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3 O'Clock High: Guys Wide Short


"The worst part of these secret stock cabal Balls is the horrible piano music in the soundtrack"

Just this morning I was blissfully unaware.

I didn't know, or wasn't able to remember, the sordid, deeply troubling night in the belly of the Beast. I thought conspiracies were the realm of the Weak Minded, Confused and bad novels. I was a Sap, in other words. Now that I know the horrible truth of the way Markets, and by extension The World, really work all I want is to go back to my bovinically happy Saphood.

Now that my trance has been broken by the San Francisco Chronicle and the transcript of a conference call last summer, I'm rushing to tell the hideous truth of the night I spent at the Miscreant's Ball. The brainwashing and psychic torture have no hold over me now. By the end of tomorrow's column, if I'm able to make it that long before "They" silence me, the world will know everything... how I came to be long Safeway (SWY), what really goes on in those leafy Long Island mansions and why I woke up this morning with a goalie's mask on my pillow.

The world may condemn me as a madman, cheering the thresher as I am shot into the Bay as chum, but my voice will be heard. It is a chilling story that may seem far-fetched, an hour too long and surprisingly dull to readers who are familar with these things but that's what they want you to think.

We must start at the beginning...

The best triggers are always buried in plain sight. Benign, harmless, trusted sources from which nothing, good or bad, is expected. Since the departure of Herb Greenberg, the San Francisco Chronicle's Business Section is just such a hiding place. An anachronistic pause on the way to the crossword puzzle, browsed each morning by comfortable habit.

It's not everyday when I find a full-column of reading in the local paper so I had already gotten my 25-cents worth when I saw the color picture of Herb, near the headline "SEC May Have Jumped the Gun on Subpoenas." In the bonus text, The article reviews a statement made yesterday by Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox in which Cox said "The issuance of a subpoena to a journalist which seeks to compel production of his or her notes and records of conversations with sources is highly unusual."

Continuing his sprint from responsibility for the subpoena, Mr. Cox concludes, "Until the appearance of media reports this weekend, neither the Chairman of the SEC, the General Counsel, the Office of Public Affairs, nor any Commissioner was apprised of or consulted in connection with a decision to take such an extraordinary step."

The Chronicle's capable Kathy Pender says Mr. Cox' statement "amounted to a rare public reprimand."

Had you been sitting on the couch in my office when I got to this portion of the column, you would have been treated to my reactions to the piece thus far. They were:

1. Call me Old School but a "public reprimand" would have sounded something like "This was a grotesque violation of the first amendment. From this day hence the office of Christopher Cox as well as all of those who would act under the aegis of same shall demonstrate cause beyond what we have seen here prior to even considering such actions, let alone doing so in a public venue." The stuff he actually said sounded more like throwing a series of bodies between himself and the any angry mobs.

2. That said, Jeffmacke liked Mr. Cox's reference to the Chairman of the SEC.

3. I wonder if Herb mentioned me in his notes?

4. Mrs. Jeffmacke won't think Herb is such a "very nice looking older man" after Herb meets a little buddy I like to call "broken beer bottle to the mush"...

Handsome Herb Greenberg: Airbrushed?

5. Making jokes at the expense of the SEC sure is a lot more fun now that I no longer run other people's money.

6. They held a Miscreant's Ball and nobody thought to invite me?

It was the phrase Miscreant's Ball that did it. As in, "In a presentation ( (OSTK) CEO) Patrick Byrne dubbed 'Miscreants Ball' (Mr. Byrne) alleged that (Hedge Fund Rocker Partners) was at the center of an elaborate conspiracy of hedge funds, prominent journalists (including Greenberg) and regulators including New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to manipulate's stock price" from the previously-linked article.

In a moment of horrible clarity it all came rushing back to me. The whole strange night of bizarre parties, ornate homes and orgies of feverish manipulations that I had stumbled into last summer clambered back into my mind like a feverish dream...

I knew some of these guys. I'd been to a Miscreant's Ball and seen the truth.

What I learned there was too horrifying, so much deeper and more surprising than anything that could be laid out in even the most elaborate flow-chart that I couldn't be trusted with the truth. I was silenced through an elaborate psycho-hypnotic conspiracy masked as sloth. A conspiracy which now lay shattered by the coincidental(?) use of the phrase Miscreant's Ball in today's paper.

Now that I've remembered it I can't forget it.

Tomorrow the horrible truth shall be told.
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