Tag archive for "Dead Person of the Day"

National Obituary Review, The Written Word

DPD Emeritus: Prince – A Remembrance

No Comments 21 April 2016

Needless to say, sad day here at The Shade HQ. On the heels of Bowie and Toussaint I found myself asking ‘When is enough, enough?’. I paced around the house for hours chasing shadows. Not even Mingus could help me sort things out. I found myself in my rocking chair, cat on my lap, wrestling with the same questions about the passage of time we all do. What the fuck?

I can distinctly remember Prince at every transitional point in my formative years. Starting with Linda. I was 14 and had no job with parents that wanted me out of the house. The idea of a few bucks in my pocket seemed appealing. It was early Spring and my pal Steve had a job filing at some small potatoes appraisal company. By small potatoes I mean the business was run out of a slowly falling apart converted home with a pile of concrete in the back lot.

I had no idea what filing was really but Steve was starting baseball season and leaving the job. I could walk right in and take over. All mine. A few hours a couple of days after school and I’d get $40 a week. Big money. Believe it or not that was plenty back then.

I showed up, got the walk through from some dude that worked there:

  1. When you come in there’ll be a stack of files there
  2. You take them, sort them alphabetically, by name of client,
  3. Then put them in those cabinets over here.

Pretty easy. I was on my way. Then a curve ball. A file with no client name. Back then my problem solving skills weren’t what they are today.  I heard some conversation from the front room so I figured I’d check it out and ask my question

I come around the corner and see these women really hootin’ and hollerin’ with the stereo way up. I guess they didn’t hear me coming because as I approached I startled them. One of the women – Linda – caught my attention. While she was probably 50 she was all dolled up with tight jeans and dancing practically out of her seat. She had teased, dyed blond hair that would have been stark white otherwise and plenty of make-up. Lip liner, TONS of lip liner.

Without the slightest interest in answering my question she asked me if I was into Prince as she turned the volume up on the CD she was listening to. I wasn’t but I sure as hell wanted to be. At that time in my life I was into Kurt Cobain and the teen angst that came along with that. Back then, at no point did it occur to me that girls listen to music and get all hyped. At that point, and moving forward, it did – thanks to Prince. So I looked into him.

National Obituary Review

Allen Toussaint – A Remembrance (RIP)

No Comments 10 November 2015

When you talk about heavy hitters in the music that is most influential in my life you don’t get any heavier than Allen Toussaint.

The first time I came in contact with Toussaint and his music was a fortuitous coincidence. Many moons ago on my first trip to NOLA for Jazz Fest I was instructed by a very nice vagrant women in the Quarter that it was in my best interest to catch Toussaint’s show at some bar down on Frenchman street that night. Always up for adventure and never one to turn down advice from a vagrant I grabbed some shrimp and looked the place up.

The name of the place escapes me now but I CAN tell you it was a hole-in-the-wall place that seated MAYBE 30 people. To my surprise the place was PACKED. Luckily they had a tiny bar/anteroom at the front of the venue that was simulcasting the show on a few TVs that were non-strategically placed. Waves of people were milling around, getting drunk and excited for the show. All shapes, sizes, ages & colors (in true New Orleans fashion).

Everything was both starting to make sense and getting more confusing. As I mentioned the advice of a vagrant had never let me down. But when I caught a glimpse of Toussaint on the TVs as he was warming up I was somewhat perplexed that SO MANY people were turning out to see this old guy play piano by himself. I wasn’t very bright back then and have made little improvements since. Either way I did have that thought.

The next 2 hours were one of the handful of live performances that I will remember until the day I die. I got to see him the next afternoon at Jazzfest too. It was a hairy conglomeration of all the different sounds I was into at the moment but listening to separately. Jazz, blues, funk and heavy, heavy beats & rhythm. I was hooked.

Of course, the more I investigated I learned about The Meters and I’ve been enjoying the audio bath ever since.

The other somewhat notable memory of Allen Toussaint happened in Disney World of all places. I was subjected to that rat’s nest for a work conference many years ago. Three nights into the trip I was at a dinner with some colleagues and clients at a middling Italian restaurant. Not much to tell here other than I had about 7 of those small Sutter Home bottles of red and told a few off color stories.

After dinner I snuck off to one of those piano bars where two pianos face each other and the two pianists sort of ‘battle’. You know what I mean? Anyways, at least this place had liquor so my companion and I immediately ordered a few rounds of 1800. I was feeling good and full of zest.

