Nov

21

Over the woods and through the hills to grandmother's house we go… okay its actually down Rte 50, into Fisherman's and to the bar for the Thanksgiving Special. For a change I do not have the kids for the day so I am not running around like a chicken with its head cut off getting ready for Thursday's dinner and I intend to take full advantage. I certainly not going to grandma's this year… in fact mom is not allowed to cook holiday dinners as her idea of cooking is to take expensive meats and poultry and cook them until they are serviceable as arctic footwear, vegetables not cooked to the consistency of porridge are considered underdone and mashed potatoes come from a box… if her cooking was indicative of southern women, there wouldn’t be a fat man south of the mason dixon line… mom never quite enjoyed cooking it seems… but all the same the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us and might as well pack up for the lovely drive, maybe a couple of lifetimes on the Jersey Turnpike or a rugby scrum through an airport to travel to far destinations to see people we are still pissed off at for tearing the head of our kung fu grip GI Joe 40 years ago, as we stand in the middle of the airport parking lot with the broken suitcase spilling on the tarmac, our significant other giving us that that quiet, thin lipped “I told you we needed new luggage” look, or in a car with children arguing at approximately the decibel level of an F16 fly-over and the radio stations blaring christmas music over the din of 5000 hopelessly grid locked cars, it is time to reflect up the year gone by and the moments and things we are thankful for, the things that make life the special wonder that it is…..

For starters I am grateful for a holiday that does not involve me having to purchase gifts for anyone, attend a mass that lasts just slightly less time than the Middle Ages, or do anything but eat enormous amounts of food and watch football whilst sipping and swigging wine… I have never figured out exactly how eating and drinking to excess while watching steroid fueled behemoths bat hell out of each other chasing a pigskin around a field is a sign of gratitude… but who am I to argue with such a fine tradition? I have much to be grateful for so I'll have an extra piece of pie, more wine than is good for me and watch every damn game that comes on the tube… for living in a land and in a time where I can screw up, blow up, start, fail and do it all over again, to be part of a culture and society that allows me get up after a disaster and start back up the stairs, where the only real limits I encounter are those I put on myself… for my family, even if my extended family is truly the bunch that puts the fun in dysfunctional, for my kids, my daughter, 23 now, going to scholol and working and just doing incredibly well. She's reading now and it's kind of a kick to talk books with your adult child and watch as they discover Cervantes, Faulkner, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. When she is 30 I'll tell her about Bukowski and Thompson… my son, the eternal class clown… working and school as well and has recently taken up fishing. Still a total clown most of the time… worst thing that ever happened to him was seeing a Jim Carrey movie… ,my joke-cracking snake-raising son. He moved in with me last year and now, after 8 years as a loner I have him, his girlfriend, two snakes, a hamster,a cat and for some damn reason, a turtle.He does love his animals especially reptiles. He learned all the breeding and care stuff on his own to the point that at nineteen, local vets will call him with questions… for those nights when they both with a caravan of friends descend on my place like a pack of locusts, consuming enough Mountain Dew code red to keep a small nation jacked up on a sugar caffeine rush and devour enough to keep several take out joints in the area in business and driving Cadillacs for years to come (I've actually come home to see them lined up three deep at the door delivering various pizzas, chicken, subs) listening to that horrid music and watching truly idiotic movies …..they re noisy, eat constantly , stay up until insane hours and I love every minute…..

For friends of course, because what is life without friends… people to talk with, laugh with, cry with, drink with, people with whom we share our thoughts, our ideas, pieces of our souls… people who put up with us not because of some birth-related accident but because they choose to… the ones who answer their phone at midnight when we have some great idea or major crisis, who call on Sunday mornings to wake us up with their latest great idea or crisis… for those whose companionship as we walk the road of life makes the journey all so much more enjoyable… for DailySpeculations, which has been a source of so many new friends ( in scattered time zones so you never know when the phone will ring), a source of ideas, of incredible conversations, intelligent arguments, new philosophies and ways of looking at life, a simple email list that has allowed me to meet some of the most incredible (to say nothing of a few of the strangest) people I have ever been blessed enough to call friend…..the oregonian, the mormon, the crazed tank-driving day-trading BMX rider, the bombastic genius of Kris, the chicago crew, the biofuels guy, the real estate mogul, the Wiz, the sun baked spec, the columnist, the authors and the editor… and of course the thrice blessed voodoo prof… there's too many to name them all but each has had a positive impact on my life over the past few years,and of course as we look over our life on Thursday and raise a glass, I think we all have to include the Chair and Laurel in our toast as it was their idea and drive that created a very unique, inspiring and worthwhile community of minds and souls…..

And the island friends. The tic-tac kid, tire guy and his fiancé (he is definitely marrying up!), rag lady, the electrician, the beach club guy, baldy, crackbaby, logistics guy and his lovely way over his head and we all wonder how in the hell he managed that wife, evil Dave, hell there’s too many to list here. You all know who you are. My god the times we have had. The boats, the beers, the food, the conversations, the moments that were almost sublime in their stupidity and fun. Air Tic-tac over the water, missing Dominos signs, late nights on the pier, football games. It is like being in a fraternity located in a resort. Each successful in their own right and blessed with an over abundance of a love of good friends, good times, open water and open bar. It was a geographical accident I chose to live where I do but I am damn glad I chose the island.

Of course, me being me I am thankful to whatever benign creator created the fairer sex, ah yes women… they have inspired me, they have comforted me, excited me, enraged me, engaged me, and on two occasions damn near bankrupted me. They are the most frustrating creatures that G_d, with his infinite sense of humor, could have ever designed… without them, I would be rich enough to retire young, still have brown hair instead of this gray stuff growing over my grey matter, I would get more sleep at night, be more productive, and have more time to spend working and studying. But I would rather be a gray-haired property settlement-paying insomniac than lived in a world where there were none….

For the other temptress in my life, the markets, with her siren song of changing notes, a constant daily challenge to get ahead and stay ahead of her dance, for the intellectual challenge of figuring her song, endless variations, price to book, high correlations, low z scores, new knowledge gained, free cash flow, arbitrage, liquidations. An endless dance and flow of ideas and strategies to test and trade… I can't imagine a more challenging or frustrating way to make a living… I cant imagine doing anything else…

For books and the written word. Writing the books and the daily column has been more fun that I can recall getting paid to do. It's been a blast and I hope this part of my career and life continues to expand. For all the ones I read, with their hours of entertainment, education and relaxation. For Parker, RW , White, Hemingway, Thompson, Russo and the dozen of other writers I have come to enjoy so over the years.

Thankful just for this dance called life, to live, experience, to learn, to fail, to succeed, to read the poetry, drink the wine, to kiss the girl… so carve up the bird, pour a little more bubbly stuff over here… hey whats the score… it's a life,,, up, down, sideways, it's a hell of a lot of fun and each of you in this group has made more interesting and enjoyable… so I raise my glass to you and say Happy Thanksgiving…


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