Friday, January 16, 2009

Wall Street Frats? It All Makes Sense Now

NEW YORK, New York -- Ever wonder in college how all the dumbest lacrosse players with the easiest major (i.e., Economics) all wound up in Wall Street jobs where the "cream of the crop" were supposedly off overseeing the world's capital flows?

It turns out you may have been onto something. Wall Street's grand poobahs actually have a fraternity for themselves. It's not the cocaine-strewn vortex of free time that your college frat was, though. This frat meets just once a year -- and last week's incarnation of the annual frat party/roast (held, as always, at the fantastical St. Regis Hotel in Midtown Manhattan) featured a rendition of Don McLean's "Miss American Pie" in which the fallen angels of finance sang the doggerel "Bye bye / to my piece of the pie."

The frat is named Kappa Beta Phi -- a corruption of Phi Beta Kappa, the best-known academic honor society. And while PBK's insignia features a hand pointing at three stars, KBP's key (see left) includes a hand pointing at a champagne tumbler, a beer stein and five stars representing Hennessey cognac.

Since this is the Wall Street Journal's story and I'm just parroting their enjoyable piece, just read it here. After all, pick-ups of other people's stories are crap. Which is why blogs are not journalism (at all) and can never replace newspapers (at all) -- but that's another story.

Although I realize I sound like a whiny bitch in writing about KBP, I actually think the idea of this sort of vaudeville roast is pretty intriguing. I'm somewhat impressed, knowing how much bankers (at least at Goldman Sachs) work, that they have time to be this creative. The idea of a night of wit and performance sounds pretty fun -- we'd probably think of it as pretty bohemian today, but I doubt that was the case in 1929. But still ... it does seem appropriate that Wall Street channels its creativity via a fraternity. ... Lehman! You're dead meat, nerd! Ah, finance.

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