January 18, 2000

Howling at Nasdaq

By GARY KRIST (With apologies to Allen Ginsberg)

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, the sleep-starved hysterical rich,

dragging themselves to the terminals at dawn looking for a cheap Yahoo call,

unshaven traders burning for the heavenly market lightning to jump-start their joyless portfolios of hope,

who hollow-eyed and caffeine-charged sat up surfing the number-choked screens, whispering the bone-cold litany of Amazon, Cisco, AOL,

who cowered in shadowless chat rooms, listening for the ashcan rantings of bankrupts and motley fools, analysts of delirium,

whole intellects unhinged by Nikkei swings and excess valuations, who bought options in Lucent Lucent Lucent ratcheting down to 52-week lows,

who vanished in the furious swells of late-day volatility, leaving a trail of unfilled execution reports and aborted visions,

who fell on their knees in golden cathedrals of cash, awed and trembling before the pitiless machinery of the new economy.

What sphinx of corporate adrenaline peered into their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?

Nasdaq! Datek! Nightmare of Mammon! Stop orders and all-too-obtainable dollars! Buyers screaming in the hallways! Sellers sobbing on the trading floors!

They broke their backs lifting I.P.O.'s to Heaven! Priceline, Red Hat, U.P.S.! Raising market caps above the catatonic clouds!

Real holy earnings in the trash! They saw it all! The wild eyes! Mad generation!

Jeff Bezos! I'm with you on the Street

where your bullishness infects me with its fire

Jerry Yang! I'm with you on the Street

where your ardent vision engulfs me, a starry-spangled shock of riches the eternal rising O victory

Steve Case! I'm with you on the Street

in my dreams you come home from the sky-wars now in tears, your offer far too much but not enough, the triumph or the ruin waiting just outside our mansions in the night.

Gary Krist is the author of the novels, "Chaos Theory" and "Bad Chemistry."

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