September 30th, 2008
03:22 PM ET

Don’t be alarmed, says the man in short-shorts

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/30/art.money.jpg]Jack Gray
AC360° Associate Producer

I knew the day would come. I’ve finally been distracted from my campaign against fanny pack-wearing Whole Foods customers who pick fights with the deli counter staff. "I said THINLY sliced. Does that look THINLY sliced to you?!"

As you may have heard, the country is in the grips of a financial crisis. We are being told, of course, not to panic. I don’t know about you, but when a politician tells me not to panic, that’s when I start to panic.

It’s like the time I was on the subway and a guy got on – dressed in short-shorts, with a mullet down to his thighs and calling himself Earth Angel – and announced there was nothing to be alarmed about. I immediately became alarmed.

The trauma of checking my 401k balance has left me nostalgic for simpler times. I lie awake at night longing for the days when Nancy Pelosi’s biggest concern was winning a Mona from “Who’s the Boss?” look-alike contest and John Boehner’s biggest embarrassment was the fits of laughter that erupted whenever someone mispronounced his last name. Indeed, it was a golden age.

I walked by Bill Gates in the hall the other day. Even he looked nervous. But that might have just been because I lunged for his wallet.

The most upsetting part of this is that no one seems to be taking the bull by the proverbial horns. President Bush keeps talking but no one is paying him any attention. It’s kind of like when you visit your Nana and she keeps badgering you about how you don’t stop by often enough. There’s a lot of head nodding and false promises but ultimately you’re just waiting for Wheel of Fortune to come on so you can sneak out of there.

Meantime, as my wallet thins and the folks in Washington do nothing, I find myself envious of the European tourists who stroll around Greenwich Village, flaunting their piles of Euros, wiping gelato from their lips with hundred-dollar U.S. bills and taking pictures of apartment buildings that may or may not have once been occupied by Bob Dylan.

Good for them. Ignorance is bliss. Just be sure to leave the fanny packs at home.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Jack Gray
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Naissa, Texas, USA

    This is so frustrating! Not only do I barely know or understand what is going on, but financially, my family has never been 'secure.' How am I supposed to sleep peacefully at night knowing that there is virtually NOBODY in Washington taking responsibility for their actions? Had they controlled their spending a long time ago, we would not be in so deep! Do they think money grows on trees? Is there some never-ending wallet that they just kept milking money out of? Well, whether there was or wasn't, they took the money, and now the rest of us average Joe's who can barely afford Starbuck's on a daily basis are worried about it as well! Gee, thank's!

    September 30, 2008 at 10:28 pm |
  2. Matt Bucklin

    I have also seen the Earth Angel guy on the subway. He was holding a sign in front of his face, because no one could look him in the eyes, and spent three stops between Grand and the Upper East Side urging young women to follow him and be "saved." Amusingly, the women near me heckled him pretty hard.

    September 30, 2008 at 7:14 pm |
  3. Arachnae

    I would rather suffer for 2-3 years, then make future generations, pay this off for the next 25 years.

    Annette, I don't see where you have acquired the notion that the 'do-nothing' approach will resolve the economy back to growth and prosperity in 2-3 years. The Great Depression went on for more than a decade, and required a world war to get the economy moving again. The DOW didn't recover to its pre-crash level until 1954, twenty five years after the crash. The unemployment was at 25%. People literally starved.

    People who think the worst that can happen is a few years of tight credit and a bad job market are in denial.

    September 30, 2008 at 6:58 pm |
  4. Max in Phoenix, AZ

    That part about the grandma and wheel of fortune is hilarious!

    September 30, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
  5. Monavie

    hmmm, completely agree with Annette, but we will rebound sooner or later!


    September 30, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  6. Julie San Diego, CA

    Jack, you're doing pretty well if you're shopping at Whole Foods. I don't make the trip up to La Jolla, we've got the discount version, Henry's Market, closer to home.

    Love your posts.

    I actually did walk right past Bill Gates once. He's a remarkably accessible guy and I admire the work he and his wife Melinda are doing to immunize children in undeveloped nations. I doubt he's nervous. When you achieve what he has, both in business and philanthropy, even if you were to lose every single penny you owned, you'd still be "rich".

    Short-shorted Mullet Men on subways. Think I'll stay in "wacky California"....

    September 30, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  7. Stacy

    @Arachnae–Ha! I second that request. Come on 360, stop holding out on us.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  8. Arachnae

    Okay, we need pictures of Jack so we can make Cult of Jack icons.

    September 30, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  9. Presley

    Well Thank Jebus, a Jack post!

    Mullets and fanny packs and short shorts OH MY!
    Just soundtrack it all with "Ballroom Blitz" and watch the panic with a beat you can mosh to.
    Voila, entertainment!

