Category Archive 'Obituaries'
11 Sep 2022

Andrew Sullivan on Queen Elizabeth

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Apart from the gratuitous (and blindly partisan) dumping on Trump, Andrew was in his best form, doing a fine job of eulogizing Queen Elizabeth that even we rebellious colonials can appreciate.

Elizabeth Windsor was tasked as a twenty-something with a job that required her to say or do nothing that could be misconstrued, controversial, or even interestingly human — for the rest of her life.

The immense difficulty of this is proven by the failure of almost every other member of her family — including her husband — to pull it off. We know her son King Charles III’s views on a host of different subjects, many admirable, some cringe-inducing. We know so much of the psychological struggles of Diana; the reactionary outbursts of Philip; the trauma of Harry; the depravity of Andrew; the agonies of Margaret. We still know nothing like that about the Queen. Because whatever else her life was about, it was not about her.

Part of the hard-to-explain grief I feel today is related to how staggeringly rare that level of self-restraint is today. Narcissism is everywhere. Every feeling we have is bound to be expressed. Self-revelation, transparency, authenticity — these are our values. The idea that we are firstly humans with duties to others that will require and demand the suppression of our own needs and feelings seems archaic. Elizabeth kept it alive simply by example.

With her death, it’s hard not to fear that so much she exemplified — restraint, duty, grace, reticence, persistence — are disappearing from the world. As long as she was there, they were at the center of an idea of Britishness that helped define the culture at its best. Perhaps the most famous woman in the world, she remained a sphinx, hard to decipher, impossible to label. She was not particularly beautiful or dashing or inspiring. She said nothing surprising. She was simply the Queen. She showed up. She got on with it. She was there. She was always there.

Whatever else happened to the other royals, she stayed the same. And whatever else happened in Britain — from the end of Empire to Brexit — she stayed the same. This is an achievement of nearly inhuman proportions, requiring discipline beyond most mortals. Think of a year, 1992, in which one son, Andrew, divorced, a daughter-in-law, Sarah Ferguson was seen cavorting nude in the tabloids, a daughter, Anne, separated, another son’s famously failed marriage, Charles’, dominated the headlines, and your house burns down. Here is how Her Majesty “vented”:

    1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis.’

Dry, understated, with the only vivid phrase ascribed to a correspondent. Flawless.

She was an icon, but not an idol. An idol requires the vivid expression of virtues, personality, style. Diana was an idol — fusing a compelling and vulnerable temperament with Hollywood glamor. And Diana, of course, was in her time loved far more intensely than her mother-in-law; connected emotionally with ordinary people like a rockstar; only eventually to face the longterm consequences of that exposure and crumble under the murderous spotlight of it all.

Elizabeth never rode those tides of acclaim or celebrity. She never pressed the easy buttons of conventional popularity. She didn’t even become known for her caustic wit like the Queen Mother, or her compulsively social sorties like Margaret. The gays of Britain could turn both of these queens into camp divas. But not her. In private as in public, she had the kind of integrity no one can mock successfully.

You can make all sorts of solid arguments against a constitutional monarchy — but the point of monarchy is precisely that it is not the fruit of an argument. It is emphatically not an Enlightenment institution. It’s a primordial institution smuggled into a democratic system. It has nothing to do with merit and logic and everything to do with authority and mystery — two deeply human needs our modern world has trouble satisfying without danger.

RTWT

14 Mar 2022

Mark Princi, Yale ’67

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The young Mark Princi.

Why go to Yale? It’s true that there are in residence a significant representation of grade-grubbing conformists, but that lumpen student body is also leavened by the presence in some quantity of bright spirits and the unusually gifted.

Reading the alumni mag this month, I found its customary cesspool of odious self-congratulation and left-wing cant redeemed by the kind of obituary for a member of the Class of 1967 that makes one wish one had known the chap.

Lift a glass this evening to the memory of Mark Princi, Y ’67.

Mark Princi passed away on Thanksgiving Day, surrounded by loved ones, at his home in Boissise-la-Bertrand, France, after a minor surgical procedure. “He developed pneumonia after the surgery and went straight downhill,” says Steve Small. “He had been slowly losing ground for some months, and a good bit of that was Parkinson’s disease; but ultimately it seemed more like his body was being repeatedly hammered and finally gave up.”

