Dan Loeb as Milo Minderbinder

Not to turn this site into All Dan Loeb, All the Time, but there is an entertaining profile of the poison pen fund manager in Bloomberg Markets magazine [courtesy of Daily Dose of Optimism]. While Loeb’s brush with Bob Marley comes close, my favorite part of the profile is Loeb’s nickname back when he attended Palisades High School in Los Angeles:

Even as a kid, Loeb dreamed of striking it rich, classmate Schwartz says. At Palisades High School, one of Loeb’s English teachers nicknamed him Milo Minderbinder, after the scheming entrepreneur who controls the black market in Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22, says Schwartz, a partner at Third Point Ventures, Loeb’s venture capital unit in Silicon Valley. “Dan was investing in stocks in high school and idolized Milo Minderbinder,” Schwartz says. “The fact is, anyone who knew Dan in high school, it would be a no-brainer that he would be doing the things he’s doing now.”

Many if not most of my readers will have read Catch-22 at some point, and the idea that someone actually idolized Milo Mindbender will almost certainly be a mindbender. After all, while Milo was a tireless and successful entrepreneur, he was also the same guy who figured heavily in the death of Snowdown, Yossarian’s gunner:

Snowden was laying on his back on the floor with his legs stretched out, still burdened cumbersomely by by his flak suit, his flak helmet, his parachute harness and his Mae West. Not far away on the floor lay the small tail gunner in a dead faint. The wound Yossarian saw was in the outside of Snowden’s thigh, as large and deep as a football, it seemed. It was impossible to tell where the shreds of his saturated coveralls ended and the ragged flesh began.

There was no morphine in the first-aid kit, no protection for Snowden against pain but the numbing shock of the gaping wound itself. The twelve syrettes of morphine had been stolen from their case and replaced by a cleanly lettered note that said: “What’s good for M & M Enterprises is good for the country. Milo Minderbinder.” Yossarian swore at Milo and held two aspirins out to ashen lips unable to receive them ….

“I’m cold,” Snowden said softly. “I’m cold.”

To digress somewhat, this was, to my reading, one of the most affecting sections of Catch-22. It was a sad “pity of war” locked-room drama in a children’s war, like a lost piece from Wilfrid Owen:

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    -Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
   Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
  Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
  And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
   Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
  The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.