Monday, December 19, 2011

What's Wrong With Me? Don't you have any respect for the dead?

This is the time of year when we are supposed to look back and wax nostalgic about people and events that have passed.  As I grow older, more and more the great giants, names that accompanied me throughout my lifetime for good or bad, have gone to the other world.  Usually there is at least one name each year who influenced me, be it politician or poet.

But this year, there was no such name in the news.  After scouring the NYT and Washington Post pages for deceased notables, I could find no one who had much influence on me at all.  Sure, there were those who were giants in their industry, but none that made me pause and reflect, including Bin Laden (especially Bin Laden).  Be that as it may, there are a few that bear recognition, at least from my perspective.  In alphabetical order:

James Arness.  How in the world is the world going to be safe without Marshall Matt Dillon?  Even today when I need something to fall asleep to, I'll look for Gunsmoke.  I enjoy seeing future stars in their guest appearances on the show, like Kurt Russell as a little boy.  Countless hours spent as a kid patrolling the neighborhood with my cap pistol ready to stand tall like Mr. Dillon. 

David Broder.  Pulitzer Prize winner, columnist, pundit.  It was my pleasure to meet and share lunch with Mr. Broder on several occasions when he would be a guest speaker at a small college where I worked.  I miss his segments on the Bob Edwards Show (XM-NPR).  A little more conservative than me, but a really nice guy with a great objectivity and knowledge of goings on inside of the beltway and a great conversationalist over a glass of wine.

Joe Frazier.   Heavyweight Champion of the World.  Nobody my age can forget the Thrilla In Manilla where Smokin' Joe knocked out Mohammed Ali.  No live television back then.  We all huddled around the radio hanging on every word.  Never met the man and don't know much about him but by all accounts a "nice guy" in a brutal sport.

Steve Jobs.  Here's a guy who had  influence over me whether I liked it or not.  If I never hear another Apple groupie extol the virtues of Macs over Windows again it will be too soon. Those people who rave over how much better Macs are fall into two categories, games and graphics.  Those who do business in the real world need an open source operating system that communicates and cooperates with everyone else.  Apple never quite seemed to figure that out.  But they do make fine toys.  I like my iPhone.

Andy Rooney.  'Nuff said.  Entertaining and insightful enough to make you sit through ten-minutes of obnoxious commercials to catch his three-minute segments.

Elizabeth Taylor.  This obituary surprised me.  I thought she was already dead.  Few actors have the talent to make you love or hate them like Elizabeth Taylor.  An over-the-top primadonna in an over-the-top period, the last of the big budget studio stars.  Fell in love with her in National Velvet and hated her in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe.  Of course, Cleopatra was one of the great spectacles of all time.

Dan Wheldon.  Champion.  Indianapolis 500 winner.  Died in a horrific crash in the last race of the 2011 Indycar season.  Don't know why, but I really liked the guy.  The first thing you think is, why did it have to happen to such a nice guy?  But then, you have to ask yourself if not him, who?  Racing is a dangerous sport, but so is football.  Comes with the territory.


  1. It's not that you don't have respect for the dead, I imagine you're just like me and only respect them as much as when they were alive.

    Although I will say this: I didn't have much respect for Amy Winehouse, until she was dead and I heard her music.

  2. Of the above I think I will miss Marshall Dillon and Broder the most. I always enjoyed watching both. For two different reasons of course.

    The death that may have the most impact of 2011 might be Kim Jong Il, the insane son of another insane man, Kim Sung Il. And now that Crazed and crazier are gone, it looks like Dumb and Number Grandson will take the reins and guide N. Korea further down the path to insanity. Or not. Time will tell.

  3. The deaths that effect me the most never make a full-page spread in the newspaper, or get a mention in "Time" magazine. The dear friend who succumbs to cancer ... the neighbor who dies in a car accident ... the family members who pass on, one by one, until few are left. Those people are real to me, and their deaths have the most impact on my life. I'm not a celebrity watcher, and so beyond a brief, "That's too bad," when I read about their deaths, I don't grieve, or imagine that their passing has any particular effect on me.

    That being said, MR may be right about Kim Jong Il's death having a major effect on the world, whether we want it to or not.

    Oh yeah, I think Michael Crichton died this year, too. He was one of my favorite writers, so maybe that did effect me a little bit.

  4. Great post!

    The passing Arness affected me the most, the times I watched Gunsmoke with my granddad are still very special to me.

  5. Not that i am immune to death but it is the feeling ones dying leaves in those around them that touches me most. The dead are to this place dead and really don't give shit anymore but them that live through it...

  6. Well, out of respect for the living I must say that Smokin’ Joe never ‘KO’ed’ the Champ. He did hand Ali his first professional loss, in the fight of the Century at Madison Square Garden March 8, 1971, where he knocked Ali down. The victory was by decision. It was only the third time Ali went down, in his career. At the Thrilla, the fight was stopped when Frazier was unable to answer the bell for the 15th and final round (his eyes were swollen closed). Frazier's trainer, Eddie Futch, refused to allow Frazier to continue.

  7. Thank you Punch. It appears you do know where Wikipedia is afterall!

  8. My roll call is more personal than yours, Mr. C, having lost a cousin, an aunt, and a grandfather this past year. Even though I wasn't especially close with any of them, they are all characters in my life story, and their passing makes me realize that I can't take anybody for granted!

    I am making the blog rounds in case I don't have time to check back before the New Year -- hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas!

  9. My roll call was quite personal as well Intelli with the loss of a friend and former spouse (both the same person). This roll call is for celebs only.

  10. I haven't watched 60 Minutes for a long time. I never liked Andy Rooney. It wasn't personal; I just was disappointed when he replaced Point Counterpoint with James Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander.


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