Whether godless or godly, we all consult a private pantheon of authorities, living or dead, to gauge our comportment. We read ethics columns on subway trains and in cafes for vicarious solutions to our secret troubles. Since the days of Dear Abby and Ann Landers, the availability of emotional and behavioral self-help information has grown exponentially. In the digital age, now adrift in a wide, shallow sea of media outlets, wondering where to turn for advice only increases our anxiety. Cable TV and the Internet have left us splintered and atomized; they've negated the comforting clarity of our few favorite go-to gurus.
Even if you don't watch a lot of football you probably know Pat Summerall's voice; for more than two decades he was the sound of the sport. “When you listen to Pat, it’s comfortable, it’s a big game, you’re bringing a gentleman into your house,” said his longtime broadcast partner. You can hear the two of them in the video above; Summerall was the one whose intonation makes you feel like you can either watch the rest of the action or give in and pass out from all the beer you've been drinking that day. Summerall, who died yesterday, was 82.
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 [...]
"She was once celebrated as 'the Shirley Temple of the animal world.' She was so popular that she became the subject of a custody battle between two competing zoos. When she suffered a broken arm, rapt New Yorkers followed every twist and turn of her convalescence. Her name was Pattycake, and she was the first gorilla born in New York City. She died on Sunday at the Bronx Zoo at 40 years old." —Raise a banana to Pattycake, the sweetheart of the Bronx Zoo and the first native New Yorker of her species. She'll be replaced by somebody with a graduate degree and a part-time blogging job looking [...]
"Anthony Lewis, a former New York Times reporter and columnist whose work won two Pulitzer Prizes and transformed American legal journalism, died on Monday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 85." Lewis, whose book Gideon's Trumpet "concerned Gideon v. Wainwright, the 1963 decision that guaranteed lawyers to poor defendants charged with serious crimes," was predeceased by the guarantee.
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.
"Kevin Ayers, the founding member of 1960s psychedelic band Soft Machine, has died aged 68. A pioneer of the genre, he worked with Brian Eno, Syd Barrett, John Cale, Nico and Robert Wyatt during his career. Bernard MacMahon, director of his last UK label Lo-Max Records, confirmed to the BBC News website Ayers died in his sleep at his home in Montolieu, France."
"Country Music Hall of Famer George Jones, a master of sad country ballads whose voice held the bracing power, the sweetness and the burn of an evening’s final pull from a bourbon bottle, has died after an illness that hospitalized him since April 18. He was 81, and was often called the greatest male vocalist in country music history."
"In the early 1970s, Johns was involved at different times with both Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. While the guitarist Jimmy Page had general supervision of Led Zeppelin recordings, Johns was often on hand to provide creative solutions or improvements to the sound. The most renowned example was a drum sound achieved at the Headley Grange studio in Hampshire in 1971. One of Bonham's drum kits was set up in the hallway of the Grange. Johns carefully lowered a pair of microphones over the banister of the staircase above and captured the sound which formed the basis of the song When the Levee Breaks on the group's fourth [...]
"For a film with a daring director, a talented cast, a captivating plot or, ideally, all three, there could be no better advocate than Roger Ebert, who passionately celebrated and promoted excellence in film while deflating the awful, the derivative, or the merely mediocre with an observant eye, a sharp wit and a depth of knowledge that delighted his millions of readers and viewers. 'No good film is too long,' he once wrote, a sentiment he felt strongly enough about to have engraved on pens. 'No bad movie is short enough.' Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and [...]
"Actor Richard Griffiths, who starred in the Harry Potter movies and Withnail and I, has died at the age of 65 after complications following heart surgery. Griffiths enjoyed a long career of success on film and on TV, but also on the stage where he was a Tony-winning character actor." You can listen to him discuss his greatest role here.
"The time has come round to a change in millennia when, history tells us, all kinds of excitable people are apt to go bonkers; when even more equable souls like ourselves may get high on prophecies. The last time around W.E.B. Du Bois had held high hopes for the twentieth century on the matter of race. Mindful of that, alas, unfinished business, my hope for the twenty-first is that it will see the first fruits of the balance of stories among the world's peoples. The twentieth century for all its many faults did witness a significant beginning, in Africa and elsewhere in the so-called Third World, of the process of [...]
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 [...]
"In 1991, great rappers were a dime a dozen, good ones weren’t good enough to compete, and sucky ones made hits. But what about rappers who weren’t skilled, but immensely entertaining? Twenty years later, 'personality rap' pays the bills and that term usually applies to the majority of likable rappers that can’t really rap worth a shit (insert just about any current acclaimed rapper here). Tim Dog got points for being both bold and the poster child for Mayor David Dinkins-era NYC – an NYC overrun with robberies, racially-charged fights, and hair-trigger violence – but most people back then said the same thing with regard to his skill level: [...]
"She was one of Australia's greatest female rock voices, who shocked audiences across the globe with her risque image and lyrics. Former Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett has died aged 53 after a long battle with breast cancer. Amphlett died at home in New York surrounded by friends and family, including her husband Charley Drayton."
"Margaret Thatcher, the most dominant British prime minister since Winston Churchill in 1940 and a global champion of the late 20th century free market economic revival, has died." There's plenty of reaction here, including this, (which refers to this):
Motown songwriter Deke Richards died of esophageal cancer on Sunday in a hospice in Bellingham, Washington. Born Dennis Lussier in Los Angeles, Richards and his partners in the songwriting collective The Corporation—Alphonso Mizell, Freddie Perren and Motown founder Berry Gordy—wrote and produced the songs that made the Jackson 5 famous. Starting in 1969, the first three singles the band released on Gordy's label—"I Want You Back," "ABC" and "The Love You Save"—all hit no. 1 on the Billboard charts. The year before, though, Richards was part of the team (called "The Clan"; those guys chose some really bad names for their songwriting collectives) who wrote "Love Child," also [...]
Long ago, before foreigners got the Internet, a real pleasure of foreign travel was picking up the International Herald Tribune and reading the Dave Barry column and some "Classic Peanuts" on the half page of comics. There was news, too, but you already knew the headlines from the BBC World Service or SkyNews or CNN International playing in the hotel lobby. Still, it was nice to sit in a cafe and not work and read a good newspaper, especially one with such a romantic name: The International Herald Tribune.
There were a handful of really good columnists and reporters (especially on the Arts, Fashion, Food and Architecture beats!) who were [...]