David Gold, founder of Southern California's (and beyond) ubiquitous 99 Cents Only Stores, has died. [more inside]
The author of The Pauper's Cookbook , Paint Magic and more than 50 other titles, has died in London. If you ever thought about stippling, sponging, stencilling, scumbling, rag-rolling and distressing and/or color-washing a wall, you might well have been influenced by Ms. Innes.
Shakuntala Devi, the Indian "human computer," passed away on Sunday. The NY Times first did a profile on her when she visited the US in 1976, during which she computed the cube root of a 9 digit integer in her head, but could not remember that she had been to the US once before -- over 20 years prior. Bob Bemer (inventor of the Escape key previously) remembers meeting her in 1953 on the TV show You Asked For It (which had previously featured a race between an abacus and a calculator). Psychologist Arthur Jensen (who did controversial research on race and IQ) wrote a paper on Shakuntala's exceptional ability in 1990. Shakuntala made her living as an astrologer and authored numerous books mostly on mathematical puzzles and tricks, but also The World of Homosexuals (1977), one of the earliest ethnographic studies of gay people in India. Specifically about gays in her hometown of Bangalore, Shakuntala called for "not only the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India, but also its 'full and complete acceptance' by the heterosexual population so that the Indian homosexual may lead a dignified and secure life."
If you ever wanted to run away and live at the museum, you probably read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Author and two-time Newbery Award winner E. L. Konigsburg who gave the runaway Kincaid siblings a mystery to solve at the Metropolitan Museum of Art died today at age 83. Konigsburg attended what later became Carnegie Mellon University, majoring in chemistry, and went on to teach science before writing children's books. (previously)
Comic book legend Carmine Infantino has died at the age of 87. Beginning his career in the early 1940's, Infantino created or co-created stalwart DC characters such The Flash, Batgirl, Black Canary, and Deadman. He also served as editorial director at DC, and added artists and writers like Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, Denny O'Neill and Bernie Wrightson to the company's roster.
The New York Times has faced criticism after an obituary of Yvonne Brill, rocket scientist, opened with "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. “The world’s best mom,” her son Matthew said." [more inside]
Richard Griffiths, star of stage and screen, perhaps globally best known for his role as Harry Potter's ill-willed uncle, has died at the age of 65 due to complications from heart surgery. [more inside]
“The people I burgled got rich by greed and skulduggery. They indulged in the mechanics of ostentation — they deserved me and I deserved them." Peter Scott, known as the "King of the Cat Burglars", has died at the age of 82.
Scott Kennedy - Texan, comedian, founder of Comics Ready to Entertain (USO alternative for incredibly dangerous deployment locations), and co-founder of Gay Comedy Jam passed away on March 14th. The silence was deafening for one writer, who went on to intersperse pithy fury with honest admiration in an unforgettable mix of eulogy, obituary, and media rant. [more inside]
Bebo Valdes has passed away. A giant of Cuban music, he was a "big man whose music revealed a huge heart." He famously worked with Nat King Cole, and also handed down his musical chops to son Chucho, who would become one of the founding members of the band Irakere. There are some videos inside the fold to allow us to celebrate Bebo and his music. [more inside]
"Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, acclaimed in part for his groundbreaking 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart," has died, his British publisher, Penguin Books, said Friday." Set in precolonial Nigeria, Things Fall Apart portrays the story of a farmer, Okonkwo, who struggles to preserve his customs despite pressure from British colonizers. The story resonated in post-independent Africa, and the character became a household name in the continent. [more inside]
1985 marked a few beginnings for gangsta rap, with Schooly D releasing the influential P.S.K. What Does It Mean? (YT), and a few Korean swap-meet vendors opening the Compton Fashion Center, the first indoor swap meet. It was there and then that Wan Joon Kim got his start as an unlikely godfather of gangsta rap. [more inside]
Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies' man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on Saturday, March 9, 2013. Harry Stamps' obituary, penned by his daughter Amanda Lewis.
