Debbie Friedman passed away today. She was the most well known and influential composer of Jewish music and litergy in the United States. The Jerusalem Post says that "Friedman’s music is performed in synagogues around the world more than that of any other modern composer." Her most well known song is a setting of Mi Shebeirach, a prayer for healing.
British actor Pete Postlethwaite has died at the age of 64, after a lengthy battle with cancer. A renowned veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company (he held the leading roles in both The Tempest and 2009's King Lear among others), Postlethwaite is perhaps best known worldwide for his roles in The Usual Suspects (trailer), The Constant Gardener and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Steven Spielberg supposedly described him as "the best actor in the world", although Postlethwaite himself often denied this.
One of the 'Dutch' (actually from Aruba and the band from Germany) most prided disco icons, Bobby Farrell, frontman of Boney M., passed away in st. Petersburg. A Crazy Dancer who arguably never got any real money for his success which was the story for this commercial. Most recent appearance of Boney M., a creation of Frank Farian (previously) was probably Ma Baker's sample in Lady GaGa's Pokerface.
19th-century newspaper ads for patented stomach cures and digestive aids [...] foregrounded mince pie as the K2 of digestive summits. But for every published warning on the dangers of mince, the newspapers published a poem, essay, or editorial praising it as a great symbol of American cultural heritage or a nostalgic reminder of mother love and better times bygone—or even, as the State of Columbia, South Carolina, asserted in 1901, a beneficial Darwinian instrument that had "thinned out the weak ones" among the pioneering generations.So wrote Cliff Doerksen in his wonderful, James Beard award-winning article Mince Pie: The Real American Pie. Doerksen not only gives the history of this once most American of foods, he also makes two mince pies from 19th Century recipes to see if they are indeed all that. This is but one of many great articles Doerksen wrote for The Chicago Reader in recent years (links to a selection below the cut). Sadly, Cliff Doerksen passed at the age of 47 just before Christmas. [more inside]
Jayaben Desai passes away. Ms. Desai came to national prominence in the UK for her leading role in the 1976-78 strike at Grunwick Processing's photo processing labs in North London, a dispute that shattered stereotypes about south Asian women workers in Britain, in the face of police violence, the antics of the McWhirter brothers and ambiguous support from the official trade union movement. [more inside]
Sad news out of California today for the avant-garde and experimental rock world: Rocks Off has learned from multiple online sources that Don Van Vliet of influential rockers Captain Beefheart passed away today at the age of 69 after a battle with multiple sclerosis. Van Vliet's management confirmed his death to Rolling Stone.
Elizabeth Edwards has died of breast cancer. She was an attorney, author, and advocate for same-sex marriage rights. [more inside]
One of the most distinctive voices in Canadian broadcasting has been silenced. Mark Dailey, longtime announcer, on-air reporter and anchor for Toronto's Citytv, died today at the age of 57. [more inside]
Frank W. Lewis, longtime cryptic crossword setter for The Nation, passed away on Nov. 18 at the age of 98. Although best known for his puzzles, of which he set nearly 3000 over sixty years, Lewis also had a distinguished career with the War Department. His work on the team deciphering Japanese shipping codes during World War II led to awards for Exceptional Civilian Service, Outstanding Civilian Service, and Bletchley Park Service. [more inside]
Irvin Kershner isn't a household name. Often incorrectly billed as Irving, Ervin, or Irwin, the director's filmography includes such films as the uninspiring sequel Robocop 2, the subpar "unofficial" James Bond film Never Say Never Again, and The Luck of Ginger Coffey, which, according to Kershner's site has in recent years become a cult film, but whose cult status is hardly evident elsewhere on the internet. So why should we care that Irvin Kershner has just died at age 78? Kershner directed the best of the Star Wars movies, and one of the best "second act" films ever, The Empire Strikes Back. Just before he died, Kershner spoke with Vanity Fair about the film, 30 years after its release in 1980.
