Archive for OBIT

Tullio Pinelli (1908-2009)

blog-obitThe screenwriter of several beloved Federico Fellini films, including 8 1/2, Nights of Cabiria, La Strada, La Dolce Vita and I Vitelloni, passed away on Saturday in Rome. Pinelli, who was born in Turin in 1908, described his initial meeting with Fellini as a “creative lightning bolt,” and his eloquence and dexterity as a writer remains visible in these classic films; click here to read the New York Times obituary. RIP.

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Moving Papers, Moving Mountains

blog_rockyAs major cities like San Francisco and Seattle face the prospect of having no major daily newspaper in circulation, we urge readers to take a look at the final posts from the Rocky Mountain News, a newspaper older than the state of Colorado itself, which folded last month and left Denver a one-newspaper town (with the Denver Post still in business) — particularly of interest is this eloquent piece, “Rocky Kept Swinging Until the Very End”; also of note is the passing of James Bellows, the former editor of the New York Herald Tribune and supporter of the New Journalism movement, who died on Friday at 86. The media landscape continues its tectonic shifts.

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Jazz Moves On, In a Silent Way

blog-hankTimes are getting tight for America’s greatest musical art form: While praising the splendid history of Blue Note Records on its 70th anniversary, Nate Chinen of the New York Times acknowledged the paradigm shift at the label, which has drifted into “the adult sophisticated pop area” and is facing the grim prospect of deleting some key recordings in the back catalog that do not sell, on average, a mere 350 copies per year; the Los Angeles Times recently questioned the odd, off-message choices in the jazz category at the Grammys; and a sincere farewell to saxophonist Hank Crawford, pictured here, who passed away last month. For more of our take on jazz, check out The Jazz Issue, released in 2008.

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Charles Wesley Cooper III (1977-2009)

blog-charlie1A close member of the STOP SMILING family has passed away: Charlie Cooper, a Louisiana native and one half of the group Telefon Tel Aviv, relocated to our hometown of Chicago in 2001 and remained a fixture in the lives of our staff; we stand with the Westbank of New Orleans, remembering the music and the continued reach of our friend Charlie, who passed at 31.

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Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009)

wyethThe private and introspective Pennsylvanian known around the world for his portrait Christina’s World, and whom the Philadelphia Inquirer hailed as “the most famous and successful artist in a remarkable family that produced five painters in three generations,” passed away in his sleep at age 91; for more information on the remarkable Wyeth family, visit the website for the Brandywine River Museum. “I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future — the timelessness of the rocks and the hills — all the people who have existed there,” Wyeth once said. “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape — the loneliness of it — the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show… I think anything like that — which is contemplative, silent, shows a person alone — people always feel is sad. Is it because we’ve lost the art of being alone?”

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Ron Asheton of the Stooges (1948-2009)

blog-ashetonThe guitarist and founding member of the Stooges was found dead this week in his Ann Arbor home (a cause of death has not yet been determined). The Detroit Free-Press has published tributes from a range of Michigan-area musicians, including Leni Sinclair and members of MC5, and the Ann Arbor News is reporting on an unusual dispute over the removal of guitars from his home. Asheton, a native of Washington, DC, was 60.

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December 2008: In Memoriam

blog_freddieWe were saddened to read about the recent passing of Freddie Hubbard (pictured here), who Down Beat hailed as “arguably the most powerful and prolific trumpeter in jazz,” and we concur — Hubbard’s death comes at the close of a month that has claimed an astonishing amount of fascinating figures, among them the former associate director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Mark Felt (aka Deep Throat); pinup queen Bettie Page; director Robert Mulligan (To Kill a Mockingbird); singer and civil rights activist Odetta; sculptor Robert Graham; playwright Harold Pinter; the oldest man in the United States George Francis; cult movie actress Ann Savage; and last but not least, Richard Topus, a pigeon trainer in World War II. According to the New York Times, “World War II saw the last wide-scale use of pigeons as agents of combat intelligence. Mr. Topus, just 18 when he enlisted in the Army, was among the last of the several thousand pigeoneers, as military handlers of the birds were known, who served the United States in the war.”

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Other Election Week Losses

While millions of us pored over this week’s election results, little was reported about the passing of two prominent Americans: Michael Crichton, the Chicago-born author of such best-sellers as The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, as well as the creator of the television series ER, died of cancer in Los Angeles at 66 (read the complete Los Angeles Times obit); and on Monday, Cecil Stoughton, “the chief photographer for the Kennedy White House, who documented its glittering public moments and its intimate private ones, and who captured its sudden end in one of the signal images of the 20th century — Lyndon B Johnson’s swearing-in as president aboard Air Force One on November 22, 1963 [pictured above, view the full image here] — died on Monday” at 88 (read the complete New York Times obit). RIP.

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Studs Terkel (1912-2008)

The author, activist and oral historian who provided a voice for the voiceless has passed away at his home in Chicago at 96. “It is hard to imagine a fuller life” (Chicago Tribune); view Terkel’s bibliography (“His bookshelf spans a century”); profiles and remembrances from In These Times, The Atlantic, the New York Times and The Nation; reactions from the campaign trail by Barack Obama; reflections from his longtime editor and friend Andre Schiffrin; a letter from Roger Ebert; and click here to read Terkel’s conversation with STOP SMILING, published in 2005 in our Chicago Issue. “Was he the greatest Chicagoan?” Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times. “I cannot think of another. For me, he represented the joyous, scrappy, liberal, generous, wise-cracking heart of this city.”

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William Claxton (1927-2008)

One of the great West Coast photographers and chroniclers of American jazz has passed away in his hometown of Los Angeles at the age of 80. We were honored to have run an extensive interview with William Claxton, along with a pictorial of his work, in our Jazz Issue, released in February; Taschen, publisher of Claxton’s extraordinary collection Jazz Life (as well as collections of his photographs of Steve McQueen and vibrant city life in 1960s New Orleans), recently issued this personal reflection on Claxton; and the Los Angeles Times has published a comprehensive obituary.

We were proud to have met and worked with Clax. In this portion of our interview, conducted at his home on Mulholland Drive on October 10th, 2007, he commented on his nickname and its connection to Miles Davis: “Miles, when he was young, loved the camera, loved being photographed, loved being a handsome playboy, which he was,” Claxton said. “He really was a playboy. He had women all over the place who dressed beautifully. In the Fifties, he wore the best of Brooks Brothers: white shirt, Oxford grey suit, narrow black tie. He always had a couple of gorgeous fashion models on his arms. He was great fun. He had that raspy, funny voice: ‘Hiya, Clax.’ Allen Eager introduced me to him on the street in New York one night after the theater — you know how the theaters break and the streets are just full of people in the West 40s? We were walking and coming toward us was Miles Davis with a beautiful fashion model on each arm and Eager, a tenor saxophone player — a bebopper — said, ‘Here comes Miles Davis. You wanna meet him?’ We walked up to him and said, ‘Hi, hi, hi.’ Allen called me Clax and Miles said, ‘Clax? Man, it sounds like a household cleanser.’ [Laughs] Clax your sink, Clax your toilet, Clax your car. Later on Miles wasn’t much fun.”

Claxton was also an accomplished fashion photographer. In the fall, the New York Times posted this extraordinary oddity — a short film titled “Basic Black” made with his wife, model Peggy Moffitt Claxton. The clip is viewable on Page 4 of this page devoted to “The Originals.”

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