Yale And Danny Do The Pandemic

By Ray Schultz

A Sunday or two ago, I was enjoying a stroll in Central Park when I was almost knocked over by a lout on a skateboard, wearing no shirt and no mask. I was about to curse the Millennials, then I saw it was a particular Millennial: Yale Moss by name.

I tried to hold my temper because Yale’s wife Danny was sitting on a bench not three feet away, wheeling a baby carriage back and forth. And she at least had a mask on.

The last time, I had seen this pair was at their wedding reception in January. Danny’s dad Hal Hall had finally accepted Yale as his son-in-law, mostly because of Yale’s sales record, and had even named him as VP in charge of used car lots and hauling and cartage concerns for the Middle-Atlantic region. And a baby was on the way.

Not that I cared, but how had they been faring and what were they doing in Central Park?  They looked a little gaunt. I sat down with them, carefully social distancing myself, and they told me the story. Yale did most of the talking.

The baby arrived in March and he was named in honor of his two grandfathers. There was some debate over whose name should go first, but Hal’s was chosen because Hal Mo sounds better than Mo Hal when the contractions are used together, and Hal is the billionaire.

Over Danny’s objections, Yale insisted that they fly to Tampa to see his folks Mo and Wendy. But the minute they landed, they were clapped into quarantine because Florida ordered that anyone from New York be isolated for two weeks. The only food they could get was takeout pizza during a three-hour window each day. Fortunately, they had enough baby formula and diapers.

When the quarantine was up, Florida put them on a plane back to New York, and the minute they arrived, they were  thrown into quarantine again because New York was retaliating by blocking anyone arriving from Florida. Here they were given leftover jailhouse bologna sandwiches once a day.

No sooner had the last two weeks expired, with things getting gamier by the day, when they were grabbed by ICE and transported on a bus with barred windows to Easton, Pennsylvania because someone heard Yale joke that they were being  “deported.” They were quarantined again, and left to rot  in a motel where there was no food available at all, and they had to subsist on small packets of Famous Amos cookies and Cheezits from a vending machine.

Meanwhile, Hal Hall’s  battery of high-priced legal help couldn’t even figure where his family members were, let alone how to get them out of this predicament.

One night, Hal was venting to Mo over the phone, and Mo suggested he call Erwin Forrest, a landlord-tenant lawyer who might be able to help. Hal called and Erwin was happy to hear from him because business was slow, there being a moratorium on evictions in New York State.

Hal, a man accustomed to great authority, had to visit Erwin’s office in a rat-trap office on Fulton Street, where file cabinets were kept in the hallway outside the elevators. Speaking over a telecom, Hal explained the problem and Erwin gruffly ordered Hal to deliver $20,000 in small unmarked bills, exclusive of fees.

Hal has never been talked to this way in his life, but he had a certain familiarity with criminality. He sent the assistant who was with him to his office to get the cash from a safe. Then he had to deposit the money into a automated teller’s window in the wall in Erwin’s hallway.  It took a day or two, but thanks to Erwin’s magic, Yale, Danny and little Hal Mo arrived back in the city by private limo.

All three had contracted colds, but thankfully not Covid-19. They were sure of this because the adults were painfully tested with long nasal swabs that went right up to the eyeball at every step of the journey.

Altogether, they  were in custody for two months, and their marital relations were severely strained. Danny threw Yale out of her apartment in the Pierre the day they got back.

Luckily, Yale had won a contract to gut the office of a bankrupt Philadelphia law firm, and the bankruptcy court insanely approved a fee of $1.5 million, most of which was profit.

Determined to save the deal, Hal brought in a telehealth marriage counselor, who advised Yale and Danny to laugh at themselves, enjoy the sunshine and then go isolate in the Hall family compound in Southhampton, Long Island. So here they were, making goo-goo eyes at each other again.

I was happy that the lovebirds were reconciled, but not that happy. When I got home, I found that I had a fever.

Moss In Love

By Ray Schultz

One evening last fall, my wife and I were enjoying some Blue Point oysters at the Oyster Bar when she turned and said, “Isn’t that your friend Yale?”

