Only institutions that go about the old-fashioned business of taking in deposits from customer A and lending them out to customer B should be called banks. The rest should call themselves what they are. 'Parlors' would be appropriate, or 'dens' - words more suitable to venerable betting pursuits.
Somewhere along the way, New York became all about money. Or rather, it was always about money, but it wasn't all about money, if you know what I mean. New York's not Geneva or Zurich yet, but we're certainly heading in that direction. London is, too.
New York has arguably become the quintessential 1 percent city, a city that has been so given over to the rich that you now have to be rich to live here. Or not live here: New York's also a preferred destination for foreign money spent on vast, lifeless apartments in the sky that are occupied a couple of weeks a year at most.
I did a bunch of blue-collar jobs, because I knew I'd wind up with a white-collar job at some point, and I wanted to, I don't know, I just wanted to taste life. I dug graves for a while, I worked as a stock boy in a big department store, I worked in a bank.
Take a random selection of photographs of America in 2012 and 2002 and 1992 and, except for the skinny jeans and the porkpie hats, you'll be hard-pressed to tell the years in which the pictures were taken.
There are similarities between being an editor and a tailor. Tailors have a vast supply of fabrics, buttons and thread at their disposal and put it together to make a whole. That's what an editor does - looks at society at a given time and pulls together the interesting aspects into a single issue each month.
There is a certain ancient civility about tailors that is welcome - especially in modern London, which is now very much an international city, not an English city. They're still a little vessel of Englishness in what is otherwise a pretty rambunctious place.
As any editor will tell you, startling newsroom revelations are generally met with queries about where the information came from and how the reporter got it. Seriously startling revelations are followed by the vetting of libel lawyers.
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi looks in the mirror and sees a playboy of the old school. And men such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Charlie Sheen no doubt look at Berlusconi and think, 'Role model!' Women, of course, know otherwise. They see him as an aging, pathetic buffoon.
In 2004, I wrote 'What We've Lost,' a book about the Bush administration. It sold only reasonably well, in part, I think, because the book was a horrific downer, an unrelenting account of the administration's actions, bungles, deceptions, half-truths, untruths, and downright corruptions.
Arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence. Not a pretty cocktail of personality traits in the best of situations. No sirree. Not a pretty cocktail in an office-mate and not a pretty cocktail in a head of state. In fact, in a leader, it's a lethal cocktail.
As someone who came to New York in the 1970s, I was, like so many of my friends, a certified member of what we now call the 99 percent - and I was a lot closer to the bottom than to the top of that 99 percent. At some point during the intervening years, I moved into the 1 percent.