Bill Moody, best known as professional wrestling manager Paul Bearer, passed away Tuesday at the age of 58. [more inside]
"Misadventures was written in a flat, artless style — as The Daily Telegraph’s critic put it, like “a cross between a police officer giving evidence in court and a slightly demented grandmother intent on telling you everything over a cup of tea”. The curious tale of Sylvia Smith - the author who achieved fame in her fifties on the publication of her memoir of an ordinary life, one which sometimes baffled critics.
On Thursday, February 21st, influential British animator Bob Godfrey passed away at the age of 91. (Guardian, BBC,Cartoon Brew, Mirror, Rueters, Telegraph, and yes, even the Daily Mail. [more inside]
The Guardian reports the death of Kevin Ayers, founding member of Soft Machine and important figure in the Canterbury scene which included bands like Soft Machine, Gong and Caravan. [more inside]
Donald Richie, American author, journalist, critic and expert on Japan, dies at 88.
Smilingly excluded here in Japan, politely stigmatised, I can from my angle attempt only objectivity, since my subjective self will not fit the space I am allotted . . . how fortunate I am to occupy this niche with its lateral view. In America I would be denied this place. I would live on the flat surface of a plain. In Japan, from where I am sitting, the light falls just right – I can see the peaks and valleys, the crags and crevasses.
-- from The Japan Journals, 1947-2004[more inside]
Tandyn Almer, composer of Along Comes Mary, died last month. Dawn Eden wrote about Almer after attending his funeral, and more recently he was profiled in The Washington Post.
"One day, in the early 1960's, Mongo Santamaria called up Herbie Hancock and asked him to sit in as a pianist with Mongo's band, which was then performing at Club Cubano InterAmericano on Prospect Avenue, a popular Latin music spot. Herbie was reluctant to do it because he never played Latin before, but accepted the offer and was doing pretty well by the end of the first set. Then during intermission, Donald Byrd, who was there, asked Herbie to play his original composition "Watermelon Man" for Mongo. When Herbie started doing this, Mongo's band, especially his huge percussion section, started joining in, and before you knew it the whole club was dancing. Mongo was so excited by what happened that he asked if he could record the song. He did, and it became his greatest hit." [more inside]
John E. Karlin, Bell Labs' first behavioral psychologist and the father of human factors engineering, has died at the age of 94. [more inside]
Since March 21, 1994, when the first regular obituary segment was dropped into an Academy Awards show, a spot on the yearly scroll of recently deceased movie luminaries has become one of the evening’s most hotly contested honors. And as in most Oscar races it is the focus of sometimes ferocious campaigning.
Yesterday morning Reg Presley, the lead singer of the Troggs, died in his sleep from cancer. [more inside]
André Cassagnes, the inventor of Etch A Sketch, has died aged 86. [Telegraph] [Guardian] [Washington Post] [more inside]
"He was fiercely proud of his Jewish faith. He fiercely defended the City of New York, and he fiercely loved its people. Above all, he loved his country, the United States of America, in whose armed forces he served in World War II." - a self-written epitaph by the former 105"Hizzoner" passed away on Friday morning at the age of 88, and the New York Times City Room blog spent the day collecting and posting stories about him. [more inside]
thMayor of New York City: Edward Irving Koch.
Sadly, it's time to say farewell to a unique and visionary musician and musical thinker who developed and articulated an extraordinary method of directing large-ensemble improvisation with a method that he dubbed "conduction". Mr. Butch Morris has left us, but his ideas will surely reverberate in the hearts and minds of creative musicians and lovers of creative music everywhere.
Stanley Karnow, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and historian, has died at age 87. He won the prize in 1990 for his book In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines (discussed on Booknotes). He is best known, however for his work on Vietnam. His book Vietnam: A History was widely acclaimed and its companion series on PBS, Vietnam: A Television History won six Emmys and a Peabody award and was one of the most widely watched documentaries on PBS. He discussed the war in 2000 in this Salon interview. Needless to say, his reporting was not appreciated by everyone.
