Archive for the ‘obituary’ tag
Phyllis Schlafly, Conservative Leader and Foe of E.R.A., Dies at 92
(click here to continue reading Phyllis Schlafly, Conservative Leader and Foe of E.R.A., Dies at 92 – The New York Times.)
The phrase is something like, “if you can’t say something nice about the recently deceased, say nothing at all”.
Dr. Gabriel G. Nahas, a controversial medical researcher who became a prominent crusader against marijuana after being shocked to hear, at a PTA meeting in 1969, about the drug’s widespread use, died on June 28 in Manhattan. He was 92.
Dr. Nahas did research to find the physiological effects of smoking marijuana, wrote 10 books on the drug and became a leader of antidrug organizations. He was a visible ally of Nancy Reagan in her “just say no” to drugs campaign as the first lady in the 1980s.
Dr. Nahas saw his antidrug campaign as nothing less than a continuation of the fight against totalitarianism, which for him began during World War II as a decorated leader of the French Resistance; like totalitarianism, he believed, drugs enslaved the mind.
In 1972, he published his first book about the dangers of the drug, “Marihuana: Deceptive Weed.” In 1974, he announced that he had discovered a link between the drug and the body’s immune system. “The findings represent the first direct evidence of cellular damage from marijuana in man,” he said in a statement.
But scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studied the chromosomes of volunteers who smoked marijuana, found no deficiency in immune responses and no chromosome abnormalities, which Dr. Nahas had also predicted. Nevertheless, Dr. Nahas suggested that the results prompt reconsideration of a recent government report that marijuana’s dangers were less than those of alcohol.
His willingness to make strong political and social judgments was again evident in his more popular 1976 book, “Keep Off the Grass,” which contended that every marijuana user was a “pusher” of the drug.
Dr. Nahas’s conservatism extended beyond narcotics. In the 1970s, he marshaled his newly public persona to sign newspaper advertisements criticizing opponents of the Vietnam War.
(click here to continue reading Dr. Gabriel Nahas, Researcher Who Waged a Campaign Against Marijuana, Dies at 92 – NYTimes.com.)
What a sad thing to be remembered by history for doing: for causing hundreds of thousands of otherwise innocent people to be incarcerated. Marijuana is a plant – consuming it should not lead to losing ones citizenship and voting rights, should not lead to being raped in prison, should not lead to destruction of one’s freedoms. Dr. Nahas was an evil, misinformed man, if he was responsible for the Drug War, and Nancy Reagan’s ill-guided crusade against cannabis.
I’ve thought about this actually – what would happen if I died suddenly?1 My family would know, eventually, but what about people I know mostly from Flickr, or Twitter, or my blog, or wherever. What is the protocol for online death notices?
Suppose that just after you finish reading this article, you keel over, dead. Perhaps you’re ready for such an eventuality, in that you have prepared a will or made some sort of arrangement for the fate of the worldly goods you leave behind: financial assets, personal effects, belongings likely to have sentimental value to others and artifacts of your life like photographs, journals, letters. Even if you haven’t made such arrangements, all of this will get sorted one way or another, maybe in line with what you would have wanted, and maybe not.
But many of us, in these worst of circumstances, would also leave behind things that exist outside of those familiar categories. Suppose you blogged or tweeted about this article, or dashed off a Facebook status update, or uploaded a few snapshots from your iPhone to Flickr, and then logged off this mortal coil. It’s now taken for granted that the things we do online are reflections of who we are or announcements of who we wish to be. So what happens to this version of you that you’ve built with bits? Who will have access to which parts of it, and for how long?
Not many people have given serious thought to these questions. Maybe that’s partly because what we do online still feels somehow novel and ephemeral, although it really shouldn’t anymore. Or maybe it’s because pondering mortality is simply a downer. (Only about a third of Americans even have a will.) By and large, the major companies that enable our Web-articulated selves have vague policies about the fate of our digital afterlives, or no policies at all. Estate law has only begun to consider the topic. Leading thinkers on technology and culture are understandably far more focused on exciting potential futures, not on the most grim of inevitabilities.
