Sunday, March 30, 2008

Post# 9 - The 'Young Turks' of The TSE (3)

The Young Turks. This is the best way I can describe the group of younger, mostly male, hard working, harder partying floor traders from my early days on the floor of the TSE. The adrenelin and bravado and the money created many interresting moments both during work hours and most especially after hours.



In my career as an Arb trader I had to deal with almost every 'Pro' trader at one time or another. There were certain Pros' that I had to deal with more than others depending on the stocks I trading at any given time. When I traded lots of RCI.A & RCI.B, Rogers Cable stock I had to deal with Johmmy Massin in the GM square quite a bit. That was usually a nice calm square to hang out in and GM Johnny was rarely overly excited. The other Pros in the area were fairly calm types as well. Pros like Dave Bond and Lenny Amon were like kittens in the lion's den. At least in the way they treated other pros' compared to how some other traders often acted, which is to say...viciously! Then there was the area where Mike Gartner traded, which was the same area as Pros Bobby Churchill, John Morrison, Dixie Duggan, Denis McColgan and several other very hard assed traders who rarely took prisioners. Did I mention...viciously?

Having butted heads with Mike as often as I did we developed a mutual respect and slowly became pretty good mates. Mike was as hard assed a partier as he was a trader, and he was a really good trader. If you measured 'good' by the amount of money you made, then Mike was very good. Mike learned his chops unter the close tutaledge of one of the Vetran greats, Dixie Duggan. Dixie was a very serious guy and had alot to offer an up and commer like Mike was in his early days. They were great friends and Mike was very lucky to have Dixie watching his back. Mike, with his well earned, substantial ego, would probably never admit how much Dixie had to do with his ultimate success as a trader. However, if you were to ask the people that would know of this process between Mike and Dixie, few of them would ever discount Dixie's worth to Mike.

Mike was a 'shooter' trader and a very good one. I loved watching him in action. He always had this wonderful smirking face when he traded and you couldn't help but think that he knew that he was winning the game. He was!

I had some great parties with Mike. On occasion, and when we felt the need for heat and if we were just bored enough, we would get a crew together and grab a limo and head down the road, an hour and a half, to Buffalo, to the Anchor Bar for their world famous 'Buffalo Wings'. We always had them with suicide sauce cause' it just made us drink more and more and that was the point. Sometimes we would take in a hockey game while there, sometimes we would just have the wings and about a million American beers.

Mike is still in the business today, as are many of my friends. In Mike's case I believe he is still in the business more because he wouldn't know what to do if he wasn't a trader. It's not because he doesn't have enough dough to retire or just relax more...He just wouldn't know HOW to relax or retire. Adreneline junkies have a really tough time going 'cold turkey'. It would probably kill him to do anything, or nothing else.

I always enjoyed my time with Mike. Although he is nearly impossible to get close to, we were pretty good pals but not really good friends. When I needed a change of scenery from the Burns Arb, as good as they were, it was Mike who talked Dixie into offering me a job trading Pro for Nesbitt, which I accepted. I will always appreciate that because in our business, the trading business, if you recomend someone and call in a favour for that someone, that someone better not screw up. To this day there is still a sneaking suspicion, deep in my head, that getting me to trade Pro, far away from Mike and Dixie's area and having Burns have to try and come up with someone as effective as I was in that square, was part of the reason for the helpfulness. My replacement in the square was not much to speak of and Mike later told me that it was so easy to play this 'new' guy that he actually missed my aggrivation. Makes a guy think..haha!

Mike had alot of friends both in the 'old school' and within the 'young turks'. His popularity was easy to understand. He worked for Yorkton Securities, where another friend of mine, Pier Donnini, became a wheel which fell off in a spectactular way. That, however, is another story. 'Teaser Alert'! That story, and the stories of the other 'bad boy' friends of mine that have gained one sort of 'infamy' or another, will follow in this blog at a later time. I will study the laws pertaining to those disclosures just a little before I discuss my litigious friends and their indescretions. Hi Larry! haha

Mike now works in an office to do his trading as do almost all the other office clones who used to populate the floor. Forced into the 'clone wars' with the death of the trading floor and the floor trader. Mike and his great 'floor' personality are definately out of place in an office and off the floor. All of us would be and are. I for one was never able to, nor did I have to, choose a move to the office to trade. I got out, well I was screwed out, which is another post, but nonetheless I was out before the machines took over and killed all the floor traders. For that I am eternally greatful. I hadn't seen Mike for 11 years of so and I am looking forward to seeing him at the reunion. I hope to hell he hasn't gotten old. He has a Harley now, the new middle aged Porsche replacement for mid-life crisis control. I bet he looks great on it. I should take one and go for a long ride with him one day...maybe to Buffalo. Maybe have some wings. Probably not quite as spicy and definately not with as many American beers!


