Greeley, Colo., school board member Brett Reese doesn’t understand why anyone would think him a racist just because he repeatedly broadcast a mean-spirited and one-sided text trashing the character of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – a presentation adored by white supremacists everywhere.
For more than two weeks around the Jan. 17 official celebration of King’s birthday, Reese broadcast a 1994 essay by Kevin Alfred Strom called “The Beast as Saint: The Truth About ‘Martin Luther King, Jr.’” on KELS 104.7 FM The Pirate, a low-power radio station Reese owns. The commentary describes King as a plagiarizer, “America-hating communist” and sexual degenerate who didn’t deserve a national holiday. Reese has marked the holiday in the same manner for three years.
Reese has said he aired Strom’s essay not for racial reasons, but only as an exercise in free speech, critical thinking and debate.
This year, Reese’s annoyed fellow board members passed a resolution supporting the King holiday and calling the editorial “inflammatory and detrimental to our district and community.” Greeley’s mayor condemned the broadcasts, and some advertisers withdrew support for the station, according to the Greeley Tribune. But the controversy hardly chastened Reese; rather, he increased the broadcasts of the essay from twice to four times daily.
Condemnation of Reese’s broadcasts reached such intensity that Strom himself came to his defense – to Reese’s apparent chagrin. In an E-mail interview with the Greeley Tribune, Strom advised Reese to “never give up one millimeter of your precious right to free speech.”
Strom has extensive racist, anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi connections. He was a member, and later head, of the National Vanguard, the publishing arm of the white supremacist National Alliance headed by William Pierce – whom the Southern Poverty Law Center described as America’s most important neo-Nazi for some three decades until his death in 2002. Strom’s history with Pierce and the white nationalist movement were detailed in a book by Strom’s ex-wife, Kirsten Kaiser.
Reese rejected Strom’s endorsement. “I’m trying to explain the truth. Facts are facts, and truth is truth, whether it came from a white supremacist website or the Black Panther website.”
But by treating Strom’s essay as settled fact, Reese shows a palpable disinterest in separating fact from fiction. If the tract’s title isn’t evidence enough, Strom plainly states his agenda in the essay’s introduction: “In many countries, revered national heroes were excised from the history books, or their real deeds were distorted to fit Communist ideology, and Communist killers and criminals were converted into official ‘saints.’ Holidays were declared in honor of the beasts who murdered countless nations. Did you know that much the same process has occurred right here in America? … Let’s take a look at [King,] this modern-day plastic god.” Not the typical preamble to a sober, scholarly exposition.
Strom’s one-sided screed is a hash of facts, exaggerations, unsubstantiated or disproven allegations and dubious government “intelligence” from an FBI that under long-time director J. Edgar Hoover had unquestionably undertaken a mission to destroy the civil rights leader’s reputation with embarrassing revelations and, if necessary, fabricated evidence. Strom’s approach to King’s legacy is akin to arguing that Thomas Jefferson doesn’t deserve a place in the pantheon of American heroes because of his suspected decades-long affair with his one-time slave Sally Hemings, with whom he purportedly bore several children, or that Benjamin Franklin’s place in history should be vacated because Franklin himself admitted to so many liaisons with prostitutes and “women of low character” that he considered it a miracle that he never acquired any diseases.
Posthumously, it was determined that King used large sections of published work in his academic writings without crediting the authors. Strom notes, as have other authors, that several of King’s close friends and advisors were known to have communist sympathies, but ignores that no evidence was ever uncovered – despite exhaustive FBI efforts – that linked King or his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to communist organizations or their money.
Multiple sources have attested to King’s sexual proclivities. They include his long-time chief deputy, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, in his 1989 autobiography, “And the Walls Came Tumbling Down,” and former Kentucky State Sen. Georgia Davis Powers, who recounted an ongoing intimate relationship with King in her 1995 autobiography “I Shared the Dream.” But once again, Strom mixes fact with unsubstantiated conjecture – for example, that King brutalized women, and paid for sex with SCLC money.
There is considerable irony in Strom calling King a sexual degenerate: Strom is a Virginia-registered sex offender. In 2008 he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, and served 23 months in prison followed by 15 years of supervised release. He also was charged with attempting to coerce a 10-year-old girl into a sexual relationship by sending her anonymous gifts, driving past her house and writing lyrics to love songs declaring his desire to marry her. U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon threw out those charges for lack of evidence of actual solicitation of sex – but added that Strom, then in his early 50s, had engaged in questionable conduct.
