Obit watch: July 22, 2014.

July 22nd, 2014

Novelist Thomas Berger.

For those who may not be aware, Berger’s most famous book was the Western Little Big Man, which in turn became the basis for the Dustin Hoffman movie.

Obit watch: July 21, 2014.

July 21st, 2014

For the historical record: James Garner. NYT. LAT.

I don’t have much to add beyond what’s in the obits: I can’t find my favorite Garner moment online. But I will say he was a man who classed up everything he was in.

Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass “Go”. Do not collect $1,000.

July 18th, 2014

Prosecutors said the detective, a 19-year veteran who works at Police Headquarters, forged another detective’s name, as well as the names of a supervising sergeant and a police inspector, on several forms after a November 2012 arrest in which a gun was seized. The arrest report did not include any associated tip, so the detective added one in order to collect $1,000, prosecutors said.

The detective in question, John Malloy, has been charged with six counts of “felony forgery” (is there “misdemeanor forgery”?), five counts of “offering a false instrument”, “attempted petit larceny”, and “official misconduct”.

Interesting note #1:

…the police have seized more than 3,350 illegal guns and arrested well over 5,500 people on gun charges. The program is viewed as a boon to officers, who get weapons off the streets, and easy money for the anonymous tipsters who collect a $1,000 reward. The foundation has paid out more than $2.1 million in rewards, which are financed by donations.

I wonder who donates to “Operation Gun Stop”. Do you suppose that’s a matter of public record?

Interesting note #2:

But the rate of tips coming into the program has declined over the last five years, according to department reports on the program. In 2008, the Gun Stop program received 731 tips, resulting in 319 guns seized. By 2013, the number of tips had fallen to 496, with 235 guns taken.

Hmmmmm. So in 2013, the NYPD got 261 more tips than guns. I wonder about those 261 other tips…

Random gun crankery.

July 15th, 2014

Mike the Musicologist and I were talking about the moronic Rolling Stone list. So apparently “Derringers” are among the most dangerous guns in America? I can buy that; after all, no president has ever been shot with a machine gun, so clearly they are less dangerous than derringers.

(Would you trade a ban on derringers for legalized machine guns? I wouldn’t either, but I think it is an interesting question.)

Anyway, that, and the fact that I’ve been reading a lot about presidential assassinations and attempted assassinations recently, got me thinking. (As a side note, I owe my readers a longer discussion of the works of Candice Millard, but that’s for another time.)

So Oswald’s rifle may be the single best documented presidential assassination weapon we have. It is historically interesting, but we can set that to one side for the moment.

I am 99 44/100ths percent sure I have seen Booth’s derringer, but that was a long time ago in another country. I did briefly wonder how it was recovered: was it on Booth when he died? (No: Booth dropped it on the floor of Lincoln’s box when he pulled the knife and slashed Major Rathbone. Apparently, the New York Reload had not been invented in 1865.) And I was also not aware that there was a brief controversy about Booth’s derringer: there were claims that it was stolen and replaced with a replica. (I am also not sure that I trust the FBI’s police work 100% there, Lou, but that’s probably yet another discussion for another time.)

So that takes care of the two most famous assassinations. What of President McKinley, who, as you may recall, was shot by an anarchist with an unpronounceable name? Czolgsz’s weapon of choice was a .32 caliber Iver Johnson revolver; according to this site, that gun resides in the Buffalo History Museum. (Their website supports this.)

And that brings us to Garfield (the president, not the cartoon cat), who you may recall was shot by a “disgruntled office seeker”, which is a polite way of saying “a f–king nut”. When the Oneida Community thinks you’re weird, maybe that’s your sign.

Anyway. Guiteau shot Garfield with a “.44 Webley British Bulldog revolver“, which he purchased using money bummed from a friend. (Bumming money from friends and skipping out on his boarding bills was typical of Guiteau.) Supposedly, he bought one with ivory grips instead of wood because “he thought it would look good as a museum exhibit after the assassination”. (I’ve seen this cited elsewhere. On the other hand, the Wikipedia entry on the Bulldog says Guiteau didn’t want to spring for the extra $1 for ivory.)

The punchline to this: “The revolver was recovered and displayed by the Smithsonian in the early 20th century, but has since been lost.

Seriously. They lost the gun used to kill a president. Granted, it appears to have been “lost” long after Guiteau was tried and executed. But still; how do you “lose” a presidential assassination weapon? And can you imagine the discussion at the Smithsonian when they found out Guiteau’s gun was “lost”?

(And I think I have to give Oswald a slight edge on taste, as he was the only one to use a Smith and Wesson revolver. Granted, it was a Victory model, so it wasn’t one of the better looking ones, but it was still a Smith. And if you were wondering, Jack Ruby used a Colt.)

(I say “slight edge” because, for all of Guiteau’s numerous faults, at least he picked ivory. As we all know, only a pimp in a cheap New Orleans whorehouse carries pearl handled revolvers.)

Not Since Tupac.

July 15th, 2014

By way of the A/V Club, I’ve learned of something called “Holler if Ya Hear Me”, a Broadway musical “inspired by the music and lyrics of the popular rapper Tupac Shakur”.

While some Broadway shows rely on budget reserves to muddle through slow weeks, “Holler” struggled from the outset. The production never brought in more than $175,000 a week in gross revenues, becoming one of the worst-selling musicals of recent years. Last week the show grossed $154,948, or 17 percent of the maximum possible amount, and only 45 percent of its seats were occupied.

