Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

From Lawyers, Guns and Money: Law Schools Move Toward Open Admissions.
Here is the percentage of law school applicants who were admitted to at least one ABA-accredited law school to which they applied, by year:
2004: 55.6%
2005: 58.6%
2006: 63.1%
2007: 66.1%
2008: 66.5%
2009: 67.4%
2010: 68.7%
2011: 71.1%
2012: 74.5%
2013: 80% (projected)

Monday, July 29, 2013

LCA was reading the NYTimes Weddings section yesterday and commented on one in which, "The bride wrote biographies for all 150 guests and had them bound into books that were given to them." We chatted about this-- too much work? What do you do for the guests that you don't know very well?-- stuff like that, and eventually got around to the conclusion that the little bios would all be about the guest's relationship to the bride. Thought of this way the act becomes one of tremendous narcissism, but of course it was: the bride in question was Joyce Maynard.

Ms Maynard is a kind of a monster, I think, and one who, for some reason, has been abetted throughout her career by the New York Times. All writers are users, to a greater or lesser extent, but writers should take care to have their writing justify the exploitation. This has never been Joyce Maynard's practice, except, arguably, in the article that first brought her to prominence: An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back at Life. It is possible that this piece appears less remarkable than it did in 1972, when it was merely precocious: social media has changed things, and it is likely that if you asked her  Joyce Maynard would say that she was in the vanguard.  

Now that the real J.J. Cale is dead Eric Clapton is the best J.J. Cale. The original was better, but Clapton has been dreaming of this day.

Coffee jerks.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"In the same way that the detective movie is a fantasy about city life, the spy movie is a fantasy about tourism."I think that's true, and I think that the inverse is likewise true: when I am traveling, in my mind I am a spy. And not just a secret agent sort of spy either-- I'm on the ground trying to gather intelligence. How many people work here? What is the political mood? How do you, sir, feel about X? Unlike bullshit New York Times columnists I try to go beyond cab drivers for my sources, although, like most good detectives or spys I find that bartenders are frequently good sources.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The New York in these photos is the New York in my mind's eye.

I used to read Dick Young every day.

Monday, July 22, 2013

To the Charm City for CLA's graduation. She will sit for her licensing  exam then start practice in Anchorage in September. The ceremony  was commendably brief, but nevertheless impressive-- it is an intense program, but the emphasis was not on the accomplishment of having completed it-- Hopkins expects its students to complete the program. Instead, the focus was on the future work that the graduates will be doing, and the values that they should be bring to that work. In that context I thought it especially appropriate that there was no ceremonial garb, as such-- no robes or mortarboards, sashes or hoods. Instead they all wore the lab coats that had been their classroom attire, a nice way of demonstrating that they were setting out into the world to work, just as they'd been working for the past 13 months. In earlier times they'd have been given caps-- different hospital nursing programs each had distinctive caps, and although that would be cool, it would be sort of an awkward look for the men. Traditionally upon completion of the program nurses also received a distinctive pin, a bit of ceremony that , we were told, "goes back to Flo."  Hopkins was a certificate-based program until 1973, when it became university-based; at that time the design of the pin changed from a Maltese Cross to the design Caroline is standing next to here. "It's probably the most expensive piece of jewelry I'll  ever own," she quipped. I sort of hope it is.

 I thought it notable that the school and the hospital referred to themselves as "Hopkins" more or less interchangeably. I've often said of our glamor profession that part of its appeal is that the learning curve never has to plateau; it seems to me that this is something that the Nursing program at Hopkins takes very seriously. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Well now, this could be interesting. The next edition of Bob Dylan's "Bootleg Series"-- Volume Ten, is called Another Self-Portrait, and will consist of re-mastered versions of material from Self-Portrait and New Morning, as well as unreleased stuff, including collaborations with George Harrison.  Most people know Self-Portrait as the album that was critically lambasted-- and in Chronicles, Vol. 1 Dylan wrote that he released the set as an attempt at de-mythologising himself: "“I released one album (a double) one where I just threw everything I could think of at the wall and whatever stuck, released it." He's told similar stories here and there, I've always been inclined to take that particular version of how he came to record Self-Portrait with a bit of salt, because you have to take everything Dylan says with a bit of salt: he says what he means in his songs, and people who ask him what the songs mean, man, deserve the answers they get. So we'll have a chance to re-evaluate Self-Portrait now. My feeling about it has mostly been that it is a good place to go when you want to hear Dylan material that isn't all that familiar, because nobody ever played it much, and there's stuff there that is actually pretty good. Would it have been better if it had been cut down to a single disk? Maybe, but I'd be willing to bet that it's stuff like "All the Tired Horses" and "Wigwam" that would have been cut.