The pianists were smug and putting together the worst list of music I’d ever heard. So I did what any of you would have done and started heckling. Well, to be fair, I was just aggressively suggesting they mix up their playlist of crap and include a few Allen Toussaint songs. I was also sitting in the front row….maybe 10 feet away from these guys. And I was drunk, so do the math.

Their shitty set went on as did my insistence on a Toussaint tune. Things boiled to a head and one of the guys stopped and asked what my ‘problem’ was. So I told him that as a professional pianist he should be more than happy to play a Toussaint song. His response was that he’d never heard of Allen Toussaint. Needless to say I didn’t leave at his insistence. I left in disgust.

I come out of this with a few conclusions:

  1. Allen Toussaint is a legend
  2. Assholes are everywhere
  3. Particularly in Disney

RIP Allen Toussaint and thanks for everything


National Obituary Review

DPD – B.B. King

No Comments 15 May 2015


We lost a good one yesterday. I was up late stretching and listening to Charlie Mingus when the fax came through. As soon as I read the message my blood ran cold – “The King Is Dead”.

I was spooked. I didn’t know what to do so I reached for the Laphroaig (15 year), flipped the Mingus record and laid down on the floor.

I didn’t sleep a wink. I couldn’t shake the feeling that things were slipping away. When Mingus had finished I tried to put on Singin’ the Blues but when the needle hit the sound was too jarring, the wound too raw. So I put on The Birth of Cool hoping Miles would numb the pain. Then it hit me.

Back in the 1950s the lifeblood of American culture pulsed through juke joints, country dance halls and back alley nightclubs. In such locales B.B. cut his teeth and made his contribution. King plugged into the current spawned from 1957′s release of The Birth of Cool. It was a different flavor but it all tasted similar. Coltrane was in that recipe. So was James Brown, Otis Redding, George Clinton and Michael Jackson (pre all that weird shit).

Hell, as a country we’ve been wading in this current for the past half century. Now the stream is dry and we’re out of ideas so Ryan Seacrest fills the void. Sure, we’ve had ebbs and flows since. Vogues in-and-out of style. But every so often you’d see B.B. (or Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf) and it was like an omniscient face smack reminding you where it all came from.

By his own admission, King could not play chords well and always relied on improvisation. In a time where curriculums and career paths are over curated it makes you wonder if true creativity can still thrive.

The flag is flying at half mast today at The Shade HQ.

Not surprisingly those quacks over at the NYTs contributed a steaming poop for a memorial to The King. So do yourself a favor and read the Chicago Tribune’s.


National Obituary Review

DPD: January 3rd – Ivan Mackerle

No Comments 03 February 2015


The wait is over. You’ve flooded our inbox enough. We get it. You CAN’T live with out DPDs. So, we’re happy to reinstate. We thought it nice to get kicked off with a bang and focus on the world of Cryptozoology and Ivan Mackerle

Mackerle was an interesting bloke interested in:

  • Obscure military vehicles
  • Voltage
  • Wenceslas Square
  • Rare animals – most notably the Mongolian Death Worm

Upon graduation from university Mackerle had a brief stint hawking gyros in Prague while moonlighting as a foot sniffer for the Czech aristocracy to make extra money.

Once he had amassed a small fortune from his olfactory racket he hit the road in search of the Mongolian Death Worm. He made 2 trips in total. Other than contracting a bad case of athlete’s foot the first trip was fruitless. However his second trip in 1992 was a bit more interesting.

Upon arrival at a Buddhist Monastery he was warned that the Death Worm had ‘supernatural evil’ that not even Sly Stallone could tame (it was the early 90s, Sly was HUGE). Unaffected Mackerle pushed on.

After his first day of pursuit, Mackerle awoke convinced he was close. He recalled having a vivid dream about the worm, and states that he woke up with unexplained blood-filled boils on his back. Convinced it wasn’t his night terrors he carried on.

But I’ll stop there and let Crytozoology Digest take over with Ivan’s obit.

Come get your obits while their hot you animals!

National Obituary Review

DPD Emeritus – L. Ron Hubbard & A Lament

No Comments 23 January 2014


We’ve got a special one today. Everyone’s favorite lunatic – the venerable L. Ron Hubbard.

Hubbard called Dianetics “a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his invention of the wheel and the arch”

While we’re still not sure if he meant the golden arches of McDonalds or the architectural convention that sure is one hell of an understatement.

We here at The Shade have modeled our ‘auditing’ process after Hubbard’s innovative approach. Although no one on staff has a mental capacity even approaching Hubbard’s. So, our ‘auditing’ process usually breaks down into laughing fits when one of the involved parties breaks wind. It never fails, given the junk food in the snack basket here at the office.

