NYSE's merger for a song?

Jerry Putnam, the Archipelago chief executive, says his company has "long acknowledged the New York Stock Exchange's position as the leading US marketplace" and believes Arca's mission is to make markets better.

Alongside making better markets, Putnam and his ilk have enlivened the art of trash talking. Because referring to the NYSE as a "dinosaur" was clearly not enough, Arca produced a song to show how it really feels about the company that ended up buying it.

"Joey the Specialist", set to a melody right at home on the Nascar tracks where Arca sponsors a car, tells us that you just can't trust the traders on the NYSE floor - unless they pay you:

"Joey the specialist was never that quick on the draw,

So I wasn't surprised what he said when I gave him a call

'You can't trust the tape,' he said, 'It's running behind,'

'The order book is frozen till I finish my ham-on-rye,'

I can't live my life at the speed of a guy named Joey,

Joey the specialist seems to have all the good luck,

He pennied his grandma just to make himself a quick buck

I tried to sell him some shares at the price he bid,

But he told me someone else already traded ahead

I can't waste my time with a guy named Joey,

Goodbye Joey I'm leaving for Arca

They don't mess with everything I do,

So I'm leaving you..."

Observer's man on the NYSE floor hears the specialists are preparing Putnam, set to be president of the NYSE Group, a warm welcome.

Coffee talk

Daniel Loeb, head of hedge fund Third Point, is at his keyboard again.

Having gained international notoriety for his e-mail exchanges with a London hedge fund manager, Loeb has sent a missive to Leonhard Dreimann, chief executive of Salton, the domestic appliance maker, in which he explains why Third Point sold the company's shares.

Noting that Third Point bought the stake fully aware of Salton's difficulties, Loeb said be believed that "even a manager as flawed as yourself" could turn the company around. Over time, however, he decided otherwise, said Loeb, giving details of lavish hotel and travel arrangements for Dreimann paid for by Salton.

Loeb said the final straw was a visit to the 2005 International Home and Houseware where the Salton booth "was a debacle and conclusive evidence that you are clueless". Loeb said: "I was a little taken aback by the sonic wave toothbrush which was displayed by an out of work doctor who couldn't tell me if the product was endorsed by any medical or dental associations and referred me to the Salton website for the answer." (It was not.)

Foul mouthed

The battle for fresh breath is turning nasty. Listerine, Pfizer's mouthwash leader, has some sullying words about Crest's newly launched Pro Health Rinse: the mouthwash challenger discolours your toothy smile.

"Crest, which has made its name in teeth whitening, has come out with a mouthwash that actually stains teeth," Meghan Marschall, spokeswoman for Listerine, tells Observer. "The CPC ingredient can interact with toothpaste in a negative way. Since CPC is based on a chemical charge, as is toothpaste, they can counteract the other if used back to back."

As one might guess, Listerine does not use CPCs in its recipe, though it is launching a whitening mouthwash.

Told of Listerine's comments, Crest did not hesitate to bear its teeth. "All antimicrobial mouthwashes, including Listerine, may potentially cause a minimal degree of staining that can be easily removed with a tartar control or whitening toothpaste. Clinical research on Pro Health shows that many people do not experience any staining whatsoever," Tonia Elrod, spokeswoman for the Proctor & Gamble-owned Crest, tells Observer.

But the bad mouthing did not stop there. "We were looking to develop a mouthwash in a way that wasn't alcohol-based and didn't burn. It's hard to keep Listerine in for 30 seconds," she says. "Ours kills the germs without the burn."

Shoe in

Chief executives going off to jail seems to be a common occurrence these days. But how many are getting the welcome back treatment of Steve Madden?

The founder of the eponymous shoe company has been serving a 41-month prison sentence for conspiring to commit money laundering and securities fraud. After some 30 months, he is set to be released soon.

To celebrate the return of its founder, the company's trucks have been zipping around Manhattan painted black. No, this hasn't been to mourn the years without him but to celebrate his homecoming: "There's been one pair of shoes that's been impossible to fill," the truck side reads. "Steve returns. Spring 2005."

Talk about a hero's welcome. All poor Martha Stewart got after she served her time was first quarter losses of $19.5m.

Boo Boo Bus

Band-Aid is retiring a bandage that has held well for decades and is using the moment to tell all present and future cut sufferers about its history.

The 10-city bus tour that started yesterday will introduce the new "comfort flex" bandage - an "all-around better" Band-Aid, Sherri McCoy, president, tells Observer.

But it will also use the moment to recall some of the great Band-Aid moments in history. There was its invention in 1920, by a Johnson & Johnson employee whose young wife was forever cutting herself in the kitchen. There was the trip on the Mercury space flight in 1963. And, of course, there were the representatives who sang Band-Aid's "Stuck on you" jingle - written by Barry Manilow. These included Brooke Shields, Terri Garr and John Travolta, who before his role in Saturday Night Fever sang the tune in the shower with two other men - a boo boo he recovered from.

observer@ft.com

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