Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gordon Gekko

Gordon Gekko, you may recall, is a fictional character from the 1987 film Wall Street and was portrayed by Michael Douglas. Douglas won an Oscar for Best Actor playing Gekko. Gekko is loosely based on arbitrageur Ivan Boesky who gave a speech on greed at UC-Berkeley in '86, and real-life activist investor/corporate raider Carl Icahn. Gekko is one of the top movie villains of all time, and has become a symbol in popular culture for unrestrained greed.

The following letter to the editor was found and passed on from It is obviously pertinent to the current state of affairs with Whirlpool, Berrien County, developers, etc. where greed is unrestrained.

"Gordon Gekko is alive and well in Ann Arbor. He and his cohort have purchased for destruction a treasured historical block in Ann Arbor. People with ample means to live comfortably have systematically targeted a classic neighborhood for destruction to profit at an incalculable cost to those who care about our community.
Some decades ago, the Today show visited Honolulu's luscious windward side with its unspoiled valleys, small, island-style homes, papaya orchards and taro plots framed by the magnificent, verdant pali (mountain cliff). Hugh Downs interviewed a Hawaiian valley dweller who spoke eloquently with the island intonation. As I recall, he said something like this:
'If I went into the city of Honolulu Academy of Arts and splattered paint on a landscape masterpiece, I would be carried off as a criminal. But if a developer came into our valley and destroyed our homes and gardens and built a bulky high-rise, desecrating our pali view, he would be acclaimed a valued citizen and an esteemed pillar of the community.'
There was a long pause during which only bird songs could be heard. Finally the Hzwaiian asked,
'Is that all?' 'Yes, that's all,' Downs replied.
Cityscape or landscape, each is precious and irreplaceable.
How does it happen that this society, this community, rewards individuals for buying up a whole neighborhood of vintage homes and destroying them for profit? Are we helpless in the face of this prospect?
The term 'developer' is a euphemism. Gordon Gekkos are destroyers."
Marilyn Seeger, Ann Arbor