Hal Needham was never a household name, something about which he did not care. He passed away last week at the age of 82. He was (by his account) the highest paid stuntman of all time and the director of a slew of memorable Burt Reynolds movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s, including Smokey And The Bandit, a film that, if you grew up in the South, rivaled the popularity of Star Wars. He ushered in a lighter touch to American pop movie culture, but he probably mostly cared about the checks in his mailbox.
Had Needham never sat behind a movie camera, we would still be talking about [...]
Lifelong comic book man Carmine Infantino died yesterday at the age of 87. If you are even a casual nerd, you know Infantino as that guy that got to draw The Flash off and on for thirty years. And his pencils were immediately identifiable: square-jawed and kinetic, with characters constantly tilting into a run or skidding to a halt. But that’s not all Infantino did.
Born in Brooklyn in 1924, Infantino got into the business while still in school (at what is now the High School of Art and Design), freelancing for "packagers." (At the time, the early 40s, some comic books were sub-contracted to studios—"packagers"—who would write and draw [...]
Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner died of cancer Saturday in Trotwood-Dayton, Ohio. Bonner was guitarist and lead singer of funk legends and hip-hop forefathers the Ohio Players. The synthesizer line from the Player's 1972 hit "Funky Worm" became a bedrock foundation of gangsta rap when Dr. Dre sampled it for N.W.A's "Dopeman" in 1988. Four years later, Dre replayed it for his own "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang," and it has been used in about a million other songs since then. So much so that any high-pitched synth line used in rap production is commonly referred to as a "worm synth." Bonner was 69.
"The bear famously tranquilized on the University of Colorado campus last week, and immortalized in a viral photo by CU student Andy Duann, met a tragic death early Thursday in the Denver-bound lanes of U.S. 36. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said a 280-pound black bear that died on U.S. 36 after being hit by a car at about 5:40 a.m. Thursday was the same bear that became known worldwide last week after wandering onto the CU campus near the Williams Village dorm complex." [Via]
"I first saw Mark on a dudeblog, someone reblogged a video of her and I was supposed to think what I was watching was bizarre/pitiful/gross/funny. Instead I felt better about everything I had ever been through, and I laughed, and felt bad for anyone too plain and typical to get anything positive out of it." —Tumblr user "BRB Nightmares."
"Sherwood Schwartz, the veteran television producer who created and wrote the theme songs for classic TV shows including The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island, has died." Sorry for the terrible video quality on the clip above, but it is one of the many pieces from the Schwartz oeuvre that sticks with me to this very day. (Also the fake lips Gilligan wore when spy Ginger kissed him with poison.) In any event, Schwartz was 94.
Was Hugo Chavez a demagogic despot who cloaked his dictatorial tendencies in long-winded rhetoric about his love for the poor or a champion of an underclass who had spent too long in brutal subjugation to a wealthy elite who cared little and did less for them? Either way, he's dead now, which means his life must be recounted in cut-rate CGI from Taipei. This is the world in which we live.
"Doc Watson, the guitarist and folk singer whose flat-picking style elevated the acoustic guitar to solo status in bluegrass and country music, and whose interpretations of traditional American music profoundly influenced generations of folk and rock guitarists, died on Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was 89."
"He did one of the first American interviews with Elton John, and got a rousing ovation when he brought a rented surfboard to Carnegie Hall for a Beach Boys show. He introduced Curtis Mayfield to Bob Dylan at a Muhammad Ali fight. In 1982 he started 'Mixed Bag,' a program that emphasized singer-songwriters, on Sunday mornings. His regular guests included Suzanne Vega, who introduced herself to him by sending a fan letter." —If you grew up in this area and listened to rock radio, Pete Fornatale's voice was one of the voices of your childhood. Fornatale died yesterday at the age of 66.
Robert Miller, art dealer and sometime-painter, died yesterday in Miami, the Robert Miller Gallery confirmed today. Miller got his start at the André Emmerich gallery in the 60s. After a dozen years there, the Robert Miller Gallery opened (in a partnership with his wife, Betsy) in 1977 at its first location, on Fifth Avenue.
At one time or another, the gallery represented and exhibited Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Mapplethorpe, Milton Resnick, Alice Neel, Patti Smith, Renee Cox, Bruce Weber; Alex Katz and Larry Rivers showed at the gallery; they hired future dealer John Cheim at the age of 24 (who now represents many [...]
"Iain's more conventional literary works were generally delightful, edgy and fully engaged with the world in which he set them: his palpable outrage at inequity and iniquity shone through the page. But in his science fiction he achieved something more: something, I think, that the genre rarely manages to do. He was intensely political, and he infused his science fiction with a conviction that a future was possible in which people could live better — he brought to the task an an angry, compassionate, humane voice that single-handedly drowned out the privileged nerd chorus of the technocrat/libertarian fringe and in doing so managed to write a far-future space operatic [...]
If you grew up in the '80s, Dr. C. Everett Koop was the first person you saw who made you realize that some people actually still styled their facial hair that way. (Unless you grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, in which case you probably had some other questions.) And with the possible exception of that lady who got fired because she revealed to the youth of the nation that masturbation would not cause them to spontaneously explode, he is probably the only surgeon general whose name or tenure you remember. He died yesterday at the age of 96, and he probably deserves a more thorough remembrance than some stupid [...]