Chaosium has announced the death of Lynn Willis. Willis was creator or co-creator of many boardgames and RPGs, including probably the most influential horror RPG, Call of Cthulhu, and my personal favorite, Ghostbusters. Obituary by Ken Hite.
In 1974, Leon Leyson was one of a group of Jews who greeted Oskar Schindler when he visited Los Angeles. It was the first time the two had seen each other since the war. He began to introduce himself, but Schindler interrupted: "I know who you are," Schindler said, grinning at the middle-aged man before him. "You're Little Leyson." On Sunday, the youngest name on Schindler's List passed away at the age of 83. "The truth is, I did not live my life in the shadow of the Holocaust," he told the Portland Oregonian in 1997. "I did not give my children a legacy of fear. I gave them a legacy of freedom." [more inside]
Aaron Swartz, web technologist, has committed suicide. First mentioned on Metafilter for his involvement in the standardization of RSS in 2001 as a ninth-grader, most of Swartz's 26 years were devoted to leaving a lasting impact on the web. Swartz co-founded Infogami, which merged with the internet aggregator Reddit, and also founded the Internet activist organization Demand Progress which fought against the SOPA/PIPA legislation. His framework for web servers, web.py, was first released in 2006 when Reddit switched from Lisp to Python and continues to be actively used and updated. In a 2008 attempt to make a public version of the contents of the PACER public court records database, Swartz angered government officials when they learned he had downloaded 20 million articles, which he subsequently made freely available. In 2011 he was indicted for data theft for downloading large amounts from the academic article repository JSTOR. Despite JSTOR's statement indicating "no interest in this becoming an ongoing legal matter," the US case continued with additional charges, to which Aaron pled innocent in September of 2012. [more inside]
The poet Jayne Cortez passed away this past December 28th in New York City (New York Times obituary). She started publishing her poems in the late 1960s and in the 70s began performing her poetry backed by music, first in collaboration with bassist Richard Davis, and then backed by her own band The Firespitters. Some of their tracks have found their way to YouTube: I See Chano Pozo, If the Drum Is a Woman, There It Is, Maintain Control & Economic Love Song I, Everybody Wants to Be Somebody, Takin' the Blues Back Home, Talk to Me (for Don Cherry), I've Been Searching, You Can Be and Endangered Species List Blues. Just two years ago she performed solo with her son by Ornette Coleman, drummer Denardo Coleman: Find Your Own Voice, I'm Gonna Shake and She Got He Got. In 1997 she was featured on University of California television network in the series Artists on the Cutting Edge where she read poems and discussed her work. Finally, here's a brief clip from the 1982 documentary Poetry in Motion, where she was interviewed.
Gerda Lerner: "In my courses, the teachers told me about a world in which ostensibly one-half the human race is doing everything significant and the other half doesn’t exist. I asked myself how this checked against my own life experience. ‘This is garbage; this is not the world in which I have lived,’ I said."
Feminist historian Gerda Lerner has passed away at 92. An original member of the National Organization for Women, Lerner was a pioneer in the field of women's history, teaching what is thought to be the first women’s history course in the world and later establishing the first women's history graduate program in the United States. She led a fascinating life. [more inside]
Beate Sirota Gordon, Long-Unsung Heroine of Japanese Women’s Rights, Dies at 89: a NYT obituary relates the fascinating story of a young woman who was just the right person in just the right place at just the right time and managed to strike a blow for gender equality. [more inside]
Keiji Nakazawa, the manga artist and creator of Barefoot Gen (previously),his autobiographical account of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, died on the 19th of December, still living in Hiroshima. His obituary is up on The Comics Journal website, while comics blogger David Brothers adds a more personal note about discovering Barefoot Gen as a preteen.
