Monday, March 19, 2007

The Self-Made Man Club

In the neverending quest to satisfy you, Dear Readers, by delivering the trenchant financial commentary, biting social satire, and smokin' hot stock tips that you have told me you require, I have begun a habit of devoting at least 20 minutes out of my busy work week to reviewing my own performance, qua bloggist.

(While you may view this as admirable dedication on my part, I must admit it is time I would otherwise spend on finding financing for the high-speed rail project in Mogadishu. However, it now appears that the Somalis have taken fright at all the negative publicity hedge funds, private equity, and the recently volatile public equity markets are generating in the world press, so they have approached Robert Mugabe for money instead. C'est la guerre.)

Imagine my surprise, then, when perusing Google Analytics© this weekend I discovered that the most popular post on this site since its inception was my little bagatelle on Steve Schwarzman's 60th birthday bash last month, "L'État, c'est moi." And I—like the editors of Playboy—thought you read me for the (serious) articles. Hmph.

However, upon further reflection I have decided to swallow my pride, in blind devotion to your happiness, and offer up some closing thoughts on Mr. Schwarzman's bacchanal for your delectation.

My source, in this instance, is only the most authoritative one available in such weighty socioeconomic matters; namely, that peerless investigative journalist, Liz Smith of the New York Post. Normally I only read the financial news section of the Post, the superiority of which to every mainstream financial news alternative is so apparent that no less an authority than Ross Sorkin of The New York Times Dealbook seems to quote the Post as his primary source material in every other article. Dear Old Liz, as she lets me call her, I normally find as appetizing as nails on a chalkboard, but even I must make some sacrifices in pursuit of my Muse.

Reading between the lines of DOL's initial column, I get the distinct impression that the black tie fun-fest was a little less enjoyable than those of us with our noses pressed to the glass would imagine. Marching bands? Military cadets? Men from Yale singing "The Whiffenpoof Song?"
[W]ho else but Mr. Schwarzman can have Philip Baloun come into the cavernous Armory and do entire 50-foot silkscreen re-creations of his own 740 Park Ave. apartment? [. . .] Who else would think to outfit the rest of the daunting Armory in red velvet from top to carpet and hang a magic circle of chandelier lights over tiers of beautifully set tables and a silver-lighted dance floor?

Who else? How about anyone willing and able to drop four large on rubber chicken and birthday balloons?

Who else would invite what's left of the crème de la crème, beginning with Colin Powell surging on to assorted Rothschilds and ending with Donald Trump?

Donald Trump? Are you kidding me? If that short list of luminaries is any indication of the entire guest list, I for one am glad I missed it. That little journalistic gem stands right up there with that other paragon of jaw-dropping anticlimax—amusingly enough from Mr. Schwarzman's alma mater—H.S. Durand's coda to Yale University's fight(?) song:

"For God, for Country and for Yale!"

Well, even though no-one laughed at Martin Short's jokes at Steve's expense—whether because they were terrified of Steve or the jokes were so lame, it is not clear—it appears that Liz had a good time hanging out with the B-List boldface names at her table. How many copies of "Winning" Suzy and Jack Welch made poor Liz buy before the evening ended I shudder to think. And her on a journalist's salary, too.

If I do say so myself—and who's going to stop me?—the whole sordid affair seems to confirm my suspicions about the purpose and subtext of the party from the start. After all, no-one has any fun at a coronation, except the king. And maybe his wife.

In parting, I would just like to clarify what I perceive to be some confusion which may be engendered by a "correction" Liz posted in a follow up column a few days after the event. It seems Missus S. was none too pleased with DOL's characterization of her hubby as a member of the "Rich Kids Club."

She says, "The term is generally held to refer to the offspring of the privileged class - the trust-fund gang. It therefore couldn't have been less accurately applied to Steve, who grew up working in his family's linen store in Abington, Pa., and is the consummate self-made man!"

Well, I don't see how Liz's original coinage was so inapt, except for the "Kids" part: after all, ol' Steve is sixty. However, I cannot agree with Mrs. Schwarzman that "Rich Kids Club" is the preferred moniker for trust fund babies.

Back in the Old Country, up the Main Line, and down Gin Lane, we have a juicier and more telling term to describe those fortunate souls born gumming the silver spoon: "The Lucky Sperm Club." I do believe Mr. and Mrs. Schwarzman's children will be able to claim charter membership.

© 2007 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.