Ivy-covered Sausage Factories

January16/ 2000

…..  I almost wrote this column two months ago during MaryMess.  The UNC System was hoisted on its petard and John & Jane Q Taxpayer were pilloring rotting produce at the hallowed hydra-headed academic Godzilla.  Something told me hold off there’s more to come. …… “More” arrived on Sunday.

In tiptoeing thru the following 1000+ word tulips, appreciate that this Right-Wing Fanatic is actually defending the UNC System …. sort of.  Like the ACLU defending the KKK’s right to march in Skokie.

However you define UNC and goodness knows it conjures up many images, we are talking about a collection of 16 colleges across North Carolina.  Quick name a dozen of them.  “No, Erskine, you’re not eligible for this contest.”

From the haughty Flagship to tiny Pembroke and all the provosts and comely coeds in-between The System is a Tower of Babel conceived in the 50s.  Kindly Ol’ Bill Friday is considered the George Washington (or Simon Bolivar for you Hispanic buddies!) of “The System”.

“Organizing academia” much less “organizing 16 academic fiefdoms” is #13 on Hercules’ Labors list.  Right behind direct the Mormon Tabernacle Pigs Choir and teach sixteen cats to dance the Macarena.  Bold men of vision have taken on that challenge from Kindly Ol’ Bill to C.D. Spangler to the reigning President Pinata Erskine Bowles.  Yes, there was also Molly “Ma” Broad.  “Ma” was neither a “bold man” nor possessed of vision.

Prez Erskine’s in-box has no bottom.  In his 4 or so years playing Nurse Ratched to the bug-eyed inmates of his 16 ivy-covered asylums from Cullowee to G-Vegas.  The challenges have ranged from embezzeling Chancellors to profane Moreheadettes to Bill Barber pokin’ him in the chest with a fat finger to Mary “Queen of Smug” and Her Three Stooges – McQueen, Obbie and Larry The Provost Guy.  Somehow he’s managed to keep the grass mowed on quadrangles, keep belltower clocks reasonably on time and tolerate John Edwards’ churlish demands back when John thought he was hot stuff.  And Erskine uncovered an administrative truffle by the name of Holden who may turn out to be his proudest legacy.

For all the above I, BobLee, shield and sword in hand, stand alongside Leonidas Bowles at yet another Thermopylae.  Outraged angry taxpayers are baring their teeth and loosening the slings and arrows of media-fueled outrage at Skippa’s Boy.

Yes, Ersk screwed the pooch on one regrettable decision re: MaryMess.  He knows it.  Hit .300 and punch your ticket to Cooperstown.

The “about what” this time is a series of outrageous golden parachute policies.  UNC System admins, like greedy AIG execs, are trying to justify “navel-gazing” as a real job.  Actually that “supervising navel-gazers” is a real job.

 NOTE:  Every state-supported academic sausage factory in America has similar or even more absurd “retreat packages”.

The local McClatchy journo-franchise continues dog-paddling in a sea of red ink.  It discovered with MaryMess that John & Jane Q get jazzed up over stoopid scandals involving smug unattractive people acting foolishly.

Dumb Governors and Argentine Hotties are good.  And skanks named Rielle and self-righteous former senators in total free-fall.  Silly people acting stoopid has a universal appeal.  Could it be that we all identify with’em?

The N&O went over-the-fold with their “Extra Extra Read All About It” on assorted UNC System admins getting Big Bucks in “retreat pay”.  “Retreat Pay” ?  Sounds like performance bonuses for the French Army.  …… (rimshot!)

The “whopper” involves Chancellor Candlelight Vigil himself – Jimmy The Meez.  Erskine josephined Meezie last summer to get the popular young Chancellor – Holden as many major league at-bats as possible as quickly as possible.  An EB smooth move that was mis-under-reported.

Un-stapling his tie from his desk blotter, Meez went hiking with Mrs The Meez in the high desert of Arizona.  He then returned to Ol’ Roy-ville and started a 6-month regimen of finger exercises to get back in shape to play his beloved organ.  You think I’m kidding don’t you?