Yale Moss! I tried to duck under the counter, but it was too late. Yale was on his way over, accompanied by a very tall young woman who looked vaguely familiar.

The last I’d heard of Yale, he was trying to get into the cannabis business. He sent an offer to his dad Mo’s Proclivities database of drunkards, dope fiends, deadbeats and other such riffraff.

The list hadn’t been updated in years, and the people on it were unresponsive and presumed dead. But many now came forward to place cannabis orders.

It might have worked. But then Yale offered an imported hashish sampler and was sued by a consortium of state AGs. He must have been testing his own product because he looked a little loopy.

Yale introduced us to his friend: Danielle Hall, also called Danny. Though Yale described her as a sculptor, we recognized her at once as the scion of the Hall family, the owner of vast real estate holdings, luxury car dealerships and many other businesses, and super-wealthy in her own right.

We got acquainted—Danny seemed gracious, if slightly bored with people at our level–and Yale offered me “a nice piece of opiated hash,” which I declined since I eschew drug use in all its forms.

Yale and I went to look at the desserts, and he let me in on his plan: “I met her online. I’m gonna marry her. In a month, my algorithms will be running the entire Hall empire. We’re on our way to Tampa to meet my folks.”

Now I wouldn’t be in a hurry to introduce a fiancé of mine to Mo and Wendy, especially one like Danny. But nobody asked my opinion, and they left the next day.

Predictably, Mo instantly saw the advantage of a match between the Moss and Hall families, and he arranged to have the couple married in his living room the very night of their arrival by a judge who had fixed some of his real estate cases.

I was relieved—the fact that we weren’t invited to the wedding meant we didn’t have to send a gift. But I didn’t get it. “What does she see in him?” I asked my wife.

“Well, he is a bit of a hunk,” she replied. (Something she never said about me). “He’s the only man who’s as tall as she is.”

I had to hand it to Yale—he had married into money, which is just as legitimate a way of getting it as any other.

Unfortunately, things did not go well in Yale’s initial interview with Danny’s father Hal Hall, a short man with a huge chest and a large round face.

Yale had set up a presentation on his technology (which had been down since May).

“Don’t bother,” Hal growled. “I’ve got the best IT department in the country, and if I needed any help, you’d be the last person I’d turn to.”

Then, as if he were talking to an employment counselor, Yale said he might like to get into real estate development.

Hal hissed, “When my daughter divorces you, I’ll see you end up on the street.”

Under that cloud, Yale and Danny embarked upon married life. Of course, they needed to find a job for Yale, and Hal came through because Danny usually gets her way. But the job reflected Yale’s standing in the business and also, sadly, in the marriage—that of a kept man.

Every morning, Yale and Danny leave her private 12-room residence in the Pierre, Yale carrying a peanut butter sandwich in a brown paper bag. He wears an outfit that looks as if it was issued by a halfway house: an ill-fitting sports jacket, corduroy pants, a shirt and a knit tie.

They enter a chauffeured SUV and are driven it to Danny’s massive sculpture studio in Long Island City. Then Yale is on his own, and has to catch the El to Woodside, and transfer to the Long Island Railroad. This he takes to Rockville Centre, Long Island, where he walks half a mile to a building in back of a used-car lot: the Sunrise Hauling & Cartage Company.

On Hal’s command, the low-level hood who runs the place hired Yale as a salesman on a commission basis—no salary. They expected him to fail—the next step was driving one of the trucks.

Yale sat around for a day or two staring into space. Then he had a brainstorm. Mo has always kept his customer list up to date—it’s far more important than the list they actually sell. So Yale started calling some of the businesses on it, asking if any of them were moving.

Some weren’t happy to hear from him, but you know how real estate is in New York. In two weeks, Yale sold four pretty hefty contracts to factories with all kinds of heavy equipment and computers, and more were coming in as he also worked his father’s bankruptcy list. Of course, he had to go out on the jobs himself, wearing a helmet.

Relieved that the business was starting to show a pulse, Yale’s boss asked him to sell the used cars in the adjoining lot, some of which were on cement blocks or contained stolen parts. Yale was so good at that—nobody who entered the lot, or even passed on the street, escaped without buying a car.

