Monday, October 31, 2011

Haunted Houses or The Man Who Made Off with 60 Minutes

I’ve been having that dream again—where you open a closet door and there’s another room--- another apartment--- like a gift of space-- -an interior miracle--- an illusion, you think--and then it is real--- you are stepping into it with relief. Apparently it’s a classic New York City dream. There’s a whole dedicated dream manual for Manhattan Psychs—with subway fantasies, tramway terrors, bridge and elevator fears, Hudson River drownings and apartment claustrophobia. Last night there was a whole loftspace--- but as the dream wore on, holes began to appear on the walls--- cracks in the ceiling; the door was unlocked and broken. A trick....a moral-- that if you get what you wish for, there will be a price to pay.

Halloween eve... we got to see the horrifying masks of the Madoff ghouls on 60 minutes. The voice of Ruth Madoff-- the calm, composed, botoxed emotionless voice... ... and the son— with the non-existent upper lip of the father, baring only his bottom teeth... he and his trophy wife-mask, prepped and rehearsed, attempting to manipulate a little public support for his trial. Come on Morley Safer--- how can you call them ‘victims’? Victims of luxury? Victims of their own pathetic refusal to look at the bloated gifthorse that allowed them the excessive lifestyle of billionaires? Two educated boys, one of whom at least had the moral conscience to punish himself, and maybe punish his mother for sins which she absolutely refuses to acknowledge. And this one-- -this smart boy like Satan’s accomplice who stoked the fire and claims to have absolutely no idea that there was any burning going on?

It was at best a disappointing piece of journalism. Maybe CBS had to promise not to ask questions, had to let Mrs. Madoff have her day in TV court. On a football night, it maybe helped the ratings....but you’d have to be a dumb Saint to give her the feeblest sympathy vote... and to listen to that suicide charade. She can’t weigh more than 100 pounds and at her age an overdose is pretty manageable. Ambien. Give me a break. I’ll bet they took enough for a decent night’s sleep. No guts, no balls, no remorse. Andrew’s wife was smiling. It was a disgrace. They at least deserve the pillory, not a half-hour of prime time without hecklers. Is this journalism? It was more like bad theatre. I’ve had another recurring dream where Libyan rebels are carrying Qaddaffi only his face is the emotion-free bloody face of Madoff. It’s horrible. I guess the Madoff masks are still big sellers this Halloween, with the devil horns already molded on. Now you can dress as the whole family. The 99% of us are going as skeletons, but we’ll have our costume underneath where it belongs.

I went to see my own parents who seem to have forgiven my personal filial sins. After all, I’m middle-aged which pretty well does time for whatever youthful wild rebel-antics offended them. They seem to have retreated into their bedroom, as though the space of their house is no longer appropriate. As though the dream is reversed. Their vision is retrospective, they have no aspirations. Why don’t you go in the yard and get some fresh air, I asked my mother. After all, it’s paid for. No thank you, she replied, I have a window. There are two of them in that room. They speak little. Their reference points are identical. The TV is on. They watch each other watching. Maybe they figure if they take up very little space, God will spare them longer. Something like that. They scarcely eat. They don’t lose things. They don’t get mugged or worry.

So maybe when you are finally ready to die, a coffin is all the room you want. Maybe claustrophobia is just an absurd prescient terror of the end. Compared to the space of the womb, it’s actually roomy...although my mother remarked she wants to be cremated because she’s afraid she’ll suffocate in a coffin. No one laughed. I have a mental picture of them tonight sitting in their respective chairs, wearing funny hats, sucking on a few tangerine jelly beans, watching an old Hitchcock film, dozing. Their ghosts are patient...benign.

I think Bernie Madoff should have a coffin-sized cell. I think his son should have to spend nights in a coffin-sized closet and be let out on a leash with enough pocket money for a hotdog and a doughnut I think all 3 of them should have to wear the John Doe uniform and dump trash like my son did after he stole a pair of sunglasses from Saks Fifth Avenue. At the very least. They should get to live in the projects and work at the kind of McDonald’s where people jump over the counter and smack you in the head. I think they should be forced to wear a tattoo that says Liar. The faithful wife Ruth. Whither thou goest. Except jail of course.

That Harry Markopoulos figured it out. How can these people be sitting calmly on 60 minutes, getting paid for their books and interviews, living on tens of millions—maybe more—they socked away. How many Wall Street executives even worry enough to need to take Ambien? Why are we making a federal case and crucifying athletes for performance-enhancing drugs while these rich criminals are getting away with financial murder? The 60-minute clock ticks its end-comment. Now what? Trick or treat? On Wall Street it’s all about the candy.

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