“He was a great man who also loved children”
— Cap Weinberger, Secretary of Defense
On a typical afternoon, not very different from the one that greeted Teddy Roosevelt in April 1910, a vernal gloom settled over New York City that looked disinclined to welcome summer. New York can be like that, helpful when you need directions, standoffish once the movers arrive.
Spring shoots wafted along Fifth Avenue's festooned sidewalk in Greenwich Village, a sleepy hamlet within a giant metropolis that admits no single heart but many claimants. The sky's color matched the sooty gray gothic cathedral across the street from my office at Forbes Magazine. I was on the second floor of what we immodestly called “the inner sanctum” as we were the occupiers. Besides me, the roster included the skipper himself, Malcolm Forbes, his four sons, and Caspar (Cap) Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense who had served four presidents and was our chairman. …
Chapters to follow. Book to be published in summer 2021. Masterclass in fall 2021
“I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody…”
–Marlon Brando, On The Waterfront
In 1948, an African American girl woke at 4 in the morning in Moultrie, Georgia, squinting in the darkness of a small house unlit by electricity. Her thick short hair glistened from humidity, and her bright, intelligent eyes suggesting keen intellect and fierce determination were not only visible but vital for the day to come. You see, unlike most girls her age, Reatha Clark was not going to ballet class or soccer practice. …
Warren Buffett looked at me through gray, piercing eyes and said, “Our shareholders want to hear from us personally, not on Twitter.” As a result, Buffett writes the best read annual letter in business, and its general meeting is the most widely attended. Over 40,000 investors show up for Berkshire Hathaway’s meeting in Omaha to see the two rock stars of investing, as Buffett and his partner, Charlie Munger, are known. …
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” — Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854)
Everyone knows how the Jimmy Stewart story ends, but few realize how close he came to not having a wonderful life.
The famous actor was nominated for six Oscars, winning twice, starred in some of the most famous movies in Hollywood history, and pursued a film career that was extraordinary by any measure. Among his co-stars were Donna Reed, Grace Kelly, and Doris Day. He appeared in films like Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Hitchcock’s Rear Window and The Man Who Knew Too Much. Yet, his climb to the top wasn’t smooth, and he endured long periods of danger, rejection, and depression beginning with flying B24 bombers over Germany in World War II before he was forced to restart his film career with few prospects and even less hope. …
Bob Ifer said he was leaving. If anyone asked, which they rarely did, he told them, “it’s pronounced like Eiffel but with an “r.” The Eifel Tower never had a more distant cousin than Bob Ifer with or without an “r.”
Our shifts ended the same time, and the airline terminal was closing because planes were grounded due to weather. I asked if I could grab a ride. Bob had a car, you could call it that, a beat-up ‘62 Olds that some dope thought would look great with a white stripe down the middle. You wouldn’t want to sit in his backseat, covered with dog hair, and I don’t believe Bob owned a dog. …
It never occurred to me to consider the time I was wasting on @Twitter.
I suppose the medium is like eating peanuts. You think it's just a handful but soon realize you’ve consumed an 18 oz. can. That’s not the problem. That you are still hungry for more is.
One day a message popped up on my feed: “your account is locked due to suspicious activity.” I thought, what the hell is so suspicious? I thought those nerdy Twitterati took offense at my libertarian messages, somewhat convincingly, of the totalitarian state that Michigan had become under its commissar, Gretchen Whitmer:
But I thought who in San Franciso gives a hoot about Michigan? …
This kind of job comes with an unusual description,
“Must love birds and priceless jewels. Former British Warrant Officers only. Sailors and women are eligible. The staff housing may need work as it is built in the 13th century.”
As an Anglophile and former Englishman (lived in Twickenham in 2nd grade), I have always been fascinated by the “Yeoman Warders” of the Tower of London, better known as “Beefeaters” due to their addiction to Bovril or beef broth.
An Italian came up with the pseudonym Beefeater.
Cosimo III de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, frequented the Court in 1669 and referred to the Yeomen of the Guard’s regimen, “A huge ration of beef is given to them daily at the court, so they might be called Beef-eaters.” …
“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” — William Shakespeare, King Henry IV
Ask anyone who has worked closely with Sumner Redstone and they’ll say they knew they would eventually be fired, just not precisely when. It seems like Redstone shuffled chief executives the way people discard old tires. The distinguished club that worked for Redstone includes CEOs of Viacom and CBS who oversaw Paramount Studios, CBS Network, MTV, SKG Dreamworks, Comedy Central, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
On the plus side, he paid well.
The problem is that Sumner Rothstein was a genius, a fact he was never shy about admitting. By genius, I don’t mean it in the sense of “you should meet my brother in law — he’s a genius.” Redstone had an IQ over 160. The reason I know that is he told me so. If you doubt the Redstone myth, look at the resume. He graduated Boston Latin School a year early, the most prestigious public preparatory high school in the United States, and landed first in his class. Naturally. He went to Harvard, where he graduated at age nineteen. Then the Encryption Corps, where he worked on complicated Japanese cipher codes. Then Harvard Law School. …