How To Celebrate
Seventy-Five Years: “The Search For More Money”

By

Leonard Zwelling

         Yes, I know this was a line from Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, but
could it be more aptly applied than to the latest announcement about the 75
Year Celebration of MD Anderson in a tent during the same week in which Donald
Trump could become our next President? Happy The Clown will be there.

“Clowns
to the left of me, joker’s to my right, here I am, stuck in the middle with
you.”

         I received the announcement today that tables are going for
up to $250,000, undoubtedly at the front of the tent near the entrance flap
adjoining the Zayed delegation’s honorary dais. If the tables are going for
that much, how much do the chairs cost? And where’s LBJ’s camel? Outside or
inside the tent on a bathroom break? (I know, lots of classical allusions in
this one.)

         I know that there is a $400 million shortfall at Anderson,
but are they trying to make it all up in one evening by charging the faculty to
attend the celebration of their own wonderfulness? I guess so. Well, at least
those with salaries close to the executives at Mylan can afford the good seats.

         I get the idea of using the anniversary to raise money to
make up the huge deficit, but to charge the faculty to attend the celebration
is lewd. When I think back to the “Prom” of yesteryear, an annual event that
really did celebrate the faculty and its accomplishments, I am mortified by
this latest DePinho development. The Prom, last seen many years ago, was a
celebration for which no one was charged anything because it was the money from
the faculty’s labors that paid for the party. Pretty much like this one, I
guess.

         This year, like rye bread around an unpleasant sandwich that
is our national election with the choice of meat being yellowing chicken vs.
overcooked rancid beef that even a heavy dollop of mayo could not conceal, the
MD Anderson celebration week, that includes the annual Board of Visitors
meeting where the executives try to convince the large donors that they ought
to keep their jobs, will occur. So in one brief week, while the country chooses
a new President, MD Anderson will choose again to go with the ones that brung
‘em here. No doubt, the past Presidents will all be there celebrating the
current leadership team. Ugh! They are even going to have a fun run with boots.
Of course, there is a complementary boxed lunch served at variable times to
accommodate the schedules of those who cannot afford the $250 minimum ticket
that will probably get you a seat where you will know what the speaker said 15
seconds after he or she is done.

         This just all looks bad to me.

         Personally, I would put up the tent, give away the good food
and let the Board of Visitors give as much money as they want without getting a
song and dance in return. If it’s really charity, let it be charity and the
people who make the place run ought to be rewarded without having to cough up
$500 a couple.

         I think this may be a sure sign that the Apocalypse is upon
us. Can you imagine getting Donald Trump on Tuesday and Ron DePinho and his
crew on Thursday. Not me. I am the lucky one. I’ll be out of the country. I’ll
vote absentee for Hillary and vote with my passport against the FORDs.

Leonard Zwelling