I’ve been reading and watching the GameStop story all week and feeling pretty damn happy about it. GameStop is a retail, bricks-and-mortar store that sells computer games to teenage boys. Most of the stores are found in malls and, as you can guess, since malls are dying and everybody can buy games on-line, GameStop, as a stock and as a business, has been in the doldrums for a few years.
It happened that some bros (also known as trolls, randos, and the poors) in a stock-trading group chat (thread) on Reddit were venting against big hedge funds, and they found out that two of them had taken out huge “shorts” on GameStop stock, betting that the value of it would fall; the further the stock fell, the more money the hedge funds would make.
The Reddit bros decided to fuck with the hedge funds and they started buying GameStop stock in honor of its seminal importance in their wasted youth, in a classic Wall Street action known as a “short squeeze” (which usually involves institutional players, not individual traders). They were able to raise the share price by 100%, putting the hedge funds that had shorted the stock deep into debt (billions of dollars), and that, if you’ve been paying attention to the news, is huge news.
I had something on my mind that I wanted to talk to you all about this week but first, I have to get GameStop out of my system because I love the smell of Wall Street comeuppance in the morning. So please bear with me:
The Reddit bros are now targeting several other “shorted” stocks such as AMC and American Airlines, in over that could again make hedge funds lose billions. And I say YAY! There is too much money being made by people who only make bets in a market that is designed so that only they can make the bets and the money.
As of this morning (January 29, 2021) Melvin Capitol has had to recruit outside lenders for $2.75 billion to cover their GameStop losses, and Citron Research, another hedge fund that had also shorted GameStop, has not disclosed how much they have lost but have conceded that it’s in the billions, and that its position was a 100% loss. Yay!
I hope this gives you all a serotonin rush as it did me, on this bitterly cold Friday here on the north shore of Long Island.
The other thing that I’ve had on my mind this past week was something that I heard the comedian Kevin Hart say as he was being interviewed on Howard Stern’s radio program. He and Howard were talking about being famous, and the way fame changes life for the better or worse. Kevin talked about how, at first, being famous can bring out feelings of inadequacy — the well-known “imposter syndrome”, where people feel undeserving of success.
But Kevin’s current theory on fame and success (he’s worth $200 million, according to Wikipedia) is that he does deserve it because he, like Howard (who is worth $650 million according to the inter webs) are part of the 1% of people who, through hard work and determination, get to be very, very good at what they do.
Stop right there.
First of all, I think the actual percentage of people who are very, very good at what they do is .0001%, but the sentiment is 100% brilliant.
Kevin Hart’s words reminded me of a similar lesson I learned, way back when I was a freelance magazine writer in the 1990s, when I was interviewing the brilliant author Lawrence Weschler for an article. Weschler has written five of my favorite six books and I finagled my position as a freelancer to pitch a story about him to the Westchester Times because I wanted to meet him, and so there I was, sitting in his living room, drinking tea, while he talked about his life.
He told me a story about how he was able to introduce two of his friends to each other, the friends being the painter David Hockney and the magician/historian/actor/artist Ricky Jay. Both men are highly acclaimed and supremely accomplished in their fields, and when they met they got along like, well, two things that get along really well. I can’t think of a metaphor. Gin and tonic? Sad songs and a good cry? One diatomic molecule and another diatomic molecule in a sigma bond?
Lawrence Weschler told me that when Ricky Jay thanked him for bringing David Hockney into his life, Jay said, “This is the best thing about being really good at what you do: You get to meet other people who are really good at what they do.”
That thought stuck with me as being perhaps the simplest recipe for How To Get Through Life, and at the same time the finest explanation of How To Avoid Dealing With Idiots and Morons.
I’m sure you’ve all noticed that as you up your game, in life or in your job, you spend less time hanging out with stupid people and more time being energized, challenged, inspired, and appreciated by people who are smarter than you, which ups your game even more, and makes it even less likely that you will ever have known a Trump supporter.
If I had kids, that’s the one piece of advise I would give: Whatever you do, work hard and become the best at what you do.
Because then you’ll get to meet other people who are the best at what they do, and your life will be enriched and rewarding and better than mediocre and you’ll marry someone I don’t have to worry about.
Speaking of better than mediocre, let’s remember that this is true of America, no matter how much it irritates the Republicans:
22 Executive Orders in the first week:
This (below) is funnier when you realize the man replying to Donald Trump Jr. is the former president of Estonia:
But not everything has to be about politics. Sometimes the good stuff is about life in Australia, and wine:
Fill up your wine glasses, Dear Readers, and you know that spoon that you dislike for no reason? Throw it out. Because here’s more words of wisdom for a better life from none other than Mick Jagger:
You wake up one morning and you look at your old spoon, and you say to yourself, “Mick, it’s time to get a new spoon.” And you do.
Have a great weekend, everyone. Enjoy your new spoons.