Archive for OBIT

Tireless Tinkerer RIP

images1Les Paul, the guitar virtuoso and inventor, passed away this week at the age of 94; Besides developing the solid-body guitar that bears his name, Paul also revolutionized rock-and-roll through multi-track recording; Just four years ago, he recorded his first-ever rock album, and up until recently performed in New York City weekly at the New York jazz club Iridium. - SS

| |

Life After Death

blog_fluResurrections take on a variety of forms today, some more literal than others: A family in Paraguay was baffled, overjoyed and angered when a baby declared dead at the hospital woke up after being taken home for his own wake; Michael Jackson’s death has resurrected his dwindling profitability to the tune of $100 million in just 48 days, with another $100 million projected before the end of the year; an exhibit at the International Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago shows the innovative ways in which medical arts students are bringing life to anatomy via photorealistic 3-D models and interactive animations; and lazy photojournalists are doing their halfhearted best to revive interest in Detroit by flocking to the city and taking pictures of the same decrepit structures as everyone else. -SS

| |

How 10,000 New Yorkers Found the Bard

blog-mccourtThough the Irish-American writer Frank McCourt, who passed away this week at 78, is of course being remembered as the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of such works as Angela’s Ashes, he’s also being celebrated as an inspirational teacher by scores of everyday New Yorkers who passed through his high school classroom during the 30 years he taught English and creative writing in the New York City school system: The letters-to-the-editor sections of the New York Times (read here) and New York Daily News (read here) were filled with fond reflections of McCourt, including one Brooklyn resident who recalled asking McCourt about his proudest achievement, to which he replied, “I figure I’ve taught some 10,000 New York City kids over the years; I like to think when I gave them Shakespeare, they got Shakespeare.” McCourt’s ashes, upon his final request, will be scattered in Ireland.

| |

Tom Wilkes (1939-2009)

blog-wilkesThe California artist whose visual sense helped define the look of rock music in the Sixties and Seventies has passed away at 69: the obituary for Tom Wilkes is available at the Los Angeles Times; a trip through Wilkes’ credits — including such LPs covers as Neil Young’s Harvest, the Rolling StonesBeggars Banquet and George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh — presents a dynamic cross-section of his era; and his official site answers such vital questions as “Who the hell is Tom Wilkes?”.

| |

Karl Malden (1912-2009)

blog_maldenAnother product of Gary, Indiana has passed away: The great Oscar-winning actor Karl Malden, who shined in such classics as A Streetcar Named Desire, Birdman of Alcatraz, The Cincinnati Kid, Patton — and perhaps most notably On the Waterfront, in which he played the persuasive priest — died at age 97 in Brentwood, California. In addition to his storied career on stage and screen, he was also remembered as the spokesman for American Express who for decades delivered the signature phrase, “Don’t leave home without it.” Malden leaves behind a remarkable career.

| |

Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

blog-mhThe passing of the man who went from an overachieving Midwestern kid to the definition of global pop stardom is an indefinable event: Initial impressions were posted last week by some STOP SMILING regular contributors, including Michael A. Gonzales (read here) and Hua Hsu (read here); and though the tragedies of Michael’s last two decades — the flipside to the stunning work and iconography produced from the late Sixties until his peak in the mid-Eighties — were often the source of wholesale mockery, we’ve compiled here a few classic moments of comedians celebrating the humanity and lighter side of the Jackson phenomenon, including early Eddie Murphy (view), Chris Tucker (view) and Dave Chappelle (view).

| |

JG Ballard (1930-2009)

blog_ballardThe Guardian is leading the way with a number of tributes to the British novelist JG Ballard, who passed away this weekend from complications with cancer; Ballard chronicled his childhood experiences living in a Shanghai prison during World War II in the celebrated novel Empire of the Sun (1984), after reaching international audiences with his controversial novel Crash (1973), which was adapted for the screen by the filmmaker David Cronenberg. The Guardian Books section offers extensive coverage on this subpage devoted entirely to Ballard.

| |

Judith F. Krug (1940-2009)

blog_krugThe former librarian and founder of Banned Books Week, a nationwide event held each September that both celebrates and flaunts the freedom to read opinionated and controversial books, passed away last week in Evanston, Illinois (read more about Banned Books Week here); Judith Krug, a native of Pittsburgh, devoted her life to the promotion of reading, as well as the fight against censorship of books — from the founding, in 1967, of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, which promotes intellectual freedom in libraries, to recent challenges to the USA Patriot Act.

| |

Harry Kalas (1936-2009)

blog_harryThe man known around the world as the voice of NFL Films (click here for a sample of his robust narration) and celebrated as a national treasure in Philadelphia, where he was the long-time broadcaster for the Philadelphia Phillies, has died at 73 — tributes are pouring in throughout the sporting world and his hometown press, including ESPN, Sports Illustrated and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Mr. Kalas was found dead in the broadcast booth before a game between the Phillies and the Washington Nationals on Monday.

| |

Maurice Jarre (1924-2009)

blog-mauriceAdmirers of classic David Lean films like Lawrence of Arabia, A Passage to India and Doctor Zhivago can surely recall the powerful music that accentuated Lean’s epic images. The French composer of these films — as well as Alfred Hitchcock’s Topaz, Elia Kazan’s The Last Tycoon and Peter Weir’s Witness — has passed away at the age of 84. Read the complete obituary at the Los Angeles Times.

| |

« Previous entries