On the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s death (at 95), reported on in almost every medium, the forthcoming cover of the New Yorker:
Archive for the ‘Death notices’ Category
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.
Here are Smith and Reed in 1970, looking impossibly young and cool:
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,
Googling on “jazz haiku” pulls up a considerable number of haiku about jazz.
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.
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.
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.
From the NYT on the 10th, an obit by William Grimes, “Cal Worthington, Car Dealer With Manic Ads, Dies at 92″, beginning:
Cal Worthington, a car dealer whose off-the-wall commercials, first broadcast in the 1950s, bombarded California television viewers for more than half a century and made him a pop culture legend, died on Sunday at his ranch in Orland, Calif.
The ads involved elaborate stunts; and
In the background, a chorus of male voices and frantic banjo pickers sang a jingle to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” each of its many verses ending with the tag line: “Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal.”
Hard to get it out of your head.
Grimes goes on:
The exuberant cheesiness of Mr. Worthington’s ads made him a folk hero, as much a part of California popular culture as Woodies with surfboards on the roof or Orange Julius stands.
I admire the phrasing “exuberant cheesiness”.
(For another posting on relentless pitchmen, see here.)
Recent deaths: writer Elmore Leonard and pianist Marian McPartland, great stylists in their respective fields.
My sister-in-law Virginia Transue writes to tell me that my man Jacques’s brother John Transue (born 6/2/47) died yesterday, after 66 years of difficult life. That leaves Virginia (the widow of Jacques’s brother Bill) and I as the only surviving members of our generation in the Transue family: Jacques, the youngest son, died first; then Monique, the mother; then father Bill; then J’s older brother Bill; and now John, the middle son. The next generation down has Bill and Virginia’s sons Tom and Joe, and Jacques’s son Kit and daughter Emily (from his first marriage).