In 2011, Baylor University football star Tevin Elliott was suspended from school for academic misconduct, but was reinstated after university president Kenneth Starr intervened on his behalf.
… Elliott soon faced more serious problems. In 2014, he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison after a trial in which four Baylor students testified that he sexually assaulted them. Three of those incidents took place after his reinstatement in August 2011.
Keeping people like Elliott in school “… was my moral view of what the president of the university does,” Starr said.
Kenneth Starr, president of America’s foremost Baptist university.
As for all those pesky gang rapes (Baylor has recently reached settlements with two of their victims), ‘“I personally have doubts that there were gang rapes,” he said.’
West Virginia has been the hardest hit.
The proximate responsibility for this grotesque overprescription of opioid painkillers lies with West Virginia’s doctors. But no conscientious wholesaler could look at how many painkillers they were shipping to low-population areas of the state — and at how many people were dying from overdoses in those areas — and not realize that they were enabling a deadly epidemic.
Bernie’s calling for an investigation.
But it’s good. It’s all good. The worst of the wholesalers – McKesson – has a CEO who sits on the distinguished board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, shaping the political thinking of America’s best and brightest. The same man will soon be lecturing us on health care policy. Arizona State University has bestowed its Executive of the Year award on him.
All of this cuz, you know, he made sooooooo much money.
What’s his corporation’s secret? Here ’tis:
[Y]ou can make a lot of money selling dope to addicts.
Yes, sadly, addicts die. You just advertise for more.
This one, Lullaby, is by a Canadian poet, Amanda Jernigan. It shares with Aleksandr Kushner’s poem (see the post just below this one) an attempt to comfort the cold mortal self as it suffers the briefest and darkest and deadest days of the year, which inevitably means that it suffers a reckoning with its own deadly fate.
These are late December, everything winding down, poems. Winter solstice poems.
From its title (Lullaby) on, Jernigan’s poem makes explicit its aim to console. It’s a curious little poem, a tightly rhymed, iambic pentameter, song addressed either to one’s self or to one’s child, and most of its lines are very bleak indeed (even bleaker than Kushners’), very morbid, as the poet describes a life of darkness visible.
My little lack-of-light, my swaddled soul,
December baby. Hush, for it is dark,
and will grow darker still.
Born in darkness, then right away swaddled into more darkness (William Blake: ‘Struggling in my fathers hands: /Striving against my swaddling bands: / Bound and weary I thought best / To sulk upon my mothers breast.’), we shut up our souls and our children (Hush) because life is dangerously dark and will only get darker, and we are afraid. The event of the winter solstice expresses the truth of life as it slows and narrows and darkens over time.
We must embark
directly. Bring an orange as the toll
for Charon: he will be our gondolier.
Bring a brilliant sunny emblem of the lost world of light to the underworld’s ferryman who sits just across the river (both poems feature ritual gathering at a river) waiting to escort us to the end of life. Many of the world’s winter solstice celebrations involve offerings of fruit.
Upon the shore, the season pans for light,
and solstice fish, their eyes gone milky white,
come bearing riches for the dying year:
Pans is beautiful – a delicate, frail, one-syllable word painting the weak sun as searching for gold in the shallow water. “Solstice” fish, their pale eyes dead from weak sunlight, are tokens of the kingdom of unmoving darkness.
It is yours, the mime
of branches and the drift of snow. With shaking
hands, Persephone, the winter’s wife,
will tender you a gift.
The poet again directly addresses her child, or her own soul, and with rueful irony bestows on her/it the gift of a dead world (the mere “mime” of branches).
On her way back to the underworld, its queen pauses with freezing hands to offer a different gift to the poet, the poet’s soul, the poet’s child. What has she bestowed upon the artist?
Born in a time
of darkness, you will learn the trick of making.
You shall make your consolation all your life.
In Kushner’s poem, he’s standing outside freezing, but
I cannot live until
I’ve learnt how this trick is done.
