La Kid and UD spend an afternoon at …


… the Newseum, after a
robustly expensive lunch
at The Capital Grille.

Waco, Texas 101: Distinguishing Among Marauding Hordes.

There is the marauding horde at the city’s Christian university, Baylor:

There have been altercations, sexual assaults, hidden police reports and no discipline. Everybody is in on it, trying to keep the football gravy trainrolling unimpeded by pesky justice for victims of the Bears’ marauding horde.

And there is the marauding horde at the city’s breastaurant:

Sunday’s fight escalated to include knives and firearms as gang members fired at each other in the Twin Peaks parking lot, police said, adding that nine suspected gang members died and 170 were arrested.

If you’re a diner or a shopper or a university student, try to stay out of their way. Now that the state of Texas is open carry, this should become easier. The marauding hordes are now likely to be displaying their weaponry.

If you’re a student and would like to study amid the bike engines, gunshots, police sirens, and screams of the dying, UD recommends earbuds.

Irises in Front of Our …


… Cambridge house.

Photographer: Joanna Soltan

“He was different in the best ways possible … He was drawn to obscurity…”

A brilliant, outrageously effervescent Georgetown University undergrad dies in a skiing accident. Here’s a terrific evocation of him.

If the people of Alachua County don’t think they deserve anything better than…

… a school superintendent whose self-published book has significant plagiarism, and includes sentences like “The flow of hot unpretentious lava with many fingers,” that’s their business.

“The history of the justice and law enforcement system in Waco is not the best, [one of the bikers’ leaders] said, adding that no one expected what happened that day to occur.”

Before the killing, massed police stood in wait outside the building; after the killing, they confiscated from the bikers

480 weapons: 151 guns, along with assorted knives, brass knuckles, batons, hammers, and the bikers’ blunt objects of choice — padlocks wrapped in bandanas.

But no one expected violence to occur, see.


Why is UD on about Waco Texas and the bikers?

Because there’s a university in Waco. Baylor University. Given on and off campus problems, UD doesn’t think it’s such a hot idea for women in particular to apply to Baylor.

On campus, there’s the whole rape thing. Off campus there’s… well, there’s Waco.

Waco has problems.

The [biker] shootout was just the latest instance of mayhem and chaos to focus unwanted national attention on Waco. Ten years after the Branch Davidian episode, a Baylor basketball player shot and killed a teammate after an argument. The ensuing scandal led to the resignation of the coach and probation for the team.


Waco attracts hordes of bikers. It’s in the heart of the breastaurant corridor.

En masse, roaring up and down your streets, bikers are really noisy. Most states care about the noise and try to regulate it, but don’t mess with Texas. They might have a law or two on the books, but why do you suppose all the bikers wanna be in Texas?

Do you like the idea of living in a town that’s ground zero for hundreds of bikers all year long? Does this seem to you compatible with university study?

Then there’s the bikers/guns thing. Waco doesn’t seem able to keep heavily armed caravans of bikers from storming through town on a regular basis. So far the bikers just kill each other. But eventually a revenge shootout’s going to hit other targets.

And, you know, Texas is all open carry now. What a fine thing to look up from your Bible As Literature class and watch these guys bombing through with their big guns hanging off their necks.

Perhaps Waco’s city council enjoys the bikers. Perhaps everyone on the council rides a bike. Dunno. I only know that Waco’s doing shit about motorcycle gangs going at one another on its streets.


See, in UD‘s opinion, an undergraduate woman could do better than spend her afternoons on a rape-friendly campus and her evenings working as a server in a gang-themed breastaurant. I just think she could do better.

I mean, listen to this reporter. Read the accompanying story. At Baylor, you even have your choice of man-brawl locations: a Waco shopping mall, or, yet more conveniently located, just off campus.

‘Baylor professor Robert Darden said his heart sank when he heard about the Twin Peaks shootings. “Ah man, really? We were making such progress,” Darden thought at the time. “You don’t see this in Wichita Falls or Plano, or you don’t see Midland or Beaumont in the news. It’s Waco.”‘

Like everyone else ’round them parts, Professor Darden is marking the one year anniversary of the breastaurant-bikers shootout ‘cross town from his school, Baylor University.

