Let’s do an update on the Clougherty/Lonsdale and Sulkowicz/Nungesser/Mattress-sensei cases, why don’t we?
1) Clougherty and Lonsdale are suing each other. Verily the servants of God Elise and Joseph joyously offer first-fruits unto the trial bar. Or, as Edwin Starr liked to say, good God, y’all. Lonsdale, who is wealthy enough to rent the Hearst Castle for private parties, is countersuing Clougherty for $150,000, by which I mean that he’s countersuing her parents. The rich girl can, and in this case will, rely on the old man’s money, and maybe the old woman’s money as well, to pay any judgment that he secures against her. Clougherty is a hot mess of a sometime college student, while her parents are a surgeon and an engineering entrepreneur of middling success. There’s no way Lonsdale’s attorneys are going after his ex’s money, since it’s hard to imagine that she has enough to be worth pursuing. Ma and Pa Clougherty, on the other hand, are probably flush enough to deliver the goods.
The moral of the story for attorneys and aspiring attorneys (or more accurately, the amoral of the story) is that when both sides of a dispute are feeling burned as if by Sherman, there’s money aplenty available to be diverted by esteemed members of the bar. These two skipped the marriage and went straight to the divorce. The fees at the clerk-recorder’s office would have been the least of the their expenses.
1a) We couldn’t wait for graduation day, we took the car and went to San Jose, that’s where you told me that you’d like to finally get something to eat and also buy some tampons so that you could stop bleeding all over the goddamn–
Hey now, the First Class didn’t include anything that ridiculous in their big band surfing classic. Sure, they didn’t know fuck-all about California since they hardly ever got out of London, and it’s a miracle that they were able to fit into the tight-ass T-shirts that they wore on stage (I know, stones and glass houses and shit), but forced public free-bleeding as a fetish of the nouveau riche? For real?
It’s in the civil complaint, as reproduced in Business Insider (emphasis in the original):
When Ms. Clougherty was on her period, Mr. Lonsdale’s attacks were especially frequent. He often would not let her buy tampons and seemed to relish getting her blood everywhere — on her clothing, bed sheets, hotel furniture, car and bus seats, and elsewhere. He would not let her clean up the blood, and would get very angry with her if she tried to clean it up. On one occasion, in a hotel room, he even picked up her naked body and made her sit on the hotel furniture so as to smear her blood all over it.”
Stylistic point of order: Did she have an out-of-body experience, or was her soul still incorporated? This same document includes a claim that he “began to penetrate her with his flaccid penis.” Does this firm (heh) have editors? Does anyone there understand how sexual intercourse works? Does anyone there understand how human consciousness works, you know, by being mediated through one’s body, unless one is batshit fucking crazy? It’s fine to admit that God damn I felt like I was on shrooms, but there’s something off about plaintiff’s counsel describing the plaintiff as a body.
These menstrual domination stories make Joe Lonsdale sound like a lunatic on a social death spiral. It’s hard to reconcile the outlandishly reckless behavior in public and quasi-public settings that Clougherty alleges with Lonsdale’s ability to function in executive-level professional capacities. There’s nothing unusual about getting menstrual blood on hotel towels and bed sheets (or, unfortunately, about finding hair from the maids in the towels, because yuck), but on furniture? If the maids notice it and know when the furniture was stained, they’ll have the hotel bill the responsible guest, and it could be very compromising if word gets around that the guest in question leaves bodily fluids on the furniture. On the other hand, there are probably sickos who get off on being famous for deeds other than their weird-ass habits of sexual vandalism. Think Larry “Wide Stance” Craig, but indelibly marked upon the territory. One does not simply carpet a bathroom floor, unless one is absolutely fucking disgusting.
The notion of Lonsdale forcing Clougherty to bleed on bus seats is especially farfetched. It’s the kind of thing that someone else would notice. The risk of exposure would be extreme, and the consequences would be serious. Not letting one’s girlfriend buy tampons is seriously fucked up, even by the most misogynistic Silicon Valley bro culture standards.