“Every classmate’s death is the occasion for sadness to me, but Mark was ever so much larger than life,” says Charlie Carter. “His sartorial presence was unmistakable, as he always wore a cape that blew in the wind. In recent years our class discussion group was treated to his tireless daily reporting of each successive stage in the Tour de France, which were written as only he could do, with narrative interspersed with suspense and explanations of the sport for those of us who never had heard of a peloton. At Yale he palled around with Rock Brynner along separate paths from the rest of the class. I will miss him in proportion to his superhuman persona.”…

After graduation, Mark worked as a screen/dialog writer, dialog director, ad copywriter, location scout/producer, aide-de-camp to various jazz musicians in New Orleans and, as he put it in his essay for our 50th Reunion yearbook, “speechwriter for inarticulate celebrities.”

“He was also personal assistant to Rock’s dad, Yul Brynner, who was touring with his hit show, The King and I,” says Tom Devine. “Brynner wanted his dressing room painted dark brown because the theater managers wouldn’t pay for two coats, and one coat of brown covers anything. But he was having trouble getting the union workers to paint it. Mark said, ‘I’ll fix that.’ He went out and bought two bottles of good Scotch, Johnnie Walker Black, and went to the office of the union captains. ‘This is a present from Mr. Brynner,’ he said. The next day, the dressing room was painted to perfection. Afterward, the union captains said to Mark, ‘Here’s the key to this office. If that (bleep) gets on your nerves, know that you can always come down here and have a drink.’

Charlie resumes the narrative: “Mark finally settled down in a hippie community in a village called Le Mee on the river. The house they all shared is a highly idiosyncratic ramshackle that he and his wife, Michèle, eventually took over to raise their son, Julien. Michèle is without doubt the greatest, intuitively natural cook I’ve ever met. Anything she touched she transformed into something unique and spectacular, whether it was leg of lamb (perhaps her favorite), fresh fava beans, or fois gras. My family and I were treated several times to stories about his cinnamon farm in Sri Lanka. On another occasion we were invited to Le Mee for luncheon with Mark’s neighbors, who turned out to be from the House of Grimaldi: Princess Caroline of Hanover and her husband, Ernst. As with everything Princi, that turned out to be a unique and very pleasant surprise. Ernst is quite the playboy, and had brought what seemed like an early version of a helicopter drone, which he distributed among the guests, so that after lunch we went outside to try to fly them. And Princess Caroline turned out to be remarkably sharp and easy in conversation, in addition to being very beautiful.”

“Oh, that marvelous house!” says Randy Alfred. “Not ramshackle, but ancient of many eras lovingly stitched together. True, there might have been a loose or missing stitch here and there. And the garden, a wondrous work tended by Michèle, the very incarnation of a proletarian Marianne. And that kitchen with every bit of wall space occupied by the tools of cuisine or the emblems of folk culture, both historic and modern. And Michèle’s splendid cooking. And the conversation. I didn’t want to rise from that table.”

“But he took two things to the grave that I remain curious about,” adds Charlie. One was something he knew about John Kerry’s presidential campaign that could have changed the course of that election. The other was a screenplay commissioned by the Mossad that Mark was very proud of, about the destruction of a missile site deep in Iraq by an Israeli bomber. But it came much too close to the truth, so they paid him for writing the screenplay – and for assuring that it never became an actual TV show.”

Peter Petkas recalls, “Mark used to tell the story of being on a photo shoot with an actress somewhere in the Mediterranean when she lost a piece of jewelry in the water and refused to continue without it. He quickly recited a prayer to Saint Anthony, the patron of lost objects, then dove into the water and pulled up the piece. The shoot went on.”

Bill Howze adds, “Jeannette and I also spent a day or two at his ‘estate’ by the river. He picked us up at the airport and after a nap took us to the mostly Arab local market. The next day, he delegated his niece, who was studying art history, to help us find and settle into our hotel in Paris where Jeannette had meetings with her colleagues at several art museum libraries and with book dealers specializing in fine arts. What a generous, worldly, and down-to-earth friend!”

But I think Randy summed him up best: “From Day One at Yale right up to his last days, that man had style.”

16 Feb 2022

P.J. O’Rourke 14 November 1947 — 15 February 2022

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The great P.J. O’Rourke died yesterday of lung cancer. He was 74. I’m 73. Imagine how I feel.

You can read his biography in any of the MSM obituaries. Here is the NYT’s.

I suggest reading a few selections from his inimitable prose.