Nevertheless: people die. For most of us, the fate of tweets and status updates and the like may seem trivial (who cares — I’ll be dead!). But increasingly we’re not leaving a record of life by culling and stowing away physical journals or shoeboxes of letters and photographs for heirs or the future. Instead, we are, collectively, busy producing fresh masses of life-affirming digital stuff: five billion images and counting on Flickr; hundreds of thousands of YouTube videos uploaded every day; oceans of content from 20 million bloggers and 500 million Facebook members; two billion tweets a month. Sites and services warehouse our musical and visual creations, personal data, shared opinions and taste declarations in the form of reviews and lists and ratings, even virtual scrapbook pages. Avatars left behind in World of Warcraft or Second Life can have financial or intellectual-property holdings in those alternate realities. We pile up digital possessions and expressions, and we tend to leave them piled up, like virtual hoarders.
(click to continue reading Cyberspace When You’re Dead – NYTimes.com.)
Not to mention, what would happen to my unpublished photos? Some of them could even be good! Or all these half-finished writings? Who am I kidding, I don’t even have a regular will, so who is going to sort through my boxes of CDs? Ahem.2
A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine died of a brain tumor. I had never met her in the flesh,3 but she was still my friend. We met through my blog, and soon expanded our relationship to become email buddies, and we just clicked, talked about whatever friends talk about. Friends are friends, right? I still tear up thinking about her untimely death, I found out about it when her husband sent out a brief email, and posted a short obit on her webpage.
How will interactions like this unfold in the future? There are a lot of folk that I know solely from online interactions, yet they are still friends. I know I’m not the only one. What happens to the digital flotsam and jetsam that makes up our 21st C.E. life?
What about future biographers? What will they use to create a compelling record of a life lived? Gore Vidal was able to recreate most of Aaron Burr’s life through records and writings, what will happen when someone wants to write the history of a contemporary of Mark Zuckerberg?Footnotes:
- I did have some odd heart palpitations actually, a few months ago, but I didn’t go to the doctor, and they have not reoccured. So I have ignored them unless I’m feeling particularly maudlin. [↩]
- I really should make a will though. Do you have one? [↩]
- though I would have if I ever had been to Los Angeles, or if she had come to Chicago [↩]
Charles Pierce remembers Portland Trailblazer legend, Maurice Lucas, in a reminiscence that begins:
Thirty-nine years ago this fall, I moved into the 11th floor of a 12-story dormitory at the corner of 16th Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was a freshman at Marquette University. (The dorm, McCormick Hall, is round and shaped like a beer can, which is remarkably appropriate in more than the metaphorical sense, and the building has been rumored for almost 40 years to be sinking into middle Earth.) Not long after I moved in, I found myself intrigued by the music coming out from under the door of the room next to mine — music which I now know to have been “Eurydice,” the closing track from Weather Report’s astounding debut album. (Mmmmmm. Wayne Shorter!) As I was listening, an extremely large man came out of the room and introduced himself. “Pretty cool, isn’t it?’ he said.
And that was how I met Maurice Lucas.
For the next couple of years, we talked about music, at least as much as Luke talked to anyone, him being what you call your campus celebrity and all during the glory days of Warrior basketball and the high-sun period of Al McGuire Era. Whatever I know about any jazz recorded after the big band records to which my father listened — Mmmmmmm. Basie! — I learned from Luke, with whom I don’t believe I ever exchanged four words about basketball.
(click to continue reading RIP, Maurice Lucas – Charles Pierce Blog – Boston sports news – Boston.com.)
Mo Lucas always seemed like an interesting cat, and obviously someone that Bill Walton accorded immense respect to, which is also worth something…
The NYT has a more conventional obit
some history here:
The most recent photo I could find
(Merge in HD function in CS5)
Sad news, Alex Chilton died, entirely too young.
Pop hitmaker, cult hero, and Memphis rock iconoclast Alex Chilton has died.
The singer and guitarist, best known as a member of ’60s pop-soul act the Box Tops and the ’70s power-pop act Big Star, died today at a hospital in New Orleans. Chilton, 59, had been complaining of about his health earlier today. He was taken by paramedics to the emergency room where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death is believed to be a heart attack.
His Big Star bandmate Jody Stephens confirmed the news this evening. “Alex passed away a couple of hours ago,” Stephens said from Austin, Texas, where the band was to play Saturday at the annual South By Southwest Festival. “I don’t have a lot of particulars, but they kind of suspect that it was a heart attack.”
The Memphis-born Chilton rose to prominence at age 16, when his gruff vocals powered Box Tops massive hit “The Letter.” The band would score several more hits, including “Cry Like a Baby” and “Neon Rainbow.”