He’s going to keep standing out there until he can figure out a way – poetically – to thaw, reanimate, and ultimately comfort the world. He’s going to learn the poet’s art – the magic trick of bringing the dead back to life. He’s going to learn how to keep us, as Ursula Le Guin says, from dissolving into our surroundings. And Jernigan has the same trick in mind: The poet learns the trick of making. She learns how the imagination can transform, enliven, and console.
Indeed that word – consolation – though it has nothing etymologically to do with the sun, has sol in it — for that matter, has soul in it… Which suggests that the poet’s gift, trick, art, is to pan for, to gather, to consolidate, what little sunlight remains, and transmute it to real gold.
… let us consider poetry as self-comforting. Poetry as an effort to thaw, somewhat, the cold dark late days. You know that feeling, after you’ve been skiing or hiking in the snow for hours, of gradually warming beside a fireplace? It’s one of life’s great feelings, the chilled body quickening back to life with a tea or a brandy… Quickening – as in that beautiful entreaty from the heavens to the windy world, in a Phillip Larkin poem:
And in their blazing solitude
The stars sang in their sockets through
`Blow bright, blow bright
The coal of this unquickened world.’
To feel your limbs radiating again under the familiar low flame — the body, frozen, has been reanimated, and it’s a gift, a reassurance, a confirmation of your warm-blooded flow.
So in these two poems – On a Dark-Blue December Morning, and Lullaby – you have writers spending most of their poem evoking the cold dark late December world, and then, at the end, insisting on their human – aesthetic – capacity to make something beautiful and glowing out of it.
Aleksandr Kushner’s 1974 poem describes a glacial Leningrad dawn:
On a dark-blue December morning
We leave the warmth of our homes
And go out silently into the frost.
The wooden kiosk is covered with ice,
Steam rises steeply into the sky.
A damp shudder runs through the trees
And you, my lovely friend, are wide awake
Rubbing your cheeks with your mitten.
I think that lovely friend is a cat the poet spies, animals being less undone by rough climate than human beings. Animals just get on with it; they’re not compelled to make anything glow, to reassure themselves that the world isn’t entirely dead.
Snow fell last night. People are scraping it away,
Some gently, others more busily.
Drowsy kiddies, warmly wrapped,
Are carried past in tears.
Those children’s tears signal, at the very middle point of the poem, a shift from unweighted to emotionally heavy description. The cat’s cheeks are dried by its mitten; children’s cheeks run with tears in the stinging cold. But of course tears signal sadness as well.
How unlike a pleasant stroll
Are these excursions towards the river!
In the dark narrow streets
We shiver in the Leningrad draft.
The “damp shudder” that runs through trees is the city’s cold wet wind, provoking not merely tears and shivers, but a feeling of deathliness: those dark narrow streets are coffins, that shiver rattling bones, and the sad silent communal movement toward the river a funereal ritual, some sort of ultimacy.
Here’s the final stanza:
And I, in my usual dogged way,
Try to restore their beauty to
The houses, the indifferent squares,
And the pedestrian on the bridge.
Deliberately I miss my bus,
And freeze now, stranded in the snow.
But I cannot live until
I’ve learnt how this trick is done.
Da, so now we’ve got the poet stubbornly assuming the poet’s role:
Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
That’s Shelley talking to the wind, but it’s the same stubborn poet, insisting on quickening the petrified world. How is the trick done? How can Kushner take all that dead stuff – houses, squares, pedestrians – and make it living beauty? Both poets expose themselves to the forces of the universe – wind, cold – in order somehow to prompt those forces not to destroy (“freeze”) them but to share with them the trick, the incantation, of their vibrancy. This is the poet begging nature to make him a verbal transmitter of its radiance. I cannot live until I figure out how to transform my extraordinary need for extraordinary intensity of life into poetic language that will quicken all those who read it.
Second poem coming up.
The obsessively plagiarizing president of Spain’s King Juan Carlos University allegedly steals work from his own father (author, by the way, of the “hagiographic entry for Francisco Franco in the 2011 Diccionario Biográfico Español,”), but I’m sure Dad doesn’t mind. (I wonder who he named little Francisco after?) What sort of father would object to his son stealing his work?
