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
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
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
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."