October 26, 2023
From the horror that is Gaza to horror comedy here in the Big Bagel. Sam Bankman-Fried is on trial for stealing 8 billion smackers from investors, but as he has pleaded not guilty, I suppose I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. SBF, as I shall call him for the duration, is not burdened by guilt, nor is he worried by his lack of hygiene and many other things, I’m told. Before his fall last November, SBF was the darling of the press despite the paucity of wit and charm usually associated with crooks and con men like him.
Never mind, as they used to say in the Bahamas, where he had his headquarters. I first became intrigued by SBF while he was still on top and had people like Tony Blair running behind him calling him a genius. I saw him as just another slob left-winger with absolutely no respect for anyone because he thought he could buy all and sundry. And he did buy most of them by giving away hundreds of millions that didn’t belong to him. Although I had no idea that SBF was a total con man, I had a hunch and I’ll tell you why: He seemed to lack the self-doubt of someone uncomfortable with his moral upbringing. Now that I’ve seen pictures of his parents—straight out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show—my early suspicions based on that have proved correct.
And speaking of his parents, I’d like to know how two part-time Stanford law professors were able to put up a $250 million bail for their errant son. The sordid mess sort of marks the spiritual dead end of American prosperity, or perhaps the opposite, that con artists don’t always win. An old acquaintance of mine, the writer Michael Lewis, has just published a book on SBF, whom he was tracking and admiring before the fall. Lewis is a good writer and a gent, but until SBF’s demise, he had fallen hook, line, and sinker for the slob’s bullshit. Lewis was intrigued by the con man’s personal dishevelment and incessant videogame-playing. Instead of growing suspicious of the furtive lack of eye contact, Michael Lewis found it intriguing. SBF’s constant publicity tours and eagerness to speak with journalists should have been a red flag. Duh! It never entered Lewis’ mind that this was a left-wing slob defrauding people of their cash while posing as a savior of mankind by announcing he was ready to pay the Donald not to run in 2024.
I’ve never understood crypto and have never invested in it, but I read crypto freaks are redolent in the courtroom. There are even crypto-influencers who have befriended SBF after his arrest. SBF had advertised his low opinion of Shakespeare and has been quoted ad nauseam about it. What we don’t know is if he ever read the Bard. Ignorant hacks will quote anything and anybody as long as it’s controversial. I cannot think of any Shakespearean character that resembles SBF, perhaps a Dickensian would be closer to the real thing.
Poor Shakespeare, he’s now accused by—you know the kind—of elevating whiteness while denigrating blackness. The same types also accuse him of rendering true inclusion practically impossible. They top it off by saying that sexism and misogyny also play a big part in his plays. And here I thought SBF was a bad guy, but compared with William Shakespeare he seems to be an angel. In language that would land poor little me in jail nowadays, Othello is described as a “barbarous Moor,” and let’s not forget the anti-Semitism in The Merchant of Venice, where Shylock is called a devil, a wolf, and a dog.
No wonder SBF could not abide with the likes of Willy Shakespeare. He preferred to sign up and pay celebrities and sports stars like Larry David and Tom Brady. Which shows how much SBF understood what works in a country like the good old US of A: money and celebrity. The rest is dross. The one I liked the best is when SBF approached one Michael Kives, known for having ties to famous people, in other words some ass-kisser to the stars, an ex–Hollywood agent. The agent apparently had organized a Super Bowl party that SBF had attended, one that included Leonardo DiCaprio, Kris Jenner, Kendall Jenner, and Jeff Bezos. SBF called it the greatest group ever assembled and wished to throw millions of other people’s money at Kives.
Now I will tell you the truth, dear Takimag readers, and I’m not joking: I wouldn’t go to a party with such people even if I were being paid to attend, but then that’s just me. I suppose SBF and I have different values, just like SBF might even see Jeff Bezos as good-looking, whereas I see him as looking like a monster. Who knows? SBF insisted to associates that access to celebrities was crucial to the company’s growth, and that even stealing was acceptable as long as he, SBF, was pursuing the greater good of society.
I will not deny that I hope SBF gets the book thrown at him, but I doubt that he will. His values and his cynicism about what really matters in life are what I loathe. I see him as representing modern American capitalism, as opposed to the Henry Fords and Andrew Carnegies of old. Silly old me, times have passed me by.