The Tuna Tartare Situation

by Tony Greer

 

I was 26 years old when the transition of tuna fish on a Ritz cracker on my couch was replaced with Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare at Gotham Bar & Grill on the reg. That’s when I joined Goldman Sachs and got treated to dinner there by my gracious manager and good friend, CJC, between one and two times a week, for several years. The first time I sat down at Gotham, with a Johnny Walker Black on the rocks in front of me, I ordered the Yellow Fin Tuna Tar Tare as an appetizer. Then I ordered it as my appetizer every time I went there, between one and two times a week, for several years. I never made a different selection.
I was a size buyer of architectural cuisine in a space constructed like the Gotham Bar & Grill at 12 E 12th St, NYC. I didn’t mind our spot in the back of the restaurant on “hitters platform” either. We were greeted by Lori, the host and walked to our table beside the courtyard windows, under that picture on the wall at left. This ambiance at Gotham is heaven and the cylinder of finely seasoned and chopped raw tuna was a standout spectacular dish before raw tuna was a thing. There were thinly sliced cucumbers that made a rotisserie platform for the tuna. It was mixed with scallions, ginger, garlic, & lime and there were delicious French bread toasts to scoop it with. You never forget your first chilled bight of Gotham’s Yellow Fin Tuna Tar Tare after craving it for as long as 5, but no more than 7 days, for several years.

You never forget the taste of it because sometimes they followed days in the pressure cooker I’ll never forget. They were the Holy Grail treat at the end of a grueling trading day. We engaged in high stakes commodity trading in the J. Aron division of Goldman Sachs and I was the junior on the desk. CJC, a very young Managing Director at the time, who proceeded to make partner, was an absolute pit bull to work for. He didn’t run the precious metals trading desk by his late 20’s because he was a slacker. He got that job because, right out of UPenn, he was one of the best, most intense traders, and risk managers anyone at the firm had ever seen. Working for him was amazing, but maddening. CJC was an absolute savage between bells and would rarely let a smile cross his face if the markets were open. In a slight, yet sturdy frame and bullet proof heart, CJC embodied the old school commodity whale. If you put the whale in an Hermes tie, threw 4 spears in its side and then set its tail on fire.

Sometimes, there was nothing I could do to keep CJC from lashing out at me. It was part of his trading rhythm. It was all to help me become a better trader, but those lessons were tough to shoulder when you had 100 pounds on the guy and were already having a tough day.

“How many gold futures have we sold today T.G.?” “I dunno, around 3,000.” “WE SOLD 4,200 LOTS SO FAR THAT BRINGS OUR POSITION TO A TOTAL OF 27,400 LOTS… QUOTE IT LENNY. …T.G. if you can’t quote platinum, I can quote it for you…because it’s painful to watch, ok. Just …just stop.”

As harsh as CJC was, he was good enough to get away with it because if left to run that desk on an island, he could do everyone’s job himself, and still make money. He was getting me to anticipate his every move. After a few months of getting slaughtered, I finally got used to it and got better.

Lenny was our phone clerk from Staten Island who was like the Radar O’Reilly of the COMEX. He was a uniquely wired individual. He knew what prints were going up before they hit the ring, he had a great knack for counting contracts, like Rain Man counted cards, so it was a huge advantage to have him on the phone. Like I said, Lenny was from Staten Island, so he was susceptible to normal floor distractions just like everyone else, but CJC wasn’t and he would torch Lenny good.

“LENNY WHO’S BUYING?” “Nobody CJC?” “NOBODY?!??!!” “Wait, Millennium’s here…he’s taking 200 up to the figure…figure bid…CJC… he just came into the ring.”

“Lenny put down the New York Post and the Pepsi please we’re very busy up here thank you.” *click*

He never let up. On some days, sitting next to him for 8 hours seemed like an eternity, but I knew I was getting an education, and a fair paycheck. No matter what happened on the desk, no matter how hard CJC whipped me on the 5th floor of 85 Broad Street, no matter how much money we made or lost, we were into our chauffeured Lincoln and off to dinner for a Johnny Walker Black on the rocks.

We didn’t spend much time, if any, on lunch. So, from about 1994 through around 1997, visions of Yellow Fin Tuna Tar Tare would dance in my head while my desk manager had my skull in a vice.

Boy those were the days…

 

submitted by Tony Greer – TG Macro