Dave Niehaus, the longtime play-by-play announcer for the Seattle Mariners, has passed away at the age of 75. [more inside]
Jack Levine, Realist Artist, Dies at 95. Mr. Levine burst onto the American art scene in 1937 with a scathing triple portrait remarkable for its bravura brushwork and gleeful vitriol. Titled “The Feast of Pure Reason,” it depicted a police officer, a capitalist and a politician seated at a table, their bloated faces oozing malice and evil intent. His painting Cain and Abel hangs in the Vatican. Upon his discharge from service he painted Welcome Home, a lampoon of the arrogance of military power; years later the painting would engender political controversy when it was included in a show of art in Moscow, and along with works by other American artists, raised suspicions in the House Un-American Activities Committee of pro-Communist sympathies. You can see some of The Complete Graphic Work of Jack Levine (1984) via Google books. Online gallery.
Legendary baseball manager George "Sparky" Anderson dead at 76. Ernie Harwell on Sparky. Interview on Santa Clarita community access. "Mr. President, I know you love those Cubs, but if you knew these Tigers, you'd love 'em more. Hall of Fame entry. He was a crummy player, though. Remembering Anderson's class. STAY CLASSY, SPARKY! The End of a Sparkling Life.
“There’s a certain exuberance that comes from being out there on the edge of technology, where things are not certain, where there is some risk, and where you make something work.” Joseph Gavin Jr., an MIT-trained engineer and director of the Apollo 11 lunar module program for Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, died on Saturday. A few quotes from Joe about the program's complexity via an old Popular Mechanics article are nice, but this more complete interview providing some fascinating insights on the process and the culture and just how much went into the lunar lander program, from an engineer's perspective, is fantastic.
Graham Crowden, character actor, has died at 87 after a 52 year career on stage, television, and film. In the United States he may be best known for playing the whimsical Tom Ballard alongside Stephanie Cole's cynical Diana in the BBC series Waiting for God, often shown on PBS. Born in Edinburgh in 1922, he had a distinguished career on stage, particularly at Olivier's National Theatre, undertaking (among other roles) The Player King in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. In 1974, citing an inability to commit to a single role, he turned down the part of the Fourth Doctor, which eventually went to his friend Tom Baker. A few years later, in 1977, he played in Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky. He had another star turn on television in a previous BBC series, A Very Peculiar Practice, as the physician Jock McCannon. His last role was in 2008 in an episode of Foyle's War, "Broken Souls." Said his agent Sue Grantley to the BBC, "We will all miss him enormously."
Nassim Nicholas Taleb states on his website and Facebook account that his occasional collaborator (and fractal pioneer/popularizer) Benoit Mandelbrot has died.
The fish men see her still, their Annie, in the hide-and-seek shadows of South Street. She’s telling her dirty jokes and doing anything for a buck: hustling newspapers, untaxed cigarettes, favors, those pairs of irregular socks she’d buy cheap on Canal. She’s submitting to the elements, calling out “Yoo-hoo” to the snow and the rain and her boys. Annie and Gloria: Death of a Fulton Fish Market Fixture.
Britain’s Frank Kermode is, sadly, dead, aged ninety. I was reading the obits, and memories, and definitely agreeing with the general sentiment that literary criticism (and all of the rest of us) had lost a giant.
"A solitary man who knew his likes and lived within his means, a man who could be counted upon." Responding to vicious Internet snark following a hit-and-run death, the St. Petersburg Times asked award-winning obituary writer Andrew Meacham to write on the life of 48 year old dishwasher and Boston sports fan Neil Alan Smith.
Princess Leia's dad died l Carrie's tweet l Eddie Fisher RIP l [He] became one of the last great young crooners of the pre-rock and roll period, with 35 of his recordings reaching the Top 40 through the end of the decade l His career as a pop singer was overshadowed by his marriages to Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor l When Eddie Fisher was with Debbie Reynolds. [more inside]
Eileen Nearne was found dead in her flat in Torquay on September 2, apparently alone and forgotten. But it turns out, she was neither.
