Coverage Of Your (Viral) Hometown Deli

Your Hometown Deli: 4.3 stars on 51 reviews
Your Hometown Deli: 4.3 stars on 51 reviews

In mid-April, (famous to the financial sector) David Einhorn wrote a letter to the investors of his firm Greenlight Capital. He wrote about the usual suspects: winners, losers, and justification for the performance. Everyday material.

His overarching thesis, in the letter, was that the stock market was completely broken.

I don’t need to belabor many of his points as even the most common person with access to the Internet knows the word GameStop, but it was one of the bullet points Einhorn referenced alongside Elon Musk’s reckless “jet fueling” of the saga, Tether’s nefarious accounting, and Archegos’ family-office self-dealing. Einhorn sees a system that is fractured:

“It’s as if there are no financial fraud prosecutors; companies and managements that are emboldened enough to engage in malfeasance have little to fear.”

David Einhorn
Letter to Greenlight Capital investors, Apr. 2021

No cops, no regulation, all Wild West.

In Einhorn’s letter, he also brought to light Your Hometown Deli (4.3 stars on 51 reviews!). Since this is a viral story and you’ve likely heard of it, here is the recap that major media outlets have been running with: A small deli in New Jersey made a combined $38,000 over the past two years and is (befuddlingly) publicly traded (HWIN) that has made it worth $100MM depending on its share price – despite closing for basically all of 2020 due to COVID.

Red flags everywhere:

  • The shop’s CEO-slash-CFO-slash-Treasurer-slash-Director owns shares that are valued at $20MM – and he’s the wrestling coach of a nearby institution
  • The VP of the shop is a high school math teacher
  • Neither the shop owner nor the VP takes a salary for their work

Einhorn wrote:

“Small investors who get sucked into these situations are likely to be harmed eventually…”

Einhorn
Letter

That’s the point, here. Meme stock, right? Another dubious investment vehicle, another way retail investors can try and catch and ride a wave that almost always ends with a wish in one hand and shit in the other. End of story.


Oh, and a couple more things, though. The shares trade “thinly on the over-the-counter market,” according to CNBC. The shop’s owner also has ownership in the group that leases the building to the deli. The chairman of Your Hometown Deli Limited Liability Company – Peter Coker, Jr. – owns or is in bed with multiple Eastern equity firms and whose dad was the CEO of a New Zealand-based jetpack company when New Zealand was a notorious front for criminals heavily implicated in the Panama Papers. (Not coincidentally, Coker, Jr. was also the chairman of New Zealand-based Wellington Securities beginning in 2002.)

And oh by the way the deli listed now-disbarred lawyer Gregg Jaclin on its early financial documents. Jaclin just happens to have recently been found guilty of fraud, SEC false filings, “schemes to conceal material fact from a government agency,” and obstruction of justice. Said a different way: Jaclin is guilty of federal crimes relating to setting up shell companies. The SEC entered a “final judgment against New Jersey lawyer Gregg E. Jaclin for running a fraudulent shell factory scheme through which sham companies were taken public and sold for a profit,” they wrote.

Your Hometown Deli: 4.3 stars on 51 reviews

When Einhorn writes about the deli-as-cautionary-tale, that’s unequivocally true. Considering he is a player in the game and the stonks craze is partially responsible for Greenlight’s mediocre Q1 performance, it stands to reason he wants more regulation and to legislate out the unfair play.

But the subtext is the real story. The media reports on the viral nature of the deal but scratch one layer beneath the surface and it’s a complete joke. If you’re suckered into investing in Your Hometown Deli, trust me, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you.

Instead, it’s the Coker family, lifelong tax goons, drawing in people like Jaclin to help launder and stash money.

In 1992, the elder Coker applied for bankruptcy, The Morning Call noting him as a “solvent debtor who wishes to appear insolvent”; a man whose “memory regarding his assets has suffered from selectivity and incompleteness,” whose “sole reported income” is for the $1,800 a month his wife claims, whose filings omit “his multiple country club memberships and his monthly operating expenses.” (Now, Coker is the founder of Tryon Capital Ventures, to which Your Hometown Deli pays $15,000 a month for consulting services.)

