Thursday, July 16, 2009

Do Not Forget to Specify, When Time and Place Shall Serve, That I Am an Ass

"Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow; and, which is more, an officer; and, which is more, a householder; and, which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any in Messina; and one that knows the law, go to; and a rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath had losses; and one that hath two gowns, and everything handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass!"


"Who have you offended, masters, that you are thus bound to your answer? This learned constable is too cunning to be understood. What's your offence?"

— William Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing

Late yesterday, I published on this site a post commenting on an article by one Julie MacIntosh of the Financial Times concerning the rise of boutique advisory shops. I thought the article was well-balanced, informative, and well-written, and I said so. However, in addition to a rather lengthy disquisition on a couple salient points which I thought Ms MacIntosh had missed or underemphasized in her piece, I chose to sprinkle a few jibes and asides into my post that focused on certain possible aspects of Ms MacIntosh's putative appearance. While you may question my judgment, I thought they added a little harmless and humorous spice to my essay.

If professional journalist Heidi Moore's rapid Twitter messages to me are any indication, however, she, for one, did not agree:

moorehn @EpicureanDeal "Either that, or she has really nice tits." That's in bad taste. She's a professional journalist and that's demeaning.
about 17 hours ago from web in reply to EpicureanDeal

moorehn @epicureandeal Not to mention that the only spur for your idiotic leering seems to be that she wrote an article that you read.
about 16 hours ago from web

moorehn @epicureandeal This isn't the old days at the client with a Solly AmEx card in the strip club. Get over yourself and get into this century.
about 16 hours ago from web

And, if I had any doubts as to her meaning, I suppose they must have been allayed by the following direct message:

moorehn You really come off like a tremendous asshole in that piece. Maybe rethink the whole "demeaning any female who dares write abt IB" thing.
about 17 hours ago


* * *

I suppose I could try to defend myself by pointing to the long tradition of using unreliable, unintelligent, and even despicable narrators to relay comic messages, or to the fact that to underline the inanity of my "idiotic leering" I footnoted the most egregious aside in my post with a ludicrous industry joke older than dirt. I suppose I could point to previous writings on this site which undermine a casual perception of me as an unrepentant sexist or chauvinist. Finally, I suppose I could point to the barrelfuls of vitriol, invective, and naughty language I have spilled here in pursuit of countless idiots, stooges, and scoundrels—virtually every one of them male. But that would be a waste of time. It's hard to convince someone you were trying to be funny when they don't believe you were.

So let me make a couple brief points.

The intersection of female beauty and male power is one of the most ancient themes in the never ending Battle of the Sexes. The attraction of older, successful men to young and physically attractive women, and the complementary attraction of young women to powerful, wealthy, and successful men, are powerful physical and emotional forces that operate somewhere near the level of our cells. They will never be domesticated out of our beings, no matter how feminized our culture may become. For proof, I only have to look at the 50 to 70-year-old squillionaires squiring 30-year-old wives and children young enough to be their grandchildren to school every morning around my neighborhood. (Or, for those of you farther from the center of the universe, Donald Trump.)

Layer on top of that substrate a situation wherein a young, fresh faced female journalist—no matter how professional—eagerly interviews a wealthy, powerful, testosterone- and hubris-soaked Captain of Industry for his wisdom, insight, and experience, and you have a combustible combination. The man—unless he is dead, or on estrogen therapy—cannot help but be flattered to have an intelligent, attractive young woman hanging on his every word and nodding and laughing in vigorous agreement to every bon mot, joke, and opinion he cares to regale her with. The woman—unless she is dead, or on testosterone therapy—cannot help but sense the power and charisma radiating off her distinguished interviewee, and be highly conscious of his wealth, power, and eagerness to please and impress her. This is heady stuff, for both man and woman. Just ask Suzy and Jack Welch.

To deny that this tension occurs in such a situation, no matter how suppressed it may be in any particular instance, is just foolish. It is also foolish to deny that some female journalists over the ages have been more than happy to use what my grandmother used to call their "feminine wiles" to squeeze just a little more juice out of the lemon than their interview subjects would normally care to share. (Not that these horndogs aren't more than capable of defending themselves, mind you. I ask for no pity for powerful men.)

So when I noted that Ms MacIntosh authored a piece incorporating interviews with many of the most powerful, distinguished, and wealthy investment bankers on the planet—bankers who, by dint of their position at the top of their own firms, are in control of their own destiny to a degree not shared by other, equally wealthy peers at larger firms—my subliminal antenna perked up. I have never met Ms MacIntosh, and did not know what she looks like before this morning, so she was a tabula rasa, so to speak, for the fevered imaginings of my brain. I sensed the potential tension inherent in the situation, and I shamelessly exploited it for comic intent. So shame on me.

* * *

But honestly, Dear Readers, I really don't feel any shame. I suppose I am sorry that Ms Moore took offence, and I would be genuinely sorry to learn Ms MacIntosh suffered any distress from my puerile scribblings. I hope that she has developed a tough enough carapace to withstand any paper bullets of the brain that naturally wing their way toward her in her role as a public commentator and journalist, but I take no particular pride in adding to the shell, if I did so.

But let's get real for a minute. This is a blog, people. This is a blog written by a pseudonymous investment banker who curses, exaggerates, and generally takes any and all liberties available in pursuit of an (admittedly confusing) agenda of both entertaining and informing his Dedicated Yet Quite Tiny Audience, usually not at the same time. It is a vanity project. It is a labor of love. It is something to do when I am bored, which has been happening with distressing frequency during these last several months. If you come here looking for evenhandedness, balance, and facts, I have to ask you just one simple question: What the fuck are you thinking?

So if my volatile ramblings insult, annoy, or offend you, do what countless others before you have done. Cut me off, drop me from your RSS feed, unfollow me on Twitter, and do anything else you can to erase the knowledge that there is someone as cutting, uninhibited, and uncivilized as me wandering about the intellectual landscape, or at least the little corner of it demarcated by Wall Street and Broad. Don't worry: I won't take offense if you leave.

In the meantime, I will soldier on regardless, happily unconcerned what the disapproving classes think about my maturity, sexual politics, and preferences in female body parts.

Besides, anyone who really knows me knows I'm a leg man.

© 2009 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.