Saturday, March 21, 2015

They Died With Their Boots On

One of the recurring themes I have been writing about now for decades is how Hollywood and mainstream media like films and television portray real estate developers as always greedy, manipulative, and evil.  In the one hundred year history of the modern cinema I cannot name a single film where real estate owners or property developers are portrayed in a positive light.  This despite the fact without real estate developers everyone in the world would be living in caves.

This issue is relevant and important since the public gets its impressions of the real estate world from the media.  When you go to a zoning board meeting for a permit or try to get an easement on a piece of property you are fighting a century of Hollywood stereotypes.  You are Simon Legree in the flesh.

Most media portraits of real estate developers are like this one.  In the 1980 film USED CARS starring Kurt Russell, the evil real estate owner who owns a used car lot across the road from Russell's place is trying to drive him out of business so he can steal the land under it.

The greedy developer, played by the always reliable Jack Warden, knows a new highway is coming through the area which will make the land worth millions.  But this plot is typical.  It only involves a single land lot.  Just one.

I recently watched a classic film where real estate developers were not only trying to steal millions of acres of land and commit genocide to do it but were complicit in the murder of a national hero.

THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON is the 1940 film starring Errol Flynn as the legendary George Armstrong Custer and Olivia de Haviland as his loving wife Libby.  In this highly fictionalized version of Custer's Last Stand at the Little Big Horn, Flynn is betrayed by a real estate company led by actor Arthur Kennedy and his father, actor Walter Hampden.

Custer is offered a chance to become an investor in the fictional real estate development company but declines since he does not want to antagonize the local Native American population.  But Kennedy and Hampden go ahead with their scheme, selling liquor and guns to the Indians, and then fabricating a story about gold being discovered in the Black Hills of eastern Montana and South Dakota.  When white settlers rush into the land in the quest for gold, the Indians naturally retaliate setting up a confrontation between the American Army and the tribes of the Great Plains.

In the film, Custer even sacrifices his own life in a suicidal charge against Crazy Horse's overwhelming force to buy time to save an infantry brigade.

Almost none of these facts are true.  Custer never intended to die at the Little Big Horn, in fact, he boasted shortly before the battle he would be home soon since no Indians could defeat him.  There were real estate developers and speculators in the Black Hills but most followed the Army into the area since they risked death for trespassing on native lands.  Gold really was discovered there.  No developer had to pitch a phony story to settlers.

In the movies and on television, real estate developers usually want to steal some land to make a quick killing.  In this film, they tried to steal an entire nation and wound up with thousands of bodies of their hands, both Indian and calvary alike, including a national hero celebrated for his heroic Civil War exploits.

Remember this image the next time you want to get some land rezoned.  Custer's Last Stand is somewhere in the back of the zoning board's mind.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Real Estate Guru Rapist

The sheer depravity of real estate gurus never ceases to amaze me because I expect the unexpected.

Selling bogus get-rich-quick home study courses and seminar tickets and scamming innocent hard working people out of their savings and credit is not enough.

Neither are crooked real estate deals, convictions for foreclosure rescue fraud, blatant illegal shilling for their products, launching anonymous smear campaigns against critics of their industry, even strong direct links to pedophiles and kidnappers.  All these have been proven by me in this blog.

I thought a real estate guru selling cocaine out of his property management office to buy rental properties with the proceeds was the bottom, the lowest they could go.

I was wrong.

A famous real estate guru still selling his courses and seminars today has been accused of raping a female attendee at one of his events.  According to pleadings submitted in a state court civil filing, this guru lured a woman to his hotel room with the promise of a free home study course after one of his seminars.  When she resisted his advances, he forced himself on her for nearly one hour, repeatedly raping her and saying "You should feel lucky" and "Tell me how lucky you feel" while he sodomized her.

After the attack, he threatened the woman with a lawsuit and other violent retribution if she disclosed the rape.  His last words to her were "No one will believe you.  I'm famous and you are nobody."  The woman went home to her husband and together they reported the rape to police three days later.  The local authorities are now conducting "a felony investigation into this man's history and the events of this night."

I am not disclosing the name of this guru at this time.  He has not been convicted in a criminal court or found liable in a civil one.  But the witness statement and evidence against the guru are strong and believable.  She did attend his event.  He was staying in a hotel room where his seminar was being held.  And I also know by reputation what a disreputable sleaze this guru truly is.

The real estate gurus when confronted with the widespread fraud and criminality within their profession often make the argument there are bad apples in every bunch.  Wrong.  Sellers of get-rich-quick real estate courses are criminals by definition and the whole barrel of them is infected.  When criminals consort together some will be more morally decayed than others.  The only real question is why any person would want to be a member of this sickening club.