After the Box Tops ended in 1970, Chilton had a brief solo run in New York before returning to Memphis. He soon joined forces with a group of Anglo-pop-obsessed musicians, fellow songwriter/guitarist Chris Bell, bassist Andy Hummel and drummer Jody Stephens, to form Big Star.
The group became the flagship act for the local Ardent Studios’ new Stax-distributed label. Big Star’s 1972 debut album, #1 Record met with critical acclaim but poor sales. The group briefly disbanded, but reunited sans Bell to record the album Radio City. Released in 1974, the album suffered a similar fate, plagued by Stax’s distribution woes.
The group made one more album, Third/Sister Lovers, with just Chilton and Stephens — and it too was a minor masterpiece. Darker and more complex than the band’s previous pop-oriented material, it remained unreleased for several years. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine would name all three Big Star albums to its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
[Click to continue reading Memphis music legend Alex Chilton dies » The Commercial Appeal]
I’ve loved Big Star for as long as I knew their music (probably late 1980s or early 1990s), and the box set, Keep an Eye on the Sky was my favorite collection of last year. Big Star rewards repeated listens, especially with headphones.
Sigh. I’m sure there will lots of obituaries around the web, Big Star and Alex Chilton had influence far beyond their units-sold1.
Such a clear, strong voice. If you’ve listened to The Pogues, Sinead O’Connor, or even U2, you’ve heard his influence.
Liam Clancy, an Irish troubadour and the last surviving member of the singing Clancy Brothers, who found fame in the United States and helped spread the popularity of Irish folk music around the world, died on Thursday in Cork, Ireland. He was 74.
His death was announced by his family and reported on the Web site www.liamclancy.com. He had been treated for pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease
Liam Clancy lived in Greenwich Village, where he befriended another young folk singer, Bob Dylan. They dated a pair of sisters, Mr. Clancy told interviewers. Recalling that time in an interview on Irish television two years ago, Mr. Clancy said that he, a Roman Catholic from rural Ireland, and Mr. Dylan, a Jew from a small Minnesota town, shared an important quality.
“People who were trying to escape repressed backgrounds, like mine and Bob Dylan’s, were congregating in Greenwich Village,” he said. “It was a place you could be yourself, where you could get away from the directives of the people who went before you, people who you loved but who you knew had blinkers on.”
Mr. Dylan told an interviewer in 1984: “I never heard a singer as good as Liam ever. He was just the best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my life. Still is, probably.”
[Click to continue reading Liam Clancy, Last of Singing Brothers, Dies at 74 – Obituary (Obit) – NYTimes.com]
There’s a documentary called The Yellow Bittern – The Life and Times of Liam Clancy, but it does not look to be available in the US, at least yet.
Special Edition Double DVD Box Set
Featuring exclusive footage, interviews and additional performances from the man Bob Dylan called “the best ballad singer I ever heard in my whole life. Still is, probably”
Free delivery within Ireland. Orders will be delivered to Irish addresses from October 30th and to UK addresses from Nov 9th.
This is a Region 2 DVD and may not be viewable outside Europe.
Please be advised that we can only ship to addresses in Ireland and the UK. We can not process orders outside of these territories.
Feature Run Time: 110’
Extras: Film Trailer | Interviews | Additional Performances including “Those Were The Days” from the White Horse Tavern, New York and “Brennan On The Moor” | Liam at home with friends
[Click to continue reading The Yellow Bittern – The Life And Times Of Liam Clancy]
I wonder if Mr. Clancy’s death will speed the release of this film in the Americas? Sounds quite intriguing.
Here’s a YouTube clip from it:
In the interview he talks about The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Maken and their huge success worldwide, where they outsold the Beatles and played for JFK. The new documentary released in cinemas in 2009 is directed by Alan Gilsenan.
[click to embiggen photo]
Today’s New York Times Magazine has an awkward typo: William Safire, who died September 27th, is listed as being on hiatus. Yikes. Last week’s NYT Magazine said Safire “is on hiatus for a few weeks.” Ok, last weeks magazine was excusable, it was only a couple of days after Mr. Safire’s death. But to alter the byline means someone edited it since last week. Awkward…
They have now appended a correction to the online version of the article
A note with the “On Language” column on Page 14 this weekend refers to the absence of the regular columnist, William Safire. Mr. Safire died last Sunday, after some copies had gone to press.
