Sometimes life’s symmetry bites hard, like a boomerang that buries itself in your cranium. In June 1999, the Independent ran a story about the recent purchase of the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company (CFAC) by Glencore AG, an international metals trading firm based in Switzerland. At the time, CFAC workers expressed optimism about the deal. “It’s a real relief,” CFAC’s manager of human resources, Lyle Phillips told us. “We could have been bought out by guys who planned to suck us dry, sell us off and close us down.”
As we reported then, Glencore was founded 25 years earlier by multimillionaire Marc Rich, a fugitive from justice since 1983 who was wanted by the FBI, U.S. Customs and Interpol on more than 50 counts of wire fraud, racketeering and income tax evasion of more that $48 million. Rich was also implicated in one of the ugliest labor disputes of the 1990s in Ravenswood, W.Va. Other reports claim Rich had shady dealings in the former Soviet Republics, including bribery and money laundering. In February 1992, Rolling Stone identified Willy Strothotte, Glencore’s chairman, as “a longtime associate of Rich and reputed to be Rich’s point man in the aluminum industry.”
This week, CFAC announced that it was more profitable to sell its allotment of electricity than to manufacture aluminum and will shut down the plant for the next 12 months. (Prior to Glencore’s purchase, CFAC had not experienced a strike, work stoppage or shutdown in 44 years.) Then, it was revealed that one of Clinton’s last acts as president was to pardon Rich, a slap in the face to those who spent years trying to apprehend him. Nothing poetic about this brand of justice.
Where do we go when we die? Possibly Bozeman.
Some of us may secretly want to be delivered postage-due to ex-wives or turned over to the taxidermist for preservation as “leveraging” material in matters of estate settlement. Eccentric Englishman Martin van Butchell (1735-1812), whose marriage contract had a clause stating that he could only own certain articles “while [his beloved] remained above the ground,” retained his entitlements after her death by having her embalmed, dressed in her wedding clothes and preserved in a glass-lidded case in his drawing room. But this kind of creativity is exceptional. It seems most people want to go as plainly as possible into that great night.
But have you considered donating your body to science? It’s easy to do and, after the Big Boo-Boo, generally painless. Eighteen bodies are needed annually to teach anatomy to first-year medical students in the WWAMI Medical Education Program at MSU, and, although the program has been in place for some time, according to one spokesman the donation quotas are not being consistently met. Those interested can complete a consent form or uniform donor card obtainable by calling (406) 994-4411.
In the meantime, try to keep the merchandise in good condition. There’s the true story of the Swedish gentleman who promised his body to Stockholm’s Caroline Institute in exchange for a cash advance. He later changed his mind and the case went to court, with the result that not only did the gentleman lose the suit (and future possession of his body), but also had to pay damages because he’d had two teeth pulled without permission.