And so, Yale enjoyed some success, probably the first in his entire life. He didn’t make much money by Hall standards, and the pittance he made Danny demanded for household expenses—“I’m sure you want to pay your own way,” she said. But he did receive one token of family esteem.

Hal Hall always bestows lavish gifts on his key employees during the holidays: Cadillacs, Aston Martins, custom yachts. And while Yale was way down the list, he did get a present: a 1985 Chevvy with a badly repaired fender. How do I know? He tried to sell it to me.

Note: Any resemblance between companies and persons is strictly coincidental, etc. 

Previous Moss family misadventures:

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

Your GDPR Security Blanket

I Was A Bitcoin Billionnaire

 

 

 

We Work At The Jollity Building

By Ray Schultz

Work recently took me to a WeWork facility in midtown Manhattan, where an upstart with no standing can rent a few feet of space and establish a New York presence. I waited in the shared space or Hot Desk area, where prices start at $450 a month; the coffee and wi-fi are thrown in. People lounged around with their laptops and smartphones, as they would in a Starbucks. Then there are the offices in back, which start at $450 but probably average out at around $2,500—my interview subject, from a foreign company, was located there. It made me wonder if the founders of this outfit ever read The Telephone Booth Indian, A.J. Liebling’s masterpiece on the Jollity Building, circa 1942. It seems to be built on the same business model.

Mostly occupied by hustlers who tried to make a buck or two by “promoting” people (i.e., swindling them), the Jollity Building had a similar sliding fee structure to We Work’s (in 1942 dollars). At the bottom rung were the Telephone Booth Indians, who simply hung out in in the lobby for free and used the telephone booths; often they could not afford the price of coffee and a pastrami sandwich, but they lived in perpetual hope of making a score.

Upstairs, there were spaces for rent on a monthly basis. But you had to see Morty, the rental agent, who refers to the renters as “heels.” Liebling writes:

Morty usually reserves the appellation heel for the people who rent the forty-eight cubicles, each furnished with a desk and two chairs, on the third floor of the Jollity Building. These cubicles are formed by partitions of wood and frosted glass which do not quite reach the ceiling. Sufficient air to maintain human life is supposed to circulate over the partitions. The offices rent for $10.00 and $12.00 a month, payable in advance. “Twelve and a half dollars with air, ten dollars without air,” Morty says facetiously. “Very often the heels who rent them take the air without telling me.” Sometimes a Telephone Booth Indian acquires enough capital to rent a cubicle. He thus rises in the social scale and becomes a heel. A cubicle has three advantages over a telephone booth. One is that you cannot get a desk into a telephone booth. Another is that you can play pinochle in a cubicle. Another is that a heel gets his name on the directory in the lobby, and the white letters have a bold, legitimate look.

The vertical social structure of the Jollity Building is subject to continual shifts. Not only do Indians become heels, but a heel occasionally accumulates forty or fifty dollars with which to pay a month’s rent on one of the larger offices, all of them unfurnished on the fourth, fifth, or sixth floor. He then becomes a tenant. Morty always views such progress with suspicion, because it involves signing a lease, and once a heel has signed a lease, you cannot put him out without serving a dispossess notice and waiting ten days. A tenant, in Morty’s opinion, is just a heel who is planning to get ten days’ free rent. “Any time a heel acts prosperous enough to rent an office,” Morty says, “you know he’s getting ready to take you.” A dispossessed tenant often reappears in the Jollity Building as an Indian. It is a life cycle.

One of the few legitimate tenants is Hy Sky, a sign painter who serves the heels in setting up their usually unsuccessful scams. He laughs when painting the signs because he knows he “will receive the only dollar that is likely to change hands in the transaction—the dollar he gets for painting the sign,” Liebling wrote. Often, Hy Sky would call Morty to say, ““Morty, pop up here and see the character I got here! He is the most phoniest character I seen in several years.”

The name Jollity Building was fictional, but it was based on a real place, or a composite of such places. Of course, two big differences between Jollity and We Work (beyond the clientele) is that you had to buy your own coffee at a counter in the old building’s basement, and We Work doesn’t have a dance palace on the bottom floor.