Hi Jon, I know you are a very studied historian on this period/subject. What sticks out at you most as seeming to be perhaps 'off' or an odd spin/recollection in this interview. (If you don't mind answering and have the time). Thanks!
The Wolf came in, I got my cards, we sat down for a game.
What sticks out at you most as seeming to be perhaps 'off' or an odd spin/recollection in this interview.
I suppose I'm most interested in the corporate governance story he gives.
Probably the biggest single problem with his recollection was that he remembers that the company was still profitable in 1983, and it wasn't until after he left for California that the Blumes and the new outside directors drove TSR to ruin - a situation he represents that he discovered at the end of 1984 when he returned from California and found the company in surprising debt. It would be more accurate to say that the company became unprofitable in the spring of 1983, while Gary was still CEO, and indeed Gary's reassignment was a consequence of TSR's financial problems. The debts that Gary later remembered that he "discovered" in 1984 were all debts he signed for early in 1983. Nor is this really a matter where there are valid multiple sides of the story - TSR's profit and loss at the time is a matter of public record to the point where you can find a Wall Street Journal article detailing when TSR started taking losses and when those debts were incurred.
When you move TSR's crash to 1984, it lets you supply alternative causes for various related historical events, to omit key events that don't further the narrative, and to dole out blame in ways that are unfair, if not cynically so.
At a more high level, in the Sacco interview Gary paints himself as an innocent victim of the villainous Blumes in a way that is almost cartoonishly unrealistic, to a point where I have a hard time imaging how anyone reading it could take it seriously. The first time Gary wrote down an account of what happened in the mid-1980s at TSR, which was a two-page article in a fanzine in 1988, he didn't have nearly this much virtue or venom. He is also much more realistic about his bitterness over the situation. By the time of the Sacco interview, he had lost all perspective on how much his bitterness colored his recollections. There's little here I would take at face value.