HBO's Horatio Alger story for FoHos living in paradise came to a close last night. How did it end? Did they make it? No. They learned that absolutely everyone—themselves included—is a criminal.
Ben Sapstein and his cohort Cam, who can't say anything without touching the person he's talking to, were in a sad state. The Rasta Monsta (so fun to say!) truck with their T-shirts in it was stolen and they had to cancel their delivery to their mysterious Asian benefactor. They had no money left, no way to make money, and they owed Cam's mobster cousin Rene 3 large. What were they going to do?
Ben mourned by fucking his ex and Cam had to go work for Rene, when he figured out that Rene is the one who stole the truck so that he could destroy it and get the insurance money. First, Ben and Cam had to confront Rene and get their shirts back. Rene hooked it up, but he forced Cam to set the truck on fire himself. They bring the shirts to their mysterious Asian benefactor only to find out that he doesn't ship his wares back to Japan, he hires a bunch of Harijuku girls to carry them in their luggage like couture drug mules. Who wants to pay taxes and tariffs and deal with customs when you can save a lot of money (and get frequent flier miles) just buying a few airline tickets for fashion donkeys? And they took his money in an envelope of cash like they were getting paid by the Yakuza.
Ben and Cam better fear for their pinky fingers, because they are now as much a part of the problem as everyone else. As we learned from their hedge funder friend Capo, everyone is dishonest, from the suits on Wall St to the hoods in some back alley in Brooklyn where giant energy drink vehicles burn bright as ambition. And don't you dare sit in judgment from your comfy couch. You do it too. You lie on your taxes, you steal office supplies from work, you take way too many napkins from the pizza place and put them in your winter coat to blow your nose with later so you don't have to buy one of those little packages of Kleenex they sell for $1.50 next to the register at Duane Reade. All our lives and conveniences are built on the backs of the misfortune of others, from the little thefts of napkins to the giant Ponzi schemes that topple entire communities.
America is a country devised on crime. We stole tea from the British and destroyed it. We stole land from the Indians. We try to trick hundreds of thousands of people out of having health care by claiming it is socialism so that a few hundred white men who work at insurance companies can get even fatter. We would probably cheat in the Olympics if given the chance. All of those who try to get out of the game by quitting their job working for a fiendish boss who would sell them out to their possibly gay boyfriends just to get ahead, well, they are doomed to failure. Just ask Ben's ex Rachel. Sure, jetting off to Paris or whatever destination is the cliche thing to do for spiritual freedom, but it never ends well. She'll come back to a New York populated by girls with more drive, connections, and experience than she has. Her life will be a heap of ashes, one from which the phoenix of success will never arise. She will have to become a hobo with a Brown diploma or marry well—the fate she was trying to avoid by fleeing to the continent in the first place. It's either that or elbow her way back into the whole sordid affair.
Yes, there is no escaping the crooked game of capitalism, at least its current incarnation. Even as the aftershocks from the suicide bomb of mortgage backed securities and other fake money tricks the financial types set off still rumble through the country, the dishonesty has started all over again. Our bootstraps are gone. No matter how hard you work and how much you know, the deck is stacked against each and every one of us. The honest road is impassible. Blood, sweat, and tears have been replaced with lying, cheating, and stealing. Keep on taking what you can from the system. Continue your petty crimes and long cons. Let the cash from the Asian mob fund your dreams until you get big and successful enough to sell your company to a corporate dragon that will breathe fire on all the sweatshop workers who make the cheap goods possible. Then buy them at Wal-Mart and save $7.50 that came out of an immigrant worker's pocket. Being a crook is the only way. This is how to make it in America.