Hedge Fund Manager Eric Rosenfeld's Children's Book About Asses Also Has An Economics Lesson Found Within

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Yesterday we discussed Mrs. Buttkiss, the story of a woman with a "huge" ass, a dirty little secret, and what happens one day when she lets it out in the fruit aisle of a grocery store. Mrs. Buttkiss and The Big Surprise isn't just any old children's book about asses but one conceived of by Crescendo Partners founder Eric Rosenfeld, whose tale of asses and the magic they hold had been brewing for over ten years. (For those of you not up to speed on the storyline, see my summary in comments 52, 55, and 57 here). It's also one of the few books you can currently purchase that comes with a free whoppie cushion. We had a little chat with the auteur, who claims to have no calls on FDP, about his process.

Is this an allegory for the financial crisis? Bubbles, etc?
A lot of people seem to think that but I came up with the story ten years ago, way before the financial crisis.

Ten years ago the seeds were already being sown. A bunch of Alan Greenspan's friends knew what was happening. It definitely could've been about the crisis.
That wasn't the original intent but it's fine with me if people want to think about it that way.

Is it about LTCM?
That's a different Eric Rosenfeld who worked there.

It could still be about John Meriwether. His gastroenterologist loves to talk. Anyway...you said you came up with this story when you were putting your kids to bed. What happened that night that this was the story you came up with?
I was just trying to make up a story I thought they'd like.

Kids like this sort of thing?
Oh yeah. Kids ages 2-12 think it's hilarious. What did you think of it?

I vacillated between being amused and really grossed out. Having said that, I found it to be a real page turner and when I was recounting it to my friend Jessica Pressler over IM she kept asking "And then what happens?" so you might have yourself a winner.
I'm happy to hear that.

Why is Mrs. Buttkiss so fat? You talk about how huge she is A LOT. ("Mrs. Buttkiss was a very large woman" "She had a HUMONGOUS butt" "When she went to the grocery store she'd fill two carts with food".) Is there something under the surface there?.
That's just what came to me when I was making up the story. It was a fat woman.

Is she based on someone you know?
Hah, no, just in my mind.

I'm sure the movie rights have already been obtained so who gets the role?
Hmmm I'm not sure.

You have to think about this stuff, it's going to be asked of you a lot now that you're on the map.
I'm going to give it some serious thought.

Any plans for an ass-related sequel?
Not yet, do you think there should be one?

Oh definitely, it should be a series.
We'll see, so far it's just Mrs. Buttkiss's Surprise.

What other hedge fund managers do you think have children's books in them? He doesn't know it yet but Jim Simons and I are going to co-write a book about a magical pack of Pall Malls. [This will be the author photo on the book jacket.]
I'm sure there are some managers who could write great books but I don't want any of them to. I don't want the competition.
Ping Jiang and the Magic Whiteboard Markers are going to give you a run for your money.

Early on in the book you mention that Mrs. Buttkiss's husband, who has a goatee, had moved out because he was afraid of what would happen once she finally let out what she'd be holding in all these years. You say "the only one who loved her was her peekapoo Sashimi [a rare breed of dog], no ifs, ands or buts." How much did it kill you not to finish that line off with, "Well maybe a few butts-- BIG ONES"?
I'm not following.
Line from the Cable Guy.
Oh, that's a good one.
Something to think about for the next printing.

You're an activist investor. Do you take a seat on this grocery chain's board? What do you think of the company? In the end they start selling fruit that someone has done unspeakable things to, at triple the normal price, which is pretty gross and possibly a scam.
No it's not a scam at all. You used the word 'gross' but it's not gross it's beautiful and remember the fruit ends up tasting better than ever and everyone wants to buy it. There's nothing wrong with this company, it's simple supply and demand-- you can jack up the price when the product is in high demand. So there's an economics lesson in the book too.

Have you sent copies to your investors? Gotten any feedback from them?
I haven't sent any copies to investors but the general feedback has been incredibly positive. The children of one investment banker who has the book insist that it be read to them every single night before they go to sleep.

I was speaking with one of your fellow activist investors yesterday and he mentioned that you love to sing showtunes and especially love incorporating them into your shareholder activism (exact quote: "a shareholder activist showtunes weird Al Yankovic.").
Yes, I have many songs that I sing after giving keynote speeches, on panels, as a faculty member at the Directors College and at closing dinners. Here's an example:

To the tune of "Any Dream Will Do," from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

"Any Loan will Do"

I closed my eyes
Drew back the curtain
To see for certain
What I thought I knew

Far far away
Bankers were quaking
And the deal was breaking
Any loan will do

I did my deal
With financial sponsors
They became monsters
We have to sue

No more great feast
The deal is breaking
The banks were faking
Any loan will do

A crash of debt
From such a height
My golden deal flew out of sight
The money faded into darkness
There was no mezz loan

May I return
To the beginning
The stock is dimming
And the deal is too

The board and I
We are still waiting
Still hesitating
Any loan will do

A crash of debt
From such a height
My golden deal flew out of sight
The money faded into darkness
I began to moan

The board and I
We are still waiting
Still negotiating
Any bank will do

I forgot to ask him if he was listening to a lot of Sir Mix A-Lot at the time this story was conceived but I'm going to assume the answer was yes. Also there's consideration of a dramatic reading by myself and Gary Busey, if the interest is there.

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