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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 14, 2009 / 20 Iyar 5769

Did Hollywood inspire the meltdown men?

By Michael Smerconish


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Forget Bernie Madoff. The Wall Street veteran who might be the real scapegoat for our country's financial meltdown hasn't closed a deal in more than two decades. Many presume he spent at least some of that time in jail.

But his influence has stood the test of time. The prospect of duplicating his lifestyle and aura may have drawn many young brokers to Wall Street — for better or worse. And now he's coming back.

Gordon Gekko.

Sure, he's fictional. But now that 20th Century Fox has confirmed that Oliver Stone will direct a sequel to 1987's "Wall Street" and Michael Douglas will reprise his role as its most ruthless corporate raider, it's worth considering Gekko's impact.

The question: Is it possible that young brokers were motivated by the Gekko blueprint, set out to Wall Street to follow it, and in the process contributed to the breakdown of our financial sector?

After all, Stanley Weiser, co-writer of the original movie, offered this last October: "... what I find strange and oddly disturbing is that Gordon Gekko has been mythologized and elevated from the role of villain to that of hero."

Indeed, Gekko has become a symbol of New York's financial sector — one so enduring that Douglas himself told the New York Times in 2007 that he could do without "one more drunken Wall Street broker" approaching him and saying, "You're the man!"

The original "Wall Street" has grown into a work akin to the "Godfather" movies. Men everywhere can still quote Gekko's most memorable lines:

"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right; greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit."

"If you're not inside, you're outside."

"What else you got besides connections at the airport?"

Last fall, as Douglas participated in a United Nations panel on the nuclear test ban treaty, reporters questioned him about the unfolding financial crisis. He was asked to compare the threat of nuclear war with the "global Armageddon on Wall Street." He tried, only to encounter this follow-up: "Are you saying, Gordon, that greed is not good?"

"I'm not saying that," Douglas replied. "And my name is not Gordon. He's a character I played 20 years ago."

The exaltation comes despite the movie's ending, with Gekko's protege (played by Charlie Sheen), seeking leniency after being arrested, turning over to the feds a taped conversation in which Gekko seems to implicate himself in illegal maneuvering.

So is Gordon Gekko the muse behind the recklessness of some Wall Streeters?

Stanley Fish, professor of law at Florida International University and online contributor at the New York Times, called the theory "entirely plausible," citing the long history of people influenced by behavior they observe in works of fiction.

"It was reported that a number of young men committed suicide after reading Goethe's 'The Sorrows of Young Werther,'" he told me. "The undershirt industry suffered a serious blow when Clark Gable didn't wear one in a popular movie. Things might have gotten a bit better after Brando did 'A Streetcar Named Desire' wearing little else. Innumerable women tried to imitate the Audrey Hepburn look — little black dress — after seeing her in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's.' I'm sure that motorcycles and motorcycling rose in popularity after 'Easy Rider' and 'The Wild One.'"

On the other side of the debate is Jim Rogers, the financial guru, co-founder (with George Soros) of the Quantum Fund, author and occasional professor at Columbia University. Rogers called the theory a "stretch," arguing that real-life stock market speculator Ivan Boesky (whose misdeeds ignited an insider trading scandal and drew a $100 million penalty in the late 1980s) and the man who prosecuted him — then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani — probably made a more lasting impression on Wall Street than Gekko.

"Likewise," Rogers explained, "I do not think people who go to Wall Street need to quote movies; they already have huge ambition to make money, or they would not have gone there in the first place."

He should know. Not only did he make his fortune before he turned 40, but he made a bit contribution to Stone's movie as well.

A critical scene — during which Sheen's character plots against Gekko with a rival trader — was filmed in Rogers' house. At another point in the original script, Sheen's character predicted that he'd celebrate his success with " ... perhaps something like he'd get a case of Dom," Rogers told me.

Rogers, though, told Stone about his plans to ride a motorcycle across China. Hence Sheen's revelation to his love interest: "I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I'm 30 and get out of this racket, I'll be able to ride my motorcycle across China," he says.

A clear case of art imitating life. Left unresolved, however, is whether life has imitated "Wall Street."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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Previously:

04/20/09 Let's give killers their due: Anonymity
03/12/09 Uninsured who can't afford medical care lose a lot more
02/06/09 My debate with Musharraf on hunt for bin Laden
01/29/09 Torture must remain an option
01/15/09 Making a case for suing Madoff
12/22/08 A difficult but rational chat about ‘plans’
12/17/08 Facebook epidemic: More than 120 million have joined, many too old for this nonsense
12/01/08 The high price of downsizing the news biz
11/14/08 Prescience on greed, arrogance of a system
09/29/08 Closer look at party lines
08/26/08 Obama's pick creates GOP opportunity
08/21/08 Fishing with the Angry Everyman
07/31/08 The perils of e-mail: Ponder, then click
05/22/08 Two very different sides of the Internet
02/12/08 Sublimely ridiculous suits
11/28/08 Cell phones cut out secondary circle of kinship
09/26/07 What do we owe those who have died in Iraq?
08/30/07 A Navy SEAL's gut-wrenching tale of survival
07/30/07 First it was a faux pas, now it's a new word


© 2008, The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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