. Yes, once in a while, there is an e-mail I want to send when I'm not by my computer, but I can guarantee you that e-mail isn't going to be about work, and I'd rather not have an electronic leash that periodically feeds me offers for penis enlargment and home mortgages. I can't see for the life of me what advantage anyone can get out of being perpetually tied to their loving corporation, so how about, when H.R. offers you the Blackberry with a serial number etched in the back and a barcode, you just politely decline?