Sunday, May 22

Red White & Blue

Self Portrait XXXXVIII
I visit Springfield, Illinois, to make a presentation to the Board of the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, which manages $44 billion. I wear a tie.

I arrive on time and chat with the 70 year old security officer through a plate glass window (sign: 'no guns allowed on premises') and am shown into a holding pen with a bunch of other anxious white guys about my age, tapping on their iPhones or walking around with hands in pockets. At stake is $50m and it is a zero sum game.

I'm shown into the Board room and seated at the head of a long oak table. There are maybe 15 investment committee members at the table. Since it is a public pension, the general public welcome and there are a further 30 or so surrounding the table including members of the press. I'm told from time-to-time the Governor participates but not today.  I have 30 minutes+10 of Q&A to convince, 'why Astorg?"

I begin by noting my father from St Louis (90 minutes by car) and I spent my summers in St Louis and Columbus, Ohio when a kid. I figure Paris, France, as exotic a place these folks can imagine so a local connection constructs the bridge.

I return to London to receive the email: 50m confirmed.

Me: "You from Springfield?"
Taxi: "Yo man, I was born here."
Me: "You and Lincoln."
Taxi: "Lincoln born in Kentucky. He lived here, sure, and met his wife Mary Todd here but he was born in Ken-tu-key."
Me: "I didn't know."
Taxi: "Got to be teaching these things, man. Don't know your history, don't know noth'n."
Taxi: "Look at those kids. Know where the mall is but don't know they history."
Me: "You bet."
Taxi: "Damn straight."