How We Made It Through The Great Recession

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Vol 32 Issue 14

Exxon Donates $70 Million To Clean Up Portland Man's Life

PORTLAND, OR—In a move hailed by environmentalists as its first act of responsibility toward area resident Dan Fanshaw, Exxon Corp. announced that it will donate $70 million toward cleaning up Fanshaw’s life. Among the damage for which Exxon will compensate Fanshaw: his failure to get into medical school, the May ’97 death of his beloved dog Max, and his increasing addiction to anti-depressants. “It’s a mess,” Exxon spokesperson David Haller said. “But we are committed to cleaning it up.”

Chris Farley Has Hilarious Cardiac Arrest

NEW YORK—Obese comedian Chris Farley delighted dozens of onlookers Thursday, suffering an uproarious heart attack at a Manhattan restaurant. “He was enjoying our $10.99 all-you-can-eat lasagna special,” said Il Trattoria owner Ed Gianelli, “when he turned all red and started pounding on his chest. He then flopped onto a nearby table, smashing it into splinters and sending food flying in all directions. I was in hysterics. This guy is the next Belushi.”

St. Vincent To World's Catholics: Stop Donating All This Crap To Me

VATICAN CITY—Frustrated by the ever-mounting piles of used clothing, old magazines and rusting appliances accumulating in his name in thrift shops around the globe, St. Vincent made a plea to the world’s Catholics Monday to “stop donating all this crap to me.” “If one more paint-covered sweatshirt, dented crock pot, or any other piece of thrift-store garbage is dropped into one of my bins, I am going to snap,” said St. Vincent, named patron of works of charity in 1855. “Please, keep your worthless trash—I don’t want it.”

Rubenesque Woman Has Picassoesque Face

HANOVER, NH—Meredith Pierce, 33, a Hanover-area elementary-school teacher, is attracting the attention of the art world with her Rubenesque figure and Picassoesque face. “Her plump form reminds me of the voluptuous servant girl who voraciously eats the roast pig in Rubens’ Flemish Feast (1610),” Oxford University art-history professor Edmund Kent said. “But it is Pierce’s grotesque, asymmetrical face that truly distinguishes her: Her crooked nose and badly misplaced eyes evoke Picasso’s early experimentations with cubism, when he was struggling to capture the fractured nature of modern life, and her severely exaggerated forehead reminds me of Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon and other mid-period abstract works. Pierce’s face is a brilliant summation of the shattered, hideous absurdity of the human condition.” Pierce will be transferred to the Prado next month for a two-year installation.

Federal Government To Be Run By Cheaper Mexican Officials

WASHINGTON, DC—In a cost-cutting move expected to save taxpayers $50 billion a year, it was announced Monday that U.S. federal officials will be replaced by cheaper Mexican counterparts. “I want to thank you for this opportunity. We will do our best to run America as best we can,” said Ernesto Vasquez, the new president of the U.S. Vasquez said he will work closely with Vice-President Guillermo Reyes and members of El Senate and La Casa De Representatives to ensure a smooth transition of power. Vasquez will earn the lavish wage of $3.50 an hour as president, more than most of the new federal officials will earn per day.

Scientists Isolate Pepsi-Resistant Gene

SOMERS, NY—At a press conference Tuesday, scientists working for the prestigious PepsiLab facility announced the historic, first-ever isolation of the long sought-after "anti-Pepsi gene," the basic building block of DNA responsible for so-called "Pepsi resistance" in adult soda consumers.

U.S. Dept. Of Retro Warns: 'We May Be Running Out Of Past'

WASHINGTON, DC—At a press conference Monday, U.S. Retro Secretary Anson Williams issued a strongly worded warning of an imminent "national retro crisis," cautioning that "if current levels of U.S. retro consumption are allowed to continue unchecked, we may run entirely out of past by as soon as 2005."
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How We Made It Through The Great Recession

The year was 1987, a time I'll never forget. The country was in the grips of the Great Recession, the worst economic crisis my generation had ever known. In October of that year, the bottom fell out of the market, tumbling a record 508 points in a single day. Back then I was green as hell, working with discretionary accounts at Tanner & Reamish with little more to show for myself than an office overlooking Wall Street and a few hundred thousand dollars in convertible securities. But I found out real quick what life was like back in '87.

People were doing anything they could to get by. I saw grown men working blue-collar construction jobs, just to feed their families. I saw people buying used cars. In New York City, people were selling pretzels on the street for a buck-fifty, a buck—anything they could get. It was horrible.

I still vividly recall October 19 of that year, the day ever to be remembered as Black Monday. A black day indeed. That was the day the market plummeted those 508 points. The bull market had turned on us, and everything seemed to dispute the invincibility of my colleagues and myself. That was too much for any of us to bear. Many a good broker was sent right over the edge. How was I going to make it through? What about the wife, the kids, the money-market funds? Thank God I had 550 shares of gilt-edged stock in a blue chip tucked away for a rainy day.

Things were hard at home. When we reached the third week of the recession, we knew we were in for a long haul, maybe months of hardship. We faced the difficult decision of either giving up the lease on the summer condo in Florida or nixing my teenage daughter's plans for summer weight-loss camp in France—a decision no one should ever have to face. We'd already stopped getting the pool cleaned altogether. What more could we do?

It was during the Recession of '87 that I found out what hunger really was. When times got tough, I gave up my daily lunch at the Russian Tea Room and started to order food in. I would eat anything just to cut the hunger—sweet-and-sour pork that came in the strangest little white and red boxes, Greek salads that came with plastic forks and paper napkins. Even "sandwiches," like the ones my nanny made me as a child.

The delivery boys were sometimes as much as 45 minutes late. Once I waited over an hour for lunch. But you know what? I still tipped that little delivery guy. I remember saying as I flipped him a shiny 50-cent piece, "We'll all learn a lesson from this adversity. Chin up!" There was an unreadable look of pain on his face as he put the money in his uniform pocket and loaded his heavy, insulated pack onto his shoulder.

That's what was beautiful about the Recession—people banded together. Even though you were barely making it, you helped out someone who might have less than you. If you heard about a high premium or a new tax shelter, if it didn't affect your own convertible securities you'd give that information to anyone who needed it.

During the fourth week, though, when the fear began to set in, I had to let the chauffeur and the gardener go at the house. They'd been with us for 11 years, but necessity forced us to replace them with temp-agency workers. It was terribly hard for me to tell Charles and Ramón to pack their bags, but like I said, those were hard times. I did things that were hard.

Those of us who struggled through the Recession are often portrayed today as "stingy" or "tight-fisted." Jokes are made about how we're still obsessed. Hogwash! Young people today don't understand the meaning of the word poor, the word fear, the word fiduciary. If they did, they'd take my advice and disperse their investments in Keough plans and zero-coupon bonds, and they'd oppose those new-fangled '90s ideas like capital-gains taxes, AFDC and Medicare. They'd also make sure they had enough suits to go three months without dry cleaning, because when times are tight, every dollar counts.

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