Leonard Mason Smith, 86, a veteran of World War II and Korea and longtime resident of Pine Island, passed away Nov. 27, 2013.
He was a very private man. If you wanted to know his cause of death, he would have told you that it was none of your business. If you asked Penny, his beloved wife, she would tell you that he had cancer, but not to tell anyone. Although his prognosis was dire, he battled on, lived his life and survived several years beyond the experts’ expectations. He did not want his obituary to suggest that he lost a long battle with cancer. By his reckoning, cancer could not win, and could only hope for a draw. And so it was. He hated losing.
He was born to Leonard Henry Smith and Charlotte deCamp July 20, 1927, in New York City. As a young man he resided in New Rochelle, N.Y., where he attended the Iona School. He graduated from the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, and then matriculated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was president of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and earned an engineering degree. He joined the Army Air Corps after his first term at M.I.T., and attained the rank of colonel, but only on the telephone when facilitating personnel discharges and equipment requisitions. He was discharged as a private. After his graduation from M.I.T., he enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War, and served in Japan and the Philippines. After the war, he began a career as a management executive. He worked for Bamberg Rayon Company, American Enka, Union Carbide, General Dynamics, Cognitronics and Computer Transceiver Systems Incorporated. By virtue of his education, training and temperament, his assignments tended to be companies and divisions that were experiencing financial or operational deficiencies. He liked the challenge.
He was married to Penelope Self Dec. 4, 1953, in Asheville, N.C. They were married for 58 years until her death in 2012. They raised five children together, living in New Rochelle and Greenwich, Conn. He enjoyed sailing and served as commodore of the Shenorock Shore Club in Rye, N.Y. They also raised show and field Gordon Setters, of which he was very proud. After retirement, they resided in Asheville and Pine Island, where they were active with local church groups and charities. ...
He hated pointless bureaucracy, thoughtless inefficiency and bad ideas born of good intentions. He loved his wife, admired and respected his children and liked just about every dog he ever met. He will be greatly missed by those he loved and those who loved him.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you cancel your subscription to The New York Times.
He would have thought that this obituary was about three paragraphs too long.
Jesse Larner, at HuffPo, explains just why Peter Seeger sucked as a folk singer.
As someone on the left who loves folk music, I understand that I’m supposed to feel mystically uplifted by the dean of activist folkies. But for those very reasons—because I believe in a humanist political order, and because authentic folk music speaks to me—I never could stand Pete. I don’t question his dedication or his energy. It’s just that I think them unfortunate. His conception of “folk music” has done tremendous damage, and his politics have done tremendous damage, and these things are connected.
Seeger’s been very influential. Most Americans, when they think of “folk music,” think of the 50s and 60s “revival” of that form: the songs, and versions of songs, made popular by him, The Weavers, Joan Baez, the Kingston Trio. This is a mistake. The songs these people became famous for singing are pretty, denatured coffee-house comforts that have little to do with the life that informed the originals. ...
For [the] bowdlerization of the folk tradition—deeply disrespectful to the people who created it, I may add—Pete the tireless popularizer of fake folk music bears much of the blame.
It’s worse than that, and here’s where the politics comes in. I’ve tried to describe the power of folk music, because it is important to understand that this power is not amplified when made explicit, when harnessed to an agenda. It is negated. Folk music is about life, and politics is only a small part of life. ...
Who the hell was Pete? He came from a distinguished family of musicians and academics afflicted with self-conscious class-consciousness; his father, Charles Louis Seeger, although from an old Puritan patrician line, joined the radical Industrial Workers of the World in the 1930s, a form of ostentatiously slumming solidarity that predicted much about his son’s future. Pete was a professional musician from a young age, Harvard dropout, assistant to folk archivist Alan Lomax, and dedicated political activist. He knew everything about folk music, except what it is.
The great Run Run Shaw, Hong Kong producer of countless examples of martial arts cinema, who brought Chinese culture and flying Kung Fu masters to the world, passed away, allegedly at the admirable age of 106. Quentin Tarantino is basically his disciple, and Tarantino acknowledges the debt by routinely prefacing his own films with the Shaw Brothers logo.
Shaw’s birthday and his exact age have long been clouded in mystery — his widow Mona Shaw (aka Mona Fong) has often refused to clarify the issue — and other sources put his age at 107. He died at 6.55am local time in Hong Kong on Jan 7, 2014.
