We are a couple of days late to this but we should pause here to note the passing of Dick Dodd, lead singer of The Standells, whose scuz-rock classic "Dirty Water" was a shining example of American ingenuity in the field of sleaze music right up until 1997, when it was appropriated by Red Sox fans, who less than a decade later turned into the worst people in the world, thus dramatically poisoning a remarkable work of art with their immutable taint. Dodd was 68.
There is not much more to say about Lou Reed than everyone else has already since word of his passing came yesterday. For so many people his work provided some of the earliest glimpses of another world that existed beyond the safe and colorless margins in which they felt trapped and penned and the opportunity of escape they revealed offered hope to both those who needed it most and to those who didn't need it at all but felt a little better knowing that it was out there. Every "Lou Reed changed my life story" tells you more about the person whose life was changed than it does [...]
"Pogues guitarist Phil Chevron has passed away following a long battle with cancer." He was 56.
"Cedar Walton, one of the top jazz pianists to emerge in the aftermath of bebop, died Monday morning at his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to his wife, Martha. Walton was 79. The pianist and composer/arranger rose to eminence after an early-1960s spell in drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and continually cemented his reputation as a bluesy, graceful and commanding improviser up until his death. But Walton's legacy also rests on a body of compositions, at least one of which became a standard ('Bolivia'); his ability to orchestrate small groups also secured him work and opportunities to lead his own bands…. In his later years, he still toured [...]
"Tompall Glaser, a charter member of Nashville's Outlaw movement and an independent song publisher of some renown, died Tuesday (Aug. 13). He was 79."
"Using the pseudonym William Mysterious, Alastair Donaldson played saxophone and bass guitar with the Scottish punk band the Rezillos. Combining a sci-fi, day-glo aesthetic, references to Thunderbirds and The Flintstones, and a fast, fun take on 1960s beat music, the group burst on to the Edinburgh scene in January 1977… Now acknowledged as one of the best punk albums of all time, the band's debut contained a re-recording of their first single 'I Can't Stand My Baby' along with '2000 AD', a Donaldson-Callis collaboration, as well as 'It Gets Me', solely written by Donaldson." Donaldson was 58.
Former New York Observer editor Peter Kaplan died on Friday. "The meat of his tenure occurred during the unfettered, exuberant, often crass nineties boom, and the Observer glorified the city’s inhabitants and their rituals even as it skewered them, turning them into Drew Friedman gargoyles, putting words in their mouths with his characteristic barking, yawping headlines that were more like sentences or whole paragraphs ('headlines that talked!' as he said), finishing the story before the prose had even begun," observes John Homans. This piece from last year is also worth reading. Kaplan was 59.
Try to resist the urge, upon learning of former House Speaker Tom Foley's passing, to mull over what a mendacious scumbag George Nethercutt was and instead reflect on a decent man who dedicated his life to public service. You'll feel better about yourself and your country.
"Something is happening that I never could have imagined: a metropolitan life with a level of dread that is subsiding. Some people say they’re worried that a life without dread will lose its savor. I tell my students and people I know not to worry. If they just scrutinize their lives, they will find grounds for more than enough dread to keep them awake." —Marshall Berman was 72.
Rochus Misch, the last living person save for a couple hundred Argentinians to see Adolf Hitler alive, has died.
That's the opening of Elmore Leonard's Bandits, and it's as good an example as any of the way Leonard throws you right in and keeps you reading from the very start. Leonard, who died this morning at the age of 87, was a genre writer who transcended the label in two genres, and whose major flaw was that he made it look so easy that too many people thought they could duplicate it without putting in the effort that made it so rewarding when it came from Leonard himself. ("A line of dialogue is not clear enough if you need to explain how it's said," is just [...]
"Tim Wright, founding bassist of influential Cleveland band Pere Ubu and a transformative force in pioneering no wave band DNA, died this past Sunday from unreleased causes."
"Author, counter-culture icon and musician Mick Farren has died aged 69, according to reports. Farren collapsed on stage at London's Borderline on Saturday night (July 27) while performing with his band The Deviants at the Atomic Sunshine Festival." (If you've never heard Farren, his "Let's Loot The Supermarket Again Like We Did Last Summer" is a personal favorite.)
"Hans Riegel, the man behind Germany's Haribo confectionery and much-loved gummy bears, has died aged 90 from heart failure, his office said on Tuesday. Riegel spent almost 70 years at the helm of Haribo, which was founded by his candymaker father in 1920. From a small firm struggling with the shortages of post-war Germany, he built it into a world famous brand exporting to 100 countries." —You know who's gonna be sad about this? I mean, his family and his employees, obviously. But also this [...]
"Robert R. Taylor, a serial entrepreneur who popularized hand soap from a pump, gambling $12 million to prevent competitors from duplicating it, and fragrances like 'Obsession,' which he advertised with artful eroticism, died on Aug. 29 in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 77."
Are you the kind of New Yorker whose neuroticism and depression sometimes combine to make you think you're not simply sad, you're actually a prisoner to a city which, in spite of all its obvious greatness and endless opportunity, can on certain days make you feel like the most invisible, most lonely, least loved person in the world? Well, get over yourself: No matter how blue you may be, you are still a human being, with agency. Take some pills or move to Cleveland and be all "boo-hoo" there, but either way remind yourself that, no matter how much you suck, it's your own fault and not New York [...]
"Albert Murray, an influential essayist, critic and novelist who found literary inspiration in his Alabama roots and saw black culture and American culture as inextricably entwined, died on Sunday at his home in Harlem. He was 97." Try this. Update: The New Yorker has made its 1996 profile of Murray available to everyone. Henry Louis Gates Jr., who wrote the profile, has more here.
"George Duke, the legendary jazz keyboardist, died on Monday, his publicist tells NPR. Duke's career spanned five decades and he always straddled the line between disparate genres, collaborating with artists such as Miles Davis, Barry Manilow, Frank Zappa, George Clinton and some of Brazil's top musicians." Duke was 67.