Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Wine Expert

The Wine Expert

“Competition by confusion,” Herbert Denenberg, former insurance commissioner of Pennsylvania, called it. Bewilder consumers so much that they finally just throw up their hands and put themselves in your good hands—and you sock them with high commissions. Or just turn them into dependents of yours.

Our wine expert was what is called, I believe, an obscurantist. Things are so complex and subtle, you can’t be expected to know the answers. Only he knows all the answers.

Which wineries are generally reliable? Clos du bois?
His answer: No one winery is generally reliable.
Aren’t red wines especially good for you?
It hasn’t been proved. (Of course it has—at least for men.)
What about wine ratings?
Forget them. A lot of hanky-panky goes on.
Then he laced into me for seeking “simple” answers—when life, and choosing wines, is so complex.
I murmured that some things in life are simple. (Examples: Thomas Aikenhead shouldn’t have been hanged. We shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. Gore should have been President. Julie Andrews should have played in the movie version of My Fair Lady. Etc.)
The wine expert’s views were congruent with his economic interests. Everything is too complex for you. Just trust me.
I once heard a mutual fund executive say something like that. Morningstar ratings are worthless. Just trust a fund salesman. And happily pay his commission.
I pay lots of attention to Morningstar ratings—and to wine ratings.


I once paid $100 to take ten dance lessons at Fred Astaire studios. Years ago. I learned the rudiments of ten dances. And I still couldn't dance. But the teachers were eager for me to take lots more lessons.
Not exactly competition by confusion. But in the same category.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I've been retired for a week--"retired" involuntarily. Not bad. Went bike riding, went on walks, read stuff not dealing with finance, hung out with friends, visited friends, did paperwork, wrote a financial column. I'm goingto become a Literacy Volunteer, too. And write a play. It'll be a damned good play, too--despite what you're thinking. "Financial writer thinks he can write a play." You'll eat your words!

Met a smart 4-year-old girl. This is my desk, she said, showing me her room. Oh, is that a desk? I said. It's a toy desk, she said, but someday I'll have a real desk.

Very smart.

What in this room begins with H? she asked.
I couldn't find anything.
"Book," she said. I laughed. "Doesn't that begin with h?" she asked, a little worried.
Hooray! I'm going to give a talk about Richard Crooks to a local music group. He was an opera singer from NJ, very good indeed, and unfortunately almost forgotten.
I tell a joke to a social group every month, and I've developed a modest reputation for telling funny jokes. Thank heavens, today Lew Azaroff, a friend, told me a new funny joke.

Golfer can never find balls he's hit.
Hire this old geezer, someone tells him, he's great at finding missing balls. The golfer hires him.

Next time he plays, he hits the ball into the rough--can't find it.
Old geezer runs in direction of ball. Emerges 5 minuts later. "I found it! I found it!"

Great! says the golfer. Where is it?

Says the geezer...

"I forgot."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Comments on Hail & Farewell

Hello Warren,
Enjoyed reading your blog but was sorry to learn that you are no longer with us. The Daily Record has lost an element of credibility and class. Enjoy living well - it is the best revenge - and pity those that do not know how to do so!


I give you a standing ovation for your honesty (regarding the people at DR). You are a hard working reporter (we worked together) and were passionate about what you covered. I'm sorry this has happened to you. Keep the faith. What comes around goes around. Someday it will all catch up with them. By the really nailed it by saying ..they are pathologically status conscious...
all the best to you,

Sorry to see you go and you are mostly right on about the DR.
However, I think you exaggerate in spots about some of those who you skewer. And, an objective reading of your comments tells me you, too, are preening and quite full of yourself. We all have our strengths and are all trying to make the DR the best paper it can be, at least I hope we are.


Unpublished Poem

Was that Felix Rohatyn I saw at the Met last night?

When, years ago, he was asked to bail NYC out of its fiscal problems, I wrote this:

Oh, Felix Rohatyn
will save Manhattan
from garbage and ratten
and we'll all wear satin
and grow rich and fatten--
WASP, Greek and Latin--
Thanks to Felix Rohatyn.