Robert Novak will always be remembered as a traitor to his country.1
Eric Alterman writes:
While six journalists were approached by Bush officials to reveal Valerie Plame’s identity as an undercover CIA agent, only Novak did so. This even though Bill Harlow, the agency’s spokesman at the time, warned Novak, as he later testified, in the strongest possible terms that Plame’s name should not be made public lest it endanger the operations and people with whom she had been secretly associated. Though Novak refused to admit it in public, he gave up his source almost immediately to Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation while other journalists–who did not out Plame–languished in jail and legal limbo. When, after the case ended, CNN finally prepared to ask Novak about his actions, he screamed “Bullshit!” on the air and stalked off the show before the questioning began. He never returned to the network that had paid him and promoted his analysis for more than two decades.
[Click to continue reading Novak Without Tears]
Novak also joined in on the smearing of war-hero John Kerry:
Novak also ceaselessly promoted the lies of the “Swift Boat Veterans” about John Kerry, both on television and in an admiring review of their movement bible Unfit for Command. He did so without revealing that his son, Alex, was in charge of the book’s publicity or that the book’s publisher, Regnery, was owned by the very same person whose company, Eagle Publishing, distributes the $297-per-year “Evans-Novak Political Report.
circa 1962-1965, probably.
RIP Les Paul…
Lloyd Gaines was moody that winter of 1939, acting not at all like a man who had just triumphed in one of the biggest Supreme Court cases in decades. And oddly, even though it was raining and the sidewalks of Chicago were clogged with slush, he felt a need to buy postage stamps one night.
Or so he told a friend just before he left his apartment house on March 19, 1939, never to be seen again. Had he not vanished at 28, Lloyd Gaines might be in the pantheon of civil rights history with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and other giants whose names will be invoked at the centennial convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which started this weekend in Manhattan.
Instead, Mr. Gaines has been consigned to one of history’s side rooms, his name recalled mainly by legal scholars and relatives, like Tracy Berry, an assistant United States attorney in St. Louis whose grandmother was Mr. Gaines’s sister.
“He was taken away and more than likely killed,” Ms. Berry said when asked to speculate on his fate. She said Mr. Gaines was known in family lore as “a caring, loving brother and son” who would not have chosen to disappear or commit suicide, despite the pressure he was under.
[Click to read more of A Quiet Hero of Civil Rights History, Vanished in 1939 – NYTimes.com]
I’m nearly done reading American Pharaoh, and so much of the book is about race relations in Chicago. I am amazed how virulent the hatred towards blacks was, even as late as the 1970s. Not that there isn’t still racism in Chicago2, but I can’t imagine bigots throwing rocks and burning bottles at police for daring to attempt to protect black families from harm. I’m unsure as to the exact circumstances that led to Mr. Gaines’ death (was it abduction by bigots, or something else?), but the racism was so ingrained in Chicago of the last century, I am not surprised if he was actually murdered.
update, post-racial, like in swimming pools in Huntingdon Valley, PA, as illustrated by Tony Auth.
Bob Herbert1 avoids hagiography when writing an obituary for Vietnam War architect and unindicted war criminal, Robert McNamara.
The hardest lesson for people in power to accept is that wars are unrelentingly hideous enterprises, that they butcher people without mercy and therefore should be undertaken only when absolutely necessary.
Kids who are sent off to war are forced to grow up too fast. They soon learn what real toughness is, and it has nothing to do with lousy bureaucrats and armchair warriors sacrificing the lives of the young for political considerations and hollow, flag-waving, risk-free expressions of patriotic fervor.
McNamara, it turns out, had realized early on that Vietnam was a lost cause, but he kept that crucial information close to his chest, like a gambler trying to bluff his way through a bad hand, as America continued to send tens of thousands to their doom. How in God’s name did he ever look at himself in a mirror?
[Click to continue reading Bob Herbert – After the War Was Over – NYTimes.com]
I assume the first draft of Bob Herbert’s article contained curse words, and stronger language than the New York Times editors would allow published. His rage at McNamara is still palpable however, and appropriate. Read between the lines for yourself.
More than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam and some 2 million to 3 million Vietnamese. More than 4,000 Americans have died in Iraq, and no one knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Even as I was writing this, reports were coming in of seven more American G.I.’s killed in Afghanistan — a war that made sense in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, but makes very little sense now.