On the other hand is the junior Coker who was ordered to pay $1.15MM in restitution for his “work” with Sitework Safety Supplies collecting payroll taxes from his employees but not handing them over to the IRS stemming from the mid-2010s. Coker, Jr. who, in the present, is the chairman of South Shore HoldingsA holding company that “conducts its engineering and property related services in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Macau, Singapore, and Malaysia.” which operates the “ultra-luxury” brand THE13… which applied for a stay in order to not suspend operations because its bank issued a demand for immediate payment of HK$2.48 billion (about $320MM USD).

An American who tried on tax evasion as a wealth vehicle that now operates an ultra-luxury deli in New Jersey.


This family is obviously crooked. The apple didn’t far very far from the tree. In regards to Your Hometown Deli, as Cory Doctorow writes, “It appears that mysterious people, possibly in China and Macau and Hong Kong, decided to park $100MM in a convenience store and got a couple (of) local high-school teachers in on the bit.”

You have probably suspected as much at some point: Rich people know how to stay rich. They know the loopholes, they have enough money to find the loopholes, and, if that doesn’t work, they know how to outright cheat – especially when the “fine” becomes a cost of doing business. We’ll do it the proper way until it doesn’t work for us, then we’ll just pay the fee, apologize, and continue to do it.

The Cokers’ actions are just exposed stupidity but, like seeing one roach inside your house, it means there are hundreds more inside your walls. As Yuval Noah Harari has written, once businesses became entities and had the same rights as humans, a myth (businesses as humans) became real. Capitalists (read: Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations) will argue this protection is necessary for people to take risks thus breeding innovation, competition, and investment in people. And that’s true. But the laws of unintended consequences gave iniquitous actors a meteoric rise to protection and control that becomes almost impossible to dismantle.

That’s what Einhorn is saying. Coker’s scheme was tipped off to Einhorn who exposed it with the help of a viral headline. (No doubt, an SEC investigation will follow.) But there are thousands (hundreds of thousands? millions?) of instances of these actual viruses that plague the stock market. While the fun, viral headline is “look what crazy retail investing has done to the stock market!!!”, the often ignored, underreported, and uncovered truth is something incredibly nefarious.

“Once upon a time on Tralfamadore there were creatures who weren’t anything like machines. They weren’t dependable. They weren’t efficient. They weren’t predictable. They weren’t durable. And these poor creatures were obsessed by the idea that everything that existed had to have a purpose, and that some purposes were higher than others.

“These creatures spent most of their time trying to find out what their purpose was. And every time they found out what seemed to be a purpose of themselves, the purpose seemed so low that the creatures were filled with disgust and shame.

“And, rather than serve such a low purpose, the creatures would make a machine to serve it. This left the creatures free to serve higher purposes. But whenever they found a higher purpose, the purpose still wasn’t high enough.

“So machines were made to serve higher purposes, too.

“And the machines did everything so expertly that they were finally given the job of finding out what the highest purpose of the creatures could be.

“The machines reported in all honesty that the creatures couldn’t really be said to have any purpose at all.

“The creatures thereupon began slaying each other, because they hated purposeless things above all else.

“And they discovered that they weren’t even very good at slaying. So they turned that job over to the machines, too.

“And the machines finished up the job…”

Kurt Vonnegut
The Sirens of Titan, p. 279-280

The Positive Influence Of Technology On Entitlement And Empowerment

Photo of Alexis Ohanian taken 4 May 2017 on the Center Stage at Collision 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Diarmuid Greene / Collision / Sportsfile.
Photo of Alexis Ohanian taken 4 May 2017 on the Center Stage at Collision 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Diarmuid Greene / Collision / Sportsfile.

Technology is (sub)consciously polarizing. While we’ll never have to memorize directions again for the rest of our lives, three-year-olds are now more comfortable with their iPads than their fathers.

After reading that, how did it make you feel? Did you agree? Did it turn your stomach? Did you think it was unfair? In my personal experience (and in my small-sample orbit), the majority of responses to that type of statement trend towards disparagement.

I’ve thought that, too. I’ve made the personal decision to abandon accounts on social media heavyweights (TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter); even being hyperaware of its effects as a means of mitigation, I still experience noticeable depression when I engage with the platforms after as little as one minute of browsing. It colors my opinion of device use and capital-S capital-M Social Media, even though people find genuine joy and community online.