For example, from the introduction to Give War a Chance:

The principal feature of contemporary American liberalism is sanctimoniousness. By loudly denouncing all bad things — war and hunger and date rape — liberals testify to their own terrific goodness. More important, they promote themselves to membership in a self-selecting elite of those who care deeply about such things. People who care a lot are naturally superior to we who don’t care any more than we have to. By virtue of this superiority, the caring have a moral right to lead the nation. It’s a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don’t have to be brave, smart, strong or even lucky to join it, you just have to be liberal.

and

Liberals actually hate wealth because they hate all success. They hate success especially, of course, when it’s achieved by other people, but sometimes they hate the success they achieve themselves. What’s the use of belonging to a self-selecting elite if there’s a real elite around? Liberals don’t like any form of individual achievement. . . . Also wealth is, for most people, the only honest and likely path to liberty. With money comes power over the world. Men are freed from drudgery, women from exploitation. Businesses can be started, homes built, communities formed, religious practiced, educations pursued. But liberals aren’t very interested in such real and material freedoms. Liberals want the freedom to put anything into their mouths, to say bad words, and to expose their private parts in art museums.

And his famous how-to piece from Republican Party Reptile:

How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink.

31 Dec 2021

Remembering Harry Reid

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A FB Friend’s analysis of career politician HARRY REID’s wealth:

“He went to into politics at a young age, did not come from wealth, worked for the government his entire working life and amassed a 10-20 million net worth on government salary. To put this in perspective Reid’s salary as a Senator ranged from 40-160k per year. Which means he netted about 30-110k before he spent a dollar on food, shelter, and transportation. To amass 10 million in wealth on that salary is impossible without corruption!”

——————-

“Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I’ll show you a crook.”

— Harry Truman.

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Lawrence Person tries writing an obituary:

“Leaving a trail of slime behind him-”

Start over.

“A repugnant, repulsive reptile-”

Try again.

“What can be said about him that hasn’t already been said about bubonic plague?”

Strike that.

Man, I’m really having trouble staying on the high road for this Harry Reid obit.

RTWT

21 Sep 2021

Angelo Codevilla 25 May 1943– ? September 2021

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Angelo Codevilla has apparently been killed in a traffic accident of some kind.

Titus Techera published a fitting tribute.

One of the great fighting men of American politics has died, Angelo Codevilla. He was born in 1943 in Italy, came to America as a teenager, then became a citizen in spirit, not just in paperwork: He rejoiced & suffered in America’s virtues & vices, greatness & misery; he knew right & wrong, he knew the difference between courage & cowardice, & he acted unhesitatingly on his unusual knowledge of foreign affairs; more, he served America in the military, then as staff in the Senate, finally, as college professor & writer on political matters. He had a private life, but that belongs to his family; his public life concerns everyone who loves America, because it reveals better than almost anything now available to us the powers democracy summons & liberalism educates. More than most men, he lived up to his name. …

Mr. Codevilla chronicled liberalism’s delusions on foreign affairs since the 1970s & his seriousness about political science comes across even more than his expertise in his various tracts & policy papers. Read his investigation of the French Fifth Republic or of the politics of Switzerland in WWII & you will learn from him how to be serious about serious things. His writing on America is much harder to learn from, since he was unpopular & perpetually contemptuous of the silly people that find favor with our cowardly elites, always teaching his audience to show no respect to the intellectually corrupt. If there is beauty in justice, in the requirement of the punishment of the offensive, there was beauty in his anger.

It was the misery worse than tragedy of his life to live long enough to see a necessity to speak about American domestic affairs. Only something as ugly as the potential for civil war could make him speak about the problems of our own affairs. He understood too well that we do not even call America a regime before we are ready to tear it apart. He never ceased blaming elites & never ceased encouraging citizens to share in his great spirit, that they may be free & at the same time respect themselves.

RTWT

12 Sep 2021

Unknown Alligator ? — 2021

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WGNO:

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— Earlier this week the “dumpster gator” became a sensation in Uptown New Orleans on Perrier Street and Upperline Street.

The “dumpster gator” shocked neighbors who wondered how the dead alligator ended up in a Demo Diva dumpster.

As to how the alligator ended up in the dumpster is still a mystery?
Large dead alligator discovered in New Orleans Dumpster

WGNO’s Kenny Lopez contacted Demo Diva and the owner Simone Bruni went by to check out the “dumpster gator.”

Bruni told Lopez that the alligator would be going to the landfill along with the other debris and trash in the dumpster.

But before doing so, she put a flower on the gator’s body as a sign of respect for the animal.