I have said a great deal about Curry in the preceeding pages. That's because he was my first boss and we shared some great times together.
Let me say, if I haven't all ready. that I love this guy. Ok, relax's man love. He gave me an opportunity to go where few men have gone. The opportunity to experience what few men have experienced. The opportunity to have been a member of the most elite and elusive jobs in the world. The opportunity to have made so many very good friends and acquaintences which I would never have without his intervention. The opportunity to have an exciting career and make lots of money while having more fun than I ever had a right to. Yeah, this guy Steve Curry was important in my life's direction and for that alone I owe him eternal thanks.

My memories with Steve are endless it seems. I will just give you some brief highlites and I am sure you will get the message. Steve was a drinker. A REAL drinker. Almost every single social moment with Steve involved our being totally hammered. SO many nights in the Cork Room. So many nights that lasted too far into too many mornings. Some of the best times were around the famous and entirely infamous Montreal 'Oyster Party' weekends in, of course Montreal. From all of our perspectives, as traders on a real 'Exchange' floor, and in consideration of the fact that Montreal had an exchange, which they called a 'boursse', Montreal was good for two things. French women and more french women. Where was the best place to find french women in Montreal...well almost everywhere. Where did we go to 'find' these french women? Club Super Sex, that's where. And when we went there, Steve Curry was the king. On one night there which started at about midnight, Steve dropped something like $1400. Those were like 1983 dollars so that would be about a million $'s today.

At that time it was about $5.00 for a dance. A naked french girl would dance in front of you for as long as it took for the song to end, say 3:00 minutes. Well if you do the math it should boggle the mind as to how he actually drank and lap danced away that amount of money. That was just for him. Radar spent something like $700. that same night in the same club, so it wasn't like Curry was paying for anyone but Curry. Well, back to the math, that amount over the three hours we were there would pay for about 200 dances and 100 drinks! Seem like alot? Welcome to the world of the floor trader. Welcome to the world of Steve Curry and the rest of us...crazy bastards at the best of times!


The first time I met Rick was, I believe, the first day on the job at the TSE. He came up to the booth to chat with Chris Martin and barely noticed my presence. Chris didn't introduce us and I didn't introduce myself. Rick was making plans to go to the Cork Room after work to have a few pops.Where I actually met Rick, in the traditional sense, was in the guys can in the Cork Room later that night. He was one of a group of about 6 prople piled into a cubicle of sorts doing what people would do in those circumstsnces. What else! As we got to know each other I soom came to like Rick, mostly because he had such a great sense of humor. The humor was a very common thread among the group on the trading floor. Rick also was a hockey fan and played pick-up games. I was also a hockey fan at that time and had seasons tickets to the Leafs, which was cool. I was always going to games with different people and when Rick and I went it was always cool. Rick's brother and I split the seasons tickets a year later and it was all good.

One of the interresting things I did while I was working on the floor was to coach the TSE hockey team, the Rockets. I still hold Dave Richardson in some contempt for my having to be associated with a team of men playing a men's game and having a lame girly name like 'rockettes' haha. Anyway, Rick was one of, if not my favourite player, on the team. He was my kind of player...gifted and dirty. hahaha. Yes you were Rick, don't lie! Rick was also an excellent goal scorer which on our mentally and talent challenged team was a gift from God.
He played with great intensity for an industrial league and he always showed up to play. We were in a playoff series against a team that kicked our arses all season and we were down in the series 2 games to 1 and down 3 to 1 in the third period when a cool brawl broke out in front of the opposing net after Rick had scored a goal to make it 3 to 2 in the game with 10 minutes to play. Scoring wasn't the thing that started the little brawl, it was Rick bringing his stick up into the air to celebrate his goal in a calculated manner and kind of banged his stick off the face of one of the other defensemen. The guy went down like he had been shot and Rick looked like he didn't notice. The opposing center DID notich and made a bee line for Rick and banged him hard with a crosscheck which Rick responded to with a fine spear to the nuts. This didn't seem to calm the other guy down and he gave Rick his stick over Rick's head, breaking Rick's CCM helmet, popping out a rivet and leaving an actual crack. After this scrum ended in this 'no-contact' game, Rick was assessed a 2 minute minor for the stickwork and his over aggressive assailant was assessed a 5 minute major for the head shot to Rick and a game misconduct for intent to injure. When Rick was in the box and we had a power play. Henry Brazil scored to tie the game. With about two minutes to play and the other teams best scorer thrown out of the game, Rick scored the winning goal and did a fine salute to the other bench in his little celebration.

