Yet Another Example How Wall Street Ruins Our Fun: Opening Line

We hear there was a time back in the day when the marijuana scene was an exciting and mystical era of illicit fun. We’ve heard the stories of copping from a friend of a friend after furtive phone calls that ensued from clandestine introductions, peppered with obfuscatory euphemisms intended, ironically, to clarify the desired transaction and terms.

We’ve been told that the sense of wonder and discovery both in the consumption of the substance and in the daring required to obtain it was illuminated by various visual media, like posters that would glow when you swapped out the regular bulb from your bedside table lamp for a black light model you could find in a back room at Spencer Gifts (along with the posters) devoted to these visual aids.

It is our understanding that a community sprung up around this lifestyle with the soundtrack of early FM radio as contacts were developed -- tentatively at first, as if it were the French Resistance -- after that moment of relief when one person learned the other person was “cool.”

We’ve been regaled with tales of magazines like High Times, which is said to feature full-color photography -- centerfolds, even -- of this Schedule I narcotic in plain view of authorities, as well as instructions on its cultivation and advertisements for the latest technology in paraphernalia.

But no one told us about the private-equity funds, and that those days are over.


Darden Restaurants reports earnings today. Check Bloomberg TV for a look at Chief Executive Clarence Otis’s plans for Darden after he spins off the Red Lobster chain. If he spins off the Red Lobster chain, that is.

There are no U.S. economic indicators scheduled today.


+ The exonerated defendants in the “Central Park Jogger” case will receive about $40 million from New York City in a settlement of their wrongful convictions. + Scott Walker illegally participated in coordinating fundraising as governor of Wisconsin, prosecutors say in unsealed court records. + A federal investigation of the Christie administration in New Jersey is gathering momentum with the creation of a second grand jury and an increase in Justice Department and FBI staff assigned to New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman’s probe, Esquire magazine reports. + California’s Kevin McCarthy was elected House majority leader, as expected, and Louisiana’s Steve Scalise was chosen majority whip. + Expanded disclosure of campus sexual assaults will be required under a proposal announced yesterday by the U.S. Education Department. + Reparations for black Americans were accidentally approved in Dallas County by commissioners who didn’t read the resolution for which they were voting. + Doctors aren’t sure how to stop this Ebola outbreak, now Africa’s deadliest. + Presbyterians in the U.S. have voted to accept same-sex marriage. + An overhaul of the U.K. tax-filing system that cost 273 million pounds ($465.5 million) has failed to reduce the number of incorrect returns, which is estimated to rise to 5.5 million in 2013-14 from 5.2 million last year. About 3.5 million people paid too little. + The presumed oldest person still sought in connection with the Third Reich, 89-year-old Johann Breyer, has been arrested in Philadelphia. + The first all-electric Harley Davidson motorcycle reaches 60 MPH in four seconds. + Rex Ryan and Kanye West will be featured on Bloomberg TV today. + Gerry Goffin, who with and without ex-wife Carole King wrote the lyrics to some of pop music’s most affecting songs, died yesterday at 75. + It’s triple-witching day. + It’s also Take Your Dog to Work Day, or, as we call it in the Opening Line bureau, Friday.


Today’s Cities column introduces the irony one gets when prostitutes and strippers lament their sin district going to seed by the arrival of ostensibly (more) legitimate businesses and housing.

The parallels to the transformation of New York’s Times Square are obvious, although what’s displacing the sex of Soho sounds, according to the story by Neil Callanan and Patrick Gower, a lot more upscale than the Broadway stuff.

It’s a funny thing, gentrification. In some ways, it’s a self-defeating exercise. The search for cool invariably lands in places with rough edges and then smooths them out. What’s new is interesting for a while, until it gets old and the process repeats itself. The real character is lost and replaced with a contrived character.

Part of the story recounts how police were ordered to close properties and otherwise legal brothels in a December sweep of 40 premises supposedly tied to such crimes as rape and human trafficking, yet six months later they wouldn’t say whether anyone had been prosecuted for those crimes. Which is curious.

A world-class city needs to have a neighborhood where you can get in trouble, you know? Remind us to tell you about that night in San Francisco that ended in a gang bar in the Tenderloin.


