December 19th, 2022
Michel Clain, the Belgian Prosecutor who can take much of the credit for uncovering Qatargate, had a little exchange with the Belgian Prime Minister recently.

Michel Clain: “We [Belgians] are in a corrupt country. Either the politicians do not understand, or they themselves are corrupt.”

The Belgian Prime Minister [asked to comment on Clain’s statement]: “If someone believes there is corruption, they have to prove it. You can’t say that, in such a way, lightly,”

Michel Clain [six months later]: “The latest report from the Financial Intelligence Unit reports astronomical sums laundered by criminal organisations. It is a state institution. You have 25 open cases of police corruption and the investigation is ongoing. So we are now six months after [the PM’s] statement. I wonder if we really still need to prove it to him?”

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[Clain] cites French revolutionary humanist values as his guiding principles. For him, financial crime has destroyed fundamental aspects of society. “White-collar crime is the cancer of democracy,” Claise wrote in one of his books, “Le Forain” (The Showman)…

Claise’s dramatic [Qatargate] intervention has left the European institutions headquartered in Brussels scrambling to explain why it took a Belgian official to uncover corruption at the core of European democracy.

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‘Course now that Clain has uncovered Qatargate, the PM’s boasting about him. “Belgian justice is doing what … the European Parliament hasn’t done.”

Politico writes:

[T]hat peacocking would be ironic to Claise, who complained in October that Belgium’s police are under-resourced, fighting a war against modern, high-tech corruption using “catapults.” Earlier in the year, he said the Belgian government was “on Xanax rather than Viagra.” 

November 29th, 2022
‘He chastised prosperous donors for giving disproportionately to Ivy League schools, rich hospitals and well-endowed museums, all while getting tax breaks for their donations. Why not share more of that wealth, he asked, with community colleges, low-income health centers, small arts groups and other struggling organizations?’

Pablo Eisenberg, a hero of this blog (UD has forever shrieked at super-icky moneybags who give their hundreds of millions to Harvard), has died.

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(By the way — Harvard’s current endowment woes – it has only just reached 53.2 billion dollars – have energized its alumni network to organize a massive, unprecedented, Save Our School campaign, with outreach via Go Fund Me pages in addition to traditional methods. “Our rainy day fund is down to 10.5 billion,” warns Sam Bankman-Fried, an MIT grad who nonetheless accepted a position as head of Harvard fund-raising because “Harvard is the lifeblood of Cambridge; when it goes, the city itself is imperiled.”)

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And as to how to convince people who give their money to Ivy League schools, rather than to the sort of places Eisenberg lists in my headline, to redirect their money… Well, you need to understand the cohort you’re talking about, first of all.

Let’s consider, for example, billionaire investor Marc Wolpow, who gives money to fat cat Wharton. What do we know about Marc?

Here’s our most recent information.

The wealthy head of [a] multi-billion dollar private equity firm is under investigation by Nantucket Police and the state Environmental Police for purposefully untying a 32-foot boat from a slip at Old North Wharf, allowing it to drift out of the Easy Street Basin and into the ferry lane. 


The suspect is Marc Wolpow, the co-CEO and co-founder of the The Audax Group, who allegedly found an unknown boat in the slip he uses on Old North Wharf on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 16…


After Wolpow untied it, the boat drifted dangerously past Steamboat Wharf, got pushed northward in the wash of the car ferry the M/V Woods Hole, then collided with the $5 million, 70-foot Viking sportfishing boat “El Jefe” causing damage to that vessel. It eventually ran aground near 22 Easton Street. 

Reached by phone this week, Wolpow declined to comment. 

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Here’s what’s shocking about this story:

1 Just anyone reached Wolpow by phone.

2 Wolpow declined to comment.

Why allow just anyone to get past your protection squad and reach you by phone? That’s nuts.

Even more bizarre is Wolpow’s refusal to say the obvious about his behavior.

Heard of property rights, asshole? [“Asshole” here refers to the person who got through to Wolpow’s phone.] It’s my fucking slip, I own it, and I don’t have to look at some cheap shitty boat some person decided to put in it. Do you think I want Nantucket boat owners to think I have a cheap shitty boat? It’s my right to do whatever I like to cheap shitty boats and I think the fucker who put it in my slip will think twice before he does it again. Oh, and fuck you for calling me.

Getting a person of this sort (Marc Kasowitz, Howard Marks, Vinod Khosla, Noam Gottesman, the Heliport Guys, stop me when you’ve had enough) to give money to what he inevitably is going to consider cheap shitty recipients will be very difficult indeed.

November 21st, 2022
American Hero.

Richard M. Fierro said he was at a table in Club Q with his wife, daughter and friends on Saturday, watching a drag show, when the sudden flash of gunfire ripped across the nightclub. His instincts from four combat deployments as an Army officer in Iraq and Afghanistan instantly kicked in. Fight back, he told himself.

In an interview at his house, where his wife and daughter were still recovering from injuries, Mr. Fierro, 45, who left the Army in 2013 as a major, according to military records, described charging through the chaos at the club, tackling the gunman and beating him bloody with the gunman’s own gun…

[H]e raced across the room, grabbed the gunman by a handle on the back of his body armor, pulled him to the floor and jumped on top of him…

The gunman, who Mr. Fierro estimated weighed more than 300 pounds, sprawled onto the floor, his military-style rifle landing just out of reach. Mr. Fierro started to go for the rifle, but then saw that the gunman had a pistol as well.