I never want my personal experience to color my opinion of the whole – which would be assuredly inaccurate and wholly unfair. The common refrain from Old People seems to be that the widespread proliferation of a camera trained entirely on the self has naturally produced a generation of narcissists. Though there is evidence that’s not true, the idea that I have entertained that very position is what makes me feel Old. Like when my parents were told weed was a deadly menace, the progression of time will happen regardless of the prevailing philosophies of the day. For most of Gen Z – and unquestionably Generation Alpha – they’ve lived their entire lives online. For developed countries, it’s not “a” way of life, it’s “the” way of life. And that doesn’t make it a monster.

Alexis Ohanian, the Reddit co-founder who very publicly stepped down from the company amidst the Black Lives Matter movement, went on the Bill Simmons Podcast (which you can stream below), and, around the 82:00 mark, Ohanian took the opposing viewpoint on this downside-of-ubiquitous-tech debate. It was refreshing, inspiring, and it was the first time I’d ever heard someone approach it from this angle:

“I’m going to spin it for you. … This generation – the narcissist generation, the digital native generation, (the) selfie generation – they are the first generation to think of themselves as much as creators as consumers of content. And that’s powerful, right?

“We used to watch a movie and we’d be like, ‘That was a good movie.’ And maybe we’d bullshit with our friends after and be like, ‘I would have done this differently, maybe.’ But this generation can watch the movie and actually remix it and make it better and upload it and actually have that remix – whether it’s a movie or a song or artwork or whatever – be better. Even when they’re editing silly videos on TikTok, they’re using pretty impressive editing techniques. They are interpreting culture and content with the mindset of I can create something even better, which is really empowering. …

“So I think it’s good, man. Bring on the narcissist generation of creators.”

Alexis Ohanian
(lightly edited)

I love hearing that. I’ve long admired younger generations’ abilities to accomplish sophisticated video editing on a device with a 4″ screen size that used to take us days and thousands of dollars worth of software and an immobile hunk of machinery to complete. Ohanian has connected a dot that binds a pervasively digital lifestyle to empowerment I never saw before.

It’s enabled access, and not just from a creative perspective but from a literal one, too; for example, technologically creative design in prosthetics imagines new worlds for humans with disabilities. A digitally-native generation will take up that torch and create even more innovative realities – both physically, digitally, and (of specific note) metaphysically. That’s a reality entertained because they believe in themselves, which, as Ohanian points out, began with their entitlement to create made possible by living a life entirely augmented by technology.

Bring it on.

Photo of Alexis Ohanian taken 4 May 2017 on the Center Stage at Collision 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Diarmuid Greene / Collision / Sportsfile.

‘Technology’ As ‘God’

I have long been rolling around the idea in my head that what humans call “technology” is what theists ascribe to “god.” Today, I read this from author Yuval Noah Hariri, which helps to put more words to those thoughts:

“History began when humans invented gods and will end when humans become gods.”

Yuval Noah Hariri

Their refusal to buy the book was based not on my treatment of the theme but on the theme itself, for there are at least three themes which are utterly taboo as far as most American publishers are concerned. The two others are: a Negro-White marriage which is a complete and glorious success resulting in lots of children and grandchildren; and the total atheist who lives a happy and useful life, and dies in his sleep at the age of 106.

Vladimir Nabokov
On Lolita, published in 1955

In the past, censorship worked by blocking the flow of information. In the twenty-first century, censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information.

Yuval Noah Harari
Homo Deus, p. 402

(One of) the great sin(s) against Dataism.

When you hear the phrase “free market,” you probably think of “a market that is free from regulation.” But that’s the opposite of the phrase’s original meaning.

Adam Smith used the term to describe a market that was free from “economic rents”: money earned by owning things rather than doing things. Smith recognized that markets attract parasites – “rentiers” – who seek to drain wealth by “investing” rather than building and doing.

(This) meant that, in the absence of muscular state intervention, markets would become less and less free, more and more dependent on the whims of rentiers who used money to breed money by creating toll-barriers between parts of the productive economy.

