Poet Donald Hall…

has died. UD thanks Van, a reader, for telling her. She will expand this post with some comments on Hall.

***************

Donald Hall loped through poems, rather like the laconic farmer he was, loping through fields of New Hampshire hay. His strongest emotions appear in the volume Without, an extended effort to understand his condition of rage and loss after the leukemia and death of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon (“pain vomit neuropathy morphine nightmare”), but this condition of being too overwhelmed for tempering commas and capitals does not produce his best poetry, UD thinks. His strength was in all that laconic loping through life, in an earthy egoistic uprightness that kept him going until 89. In his calm long stretchy verbal reach, he was the anti-Rilke.

He was most himself in poems like “Closings,” in which he brought his characteristic precise observation, empathy, and conversational simplicity to the violent suicide of a close friend and fellow poet, Liam Rector. In nine stanzas of short-lined free verse, he moves from Rector’s flamboyant physical appearance (“Liam the dandy/ loved Brooks Brothers shirts, double-breasted / suits, bespoke shoes, and linen jackets.”) to his membership in the community of too-soon-dead poets (“T.S. Eliot turned old and frail at sixty, pale, preparing for death. / Then poets of new generations / died — Frank O’Hara first, then Jim Wright / with throat cancer in a Bronx hospice, / Sylvia Plath beside the oven, / Thom Gunn of an overdose…”), to memories, now that Rector’s life has “closed,” of his very open intensity during most of his life (“erupting with gusto / as he improvised his outrageous, / cheerful, inventive obscenities.”).

As he moves toward the end of his in memoriam, Hall notes that when Hall became an important cultural voice in America, Rector sent him a list of projects he might undertake, including

“Urge poets to commit suicide.”
His whole life he spoke of suicide
lightly …

Lightly, and like a lot of people who get very debilitatingly sick, practically. It was a solution to intolerability.

Hall closes where he opened, with Rector’s flamboyance – a flamboyance he expressed to the very end, dandily dressed and dancing with his wife.

[O]n August fifteenth Liam pulled
the shotgun’s trigger. The night before,
wearing a tux over a yellow
silk shirt, he danced with Tree once again,
before bed and the morning’s murder.
He left Tree alone and desolate
but without anger. Tree knew Liam
did what he planned and needed to do.

It is a blunt and matter-of-fact conclusion to a poem that urges, in the case of suicides like this one, an acceptance of the integrity of the choice.

**************

And by the way, all you have to do is read Rector’s wonderful “This Summer” to see why he and Hall were buddies. There’s the laconic morbid material:

I roar out of the Farber Clinic

(how splendid to have cancer in Boston
and fall heir to the astute care
available here)

in the silver sports car I sport
during this debacle…

Sport/debacle: great stuff. You see Rector jauntily/dreadfully keeping his head above water through the worst… He smokes tons of marijuana through chemo and radiation, and praises it highly – lightens the pain, clarifies things. The praise brings on several stanzas of unabashed delight at the memory of his hippie summers of love past – the joints, the music – and somehow the awareness that he delightedly lived that free life makes death okay.

This summer
I have conversed with death every minute

and found out I have the talent
to submit, to leave, even to flee…

****************

In a wonderful phrase, he describes his existence as

a late century life afloat on a sea of loans.

And then he ends the poem brilliantly, hilariously, with his sixteen year old daughter’s prim dismissal of the drug that has meant as much to him in his youthful exultation as in his aging agony:

[I] hear over the telephone my sixteen-year-old
daughter in Virginia saying she now thinks

she will never ever smoke marijuana
because it is, after all,
just another “gateway drug.”

This is laugh out loud stuff if you ask old UD; and since Rector has, earlier in the poem, written about the gates of heaven —

I think I may die without god,
my single comic integrity

that I have remained
an atheist in the foxhole,
though I am ready

to roar through the gates
if there are gates.

— we get the terrific payoff of those two kinds of gates – one doubted, profound, mysterious, beckoning; the other flat as a pancake.

El Al Airlines: Far Out.

Sing it, Donovan.

**************

They will bring haredim in a bag
They will take off late with the pious blind
And apart from that they’ll be so kind
In consenting to blow your mind.

Fly El Al Airways, get you there past time.
Fly El Al Airways, get you there past time.

They will force favors from the ladies
The hours will pass in excellent style
“Would you please move your stinking impiety
To the section of unclean aisles?”

Fly El Al Airways, get you there past time.
Fly El Al Airways, get you there past time.

They will bring joy to criminal bigots
And sorrow to law-abiding women
Who, disgraced, degraded, finally give in
For the sake of other passengers
Who sit for hours while El Al assholes
And haredi assholes scream at each other.

“When Mike Leach was caught in his video lie, his university did not set the record straight. Washington State issued a meaningless statement backing its coach’s right to his ‘personal opinions.’ And Leach himself said the actual words spoken by Obama are ‘irrelevant anyway’ because ‘we are discussing ideas.’ All of this from an institution of higher learning.”

Well, if you read this blog’s coverage of Washington State University, you’re not as surprised as this New York Times columnist. Because you would never call jockshop WSU an institution of higher learning.

More on Washington State University’s Highest-Profile Representative

Leach talks like someone who can see the fading, wavy outlines of the system he wants to criticize, but because he doesn’t understand where he lies within this political conversation, he mostly comes up with nothing but empty words and sentences. He’s woefully and painfully undereducated on the topics that are upsetting him, and seems confused about what kind of conversation he even wants to have.

And that’s why he’s the highest paid person at a major public American university!