It’s hard to imagine an otherwise competent adult so completely losing agency just because her boyfriend is an overbearing creep. Lonsdale would have had to keep Clougherty sequestered for the duration of her menstrual periods to safeguard himself against public exposure and to keep her from getting her hands on tampons or pads. Or food, for that matter. He’d have to devote all his energy and attention to walling her off from the world. It’s hard to imagine how an insatiable totalitarian satyr of the sort that Clougherty’s attorneys describe could get any work done.
That’s the thing about the nouveaux riches. The rest of us are incited to resent and hate them for their dissipated leisure, but this bigotry conflates them with softened, adrift scions of old money. Guys like Joe Lonsdale work themselves like dogs. A great many of them do, anyway. They don’t have awfully much leisure time. Shit, even Kim Kardashian works herself like a dog, to no good end, perhaps, but the masturbatory fury of her celebrity demands immense mental energy (and a fair bit of physical energy) nonetheless. It isn’t just the rubbing of copious amounts of oil on one’s ass; it’s also the thought that goes into the presentation of one’s ass in that fashion, and the framing of the smile, and maintaining posture for the cameras.
I’ll be more inclined to believe Clougherty’s claims if colleagues of Lonsdale’s come forward independently with stories of his fucking up in professional settings in a manner suggesting that he is distracted or dissipated. It’s just hard to see how a major player in venture capital can turn into the sort of raging hot mess that Clougherty describes and still behave appropriately and function normally in professional settings. The behavior that Clougherty alleges is so over-the-top and chronic that it would be hard for him to fully compartmentalize from his professional life.
The idea of a woman being too traumatized to overrule her boyfriend and get herself some damn food is a bit more plausible. It’s hard for me to get into the heads of such people, since I’m the eating kind, but I’ve known them, and not just anorexics and bulimics, either. The Insurance Schmuck used to tell me about how he’d lose weight during the summer because he’d forget to eat. I’d always think, I know for a fact that the territory he was working today had him driving right past a fucking Wawa; how could he forget to eat? It’s one thing to be too busy to stop at Wawa, and to be forced instead to sneak a glance at it in sublimated desire, but to honest-to-God forget to eat? While stopped at a red light within three lanes and a small parking lot of that fine purveyor of sammich?
On the other hand, it seems that Ellie Clougherty’s troubles with food and body image predated the Lonsdale days. At some point, one just has to put a foot down and state that one is immediately going to Panda Express, like I did not even two hours ago. It was disgusting, but that’s why other people don’t eat my portion. I have to maintain my figure, you know.
1b) A full copy of Clougherty’s complaint is available here. It contains too much stupid for me to unpack right now, except to say that if calling psychoanalytic quacks esteemed mental health professionals (that freak Saylor in NoVa again) and using moral panic junk science about the “epidemic” of domestic abuse is typical of the bar, I’ll stick to the vineyard. No grapevine ever earnestly told me crazy shit like that.
2) Emma Sulkowicz carried that fucking mattress with her at her graduation ceremony. She wore a black gown, and the mattress wore a white sheet. And I feel bad for calling Karl Ove Knausgaard’s autobiographical writing an omen of Weimar America. It’s bad writing, to be sure, but it’s writing. There’s no stunt that some disturbed freak in a position of political favor can’t get the administrators of our most selective and prestigious universities not only to tolerate but to condone and award with academic credit. It’s doubtful that Sulkowicz is headed anywhere auspicious with her life, but there’s no reason why the administration of Columbia University needs to let her make a laughingstock of their school by humping a mattress around campus and saying that it has something to do with having been raped. This is especially true when Paul Nungesser is suing Columbia and is being handed a strong case that the mattress stunt is a primary component of a campaign of defamation against him.
First-fruits unto the trial bar. The law is majestic.