Rick and I have many many memories together and I cherish almost every one of them. I say almost because in some of our times together I might have lost consciousness for any of a number of reasons and might not necessarily have cherished those actual memories. haha!

I always considered Rick a friend and I always will. I hope it's mutual.
Rick was great friends with Bill Walsh, who had been a friend of his for most of their lives, John Moir Jr., Chris Martin, Stevie Gilbert, Jack Harvey, Matt Taugher, Jack Dunbar, Joe Turner and I am glad to say, me.

Now Rick, I could have gone into much detail about your notorious reputation as a ladies man and a heartbreaker of some renoun...but, I didn't. I also could have related a wonderful funny story about you and an incident at Sammy's that Chris shared with me recently...but I didn't. I didn't because discretion is the greatest part of valor or something like that and I know Rick didn't really want me to write anything about him. Mostly I think because Rick is a humble guy, but also, like the rest of us, because he has an interresting, kind of exciting past.


Bill and Rick were great friends, as I have mentioned and they had much in common. They grew up together, played sports together, lived together,dated girls together, had friends in common and worked, obviously, in the same business. They were both big hockey fans, but Bill was a Red Wings fan. A HUGE Detroit Red Wings fan. Bill was a client trader for DS I believe, which was a good gig. I didn't have much of a trading history with Bill but I do have a cool social history with him. I spent alot of time listening to Bill talk about what a great team the Wings were, which they were. Compared to the Leafs they were a powerhouse to the Leafs' shithouse. It was the Ballard era, the middle of the worst of the Ballad era, and there wasn't too much to chirp about if you were a Leafs fan. Bill was a huge Steve Yserman, Probert and Federov guy and who could blame him. I remember lots of great conversations with Bill, Lenny Webb, Bill Webb and myself, mostly about hockey. Bill was a hockey pooler like myself and a goon pool vetran as well. Might even have won one.

I partied alot with Bill and he was a really cool cucumber. He wasn't overly excitable but you had the impression that if you pissed him off just the right amount, he would, I don't know....kill you! Just kidding...or am I Bill? haha.

Bill was good friends with Rick Walker, Terry Blackwell, Jack Harvey, John Moir Jr., Chris Martin, Matt Taugher, Jack Dunbar and Stevie Gilbert. Also friends with many other guys and girls, Bill was well liked.
I enjoyed visiting Bill's assorted residences for parties. The Bayview and Eglinton house was the best with the Seneca townhouse being a close second.

I haven't seen Bill for over 11 years, maybe as long as 16 years and I am excited to see him soon. Bill is out of the business these days and it will be good to have some of the years since I've seen him in filled with detail when we talk. I always liked Bill and I am sure I always will.


Although Jack might not have been a 'young turk' in years, he absolutely was an honorary member and a very deserved one. Jack was a vetran trader when I started on the floor of the TSE and was a client trader DS. Jack was a party animal and fit right in with the group 'peter pan' syndrom that overwhelmed all of us on the floor. One of my first memories of Jack was at a Jimmy Barkwell party on Wellington. Jack was on the patio with a large group of partiers and was laughing uncontrolably. This laughing lasted for about 20 minutes and it was hilarious to watch and listen to. He was hammered and was the absolute life of the party, which considering the group he was with, was saying alot.

Jack was always great at happenings like the 'bun toss' parties. The Bun Toss was a semi-formal party, usually at a very upscale hotel banquet hall with very good food and drinks and a full contingent of floor traders. At such meals, there was enevitably a bun at every plate, you know, for dinner. A dinner roll. As the tradition went, and these were pretty loose rules, we would wait till after dinner when the little speeches started , and then pick out a likely terget and let them haet the bun, usually right in the head. Then, everybody in the place was throwing buns at everybody else. Yeah, we were big time floor traders at the Toronto Stock Exchange. Man, did we ever know how to have fun. When it came to knowing how to have fun, Jack was at the front of the line.

I enjoyed Jack's company alot. Jack was indeed one of the really 'good' guys on the floor and I only hope he is happy and doing well. I wish him nothing but good!

To Be Continued (Part 4)

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