Third-tier US banks and investment firms such as Roth Capital and Rodman & Renshaw jumped on what they thought was their new “golden goose”, pushing for their clients to buy these stocks, whose prices seemed to soar higher and higher. It was not until Carson Block, an investor based in China, decided to visit Orient Paper Inc., a pulp and paper company which his family was invested in, that the truth came out. Instead of a multi-million dollar company doing bustling business, Block found a decrepit building with 40 employees, 1 truck and a yard full of rotted wood. Block published an analysis on his finding, but first “shorted” Orient Paper’s stock, betting that his revelations would cause the price to plummet, which it did. Block made a bundle off this transaction, then started his company “Muddy Waters” to continue finding fraudulent Chinese companies, shorting their stock, then exposing them.
The documentary mainly focuses on Dan David, a Pennsylvania money manager who was initially also pushing these Chinese stocks. Once he realized what was happening, he joined in shorting the stocks. But unlike Block who was satisfied with just profiting from the situation, David has tried to raise awareness and get Congress to step in to protect the investors through legislation. So far, David has been unsuccessful and none of the perpetrators of this fraud has been prosecuted or held responsible. It was frustrating watching several of them be interviewed and smugly deny any wrong-doing. It was also heartbreaking to watch the interviews of several small-time investors who have lost everything in these scams. Mutual funds and pension funds were also fooled into investing, thus affecting even more people. It seems incredible that after what the US went through in 2008, they would not have learned by now that there is no such thing as a “fast buck” and if something seems “too good to be true”, it usually is.
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood follows around the now 90-year-old George Scotty Bowers, who acted as a “purveyor of sexual partners” for Hollywood celebrities from the 1940s-1980s. In 2012, after decades of remaining silent about the secrets that he knew, Bower wrote a tell-all book called “Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars“, which revealed the sexual preferences and shenanigans of a bunch of high-profile stars and celebrities. Scotty was a former marine who worked at a gas station after the World War II, where he met and had a sexual encounter with actor Walter Pidgeon. This led to a new “party service” business for Bowers, who fulfilled any request for sexual encounters by the Hollywood jet-set, be it gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, threesomes or orgies. The sexual preferences of some of his clientele, such as Cary Grant or Rock Hudson, are common knowledge today. But some revelations were a surprise to me, such as the true nature of the relationship between Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, who were never lovers and never lived together, since he was gay and she was a lesbian. I was also surprised to learn of the bisexuality of Edward, the Duke of Windsor, and his paramour Wallace Simpson. Scotty himself boasted of quite the bisexual sex life, including an infamous threesome with Ava Gardner and Lana Turner and many gay affairs. His business ended in the mid 80s with the arrival of the AIDS epidemic and in 1984, Scotty settled down and married Lois, a former lounge singer who is with him to this day.
Carter’s tour with the Raptors ended on a sour note when several years of poor performances by the team, resulting in missing the playoffs, and Vince’s chronic injuries led to his being traded to the New Jersey Nets in 2004. Fans did not take this well, with rumours abound that Carter had demanded a trade and abandoned the city that loved him. For years, the fans booed Carter mercilessly every time he returned to play in Toronto. In the documentary, Vince claimed that he never wanted to be traded but was forced out by a change in management. Eventually the fans forgave Carter and gave him credit for all that he had done for the city. In 2014 while celebrating the Raptors 20th anniversary, a tribute reel featured Vince’s accomplishments and the fans responded with a standing ovation. I watched the game that day, and like Vince Carter, I had tears in my eyes when this happened. The Carter Effect allowed Raptors fans to relive all these memories.