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Captain's Blog
Last Updated: March 28, 2008: 5:09 PM EDT
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Captain's Blog, Stardate: 3/28/08

Gray and grim on Wall Street, all-aglow on Fifth Ave. What gives?

By Andrew Serwer, managing editor

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- SLICES OF LIFE: So I'm walking in midtown yesterday listening to "Lost Along the Way" by moe. on my iPod. And there lo and behold is the Bear Stearns (BSC, Fortune 500) building. It's gray and grim. There's this pervading gloom in the air. Then I hit JP Morgan's (JPM, Fortune 500) headquarters, the old Chase building and folks going in there are walkin' fast, looking down at their shoes. Not a happy time all around. Except. Except, I truck over to Fifth and suddenly, SMILES. Why everyone here one block away is all-aglow. Shopping and having a blast. What gives?

Well, none of the folks on Fifth Avenue are Americans of course. All tourists from abroad. Probably don't know Jimmy Cayne from God. So I stroll into the NBA store at 5th and 52nd, and it's packed - with people speaking other tongues. I ask the man working there, "Hey Mr. Man," I ask, "What percentage of your customers here are from another country?" Mr. Man thinks for a second, "I would say 65% to 75% easy," he replies. I hear stores on Fifth are now accepting Euros. Canadian dollars too....

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold" That's the famous line from "The Second Coming" by Yeats, which Joan Didion loved so much. Slouching towards Bethlehem indeed...

BADASS DOCUMENTARY ON TONIGHT AT 8PM ET: So we have teamed up with CNN to produce: "BUSTED! Mortgage Meltdown." I think you will truly dig this. The very talented folks at CNN have made this subject come alive. It's fun, we got heavy hitters and it rocks! Be there. (If you miss Fri night it's also on Saturday, March 29, at 8 pm and 11pm ET, and Sunday, March 30, at 8pm ET.)

Here's the deal: "Home loans gone bad are wrecking the American economy. CNN teams up with Fortune magazine to investigate how the housing boom went bust. The fallout begins on Wall Street, where billions of dollars in American mortgages were bought, bundled and sold around the world. This mortgage gamble sounds as risky as a game of poker on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. CNN takes the high-stakes mortgage game to Delmonico's, a Wall Street institution since 1837, where the likes of J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie once wheeled and dealed. [Yours truly] plays dealer and invites a few high rollers to face off on the mortgage crisis.

"Guest players include CNN's Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis, New York Times columnist and Princeton economist Paul Krugman, securities guru Janet Tavakoli, investment strategist Peter Dunay, and CEO of Lenox Financial Jon Shibley. Throughout the program, insider stories are shared from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and a former Ameriquest lender. This entertaining and enlightening hour takes everyone to task, from loose lenders and slick Wall Street operators to lax regulators and greedy homeowners. No one is off limits in what is shaping up to be the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression." Yeah baby! (Thanks Mark, Steve, Emily, Ben, Meghan, and Jia Lynn! And everybody else!)

YACHTING AND SUCH: Great dinner with Mayor Mike and Diana Taylor, Rupert and Wendi, the senior Lauders, Jes Staley and his wife and others recently. Quite the conversation as you might imagine. Question: Was Mike really serious about running for president? Answer: Yes he was.... Had such a cool time in Virgin Gorda at the Bitter End YC and visiting Fred Hill (formerly of Chase Bank), who now runs the Barracuda restaurant down there. Stop by! Best damn sunsets in the world on that island....

Congrats to my neighbor, Maestro Eve Queler, who conducted her 100th concert at Carnegie Hall! A fabulous gala show! I got to meet one of my all time favs (mad crush!) Super Soprano Renee Fleming, who is incredibly charming and looks a lot like Michelle Pfeiffer. And let's be clear: There is nothing wrong with that!... Another gala dinner for Symphony Space was very happenin' too, (thanks John [bro of Bets] Morris). Honored John Lithgow who was great and Morgan Freeman who gave a lame speech. (Burst that balloon!)... Hey, Pat O'Dea came by with some coffee. Guess what brand?... Great to see you Larry Page, you got some very cool ideas, dude! Always LOVE visiting you in Mountain View. ("I left my heart in San Francisco" is my favorite song. TEEHEE!) Sooooo much fun going to Google. (Nice burritos!) Now wait until you see my drawing of you!

LOOSE CHANGE: That march of Madness: Shows what I know, I was hot on Tennessee. They have talent, a great coach, but they just choke! Course Lofton had a bum wheel.... I still think this is UNC's tourney to lose, but Louisville does look hot!... Okay so I am going through a Cormac McCarthy phase now. Reading "Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West" right now. And you know what, this is one sick puppy writer! Who comes up with this stuff?!? No one will ever make a movie of it, Tarantino maybe. McCarthy is soooo brilliant, but that is just too twisted....

Nothing wrong with having dinner with Neil Barsky at San Pietro!... Happy 50th Birthday Duke! When you're 60, may you get an F-160 pickup truck... Tiger Williams had a birthday too and you know how he rules! To top of page