Hubbard and his works are a close personal passion for Reins. He moonlights as a black market expert on Hubbard’s early art (circa 1949-1957). On a cheese snarling expedition years ago, Reins came across an old mom n’ pop consignment shop somewhere in Burma. Or was it Columbus? No matter.

The sharp eye of Reins spotted a Hubbard original leaning behind a Shasteen mirror and amongst a scourge of yapping Jack Russell terriers. Risking life and limb he leaned in and plucked the piece virtually from obscurity.

The spaceship had the off-black lacquer mystique. The genitals of Xenu were just right and Hubbard’s stylized signature could not be mistaken.

Knowing what he had, and always the consummate professional, Reins played it cool. He sifted through the Paul Anka vinyl. He surveyed the second hand women’s jackets selection for T.W.

After a spell the Jack Russells were too much for any sane human to have to deal with so,  he proceeded to check out.

The girl behind the counter was young, pale and thin…sickly. The piece being 42′x65′ was awkward for her to handle. Not able to find a price she said “This is a new one…not priced yet. Let me just check on that”. Reins, not want to leave anything to chance threw 3 balled up $20s on the counter trying to stop the inquiry. But it was too late.

She was already in the doorway talking to “Gill”. A pudgy, ruddy faced squat man rushed to the doorway and snatched the piece. Sweating, Gill said “No, no…this made its way on the floor by accident”. He looked at Reins shaking his head and said “Sorry, this isn’t for sale”.

With that, he turned and faded away into the jaundiced light of whatever happens behind closed doors in places like that.

Rein’s hopes were dashed. Another Hubbard original had slipped through his fingers. After scribbling a few notes in his field guide he headed to his El Camino to enjoy his last cheese stick before the Motel 6.

So, while we celebrate L. Ron’s very special DPD nomination today, it is with mixed emotions that yours truly laments the missing Hubbard original that could be hanging above our commode. Not to mention another crack in Rein’s fragile mental well-being.

L. Ron’s Obit from January 1986

National Obituary Review

Dead person of the day – January 2 – Ian McKeever

No Comments 02 January 2014


After the NOR staff took a well earned, end-of-year vacation we’re back. It’s true. We feel rejuvenated. Those jerks down the hall at The Shade gave us a bigger office, less oversight and even replenished the K-Cup tree.

Needless to say we’re all excited. But enough about us, lets talk about dead people.

Ian McKeever. A real go-getter and a personal favorite of that nice young man Reins.

An Irish international, moutaineer and devoted member to the human race. In 2004, McKeever set the Five Peaks Challenge world record, climbing and descending all five peaks in 16 hours 16 minutes. He climbed the 26 peaks of the island of Ireland in 98 hours in 2006. McKeever broke the world record for the Seven Summits Challenge in 2007, climbing the highest summit on each of the seven continents in 155 days, 32 less than the previous record

At the very least he should have gotten a trophy with a cool guy on it.

He had one hell of an ending. It makes me wonder what would have happened to those humans building the Tower of Babylon had they reached the heavens and not been scattered by the wrath of God.

Cheers to you Ian.

Adventurer Ian McKeever is killed by lightning on Kilimanjaro

RECORD-breaking mountain climber and adventurer Ian McKeever was tragically killed on Africa’s highest mountain after being struck by lightning. Continue

National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day – May 29 – Doc Watson

No Comments 28 May 2013


We’re getting back to DPDs this week with a piping hot American legend – Doc Watson.

Mr. Watson, who came to national attention during the folk music revival of the early 1960s, injected a note of authenticity into a movement awash sniveling pip squeaks nasally singing protest songs and other whiney bullcrap. In a sweetly resonant, slightly husky baritone, he sang old hymns, ballads and country blues he had learned growing up in the northwestern corner of North Carolina, which has produced fiddlers, banjo pickers, perverts and the finest gumballs for generations.

Let Mr. Watson be an inspiration to us all. You see, when he was still an infant an eye infection left him blind. He labored on with his studies at the Raleigh School for the Blind bu dropped out of  in the seventh grade and began working for his father, who helped him get past his disability. “I would not have been worth the salt that went in my bread if my dad hadn’t put me at the end of a crosscut saw to show me that there was not a reason in the world that I couldn’t pull my own weight and help to do my part in some of the hard work,” he told Frets magazine in 1979.

Just think about the coddling whippersnappers today enjoy. Doc was goddam blind and his father put him on the end of a crosscut saw. If he get hurt he was taught to follow Studs Terkel’s advice and ‘walk it off’. This was back when people wanted to buy American products you see. But I digress….