“I grabbed the gun out of his hand and just started hitting him in the head, over and over,” Mr. Fierro said…

As the fight continued, he said, he yelled for other club patrons to help him. A man grabbed the rifle and moved it away to safety. A drag dancer stomped on the gunman with her high heels. The whole time, Mr. Fierro said, he kept pummeling the shooter’s head while the two men screamed obscenities at each other.

When police arrived a few minutes later, the gunman was no longer struggling, Mr. Fierro said, and he feared that he had killed him…

October 13th, 2022
How can it be that I just cried in front of the very same paintings she cried in front of?

Just got back from the object of my pilgrimage: The Cy Twombly collection at the Menil in Houston. As I entered the Analysis of the Rose as Sentimental Despair room, I found myself weeping – not knowing why, not caring why, but weeping. As if that moment – all alone in the beautiful building dedicated to his work, no one else anywhere, the sound of complete silence – were the reason, the real reason, the full reason, UD hauled herself onto a plane from DC and came down here. And – listen up!

After a long stretch of years, I found myself drawn to re-visit the Cy Twombly Gallery in Houston this past spring. It felt like a homecoming. I stood in the room containing the polyptych in five parts, “Analysis of the Rose as Sentimental Despair” (1985), for hours, observing the subtle shifts of light and shadow with tears streaming down my cheeks. Twombly’s inimitable handwriting was so familiar, although the colors—burgeoning wine-drunk purples and devastating orange-reds—had been so hard to hold in the mind and the realization that they would slip away from me again was heartbreaking. This has been the one group of works about which I’ve been unable to write. These tender pink blushes and bruised blooms always struck me as too achingly beautiful, almost embarrassingly so, to put into words. They contain all that they need in phrases drawn from Leopardi, Rilke, and Rumi (“In drawing and drawing you, his pains are delectable. His flames are like water.”). More text, it would seem, could only serve [to] diminish them.

That’s a whole other human being, tears streaming in front of the exact same work that brought on my waterworks! Listen to what else Claire Daigle has to say about UD’s way-favorite artist.

It has become something of a cliché to call Twombly a painters’ painter, but with his charmed bookishness, he is foremost, in my mind, a writers’ painter. His gestures move between those of writing and drawing, between drawing and painting. Signs perch on the verge of manifest expression, often evading, occasionally gratifying legibility. His [art] partakes of Hermes’s signs, gathering in force as they range from mark to word to quotation through redaction and negation to clamor and quietude. The chromatic incidents—from tiny gem gleams to full blown detonations—and the extraordinary range of types of mark are felt only by the body, Dionysian. They remind us of all in art that escapes the verbal clutch that would hope to seize that which exists only in moments when the attentive gaze is fully present.

It was Roland Barthes’ essay on Twombly that got me going on the man, and I’ve never stopped loving him

August 21st, 2022
A Ukrainian Soldier.
Just because.
August 18th, 2022
Via my Ukrainian Friend…

… Tetyana. A mural in Paris, by Nikita Kravtsov.

July 24th, 2022
Go Beto.

A vote for Gov Gregory Abbott

Endangers your vibrator rabbit

Surrender your dildo

Your misery will grow

Vote Beto! and keep to your habit

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Really – the race is as tight as a Kegel exercise. Now’s the time to give Beto money.

May 23rd, 2022
Know…

hope.

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And:

Never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 this year…. Those who conceived this war want only one thing — to remain in power forever, to live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity.

Russia’s ex-representative to the UN in Geneva writes a Dear Vlad letter.

April 15th, 2022
Music to Sink Russian Battleships By

Bravo.

April 10th, 2022
How to double your money in Moscow.

[Marat] Grachev was fined 100,000 rubles, more than $1,200, [for displaying an anti-war sign in his computer repair store]. A Moscow politician wrote about the case on social media, including Mr. Grachev’s bank details for anyone who wanted to help. Enough money to cover the fine arrived within two hours, Mr. Grachev said.

He received 250,000 rubles in total, he said, from about 250 separate donations, and he plans to donate the surplus to OVD-Info, which provided him with legal aid.

April 7th, 2022
Pink Floyd Returns for Ukraine
March 14th, 2022
New postage stamp, Ukraine
March 11th, 2022
Matteo Salvini Sings: ‘Always Something There to Remind Me’

SING IT!

I walk along the Moscow streets you used to walk along with me
And every step I take reminds me of just how we used to be

Well, how can I forget, Vlad?
When there is always someone there to remind me
Always someone there to remind me

As Kherson falls I pass the refugees around me in the night
And I can’t help recalling how it felt to kiss and hold you tight

Well, how can I forget, Vlad?
When there is always someone there to remind me
Some Polish asshole there to remind me
I was born to love you and I will never be free
You’ll always be a part of me

If you should find you miss the sweet and tender love we used to share
Just come back to the places where we used to go like our beloved Red Square

Well, how can I forget, Vlad?
When there is always someone there to remind me
Always someone there to remind me

March 9th, 2022
So here’s what these guys did on their Spring Break.

“It was like a moment of humanity because you’re there and you just were holding your heart to them, and they would come up to you. It was a human moment.”

March 9th, 2022
Today, an icon for Ukraine. Endurance.
Discovered.
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