Natalie's Night

On disks, she can sound mechanical and cold--but as Lucia she was enthralling--powerful, lovely voice--and such a small, slender woman!--good actress, too--angled, stooping as the much-put-upon Lucia--spent a lot of time supine--everybody seemed to beat up on her!--audience went wild (justifiably)--when she took her first curtain call, she mugged--made comic gestures with her arms and legs--anyone who didn't fall in love with Natalie Dessay last night was... not human--

Fun things in the opera: a doctor with a bag comes to see Lucia after her mad scene...a 19th century cameraman prepares a group wedding picture...the legendary dead maiden by the fountain actually appears...Lucia and Edgardo do a slow dance...livened up a pretty static opera--an opera, by the way, with gloriously beautiful music--

EARLY editions of the Times, on page B1, have a photo of the opera audience--on the balustrade, to the left, is a lovely woman in purple dress--to her left: yours truly.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Someone accidentally left his name on my post, Hail and Farewell, so I erased all of the posts. They will return as soon as I learn how to eliminate one identification.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Comment from Mark H.

I sent Mark H, a veteran journalist, a link to my blog. His comment:

you never mentioned my name in your blog; what am i--sawdust--i who have taught you how to live and breath, i your mentor. i your hero.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Deathless Poetry & Prose



Hickory dickery Dow,
What are we gonna do now.
Our biz whiz is leaving
the markets are heaving,
and Warren Buffett is grieving.

Wall St. is crumbling and
Jim Cramer’s mumbling:
Your advice was so humbling

So we all we can do
Is say we’ll miss you
And bye the way honey
Thanks for the tips on money.

Top 10 Things that Warren Boroson has contributed to the Daily Record:

Possibly from KS

10. Improving our palettes, by inviting us to lunch and organizing the
Global Gourmets dining group.
9. Humor, in the newsroom and the newspaper, by telling jokes, no matter how
old they were.
8. Financial knowledge, including lobbying Gannett for better choices in our
7. General knowledge, which he was willing to share with anyone who asked.
6. Making the Daily Record a multi-platform information center, by recording
90 podcasts of his column in the past year.
5. Hard work, including writing a multipart series on a financial topic,
using Real People, every year as well as regular reports on local home prices
and the state of the economy and stock markets.
4. Writing for every section of the paper, including news, sports, features,
even an opera review directly for the Web site.
3. Boosting the paper’s reputation in Gannett, by contributing one column a
week to Gannett News Service.
2. Boosting community goodwill for the paper by organizing forums on
financial topics with Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
1. Actually bringing money – yes, cash – to the paper with funds raised at
the forums and donated to the Newspapers in Education program.

Warren, we are very sorry to see you go. We wish you all the best. Stay in

My column

I've been writing columns for

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hail & Farewell

Hail and farewell

Leaving the Daily Record after 10 plus years: How lucky I was, landing a job in my 60s! Thanks to business editor Ron Stepneski, editor Bill Donnellon, publisher Tom Guyer.
I’m leaving because I was forced out: My financial column--syndicated-- was canceled, and I was relegated to writing business stories. (Groundbreakings.) Hell, that’s work, not fun! Ostensibly because the newspaper needs to become more local; possibly because the editor, Flachsenhaar, thought I was too identified with the paper, and wants no rivals. Didn’t want to share the limelight with anyone. (A flaw of the paper: Those in charge are pathologically status- conscious.)
A good 10 years. Admirable people I’ve met. Pat Brennan, Dave Bugen and the RegentAtlantic people, Marylou Reeves, the people at Franklin Mutual Series, David Winter, lots of CFPs.
Wonderful colleagues and former colleagues. Carol Thompson, Debra Scacciaferro.
Bad times. Being sued. But we won. (I had a witness, fortunately.) Having my blog canceled for stupid reasons. Having a column gutted because someone seeking attention argued that “crackers” in a humorous column in reference to southerners was insulting. That angry former colleague who desperately needed a therapist.
Accomplishments: P Brennan and I held >20 public forums, making money every time. Kathy & I started the first annual tax call-in, with the NJ CPASociety. Bringing celebrities here—Muriel Siebert, Jane Bryant Quinn, Jos Battapaglia, David Winters. (John Bogle was to be next.)
Let’s see. I worked 10.5 years, wrote (almost always) 3 columns a week—besides other stories. 52 X 10.5 X 3 = 1,638.
Teaching at County College. Speaking to any group free of charge. Starting a breakfast study group, with most of the biggest money managers in the state.
Praise: The former publisher who said the only thing he reads in the paper now is my column. The former publisher who said that he was proud that the paper has a syndicated columnist. The two people who hired me telling me that I was the best hire they ever made. The former staffer who said I was just about the only friendly person here—and was amazed that I took him to lunch!
I’m worth [illegible], so I won’t have any financial problems. (A secret: I was paid around $40,000 to write three columns a week in 4 days a week—and lots of other stories. I wound up working 5 ½ days a week.)
I’m sorry I never learned what Susan SL did around here. And I’m sorry to leave the newspaper in such bad financial shape—and with such a poor prognosis. I mean, a slightly sleazy publisher whose first move is to set up special parking places for the higher-ups? (See what I mean by status-conscious?) And who seems to have a mean streak? (Judy G let go after 23 years?)
An editor who talks and talks instead of listening? Who writes a bit facilely and a lot gaseously? Who preens and postures? Someone said of him, slightly clever and profoundly shallow.

