Banzai Chicken!

A conversation about closed-end funds with a man who should know.

WHEN I’M CONFUSED ABOUT AN investment decision, I always turn to some older, wiser head for counsel. My particular oracle is a likeable old Japanese gentleman named Chicken Kurasawa. Although Chicken is more scrutable than most, he carries in that wizened head a wealth of experience and knowledge that makes him seem more Oriental than Confucius.

Chicken is known far and wide as the world’s oldest living veteran kamikaze pilot. He flew 27 kamikaze missions during World War II, and it was not altogether his fault he never paid the last full measure of devotion to family and homeland.

“Sometimes I have too many saki toasts to kamikaze mission and miss the target and ocean, too,” he said.

On his last mission, his squadron leader rigged his plane so the landing gear fell off after he was airborne. Chicken made a pass at an American destroyer but wound up pancaking to a landing on a small deserted island in the Pacific where he waited for the war to end. For reading material, he found a library of books on the stock market left by the previous inhabitant who had decamped to the island after the 1929 crash. Chicken spent the years studying the American stock market and eating papayas.

Chicken didn’t find out the war was over until the late 1960’s when a second unit crew showed up to shoot backgrounds for Gilligan’s Island. He had already been lionized in Japan as the last kamikaze pilot to die in World War II, so Chicken decided to take his expertise on the stock market to the United States.

Since he bore a faint facial resemblance to Jerry Tsai, he was welcomed with open arms. He had his pick of Wall Street jobs, but settled in as portfolio manager of Enterprise Fund. After establishing his reputation as a money manager, he moved over into the brokerage business as partner in charge of back office operations at Goodbody. Having left his imprint there, he became, for a brief period, supervisor of accounting for Four Seasons Nursing Homes. His last job in the securities business was right here in Texas as chief trust officer of Sharpstown Bank.

Tiring of the constant pressure of the securities business, Chicken has moved on to other endeavors, but he maintains an interest in the market and is willing to share his acumen with struggling brokers and analysts if they will seek him out.

I wanted Chicken’s advice on a group of new investment vehicles that are generally called closed end income funds

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