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Archive for January 28th, 2009

red_yamahar6Today is Data Privacy Day — because building trust and raising awareness about financial, personal data and security is critical.  

Then you have the Wall Street guys who like to talk money “trash”.  They like to make people think they’re the smartest guys in the room and that money management is a very risky business of which few will ever understand.  If you can’t run with the big dogs then you’d better keep your assets on the porch.  But hey you can “trust us”.

As their scams implode they deliver the ridiculous fake suicides.  The “dumbtards” must think if people don’t understand money management they won’t understand the Fake Suicide Club either?!  First there was Florida’s Art Nadel who left a suicide note for his wife and disappeared for a month prior to turning himself in to police.  Then there was “boy-genius” Marcus Schrencker (extra points for faking death in plane crash), parachuting out his plane and made a getaway on a red — RED — sports motorcycle.  I’m not a CSI expert, but I can tell you this much: If you want to blend in with the public you always pick the black Harley, not the red Yamaha!  Marcus’ fake death attempt is eerily similar to The Simpsons’ “Bart the Fink” episode.  Coincident?  I think not.

Then there is Bernie Madoff’s six-degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon fame…everyone knows someone who has been burned.  Don’t worry Bernie they have smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches in prison, right?   Somewhere, Ken Lay must be nodding in approval.

Last and high on the pathetic quotient scale is Jeff Thain, who ran Merrill Lynch when it was taken over in a “fire” sale by Bank of America, resigned under pressure after reports surfaced he dispersed BILLIONS of bonuses just before the BofA takeover (which by the way was greased with billions of taxpayer $$).  The final dagger was the report that Thain spent $1.22M redecorating his office suite while the firm suffered massive losses and was laying off employees.  The area rug alone cost $87,784!!  He must be a Big Lebowski fan and wanted the rug to “tie the room together”…  I previously identified Mr. Thain’s keen sense of reading the public’s temperament HERE.

It’s ego gone wild.  So, here’s the end-game for you financial “disrupter” dudes — the only double shot, extra whip latte you’ll be receiving in the future is prison-issue coffee beans.  Yeah us mere mortals will continue to suck on the fuzzy end of the lollipop for your misdeeds, but we’re very happy knowing you’ll find yourself clinging to the bitter mouthed buzz prison coffee provides.  Oh yeah, one other thing.  When Brutus tries to share a Cohiba delight…he’s not talking cigars!

It’s interesting, but not necessarily fun times that we live…

Photo courtesy Yamaha.

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queen_bookI won’t attempt to make sweeping comments about another outlaw motorcycle “club” undercover “tell-all” novel.  There are so many styles and flavors these days and when a reader interacts with a book they are not only served a story, but often feel connected to the writer.

The Under and Alone novel is different because of movie rights, but more on that in a minute.

The back story is the novel is based on the real life of William Queen, a motorcycle enthusiast who successfully penetrated the San Fernando Valley chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle “club” using an identity of “Billy St. John.”  After becoming a fully “patched” member, he eventually rose to the level of chapter Vice-President and treasurer where he had access to the clubs activity of which some was criminal.  In the book, Queen details how, after 28 months in the club he began to battle the conflicts both within the club and within himself as the isolation of the work made him feel the Mongols were his family.

What makes the story compelling is that Queen spent twenty years as a Special Agent with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).  He was a Vietnam War veteran serving with the U.S. Army Special Forces and was awarded the Silver Star during his 1971 tour of duty. After his military service, he devoted his entire career to law enforcement.  Early operations involved infiltrating the Aryan Nation and the Ku Klux Klan organizations.

William Queen

William Queen

Despite his nickname, “Billy the Slow-Brain”, he was successful in gathering evidence resulting in a series of raids in May 2000 by almost 700 LEO’s in four states.  His efforts led to the arrest and conviction of 54 club members.  Queen was awarded the Federal Bar Association’s Medal of Honor for his successful involvement with the Mongols.  After the club member trials, Queen retired from the ATF, and then wrote the book while in the witness protection program.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  In 2003, while the book was still only a draft, film rights were sold for $1M to Icon Productions, the Hollywood production company owned by Mel Gibson.  The book became a bestseller upon its release in 2005, and the movie adaptation, will have Gibson himself playing Queen.  The movie is scheduled for release by Warner Bros in 2010.  This would be the first project that Gibson takes the lead role in, since the 2003 movie Signs.  Gibson will not direct the movie, instead Gregor Jordan (Ned Kelly) and Antoine Fuqua (Shooter, Training Day) have been hired to direct.  The book is being adapted by Ned Zeman and Daniel Barnz.

Consumer spending drives demand. The profitability of individual companies depends on creativity, marketing, and distribution of quality movie content and time will tell if this subject matter is something the public wants to consume. Gibson has been a lightning rod for controversy of late, but this role could bring him back into the mainstream vernacular like the Vietnam War drama We Were Soldiers and Payback did.  Who knows.

Photo courtesy William Queen/Random House.

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