12 Sep 2021

Okefenokee Joe ?-2021

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MSN:

Okefenokee Joe, an 11-and-a-half-foot alligator who is believed to have lived in a Georgia swamp since World War II, has died, officials said.

The alligator passed away from old age, the Georgia’s Coastal Ecology Lab said, and had been part of a satellite tag program. The lab had been observing his movements in the Okefenokee Swamp since June 2020, according to a statement on Facebook.

The celebrated alligator’s exact age was unknown, but he “was a very old alligator as he had scar tissue over both eyes and his scutes were worn almost smooth,” the lab said. “Alligators can live to be approximately 80 years old though so it is possible he was close to that!”

Joe was last tracked via GPS on July 20, and the lab said, “We first thought the tag had simply fallen off as it had been several weeks since we had received any GPS points from him.”

But after several weeks, the satellite tag was found and the lab confirmed his death.

“We are so grateful to have known him, for his contribution to science and the further understanding and preservation of his species,” they said.

Joe weighed in at more than 400 pounds and would have been considered a “dominant male in his day,” the lab shared in a Facebook post last year.

RTWT

25 Aug 2021

Charlie Watts 2 June 1941 –- 24 August 2021

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Stones drummer Charlie Watts passed away yesterday.

Christopher Stanford eulogized him in “An Ode to Charlie Watts, the Politest Man in Rock Music.” (Use Outline.com to get around the paywall.)

The Stones’s final public appearance with Watts was a filmed segment for the first we’re-all-in-this-together COVID broadcast in April 2020. Charlie played along on a spirited version of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, drumsticks in hand, using a trio of musical storage cases and a nearby couch for percussion. It was an effortless, funny and musically deft performance, and absolutely right for the occasion. Only the drummer in the world’s greatest rock band, it seemed, might not wish to keep a set of drums at home. Somehow that summed up the man.

————-

Tyler McCarthy, at Fox News:

The quiet, elegantly dressed Watts was often ranked with Keith Moon, Ginger Baker and a handful of others as a premier rock drummer, respected worldwide for his muscular, swinging style as the band rose from its scruffy beginnings to international superstardom. He joined the Stones early in 1963 and remained over the next 60 years, ranked just behind Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as the group’s longest lasting and most essential member.

Watts stayed on, and largely held himself apart, through the drug abuse, creative clashes and ego wars that helped kill founding member Brian Jones, drove bassist Bill Wyman and Jones’ replacement Mick Taylor to quit, and otherwise made being in the Stones the most exhausting of jobs. …

He had his eccentricities – Watts liked to collect cars even though he didn’t drive and would simply sit in them in his garage. But he was a steadying influence on stage and off as the Stones defied all expectations by rocking well into their 70s, decades longer than their old rivals the Beatles.

Watts didn’t care for flashy solos or attention of any kind, but with Wyman and Richards forged some of rock’s deepest grooves on “Honky Tonk Women,” “Brown Sugar” and other songs. The drummer adapted well to everything from the disco of “Miss You” to the jazzy “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and the dreamy ballad “Moonlight Mile.”

Jagger and Richards at times seemed to agree on little else besides their admiration of Watts, both as a man and a musician. Richards called Watts “the key” and often joked that their affinity was so strong that on stage he’d sometimes try to rattle Watts by suddenly changing the beat – only to have Watts change it right back.

Jagger and Richards could only envy his indifference to stardom and relative contentment in his private life, when he was as happy tending to the horses on his estate in rural Devon, England, as he ever was on stage at a sold-out stadium. …

Charles Robert Watts, son of a lorry driver and a housewife, was born in Neasden, London, on June 2, 1941. From childhood, he was passionate about music – jazz in particular. He fell in love with the drums after hearing Chico Hamilton and taught himself to play by listening to records by Johnny Dodds, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and other jazz giants.

He worked for a London advertising firm after he attended Harrow Art College and played drums in his spare time. London was home to a blues and jazz revival in the early 1960s, with Jagger, Richards and Eric Clapton among the future superstars getting their start. Watts’ career took off after he played with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, for whom Jagger also performed, and was encouraged by Korner to join the Stones.

Watts wasn’t a rock music fan at first and remembered being guided by Richards and Brian Jones as he absorbed blues and rock records, notably the music of bluesman Jimmy Reed. He said the band could trace its roots to a brief period when he had lost his job and shared an apartment with Jagger and Richards because he could live there rent-free.

“Keith Richards taught me rock and roll,” Watts said. “We’d have nothing to do all day and we’d play these records over and over again. I learned to love Muddy Waters. Keith turned me on to how good Elvis Presley was, and I’d always hated Elvis up ’til then.”

