the schmooze


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Do you remember the Broadway show, 'The Producers," starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick? Here's a short synopsis:

The down-on-his-luck theatrical producer, Max Bialystock, is a man who is only interested in making money. He is willing to do anything ("abi vos") to make money, including "shtupping" every old lady in New York. Bialystock is described as selfish ("egoistish") and greedy ("girik"). Max is often angry ("broygez"), short-tempered and unwilling to cooperate nicely. Some say he is a stereotypical New York Jew. "A sof, an ek!" (That's enough-- stop it!)

Max is a maniacal Broadway CON ARTIST (think Bernie Madoff), who sets out to become fabulously wealthy ("raykh") while swindling investors and producing a guaranteed flop, the worst B'way musical of all time. Max says, "Money is honey! Money is honey!"

Bialystock wants champagne, fine clothes, huge hotel suites, and the adoration of "sheyn" chorus girls. He is so greedy that he ends Act l, Scene 2, on his knees praying to God, "Oh, Lord, I want that money!"

Leo Bloom is a mousey CPA. (No, not cleaning, pressing, and alterations!) When the two meet, their combined expertise points them toward a SCAM. Raise more money than you need for a sure FLOP B'way show. They find the ultimate bad play, "Springtime for Hitler,"... and the show becomes a HIT!

Max Bialystock says, "We got the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did we go right?"

Max continues, "How did it begin? He walked into my office with his cockamamy scheme! You can make more money with a flop than with a hit! We can do it! We can do it! I can't do it. I can't do it Good-bye Max! Oh Lord I want that money! I'm back Max! Oh Lord I want that money! I"m back Max! Come on Leo, we can do it! Step 1. Find the play! See it. Smell it. Touch it. Kiss it! Hello Mr. Liebkind! Gutn Tag, hop hop Guten Tag, clop clop! Adolf Elizabeth Hitler? Guten Tag, hop hop Guten Tag, clop clop! Step 2. Hire the Director. Keep it gay, keep it gay, keep it Two-three, kick, turn, turn, turn, kick, turn! Ulla! Oooh wah weee wah wah wow wowie! Step 3. Raise the money! Along Came Bialy! Step 4. Hire all actors! A wandering minstrel I, A thing of shreds and...Next! The little wooden boy. Next! That's our Hitler! Break a leg! I broke my leg! Spring for Hitler and Germany. It'll run for years! Where did we go right? Where did we go right? Gimme those books. Fat, fat, fatty! Gimme those book! Fat, fat, fatty! Books fat! Books, fat! Books, fat! Lousy fruit - kill the actors. You ever eat with one? Then you ran to Rio. And you're safely out of reach. I'm behind these bars. You're banging Ulla on the beach!..."

And now to Bernie Madoff. Allan Sloan wrote a fascinating article in Fortune magazine titled, "Don't Blame the SEC" (1/19/09). He asks, "What do the real-life Madoff and [Zero] Mostel's fictional Max Bialystock have in common? They used the same principles to pull off a bigtime financial fraud ("shvindl"). These are 'If you're going to steal, steal big. If you're going to cook the books, make up numbers of your own--don't try to doctor the real ones. And, finally, if you're going to fleece people, turn down enough potential investors so that those whose money you take feel so honored that they don't do basic homework to find out about you."

Both scamsters, Max and Madoff, according to Sloan, "generated an aura of exclusivity by not taking money from just anyone."

David Sheehan, a lawyer, said "There wasn't any stock bought or sold for 13 years. It was all just made up...You got somebody else's money. Claim requests [as of 2/21/09] have already come from 2,350 Madoff clients/customers, claiming losses. This number is expected to double before the July 2 deadline to submit claims.

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe thanks Allan Sloan for
suggesting the partners in crime:
Zero Mostel and Bernie Madoff.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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