Leach’s own ideology is hard to pin down because he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about; his four-hour Twitter rant and response in this Q&A mostly come down to denial and steering things back towards himself. It’s all honestly impossible to parse, because there’s mostly nothing there.

In other words, a spectacular model for our students!

Background on Leach here.

With the lilt of my beloved Lezhneva in my ears…

UD catches sight, for the hundredth thrilling time, of the New York skyline from her Northeast Regional.

She’s spending three days in Boston. Blogging continues throughout.

Viva Lezhneva.

Just when you thought squalid Washington State University couldn’t fall any further…

… their massively overcompensated, violent, nutso football coach – the Roseanne Barr of the Gridiron – blasts out a hoax tweet, is informed it’s a hoax, and tells everyone who told him it was a hoax to fuck themselves.

[A doctored video] has been circulating for about four years among extreme right-wing conspiracy theorists; [it] splices elements of a speech [President] Obama gave in Belgium in 2014. The words are edited to make it seem like Obama told a European audience that “Ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs, that order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign.”

In fact, as the unedited video and transcript of the speech shows, Obama was saying the exact opposite, discussing two visions of power in the world and arguing that authoritarianism was a threat to the international order.

Actually, the version where Obama’s saying the opposite is also doctored. Here is the actual original, from a speech Baylor president Ken Starr gave at Baylor when the rape scandal broke under coach Art Briles:

American universities are too intellectual to win football games; athletic victory can only come when professors surrender their rights to mentally retarded football coaches.

But giving the stupidest person in the state the state’s highest salary is only Step One.

The winning coach must also be a moral cretin, happy to recruit so many bad actors that WSU football boasts more arrests than any other team (here’s a loving defense of the goofy adorable lads).

He must be embroiled in endless expensive lawsuits against his former university football employers so that his current employer is afraid to fire him (lawsuits and buyouts and bad publicity oh my!).

Did I say afraid? Unable.

… Leach’s newly signed five-year, $20 million [WSU] contract means they have no power to coach up their head man on anything and have no financial resources to buy him out if push came to shove — which it most certainly would if they tried to rein in The Prickly One. Moreover … this episode ensures that no other Power 5 school would consider hiring Leach away.

He must contribute to the school’s already appalling overall deficit by adding a $67 million athletics deficit.

He must, ideally, be the foreman at so demoralized a football factory that students must lecture professors, at the end of every semester, on their responsibility to give them final exams.

He must coach at a school that responds to massive sports scandals by appointing new presidents who can say huh? Dunno. Just got here.

And if you’re Leach’s Washington State, which happily scooped up the notoriously mad bad Leach cuz it doesn’t give a shit about anything except football (even sportswhore Texas Tech fired Leach after he tortured a player), you’re going to show your keen sense of irony by hiring a new leader whose main life accomplishment is this:

President [Kirk] Schulz chaired the NCAA board of governors, the NCAA’s highest-ranking committee, from 2014-2016. The board ensures that each division of the NCAA operates consistently within the basic purposes, fundamental policies, and general principles of the association.

When UD read that, she almost peed herself laughing.

***************

Commentary coming in, and as usual Deadspin’s got some of the best:

[The] irony of a guy whose entire career has been spent at the public trough JAQing off about government power is a thing of beauty.

This one has a country music song twang to it:

[H]e’s every aging white moron

(Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be…)

**************

Sing it, Carly.

The concussed player you left in your office
The sound of you tormenting the kids
The look in your eyes like a nutcase
Your moronic conspiracy vid

You’re every aging white moron
Every aging white moron
The tweets, the lawsuits, the vileness, the sting
Of every little thing

Guess it’s our fault what you brought us
Our reputation’s dead on the floor
Why does your ghost still haunt me?
Cuz I can’t get rid of you no more

****************

Another Deadspin winner.

I think we can all agree that tweeting racist memes about our first black President is an excellent way to recruit black athletes.

Southern Impoverished Law Center…

… learns the hard way that sliming good people for fun and profit can really cost you.

SPLC Pays $3.3 Million Settlement to Counter-Extremism Group It Called ‘Anti-Muslim’

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, has apologized for including the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism group, and its founder, Maajid Nawaz, in its Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.

Background here.

In New Jersey, artwork of the highest…

caliber.

La Kid at …

… Donegal’s Silver Tassie

…for a friend’s wedding.

“[23-year-old] Jeremy [Webster] stated that he has mental health issues and just (started) a new prescribed medication today,” the warrant said. “Jeremy admitted that he used his Glock 19 handgun to shoot [five] people and that he secured the firearm in the trunk of his vehicle after the shooting.”

Defend the right of insane 23-year-old mass murderers to own Glocks!

More on Bourdain.

[T]he biggest problem with suicide is that it is genuinely a good solution. And to get outside of it, to live with it, and to effectively take all that pain and find a way to give back and help the world is something most could never imagine. In that sense, what Anthony Bourdain did was Herculean.

Watch as images of two of the Soltan Fangors appear.

Our other two will be featured in Bonham’s New York auction this November.

Need more information before you buy? Scroll down to page 105.

The beautiful world of American…

gun rights.

Native Russian Overteased Hair Threatened by Influx of Non-native Genes

Everyone’s talking about Duma member Tamara Pletnyova’s warning about World Cup miscegenation. Of all the coverage, UD‘s favorite is this Nigerian paper, which has the best picture of Pletnyova and the best bad English.

The Dutch: The next vile, discriminatory people to outlaw the burqa.

What a rogue’s gallery. Quebec Province, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Norway, Belgium, Turkey: All have total or partial burqa bans. Germany and England will probably have them soon. And now the Dutch are on the verge of a partial ban.

END THE ERASURE OF WOMEN.

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