None of these wars had clearly articulated goals or endgames. None were pursued with the kind of intensity and sense of common purpose and shared sacrifice that marked World War II. Wars are now mostly background noise, distant events overshadowed by celebrity deaths and the antics of Sarah Palin, Mark Sanford and the like.
The obscenity of war is lost on most Americans, and that drains the death of Robert McNamara of any real significance.
- a Vietnam-era veteran, apparently, drafted, though sent to Korea instead [↩]
Michael Jackson may have sold a lot of records, but he was still able to commit on of the most heinous of all crimes, pedophilia, repeatedly (allegedly, but come on, even he knew he was doing wrong), and escape from jail because of his wealth and fame.
Bob Herbert has a theory:
In many ways we descended as a society into a fantasyland, trying to leave the limits and consequences and obligations of the real world behind. Politicians stopped talking about the poor. We built up staggering amounts of debt and called it an economic boom. We shipped jobs overseas by the millions without ever thinking seriously about how to replace them. We let New Orleans drown.
Jackson was the perfect star for the era, the embodiment of fantasy gone wild. He tried to carve himself up into another person, but, of course, there was the same Michael Jackson underneath — talented but psychologically disabled to the point where he was a danger to himself and others.
Reality is unforgiving. There is no escape. Behind the Jackson facade was the horror of child abuse. Court records and reams of well-documented media accounts contain a stream of serious allegations of child sex abuse and other inappropriate behavior with very young boys. Jackson, a multimillionaire megastar, was excused as an eccentric. Small children were delivered into his company, to spend the night in his bed, often by their parents.
One case of alleged pedophilia against Jackson, the details of which would make your hair stand on end, was settled for a reported $25 million. He beat another case in court.
The Michael-mania that has erupted since Jackson’s death — not just an appreciation of his music, but a giddy celebration of his life — is yet another spasm of the culture opting for fantasy over reality. We don’t want to look under the rock that was Jackson’s real life.
As with so many other things, we don’t want to know.
[Click to read more of Bob Herbert – Behind the Facade – NYTimes.com]
I don’t want to know because his crimes sickens me, so I opt to ignore all hagiography of Jackson.
Some additional reading July 2nd from 13:49 to 19:05:
- Travel With Your Mind: Sky Saxon Remembered – Sky Saxon, lead singer with 60s garage punk legends the Seeds, died on the morning of June 25, 2009 (or as his official web site put it, he “passed over to be with YaHoWha”); as it happened, he died the same day as both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, ensuring that the entertainment press, who might have been expected to treat his passing like a one-line filler item, didn’t even give it that much attention. But Saxon hadn’t been a celebrity in the traditional sense for a very long time. Sky may have been a rock star for about two years on the strength of the singles “Pushin’ Too Hard” and “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine,” but after those twenty-four months as a bargain-basement Mick Jagger, he evolved into Flower Power’s Last Man Standing, a guy who let his freak flag fly with a wild-eyed sincerity that made most of his peers from the Sunset Strip scene look like weekenders, and transformed his story into something far more interesting than the typical two-hit wonder and cult hero.
- The Perfect Burger and All Its Parts – NYTimes.com – While some chefs have groused quietly about the insatiable demand for burgers, most are philosophical. “All chefs can be frustrated by the buying public sometimes,” said Clark Frasier, a chef with restaurants in Massachusetts and Maine. “In this economy I’m happy to sell anything they want to eat.”
All this high-powered attention has produced some new ways of thinking about and cooking burgers. Interviews with 30 chefs provided dozens of lessons for the home cook that aren’t terribly difficult and don’t cost much money. And it all yielded the ideal burger.
- Daily Kos: How a Kos diarist helped spark McCain-Palin infighting – Schmidt put the matter to rest with an breathtaking reply to Palin:
"Secession," he wrote. "It is their entire reason for existence. A cursory examination of the website shows that the party exists for the purpose of seceding from the union. That is the stated goal on the front page of the web site. Our records indicate that todd was a member for seven years. If this is incorrect then we need to understand the discrepancy. The statement you are suggesting be released would be innaccurate. The innaccuracy would bring greater media attention to this matter and be a distraction. According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews. If you are asked about it you should smile and say many alaskans who love their country join the party because it speeks to a tradition of political independence. Todd loves his country