After the melee and the nine deaths, “480 weapons: 151 guns, along with assorted knives, brass knuckles, batons, hammers, and the bikers’ blunt objects of choice — padlocks wrapped in bandanas” were recovered at the now-defunct, all-the-tits-you-can-eat Twin Peaks, and the exciting news is that the next biker happy meal will take place under a new law permitting every one of those guns to be open carried. With Twin Peaks fresh in their minds, Texas legislators passed an open carry law.

Well, it’s Texas. You still see a few professors bitching about the body count. But most of the professors who don’t love guns and aren’t on board with collateral damage will leave the state.


Update: UD thanks dmf, a reader, for this link to details on the winsome ways of some of the gunniest gunnies in Texas.

Once the prices are up, who cares where they come down?

To quote Werner von Braun; or, if you’re the University of Texas, once the pharma prices go up, who cares on whose head they crash down? Your endowment benefits hugely from investing in pharma company Valeant as it buys cheap old drugs and then jacks up their prices a zillion times over so that sick people…

Well, note the headline on an article about the situation in Nonprofit Quarterly:

Price-Gouging the Sick to Grow Your Endowment Turns Out to Be a Bad Bet

Yeah, everything was copacetic for awhile – Valeant, always mentioned in the same breath as its comrade in pricing Martin Shkreli, was doing great for UT, price-gouging the sick and making big profits and it was great for everyone! But then Valeant caught a teeny bit of bad publicity for making the hellish lives of sick people much more hellish, and its value dropped, and now the UT endowment returns are looking kinda shitty too because of UT’s failure to anticipate this glitch in an otherwise brilliant corporate strategy.

UD would love to know where UT’s investment advisors are looking next. Where’s the hot new pharma co. whose business model destroys the lives of vulnerable people for a GARGANTUAN payoff? Maybe UT can ask its business students to help them find the next Shkreli. A credit-bearing project of some sort.

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that are the most contemptible.

A man calling himself a reverend (Christopher Hitchens noted that in this country once you call yourself a reverend you can get away with almost anything) has withdrawn his lawsuit against Whole Foods.

What he did was order a cake that said LOVE WINS and then take it home and add the word FAG to the cake.

After which, weeping for the cameras because of the trauma he sustained, he sued Whole Foods for having written FAG.

This man, himself the object of a lawsuit because he has failed to pay his student loans, is emerging as an icon of contemptible behavior in a litigious culture. UD is glad to see him assume this role.

UD hopes Whole Foods refuses to drop its defamation suit against him. UD also hopes the law firm that took this case and played along for the cameras with its poor traumatized client gets hit for legal malpractice. Austin Kaplan, the lead attorney, graduated with various honors from American University, here in DC. AU should consider revoking some of those honors.

And the city of Austin might want to revisit Kaplan’s recent Austinite of the Year award.

Kaplan was close to tears as he wrapped up his acceptance speech, displaying to those in attendance how passionate and dedicated he is to his line of work.

There are certainly a lot of man tears around this story. But franchement, for the city, it looks embarrassing.

Your Morning Giggle

In Romania, you can get out of prison if you write enough books. One book = 30 days reduction in sentence.

One businessman just got out after writing five books; one of his comrades in crime, also now released, wrote four books.

Dark rumors of a plagiaristic nature are beginning to surface, however…

A.V. Christie, a poet who died last month at age 53…

… wrote dreamy enigmatic poetry, “elliptical” poetry a fellow poet called it. A steady eye for nature and a sense of poetic and thematic history kept her work from untethered surreality, as in this poem:


I was conceived in the cruelest month
in whatever spring California could muster.
A little rain — with some more likely.
And the buckeyes were they yet on the ground?
Damn my father’s smooth stone eyes,
other prevailing enticements and what Eliot called
the female stench. Damn the oaks,
their histrionics, struggling in the fog.
Spiderwebs lay in the grass, misted
and looking like misspent galaxies.
I cry into and out of this moment.
Pound told Eliot: strike this and this.
What was weak got dropped, and the poem
stood stronger without it.


