Almost Famous & Living the American Dream
I am the American Dream
We did our CNBC Fast Money thing Wednesday night during On the Money. It was our penultimate 10-minute version of the show before it becomes a weekly one-hour effort, beginning June 21st. The move to a full hour on a weekly basis will allow us to flesh-out the concept, moving us further from just another "My Stock Picks vs. Yours" shouting match program and giving the players more room for social commentary in the context of financial markets.
Inasmuch as your 'umble narrator has been traveling from SF to New Jersey to tape 10 minute segments for the last 2 months it should suffice to say that I'm more than ready to start beating Fast Money into 60-minute shape. The ratio of 30-seconds of airtime for every hour spent in an airplane is taking a toll on my naturally affable and cheery nature.
Wednesday night's show featured three stock ideas, a chart-talk regarding commodity inflation, the dollar and stocks and a 60-second chat on the American corporate world's massive investment in the World Cup soccer tournament. Not surprisingly, it was the last topic which inspired the most viewer feedback.
Which brings us to this column's inaugural Fast Money Viewer Mail Bag! Angry "Non-Minyan" Guyonhiscouch (not his real name) writes:
I can't believe you idiots mocked the World Cup at the end of the Fast Money. I'd like to see any of those fat traders try to survive a full 90 minutes of competitive football (sic). Those Fast Money guys made me ashamed to be an American.
Now, we discussed the critical risks of my CNBC Crusade in our last installment of this monthly "Self-Absorbed Television Person" column. To sum up our prior work on this topic; having spent a day or two (read: nearly 10 years) on trading floors of my own and others, I know two things about the treatment of financial television:
1. If the floor has a television, and almost all of them do, chances are very good that it's tuned to CNBC (NB: Unless there's a golf major or play-off game of some sort being broadcast).
2. The only times the television isn't ignored is when there's legitimate breaking news or in the event someone wants to hurl public abuse at the opinions or appearance of the person on the screen.
I've never actually been under the illusion that my appearances on the network would be treated any differently than those of my peers. If you're thin-skinned about traders hurling insults at your televised image it's best to avoid talking about anything on CNBC. Such ad homonym attacks are a time honored viewer tradition. As a traditional guy, a traditional American guy, I actually welcome the abuse. On TV as in my writing, if I'm not offending someone, somewhere, I'm simply not trying very hard.
Which brings us back to the mail bag. Now, I don't mind being called "fat" or an "idiot" anymore than I mind being called a "trader." I would freely cop to all of the above even as I'd quibble about none of the three being particularly accurate at this exact stage of my life. But making people "ashamed to be an American" for abusing a foreign-dominated sport in which the very greatest practitioners have less upper-body strength than my 3-year old daughter is, or at least should be, well beyond my verbal powers.
What's more, from what little I know about soccer in general it seems to me that grotesque displays of nationalism are largely the point of the World Cup. Either that or appreciating the subtle ballet of flopping dramatically at the slightest contact to draw a free-kick but, again, I don't claim to be an expert on sports which don't involve intentionally striking people with your hands.
So, I'm not an expert on footie but I do know a thing or two about our proudest national tradition. Of course I'm speaking of the pursuit of our Dreams as we see them regardless of what anyone else thinks. Our country was literally founded on this idea and only recently have we begun to question it. Behaving in this way is every American's birthright, or "manifest destiny" and I'm proud to carry on the legacy.
Since my classically American beer-swilling undergraduate days I've gone from selling suits at Macy's to running other people's money to my current gig of getting paid for running my mouth in print and on television. I've got a wife and kids who I actually love and they, in turn, are supporting a career move that feels very much like running off to join the circus.
It may be the worst decision to go to New Jersey since Alexander Hamilton got himself capped by Aaron Burr but it is a quintessentially American life trajectory. As far as I'm concerned I'm living the American Dream. Hell, I am the American Dream. While I'd defend to the death the right for viewers to say otherwise I'll only do so while taking the steel-toed boots to the very person whose free speech I am defending.
It is in the spirit of that nearly quarter-millennium old American tradition of self-absorption that I assert the following: If the World Cup mattered in any way the USA would have won it by now.
And thanks for watching, Angry G!
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