The view from the 35th floor “lobby” of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel really is stunning. It looks out from the TimeWarner Center onto Columbus Circle and the south side of Central Park, and you feel like you’re in one of those movies about New York being the center of the universe.
I was at the Mandarin Oriental this morning for a meeting with a hedge fund manager from L.A. Let’s call him Mint Julip. About two months ago, Mint’s personal assistant called me out of the blue. The assistant (let’s call her Kathy T.) told me Mint was head of this boutique Hollywood capital advisor firm with lots of celebrity clients. She mentioned his two personal assistants (she being one of them) and seven fund managers. Well, la-de-da!
Seems Mint was working on a textbook about “value” investing (a la Warren Buffett), and he wanted to talk to me about adapting his book into a graphic novel. He hoped to tell me about his idea, find out what my upcoming schedule was, how I work, etc. Because of Titans of Finance, I get half-baked calls this like every so often; most times, they lead to nothing. But I said sure, and Kathy said she’d be back in touch. I figured that was the last I’d hear from Mint Julip.
But a couple of weeks later, I heard from Kathy again. Mint had ordered all my recent books — A Few Perfect Hours, The Vagabonds, Titans — and was still very interested in meeting with me. Could she call me after the holidays to set something up? Lo and behold, shortly after the new year, Kathy called me a third time. Mint was going to be in New York sometime between January 17th – January 19th, and what was my availability? They were serious! I’m always game for a new experience, so I said I would be around. (They tried to rope Titans’ writer R. Walker into the meeting as well, but he doesn’t respond well to being “summoned.” I don’t blame him. Also, he’s got other fish to fry.)
We eventually settled on a meet-up this morning at Mint’s hotel, the super-snazzy Mandarin Oriental, where rooms start at about $500 a night. (They actually have giant kimonos on the wall and Asian hostesses, but that’s another story.) After a short while, Mint came down from his suite and joined me at my lounge table, and all alone too — no personal assistants! A wiry 50-year-old with intense eyes, Mint was armed with a green apple and a Blackberry, which he was constantly reading or typing into during our conversation. He had the confident air of someone with a lot of money.
Turns out Mint really was just interested in meeting me, getting a sense of who I was. He reminded me of the Jewish version of a Mafia don, checking me out to make sure I’m “good people.” He insisted he’d really enjoyed Titans and A Few Perfect Hours, and thought I’d be a good fit for his book concept. It was fun talking to someone who actually knew many of the characters from Titans, and hearing his take on how they across in the comic. I’m not sure if he appreciated the book’s ironic component, but he enjoyed it nonetheless. (Rich and powerful people don’t need irony to get by in the world.) It was also interesting getting his reading of A Few Perfect Hours. I can’t say he read the book very carefully — he made some mention of Cambodia, which I have never visited — but he got the gist of it. (Rich and powerful people are too busy to read things carefully.)
Anyway, without going into the details of Mint’s project, in a weird way it would be a marriage of A Few Perfect Hours with Titans: a personal, even spiritual, journey with a finance angle. Whatever works, I guess. I’ve heard of nuttier books that have become best-sellers…
The upshot of the thing was that I kinda dug Mint. And who knows? He might just be wacky — and wealthy — enough to maybe make this book happen. As he said, if his publisher won’t go for him taking his book and making it into a graphic novel, then he’d be willing to foot the bill himself. It’s such a kooky idea, that I may just go along for the ride. For now, we’re going to wait to see what develops over the next 2-4 months. I’ll let you know as things progress.