From his early work doing odd jobs around theaters and cinemas controlled by his older brothers, Shaw went on to establish and run the leading production studios in Asia by the 1950s. Along the way he ushered in significant technical progress into Chinese film.
Shaw is best known for the Shaw Brothers’ martial arts output of the 1960s, but he should rightly also be given credit for pioneering a form of Asian musical film and for putting Hong Kong on the global cinema map.
The Shaw Brothers company was in its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s and was influential in both the Asian and Western film industries. He personally has credits on some 360 films, ranging from martial arts classics to Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner.”
Barbara Branden, first biographer of Ayn Rand, died Wednesday at age 84. Astonishingly a laudatory obituary written by James Peron was published on the Puffington Host .
One of the great figures in modern libertarianism has died today: Barbara Branden. Barbara, 84, was born in Winnipeg, Canada. It was there that she met her husband, Nathaniel Branden. And, while the couple divorced, Barbara was close to Nathaniel her entire life.
Barbara and Nathaniel became friends because of their mutual admiration for Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead. While a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, Nathaniel wrote a fan letter to Rand, who worked as a scriptwriter in the area. Rand called him and invited him to visit her home. On the second visit he brought Barbara with him. They married in 1954.
During the writing of Atlas Shrugged, Barbara was one of the small circle of friends allowed to read the manuscript while it was in process. In 1958 she and Nathaniel organized the Nathaniel Branden Institute, to present systematic presentations of Rand’s Objectivist philosophy. Barbara gave a series of lectures on Principles of Efficient Thinking.
She and Nathaniel divorced but remained friends for the rest of their lives. In 1984 she published a biography of Rand, The Passion of Ayn Rand, which was later made into a film with Helen Mirren and Eric Stoltz. Barbara was not entirely pleased with the film.
Barbara remained active in Objectivist and libertarian circles for her entire life. She offered a nuanced, always sympathetic perspective on Ayn Rand. While sometimes critical, she never lost her admiration for Ayn. Even though the Brandens had an acrimonious split with Rand, after a relationship between Ayn and Nathaniel ended, Barbara always told me that, knowing everything she knew then, she would do it all over again.
Out in New Mexican town of Alb ‘Querque
I fell in love with the methedrine world
Daytime would find me in Gustavo’s meth lab
I’d start a batch and ingredients would swirl
Blue as the sky was my brand, ‘Phetamina
Purer than snow with a ninety six grade
Great was the take from this methedrine poison
Buried in barrels till I was betrayed
One day a former meth partner called up
Claims I had poisoned a ki-I-I-i-id
Spiteful and spurning, my cash he was burning
From blue ‘Phetamina
The drug that I cooked
So in panic, I
Drove to the spot where I buried my money
Only to find that nobody was near
Wasn’t aware I’d been tailed by my in-law
Phoned Nazi scum; Jesse’s vengeance I feared
Just for a moment I flopped to the hard ground
Shocked when that Nazi killed Hank with his gun
This was my thought as I tormented Jesse
I had but one chance and that was to run
From my scumbag of a lawyer I heard
How to escape my past li-I-I-i-ife
Hid in a truck’s tank, the air there was so dank
Inside its bowels as away I did ride
Just as fast as, I
Could from New Mexican town of Alb ‘Querque
Out to a cabin in New Hampshire snow…
Max Read, at Gawker of all places, put his finger on the key ingredient in Elmore Leonard’s distinct sensibility.
The characters in Leonard’s crime novels share with their western-novel antecedents not a particular relationship to law and order but a sense of professionalism—a deep knowledge of the practices and rituals, the codes and conventions of their given fields. His crime novels concern characters who exist on the edge of the law, in gray areas that block them from full membership in Team Good or Team Bad—bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, ex-cons trying to make good, sleazy lawyers, slightly corrupt police officers, all forming alliances, enemies, and romances between and across tribes—but all of them (the ones Leonard sympathizes with, at any rate) are professionals. In Killshot, the seasoned hitman Armand Degas takes a younger wannabe, Richie Nix, under his wing, imparting to him the rules of the trade:
“No, no could’ve. Only when you know you could do it. Then all it takes is one shot. It’s the same as with a hunter, a guy who knows what he’s doing. He don;t take the shot if he thinks he could miss, or might only wound it. See, then he has to go find the animal to finish it. OK, what if it’s a kind of animal that could eat him up. Like a lion that’s mad now ‘cause it’s shot and waits to jump out at the guy. You understand? That’s why you always make sure, One shot, one kill.
