The Ides of March are upon us. Actually, that’s inaccurate. The ides of March have shaken, slammed and otherwise shamelessly brutalized us over the course of the last week. Acts of god. Horrible accidents. More Charlie Sheen. “Upon us” is a bit of an understatement.
Then again, understatement has been the preferred coping mechanism this week. Just ask accused serial killer Maksim Gelman, who embarked last month on a 28-hour spree of violence. “I’ve had better days,” he said in a confession released this week, claiming that he was suffering from cancer and helpfully advising cops that it was generally better to “stay away from PCP.” Asked one New York Post commenter whose romantic life may have, well, had better days: “Am I the only one who thinks this guy is kinda hot?”
To be fair, under dire circumstances, a lot of things seem more attractive than you’d think. Abandoning strong reform policies in capital cities that rhyme with Schmalbany. (Not that we’re thinking of anyone specific.) Pleading guilty in the face of a Staten Island landfill’s worth of federal wiretapping evidence. (No one there, either.) Finally acknowledging that your company’s nuclear reactors may need a touch of technical assistance. (O.K., we’re thinking of Jeffrey Immelt.) But we won’t admit it, if only for the sake of keeping up appearances.
Which is almost as important as making them. In D.C. on Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made one as co-chair of something called Mayors Against Illegal Guns–a sort of understatement of posturing, particularly when you consider the likelihood of opposition given the “illegal” qualification. (Forgive us if we’ve failed to register the existence of Mayors for Illegal Guns. And we already gave, thanks.)
But that’s what we like in our billionaires: unambiguousness. Illegal guns, bad! Icy beer, good! Just don’t ask them to be unambiguous about what they do. Eleven of the 16 New York City billionaires mentioned in this week’s Forbes “Billionaires” issue (is there any other kind?) are hedge fund managers–an attractive business even in dire circumstances that offers an opaque façade of minute transactions that are conveniently difficult to explain to, say, a jury of one’s peers. No giant infrastructure, dirty factories and the like. Just good old-fashioned money-making via structured finance.
And that’s better than good old-fashioned money-making via bribery, the favored choice for disgraced State Senator Carl Kruger–large denomination bills, please. Something a little more liquid than inside information on Proctor & Gamble.
And historically, this week of March doesn’t bode well for ambitious scheming politicians, at least one of whom found himself on the receiving and fatal end of a sharp object somewhere around 44 B.C. But we’re not quite to the third act just yet, and it’s difficult to identify the bigger schemers. (Et tu, Lipsky?)
We’ll make it there, but we’re not gonna lie: We’ve had better days.