News of WALL STREET Sequel & When I Was Guilty of Insider Trading

When Steph dispatched me, shopping list in hand, to Giant Eagle last week, I indulged myself in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, and saw that Michael Douglas was on the cover.  There was a brief article about Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which is due out this summer, and which I may actually want to see first-run.

During the 1980s, a lot of yuppies and business school grads seemed to miss the point that Oliver Stone did not mean for Gordon Gekko to be a hero.  The fact that a gecko is a kind of lizard should have been a tip-off, the same way that the movie’s true protagonist’s name, Bud Fox, shows his conflicted nature.  (“Bud” is the type of name you associate with a kid who’s just hit the ball out of the park in Little League, and a fox is often portrayed as the slyest animal in the forest.)

That being said, I have to admit that my hands aren’t 100% clean when it comes to insider trading.  In my case, it didn’t happen on Wall Street, and seven-digit sums of money weren’t going from account to account at the click of a mouse due to a whispered rumor.  (I have never had access to the amount of money that would allow me to play in that league, and I’m happy for it.)

In the spring of 1983, while I was living in Boston, I realized I needed to find new living quarters.  The couple I was crashing with was on the verge of splitting up.  He was planning to move to India to study under a guru, she was moving to Western Massachusetts, and The Harvard Crimson did not pay well enough for me to pay rent and utilities on our apartment in Brighton (which was going to go condo in a year) on my own.

Tufts University’s paper, The Tufts Daily, printed at The CrimsonThe Daily did its layout and typesetting in-house, but did not have its own printing press.  (The Crimson was/is one of the few college newspapers in the U.S. that did its entire production in-house.)  So, one evening, the copy was slow in coming down, and my fellow typesetter and I went to work helping to get The Daily ready for printing.  I had learned the basics of shooting pages, making and developing plates, opaqueing negatives, etc.

I was at the sink developing the plate for the Classified Ads page, and I was checking to make sure the copies and pictures were legible.  My eye went down the column, and I saw there was an inexpensive sublet in Somerville, on a bus line from Harvard Square, but not so far away that walking was out of the question.  (That was important, since The Crimson often wasn’t printed and finished until after the subways and buses had stopped for the night.)  Also, the walk would be through a much more pleasant neighborhood.  When living in Brighton, I walked away from Harvard Square, across the Larz Anderson Bridge, past Soldiers’ Field and the Harvard Business School, and through a section of Allston that was rather ominous at night.

Anyway… (spoken in an exasperated tone) I re-read the ad, memorized the number, and put down my sponge.  I went upstairs to the business office and called the number and asked about the sublet.  Before the paper was printed, I had a sublet.  Once we were finished for the night, I went home, showered and changed clothes, and went to talk to the people and sign the paperwork.  The guy told me they had only dropped off the ad the morning before.

Overall, it was a good neighborhood, and I wish I could have stayed there longer, but it was a sublet.  Being a day sleeper, the most annoying thing for me was a little boy who rode his tricycle back and forth on the sidewalk in front of our house all morning.  His tricycle wheel squeaked annoyingly, very high-pitched, much like Robert Shaw in the blackboard scene in Jaws (great use of Sensurround).  I had enough of it, and one morning I ran after the toddler with an oiling can and oiled the wheels on his tricycle.  (His mother, I soon found out, was furious with me, because that was how she kept track of where he was.  Now that I’m a parent, I can see her point a little more.)