An old man writes: "I don't want to belabor the point or look back with any kind of revisionist history on how wonderful it all was, because a lot of it was frankly terrible and, even with all the annoyances and vexations we're forced to confront each day as everyone figures out how to negotiate this strange new world with its ever-shifting boundaries and notions of what is acceptable, we are still considerably better off in these times than we were back then, but there was something special about living in an age where you had three main sources of televised entertainment and if you missed an episode of [...]
I mean, this is just a confusing layout, but if your friends are like, "Hey, did 'Entourage' dude die?" you will at least understand where they're coming from. Anyway, RIP Professor and Reuben, two men who were the fathers to so many of us plunked down in front of the television so that our own actual dads could go do whatever the hell it was that was so much more enjoyable than spending time with their own kids (which, to be fair, was probably anything).
"Lorenzo Semple Jr., a playwright and screenwriter who would probably be best known for his scripts for films like 'Papillon' and 'Pretty Poison' if he hadn’t put the Zap! and the Pow! in the original episodes of the arch, goofy 1960s television show 'Batman,' died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 91."
"Tony Benn was one of the most mesmerising and divisive figures in the mainstream of postwar British politics. An establishment insider who became a rebellious leftwing outsider, a cabinet minister turned street protester and reviled prophet of capitalism's demise, he nonetheless managed in old age to become something of a national treasure. 'It's because I'm harmless now,' he would explain."
"Garrick Utley, a former anchor for NBC News who for many years was one of a rare breed in television news reporting, a full-time foreign correspondent, died on Thursday night at his home in Manhattan. He was 74."
I am not even going to pretend to know much about Stuart Hall but his obituary alone shows him to have been a remarkable thinker who shaped the world in which we all live in ways many of us do not think about. The Guardian's "More on this story" suggestions are also helpful. He was 82.
"Philip Seymour Hoffman, perhaps the most ambitious and widely admired American actor of his generation, who gave three-dimensional nuance to a wide range of sidekicks, villains and leading men on screen and embraced some of the theater’s most burdensome roles on Broadway, died on Sunday at an apartment in Greenwich Village he was renting as an office. He was 46."
"Others in its history may have left more of a lasting mark on events, shifting the minds of statesmen, or promoting great national and international causes. But few in nearly two centuries of the Manchester Guardian and Guardian can have afforded more consistent pleasure to readers than Simon Hoggart, the paper's parliamentary sketchwriter, who has died aged 67, after suffering from cancer."
"Country Music Hall of Famer Noble Ray Price, who pioneered a shuffling, rhythmic, honky-tonk sound that has had an impact on country music since the mid-1950s, died Monday, Dec. 16, confirmed Bill Mack, a spokesman for the family…. Through hits including 'Crazy Arms,' 'City Lights,' 'My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You' and many others, Mr. Price’s full, round voice became one of country’s most beloved and instantly identifiable instruments. His expansive musicality allowed him a 65-year career that changed country music and inspired artists including Willie Nelson, George Jones, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings." If you're looking for a good place to start this is about the [...]
"'Mantecore' left us and is now with his siblings in White Tiger heaven."
"Alain Resnais, the French filmmaker who helped introduce literary modernism to the movies and became an international art-house star with nonlinear narrative films like “Hiroshima Mon Amour” and “Last Year at Marienbad,” died on Saturday in Paris. He was 91."
"If television is a cool medium, it's only since Sid Caesar left it. An immense, bear-like monster who generated more energy than any three TVA projects, Caesar did the best comedy on television, ever…. His endless energy was a war on the static, the complacent and the passively stupid. When Sid Caesar was stupid, he was actively stupid. Usually when someone makes a movie about The Creation, they cast an august presence like John Gielgud or someone to play the voice of God. But there is no doubt that there was one person born to play Him, and it was Sid Caesar. He hurled and slapped his little universe [...]
It is almost impossible to conceive of just how much history Pete Seeger both observed and was a part of during his lengthy and extraordinary life, but even a brief summation gives you an idea of its scope. Also this: "Before Seeger's confrontation with HUAC, people sometimes regarded his optimism as childish, and unrealistic, as a habit of mind inconsistent with the moral rigor of a serious person. Afterward, he became a figure of undeniable stature. He had stared down jail time. He had stood amid peril for his beliefs. He had typified the principles of all the brave people he had sung about." Seeger was 94.
Brooklyn's Al Goldstein had one of those captivating personalities that it's easy to not recognize is actually the presentation of mental illness until it all collapses and the interior self is revealed. An incredibly intelligent and hilarious man crippled by self-hatred, an inside-out Woody Allen, a lecherous troll from out of the Qumran caves, mid-life Al Goldstein washed up like a whale onto New York's public access channels. There he talked endlessly, lecherously and also quite hilariously, documenting New York City in a way that no one else did.
For a man who worked in the industry of hardcore pornography, Al Goldstein apparently only ever spent six days [...]