I bet Luis stole his work from his father. These legacy things are very Spanish.
Meanwhile, Francisco has refused a request from the regional parliament to testify about the matter. He’s way not in the mood to talk about it.
… with the same extensive ties to Yeshiva University.
Today’s highest-profile arrestee, Mark Nordlicht, even shares Madoff’s biography. Both had fathers who were financial crooks. Both were deeply involved with Yeshiva University, as were many of their associates. And of course both ran/allegedly ran virtually identical Ponzi schemes.
UD is certain that if the Lord had granted Nordlicht the length of time he granted Madoff, Nordlicht would, like Bernie, have been able to do fifty rather than a measly one billion dollars worth of business.
A brief review of the latest batch of YU-affiliated miscreants.
“We have to start to become embarrassed by this. There has to be a huge re-set in the Orthodox community.”
Start here: Your most public institution – Yeshiva University – is an increasingly criminalized location. Admit this and start cleaning it up. Remove Wilf’s name from the campus. Remove Rennert’s name from the campus. Strip of their degrees YU graduates who go to jail for massive financial crimes. And don’t strip quietly. Make a public statement repudiating them.
Find a president who doesn’t hide your affiliation with Bernard Madoff and Ezra Merkin, but who owns up to it and says that you’re now ashamed of it, and ashamed of the greed that made you decide to make those men campus heroes.
Admit that it’s time your university stopped making the news for all the wrong reasons. Admit that your hypocrisy – a pious Orthodox face hiding a cynical self-serving face – has done terrible damage to the school and has somehow got to end.
Subject all of your trustees to financial review by outsiders, with an eye toward conflict of interest and fraud. Then get rid of most of your trustees.
That’s what a huge re-set looks like. At least the beginning of one.
Wyoming, McDowell, and Boone, and Mingo:
These four no-count hollers all add up to… BINGO!
Get set for a lesson
From Mr McKesson
America’s greediest chairman, by jingo.
Shipping oodles and oodles of Oxy
To the poor and defenseless takes moxie.
While they die addicted
From what I’ve inflicted
I’m hoarding my bucks from the proxies.
Let’s toast West Virgina, my friends!
Let’s toast my obscene dividends!
And thank-you to the villagers
From our “most rapacious pillager” —
Your trustee, John H. Hammergren.
[UD thanks Dirk.]
Rita Kosofsky was about to be 95 years old.
Here are the remarks UD plans to make at her memorial event.
I must have been fifteen years old when I entered the Kosofsky house in Bethesda for the first time.
During that first dinner, Rita was quite openly interested in how well or poorly I spoke. To this day, I remember how self-conscious I felt.
After dinner, without any preliminaries, Rita ushered us all into the living room, gave each of us a copy of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, and started assigning roles. She herself was Eliza Doolittle, and she relished every awful sound that came out of her character.
On the walls of Rita’s daughter Eve’s bedroom were colorful sheets of paper on which Eve had, with a careful hand, copied out lines from poems that she liked. I remember standing in front of one of these pieces of paper and reading its lines over and over, trying to understand. It was a song, from a Shakespeare play. This was the first stanza:
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun
Nor the furious winter rages;
Thou they worldly task hast done
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
I registered the fact that this was a poem about death – about a calm acceptance of death after a challenging life well-lived – but I was too young to know – to realize – its deeper resonances.
Years later, when I encountered the same verse in a novel that Rita knew well and loved well – Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway – I was old enough to understand why Clarissa Dalloway is haunted by that morbid verse, even as she goes about her ordinary, busy, day, buying flowers, arranging a party, being caught up not in death but in life.
Like Clarissa, Rita was at once full of life and profoundly aware of the deeper resonances that always accompany us. Indeed Rita was physically much like Clarissa – a birdlike woman who seemed fragile but who was actually intensely and strongly alive: sociable, chatty, cultured, well-traveled. Rita remained at a very high pitch of vibrancy until late in her life, even as her aesthetic – rather than spiritual – sources kept her mindful of what lay beneath the busyness.