    ♥Viva La Jack Gray♥

    September 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  10. kim

    lmao @ lunged at his wallet ......

    September 30, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  11. s smith

    As far as people "in denial" about any financial crisis... I can see their point. If you feel you have job security and are not planning on applying for a car or house loan any time soon, what's the financial crisis?...

    September 30, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  12. HarryEZ

    I have been financially responsible with my home purchase and conventional mortgage loan, which will cost me more than twice the actual Loan amount due to interest, while my retirement fund takes a beating assisted by greedy, thieving CEO's – Yet they will be bailed out. Why can't the responsible Tax paying, Interest paying Home Owner get a piece of the plan at no cost to anyone!!!
    PERHAPS A LOWERED INTEREST RATE, no more than 4%, we'll still be paying into it. ???Trickle Down Please???

    September 30, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  13. Monika

    Thanks for the blog, Jack! You're right: If a man dressed in short-shorts with a mullet down to his thighs tells you not to worry, it's probably good to worry. Especially when you meet him in the subway and he's wearing a fanny-pack.

    But when politicians tell us not to worry and they rather go on a vacation, maybe they know something we don't? Maybe they know that Hank Paulson was just crying "wolf"? You know, like a few years ago, when Bush cried "WMDs". It's called "fear-mongering", Jack, and this Administration seems to be obsessed with it.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  14. Julie Ward

    I really needed that–thank you. Today has been an awful day in my office. This was the last tweet I got and decided to read it quick. Thanks for the smile.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  15. Annette

    I've been watching the news every day, and everyday I like the "bailout", "rescue plan", whatever you call it today,less and less. I'ts like a bandaid made out of funny monery. It's time we as a country, bite the bullet, and pay the piper. I would rather suffer for 2-3 years, then make future generations, pay this off for the next 25 years. We can't keep charging your debt. I think it would be a felony if an individual did what they want to do.

    September 30, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  16. Sleepychief

    Over the last 6 weeks or so, the Fed has pumped trillions of dollars into our economy. That does not include the bailout currently hung up in Congress. All the Fed is doing is printing more money. Doesn't anyone see a problem with that?

    September 30, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  17. DasVenus

    ....at such a time in history, with the economic instability we face.... I needed this chuckle and smile..... thanks.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  18. Susanne Grund

    Would you like contributions to your campaign "against fanny-pack..."? cash or check?

    September 30, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  19. M. R. Payne

    Barack should ask the Treasury Sec and the Fed Chairman to summons the CEOs all the major companies being helped to Washington to give a commitment and perhaps sigh and agreement that funds are needed to help restore the bottom that fell out of the credit market. Congress should involve the CEOs who help cause the problem to help determine solutions with guarantees to the congress and the American people.

    The companies that owned the underlying mortgages should work feverishly to restructure the those mortgages by eliminating interest only, ARMs and establish fix rates and longer terms for people who can afford them. This should reestablish the strength of the mortgage industry.

    September 30, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  20. Annie Kate


    Thanks for the upper – I needed one. I made the mistake of checking my 401K also – for one brief moment while my heart stopped I peacefully thought – well I won't need it after all. Unfortunately I began to breathe again. I know that they say its some sort of physical law that what goes up must come down – but I thought that was physics, not economics.

    I don't think Bush has any answers to listen to. He looked like in his speech that he was just visiting this planet. And Congress can't find the bull to grab by the horns and if they did find it they would have to argue along partisan lines which part of the bull represented the horns.

    I think Congress is suffering from everyone who buys a house goes through – that deep down wrenching doubt about whether you really want to take on this much debt. Maybe we ought to tell Congress just to breathe deeply, vote yes, and think of it as buying a whole lot of vacation homes.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 30, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  21. Terra Hoskins

    Great. Now I'm humming a jingle from the '80s and my co-workers are looking at me strangely.

    "Who wears short shorts?"
    "We wear short shorts!!"

    September 30, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  22. Cindy

    Ignorance is bliss alright...it seems that all of our politicians have this mindset right about now. Instead of working to fix this problem they are on a break and ignoring it! Yet we don't get this same break and we are the ones losing our money every day that they continue letting this go unfixed.

    I guess we all should start being like them...if they don't care then why should we! Heck I guess we all can get on welfare and not have to worry about anything. Let them take care of us for a while and see how they like it. Yeah...they'd probably cut it off so they wouldn't have to deal with it. Just like they do everything else....ignore it and maybe it'll go away.

    BTW...funny post. You are too good!


    September 30, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  23. Abhilasha

    I have the same issues and many of the people I know barely acknowledge the financial crisis!

    September 30, 2008 at 3:41 pm |