Sunday, January 08, 2017

8.7 - RIPs of 2016

RIPs of 2016

Next, we're going to run through the RIPs we did this year. We don't do a lot of them; usually it's for someone with who I feel some sort of connection, even if it's just a 60s generational one. Be that as it may, these are the folks whose passing we noted during 2016:

John Trudell, Native American activist, poet, and author. It's a shame he didn't get to see the movement at Standing Rock.

The artist David Bowie, who I call "the artist" because it seems much too limiting to call him a musician or a singer.

Alan Rickman, a fine actor who I think was generally underappreciated for most of his career.

Glenn Frey, a founding member of The Eagles.

Paul Kantner, a founding member of Jefferson Airplane and later Jefferson Starship.

Signe Toly Anderson died the same day as Paul Kantner. That's someone you likely do not know. She was the original lead singer of Jefferson Airplane but quit the business because she didn't want to take her infant child on the road to tour. She was replaced by Grace Slick.

I also did an RIP not for a person but for an organization. Al-Jazeera America closed its doors in 2016. Al-Jazeera is an internationally-respected news organization that thought that in addition to news with an American slant or maybe a European slant, Americans might be interested in news with an Arab slant, a view of how the world looks when looking from the Middle East rather than at the Middle East. It was probably a foolish enterprise from the start.

Another RIP this year was for Keith Emerson. If you don’t know the name, think Emerson, Lake & Palmer. If you still don’t know, look him up on YouTube because you are missing something. He was one of the finest keyboardists of his generation.

Another loss was that of Ben Bagdikian. Again a name you might not know but if you were in journalism, you would. He was perhaps best known to most as author of The Media Monopoly, a book about how a small number of corporations controlled the majority of US print and broadcast media. In the first edition, in 1983, there were 50 such corporations. By the time of the last edition in 2004, the number had shrunk to five.

Patty Duke, who I assume needs no identification, died last year.

We also lost Dan Berrigan. Priest, poet, playwright, philosopher, but best known as protester, he and his younger brother Phil were perhaps the most - and surely among the most - notorious antiwar protesters of the 1960s.

I had another RIP that was not for a person. This one was for a career as Vin Scully announced his retirement after 60 years of broadcasting baseball. Since I grew up listening to him do Brooklyn Dodgers games in the 1950s, I had to note the ending.

Another name you won’t know is John Zacherley, or Zacherley, or Zach, as he was known. He was “the cool ghoul,” and he essentially invented the sort of TV program showing old scifi or horror movies hosted by a zombie or a vampire or an alien or whatever who would do some sort of shtick through the show. Everyone from Elvira to the Crypt Keeper in Tales from the Crypt to the gang at Mystery Science Theater 3000 to all the local cable access hosts doing such shows around the country, all of them can to at least some degree trace their roots to John Zacherley.

Finally there was singer/songwriter/composer Leonard Cohen.

There were two other people who died last year but for some reason I missed doing doing the RIPs I should have done for them, so I wanted to mention them here quickly. Muhammad Ali died in 2016, as did Arnold Palmer.

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