“Man, I’m bleeding something fierce.”
“Don’t get it on the seat. What I’m saying is you don’t want to have to shoot anything more than once.”
“I’m in fucking pain.”
This guy was not only a punk, he was a baby.
Rules like this, professional guidelines gleaned from years of work and dedication, pervade Leonard’s novels (in many cases thanks to his researcher of three decades, Sutter, who provided Leonard with background about the fields and trades his characters worked). Leonard, himself a consummate professional and a tireless worker who at his death was said to be finishing another novel, loved them—the hard-won details that set apart a dilettante from a master.
Colts Defensive Tackle, Football Hall of Famer, and WWII Marine Art “The Bulldog” Donovan passed away last night at the age of 89. Donovan was a classic representative of Old School, Blue Collar American football, in the same tradition as Mike Ditka, Ray Nitschke, and Johnny Unitas. He was also quite an amusing storyteller as this appearance years ago on the old Johnny Carson show attests.
D. Harcourt Lees Jr. of Warrenton, known to many as the quintessential Virginia gentleman, died at home Sunday, July 21, after a brief illness.
Mr. Lees, 91, for decades owned and operated an insurance and real estate firm. He was a past president of the Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce and the Fauquier Club and a former director of The Fauquier Bank. He was a longtime member of Warrenton Rotary Club.
He had a lifelong passion for horse sports. Mr. Lees served as the Warrenton Hunt Master of Foxhounds from 1968 to 1981. He continued to ride to the hounds until 2001.
A Warrenton native, he loved practical jokes and parties.
Mr. Lees and the late Billy Wilbur made their legendary “Midnight Ride” after a hunt ball in the 1950s. On horseback and still in tuxedos, they visited a half-dozen farms, procuring cocktails along the way.
A 1997 profile in The Fauquier Citizen, described Mr. Lees’ impeccable manners. Always well dressed — or “turned out” — he bowed and tipped his hat when meeting friends and strangers on the street.
“His manners are flawless,” the late Byrd Greene told Don Del Rosso, who wrote the newspaper profile. “But they’re manners from the heart; he’s a gentleman because it’s inside of him.”
55-year-old Scott Entsminger died on July 4th. He was a passionate Cleveland Browns and he left a special request for his funeral, as the Columbus Dispatch reports.
He retired from General Motors after 32 years of service. He was an accomplished musician, loved playing the guitar and was a member of the Old Fogies Band. A lifelong Cleveland Browns fan and season ticket holder, he also wrote a song each year and sent it to the Cleveland Browns as well as offering other advice on how to run the team. He respectfully requests six Cleveland Browns pall bearers so the Browns can let him down one last time.
Slightly used motor and transmission of C250 Mercedes Benz
Jack Baruth, at The Truth About Cars, seemed just as broken-hearted as I am, but is just a trifle more tastefully discreet at concealing his feelings.
The writing-about-writing crowd is abuzz with discussion about the rather unusual death of Buzzfeed/RollingStone/Gawker writer Michael Hastings. Mr. Hastings, whose name is never mentioned in the press without the immediate mention that he was “the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal”, died in a single-car accident in Los Angeles yesterday morning. This in and of itself is not unusual, but the circumstances of the crash and its aftermath won’t do anything to quiet the conspiracy theorists who are already claiming that the military-industrial complex found a way to cap the guy. ...
Mercedes-Benz USA is no doubt sweating bullets over this one. An eyewitness report says that Mr. Hastings was driving at an excessive rate of speed down a suburban street when his car “suddenly jackknifed” and hit a tree “with the force of a bomb”. The Benzo, which by the wheels and quarter-panel appears to be the relatively prosaic but cheerfully stylish C250 four-cylinder turbo coupe, proceeded to throw its powertrain out of the engine bay, immediately catch fire in a manner typically reserved for episodes of “Miami Vice”, and burn its driver until said driver was charred beyond recognition. ...
Mr. Hastings’ aggressively Democrat-friendly storytelling has the Internet already considering the idea that his death was engineered somehow. I can’t say it’s totally unlikely. As noted above, the reported (and videotaped) behavior of the C250 was not in line with what we’d expect. On the other hand, surely it’s expected that a respected, mature writer on non-automotive topics won’t be barreling through a suburb so fast that any tree he hits will cause his car to burst into flames, right? We’ll keep an eye on this to see what, if anything, develops.
