Not to belabor a topic, but:
Poking around the web yesterday between students, I found a long story from the Fortune magazine archive on the Oddly Familiar Case of the Agees in Boise. It suggests that the Cunningham-Agee co-prosperity sphere is a complicated entity, and what happened during their time in Idaho wasn’t something that summarizes easily into a paragraph or two, although if you have to bottom-line it, as the CEOs say, this probably works for a nut graf:
A few things are obvious. Agee nearly wrecked the company and thoroughly destroyed his already shaky reputation as a corporate manager. In the simplest terms, he tried to turn Morrison Knudsen — a bridge, dam, and factory builder — into a railcar and locomotive manufacturer, and failed spectacularly: Last year the company lost $310 million on sales of $2.5 billion. Important customers became disillusioned with Agee — one called his railroad business plan “cartoonish.” Top executives mutinied. William P. Clark, a former Reagan adviser Agee put on the board, conducted an investigation that prompted Agee’s dismissal. A score of shareholder suits have been filed against Agee, the company, and the board.
But the very next sentence acknowledges:
This isn’t a tidy tale of good and evil, though. Behind the devastation of Morrison Knudsen is a complicated mix of ancient feuds, foolish gambles, and personal insecurities. There are clashing cultures, religious fervor, bad luck–even the terrifying specter of a black rose.
OK, I’m reading the rest. And I did. And I could almost see it from Mary’s side: She was raised by her priestly co-parent to go forth into creation and, armed with the secular world’s golden ticket to power — her Harvard MBA — do something different. Do something good. No, do something Good. Capital-G good. And on her very first job, she falls in love with a married man and watches while he ruins her career, drags her name through People magazine while at the same time giving her an express pass (which she stuffed into her purse with her golden ticket, and sorry for this metaphor salad here) to another sort of life, filled with luxury and private planes and trips to Lourdes and the Vatican, no small thing for a religious girl. I bet she saw the latter, the papal audiences and the like, as payback for her professional ruination.
On the other hand, no one forced her to sit for all those interviews with People, which she was doing as recently as just a couple of years ago, when her daughter graduated from — where else? — Notre Dame. And then I found this passage:
In 1991, Mary was diagnosed with a form of cancer–non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she told the Detroit Free Press the following year. Despite four lumps in her neck, she refused biopsies and chemotherapy. Mary says that on October 2, the Feast of the Guardian Angels, the lumps disappeared. (“I believe the angels went before almighty God and said, ‘This woman is doing something good. Give her a chance,’ ” she reportedly said.)
Granted, that’s a big “reportedly” there, and granted, out of context it’s impossible to know whether this line was delivered with a wink, a wordier version of somebody up there likes me! It’s the “almighty” in there that makes me think she was serious, and with that? Well, I stopped sympathizing. I think it was MMJeff who posted something on Facebook a while back, a cartoon of someone in the midst of a terrible calamity, the caption reading, “Remember, God loves you very much, and has a wonderful plan for your life.” But this is, in a nutshell, what bugs the crap out of me about these folks. Because if you believe that — that guardian angels plead your case before almighty God, who grants up-or-down cancer reprieves like some celestial caesar — than you have to accept the flip side, that on Christmas Day 2004, He looked down from heaven and said, “Eh, I’m drowning a few hundred thousand of these yo-yos. What the hell, most of them are Hindu anyway. Let’s have a tsunami!”
And when you start accepting that, that the Lord truly works in mysterious and extremely fucked-up ways, then it’s just a short hop to my neighborhood, where God, if he exists at all, is so unknowable he’s like a version of the crazy guy down the street with a plate in his head, Boo Radley with a lot more power. Or as my friend Lance Mannion says, “Any God that would destroy the World Trade Center to reveal George Bush’s true purpose in life isn’t worth worshiping.”
So, bloggage. Parents, everything you fear about sending your children to college is true. Seen yesterday at Wayne State:
It’s a movie, of course, rated R for “strong crude and sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, drug and alcohol abuse.” That’s entertainment.
Via Roy and Scott Lemieux at LGM, a new blog I’m enjoying: Gin and Tacos. Or rather, ginandtacos.com. Worth reading all the way through, but this post on the anti-vaccine movement spoke to me in particular, mainly because of the map. I dunno the design thinking behind the microscopic type, however; maybe begone, grandma.
Finally, a correction: Steven Slater’s story cannot be verified. Repeating, Steven Slater’s story cannot be verified. This is kind of major.
Eating breakfast, heading out for another redonkulous day. Enjoy your weekend.