But first, COVID.


. . . I guess, seeing as how I have an M.D. and manage a fund, I should write something about the new Covid-19 omicron “variant of concern.” To be honest, at this point I’m more concerned about the potential oversteps of various governments than I am about this new variant, which doesn’t seem to be extra lethal from what we know so far. Governments seem to be making policy decisions as if we’re battling the early stages of a pandemic, whereas in reality we are now battling an endemic, seasonal disease, which for vaccinated people has a mortality profile very similar to influenza; it’s not great, there’s a small chance it may kill us, but there’s only so many reasonable precautions one can take. We’re all going to be exposed to Covid-19 variants every Covid season for the rest of our lives. I think we should all get vaccinated and get boosters as they become available, help other nations to get vaccinated (to decrease the risk of worse variants), wear a mask when we are in a space where we might pose a high risk to immunocompromised people (e.g. medical settings, public transit), and go live our lives. The medical literature strongly suggests travel bans are of shrinkingly small benefit in a situation like this, but they do have real costs for families and for society. Also, by all means, if you haven’t, you should definitely get a flu shot this year unless you have a contraindication; flu is extra tough this year because our bodies haven’t seen it in a while.


So writes Chris Brown, to whose Aristides Capital I’ve had the good fortune to entrust a chunk of my IRA.



And second, SPECULATION.

Back in July I suggested buying puts on three stocks my Guru thought were overvalued.  The one that’s worked out best, RFL, was $60 at the time, $5.66 last night.  We sold most too soon for a quick quadruple/quintuple, but if you have any left, congratulations: the underlying stock was a lemon, and you’ve now squeezed all the juice out of it.  Two others were PLSE, about unchanged, and EVLO, then $13.49 now $8.48.  Guru expects both to go lower.  And in September I told you about PLXP, then $18.48, now $8.48 with further to fall.  Thank you, Guru.

Also: If you’ve not yet sold most or all of whatever crypto and meme stocks you may have purchased against the advice of boring people like me, now would be a great time to do so.   If you want to wait until January so the tax on your gains isn’t due for an extra year — don’t.  If you want to wait until they go back up to their recent highs — don’t.  If they all go to the moon, you will hate me.  But I still think it’s good advice.

On the potentially undervalued side of things, I like to think PRKR is back under a buck because of year-end tax-selling and understandable impatience.  If those are the reasons, they provide a good buying opportunity for those with money they can truly afford to lose.



And now, JOEY’S CAROLINE.

There’s a lot of really good stuff to see on Broadway these days.  I’ve told you about Chicken and Biscuits (don’t read the reviews — the audience laughed its head off both times I saw it).  David Byrne’s American Utopia — more of a concert than a show — is terrific.  And much much, more.  (One easy way to scan what’s out there and buy tickets is the TodayTix app you can put on your phone.)

Another show I’ve seen twice is Caroline, or Change.  I didn’t necessarily mean to see it twice, but somehow double-booked . . . once direct with the theater and then, not seeing it in my TodayTix list, added it there as well.  Listen: I got a lotta balls in the air.

The first time, I got a frantic email warning that the star who plays Caroline would be replaced by her understudy.  But do you know what?  She was wonderful.  The whole audience was pulling for her — and the standing ovations at the end would not stop.  It was one of those Broadway moments. So I figured it would be interesting to see, the second time, how the real star played Caroline.  And again I got the e-mail.  So in case the same thing happens to you, be not disappointed: if you ask me, it is the understudy who should win the Tony.

Anyway, it’s a musical about a Jewish boy growing up with his parents and a black maid, as the playwright, Tony Kushner (Angels In America) — and lots of upper-middle-class Jewish kids in the Fifties and Sixties — did.

Including my friend Joe Cherner (pictured below, being mock-spanked) who saw Caroline, Or Change recently and sent the playwright this letter in care of the theater:


November 13, 2021

Dear Tony,

My Caroline taught me my values. I taught her how to read. For all intents and purposes, she raised me. She took me to elementary school in the morning and to Hebrew school in the afternoon. And I took her to my Bar-Mitzvah.

At home, My Caroline was often my only companion. I’d call her name incessantly while she tried to work. She’d answer, “Caroline isn’t here anymore. She changed her name and took a slow boat to China. Now, go out and play in traffic.” She said things like that, but I knew she loved me.

I pleaded with My Caroline to attend my Bar Mitzvah. She got all dressed up. There is even a full-page photo of her in my Bar-Mitzvah album, sitting majestically in our living room looking at the camera. But she would only come to the ceremony, and sat in the back.

My Caroline dreamed of going to Atlantic City. When I finally received my first paycheck, I called her. She was already too sick.

My parents were kind to My Caroline, but rarely around. My father gifted my mother with a painted, framed portrait. My mother didn’t like it. It lived for years in various piles of debris in our basement.

I begged My Caroline to quit smoking. When she was bedridden and close to death, I drove to her home for the first time. I made my way through a poor neighborhood, got out of my car, opened her building door, and climbed the stairs to her bedroom to say my last goodbye. My mother’s discarded portrait hung at the top of the stairs.

On My Caroline’s dresser were pictures of her children . . . and a picture of me.

She died of lung cancer, and I was the only one in my family to attend her funeral.

Call her the maid if you want, but she taught me my values. And most people and their values couldn’t hold a candle to hers. My husband and I have been married for almost forty years. We have two grown children. I wish they could have known My Caroline. I often think of her. Thank you for telling our story.

Sincerely,

Joe Cherner


Here’s to the Carolines of the world. We owe them big-time.



Have a great weekend!