His mountain music came as a revelation to the folk audience, as did his virtuoso guitar playing. Unlike most country and bluegrass musicians, who thought of the guitar as a secondary instrument for providing rhythmic backup, Mr. Watson executed the kind of flashy, rapid-fire melodies normally played by a fiddle or a banjo. His style influenced a generation of young musicians learning to play the guitar as folk music achieved national popularity.

Here’s to you Doc. Your ‘can-do’ attitude, humility and gusto are sorely missed these days.

Doc Watson, Blind Guitar Wizard Who Influenced Generations, Dies at 89

Published: May 29, 2012

Doc Watson, the guitarist and folk singer whose flat-picking style elevated the acoustic guitar to solo status in bluegrass and country music, and whose interpretations of traditional American music profoundly influenced generations of folk and rock guitarists, died on Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was 89.  Continue

National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day – April 23 – James Critchfield

No Comments 23 April 2013


James Critchfield is an American anomaly. Well decorated from noble service during WWII he was the architect of one of the most bone-headed moves in post war reconstruction as well as ruthlessly exploiting his knowledge of middle eastern energy inside circles for private gain in his later life. Let’s start from the top eh?

Because of his bravery and quick wit he was promoted quickly during WWI and was one of the youngest colonels, leading the 2nd Battalion of 141st Infantry of the 36th Infantry Division. He won the Bronze Star twice, and the Silver Star for gallantry in resisting a German assault on December 12, 1944. Then, things got a little hairy.

In the chaos of post war Germany he was picked by the CIA to collaborate with Hitler’s suddenly unemployed spies in a project to boost America’s espionage against the Soviet bloc. The people Critchfield hired were ex SS or Gestapo lunatics that had been spying on the Soviets for the better part of 2 decades so he figured they’d be a good source of info. So, Critchfield worked out a deal where Washington was funding a rogue organization of Nazis empowering them to continue their spy operation against Russia (virtually unsupervised) after they had been captured. Some would describe that as somewhat of a black-eye on American foreign policy.

What’s worse is his shady dealings with middle eastern energy cliques which he parlayed into a private consultancy after his service for the good ole U.S. of A. But I’ll leave that for the obit to handle.

Pull up your tube socks and grab an obit!

James Critchfield

A CIA agent, he worked with Hitler’s former spies in a disastrous project to undermine the Soviet bloc. Read the obit


National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day – April 19 – Scott Crossfield

No Comments 19 April 2013


Today’s DPD – Scott Crossfield – is one hell of an American and someone that really captured the essence of this country at its best. An aeronautical engineer, he’d hurl himself through space faster than the speed of sound, make one heck of a fried egg and think it was all in a days work. Humble as they come, for sure. Do yourself a favor and read this obit and try not to do 10 push-ups when you’re done.

Famed aviator Scott Crossfield dies in plane crash


Published 10:00 pm, Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Scott Crossfield, the University of Washingtongraduate who was the first man to fly at twice the speed of sound, was found dead Thursday in the wreckage of his single-engine plane in Georgia.

Crossfield, 84, dueled with Chuck Yeagera half century ago in piloting rocket-powered aircraft. He helped design and then piloted the X-15 rocket plane. He was a legend to aeronautic students at the UW, but he considered his cutting-edge career an ordinary profession. Continue

National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day – April 18 – Edgar Codd

No Comments 18 April 2013


Today’s DPD is a wonderfully brilliant and underrated figure in the history of just about everything over the past 60+ years.

Edgar Codd.

While working at IBM in the 50s and 60s he developed the theory for what is called relational databases. That might not mean very much for the stiffs down the hall at The Shade but relational databases empowers those perverts to search for such things as ‘people with their pants down looking stupid’ and get a spot on hit.

You see prior to Codd’s invention the internet looking like Zoroaster puked data in one big bucket. It was tough to sift through and actually find what you want. Codd enabled databases to cross-reference tables of data, allowing the information to be presented in multiple permutations.

Sadly, at the time IBM was focused on creating different types of databases and cast Codd’s work into the shit bin. It wasn’t until the late 70s until IBM’s new leadership embraced the approach. By that point a Silicon Valley entrepreneur had used used Codd’s academic papers to further develop the theory which eventually served as the basis for the company now known as Oracle.

All this basically means Codd helped us harness the power of the internet and created technology still heavily used today and received diddly squat for it.


Edgar F. Codd, 79, Dies; Key Theorist of Databases


Published: April 23, 2003
Edgar F. Codd, a mathematician and computer scientist who laid the theoretical foundation for relational databases, the standard method by which information is organized in and retrieved from computers, died on Friday at his home in Williams Island, Fla. He was 79. Continue

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