[…]

For Smith, markets were only free if they were regulated. But that’s the opposite of the way that we talk about free markets today. Today, a free market is a market where you are free to collect rents: passive income from owning things at the expense of people doing things.

Cory Doctorow
Pluralistic.net

Progress thus appears to be based upon economic inequalities and injustice. This defence of unearned surpluses as the incentive and the source of economic progress takes the revolutionary bull by the horns.

John Atkinson Hobson
Incentives In The New Industrial Order (1925), p. 48,

Ari Menthol 10s

Ari Menthol 10s
Ari Menthol 10s and the accompanying marketing accoutrement

Frustrated by Nike’s lack in creativity and New Ports (sic) successes in marketing something that will kill you in this glossy colorful way, he wanted to make a case study in the form of an art piece that posed a question to both these brands. … Made in China, in only 252 pairs, which is what constitutes a sample run, they were released on the 17th of June 2006, sold exclusively via the Alife and Clientele in N.Y., the sneaker quickly became a sold-out cult classic…

“The Story of the Most Forbidden Sneaker Ever Made”
Peter Dahlgren and Andrea Tuzio

(Finally) available on Ebay.

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The 2 Funniest Moments On Screen In 2020

Taylor Misiak and Dave Burd In Dave, Maria Bakalova As Tutar In Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Taylor Misiak and Dave Burd In Dave, Maria Bakalova As Tutar In Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

I don’t laugh out loud much. I wish I did. These two moments made me laugh harder than anything else I watched in 2020.

Dave And The Milk Table

Tutar Swallows The Baby

The Evolution Of Company Leaders Alongside The Evolution Of The Company

Three Phases of a company often line up with the Pioneer, the Town Settler, and the City Planner leadership mindsets
Three Phases of a company often line up with the Pioneer, the Town Settler, and the City Planner leadership mindsets

I’m stealing these three phases. They came from the a16z podcast, “On Fear and Leadership: Product to Sales CTOs and CEOs” (which you can listen to at the bottom of this post). The prevailing conversation concerns a number of topics that growing leaders in growing startups face: trepidation in hiring an external CEO, all-hands meetings, recruiting talent, handling “title fetishization,” existing without CEOs (“never hire an interim CEO”).

But, to me, the beginning of the podcast outlines how the phases of the company align with the phases of company leaders. Martin Casado, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz and inventor of software-defined networking, delineates three phases through which every startup goes; Armon Dadgar, the co-founder and CTO of HashiCorp, contributes the simple-but-digestible metaphorThe metaphor was originally proffered by Robert X. Cringely in his book Accidental Empires as “commandos, infantry, and police” and later popularized by Simon Wardley. that helps to explain what the leaders of a company should look like within each phase.

Top 20 Songs Of 2020

Top L, Clockwise: The 1975, The Cool Kids, The Weeknd, Roddy Ricch, Architects
Top L, Clockwise: The 1975, The Cool Kids, The Weeknd, Roddy Ricch, Architects

My only real rule in putting this together was that I could not repeat artists. Playlist at the end.


20

“40 Roll – Instrumental”

Chris Turner

19

“911”

Lady Gaga

18

“ooh la la”

Run the Jewels feat. Greg Nice and DJ Premier

Best Albums Of 2020

Best Albums of 2020
Best Albums of 2020

5

RTJ4

Run the Jewels

I can’t let the pigs kill me
I got too much pride
And I meant it when I said it:
Never take me alive

Killer Mike
“yankee and the brave (ep. 4)”

4

Twenty/20 Pyrex Vision

Jeezy

Ask me what I do, I say I hustle for a livin’
Plus I got that 20/20 Pyrex vision

Jeezy
“Twenty/20 Pyrex Vision”

3

Imploding the Mirage

The Killers

Her mama was a dancer
And that’s all that she knew
‘Cause when you live in the desert
That’s what pretty girls do

The Killers
“Caution”

Milken often spoke to students at business schools. On these occasions he liked, for dramatic effect, to demonstrate how hard it actually is to put a large company into bankruptcy. The forces interested in keeping a large company afloat, he argued, are far greater than those that wish to see it perish. He’d present the students with the following hypothetical situation. First, he’d say, let’s locate our major factory in an earthquake zone. Then let’s infuriate our unions by paying the executives large sums of money while cutting wages. Third, let’s select a company on the brink of bankruptcy to supply us with an essential irreplaceable component in our production line. And fourth, just in case our government is tempted to bail us out when we get into trouble, let’s bribe a few indiscreet foreign officials. That, Milken would conclude, is precisely what Lockheed had done in the late 1970s.

