Pat Greene Has a Marvelous Scheme to Conquer the World!

His sells the Cliffs Notes of tomorrow! He wants your kids to learn stuff the fast and easy way!

To make a long story short, burst spontaneously to life last spring.

It was not the first company to make long stories short, but just the first to deliver them instantly. It happened one night in the town of Liberty, where a minor character known as Little Monkey realized he was about to meet a literary giant.

The mere prospect of facing Shakespeare so boggled and terrified Little Monkey that he called to his aid his parents, his cousins, his aunt and uncle. They went forth into the night to scour the stores of Liberty. And though there were Doan's Pills for rarely used muscles and Ex-Lax for pampered bowels, the stores, alas, were fresh out of Cliffs Notes for Shakespeare avoidance.

To Uncle Pat Greene, anyway, it seemed terribly old-fashioned to run around town searching for a book. He turned on his computer and scanned the World Wide Web. Voila! There was the web site for Cliffs ... but the UPS shipment would take a week.

Poor Little Monkey was doomed. But as he trudged off to school to confront the tragedy of Macbeth, Uncle Pat hatched a marvelous scheme to conquer the world. Cliffs Notes didn't deliver over the Internet? This was wonderful news! Pat Greene quickly founded a publishing company whose stock would never be depleted, whose delivery was instantaneous, whose stores would never close and whose prices would never be inflated by wholesalers and retailers. From a small, barren office on Richmond, went online on October 1, pioneering, as Greene claimed, "the first significant change in publishing since the invention of the printing press."

Well, after the pornographers, anyway. They were first to deliver their wares over the Internet, and then came Greene. And what was the first product he chose to publish with this new printing press? Why, nothing less than the best that the old printing press had ever produced -- the great old books, summarized and interpreted, remade for modern times.

It would be the first step in Pat Greene's plan to conquer the world of education. By late next year, the English canon should be largely converted into "Monkey Notes," and instantly available at one-third the price of Cliffs Notes. By 2012, if all goes well, Greene will have eliminated the ivy-covered buildings on college campuses and replaced them with computer screens.

"We want to take children," said Greene, "and we want them to learn shit."

The tale of Little Monkey is a "cute story," but if you want to understand, Greene said, you have to hear the unabridged version.

At the bar in Bennigan's, he was the 50ish man with tinted glasses and tousled brown hair, drinking Miller Lite, smoking a cheap cigar and occasionally beckoning the bleached blond waitress, whom he called "Babe." He had a cellular phone, and every now and then it would ring. Once he told the caller to wake up that boy in Hong Kong. Another time, he spoke what sounded like Chinese. All of it was either too important or too trivial to explain.

"Nothing but business," Greene said in his basso profundo. "That's what the world is, son. Nothing but business."

His daughter Lisa, who does marketing for PinkMonkey, said that Pat Greene is "the ultimate entrepreneur." He said he was an investment banker, and he began the story of at the beginning.

"My wife and I, we were in Luxor staying in a wonderful hotel, the Winter Palace. We keep a suite there -- it's right across from the Valley of the Kings and all that bullshit. So to make a long story short, the king of Nepal was there, who's an old friend of my wife's -- she's one of the largest collectors of Egyptian mummy masks in the world -- and one night, we were cruising the Nile, and he asked if I could help build a hotel in Nepal. So I said, 'Okay, no problem, but you want a hotel, you make my wife a fucking princess.' Well, they couldn't do it, so they made her some kind of councilor shit -- just means when you go through immigration, you don't have to fuck with the savages."

Greene chortled and took a swig of beer. When he went to Nepal, he said, they told him they needed a dam for electricity.

"They said, 'Please build us a dam,' and I said, 'Prime Minister, baby, the chance of you clowns getting a dam in this fucked-up country is nil and none, but I'll tell you what I can do: I'll make a few calls.' "

So Pat Greene called a few American investors. The last he heard, they were building an $11-billion dam in Nepal.

"It was a wonderful four days," Greene said. "Got them a dam going -- big deal."

He told other tales of an American abroad. When he was asked if anyone could vouch for these tales, or for him, Greene offered the name of a banker who made flattering statements about him but would not have his name associated. And businessmen are like that, said Greene. They know reporters are likely to misquote them and make them look silly.

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