“I think there is overwhelming evidence that [Strom] was sexually drawn to this child, and was obsessing over this child,” Moon said.
“There is considerable irony in Strom calling King a sexual degenerate: Strom is a Virginia-registered sex offender.”
What is really galling is that this human is guilty of crimes of pedophilia yet he throws stones as if he is blemish-free. Add to that, his use of propaganda from J. Edgar Hoover (who harbored a hatred of MLK that bordered on pathological) to shore up his disproven allegations and exaggerations, adds no credibility to his rants.
White supremacists like Strom cannot screech and bleat about purity when it is abominations like them who have through the centuries raped and defiled every non-white race on Earth, ten shades of beige.
Then again, racist haters like Strom have a thing about sex.
Freud, Jung, Adler, and Horney, to name a few, would have a monumental field day with such whack-jobs.
ANIMAL GROUPS: M-Q
A tiding, gulp, murder, tittering, charm of magpies:
A lute, flush, puddling, brace (in general) of mallards:
A sord (in flight) of mallards:
A richness of martens:
A gang, mob, clan of meerkats:
A mischief, horde, harvest of mice:
A bite of midges:
A stream, swarm, shoal of minnows:
A labor, company, movement of moles:
A troop, barrel, carload, cartload, tribe of monkeys:
A herd of moose:
A scourge of mosquitoes:
A fleet of mudhens:
A pack, barren, span, rake of mules:
A watch, route, match of nightingales:
A herd of okapi:
A passel of opossums:
A congress of orangutans:
A flock, herd of ostrich:
A romp, bevy, family, raft of otters:
A parliament of owls:
A team, yoke, drove of oxen:
A bed, culch, hive, cast of oysters:
A company, pandemonium of parrots:
Video of an Orange-winged Amazon saying “Hello” having been prompted by some people. SOURCE
Hmm, Hmm. It’s that time again. Yep, today is National Pie Day. I have already celebrated a week earlier when I prepared from scratch a delicious peach/apricot cobbler.
Have you had your pie today?
R. SARGENT SHRIVER, KENNEDY-IN-LAW AND PEACE CORPS FOUNDING DIRECTOR
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
Published: January 18, 2011
R. Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy in-law who became the founding director of the Peace Corps, the architect of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, a United States ambassador to France and the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1972, died on Tuesday in Bethesda, Md. He was 95.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
R. Sargent Shriver, left, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver greeted the crowd during a swearing-in ceremony for Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003. More Photos »
His family announced his death in a statement.
Mr. Shriver was found to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2003 and on Sunday was admitted to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where he died. He had been in hospice care in recent months after his estate in Potomac, Md., was sold last year.
White-haired and elegantly attired, he attended the inauguration of his son-in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the Republican governor of California in the fall of 2003. Mr. Schwarzenegger is married to Maria Shriver, a former NBC News correspondent.
But in recent years, as his condition deteriorated, Mr. Shriver was seldom seen in public. He emerged in one instance to attend the funeral of his wife of 56 years, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a sister of John F. Kennedy; she died in 2009 in Hyannis, Mass., at the age of 88.
As a Kennedy brother-in-law, Mr. Shriver was bound inextricably to one of the nation’s most powerful political dynasties. It was an association with enormous advantages, thrusting him to prominence in a series of seemingly altruistic missions. But it came with handicaps, relegating him to the political background and to a subordinate role in the family history.
“Shriver’s relationship with the Kennedys was complex,” Scott Stossel wrote in “Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver,” a 2004 biography. “They buoyed him up to heights and achievements he would never otherwise have attained — and they held him back, thwarting his political advancement.”
The book, as well as reports in The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications, suggested that Mr. Shriver’s hopes to run for governor of Illinois in 1960 and vice president in 1964 and 1968 were abandoned to help promote, or at least not compete with, Kennedy aspirations. Mr. Shriver’s vice-presidential race in 1972, on a ticket with Senator George S. McGovern, and a brief primary run for president in 1976 were crushed by the voters.
Mr. Shriver was never elected to any national office. To political insiders, his calls for public service in the 1960s seemed quixotic at a time when America was caught up in a war in Vietnam, a cold war with the Soviet Union and civil rights struggles and urban riots at home. But when the fogs of war and chaos cleared years later, he was remembered by many as a last vestige of Kennedy-era idealism.