Imagine your job is to stare at something all day and all night. You’re waiting for something to happen, which it rarely does. The thing that your waiting for, however, is the potential for wide-scale disaster, or at least that’s what you think might happen, so the stakes might be pretty high.

Now, you’re convinced of your beliefs in this pending catastrophe because you’re a trained scientist, but the object of your concern is pretty out there, so to speak, so you’re not getting a lot of traction. Think Chicken Little with a pocket protector.

You even get support from a very reputable bunch of scientists who say, yes, this guy’s right to be worried, and from the insurance industry. One thing about money: It will sniff out threats others find dubious well ahead of the curve.

This is where we find William Murtagh, program coordinator for NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, and his colleagues. Sitting in an office that looks like a boiler room, the center is monitoring the sun 24 hours a day, waiting for it to unleash an electromagnetic whammy that could rain havoc upon Earth.

If he’s right, power grids could fail, electricity transformers could pop, blackouts could sweep across the land, and communications and pretty much anything you use to take pictures of food with will be inoperable, or at least won’t have much to connect to, Stephanie Stoughton reports today.

But like much that relies on the intersection of science and government funding these days, the center is struggling for funding and believers.


Brian Sullivan, our weather guy, sounds antsy. Like a guy spoiling for a fight.

“Storm Group: There is a micro-blob off the coast of Florida. I am not sure if they are just tracking it for practice or what. It has a 0 percent chance of forming in the next two days and in the next five days. But there it is. So, we’ll watch it and probably watch it vanish from the map.

‘‘As for the rest of the U.S. weather picture...not much is happening. The weather for Montauk is supposed to be nice this weekend. Ditto for Cape Cod. The Jersey Shore, not so much, but Sunday looks to be the best of the two days so far.’’

Enjoy the lull while you can, Sully.


People who swim against the current to fight for unpopular causes are the heroes in life. To sacrifice comfort for principle has always been a rare quality, especially in those leading otherwise relatively comfortable lives.

Jeanna Smialek profiles one today, Lee Badgett, a gay female economist who called B.S. on assumptions about the economics in the homosexual community and has proven it with data -- the assumption being that gay people always seem wealthy and happy, etc.

Badgett, 54, director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has become a crucial voice and expert as the nation awakens to acceptance of gay marriage and of the LGBT people we live among and work with every day. As Smialek reports, Badgett’s research in the economic losses that follow discrimination is putting more motivation behind some of the change in attitudes.

Money. It always comes down to money.

Well, while it’s a shame that the argument about the benefits to life found in the acceptance of our gay friends, neighbors and, ahem, family members has to draw upon financial considerations instead of, you know, just being humanist about it, we’ll take it.


The Broadway musical ‘‘Jersey Boys,” about Newark’s Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, has turned into a movie opening this weekend, and before you roll your eyes, bear in mind that it was directed by Clint Eastwood, and Clint Eastwood doesn’t make crappy movies.

But this one looks close.

We’re not sure what drew him to this project. It’s not his usual milieu, which leans toward darker, more muscular themes. By the appearances of the trailer, “Jersey Boys” looks like he was channeling Martin Scorsese -- it’s all the same Italian-American goomba characterizations, only this time the paisans are stealing hearts, not millions of dollars from a Lufthansa flight at JFK. Eastwood even cast Christopher Walken as a Mafioso for good measure.

But it looks like entertainment.

Also coming to theaters this weekend is the sequel “Think Like a Man Too,” with Kevin Hart reprising the themes of a battle of the sexes between his boys and their ladies. This time there’s a wedding in Vegas, which turns the movie into what appears to be a cross between “The Hangover” and “Bridesmaids.”


With the Tour de France a few weeks away, we’re happy to learn that seven-time champion American cheater Lance Armstrong failed to win dismissal of a potentially $120 million fraud case brought by former teammate and fellow-cheater/disgraced American Tour champion Floyd Landis and joined by the U.S. government.

We’d suggest bringing back the public stocks, but that’s pretty much what Twitter is anyway.


World Cup yesterday: Colombia 2, Ivory Coast 1 Uruguay 2, England 1 Japan 0, Greece 0

Today’s matches: Italy vs. Costa Rica at 1 p.m. EDT Switzerland vs. France at 4 p.m. EDT Honduras vs. Ecuador at 7 p.m. EDT

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