One sentence that sums up the spirit of inquiry at the University of Alabama.

What does Tim Williams’ arrest on a misdemeanor gun charge in Tuscaloosa early Thursday morning mean for Alabama at the outside linebacker position?

How Memory Works

David Brooks includes, among this year’s winners of his Sidney Awards, an essay by Robert Boyers, editor of the quarterly Salmagundi.

Many years back, Boyers published an essay UD wrote, about living in Warsaw, and she’s always remembered his kind letter (“lots of good stuff in here”).

Boyers’ winning essay is about the novelist Charles Newman, with whom UD had dinner decades ago, in Chicago.

Boyers, in his memoir of Newman, makes much of his physical beauty, as do a number of people who, after his death in 2006, wrote about him.

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From the long desk where she’s sitting now, at 2020 K Street, Washington DC, UD tries to summon Newman, across the table from her as he was that night in the ‘seventies. She tries to put him right over there, facing her, as he was then.

She remembers the restaurant, remembers thinking it was over-lit. The long dinner table had to do with several other people taking part in the event. UD remembers Elliott Anderson, also a writer, and Gerald Graff, an English professor. She’s thinking maybe eight people finally gathered.

Finally. The main thing UD recalls of that evening is Newman and his companions arriving incredibly, unapologetically, late. Since it was a dinner, UD and a number of others arrived only a little late; Newman rolled in two and a half hours after meeting time.

Although she must have just graduated from Northwestern, and therefore have been both young and quite junior to Newman, UD showed him her anger. She didn’t say anything. Saying anything would have been uncool, and this was a cool group. But she let her eyes register surprise, mild contempt.

In response, Newman let his eyes register an indifference that was at once indifference to UD‘s feelings (what she felt was that he was a celebrated novelist and she a nothing not worth showing up for) and indifference to UD as someone he might bed.

That part UD vividly recalls, because she didn’t respond to the beauty Boyers and others describe. Newman was a tall, strapping, all-American boy from the midwest. UD‘s taste ran to neurotic Jews and tormented Europeans. UD was attracted to her Rilke professor – a rotund, irritable, 65-year-old displaced Czech Jewish homosexual.

Plus, Newman was drunk and sleepy – he must have been late because he wanted to tank up – and sleepy drunks didn’t turn her on either.

Having piled on top of his lateness a pointless sexual diss, Newman at this point kind of shriveled up. UD viewed him for the rest of the evening through the mist (quoting Humbert Humbert here) of her utter rejection of him.

It was strange how quickly UD disliked Newman, because she’d entered the restaurant primed for admiration and sympathy. She liked his writing, fiction and non-fiction; she knew his wife had committed suicide. But whatever humanizing struggles he’d had in his life, Newman chose to show UD only the Stepford chill that went with his looks.

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Stepford’s the wrong reference. This is a story about the ‘sixties, even if it took place in the ‘seventies.

A post-coital, post-chemical languor, a give-a-shit hipness, was the currency of the day. Chet Baker singing My Funny Valentine. Amy Winehouse singing anything. That was the mood. I care less than you care. My transgressions are more self-destructive.

Erich Heller, UD‘s Rilke professor, offered a different model – modernism instead of postmodernism. In Heller’s world, it was all out there; the angst was on the boil and you were actively trying to do something about it. In Newman’s world, which was the real world UD then moved in, the angst persisted, but you boiled it down with irony and a raggedy sense of the futility of it all. She preferred Heller’s way.

Bishop’s Prick

Amy Bishop’s prick is her husband, of course, James Anderson, who lies and lies and lies.

He initially told investigators the family didn’t own a gun, though his wife had a borrowed one in the house.

Get rid of it,” he recalled telling her. “I didn’t want to have it. I didn’t feel we needed it.”

During Bishop’s first hearing today, a police investigator reported that

[T]he gun used in the shooting, found in a bathroom trash can on a floor below, was purchased in 1989 for [Bishop’s] husband, James Anderson, through a man in New Hampshire identified as Donald Proulx.

Gray said Proulx told federal agents Anderson, who was living in Massachusetts, asked him to buy the gun because Anderson was having problems with a neighbor and New Hampshire didn’t have a waiting period for gun purchases.

Keep Your Eye on Amy Bishop’s Husband.

He talks like mad to the press although lawyers have told him not to.

He lies. First he said this:

The New York Times reported that Anderson said he did not know his wife allegedly had a gun when she went to the meeting Friday at the university. “I had no idea,’’ he told the paper. “We don’t own one.”

Well, but you have one. And you and your wife have taken it to shooting ranges very recently. From The Chronicle:

… James Anderson, told both The Chronicle and The New York Times on Sunday that the family did not own a gun. But in an interview with The Chronicle today, he acknowledged that she had borrowed a gun, though he wasn’t sure from whom. “She was very cagey and didn’t say,” he said.

Mr. Anderson said he had told his wife he didn’t want the gun around the house because of their children, who range in age from 8 to 18. “Get rid of it,” he recalled telling her. “I didn’t want to have it. I didn’t feel we needed it.”

Ms. Bishop, according to her husband, had borrowed the gun and was considering buying it. Last summer, he said, someone followed her across the campus. “She was worried about crazy students,” he said.

… Mr. Anderson said he had gone with his wife to an indoor shooting range once, a couple of weeks ago. He said she had been there at least once before with a friend.

Don’t believe any of the bullshit coming out of the husband.

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Update on the century’s great psychotic romance:

She’s on suicide watch. This was predictable, since now that her brilliant scheme has been carried out, she doesn’t feel better, but worse.

Not only did she fail to kill everyone. After ditching the gun and going out to dinner with her beloved, she was supposed to go undetected as the author of the crime.

But she got caught, and now it looks as though the state’s going to hold and then execute her! How dare they! Crappy little state! Absurd little Alabamians! She is so far above them all. And yet they seem to have some legal right to continue to hold, and then execute her. Why go on.

And how will she end it all? In the great Wagnerian tradition of their long love affair, she will do it with the help of her adored James. She will stage a liebestod. He will smuggle in the drugs that will dispatch her before she has to undergo the degradation of being handled by people so contemptibly beneath her.

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Some speculation about future events.

Bishop may ask her husband to kill her children. He is almost as crazy as she is. They should be in protective custody.

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