Satoshi Kon, the director of such celebrated anime movies as Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Paprika, has died (reportedly of cancer) at the age of 47. Kon's movies dealt with the slipperiness of the boundaries between performance and reality, truth and illusion. His death leaves the status of his next movie, The Dream Machine (Yume miru kikai), in doubt. As outsourcing and a long recession have taken their toll on Japan's increasingly insular anime industry, David Cabrera notes, I cannot think of a single person alive in the Japanese animation industry who would have been a greater loss than Mr. Kon.
'In 1951, there wasn't a more passionate rivalry in sports than the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. Giants fans hated Dodger fans. Dodger fans hated Giants fans. Fathers passed it on to sons. In August, the Giants were thirteen and a half games out of first place. That's insurmountable. Your season's over. But mnh-mnh. Giants come back from thirteen and a half games, fall into a first-place tie with, guess who -- the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now, they play a playoff game to see who gets to go to the World Series and the Dodgers have it won, right? Until a guy named Bobby Thomson hit what they called "the shot heard 'round the world."' -- Sports Night. Bobby Thomson, who hit the possibly the most famous home run in baseball history, has died at age 86. [more inside]
8 poeple died on Saturday, August 14th when an off-road truck race driver accidentally veered into the crowd of spectators in California's Mojave Desert. Andrew Therrien , 22, was there and pushed three people out of the way when the truck jumped off course, saving their lives. One of them was his three-year-old daughter. Therrien was killed instantly.
Scottish trade unionist, journalist and broadcaster Jimmy Reid has died aged 78. Often described as the best MP Scotland never had, Reid was the instigator of the 1971 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders famous work-in, where rather than striking, workers demonstrated the viability of the shipyards by working to fill the orders on the books, drawing national and international support (including a fat cheque from John Lennon). The year after, he was elected as rector of the University of Glasgow, where he delivered a speech (behind a paywall, sadly) that the New York Times (which saw fit to print it in full) called one of the finest since the Gettysburg Address [more inside]
Historian Tony Judt has passed away at the age of 62. Suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Judt had recently published Ill Fares the Land, a call for the US to adopt social democratic policies. [more inside]
Heartbreaking news for people who care about reading. Founded in 1925, the Virginia Quarterly Review has become the standard-bearer for long-form narrative journalism - "the sort of articles that make readers want to become writers." "The Life and Lonely Death of Noah Pierce" is a great example of what this kind of writing can achieve, but it's not the only one. The essential Bookslut has called the VQR "the best fucking magazine on the planet right now." Last week Mefi's own Waldo made the blog post we all dread having to make. His friend and boss, the VQR's genius editor Kevin Morrissey made his will, left his affairs in order, called the police to report a shooting that had not yet happened, and took his own life. Previously on the blue.
Chris Al-Aswad, founder of the online arts journal Escape Into Life and author of the arts blog The Blog of Innocence, has passed away at age 31. [more inside]
"America's greatest quadriplegic, recovering alcoholic cartoonist" (prev.) has died at 59. John Callahan drew irreverent cartoons (some too irreverent - scroll down), created one cartoon series for kids and another for adults (plus animated versions of many of his comics), wrote and performed songs, and collected his hate mail. He was a local celebrity in Portland, Oregon, the subject of a Dutch documentary and an unlikely role model. "The odor of mortality (was) hard to avoid around Callahan," and now it has caught up with him.
Daniel Schorr is dead at 93. Schorr began a career in journalism which spanned more than six decades at 12 years old, when he wrote a story for the Bronx Home News about a suicide. A woman had jumped from the roof of his building, he phoned the police and then wrote and article about the event, for which he was paid $5. After serving in military intelligence during World War II, he worked as a foreign correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times before joining CBS in 1953 as one of the legendary "Murrow Boys". [more inside]
Harry Beckett RIP Jamaican born trumpeter and flugelhornist Harry Beckett was one of the most hard working and adaptable players in UK jazz, playing with everyone from Chris McGregor to Jack Bruce. He's heard to great effect on this too, which is probably where I first heard him. He wasn't averse to spot of free improvisation either. He'll be much missed.