Monday, July 15, 2013

So. Back in the 90s the Mets had a pitcher named Kris Benson that they had high hopes for. I don't know why he spelled his name like a girl-- mabe he thought the "K" evoked strikeouts and had a poor grasp of homonyms. Anyway Benson had a smokin' hot wife, Anna Benson. At the time she was described as a former model; it appears that most of her modeling career may have been in bars with poles. Anna also had, in the vernacular, a mouth on her. She once told a reporter in an interview that if Kris cheated on her she would get revenge by having sex with everyone on the team, "including the clubhouse boy." In due course it developed that Kris wasn't' much of a pitcher, and that Anna was kind of a distraction, so the Mets traded him for a bag of balls and he went on to have a thoroughly undistinguished career with the Orioles, the Rangers and the Diamondbacks. Anna, I think, had a brief reality show career. Here's the thing: last week she broke into Kris' house, wearing a bulletproof vest, and threatened him with a gun and a  metal baton. They are, it seems, having a rough divorce. It now emerges that shortly before she was married she was implicated in a homicide-- although the  investigation was subsequently dropped. Now the question: How much more Mets could Kris Benson possibly be? I think the answer has to be, None. None more Mets. I mean, c'mon. She posed for Playboy in an Orioles cap-- why is this a Mets thing? Nobody says, "Former Pirates rookie Kris Benson."

The only Boilermaker you regret is the one you don't run.

This one was close at points, though. Undertrained,is one thing, but this was so hot it occurred to me that this was kind of risky behavior. Lots of water, and ice, and an orange popsicle, and I got through it. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

There was a time in my life when I was a Todd Rundgren completist, but I shook that off long ago.
Here's what became of those who didn't.
Todd is going to be playing mainly from State, a techno record of sorts inspired by his recent work with youngsters Tame Impala and Lindstrom, the Swedish DJ. There have been reports of Rundgren fans walking out of recent concerts, unwilling to follow Todd on his journey into the world of electronica. But the ToddStockers feel him so deeply they enjoy his every musical move, no matter how obtuse.
He's coming to town this month. I sort of think I'll be going.

Excellent piece about sexism in our glamor profession.
In one of my cases, when my male adversary interrupted the judge to make a point, the judge would say, “You’re right.” I was never invited to counter his arguments, and had to resort to interrupting. When I interrupted the other lawyer, I was told to “LET HIM SPEAK!” When I interrupted the judge, I got “I AM SPEAKING, MS. MACFARLANE, AND I AM NOT INTERESTED IN HEARING FROM YOU.”
Judges in general, and federal district court judges especially, resemble absolute monarchs in a lot of ways, and one of the ways is this: who you gonna complain to? Sure, there are supervising judges who might lend a sympathetic ear, but let's be realistic: the behavior described above isn't getting anybody impeached. The best thing to hope for would be, I suppose, an automatic recusal, and that's not necessarily the best thing for one's client.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Nixon Agonistes" is not the Nixon book I have been looking for. It is, first of all, not a biography, although there are useful biographical portions. Secondly, it was written in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the 1968 election. Since Wills' hypothesis is that  Nixon was some sort of 19th Century liberal the book loses credibility because he wasn't able to evaluate the things Nixon did in office (and why he did them). I think his appointments-- particularly his Supreme Court appointments, but also the various Cabinet and sub-Cabinet characters, many of whom are still with us today, are major contributors to the ongoing culture war, and I do not think this was an accident.I also think that the book is flawed because Wills is pretty convinced that he is way smarter than any of the people-- including Nixon-- who populate his study. I enjoy Wills' writing, and I will happily read anything that references Herbert Marcuse and Norman Mailer, but the fact that both of these writers are referenced so extensively really dates the analysis. Wills treats LBJ as a footnote or a codicil to the Kennedy Administration, and I think that is plain wrong-- and that leads me to my final observation: Wills does not seem to grasp the way race touches upon everything in American culture and American politics. 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Some thoughts on The Great Blue Heron Music Festival. Friends have urged us to attend for years, but it typically conflicts with the Boilermaker so we never made the scene. It is fair to say that there is a culture to this event: "Happy Heron!" is what the people you encounter say, and those people encompass a pretty wide age demographic. There are, of course, some old hippies, but maybe not so many as you'd think. There are also teenagers and (quite a few) college age people, but also young families with babies and toddlers, and a healthy sample of people that fit the demographic of our group: people with their college age kids. White. So very, very white, but of course that's going to be true of any agglomeration of hippies. For a long time I was under the impression that the hippie demographic was closed-ended, and that by definition it could not include anyone who graduated from high school after, say, 1972. I was mistaken in this: there are probably three generations of people who fit the category out there.

