Taxi King Gene Freidman Appears Concussed in Bloomberg Video

Reeling from industry setbacks, medallion owner declares himself 'honorary millennial'

Borderline millennial Gene Freidman taps some sort of technological device in one of the many garages housing taxis he owns. (Bloomberg Business screencap)

Borderline millennial Gene Freidman taps some sort of technological device in one of the many garages housing taxis he owns. (Bloomberg Business screencap)

Gene Freidman is not the most eloquent of speakers. In fact, from the looks of a new video produced by Bloomberg Business, Mr. Freidman, the owner of over 1,000 medallions who is universally known as the “Taxi King,” appears dazed, unable to articulate a thought and possibly suffering from a head injury. The video does its best to use every ’90s porn technique short of rectangular pubic hair to compensate for its subject’s odd patter, including so much slow motion that I checked my download speed to make sure it wasn’t a computer error.

In the single most bizarre passage, Mr. Freidman, who was forced last month to declare bankruptcy on 22 of the companies he owns, details how he has adopted a more youthful frame of mind to tackle the challenges that Uber and other ride-share apps are presenting to the traditional taxi business.

“I’m 44,” he declares, “I’m an honorary millennial.” While showing off Thriller era zipper-covered pants, he goes into detail on the fresh perspective his new look has given him. “I used to have long hair, now I have short hair. I can dress a little like hipper and cooler.”

In another scene, the former billionaire shakes a snow globe and peers into it, presumably looking for wisdom. Only when the camera zooms in does the viewer realize that instead of revealing a New York skyline or traditional snow globe fare, this one features a hand with its middle finger sticking up in a heroic act of defiance.

I’m 44, I’m an honorary millennial. I used to have long hair, now I have short hair. Now I can dress a little like hipper and cooler. And I think a lot differently.

One of the things that makes this video so jarring is that the utterly charm-free Mr. Freidman clearly believes his winning personality has played a role in the success he’s enjoyed to date. In addition to reeling from the collapsing value of his medallions, Mr. Freidman was also hit with a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for underpaying his drivers and is also being divorced by his non-honorary millennial wife (she’s 24). Nevertheless, Mr. Freidman is shown, in slow motion no less, literally kicking the tires of one of his vehicles, lest the viewer not grasp just how deeply this wearer of Oyster Rolexes empathizes with the common man.

No mere description can properly encapsulate just how odd this video is. So below is a transcript of the entirety of Mr. Freidman’s monologue. But you really have to see this thing for yourself.

Listen. If you had a company that’s been valued at $50 billion dollars and they put a bull’s eye on the back of your head and they put a bull’s eye on the back of your industry’s head, it could not be fun sometimes

Freidman places a snow globe with a giant middle finger on his desk

My first two medallions were maybe $150,000 apiece in the late 90’s when people just didn’t want to be in this business.

The prices I think got up to about … ugh …  $1.3 million for a corporate medallion.

I think Uber is a brilliant, fascinating … you know … technology company. I don’t think they’re a good taxi company, I don’t think they’re a good limo company … um … I don’t think they’re a good employer … um … I don’t think they’re honorable in the way that they do politics or they conduct themselves.

Uber is circumventing regulation. There is a rulebook that’s 200 pages just for medallion owners…that we have to follow. Everything from what the meter looks like, how you’re supposed to work, what your supposed to charge. If the regulations that are out there right now were enforced, then we’d be fine.

I’m the operator….I’m the operator. Nobody’s gonna operate better than me, and definitely not someone sitting inside Silicon Valley is gonna know what’s better for my passengers, my drivers, me and the regulator…right…uh…better than me.

The price of medallions… we have a liquidity problem…we have a liquidity issue. I’m in reorganization on about 22 of my companies,….we need to change. Is there a universal app? Is there proper regulation?

I like a challenge. Since last summer I ripped everything up… and I’m rebuilding it from scratch…that’s really exciting.

I’m 44, I’m an honorary millennial. I used to have long hair, now I have short hair. Now I can dress a little like hipper and cooler. And I think a lot differently.

montage of suede boot, blue-faced Rolex, and left hand running through hair

I’m thinking about what can I do.

Runs hand through hair some more

I always brag that my business times are either “awesome,” “excellent” or just “very good.” So I think we’re on the bottom of “very good” right now.

The video accompanies a long article in Bloomberg Business and it’s something near a tragedy that some of the quotes from the article didn’t make it into the video. Like this gem: “There’s a guy in Appalachia, no shirt, hasn’t had a shirt all winter, right? He’s got a mullet. A mullet. A mullet. Right? He’s married to two of his first cousins, right? But he’s got a gun in his hands. And he’s born with a gun in his hands. I’m that guy.”

The story ends with one of the great tldr quotes of all time: “If anything is wrong, it’s the fact that I need to cool it. … I can’t be such an arrogant prick.”

Gene Freidman2

Taxi King Gene Freidman Appears Concussed in Bloomberg Video