"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Goin' Cracker - Yale Just Ain't Worth It

Jonas Philby had all it takes to get into Yale - top of his class, student athlete, artist, and bon vivant of the modern, justice-first generation.  St. Albans, an elite private school for Washington's elite had always been a feeder for the Ivy League and had groomed generations of young men for a life of privilege, wealth, and importance. 


Jonas' father and grandfather had gone to Yale, both members of Fence Club, captains of the baseball team, and Merit Scholars.  They had spent weekends at the Plaza, summers on the Vineyard, and winters in Gstaad.  It was indeed an Old Boys' Club, one of special breeding, taste, and gentrified living, and no one of either generation had any interest in living beyond its walls. 

When Inslee Clark came to Yale and became the Dean of Studies and got it into his head to dip into an 'alternate' gene pool for a newly qualified 'best and brightest', the Old Yale disappeared like a wisp of smoke.  It was never the same place and gone was the oak and mahogany, Revere silver, Townsend chairs, and solid, unflinching Calvinism. Yale quickly and inexorably had become a redoubt of the unwashed. 


Jonas' father had attended Yale on the cusp of the Clark revolution - an interregnum with a few Jews and random Italians - but he could see the end of one of America's last bastions of white privilege.  He and his classmates wondered exactly what exactly these Himmelfarbs, Bernsteins, and Palumbos were doing at Yale, but were courteous and respectful to them.  It was one thing to take Bloom's Romantic Poetry course with them, another thing altogether to spend time with them on Nantucket. 

Once the floodgates were opened Yale became no different from any hodge-podge public university of the Midwest - a plebian East, first come first serve campground for anyone with high SATs and an application essay which highlighted their personal courage. 

The university changed colors within a few years.  Bladderball, weekends at Smith and Vassar, tailgate parties, and courses taught by by Scully, Bloom, and Marshall were gone in a flash.  The Sixties began the descent into academic populism, the Seventies accelerated the fall, and the last recent decades completed it.  The Yale of today resembles nada of the past. 

Jonas had of course applied to Yale and gotten early acceptance.  The university was always glad to have legacy students even though under the current rubric inheritance mattered less in the selection process.  After all, the Philbys had donated thousands to Yale, and no administrator would want to shut off that particular spigot. 

Jonas arrived for a look one May Saturday, accompanied by one of the soon-to-graduate senior class volunteers who took him around; but the Harkness and Beinecke libraries were idle distractions to what the guide wanted to explain to the new recruit. 'Yale is not your grandfather's university', he said. 'Gone is the old boy, privileged elitism of the past.  The university has become a diverse, activist, engaged place of excellence'. 


The Old Campus was chock-a-block with tents and temporary shelters for student protestors who demanded disinvestment from child-killing, Jewish genocidal occupying Israelis.  Drag queens, Folsom Street Fair-ready transvestites, tough chick Bernal Heights dykes, and butch bikers were at the ready, waiting to tear down the palaces of privilege unless the university capitulated to their demands. 

Where were Wordsworth, Shelley, Blake, and Coleridge in all this, Jonas wondered, remembering his father's stories of Harold Bloom, only thirty-five but intriguing and engaging to his crop of ingenue Yalies in his fabric of mythic Romanticism?  Where was Vince Scully and his thrusting, potent, masculine peaks of Crete?  The lambent, metaphorical verses of Shakespeare? 

The Old Campus was as littered and outhouse-smelling as the streets of San Francisco, a disgusting mélange of castoffs, academic derelicts, and Goodnight Moon idealists.

This, said Jonas' guide, was the new Yale; and so it was that Jonas Philby went South and unapologetically applied to the Universities of Mississippi and Alabama. 

'What on earth are you doing?', asked his father. 'I know that Yale has changed, and it is not the same place I and your grandfather went to, but it is still Yale after all'.  Mory's, Fence Club, Skull and Bones were still extant and viable, the old man said, so don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

Yet Jonas had his mind made up. South it was, and not just to any Southern university, but the motherlode of all cheerleading, girly-girl, white fraternity party land  - Tuscaloosa. 

'We don't get many Yankees down here' observed the blonde, blue-eyed co-ed in his welcoming committee; but that was the whole purpose of his fugue from New Haven. He wanted to be in a white place, an old-fashioned comfortable place. No woke bullshit. Just cunt, bass boats, and football weekends.  

'Heretic, apostate', shouted the elder Philby when he heard of his grandson's decision; but there was a certain epiphanic delight in not only reversing the course of family history but in saying fuck you to the bottom-feeding woke nonsense of Yale and the Old Campus. 

Jonas loved 'Bama, never looked back, had the time of his life, graduated with honors and was engaged to a prom queen. 

He couldn't help checking in on the news to see how Yale kept disassembling, becoming a caricature of its former self - trannies on the Yale Fence, Upper West Side Jews  and Brooklyn Italians elbowing aside patrician Lowells and Lodges, and shaming the legacy of John Davenport who centuries before came to found the New Haven plantations and to form a new, more God-fearing Puritan colony. 

'Disgusting, revolting', he said to his wife. 

'What's wrong, Daddy?' his two young children asked. 

'Nothing, my dears', Jonas replied from the verandah of Bridges, his 1840 antebellum, fully restored, plantation home at Chretien Point.  The live oaks needed trimming and the magnolia cut back, but life was good as a modern Southern grandee. Yale? What was that?

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