Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Money People Are Not (All) Philistines

 I owe someone a hat tip on this but tip on this but have no idea who sent it. Thanks though, and if you identify yourself we'll do the link thang.
The original Salon piece is worth the read, here's the short version via Carney at NetNet:
How Investment Bankers Are Like Sexy Pirates 
The always charming Jennifer Wright took a break from her day job as the editor-in-chief of to write a great piece in Salon about how she gave up her tennis whites a long time ago for a job as a shot girl in a pirate-themed bar.

She’s wonderfully self-deprecating about just how self-centered she was going into the job. She was convinced that she was smarter and more cultured than any other her shipmates.
She writes:
I was in love with my own incongruity — being a poetry-spouting college graduate in a pleather miniskirt. And I loved this notion of doing something at which I was entirely unsuited, and which seemed to go so much against my personality. I would never have said it at the time, but I very much believed I was above being a fun-loving pirate wench selling shots. I had read Meno and lived in cardigans and went to museums for fun.
I was a terrific little snob who thought she knew everything, and subsequently, I was about to learn a great deal.
As the tale goes on, she describes how she discovered that she wasn’t a very good shot girl. At least, not at first. It involved far more technique than she expected. Her manager would point out that, despite her tiny leather skirt and six-inch heels, she wasn’t as “sexy” as she needed to be.
More important, however, Wright discovered the other sexy pirates weren’t quite the philistines she had assumed they’d be.
It quickly became clear that I was not the first literate person to don a miniskirt. Sometime during that first week, I was hiding in the back room reading Margaret Atwood. I was sitting on the counter next to baskets of party mix because my feet hurt, which they did for the entirety of my shot-selling career. One cocktail waitress swept in, asked what I thought of Atwood’s novel “Oryx and Crake,” did a tricky little analysis where she compared it to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” mentioned some other female dystopian writers I’d never heard of, and then went out balancing a tray of shots on one hand.
As ridiculous as it sounds, that was the first time I became aware that clever people are buried in every nook and cranny of life. It is astonishing that no one pointed this out to me sooner. The girls working at the bar — they were so bright. Another shot girl had a journal that she filled with poetry that was — that rarest of all rare things — crisp and clean and very, very good. This was never a bar where everyone knew your name, but the cocktail waitresses came to know one another’s reading lists, and pitch letters, and audition schedules extremely well.
This is actually the experience of quite a lot of people I know who have gone to work at investment banks. But, you know, without the miniskirts. 

Many young traders and investment bankers secretly harbor a view of their colleagues that is very close to what Wright assumed about the shot girls. Of course, unlike Wright, most Wall Street newcomers assume their colleagues will be smart. But, often enough, they also assume that they will be more or less uncultured....MORE 
About a year into the blogging gig I thought I needed assistance and ran an ad: 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Help Wanted: Trader/Blogger

We first ran this ad in March and although it was intended, and for the most part received, as humor, we had some great responses and got to know some very smart, very funny (and not-so-funny) folks who stopped by our little corner of the www.

Do scroll to the bottom, the ad that Google's algorithms chose for the original page is proof-positive that they will one day rule the world.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Looking at the pictures in the post below I realized I'm tired of winter.
The lady attorneys are talking about how the spring fling in the Bahamas might not compare to the St. Tropez Regatta and I'm humming Southern Cross*
(and "I like big Butts"; help).

The ideal candidate will be 28 with twenty plus years at the market.

- Blogging: 80 seems to be the cutoff.
-Trading: a buck-fifty will still find ways to lose money but the rationalizations will be pure poetry (see below).

Field ecology or equiv.
(counting bugs in a square meter, not "Ain't Knut cute")
Structured finance experience and a bored superiority required.
Nobel Laureates need not apply (see: LTCM)

Conversant with state-of-the-art quant theory
(for when the Thursday evening party starts dragging)

Interest in just about everything a plus.
(BIG bonus credit if you can make Marxist polemic exciting)

Salary: negligible.
Bonus: see essay question.

Essay question: Can you trade your way out of a paper bag? Explain.

Use of French, German or Mandarin at inappropriate moments okey-dokey.
(exception: use of "jejune" or "poseur", which will terminate the interview and possibly the interviewee)

Writing ability: Booker Award or equiv. and 500 words explaining why the first line of Blake's "Augeries of Innocence" is superior/inferior to Betjeman's "A Subaltern's Love Song".

Marketing: Design, plan and implement

Brit Poetry Smackdown 2008.
Blake vs. Betjeman
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun,

Email query letters to, attach two good jokes.

*(Live version)
*How can you beat a (trading) coda like this:
...So we cheated and we tried and we tested
And we never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do
You will survive being bested
Somebody strong comes along, makes me forget,
forget about loving you
And the southern cross

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