Rita was an expert on the short stories of Bernard Malamud; but the primary way I will remember her is as a guide to many many people in how to be a serious literary intellectual. Hundreds of gifted students at Walt Whitman High School owe a great deal to her.
Rita’s own children were linguistically gifted, and they were incredibly fortunate to have been born to a person who was herself a lover of language and literature. I remember something her son David told me about Rita. She’d had to have some medical procedure or other, and had been put under some form of anesthesia. She told David that she woke from the procedure aware that the entire time she’d been under, pages and pages and pages of novels she’d read had flowed through her mind. One after another these white sheets had arisen, covered with words.
Throughout the young lives of their children Rita and Leon (with whom she shared a passionate love) took every opportunity to read to them, to discuss stories and poems and plays, and to encourage them in their own early writing efforts. This was a house bursting with books, paintings, and records, and busy with outings to readings and the theater. Throughout her long life, Rita’s open-hearted artistic enthusiasms never dimmed.
Back in Eve’s bedroom so long ago, I scanned the final stanza in Shakespeare’s famous song:
No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renownèd be thy grave!
… and there’s nothing more scatheable than the surrealistic boxing with shadows that occurs when a local team booster, distraught that no one attends his university’s football games, troubles deaf heaven with his cries. SOS is particularly fond of this form of the persuasive essay and is always delighted to find a new one. So let’s go!
HEADLINE: UNM Football Has Earned the Right to Expect More Filled Seats
The University of New Mexico sports program is your typical farce/horror, with years of scumminess and scandals to its name. Because of this history, and for all of the other reasons students and others are staying home or leaving the stands early, few people attend Lobos games. Even when they’ve got a winning record.
The New Mexico football program has pulled a 180 since hiring a new head coach five seasons ago. But despite putting a winning product on the field, attendance has inexplicably continued a downward trend.
See, that’s why he says in his headline that the team “has earned” butts in the seats; they’re winning games. They got them an incredibly expensive coach who’s doing what he was hired for!
But the little shits complain about the expense.
Several readers have expressed dissatisfaction this semester with the perceived high price tag of the football coach, questioning how someone in his position could justify such a high salary.
And you know what else? The writer doesn’t mention it, but given that most of them don’t attend games, they’re also pissed that their student activity fee is insanely high, meaning they’re paying the dude’s ridiculous salary.
Even though no school in the Mountain West had a better conference record, no team had worse attendance …
Inexplicable. How can this be? Don’t all our students live for a winning football team? Where the fuck are they?
Some might argue the reduced attendance is due to a struggling economy that leaves no additional money for entertainment, but that doesn’t appear true as other schools have no problem filling [their] stands.
Additionally, package deals were available at the beginning of the season — some offering tickets for less than $6 per person.
Less than six bucks! That seems a pretty compelling piece of evidence that you couldn’t pay most UNM students to go to the football games. What might be behind this?
New Mexico has tried to lure in fans this season by revamping its concessions, offering free fan giveaways and introducing alcohol sales. It even opened up the field to the public after the game in an effort to give fans a better game day experience, to no avail.
With no professional sports teams, it seems odd that Albuquerque and the metro area don’t turn out in better numbers, especially for a local product that many have a direct connection to.
Yeah. Well. The beauty of the booze solution is that it makes an already pretty gruesome social scene a good deal more gruesome. You might not know this, but a lot of people dislike being around loud belligerent drunks. People with children, in particular, seem to object. Universities try to deal with this problem by stationing tons of police everywhere (thus adding to the expense of the enterprise); but again, inexplicably, the more an event looks like an encounter with a police state, the less people want to attend it.
The fans that do show up deserve a lot of credit as they likely supported the team even when it was down, but it still seems like the team has earned the right to expect more. Is it too much to ask the community to show student-athletes who proudly represent the name on the front of their jerseys that it cares?
