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James Cayne Is A Good Bridge Player

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What do you do when you’re trying to take the heat off your firm for the near-collapse of two hedge funds, and your last attempt to do so, leaking the fact that the guy in charge of the unit that ran the funds has a blog (hey, look, a blog!) backfired after a few people wondered aloud, “Why is this guy writing movie reviews?”? Let’s see, how about we get a guy to produce some pictures of John Mack dressed in drag? No? Okay, say someone could arrange for a hedge fund to lose $6 billion in two weeks? Is that something anybody would be interested in? No…okay…what about a profile of James Cayne that has all of the clichés about James Cayne that every article ever written about him includes, plus some new stuff about how he’s cutting back on red meat? Yes, this is the way to go.
Make sure the lede has the word ‘bellyache’ in it. Q. Who wants to read the article in the Journal that actually names the funds when we’ve got an exposé on Jimmy Cayne’s gastrointestinal problems? A. NO ONE. It is of the utmost importance that you mention JC’s affinity for cigars. Write something like “[Yadda, yadda, yadda], he said as he took a deep puff on a freshly lit Montecristo cigar.” This serves two purposes—it a) reinforces something everyone already knows about Cayne and b) is a nod to Charlie Gasparino’s assertion that “James Cayne has smoked more cigars than any CEO on Wall Street.”
Next up is cards. Forget about the Bear Stearns High Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leveraged Fund, forget about the SEC, forget about Bear Stearns being a sty. James Cayne is a “world class bridge player who did not finish college.” Losses? What losses? James Cayne’s ascent “has been a result of a card player’s guile.” What is this subprime mess you speak of? James Cayne “didn’t go to Harvard Business School—he was a bridge bum.”
Now talk about Cayne cutting out “red wine, bacon and salmon for breakfast.” His "tan" thanks to weekends down the Shore. His “youthful demeanor.” The fact that he likes the musical stylings of a Norwegian pop star named Sissel and “any movie that stars Halle Berry.” Basically, anything you can get off his MySpace page is fair game.
Finally, ctrl-V “bridge-cigar” several times. How many is something of a personal choice but thirty is too few, sixty is probably too many. But no fewer than thirty, because Richard Marin felt the need to tell us not to see “Evan Almighty.”
Salvaging a Prudent Name [New York Times]