Archive for the ‘Obits’ Category

Random notes: February 23, 2015.

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Am I understanding things correctly? They made a movie out of “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law“? And it won Best Picture?

Ackquille Pollard is a rising young rapper under the name Bobby Shmurda. Mr. Pollard’s rap career has been temporarily sidetracked:

Mr. Pollard was arrested for what city prosecutors said was his role as the “driving force” and “organizing figure” behind the street gang known as GS9, an offshoot of the Crips. In one incident just a month before he was signed, prosecutors said, Mr. Pollard shot at his brother, shattering glass at a Brooklyn barbershop. He faces up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy, reckless endangerment and gun possession; others charged, including Mr. Pollard’s childhood friends, face more serious accusations, including second-degree murder.

Mr. Pollard is being held on $2 million bail. And he’s upset that his record label hasn’t bailed him out.

But as rap has become more corporate, that kind of aid is unusual. Matthew Middleton, Mr. Pollard’s entertainment lawyer, said that while Epic is not obligated to cover bail or legal fees for Mr. Pollard, the artist expected more support, financial and emotional, especially after the label’s spirited pursuit of the rapper made them business partners.

“These companies for years have capitalized and made millions and millions of dollars from kids in the inner city portraying their plight to the rest of the world,” Mr. Middleton said. “To take advantage of that and exploit it from a business standpoint and then turn your back is disingenuous, to say the least.”

Obit watch: Herman Rosenblat. Mr. Rosenblat was a Holocaust survivor who wrote a memoir of his experiences. In that memoir, he told a story about a girl who threw an apple over the fence to him while he was in a concentration camp; later, after he moved to the United States, he met the girl again and married her.

This was, of course, a great story. Mr. Rosenblat made “Oprah” twice, got a book deal, and there were plans to turn his story into a movie.

And sadly, it turned out that Mr. Rosenblat completely invented the story about the girl and the apple. The book was never published and the movie was never made.

There is an Indian actor named Amitabh Bachchan. He’s apparently not well known in the United States, but he’s hugely popular in India. “He has appeared in more than 150 Bollywood films and served as a longtime host of the country’s wildly popular version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'” according to the LAT. He also had a small part in the 2013 “Gatsby”.

And because of that small part, a group of Sikhs in the United States are claiming Mr. Bachchan is subject to US jurisdiction.

The group has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. making the improbable argument that Bachchan’s work with a U.S. film company gives American courts the ability to hold him responsible for the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in India three decades ago. The group alleges that the actor, now 72, made statements that incited a violent mob.

More:

The suit hinges on the Alien Tort Statute, which in recent years has become the center of a debate over whether American courts can and should be the arbiter of human rights abuses committed elsewhere in the world by non-U.S. citizens. The 1789 law, which was passed by the first Congress and initially used in cases of piracy and stolen goods, states that federal courts shall have jurisdiction over wrongs “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

It seems unlikely this will work, at least according to the LAT: the Supreme Court has restricted the ability of plaintiffs to pursue claims under the Alien Tort Statute, and they are also likely to have issues accomplishing service on the defendant.

One Wisconsin suit was dismissed after it became clear the process server hired by the group mistakenly served another Sikh man with a long white beard and turban, not the chief minister of the state of Punjab. Hospital security and Secret Service agents proved a hurdle in serving another Indian politician at a New York cancer treatment facility. A case against Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister at the time of the suit, was thrown out after the U.S. State Department stepped in to declare to the court that Singh was entitled to immunity as a head of state.

On at least one occasion, the group resorted to offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who could successfully serve the lawsuit on Punjab’s chief minister.

Obit watch: February 19, 2015.

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Dr. John P. Craven, a hugely important figure in Navy history.

From 1959 to 1969, as chief scientist of the Special Projects Office, Dr. Craven led the Navy’s drive to expand its presence into the crushing depths of the sea. Among other things, he turned submarines into spy machines that could reach down miles to inspect and retrieve lost enemy matériel, including nuclear arms.

Dr. Craven shows up frequently in the many recently published histories of the US Navy during the Cold War. His own book, The Silent War: The Cold War Battle Beneath the Sea is well worth reading.

Oliver Sacks is dying. I don’t want to write this obituary now; I plan to wait until I have to.

Obit watch: February 17, 2015.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Arnaud de Borchgrave, journalist and author.

Lesley Gore. A/V Club.

Not really an obit in the conventional sense, but: the Bob Feller museum in Van Meter, Iowa is closing. One of the interesting things about this is that the Feller museum was one of the last remaining “free-standing” museums devoted to one player:

Only two remain: the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, two and a half blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, and the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library in Greenville, S.C. Six others, including the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center at Montclair State University in New Jersey, are either housed at or supported by larger entities.

Also interesting: some of the memorabilia will stay at the musueum (which is going to become the new city hall), some of it is going to Progressive Field, and some of it is going to the U.S.S. Alabama:

In Van Meter, Feller is equally revered for his military service. He enlisted in the Navy two days after Pearl Harbor, the first United States professional athlete to volunteer, costing him three full baseball seasons and most of a fourth. He saw combat in the Pacific theater as a gun captain aboard the Alabama. Feller proudly called himself the only Navy chief petty officer in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Obit watch: February 13, 2015.

Friday, February 13th, 2015

David Carr, prominent NYT journalist, passed away last night.

Carr also wrote the critically acclaimed memoir, The Night of the Gun, about his struggle with drug addiction.

I now inhabit a life I don’t deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn’t end any time soon.

Edited to add: nice tribute from Amy Alkon.

Edited to add 2: A/V Club.

Obit watch: February 12, 2015.

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Bob Simon, for the record.

Obit watch and other randomness: February 11, 2015.