Good luck, guys. I hope you make it!


Ps--Still always available for lunch!


New Daily Record publisher Cavone comes over to me, introduces himself, and says he worked with Glen Ritt and Jim Flachsenaar. Watches for a rise out of me. (Ritt fired me from the Bergen Record because I had complained to the publisher about his killing a column of mine.) I just said: The names ring a bell. (I had never met Flachsenaar, but knew he had worked with Ritt. He came to the Bergen Record, supposedly to be Ritt’s deputy, but was ignored—left the Record, became a mere copyeditor for a while.)
Then Cavone introduces Flachsenaar to me. Cordial conversation. But Cavone seems vexed—his face twitches—did he expect some fireworks between us?—he seems disappointed.
I’m walking out the building. Someone calls my name. Cavone. “Hey, Warren,” he calls with a big smile. I wonder: A friendly gesture? Or is he getting ready to stick a knife into my back?
Then I learned that my column is being killed. I’m still in shock. Many if not most of my columns were local. They were well read, I think. I asked to keep one national column—to remain a syndicated columnist. No answer. Then the veils lifted from mine eyes. They just wanted me out.

One person I won’t miss: Houlihan. Kisses the bosses’ behinds while being rude and contemptuous to everyone else. There’s one (or two) in every office.
A Jewish woman, hurt, asked me: Is Houlihan anti-Semitic? No, I said, she just mistreats anyone she doesn’t feel she has to suck up to.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


A Shocking Event

Thomas Aikenhead: Read about him in a book on Scotland—truly shocking—18-19 years old, clever, funny, given to making outrageous remarks—in 1696--hanged for blasphemy!—what a loss, those descendents he might have had! Skeptical, smart—an eternal rebuke to fanaticism—like Joan of Arc—there should be a play or movie about his life—

Classy Restaurant

In a short time span, I’ve walked out of three restaurants … because it took so long for the waiters to bring our food. Other diners were served before us, even when they had come in much later. Felt righteous about it, but now—I can’t go back there anymore.
Last night, dined at New World Cooking in Woodstock. Waited and waited.
Then a waitress and a cook came over, apologized (problem with the rice), and gave us free appetizers!
Some people know what the right thing to do is.
But…the food is very spicy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Today I resigned--last employment job I'll ever have--makes me face up to my advanced age--

I'm still shocked, angry, that my financial column was killed--I still read other papers, read magazines, look at books, looking for fresh story ideas--

I'm vengeful, too--I don't have to worry about burning bridges behind me-

As I told someone today, I worked very hard--I went to sleep every night thinking of columns to write--my identity was: syndicated financial columnist--propped up my self-esteem--

To me, being retired is something a bit shameful--

But,,,maybe living well really is the best revenge--

exercising dining out reading tennis writing stuff for myself--

I'm thinking of organizing a farewell party for myself--just inviting a few people to lunch--Kathy Pat Pat Sally

I think that before one retires, one does everything very very quickly--so as not to be overwhelmed--and when one retires, one has more time to do things--more carefully--at a less breakneck pace--assuming that I have retired and don't do freelance work--

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Composer Criticizes Singer

Which composer said this about what singer?

“He won’t learn anything, he’s lazy and he’s too pleased with himself—all the same his voice is magnificent.”

Puccini about Caruso, in the notes to the disk The Met Centarians: Geraldine Ferrar

(“Farrar doesn’t satisfy me very much, she sings out of tune and forces, and her voice doesn’t carry well in the large space”)

Glad to see that GuruFocus is No. 2 on business websites—it’s running my columns now—

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Sandy Blotnik Test

I knew this guy named Sandy Blotnick.

A very uncomplicated fellow. A lawyer by profession.

When it came to making any decisions, he didn’t spend time pondering ethical issues or philosophical questions or matters of conscience or honor.

He didn’t ask himself—for example--whether his decision would confer the greatest good upon the greatest number of people.

He had one overriding touchstone:

Is this good for Sandy Blotnick? Or bad for Sandy Blotnick?