You see what she does in this brief lyric, which amounts to a brief for brief lyrics. She begins and ends with T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, a long poem but not too long, since Ezra Pound edited away “what was weak” in it. So this is first of all let’s say a comment on Christie’s own poetic philosophy, in which your slender lyric results from a “strengthening” process of winnowing down to what really matters, to only those images and observations that really carry substance.

This sounds quite positive, poetically and existentially – the strong poem emerges from principled and strategic winnowing, and the strong self emerges from a similar process of self-definition that takes place after one’s birth into undifferentiated being.

Yet the body of the poem – a series of reflections on her conception, and on her attitude toward having been given life – is darker. California’s spring is cruel because it is arid, not rainy; she herself represents, by implication, merely what her parents could “muster.” The early-blooming buckeye tree had maybe, at the time of her conception, already dropped its toxic beautiful fruit, a fruit compared to her father’s seductive toxic eyes (Damn my father’s smooth stone eyes), enticing her mother into sex. Her mother’s “female stench” – a phrase Pound successfully persuaded Eliot to drop from his poem – in turn enticed her father.

(And why was Pound against female stench? Because the entire passage of which it was a part was unsuccessfully derivative of Alexander Pope. Again the idea that poetically or existentially the imperative is to go forward – note the punning title of Christie’s poem – as a radically self-fashioned being.)

So damn him and damn her, mindlessly conceiving the poet; damn the two of them, their erotic “histrionics,” their “struggling in the fog.” Damn the death already implicit in his stone eyes and in her stench.

Stephen Dedalus, imagining his own conception, perceives the same mordant morbid fogbound struggle:

Wombed in sin darkness I was … made not begotten. By them, the man with my voice and my eyes and a ghostwoman with ashes on her breath. They clasped and sundered, did the coupler’s will.

And now the poet’s parents lie back, post-coital, still entwined, their world-projection misspent:

Spiderwebs lay in the grass, misted
and looking like misspent galaxies.
I cry into and out of this moment.

On the simplest level, the poet will ultimately cry forth from the womb out of this moment. But she is also damning the moment, crying into it, feeling herself to be, let’s say, the “misspent” product of a damnable coupling.

Pound told Eliot: strike this and this.
What was weak got dropped, and the poem
stood stronger without it.

These lines now have an uglier, better never to have been born, spin: The poet herself might well have been edited out by a “better craftsman” of the sort Pound represented.

In this reading, the brief lyric she has written amounts to an argument for, a reflection of, a brief or maybe even nonexistent life. This is Eliot’s Waste Land of rapes and abortions, stripped even of what Richard Ellmann calls the poem’s “neo-Christian hope.”

‘The recent sexual assault arrests of [fraternity president Jacob] Anderson and former Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman, and sexual assault convictions of former Baylor defensive ends Tevin Elliott in 2014 and Sam Ukwuachu in August, have thrust Baylor into the national spotlight for the manner in which it has handled the sexual assault reports.’

And and and and and… You’ve got to string together a lot of ands to describe campus life at Baylor University.

UD’s sister…


UD’s Nephew By Marriage Is Graduating from Boston University Med School…


…even as we speak.

He’s embracing UD‘s
niece, Giulia.


UD thanks Betty for
the image.

Getting between a boy and his toys is always risky…

… as the women on Seattle’s city council have discovered. They voted against a proposal to build a new basketball arena in the city, and the reaction to that decision helps you understand why so many once-respectable American universities (Rutgers, Chapel Hill, Penn State, Minnesota, Louisville) have allowed the culture of professional sports to turn them into national jokes.

You need to drill down to the trustees (feast your eyes on this photo), to people like the King of Oklahoma State University, to understand how it’s gotten so bad on so many American campuses that a few people are beginning to notice. You have to focus in on people like Jason Feldman, a Seattle attorney who, along with quite a few other men in Seattle, uncorked his rage against – let’s see – what did he call them – the whoring pieces of trash on the council who blocked his basketball fun.

How did it come to this? I mean how did the American university come to this? How do you get to a university that for more than thirty years harbored and adulated a child rapist? A university that for twenty years implemented an elaborate, completely bogus curriculum? A university that was running a whorehouse? You get there by putting in charge people who share the enthusiasms of Jason Feldman Esq.

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