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Jerry Tarkanian: LV Review-Journal. LV Sun. ESPN. NYT.

(I care very little about college basketball, except for the annual Gonzaga bet. But anyone who ticks off the NCAA gets points in my book.)

“No. Really. I didn’t realize the women at those orgies were hookers. I thought they were socialites.”

Both Lawrence and I are still trying to sort out the implications of this, but I believe it is huge.

…Defendants are ENJOINED from enforcing these provisions.

Perhaps one of my readers who has something more than an Internet GED in law can comment: does this injunction against enforcing the ban on interstate handgun sales apply only in the district in which the ruling was issued? Or does it apply nationwide unless a higher court voids the injunction?

Edited to add: It looks like David Hardy over at Of Arms and the Law has the same question.

…if he enforced it in Maine or in Washington, he’d have violated the injunction, and could be held in contempt by the Texas court.

I would pay money to see that.

Hey, remember when Ray Nagin was convicted of corruption and sent to prison for 14 years? Good times, good times. Anyway, Frank Fradella, the granite countertops guy, is going to do one year in the federal pen for his part in Nagin’s downfall.

The Covington businessman pleaded guilty to stock fraud and bribery charges in 2012, and became a key witness in Nagin’s trial two years later. Fradella testified that he steered a $50,000 payment to Nagin in hopes of winning city contracts, and gave a free shipment of granite to a countertop business owned by Nagin’s sons.

Fradella is getting off light because he rolled on Nagin.

Obit watch: special Hellcats Over the Pacific edition.

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Alex Vraciu passed away on January 29th, though his death does not seem to have been widely reported until this weekend.

Mr. Vraciu shot down 19 Japanese planes in eight months, and destroyed another 21 planes on the ground.

Mr. Vraciu (which rhymes with cashew) accomplished his most spectacular feat in the South Pacific when he shot down six dive bombers within eight minutes in what became known as the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” in the Philippine Sea. He called it “a once-in-a-lifetime fighter pilot’s dream.”

More:

Mr. Vraciu achieved his pace-setting six kills under harrowing conditions on June 19, 1944, as Japanese planes attacked a task force of American carriers and battleships. His plane’s folding wings were mistakenly unlocked, and a malfunctioning engine was spewing oil on his windshield and preventing him from climbing above 20,000 feet. Still, he downed the dive bombers firing only 360 of the 2,400 bullets in his arsenal.

Obit watch: January 30, 2015.

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Colleen McCullough, author (“The Thorn Birds”). A/V Club.

Rod McKuen, poet. A/V Club.

Obit watch: January 26, 2015.

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Alice K. Turner, fiction editor of Playboy.

I know the joke: “I just read it for the articles”. But as fiction editor, Ms. Turner was hugely influential:

Ms. Turner helped keep literary short fiction on life support in the late 20th century, when few other publishers would or could. And writers like Terry Bisson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joyce Carol Oates, Bob Shacochis, Robert Silverberg, Dan Simmons, John Updike and David Foster Wallace were not shy about having their words abut illustrations of naked women.

I was tied up most of the weekend, so for the record:

Joe Franklin
.

Edgar Froese, founding member of Tangerine Dream. How about a little musical interlude?

And Ernie Banks. Related.

You know, I have a good feeling about the Cubs this year. I think they’re going to do the memory of Mr. Banks proud. As a matter of fact, I think there’s a good chance they will win the World Series this year.

Obit watch: January 22, 2015.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

John Bayley, literary critic and husband of Iris Murdoch. Bayley wrote Elegy for Iris about his life with Murdoch and her decline from Alzheimer’s disease.

Alan J. Hirschfield, former president of Columbia Pictures.

Hirschfield was the studio president during the David Begelman affair, and is one of the central figures in David McClintick’s excellent book Indecent Exposure.

Random notes: January 15, 2015.

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Obit watch: Phil Africa, “a high-ranking member of the Philadelphia-based black-liberation group Move”. You may remember MOVE from the 1985 Philadelphia police stand-off and bombing. Phil Africa was not involved in that, as he was already serving time for killing a police officer in the 1978 shootout.

It was unclear why the man was wearing body armor.

I’m just going to take a wild guess here and suggest he was wearing body armor because HE DIDN’T WANT TO GET SHOT!

(Oh, and for the record: both the gun and body armor were stolen from a sheriff’s deputy.)

Neat story:

Archaeologists conducting surveys in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park came upon a gun frozen in time: a .44-40 Winchester rifle manufactured in 1882. It was propped up against a juniper tree.

Some more detail here and here. (Interestingly, at the time I’m writing this, that story is the most-read one on the WP website.)

Norts spews.

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Well. Well well well. Well. Yes, I am happy about Ohio State winning; as my regular readers know, I have ties to the Ohio area.

Since I don’t have cable, I mostly followed the game on FARK until I dozed off after halftime (yesterday was a rough day at work). From what I can tell, it might be a good idea for Ohio State to spend some time in the off season working on HOLDING ON TO THE DAMN BALL!

I don’t have a lot to say about the John Fox “firing” right now, except that I think it will be interesting to see how things play out after the Superb Owl. I may have more to say once this week’s TMQ goes up.

Obit watch: Roy Tarpley, former center for the Dallas Mavericks. As my regular readers know, I’m not a basketball fan, but the Tarpley story is sad and worth noting:

He was suspended by the NBA after five games in the 1989-90 season after being arrested for driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. In 1991, he drew another suspension after a second DWI arrest and, a few months later, had a third violation and was banned from the league for violating the NBA’s drug-use policies.
He returned to the Mavericks briefly in 1994 but then was permanently barred in December 1995 for violating terms of his aftercare program.