Sunday, November 14, 2010

From The Archives: Autumn Leaves

The following is an excerpt from a letter in The Freedman Archives that I titled Autumn Leaves.  The letter is dated October 25, 2004.  Remarkably, nothing in my life has changed in the last six years.

"I'm doing my own investigation," as it were. By inclination and temperament I'm a scientist and a truth seeker. I lack sufficient abilities in the form of creative intelligence, drive, or courage to make any meaningful or universal contribution in any field. But I have found a niche -- or at least sought a niche, however socially maladaptive -- for my curious, questioning, investigative tendencies. My probing, my questions, and my curiosity will contribute as much to humanity as the olfactory "Investigations of a Dog," but I discharge my propensities as I can.

My last place of employment, the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld was a suitable niche for me. The corruption there was mild and minuscule; but the faint scent of rot has been enough to occupy this dog's nostrils for the last thirteen years. I'll never be a Sam Dash or a Ken Starr, pursuing presidents and property scams with equal fervor and fine impartiality. The career of an Inspector General is not in my future, as any sane person would know. But it's enough for me to investigate something, smell something, anything, even if that something is only a stinking bone hidden under a pile of mottled and brown leaves -- and make a report to the higher authorities. Isn't that the role of a dog? I believe it is. I believe that it is the role of a dog to proceed even in very sensitive areas."

In the letter I describe a party at my apartment building billed as "Oktoberfest" that was held on October 19, 2004.  Despite the date, it was warm enough for the building management to set up tables on the front lawn.  I sat at a table with tenants Stanley Schmuelewitz, Andrew Gerst, and a young fellow named Dan -- and a few others.  The World Series was in full play, which dominated the conversation at my table.  I remember David Dickenson, a tenant, got home while the party was in progress; he chatted with someone, but didn't stay at the party.  David Dickenson was a lawyer from California.  I think he worked for the EPA.  He was an affable chappie, a tri-athlete.  I admire the discipline of athletes.  He moved out several years ago.  He's since gotten married and is a father.  I always marvel at how people move on in their lives, while I remain remarkably unchanged by the passage of time.  I have fond memories of the days Mardi was the front-desk manager.  Why did she leave?


Gary Freedman said...

"I'm doing my own investigation" is a reference to Congressman Richard Kelly who was convicted of accepting a bribe following the so-called Abscam investigation of 1980.

When he learned of his pending indictment in Abscam, Rep. Richard Kelly returned his $25,000 bribe to the FBI, making much noise about the fact that 'there was only $174 gone.' He said he was holding on to the money as part of his own investigation into "shady" Capitol Hill goings on. Unfortunately, for Kelly the crime of bribery is not based on how much money you keep, but how much you take.

I suppose it's psychologically significant that that's the one fact I remember about Abscam; that phrase stuck in my mind.

I also remember the fact that former Senator Larry Pressler was the only member of Congress to flatly refuse an Abscam bribe.

So I tend to remember people with integrity and people who are corrupt and ridiculous, such as people who employ cartoon physics.

Gary Freedman said...

"The table was crowded; there was no possible movement you could make that would make everyone better off. And it hardly seemed like fall; green spanned the entire courtyard."

A subtle reference to the Federal Reserve: its Chairman, Alan Greenspan -- and the fact that in monetary policy there's no interest rate changes or other policies that will make everybody better off.

You actually think my friends in the DOJ understand what they are reading? Well, maybe the lawyers with Harvard economics degrees would see my subtext.