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Who Moved My Soap? The CEO’s Guide to Surviving in Prison by Andy Borowitz


Rating: (Mildly Recommended)


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If you’re looking for a book to read while enjoying a snack at Borders or its like, you can finish reading Andy Borowitz’ new book, Who Moved My Soap, before your second refill gets cold. While a few paragraphs brought smiles and a few snickers, I laughed more when I saw the gag before and after photos of Martha Stewart’s proposed jail cell. Here’s an except (pp. 6-11), all of Chapter 2, “From the Big Board to the Big House”:

Here's a little quiz. Who said this: "I'm innocent, man. I was framed. And if anybody says otherwise, I'll kick his ass."

If you guessed Kenneth Lay, the former CEO of Enron, that's a good guess—but you're off by a mile. It was actually said to me by my cell mate, a career criminal named Snake (not his real name). Snake, who has the powerful, muscular build of a younger Amold Schwaizenegger and the hard, don't-mess-with-me facial features of an older Joan Collins, proclaimed his innocence the first day I arrived in Cell Block Six, and he rarely misses an opportunity to reproclaim it; in fact, Snake talks about his innocence almost as much as CEOs talk about their severance packages. To hear him tell it, Snake has been framed for a remarkable string of car thefts, armed robberies, and assorted other felonies going back twenty years. When I asked him who, exactly, would have had a vested interest in framing him for these crimes. Snake looked at me as if I were an idiot and said, simply, "A woman named Faye Resnick." I thought it best not to explore the matter further.

Snake is not alone in complaining that the criminal justice system has treated him unfairly. Nearly every prisoner I've encountered since I came here vehemently protests his innocence and takes absolutely no personal responsibility for having wound up behind bars. When I hear them go on in this vein (and they do go on), I must admit that I feel very much alone—because unlike them, I really am innocent, and it's not my fault that I'm in here.

You're probably familiar with the unfortunate chain of events that led me to Cell Block Six, unless you've been too busy fleeing from the authorities to read a newspaper. No other recent business scandal has eclipsed the spectacular collapse and bankruptcy of the company I headed, the energy-telecom-pharmaceutical giant called Shamco International. I'm not one to dredge up ancient history, nor do I enjoy rehashing a story in which I have repeatedly and unjustly been cast in the role of scumbag. However, since the credibility of this book depends wholly on the credibility of its author, I feel obliged to tell you my side of the story, which, by the way, also happens to be the truth—regardless of what my jury unanimously thought.

Founded in 1997 by me and my then-business partner,  the  world-renowned  fugitive  financier Viktor M. Saurian, Shamco was a conglomeration of three smaller companies—KleptoCom, Larcenex, and Fungible Data—that Viktor and I acquired through a complex series of stock transactions, arbitrage plays, and one very successful bake sale. Making the disparate cultures of those three companies mesh was no small feat, especially since one of them, KleptoCom, turned out not to exist at all. It was rough going at first, and Viktor and I were forced to slash payroll and overhead, eventually moving our offices from a former Arthur Treacher's Fish 'n' Chips restaurant in Dayton, Ohio, to a twenty-four-hour photo booth in the middle of a CVS parking lot. But before you could say "Dow 30,000," all of our hard work paid off in spades: Shamco became one of the high-flying momentum stocks of the late 1990s, even dwarfing such then-hot Wall Street darlings as and 1-800-CATFOOD.

Flush with paper wealth, we moved our corporate headquarters from Dayton to the Las Vegas Strip and went on an acquisitions binge, investing in such far-flung businesses as genetically engineered cow manure and Liza Minnelli's marriage. Growing like a pesticide-resistant weed, Shamco eventually came to acquire twenty more companies and six U.S. senators. Suddenly, Viktor and I became feared, envied, and sexually attractive. As our company's stock price rocketed to increasingly empyreal heights, I had to pinch myself so often that I eventually hired a Stanford MBA whose only job was to pinch mei freeing me up for more pressing tasks like strategic planning and going to antique oar auctions.

But, as a wise man once said, "Nothing lasts forever'—and Shamco, sad to say, was one of those nothings that didn't.

I'll never forget the day when our magnificent company, this towering monument to our hard work and other people's money, came a-tumbling down like a house of maxed-out MasterCards.

I was on the Isle of Capri throwing a gala birthday celebration for my new bride, Conspicuosa von Mammon, a former Miss Benelux whom Viktor and I had met just two weeks earlier when she brought nachos to our table at our favorite restaurant near the Shamco corporate campus, Senor Wiggles Grill and Bar. I won't go into lengthy details about our courtship, because there aren't any: The moment I saw Conspicuosa, I fell wildly, madly in love for the first time in my life. One week later, she became my third wife.

On the weekend that Conspicuosa turned twenty-six, I flew two thousand of Shamco's senior vice presidents to Capri where, for forty-eight hours, they drank, tanned, drank some more, bad complimentary Botox injections, and chowed down on a lip-smacking array of gourmet delicacies, including super-spicy "hot hot hot wings" at a food station manned by none other than Queen Elizabeth II. (She doesn't do many corporate events, but she's available, so long as you're willing to pay her appearance fee and her hefty room service bill—-apparently, the lady goes through Toblerones like she hasn't eaten in a year.) Naked footmen, their glistening bodies painted with two coats ofgenuine24K platinum, waited on my inebriated executives hand and foot. A ten foot tall ice sculpture rendering of Eduard Munch's The Scream spewed Cristal champagne from its gaping, horrifying mouth. The party, in a word, ruled.

But as Sunday night drew to a close and the best and the brightest of Shamco International sang an unforgettable rendition of "Happy Birthday" to Conspicuosa—led by Celine Dion, Luciano Pavarotti, and several key members of the Goo Goo Dolls—1 got a call on my cell phone that would change my life forever.

"This is the SEC," the voice on the other end said.

"Sexy who?" I shouted, straining to hear over Pavarotti's ear-splitting high A.

"The SEC. We'd like to ask you a few questions."

Snapping out of my Gristal-fueled mellow, I immediately referred the caller to our general counsel, who at that vary moment was dancing the Lambada ("The

Forbidden Dance") with magician David Blaine, a late addition to the weekend's swollen entertainment roster. Heaving my phone into the blazing luau-style bonfire, I dashed away and boarded the Shamco corporate Concorde, flying back to Vegas faster than Wayne Newton with a second mortgage to pay.

Minutes after the plane touched down in Nevada, my limo driver, Kato, whisked me off to the Shamco campus, where I immediately started feeding seventeen thousand pages of highly sensitive financial documents into a custom-built nuclear-powered paper shredder I'd bought for situations just like this. Its inventor, a former Microsoft genius who'd been exiled from Redmond when he made fun of the shape of Steven Ballmer's head, had promised me that this technological marvel could eat the Shanghai phone book in 4.3 seconds, a new world record.

What made this chapter even funnier is that Borowitz’ parody of the Isle of Capri isn’t nearly as decadent as the Dennis Koslowski and Tyco original. Order a tall latte and grab a copy of Who Moved My Soap for a chuckle or two, but don’t expect to laugh out loud and spit out your coffee.

Steve Hopkins, June 21, 2003


ă 2003 Hopkins and Company, LLC


The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the July 2003 issue of Executive Times

URL for this review: Moved My Soap.htm


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