If so, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise when coaches start to jump ship to pursue vacancies in places where it is not.
Now it’s getting desperate. And, as I say, surreal. For what can be the point of this writing? Are we trying to guilt-trip people into having fun? (Or scare them: You might lose your million-dollar coach!) UD has read versions of this essay in which the writer instructs the local gentry that it’s their responsibility to attend football games. A civic duty, like voting. But voting is over in an instant; here’s the deal with football games.
Attending football games is boring. Plays take a matter of seconds, there’s an endless amount of time between plays when nothing happens, and the replays are limited. You can’t change the channel if the game’s lousy. The weather conditions are usually crappy, and the seating sucks unless you’re in a suite. You’re often clueless about injuries. I sit in a press box with replays and constant players updates and I get bored, so I can’t really blame students for staying home and watching on TV under greater/cheaper conditions.
To be sure, the boredom is occasionally broken by watching someone get severely concussed; but the drama is over in a second. Plus a lot of people don’t like watching young men get severely concussed.
Now SOS will let you in on the real reason a lot of students ignore your football team.
They are ashamed of the school. They don’t want to be seen publicly associating with it, and they’re certainly not going to cheer for it.
Well, you just type university new mexico in this blog’s search and engine and start reading.
And I just know you’re not interested in the one way you might actually be able to turn this around.
Try giving some money to the (get ready for it) academic side of your university.
Frosty beach stones and teapot.
… news that UM’s football team is boycotting the rest of its season (the little that’s left) unless ten suspended players are unsuspended, and unless it gets an apology from the school’s president for having suspended the players in the first place, ol’ UD‘s been pondering this one.
This is a new one on her. A university football team, en masse, refuses to play or practice, goes on strike, puts a jock school’s big-money super-ticket on ice. All at once a hundred and twenty glutes hamstrings and quadriceps enter the inactive list.
The announcement made for a spectacular visual. With trembling hands a wide receiver read from a sheet of paper, while behind him loomed suited-up troops.
The next day the university’s president issued a vaguely conciliatory statement, and today (Saturday) he has issued another, less conciliatory, statement. Here’s what he’s trying to convey to the lads.
Even though the courts decided there was insufficient evidence to go after a bunch of players who seem to have been involved in a gang sexual assault against a student, the university can do its own punitive thing. The team’s thing is that the guys are unjustly condemned since the courts turned down the case; the school’s thing is fuck that this place has had a shitload of sex problems from players as well as coaches in the last couple of years and we can’t afford to look as though we’re doing nothing.
I mean the school doesn’t say that; it doesn’t say that a random half-attentive blogger like UD can scroll through her University of Minnesota posts and be astounded by the number of sex scandals its sports teams have generated lately, but c’est entendu. It’s like Baylor or Penn State – do you really think this nation’s galloping-fucktard campuses are going to let the next run of rapes slide? We’ve got a critical mass problem here. We’ve got a money problem here. You know how much clean-up costs? The latest estimate for rapeabilly rapscallion Baylor is $223 million. (UD thanks JND for the link.)
So. A few more comments on this story if I may.
The team’s gotta be counting on a groundswell of support from students, alumni, the local community. They might not want to hold their breath. Fuck Fatigue has set in, UD suspects, as well as General Gross-out. Whatever else you want to say about the incredibly detailed university report on the events of that night, it for sure makes for nauseating reading. It even features a high school student, a person the team’s trying to recruit. One of his possibly future teammates is quoted saying “it was good the recruit was having sex because that might make him more likely to come to the university.”
Shades of the University of Louisville, our first official house-of-prostitution university.
Another reason we probably shouldn’t expect much support: There isn’t even that much interest in the game. After having built an insanely expensive new stadium because that would bring in huge numbers of fans, UM has watched the stadium steadily empty of spectators even as UM has got a huge debt to pay back on the place.
Datz right – tanking football game attendance is a national trend. But add to that the peculiarly off-putting business of rooting for a sorta scummy team and you’re talking rows of dead bleachers.