I've never subscribed to the hippie ethos: it is certainly more than a fashion preference, and more, even, then a preference in intoxicants: at its heart the culture is essentially pastorial-- even agrarian. I am never more aware of my citified ways than I am when the trees are taller than the buildings. Of course, intoxicant preference is part of what defines the culturee: this is not a big beer drinking, or even alcohol, crowd, and the happy vibe of organics contributes heavily to the blissful amiability of the inhabitants. For all of its free-floating serenity, however, there seemed to me to be two pillars of order. First, the participants are pleased to obey the minimal rules, largely because the minimal rules are essentially good etiquette. For example, there are, regularly placed around the site, sets of four barrels labeled "Cans", "Plastic", "Paper", and "Utter Garbage". In an urban setting I would expect to see a fair amount of disregard for the labels, and more than a little litter surrounding the receptacles. This was nowhere in evidence at the Blue Heron. One might occasionally encounter a mislaid serape on the ground, but I saw no litter the whole time.  The barrels were regularly emptied. So too the numerous Port-a-Potties. They were, of course, Port-a-Potties, with all that entails, but there were a ton of them, all carefully situated to minimize their potential for offense, and I witnessed no-one relieving themselves other than at the Port-a-Potties. On a pretty regular basis a septic truck came and pumped them out-- impressive. There were food vendors, and the food vendors offerings were more reasonably priced than I think I have ever seen at a music festival: hippies hate gouging.  Another rule concerned firewood. For the past few years moving firewood has been barred in an attempt to slow the advance of the Emerald Ash Borer, so there was a strict ban on bringing firewood onto the site: they went so far as to check people's cars. This rule was honored, because everyone understood it. There were truckloads of split wood for sale, from the venue's wood lot which people happily schlepped to their campsites. Pets are banned. That's about it for rules, and there is a substantial volunteer presence on hand which seems to ensure mostly that things are running smoothly. It really is a happy vibe, and if I felt at times a little like Tom Wolfe at large in the Oregon forest, well, that was on me.

Monday, July 08, 2013

This is exactly the sort of thing that makes Buffalo a cool place to live. Not only is the installation going to be great, but I know and have worked with basically everyone mentioned in the article. In fact, I have even been consulted on the project.  (Pro bono, but that's par for the course.)

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Gary Wills says, "[A]cademicians live more 'in their field' than in the university as a community". I wonder how true this is.  

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Friends have been telling us about this for years, and this year the stars aligned. I'm processing it right now, and I'm sorry we couldn't stay longer. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

To Hamlet at Shakespeare in Delaware Park last night, as always a pleasant summer evening. Shaun Sheley, who I've not seen before, played the melancholy prince, and in an interesting interpretation seemed less depressive and more-- antic, perhaps? Maybe calculating? Moody and mourning at the outset the Ghost's revelations seemed to energize him, and thereafter his gloomy musings appeared to be more pretext than not. He made it work, well-aided by Tim Newell as Claudius. It has reached the point where Newell has become an essential part of my summer. Rebecca Elkin is also a regular, but I'm afraid I can't get behind her interpretation of Ophelia. She hits her marks, and delivers the lines well enough, but she doesn't look like the Ophelia I have in my mind's eye, and she doesn't seem as tortured as a young woman driven to suicide would be. I'm sure her father's doting eye sees her differently, but I prefer her in comic roles.

Monday, July 01, 2013

I'm reading Gary Wills' "Nixon Agonistes", a book I've been meaning to get to for-- I don't know, 25 years? So far, good as it is, it isn't telling more about Nixon than I already knew. The problem is that Nixon tends to be viewed as either a symptom or a symbol. He was a complicated guy, and even though everybody thought they understood him I'm not so sure anybody did. Wills, maybe the last Catholic intellectual, seems to be doing a great deal of projecting here: the book is controversial because his Nixon is a sort of thwarted liberal, in the classic sense-- a believer in free enterprise, free markets and individual achievement. This has very little to do with any Nixon I am familiar with, and Wills' evidence is not very persuasive. This is the 1968 Nixon, the man who seemed to have risen fast, from Red baiting Alger Hiss prosecuting congressman to senator, to Vice President. Did Nixon invent the VP as attack dog? If not he certainly perfected the role. And then, a collapse into ignominy. The Kennedys had a way of doing that, but what looked like the end was Nixon's failure to attain the governorship of California. What that narrative overlooks is that this is how it always was for Nixon. I hadn't known it, but after he graduated from Duke Law (of course), he'd been turned down at Sullivan & Cromwell, then John Foster Dulles' firm. He managed to bounce back from that early disappointment, and demonstrated the capacity for resiliency that carried him through to the Presidency. Who were his friends? Who was his rabbi? It looks to me like he never really had any. There were people like John Mitchell who projected their own ambitions on him, but if Nixon believed that he was entirely self-made, I'm not so sure that the belief was misplaced. With very few exceptions (Rose Woods, Pat Nixon....) nobody seems to have liked him much, and it isn't hard to see why. He seems to have occupied a universe that had room for Dick Nixon, and Dick Nixon's ambition, and very little else.

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