Michael Hastings was killed in a car crash in Los Angeles. The single car accident happened at about 0425. He crashed into a tree and was burned beyond recognition. He was 33.
Mr. Hastings was the war correspondent whose Rolling Stone article led to the firing of General Stanley McChrystal, who at the time was the top General in Afghanistan.
Although Hastings was widely read, no serious war correspondents took him seriously, or at least not the ones I know. ... Hastings was like an undisciplined hitman with a pen and license to kill. One of his gonzo articles damaged the career and reputation of Lieutenant General Bill Caldwell, for no cause. My sense was that he picked fights with key people mostly to draw attention. Though Hastings was not respected among war correspondents, it is sad to see a man die so young so horribly. Just why he crashed into a tree at 0425 remains unknown. No doubt the conspiracies will begin to fly.
New Joke: What do you call a metrosexual Rolling Stone attack dog journalist’s explosive collision with an LA palm tree? A good start.
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS, née Roberts, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Great Britain of the 20th century died today of a stroke at age 87.
Thatcher reversed the course of Britain’s economic stagnation and decline, ending the long post-war reign of Socialism over Britain. Unfortunately, like her American counterpart Ronald Reagan, she failed to leave behind a worthy successor, and Labour was able to regain power and resume its work of destroying Britain’s culture, economy, civilization, and traditions.
Bret Stephens remembers Michael Kelly, the American journalist killed ten years ago south of Baghdad Airport, traveling embedded with the US Army’s Third Division. His jeep came under enemy fire, and the driver lost control while trying to evade and went into a canal. Kelly drowned along with his driver, becoming the first American journalist to lose his life during the war.
Wouldn’t you know that it would be a reporter like Kelly who got killed, not one of the usual verminous breed?
Kelly treated a column as a sword, the obvious and most worthy purpose of which was to stab, slice, decapitate and—once he really got going—utterly disembowel the objects of his contempt.
Which objects? The pompous, the dishonest, the phony, the self-satisfied, the morally safe and smug, the debauched, the downright evil. To speak more precisely: Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Frank Sinatra, Mr. Gore again, the news media in general, Ted Kennedy, Yasser Arafat. And, of course, Hollywood, which pretty much exemplified all the above-mentioned qualities.
Kelly didn’t just deride these people and institutions. Before he could skewer them, he had to capture them. Writing about Oscar night, he catches Jack Nicholson “leering and sprawling paunchily in his ringside chair like an especially dissolute pasha waiting for his next lap dance.” From an early profile of Bill Clinton: “When he spoke, perception was not only reality. It was a reality that changed, quicksilver quick, from eye to eye and ear to ear.” Of one of Mr. Gore’s debate performances against George W. Bush: “It was much like the most infuriating of all husbandly marital-argument tactics. You know the one—where you play the part of the patient but pained party in the obvious right, too much a gentleman to say that your wife is spewing pure rubbish, but communicating utter contempt through creative breathing.”
Reading Kelly, I used to wonder: Did his power of observation explain his moral judgments, or was it the other way around? Usually (though few of us columnists will admit it), we make our judgments and then find our evidence. I don’t think this was true of Kelly: He was like a man born with a preternatural sense of smell. He couldn’t help smelling it. And he could smell it from a mile away.
Take his view of Frank Sinatra. Everyone loved Old Blue Eyes and mourned him when he died in 1998. Everyone except Michael Kelly.
Kelly hated Frank because Frank had invented Cool, and Cool had replaced Smart. What was Smart? It was Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca: “He possesses an outward cynicism, but at his core he is a square. . . . He is willing to die for his beliefs, and his beliefs are, although he takes pains to hide it, old-fashioned. He believes in truth, justice, the American way, and love. . . . When there is a war, he goes to it. . . . He may be world weary, but he is not ironic.”
Cool was something else. “Cool said the old values were for suckers. . . . Cool didn’t go to war; Saps went to war, and anyway, cool had no beliefs he was willing to die for. Cool never, ever, got in a fight it might lose; cool had friends who could take care of that sort of thing.”
It never, ever would have occurred to me to make the distinction until I read Kelly’s column. And then I understood Sinatra. And then I understood Kelly, too.
Kelly, who was killed 10 years ago as an embedded journalist just outside of Baghdad, was Smart. When the war came, he, too, went to it. Few columnists in America had argued as passionately, and none as cogently, for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
“To march against the war is not to give peace a chance,” he wrote six weeks before his death. “It is to give tyranny a chance.”