Monday, March 9, 2009


You might hate me for saying this: but I’m actually a little pleasantly pleased about the current bad economic tidal wave that has crashed upon America’s shores. Not so thrilled about it affecting other places around the globe that have been ravaged and underdeveloped since time and memoriam. But this Dow sliding, 401K diminishing, stock market crashing, “Clusterfuck to the Poor House” (thanks Jon Stewart and crew!) kind of seems like the exact medicine to heal the amoral, mentally poisoned, demented psyche that is post-W Bush America.

Let’s face it: we’re a fucking materialistic people. I don’t care if you’re a self-appointed “Conservative” or a “Liberal” or even if when I say “we’re a materialistic people” you go: “No! Not me! I fucking recycle! I care about the environment, and animals, and donate to NPR and join causes on Facebook!”

Yeah, yeah, yeah … you, me, the douche bag guy in the designer suit – sporting way too much cologne and is a little too proud of his accomplishments – sitting next to you on the subway or the Bebe/Juicy Couture/Uggs/big-ass Gucci sunglasses wearing chick – on her cell phone – doing her makeup while stuck in traffic on the 405 that you’re stuck behind… we’re all massive consumers and have been living way beyond our means for way too long.

Let’s face it: we love shit! Love to buy shit! Love to shop! Love the mall! Love online purchases! Love big screen LCDs! Drive gas guzzlers and crank air-condition! We love Vegas, baby!

Admit it: you’re a little guilty. You may not be one of the one percent that controls the nation’s wealth, sure. I mean, I don’t know any Billionaires – maybe you do? I have friends who have friends that are Billionaires or have been to parties where Millionaires cavort and schmooze. Those people are the real recession proof Americans…

And so am I! Because the current crippling state of affairs devastating America’s workforce and causing financial pundits on CNBC to go apeshit on the floor of the Chicago stock exchange – doesn’t really make much of a difference in my life. Sure, I saw my 401K drop a few thousand dollars and sure I work in a volatile industry where my employment is always at risk of disappearing at a moment’s notice.

However, I’ve always been broke! I’m a trained actor, screen and stage writer who desires a career in arts and entertainment. Essentially: I’ve never made any money… EVER! The last five years I’ve been employed at Jet Blue Airways as an In-Flight Crewmember based at JFK in New York is the longest I’ve been employed at one company my entire life.

Not exactly proud to admit this, but up until the age of 34, I never made more than $15,000 a year (if that). A large percentage of that time was spent borrowing money by way of student loans that I’m now paying back inch by inch, “precept upon precept, line upon line.” Yeah, you know the story: those crushing student loan payments which seem to never go away for an education that now seems completely futile and a degree that seems to diminish in value with the passage of time. But what I don’t have to worry about is a home mortgage, which apparently is the culprit that got us into this whole mess in the first place!

“Some people are meant to be renters.” Back in the ‘90s, there was this great show on CBS (which is a rarity): Northern Exposure. On that show there was a hunky character named Chris (played by John Corbett who dated Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw on HBO's Sex and the City and is now the dutiful husband to Toni Collette’s multiple personality wife on Diablo Cody/Showtime’s United States of Tara). One of my favorite episodes was when Chris was contemplating buying a piece of property from the wealthiest dude in Sicily, Alaska. In the end, Chris decides to continue renting his trailer and the rich real estate tycoon couldn’t believe that Chris would rather live in his double wide than actually own a house.

Yet what Chris understood that many people (that had they had the good sense to come to the conclusion during the gold rush of low mortgages, we all would probably be in a lot better financial shape right about now) haven’t seemed to grasp is that not everyone needs to own a home; some of us are better off as renters.

This is where I come in! And although I hardly live within my means, my overhead is relatively low, all things considered. Then there’s the matter of me being a self-centered manchild who doesn’t have any mini versions of myself running around crapping in their pants (at least none that I’m aware of). Essentially, I’m a single white male living in a two bedroom apartment in Queens paying rent, car insurance, cell phone bill, student loans… and credit cards.

But that all changed today! Today I am a free man. Free Credit Report Dot-Com here I come. Come on you old FICO score – rise, rise, rise!!! I’m about to head out of the 650 range up into the mid-700s. As of this week, I’m about to pay off ALL of my revolving, unsecure credit card debt in one fell swoop!

After five years of doing a job that isn’t anywhere close to what I actually want to be doing with my life professionally, and is completely uncreative and essentially a soul-sucking, mind-numbing (pretty sure with each red-eye I fly, a little piece of my soul dies and a fraction of my IQ is lost forever), spirit-crushing occupation – my goal of paying off the credit card debt I accrued while being unemployed for a while after 9/11 (not to mention the debt accrued traveling to Australia, New Zealand, Dublin, Paris, Prague, Krakow and Budapest) within five years is about to be accomplished!

While everyone else is losing their homes, searching the help wanted ads, avoiding looking at their 401K and canceling vacations or the purchasing of big ticket items – I’m about to be interest debt free (save those fucking never-ending student loans) and I’ve got my eye on an LG LCD TV and some new IKEA furniture for the two bedroom in Queens – plus, Germany in March, either New Orleans Jazz Fest OR Paris in April and Krakow again in May!

Recession, kiss my spicy Italian sausage! While everybody else is broke, I’m livin’ the dream! I travel nonstop – including roundtrip options on Lufthansa from New York to Paris for under $200.00 – stay at resort spas in Vegas for free, can go to any island nation I want any time for pretty much nothing, live a bi-coastal life with a car (fully paid for) parked in Los Angeles while I live a few train stops away from Manhattan.

You see, during the ‘80s and ‘90s, while everybody else was getting rich and riding high on the “trickle down” capitalist philosophy, I was broker and as busted as a Tampa stripper after a bad exchange with her coke dealer. Now that everybody else is crying over their dwindling bonuses and freaking out over stimulus packages and banking bailouts – I’m a few online transactions away from escaping debtors prison – while at the same time, I get the five year bump at Jet Blue – which means I make more money without having to work as many hours (or red-eyes!!!).

I’ve never had any money, so I don’t really know what it means to lose it! That’s the true definition of recession proof.

And this morning, after coming in off of a Long Beach red-eye (hurling through the air having the fucking clock jump ahead on me one hour like some kind of crazy Star Trek time warp) – the resplendent sun rising over the dilapidated row houses of Kew Gardens, trash gently nestled against walls and gates and gutters – I strolled past the cemetery while listening to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and the Polyphonic Spree’s “Section 9” (Light & Day/Reach for the Sun), then right before turning into the WaMu on Queens Blvd with check in hand to put me over the top, an old Sinatra tune blasted into my Bang & Olufsen’s… and as I approached the ATM and popped in my card, Frank crooned my theme song:
“…Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.
I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Yes, there were times,
I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way…

…And I swear to Christ, if there wasn’t tears of joy welling in my bleary, bloodshot eyes as I popped that check into that ATM and then grabbed that receipt to look at the number that would clear me of all past debts – then I stepped out into the light of a gorgeous new day, pumped my fists in the air, sang along with Frank to the last remaining lines of “My Way” and kissed the last five years of credit card debt goodbye!
How da ya like them apples, Suze Orman???

Recession be damned, I’m going to Germany mother-fuckers… Euros and all!

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