Archive for the ‘Death notices’ Category

More deaths

February 14, 2014

Two recent deaths in the news. First, funny man Sid Caesar, who transformed the face of American comedy in the 1950s through Your Show of Shows. Tributes and recollections are everywhere, Second, and less well known, is filmmaker Gabriel Axel.


Chuck Fillmore

February 14, 2014

From Amy Dahlstrom on Facebook today:

Charles Fillmore died yesterday at age 84 after a long battle with cancer. A brilliant linguist, especially in the field of lexical semantics, who influenced so many of us Berkeley students and colleagues elsewhere. He was sweet and funny and loving, and deeply devoted to [his wife, Berkeley linguist] Lily Wong Fillmore. The loss of my Doktorvater feels like the loss of a parent.

Knowing that this was in the cards, I posted a while back about my beloved friend and colleague Chuck, along with a link to a wonderful video he made about his career in 2012.

A photo:


Sorely missed.

Art and craft

December 29, 2013

More on “Is it art?” But this time it’s not art, but art vs. craft. From the NYT Magazine‘s annual “The Lives They Lived”issue, a piece on sculptor Ruth Asawa: “The subversively “domestic” artist”, by Robert Sullivan:

Less than five years after graduating from Black Mountain College, in North Carolina, Ruth Asawa’s industrial-wire sculptures were getting notice in the national press, though invariably her pieces were dismissed as women’s craft work, as opposed to art. “These are ‘domestic’ sculptures in a feminine, handiwork mode,” ArtNews said in 1956. Such critiques masked her relentless subversiveness. After dark, on March 18, 1968, she installed her first public sculpture, in Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco: two mermaids in a fountain, one nursing a merbaby.

… The landscape architect in charge of the square’s renovation, Lawrence Halprin, described the sculpture as a suburban lawn ornament and sought to replace it with a modernist abstraction — a 15-foot shaft. San Franciscans, especially women, successfully rallied behind Asawa.

One of Asawa’s pieces:

My Favorite Year

December 17, 2013

Peter O’Toole died a few days ago, and there are tributes everywhere. Mostly for his most famous performance, in Lawrence of Arabia. But here I want to celebrate a comic performance that has given me pleasure for 40 years: in My Favorite Year (1982).



December 6, 2013

On the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s death (at 95), reported on in almost every medium, the forthcoming cover of the New Yorker:


Lou Reed

November 17, 2013

From the New Yorker on the 11th, a touching reminiscence of Lou Reed, who died on October 27th, by Patti Smith: “Mourning Lou Reed”:

I didn’t understand his erratic behavior or the intensity of his moods, which shifted, like his speech patterns, from speedy to laconic. But I understood his devotion to poetry and the transporting quality of his performances. He had black eyes, black T-shirt, pale skin. He was curious, sometimes suspicious, a voracious reader, and a sonic explorer. An obscure guitar pedal was for him another kind of poem. He was our connection to the infamous air of the Factory. He had made Edie Sedgwick dance. Andy Warhol whispered in his ear. Lou brought the sensibilities of art and literature into his music. He was our generation’s New York poet, championing its misfits as Whitman had championed its workingman and Lorca its persecuted.

First there was the Velvet Underground, then solo careers. And, eventually, marriage to Laurie Anderson.

Here are Smith and Reed in 1970, looking impossibly young and cool:

Brief notice: jazz haiku

October 13, 2013

In yesterday’s NYT, an obit, “James A. Emanuel, Poet Who Wrote of Racism, Dies at 92″ by William Yardley, concluding:

In his later years, Mr. Emanuel claimed to have invented a new form of literature: the jazz haiku, stanzas of 17 syllables he read to the accompaniment of jazz music. Like the music, they felt improvisational even as they respected structure:

Four-letter word JAZZ:
naughty, sexy, cerebral,
but solarplexy.

Googling on “jazz haiku” pulls up a considerable number of haiku about jazz.

Marcella Hazan

October 4, 2013

In the NYT on September 30th, an obituary, “Marcella Hazan Dies: Changed the Way Americans Cook Italian Food” by Kim Severson, beginning:

In his early days as a rising star chef, Mario Batali received a letter from Marcella Hazan after he had made risotto in a sauté pan on his television show, “Molto Mario.”

In it, the exacting and sometimes prickly Italian-born cook told Mr. Batali he was all wrong. In no uncertain terms, Mrs. Hazan told him the only proper way to make risotto was in a saucepan. He did not agree, but the two became friends anyway, sitting down over glasses of Jack Daniel’s whenever their paths crossed.

… Mrs. Hazan, a chain-smoking, determined former biology scholar who reluctantly moved to America and went on to teach a nation to cook Italian food, died Sunday at her home in Longboat Key, Fla. She was 89.


David Hubel

September 26, 2013

Yesterday in the NYT, “David Hubel, Nobel-Winning Scientist, Dies at 87″ by Denise Gellene:

Dr. David Hubel, who was half of an enduring scientific team that won a Nobel Prize for explaining how the brain assembles information from the eye’s retina to produce detailed visual images of the world, died on Sunday in Lincoln, Mass.

… Dr. Hubel (pronounced HUGH-bull) and his collaborator, Dr. Torsten Wiesel, shared the 1981 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine with Roger Sperry for discovering ways that the brain processes information. Dr. Hubel and Dr. Wiesel concentrated on visual perception, initially experimenting on cats; Dr. Sperry described the functions of the brain’s left and right hemispheres.



September 14, 2013

In the NYT on the 12th, an obit, “Robert Taylor, Who Put Hand Soap in a Bottle, Dies at 77″ by John Schwartz:

Robert R. Taylor, a serial entrepreneur who popularized hand soap from a pump [Softsoap], 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.

… Mr. Taylor built and sold 14 consumer products businesses during a long career, starting in 1964 with Village Bath Products, a company he founded with $3,000 to sell scented, hand-rolled soap balls through gift shops. Working initially out of his garage, he was soon selling more than 100 products through department stores.

It was serial entrepreneur that caught my eye. Easily understood, but new to me, I think. Not, however, new to the world.



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