Here’s the NYT review:

Drawing on themes that Shakur rapped about in his scabrous, four-letter-word-filled lyrics (no one has taken a kid-friendly Magic Marker to them, I’m glad to report), the musical attempts to draw a vision of black life in urban America that acknowledges the danger, the violence and the self-destruction but also the hope, the courage and the potential for transcendence. To this end, it employs more than a dozen of Shakur’s songs and a couple of his poems. But the lyrical density of rap — in words per minute, many of the songs are off the charts — makes an uneasy fit for theatrical presentation, since the sizzling phrases fly by almost before you can grasp their meaning.

At this point, you’re probably not wondering what brought this to mind:

It will close at a financial loss after 17 preview performances and 38 regular performances at the Palace Theater.

And, of course, there’s the usual invocations of “it’s going to be difficult to do another rap or hip hop show on Broadway” and “Tupac’s urgent socially important insights and the audiences’ nightly rousing standing ovations deserve to be experienced by the world.”

As for the latter, no comment. As for the former:

Yet one new musical featuring rap and hip hop, “Hamilton,” is widely expected to come to Broadway during the 2015-16 season after an initial run at the Public Theater this coming winter. The show is by Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose show “In the Heights,” which also featured rap and hip hop, ran for three years on Broadway and won the 2008 Tony Award for best musical.

Edited to add: more from the PoR:

In truth, the problem with “Holler” wasn’t really the music at all, but the ham-handed, sentimentalized story line concocted to underpin it.

Your loser update: July 14, 2014.

July 14th, 2014

Red Klotz has passed away.

Klotz was a prep basketball standout in Philadelphia, twice being named that city’s high school player of the year before going on to play at Villanova. He was on the Baltimore Bullets’ 1947-48 NBA championship team. At 5 feet 7, he is tied with six others as the third-shortest NBA player ever, and was the shortest player ever to be on an NBA championship team.

He’s more famous, perhaps, as a coach, having lost “tens of thousands of games” while coaching such teams as the Boston Shamrocks, New Jersey Reds, New York Nationals, International Elite, Global Select, World All-Stars…and, perhaps most famous of all, the Washington Generals.

Klotz himself was responsible for the Globetrotters’ last recognized loss, hitting a last-second shot in 1971 at age 51 while player-coach of the New Jersey Reds. He played against the Globetrotters until he was 68, and still played pickup games until a few years before his death.

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Since we’re at the All-Star break, it seems like a good time to do a baseball loser update. Unfortunately, it really isn’t a good year for losers.

Surprisingly, Houston isn’t at the bottom of the list. Heck, they’re not even at the bottom of their division. The Astros are 40-56, with a .417 winning percentage; a mark they share with Arizona. Colorado is 40-55, .421, and my Cubs are 40-54, .426.

At rock bottom are your Texas Rangers, at 38-57, for a .400 winning percentage. I’m not saying any of these records are “good”, but compared to where the Astros were at the break last year (33-61, .351), this looks like a ray of sunshine.

Obit watch: July 14, 2014.

July 14th, 2014

Lorin Maazel.

He projected an image of an analytical intellectual — he had studied mathematics and philosophy in college, was fluent in six languages (French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, as well as English) and kept up with many subjects outside music — and his performances could seem coolly fastidious and emotionally distant. Yet such performances were regularly offset by others that were fiery and intensely personalized.

I know that Mike the Musicologist had strong feelings about Mazel; perhaps he will comment here or on his own blog.

Nadine Gordimer, noted South African writer.

Happy Bastille Day, everyone!

July 14th, 2014

You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!

July 13th, 2014

This post over at the PJ Media site got me curious: can you purchase a Red Ryder BB gun from the Christmas Story House gift shop?

Yes. Yes, you can.

However:

  • $65 is way high.
  • It does not have a compass in the stock.
  • While a 20 year old man can go down to his local gun shop and legally purchase an AK-47, AR-15, or Winchester Model 70 chambered in .458 Winchester Magnum, the Christmas Story House gift shop appears to want you to be 21 years old in order to purchase a Red Ryder BB gun from them.
  • “State statutes and/or local ordinances prohibit the sale and possession of bb guns/air guns in some areas. We are unable to ship bb guns/air guns into New Jersey; Chicago, IL; Morton Grove, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; Buffalo, NY; New York City and its boroughs: Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island City, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. The NYC zip codes affected are: 100xx-104xx, 110xx, 112xx-114xx, 116xx. Orders with shipping addresses with in these areas will not be processed. An adult signature is required at delivery.”

Rock & Roll #1!

July 12th, 2014

Continuing in the historical trivia vein, today is the 35th anniversary of one of the greatest moments in the history of baseball: Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park.

Here’s some video I turned up. The first one appears to be an ESPN retrospective:

Here’s some local news coverage:

Side note: this is an attempt to compile a complete list of forfeits in major league baseball games.

Flames, hyena, etc. (#14 in a series)

July 11th, 2014

George Mirabal, former city council member in the notoriously corrupt city of Bell, has been sentenced to one year in prison and five years of probation. He has also been ordered to pay the city $242,000 in restitution.

Mirabal is the first of the five former Bell council members to be sentenced. The others will be sentenced over the next three weeks and could receive different sentences.

(Previously.)

Aaron Burr! Aaron Burr!

July 11th, 2014

This would have totally gotten past me if not for a retweet from the Popehat, but: today is the 210th anniversary of the Burr-Hamilton duel.

Mike the Musicologist and I talked about this briefly over the holiday weekend: if I ever make it back to NYC, one of the things I plan to do is to see the pistols.

Obligatory: