ellen_kushner (ellen_kushner) wrote,

A 20th Century Alec Campion?

This 9/16/12 NYTimes in-depth piece on "Wall Street provocateur" Sandy Lewis, "born into Wall Street royalty," makes me wonder whether a modern version of my angry, privileged, righteous man might not be something like him.  While my novels are published as fantasy, I like to anchor them in the real world as much as I can.  Food for thought:

When Sandy Lewis was 10, his parents shipped him off to Chicago and Bruno Bettelheim’s Orthogenic School, an institution for emotionally disturbed children. The first day, he held his breath until he nearly passed out. But he credits the school with saving his life; Bettelheim became a second father.

“He had Bruno’s traits: he was arrogant, controlling, all powerful — and generous,” recalled . . . a former teacher at the school.

. . . He came to conceive of the Street as a drainage system, every pipe connected to another. Inside information sluiced from brokerages to white-shoe law firms to investment houses.  He glimpsed this world when he returned to New York in 1964. He said he sat in the front of his father’s Cadillac limousine, listening as Cy and friends talked angrily about a partner. . . He refused to sit at the Four Seasons trolling for inside tips and paying for call girls for clients.
"He was fired by all the best firms: Salomon Brothers, White Weld, Dean Witter and Merrill Lynch. At Merrill, the chief executive officer at the time, Donald Regan, pursued a system to buy and sell stocks without using the exchange floor. Mr. Lewis came to see this creation as unfair to the public.. . . IN November 1988, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the United States attorney, indicted Mr. Lewis on 22 charges, accusing him of manipulating the stock of a large insurer. Mr. Giuliani was a Savonarola in the canyons of mammon, and Mr. Lewis would fall beneath his sword.

Rivals shared laughs at Sandy the Moralist laid low. The trouble, however, took root not in venality but in his mania to police his industry. He had watched as insiders reaped profits by driving down prices before shares went public.. . . . Prosecutors threatened Mr. Lewis with 15 years if he went to trial. His wife, Barbara, urged him to cut a deal. He argued prison would be interesting.

....As it happens, Mr. Lewis possesses a sixth sense for psychic pain. He can pick the addicted, the sick and the depressed out of a crowd. His fractured childhood and pathological candor give him an expert hand with the singed.

And today, he lives in self-imposed exile on a farm upstate, with his wife of many years. You can read the whole article here.  

Tags: riverside
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