Little New York – You Have No Dreams

Little New York cover

Sounds like a harsh entry for a blog, but in truth it needs to be written. Please allow me to illustrate.

I saw an episode of Castle recently where some guy’s kid had been abducted. When they asked him about ransom the man replied “The divorce left me over $30K in debt. My car has been repossessed. I’m looking up at broke.” Initially I thought that was a funny line, until I thought about it. Now I think it was a great line written by the luckiest writer to ever live.

Many months ago, I rented Little New York which was originally titled Staten Island. This was a really bad movie, so bad it was almost great. It had a couple of actors I liked so I toughed it out. Most of Little New York made little sense, but the story of the mute butcher who not only worked behind the meat counter in a small local grocer, but also disposed of bodies for the local mob was interesting. While you could tell he didn’t like getting rid of the bodies, you could also tell he was happy. He found ways to communicate with his customers and in some small part he managed to live vicariously through them. Even though he could not speak they told him of babies they were having, weddings, graduations, the events of life.

The Butcher

Later in Little New York we find out more about the butcher. He spent his evenings pouring through horse racing books and papers. He did all kinds of calculations to predict who would win the Trifecta. Some time later we see him dancing with his eyes closed in an off track betting place. The teller behind the counter fills us in on why. Every week for 20 years the butcher had been coming in to place a Trifecta bet. Today, he actually one.

While there are many other little stories woven together in this movie, the butcher is the most memorable. Actually, one scene imprints him on your mind. He gets home with all of the money, happy as can be. He pulls out a pad of paper and starts making a list of what to “do with the money”. A new belt, some socks, a couple of other things, then he stops. His eyes fill with rage. He throws away the list, throws out the books and papers, has a massive temper tantrum, all without being able to say a word. My father happened to be watching the movie with me and he asked “What was that all about?” I responded “He realized he had no dreams.” Not that it matters for this discussion, but, we find out later that all he did with the money was stuff it in a plastic bag along with the receipt and shove it in a desk drawer.

Little New York – No Dreams

This is a problem in general with society, but we have been trained to have this problem by those nasty creatures known as MBAs. Their “does it hit the bottom line this quarter” mentality has bankrupted more than one company and created a country which has no dreams. We don’t have a national goal of putting a man on the moon or of building a colony on Mars. Honestly, we really don’t even have a population which believes a future will exist.

Thanks to Wall Street’s DOT BOMB flame out with only a token few prison sentences and the mortgage scandal which wiped out the bulk of the nation yet nobody went to prison, we don’t even look forward to retirement anymore. Social Security won’t be there for us and Wall Street can empty out our retirement account for cocaine, hookers, whatever, without any possibility of going to prison, so while we keep putting money into it and occasionally look at it, we know it won’t be there either. The family home, what a joke! It can lose half its value over night. Thanks to MBAs and Wall Street, far too many family homes are now boxes or automobiles.

You Need $8 Million to retire

Bare Naked Ladies had a tune If I Had a Million Dollars. Good band, nice tune. Sad reality is we each need at least $8 million to retire now. Just like our butcher in the movie, the day we retire we have to stuff all of that cash in a plastic bag in a desk drawer if we wish to be the ones to spend it. Sad, but true. Most people you ask today always give vague answers about what they would do with a million dollars. Most gas station and convenience store attendants can tell you all of their customers that religiously play some lottery game. When you ask those people what they are going to do when they win you usually get some fuzzy answer. Most of the honest ones will tell you “I haven’t thought about it.” The truth is they are looking up at broke and that is as far as their dream goes.

Thank you Wall Street and thank you MBAs. You have turned the nation which decided to build a cross country railroad just to prove they could into a nation which doesn’t look past the end of the month. You have turned the same nation of people who dug a ditch all of the way across Panama despite the fact that every country who had tried it before had failed, into a nation of families living in boxes and vehicles. You are the reason we have no dreams.

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