Watts was the final man to join the Stones; the band had searched for months to find a permanent drummer and feared Watts was too accomplished for them. Richards would recall the band wanting him so badly to join that members cut down on expenses so they could afford to pay Watts a proper salary. Watts said he believed at first the band would be lucky to last a year.

“Every band I’d ever been in had lasted a week,” he said. “I always thought the Stones would last a week, then a fortnight, and then suddenly, it’s 30 years.”

20 Jul 2021

Ari’t Hart 20 October 1934 — 16 July 2021

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Ari T. Hart fly reel, 1990, Museum of Modern Art, New York.

I have yet to find a published obituary but it was reported that Ari T. Hart, the renowned Dutch designer of modernist fly reels and fly tying vises, passed away July 16th.

I’ve owned several of his reels and, despite my normally reactionary tastes, admired his work. His reels were strikingly modern and original in form, beautiful, and effective in operation. There is no one like him. He will be missed.

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24 Jun 2021

“Adios, Gringo!” — A John McAfee Tribute

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From Stephen L. Miller in The Spectator:

Underneath the paranoia and craziness of his last years, beneath a persona that took on what felt like a bit of a forced Hank Scorpio world supervillain act, was someone who understood the very foundations of personal liberty and freedom. As he said in the 2016 Libertarian party debate, ‘Our minds and our bodies belong to us.’ This was a basic foundational principle of his politics — a constitutional tenet that neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden, nor many members of either major political party seem to grasp today. In the end, as we learned yesterday, he would rather check out altogether than have either have his freedoms curtailed by any government. …

John possessed an extraordinary emotional intelligence behind the leathery exterior. He had the soul of a poet and composer. In interviews about his latest crypto or blockchain scheme, he would veer off-topic and talk about, say, the genius of John Lennon. That was ultimately the most fascinating thing about him. It made him truly accessible in the social media age. He regularly conversed with his social media followers and responded to unsolicited podcast appearance requests, genuinely because it seemed he loved putting on a show. He had real charisma. John McAfee also built up an entire myth of himself. What was real? What wasn’t? This made him even more absurdly well-suited to the social media age. He understood the media enough to manipulate it. He once mused on Twitter that ‘A world in which dogs write poetry is more believable than the world as seen through the eyes of the media.’ That’s a great line. As old world media collides and colludes with new tech oligarchs, it has become more and more true.

McAfee understood the new tech empires because he helped build them. He would have been an invaluable ally, a lunatic suicide bomber and recruiter, in the coming information-and-techology wars, where the truth is now suppressed by YouTube, Google and Facebook as they preach about ‘false news’. This is a big deal — and McAfee understood that.

I didn’t come of age with Hunter S. Thompson, though of course like almost every other high-school kid or college student I read him. But this Thompson line immediately jumps to mind when I think of McAfee: ‘One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.’ God doesn’t make many of these guys. When he does, he never takes them back. John McAfee is beyond the great blue yonder now, aboard his eternal freedom boat to sea, a drink in hand, still searching for that great white whale to fuck.

RTWT

18 Feb 2021

Rush Limbaugh, 12 January 1951 — 17 February 2021

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Melania Trump presented Rush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Back in 2004, when Ronald Reagan died, his casket was carried in the hearse up the winding Simi Valley roads to his presidential library where the burial site was waiting. For 25 miles the narrow roads were lined with crowds of people standing in tribute to the former president. I recall one woman was holding up a large sign which bore the simple message: “Well Done.”

Rush Limbaugh was undoubtedly the greatest spokesman of Conservatism after Reagan, and I think the same sign would be equally applicable to Rush.

Ossa molliter cubent. “May the earth lay lightly on his bones.”

———————–

Mark Steyn put it rightly, paraphrasing Rush’s favorite line: “Talent returned to God.”

08 Dec 2020

Chuck Yaeger, 1923-2020

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Brigadier General Charles Elwood Yaeger, WWII Ace and the pioneering test pilot who became the first man to break the sound barrier passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 97.

Yeager was chosen for the most dangerous and innovative test assignments because he was considered the best instinctive pilot the Air Force authorities had ever seen and because he had demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to remain calm and focused in stressful situations.

———————-


On December 10, 1963, then Colonel Chuck Yeager flying a modified Lockheed F-104 Starfighter equipped with a liquid fuel rocket engine narrowly escaped death when his aircraft went out of control at 108,700 feet.

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