So the team isn’t playing and the students aren’t watching – a quintessentially postmodern moment here, no? Simulacrum City. Animatronic fans and billion-dollar gifts from trustee venture capitalists are going to have to keep the show going.
UPDATE: That was quick. Boycott over.
UD‘s gotta figure that the guys had a chance to read the university’s report on the incident. I ain’t kidding when I say it’s stomach-churning. Maybe you don’t want to put yourself on the line for the people featured in the report.
UD admires the team’s solidarity in defense of their teammates. But anyone making their way through the eighty sickening pages describing what these guys actually seem to have done will conclude they’re not worth fighting for.
It’s all over but the satires.
… is such a great phrase. It used to be the name of a New York City drama group, but I don’t think they’re active anymore. May UD use it? It could be this blog’s subtitle…
Fernando Suarez, the chancellor of Madrid’s King Juan Carlos (speaking of miscreants!) University, “has been accused of copying other historians’ work and that of his students, over a period of up to 10 years.”
Ten years? I rather doubt it. If he’s been kicking around long enough to enchancellor a university, it’s gotta be more like twenty years. Start with the dude’s dissertation, suggests UD.
Suarez is a classic plagiarizer: He’s been at it forever; he lifts from his betters, he has really pissed people like Bernard Vincent off, and he’s fiercely defending himself against this nefarious plot against his good name. He argues that aside from being the victim of said evil conspiracy, he didn’t make any money off of whatever he did or didn’t do, and it was the fault of other people and so he’s innocent.
Colleagues are currently trying to remove this big ol’ butt-boil from the Spanish university system, but as of this writing Suarez remains firmly affixed to that country’s higher education establishment.
Sign a get-rid-of-him petition here.
UPDATE: More detail on the dude’s wondrous multifarious self-defense:
Suarez fought back against the accusations on Nov. 25, when he denied that his methods constituted plagiarism, alleging that his academic publications generated no economic profit and had limited print runs.
He said that the plagiarism cases uncovered by journalists were actually “dysfunctions, because I’m human.”
“We work with avalanches of material in our research teams,” Suarez said, adding that the accusations against him were an attack against the university “by the usual suspects.”
Let’s review, shall we? I’m off the hook because
1. I made no money off of it.
2. I only printed a few copies.
3. Everyone’s human.
5. Goddamn anti-intellectuals.
A word of advice for Suarez from ol’ UD, who has been covering plagiarism stories for a long, long time:
He’s pretty much out of hope at this point. Chances are excellent that he’s about to have his ass handed to him. But should Suarez opt to keep up the struggle, UD would urge him to expand on #3. Now’s the time to release biographical material about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother — a trauma so total that in order to cope he split off into two personalities, Good Suarez and Bad Suarez…
The American university that put Bernard Madoff on its board of trustees and made him (wait for it) treasurer has never – in the life of this blog, anyway – been out of the gutter news. Sex scandals, money scandals, an entire campus named after a convicted fraudster, a Moody’s rating so low as to be beyond belief…
I could go on. All of which means that this blog has never been able to lose sight of Yeshiva.
YU’s constant corruption is doubly interesting in the context of its pious self-image. It joins company with Baylor University and Liberty University as a national epicenter of religious hypocrisy.
Actually, YU is triply interesting — because of the pathos (it shares this with the other two schools I just mentioned) of there being many good and thoughtful and authentically spiritual people on campus. You can go to the campus newspaper and read their Job-like endless plaints.
Okay, so one of the school’s longest-serving leaders resigned in 2013, and here’s the most positive appraisal I can find of him.
Now the guy’s son, once a member of the university’s Board of Directors, has been arrested for voting fraud and bribery. Yeshiva once again gets prominent ugly mentions in the national press.
What would he have to say about the Trump Presidency, and the resurgence of European fascism? The dwindling twilight of the post-war European project? We can be sure that he would have served us up with something at once scathing and illuminating. Alas, just as the world began to need reminding of totalitarianism’s perils, its most eloquent resister since Orwell was taken from us.