The head-butting between Phil Slackmeyer and his son Mark was lifelong, brutal, and nonstop. The New Jersey stockbroker, an expert in tax shelters and money funds, saw nothing but failure in his longhaired lefty son, even before "Megaphone Mark" dropped out of school to work at a radio station. "Son? I have no son. All I have is a parasitic offspring who, year after year, manages to pass his courses just in time for me to shell out yet another four thousand dollars." The low point of their high tension came one Christmas break, when Mark received a bill for his upbringing; $63,851.13. His bedroom rented out, he ended up in a sleeping bag in the garage, behind the lawn mower. Meanwhile Phil's portfolio and career headed north, two heart attacks notwithstanding, and he received an invitation from Reagan to join the Council of Economic Advisers. Georgetown beckoned -- townhouse, chauffeur, the works -- and Mark was welcomed home to have his nose enthusiastically rubbed in gloat.
Unable to get by on a government salary, Phil returned to the private sector and for a while rode high, leading a majorly hostile takeover. But ties to Ivan Boesky lead to a terrifying investigation (his tension briefly relieved by visits to Roseland where he waltzed away his woes with Alice P. Schwartzman). Blurting out a full confession landed him in a minimum security prison filled with Wall Street peers (and numerous Reagan aides). Counseling by the facility's ethics counselor, Rev. Scot Sloan, did little good ("What's the opposite of good?" "Poor."), and Phil ended up leading an inmate strike, demanding high-speed connectivity and additional work stations for the jailcell traders. At the end of the Cold War, Phil, like all other white-collar criminals, was awarded amnesty ("I'm a war hero now.") and was soon back on the make.
New conquests included trophy wife Gail. "I want to grow old with this woman!" he enthused to Mark. "Dad, you are old..." The revelation, at their wedding, that Phil was broke hardly dampened the mood, and he launched a new fortune via offshore financial adventures, his career summiting as he assumed the role of PR head for R.J. Reynolds. Additional heart attacks and more women-a-third-of-his-age followed. In 2002, burying his permanently embittered and eternally critical father proved difficult for Mark. None of Phil's three trophy wives were able to attend, leaving Mark to hire high school kids in order to fill the church. Amen.