I read the letter from Meez to EB detailing the finger exercises for which he was paid over $300,000.  You all recall Meez “clapping like a gay seal” at Tar Heel sports events.   He was preparing for his post-Chancellor career.

“BobLee this is quite absurd!”   Of course it is.  There were 6-8 similar absurdums chronicled in the N&O piece.  None as hilarious as Meez’s but he always set the silly bar pretty high as in the classic ‘Mohammed was not a terrorist!”.  

The total “retreat pay” outlay is over $8,000,000.  Enough to buy Butch a nifty new fish tank for Blinged-Up Kenan.

Real World Warriors are flabbergasted over this.  You want to compare Academia to whatever real world career you labor in.  That’s like comparing life on Mars to a deviled egg.   There are no tangential points.  There never will be.

BUT BOBLEE …. It’s $8,000,000 TAX DOLLARS!  Marc Basnight and his Pirates of Jones Street piss away more than $8,000,000 before breakfast each morning …. and don’t even wash their hands after doing it!

GET REAL.  Depending upon the age of your children you really only care about two things relative to the UNC System.

(1)     Will your son/daughter get that admission to your alma mater that you swear you were guaranteed by someone at some point.
(2)     How will your college sports team do in the coming year?

Is The Rat or Three Brothers Pizza still in business is #3.  For the sake of your sanity that’s really all you should be concerned with.

Most of the “teachers” at these schools are pretty decent Mr/Mrs Chips’ actually interested in fueling students’ learning lamps … often, alas, with high octane Liberal bilge.  But that’s another discussion.  For every microphone chomping Gene Nichol there are dozens of  pretty decent sorts elucidating over alliteration in The Canterbury Tales or taking pi out to a 1,000 places.  Real classroom stuff actually does still take place among the more outrageous fare.

Back to “Retreat Pay-Gate” …… Erskine is now revising the very foolish policies. The revisions will still seem foolish …. because they will still be foolish.   Academia = Foolishness.  College is to Foolish like the circus is to clowns and elephant poop.  Take the foolishness out of academia and you have a drum & bugle corps without drums or bugles.

“Going To College” is now and forever “a gauntlet that post-adolescents must run between Mom’s apron strings and a cubby hole in some mind-numbing corporate prairie dog village”.   You want to grow up to be Dwight working for Dufflin-Mifflin?  Go to college for four years – deal with a psycho roommate – get drunk and pass out in your own vomit – pull an all-nighter before a PoliSci final – have some awful blind dates – cuss the football coach – have dad’s car towed – sign up for 26 credit cards – convince yourself a cheerleader smiled at you – attend a political rally and take yourself very seriously – eat a lot of Raman noodles. ….. what about any of that “makes sense”?

College IS Foolishness.  So is the Military except in “war”.  So is Politics and everything involving Government, duh!.  So is Corporate America (ever been in a weekly staff meeting!)

It’s 2009.  All that is important is Pediatric Neurosurgery;  and this website!

   Erskine is doing the best he can to “make it better” because EB really is one of the good guys.  EB’s sound decision % is easily as high as Tyler’s free throw %.  He will probably leave UNC-GA in a year or so.  His replacement will not be as capable as he is.  Erskine’s various sand castles will be swept away by the tides of time …… except, hopefully, for young Holden.  We should all build at least one sand castle that outlives us.  Don’t you think?


Where did “Ma” Broad come from before UNC-GA?


  ONE reader knew that Jimmy Sharpe was VaTech HC before Bill Dooley.  Pretty much confirming my premise that anyone who cares about VaTech already does.  VaTech is like Oregon State …. a very fine place filled with very fine people zzzzzzz.

Big Doins in Triangle area sports talk radio.  Only one that “matters” is BobLee pal Dave Glenn.  Looks like DG will go up against EIB from Jim Goodmon’s FM 99.9.  Awaiting FCC approval.  Details as we can release them. 850TheBuzz going to music format.

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