Comments: Week of March 9, 2009

1. All those notes and cards and e-mails and comments we get at about the stories in New York Magazine tend to fall into a couple of basic categories—readers love the story or they hate the story or they just have something completely beside the point to say. We welcome them all. But we especially welcome a genre of feedback that we got this week, about Steve Fishman’s cover story on Bernie Madoff (The Monster Mensch,” March 2)—because, for the first time that anyone can recall, we got song lyrics!

“The Madoff Family”
(Set to the theme of “The Addams Family”)
They’re creepy and they’re crooked,
Ponzi filching the rich and stupid,
All together they have no moral scruples,
The Madoff family.

Their penthouse is a fraudulent museum
Where the Feds come to see ’em
They really are a scree-am
The Madoff family.

(Palm Beach)

So get a scamster suit and shawl on
A huckster blackboard you can draw on
We’re gonna pay a call on
The Madoff family.

“If I Had a Ponzi Scam”
(Set to “If I Were a Rich Man”)
If I had a Ponzi scam,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum,
All day long I’d be sitting in the Palm Beach sun.
If I had a good Ponzi scam,
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy Ponzi,
Yiddle-diddle-diddle-diddle man.

I’d buy a big gaudy mansion with rooms by the dozen,
Right in the middle of Palm Beach town.
And a fine Park Avenue penthouse with a fleet of Mercedes and others below.
There would be one long staircase just going up,
And one even longer coming down,
And one more leading nowhere, just for show.

I’d fill my office with investor ducks and turkeys and geese to fleece
For all of Wall Street to see and hear,
Squawking just as noisily as they can.
Each loud “cheep,” “squawk,” “honk,” “quack”
Would sound like a golden trumpet on my Ponzi-scheming ears,
As if to say,“Here is yet another wealthy yutz to schtup.”

“You’re a Mean One, Bernie the Grinch”
You’re a mean one, Bernie the Grinch.
You really know how to “filch,” steal and “schmeikel,”
You’re a cuddly Ponzi-scheming cactus, you’re a charming Wall Street “khazer,” Bernie the Grinch,
You’re a big Palm Beach banana with a greasy black peel!

You’re an asset-management “loch in kop,” Bernie the Grinch,
Your business is a “gelt” black hole almost as big as AIG,
Your brain is full of “ferkakdeh” trades, you have garlic in your “fershtinkiner” soul, Bernie the Grinch,
Investors shouldn’t have touched you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole!

You’re a foul one, Bernie the Grinch,
You say the dog ate your “bupkes” records,
You have all the tender sincerity of a typical “filching” Wall Street “schnorer,” Bernie the Grinch,
Given a choice between the two of you, I’d sooner drink East River bottled water!

You’re a rotten “zhulik,” Bernie the Grinch,You’re the king of hedge-fund scamster “dreck,” Your heart’s a rotten “gefilte” splotched with moldy purple spots, Bernie the Grinch,You’re a triple-decker synthetic CDO and CDS toadstool sandwich with arsenic,Wall Street bailout “shyster” sauce on top!

You nauseate me, Bernie the Grinch,You’re a nauseous super Wall Street “momzer!”You’re a crooked alpha “schlockster” and you run a crooked “shandhoiz,” Bernie the Grinch,Your trading books are an appalling dung heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of “chazere” rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled “kishka” knots!

You’re a foul one, Bernie the Grinch,You’re a nasty wasty Wall Street “goniff,”Your heart is an unwashed “shmanta,” your soul is full of bogus “schmaltz,”Bernie the Grinch,The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote,“Shtunk, shtup, schlemiel”!

2. No songs were inspired by Jennifer Senior’s story about the battle at the New School (Bob Kerrey’s Ivory-Tower War,” March 2), but the sentiments expressed were fierce. Much anger was directed at the student protesters by other students—not for their opposition to Kerrey but for their means of expressing it. “What made a lot of us angry was the inane and asinine manner in which a small minority of students took up the mantle of the students of the New School and acted in a manner so as to hurt them,” wrote one New School student. Another reader agreed: “The student protests were a disorganized disgrace. The online blogs and video revealed a bunch of kids giddy at the prospect of getting arrested.” But there was scant support for Kerrey. A blogger who identified himself as someone who “attended the New School from 2002 through 2006” complained that this magazine has a history of running “sympathetic profiles of Bob Kerrey [that] invariably focus on how tough he has it at the New School, and did you know that he has one leg? Yup. One leg and a lot of dead people on his conscience … Yes, Bob Kerrey does, in fact, have one leg. This is only one of many fascinating facts about Bob Kerrey, and perhaps one of the least significant!” He then went on to excoriate Kerrey for his support of the Iraq War. Others cited the “corporatization” of the school’s culture and its focus on fund-raising and marketing as his greatest sins. And faculty member Arien Mack wrote in to clarify what she said in a faculty meeting with Kerrey: “Senior writes that I ‘told Kerrey he was destroying the university to which [I]’d dedicated [my] life.’ Had Ms. Senior been present at the meeting or checked with me before publication, she would have known that I said no such thing. Rather, the point I made at the meeting was that some of Bob Kerrey’s actions, particularly his dismissing of every provost he has hired during his tenure, have seriously harmed the academic life of the university.”

Comments: Week of March 9, 2009