Michael Lewis
Liar’s Poker, p. 267-268

The Time Horizon Shortens

That headline is a fancy way of saying you’ve probably felt like you’re missing out on something, that you need to move on to the next thing every other minute of your waking day. It’s most oppressive in media consumption.

“TikTok now has over 850 million users – I have not yet seen anyone try to quantify the billion of minutes viewed/week that converts into, but it’s quite likely that it dwarfs Netflix’s weekly minute view count (which has 195mm users).”

Elena Burger
Is This Profitable?

That quote is taken from Burger’s essay on “what we talk about when we talk about eyeballs,” her exposition on the ever-evasive attempt to ratify the true number of viewers in the streaming wars. That bit was tucked away in the coda to her work; it’s where I found the piece to be the most revelatory: when she compared Netflix to TikTok.

As the companies are branded, one is a streaming service, the other a social network. But they’re competitors. It’s an apples-to-apples comparison that shirks the companies’ colloquial characterizations. So much so, Burger also implies in a nearby sentence that Netflix had to adjust their metric of a view from “watching 70% of an episode” to watching “the first two minutes” – and that it might or might not have happened shortly after TikTok exploded in Q1 of 2020 as lockdown force-fed everyone their phones.

Netflix, via their shareholder letter announcing the change, claims the adjustment to the view metric is to internally level the playing field between long-form works (like The Highwaymen, a two-hour-plus movie) and short episodes (like the 15-minute-long episodes of Special). They buttress the move by leveraging the social equity of the New York Times, YouTube, and the BBC: “But this is how they do it!”

They’re not wrong. But it’s also exactly how TikTok does it. Make it short enough and 70% becomes irrelevant. Two minutes becomes irrelevant. You just watch 100% of the video. It’s how Twitter got you to read 100% of a sentence. It’s why some online publications put a hard return at the end of every sentence. (Paragraphs are hard.)

The casualty in all of this is the preimminent, sustained feeling of schizophrenia created as the moments between your A actions and your B actions are becoming infinitely compressed. Burger quotes David Harvey from his book The Condition of Postmodernity (released in 1989!):

As space appears to shrink to a ‘global village’ of telecommunications and a ‘spaceship earth’ of economic and ecological interdependencies … and as time horizons shorten to the point where the present is all there is (the world of the schizophrenic), so we have to learn how to cope with an overwhelming sense of compression of our spatial and temporal worlds.

David Harvey
The Condition of Postmodernity, p. 240

That’s the fancy way of saying FOMO because we don’t actually cope with that “sense of compression.” Instead, it’s that abiding feeling when your attention span has shrunk to the time it takes you to watch a TikTok video and your brain already feels like it needs to move on to the next, causing a wake of mental pollution and a guilt of wasted time – you can remember 30 minutes ago when you aimlessly opened TikTok but now your legs have fallen asleep from sitting on the toilet too long. (And, in a previous life, that same amount of time would have been eight minutes longer than a cable-ready sitcom. But cable is already dust.)

I present it without subjective opinion, more so because, for me, it has realized the link in the chain from America’s pasttime of going to baseball games to going to the movies to sitting around a television set with dinner to binging Netflix to sharing a :15 second TikTok video. I don’t like to fight progress; objectively, this is how humanity will move forward. Your mind is your own personal world, but it’s likely you have felt that same forward movement compress so rapidly and felt it overcome so many “spatial barriers that the world sometimes seems to collapse inwards upon (p. 240)” you.

It’s fascinating to think about what will happen when our minds either a) break down, or b) catch up to those gaps in the time horizon and slow it down.

U.S. Election Graphics from CBS News, 1972

Designers love trying to emulate classic graphics but almost nothing comes close to the real thing.

1972 Text
1972 Pattern

Visit Link: 1972 U.S. Election Graphics from CBS News »