Ugly Americans-The True Story of the Ivy League Cowboys Who Raided the Asian Markets for Millions.pd

Im going to do my best i said stretching out in the

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“I’m going to do my best,” I said, stretching out in the chair. “At the very least, I’m trying to give people a picture of what it’s like to live the way you do.” I’d been in Tokyo three days, and already I was starting to under- stand the basics of expat life. I’d barely made it through baggage claim when I’d heard my name over the airport’s intercom system— a message in English telling me to head to a pickup area. Outside, I’d been met by two young men, both recent graduates of Harvard who now worked for Malcolm’s hedge fund. They had led me to a glossy black stretch limousine, which, one of them had explained, was Mal- colm’s own, flown over from L.A. Instead of taking me to my hotel, the limo had driven us to a stadium twenty minutes outside Tokyo. Trying to make sense of things, I’d stared at the huge crowd gathered outside the stadium’s front gates: at least a thousand Japanese teenagers dressed in hip-hop gear that seemed more appropriate for downtown New York. A concert, I was told, the American rapper Em- inem; we had front-row tickets and backstage passes, courtesy of one of Malcolm’s many clients. By the time the concert ended, I was half-deaf from the noise and had made a dozen new friends who didn’t speak any English beyond an absurd collection of street hip-hop lingo. I’d been plied with enough alcohol to douse a fraternity fire and had collected a handful of business cards from investment banking clients and assorted fi- nancial celebrities who either knew Malcolm, knew of Malcolm, or wanted to be introduced to Malcolm. I’d been awake for twenty-four straight hours, had eaten things I could never hope to identify, had spent an enormous amount of someone else’s money, and still had no idea where I was going to sleep. Three days later I was still in a haze of sleeplessness, alcohol, and carbodeficiency as my body struggled to adjust to a place that seemed to be designed to confuse the senses. “Well, let me officially welcome you to Tokyo,” Bronson said, sig-
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Ugly Americans | 55 naling a nearby waitress. The jazz band was carefully working its way through a sax-heavy melody, the snaky brass tones rising up the walls. “You’re lucky to have found me. I’m a poster child for the gai- jin trader if there ever was one.” I smiled, because Malcolm had described him with those same words. Bronson was thirty-four years old and had lived in Tokyo for nearly twelve years. He was a trader in the Tokyo office of one of the biggest investment houses in the world, a rising star who regularly earned between two and five million dollars per year. Malcolm had steered me toward him for a variety of reasons. Bronson had grown up in Boston, my hometown, and had attended Harvard. He was the same age as I was and had roughly the same childhood memories— prep school, upper-middle-class mores and goals, etc. But after col- lege, he had made choices that had led him around the world in search of a different sort of life. First London, then Dubai, then Osaka, then on to Tokyo.
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  • Fall '08
  • Staff
  • The American, Ben Mezrich, John Malcolm.

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