Harbinger Capital founder Philip Falcone, the hedge-fund manager who, along with vagilante Scott Galloway, bought 4.9 percent stake in Times last year (as well as Bob Guccione's $49 mansion), was kind of awkward when the Duluth News Tribune came to Manhattan to interview him on the occasion of Falcone, an avid hockey player in his youth, purchasing a stake in the local Minnesota Wild team.
Falcone, 45, spends the first several minutes of a three-hour interview staring into the distance and running his hands through his shoulder-length hockey hair. He looks as if he’d rather be anywhere else.
He probably knew what Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit recently learned: That hometown-newspaper profiles have the potential to be devastatingly embarrassing. Sure, they'll report on you lovingly, mention that you "brought the lobster tails" to the Fourth of July BBQ on Little Sturgeon Lake, paid for a night of drinks for everyone at Tom & Jerry’s Bar in downtown Chisholm. But after all, the people back home knew you before you were anything, and they love to remember all the details about you that you'd rather forget.
Falcone spent long hours skating back and forth on the ice across from his house, shooting the puck into an empty net and making pretend crowd noises to himself.
Plus, they always get your parents to reveal mortifying details.
Even his 86-year-old mother, Caroline, who feeds him rigatoni and meatballs when he comes home and keeps his phone number taped to a lamp next to her living-room chair, said she never imagined that Philip would be so successful.
Nice vote of confidence, Mom. We'll see if he puts you in the nice private home now. Worst of all, your hometown newspaper will without fail find someone you knew in high school, someone who knows just exactly how to put you in your place. In Falcone's case, that's high-school hockey coach Bob Shock.
“He may be a big shot in New York, but he’ll always be a little Iron Ranger to us,” Shock said.
Thanks, Coach Shock. From now on, he'll always be an Iron Ranger to us, too.
Former Iron Range prep star Philip Falcone finds success in New York [Duluth News Tribune]