But first . . .

Thursday was Charles‘s show.

Tim Gunn, of Bravo’s ‘Project Runway,’ told the Associated Press ‘he had a grin on his face throughout.’ ‘I was blown away,’ he said.

. . . But [continued AP] the real show-stealers were the civilian models, including a gray-haired woman who works at the U.S. mission to the United Nations and a handful of children who walked the runway, one of them reaching out to the press, retailers and socialites in the front row. . . .

☞ The beautiful ‘gray-haired woman’ was Senator Kerry’s sister, Peggy. The child reaching out unselfconsciously to the press – a political career in the making – was Mari Rooney, Charles’s niece, aged 3.

There was also a human rights lawyer on her way back to Afghanistan (she has a proposal to divert the poppy crop away from the Taliban for use, instead, in Third World countries where there is a shortage of palliative medicinal opiates) . . . a third cousin to the Queen of England . . . some pirouetting members of the American Ballet Theatre . . . and our pal Ghyllian, a yoga instructor, and her 8-year-old niece Ashley.

Oh – and some for-real models who earn anywhere from $1,200 to $8,000 for an hour’s work.

Click here to see all 51 ‘looks’ from the show, which Style.com called, ‘heartfelt, fun, and as American as apple pie.’ (Don’t even think about buying any of the men’s stuff – I can’t afford it, and I get a steep discount.)

Here‘s word from the Cleveland Plain Dealer style editor:

Why isn’t the name Charles Nolan better known? A wonderfully skilled designer, Nolan cuts beautifully and thoughtfully for women of all shapes, sizes and ages — well-evidenced by his runway show on Thursday, in which members of his staff and friends and family were sprinkled in among the professional models on a makeshift runway set up in his studio workspace in a Chelsea loft.

They’re the clothes every woman should have in her closet, but rarely seem to — the perfectly cut khaki trenchcoat, the well-seamed crisp white shirt, the wide-legged trouser. A few pieces here and there over the years would add up to a lifetime of chic. Saks Fifth Avenue at Beachwood carries a bit of the line — pop in and try it on. You’ll wonder why you haven’t looked this way your whole life.

☞ And not just Saks anymore. Lord and Taylor and Nordstrom are beginning to carry the line, as are some some smaller independent shops in places like Birmingham, Grand Rapids, and Omaha.

And then there’s this (‘Charles Nolan: The Sleeper Hit‘) from ALMOST GIRL: ‘Was it a show! . . . I saw piece after piece that I wanted to buy, a first for me this season so far.’

And this from AOL’s style page (‘Although it can feel like a big schlep to get to a show which isn’t in the Bryant Park tents – particularly on day two of a taxi strike! – it was worth the trip to get to Charles Nolan’s show yesterday in his West Chelsea studio. . . . [Y]esterday’s looks were the kind of pieces with panache which make you smile every time you see them in the closet as you’re deciding what to wear.’)

Few people noticed all the details. For example – every model in every look was carrying a book, ranging from The Book of Common Prayer to Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great to Bill Clinton’s Giving to Miroslav Sasek’s This is Rome to that old erotic classic, The Story of O. (And, yes, one investment guide.)

And how many people would have imagined that Charles had painted the ‘scrim’ – a 192-square foot curtain – all by himself just a couple of nights before?

But they sure noticed when the light came up behind that innocuous beach scene and (as is the way with scrims), the scene ‘disappeared’ to reveal a tableaux of eight models in a still life, who then – once the scrim was pulled aside for real – came to life one by one to walk out onto the runway.

And if they didn’t know what the FINCA T-$hirts were (‘small loans / big changes’ – microlending that empowers women), they certainly noticed how good everyone looked wearing them.

Okay. Enough. The holidays are coming. You’ve got a wife? A girl friend? A sister? A daughter? An assistant? A grand mama? Go ahead: make my day. Buy her something nice.

And now . . .

FIRST MUD, NOW PAPER

The original Aldabra, you may recall, was a blank-check company that chose to make itself payable to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock, acquiring that old-line company (and adopting its name and stock symbol: GLDD). Those were the warrants we did well with, more or less quintupling or tentupling our bet, depending on what we paid for the warrants, in about a year. Those of us who’ve exercised some or all of the warrants find ourselves in the mud business. I, for one, feel very good about this.

Now the sequel, Aldabra 2, on which some of us have also bought warrants, has made a deal to acquire a Boise Cascade paper products business. Newsprint, copy paper, cardboard boxes. Ah, you say – has no one told these people that newspapers are on the way out? That the paperless office is on the way in? That Wal-Mart is leading the charge toward less packaging? Well, my shorthand answer is that these guys are pretty smart (albeit not infallible), and may actually have considered some of that before choosing to spend $1.6 billion.

The investor presentation, a 42-page powerpoint, is here. The nub of it is on page 4:

We are buying a significant cash flow generating and asset-rich business and believe the purchase price of 7.0X LTM Adjusted EBITDA* . . . is attractive . . . [the more so] considering Boise Cascade is nearing the completion of several extraordinary capital spending programs to expand production of certain paper grades and value-added products which should enable the business to grow EBITDA over the near term.

In addition to the attractive valuation, we believe the business benefits from several unique customer relationships and positive industry dynamics. We believe the paper industry is in the early stages of significant rationalization due to consolidation, the closing of facilities, and the application of financial discipline which should drive higher returns on capital.

☞ Time will tell whether this investment thesis is valid. If it is, and AII** climbs to $14.50 in the next three and a half years or so before our warrants (currently $1.18) expire, we will roughly sextuple our money (before tax). If the stock stays exactly where it is ($9.22), we’d make half a buck or so (the warrants give us the right to buy the shares at $7.50), which works out to a gain of about 45% before tax. And if it all tanks, as it could, we lose every cent, which is why you must only make this speculation with money you can truly afford to lose.

* Seven times last twelve months adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
** Which will change its name to Boise Paper Company if the transaction is completed.

DON’T SELL YOUR FMD

More reassurance from Tom Brown, who follows this closely. (My own FMD guru obviously agrees.)

 

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