Gravelly-voiced character actor James Gammon has passed away of cancer at the age of 70. His career spanned more than 50 years in television, (with roles from "Gunsmoke" to "Grays Anatomy",) film and theater, but most will probably remember him as either the cantankerous manager of the Cleveland Indians in the 1989 comedy "Major League" or as Don Johnson's crotchety, retired longshoreman father on the television show Nash Bridges. [more inside]
James P. Hogan died suddenly on July 12, 2010. He was alone at his home in Ireland at the time. The exact cause of death has not yet been determined. Jim is survived by his wife, Sheryl, and his six children. [more inside]
From off the streets of Cleveland, Harvey Pekar pioneered autobiopgraphical comics in the 70s with his self-published American Splendor. His tales of working as a file clerk lead to greater fame, including appearances on David Letterman and a movie about his life. He worked with many different artists, including his personal friend Robert Crumb. Beyond that, he was an inspiration for so many others. Harvey Pekar passed away last night at the age of 70.
When "Proto-Pop" artist Larry Rivers' died in 2002, he left behind extensive archives of his letters, paperwork, photographs and film documenting the New York artistic and literary scene from the 1940s through the 1980s. They chronicle his friendships and relationships with dozens of artists, musicians and writers, from Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol to Frank O’Hara. Also included: films and videos of his two adolescent daughters, naked or topless, being interviewed by their father about their developing breasts. Now, one daughter, who says she was pressured to participate beginning when she was 11, is demanding that material be removed from the archive and returned to her and her sister. [more inside]
Robert Byrd, Respected Voice of the Senate, Dies at 92 Robert C. Byrd, who used his record tenure as a United States senator to fight for the primacy of the legislative branch of government and to build a modern West Virginia with vast amounts of federal money, died early on Monday. He was 92. He was the longest-serving Senator as well as the longest-serving member in congressional history. In his younger days he joined the Ku Klux Klan when he was 24 in 1942.
Fred Anderson was a monster on the tenor sax. Fred Anderson was one of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and his "home court," the Velvet Lounge, remains a place for Chicago creative musicians to find welcoming audience. Fred died June 24 in Chicago. A wake will take place from 5 to 6 PM this Tuesday (June 29) at Leak and Sons Funeral Chapel, 7838 S. Cottage Grove, followed immediately by Anderson’s Going Home service. [more inside]
American philosopher John Haugeland has died. In dramatic fashion, he suffered a massive heart attack in the middle of a conference dedicated to his work on the occasion of his retirement. He made enormous contributions to the philosophy of mind and introduced many undergraduates to the very idea of artificial intelligence. [more inside]
Edith Shain has died. She was 92. She worked at Doctor's Hospital in New York City during World War II, but you probably only knew her as an anonymous nurse. [more inside]
She's been called "the greatest posthumous success story in music history." But when she died of melanoma at age 33, few people outside of the Washington DC-area had heard of Eva Marie Cassidy. [more inside]
Garry Shider, singer, guitarist and musical director of George Clinton's P-Funk All-Stars for much of their history, has passed on at age 56. Shider (the man in the diaper for so many P-Funk performances) was co-author of One Nation Under a Groove and many other masterpieces of the funk. RIP, Garry Shider.
Carla's final video blog from heaven - shown publicly for the first time at Carla Zilbersmith's funeral after her death from ALS. [more inside]
The great[pdf] Russian mathematican Vladimir Igorevich Arnol'd, foremost modern practitioner of classical mechanics, influential teacher, namesake of a minor planet, and semi-nude cross-country skier has died.
I hear babies cry and I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than we'll know. And I think to myself: What a Wonderful World
You may not know who Israel "Brudda Iz" Kamakawiwoʻole was, but you're probably familiar with his medley of "Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World," which has been included on several movie soundtracks and used on television shows & commercials throughout the world.... [more inside]