Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Dark Underbelly of Bubbles

Whether we admit it our not, we all long for bubbles. Because bubbles manifest themselves in so many different ways, we may never be completely cognizant of this fact. As children we were consumed for hours by blowing bubbles. (Well most of us, unless your parents insisted you use a diluted mixture of Dawn Dishwashing Soap and a makeshift paper clip because it was cheaper. It never really worked mom! Never!)

When we want to relax and get away from it all, we all enjoy a nice Calgon bubble bath complete with candles, lavender incense and the calming ambience provided by the jazz stylings of Kenny G which is sure to leave you feeling silky smooth all over.

Even in the movie The Wizard of Oz (which CNN talk show host Larry King reviewed in 1939 as the best movie since The Birth of a Nation), Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, arrived to greet Dorothy upon her arrival in Oz in a bubble.

If bubbles are timed correctly, they can also create prosperity. For example, market and housing bubbles provided this in the late 90’s and the first five years of 2000 respectively.

Unfortunately, over time, bubbles burst and saying that the bursting of certain bubbles is bad is like saying that the movie the Hindenburg was a movie cautioning of the risks of unsafe dirigible travel. In recent times, we have seen the negative outcomes brought by erupting bubbles. While the results can be devastating and far reaching, being in a bubble also brings out complacency and a false sense of reality that leads to less than desirable human behavior. In my experience, no place that I know more demonstrates this unfavorable behavior as Boulder.

As for me and the other denizens of Boulder, we are mostly fortunate to live in a bubble. A recent piece in The New York Times dubbed my bubbalicious home town Twenty Five Square Miles Surrounded by Reality. While I don’t feel like I need the Times article to substantiate my point, the bubble that we live in has led to, as well as attracted, many different incarnations of people that are out of touch with reality. In an earlier Blog, I introduced Windsong. (As a reminder, Windsong was the Boulder wannabee hippie chick who taught me how to get good parking spaces). Windsong, however, is just one of many characters whose sheltered life in Boulder has allowed her to be detached from any semblance of reality. In order to get an understanding of whom some of these people are and what makes them tick, I will be interviewing many of them in the coming months.

Today, I am sitting down with Jeremy. Jeremy is in his early 30’s and is what is referred to as a Trustafarian (Boulder lingo for Trust Fund Baby). Jeremy has never really worked since graduating in seven years from the University of Colorado. He is originally from New York and he majored in Economics at the suggestion of his Wall Street dad with whom he hasn’t spoken with in years. We caught up at the Pekoe Tea House for a chat. When Jeremy arrived he was wearing faded designer jeans, a grey, ribbed cotton turtleneck sweater, the smell of cigarettes and three days of growth on his face. His black hair was short and uncombed and he wore thick black-framed glasses. Jeremy speaks in a montone voice and rarely moves his lower jaw when he speaks.

Bocomike: Hey Jeremy, how are things going right now?
Jeremy: My life is so hectic right now.
Bocomike: I can imagine, with the deepening recession and…
Jeremy: If we are in a recession this is the first I’ve heard of it. In case you didn’t know, they just hired a new barista at Vic’s and he can’t make my cappacino for sh#t. It’s like all fu#*!n foam.
Bocomike: Wow that’s awful.
Jeremy: Yeah, tell me about it. I have to drive all the way to the one on 30th Street. Plus, have you tried parking at the Whole Foods lately?
Bocomike: I have a good story about that…
Jeremy: That place is a fiasco. Good luck parking my Hummer there.
Bocomike: It sounds like things are really rough for you right now. So what gets you out of bed in the morning?
Jeremy: A number of things, apparently my maids don’t have the decency to show up until after 10:00am.
Bocomike: Have you entertained any ambitions of career for yourself?
Jeremy: Dude, there is way too much drama in my life right now for something that drastic.
Bocomike: What do you mean?
Jeremy: Well let’s see…I just lost my Blackberry for like the third time this year. It took me all last week to get my new one set up. My girlfriend is totally harping on me to make up my mind on whether we are going to Aspen or flying to Hawaii next week. Apparently First Class is totally full. Plus my car lease is up next week and I’ve had like zero time to research new cars. You get the picture?
Bocomike: I can only imagine. Work could really only complicate things.
Jeremy: I know, right? Plus my dad has me pretty well invested.
Bocomike: Good for you. That is definitely a challenge in today’s markets.
Jeremy: Fortunately we have all out money with this one hedge fund dude so we are in good shape.
Bocomike: Not Bernie Madoff.?
Jeremy: Dude, that is totally him.
Bocomike: Good luck Jeremy.
Jeremy: Have you seen my Blackberry?