With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. December 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Invisible Cities -- the sublime metaphysical travelogue by author-journalist Italo Calvino. In a series of pensive dialogues with jaded emperor Kublai Khan, the explorer Marco Polo describes a meandering litany of visionary and impossible places, dozens of surreal, fantastical cities, each poetically reifying ideas vital to language, philosophy, and the human spirit. This gracefully written love letter to urban life has inspired countless tributes, but it's just the most accessible of Calvino's fascinating literary catalogue. Look inside for a closer look at his most remarkable works, links to English translations of his magical prose, and collections of artistic interpretations from around the web -- including this treasure trove of essays, excerpts, articles, and recommended reading. [more inside]
"Edlinger began to climb. As the last competitor, everyone at Snowbird knew how high he must get to beat his rivals and win the event. With apparent ease, he climbed past their high-points, until pausing beneath a huge overhang that had defeated all-comers. At that moment, a narrow shaft of sunlight pierced the cloud cover and illuminated Edlinger. When he completed the route, the only one from the world's best to do so, the crowd erupted. Until this point, American climbers had been unsure about competition climbing. After Edlinger, they were converted." - Patrick Edlinger, age 52, died on December 10, after years of battling depression following a near-death fall in the nineties that prevented him from climbing at the same level. [more inside]
William F. House, known by many in the field as the "Father of Neurotology," has died at the age of 89. Dr. House is credited with developing the cochlear implant, pioneering the use of the operative microscope in ear and brain surgery, and, with his brother Howard, establishing the House Ear Institute. [more inside]
Nicholas Johnson, author of Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica, committed suicide on November 28, in West Seattle. His friend and former roommate Jason Anthony (mentioned in the acknowledgements of Big Dead Place) has written an obituary. An obituary from the book's publisher, Feral House. An adaptation of Big Dead Place remains in development with HBO. Previously.
Following the slope formula of a morbid turn of mind is not the only reason to orbit the obits. Every now and then, the reading's well worthwhile! Marty Reisman, 82, a Wizard of Table Tennis, Dies.
Reinhold Weege, creator of Night Court has passed away at 63. Weege got his start writing for sitcoms like Barney Miller, its spinoff Fish and M*A*S*H, but was most famous for Night Court the long-running Harry Anderson vehicle for NBC. (Night Court was not the only legal-related show he created, though - he also had the short-lived Park Place, set in a legal-aid clinic.) Due to the success with Night Court he was able to go into semi-retirement, but he was reported to be recently working on a new play. [more inside]
The great Russian animator Fyodor Khitruk passed away on December 3rd at the age of 95. You might know him as the director of the delightful Vinni Puh. (Parts one and two can be seen here with subtitles, for part three see this previous post.) [more inside]
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, AC DBE, wife of Sir Keith and mother of Rupert, was an outspoken philanthropist. She died overnight in Australia, aged 103.
I am devastated to read that jazz master and Kennedy Center honoree Dave Brubeck has died. His influence on jazz was wide and profound. His frequent collaborator and the composer of one of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s best known tunes, “Take Five,” Paul Desmond, said of the sound of his alto sax, “"I think I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to sound like a dry martini." Brubeck was well-known for his use of differing time signatures, again referencing “Take Five” which was in 5/4 time and another example, “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” in 9/8 time. Desmond passed away in 2005, and Brubeck has left the earthly plain to join him in the Heavenly Jazz Band. RIP. (MLYT)
Spain Rodriguez Fought the Good Fight - underground comics artist Spain Rodriguez, most famous for his violent antihero Trashman, passed away yesterday.
The Canto Ostinato is a minimalist classical composition written in 1976-1979 consisting of "small, entirely tonal cells which are repeated - how many times is left to the performer". Usually performed by two or four pianos, it's also been adapted to other instruments like the harp. The Canto Ostinato ("stubborn song") was written by Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt, who passed away yesterday. [more inside]