“Sarge came to embody the idea of public service,” President Obama said in a statement.
Mr. Shriver’s impact on American life was significant. On the stage of social change for decades, he brought President Kennedy’s proposal for the Peace Corps to fruition in 1961 and served as the organization’s director until 1966. He tapped into a spirit of volunteerism, and within a few years thousands of young Americans were teaching and working on public health and development projects in poorer countries around the world.
After the president’s assassination in 1963, Mr. Shriver’s decision to remain in the Johnson administration alienated many of the Kennedys, especially Robert, who remained as the United States attorney general for months but whose animus toward his brother’s successor was profound. Mr. Shriver’s responsibilities deepened, however. In 1964, Johnson persuaded him to take on the administration’s war on poverty, a campaign embodied in a vast new bureaucracy, the Office of Economic Opportunity.
From 1965 to 1968, Mr. Shriver, who disdained bureaucracies as wasteful and inefficient, was director of that agency, a post he held simultaneously with his Peace Corps job until 1966. The agency created antipoverty programs like Head Start, the Job Corps, Volunteers in Service to America, the Community Action Program and Legal Services for the Poor. (The Office of Economic Opportunity was dismantled in 1973, but many of its programs survived in other agencies.)
In 1968, Johnson named Mr. Shriver ambassador to France. It was a time of strained relations. President Charles de Gaulle had recognized Communist China, withdrawn French forces from NATO’s integrated military command and denounced American involvement in Indochina. But Mr. Shriver established a working rapport with de Gaulle and was credited with helping to improve relations.
Mr. Shriver returned to the United States in 1970 to work for Democrats in the midterm elections and to reassess his own political prospects. His long-awaited break came two years later when Senator McGovern, the Democratic presidential nominee, picked him as his running mate. Mr. McGovern’s first choice, Senator Thomas F. Eagleton, was dropped after revelations that he had received electroshock therapy for depression.
The McGovern-Shriver ticket lost in a landslide to the incumbent Republicans, Richard M. Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew. Four years later, Mr. Shriver ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, pledging a renewal of ethics after the Watergate scandal that drove Nixon from the White House. But Mr. Shriver was knocked out in the primaries and ended his political career.
In later years, he was a rainmaker for an international law firm, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, retiring in 1986. He was also active in the Special Olympics, founded by his wife for mentally disabled athletes, and he continued his work with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, an advocacy organization he founded in Chicago in 1967 as the National Clearinghouse for Legal Services.
In 2008, PBS broadcast a documentary, “American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver.” A children’s book by Maria Shriver, “What’s Happening to Grandpa?,” was published in 2004, explaining the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. In May 2009, HBO presented a four-part documentary on Alzheimer’s. Ms. Shriver was the executive producer of one segment, “Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?”
Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., known as Sarge from childhood, was born in Westminster, Md., on Nov. 9, 1915, the son of his namesake, a banker, and Hilda Shriver. His forebears, called Schreiber, immigrated from Germany in 1721. One ancestor, David Shriver, was a signer of Maryland’s 1776 Constitution. The Shrivers, like the Kennedys, were Roman Catholics and socially prominent, but not especially affluent.
On scholarships, he attended Canterbury, a Catholic boarding prep school in New Milford, Conn. — John F. Kennedy was briefly a schoolmate — and Yale University, graduating with honors in 1938. He earned a Yale law degree in 1941 and joined the Navy shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor, becoming an officer on battleships and submarines in the Atlantic and the Pacific and winning a Purple Heart for wounds he sustained at Guadalcanal.
After the war, he joined Newsweek as an editor. He met Eunice Kennedy at a dinner party, and she introduced him to her father, Joseph P. Kennedy. In 1946, Joseph Kennedy hired him to help manage his recently acquired Merchandise Mart in Chicago, then the world’s largest commercial building. In Chicago, Mr. Shriver not only turned a profit for the mart but also plunged into Democratic politics.
After a seven-year courtship, Mr. Shriver and Ms. Kennedy were married by Cardinal Francis Spellman at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York in 1953.
In addition to his daughter, Maria, Mr. Shriver’s survivors include four sons, Robert Sargent Shriver III of Santa Monica, Calif.; Timothy, of Chevy Chase, Md.; Mark, of Bethesda, Md.; and Anthony, of Miami; and 19 grandchildren.
Mr. Shriver’s relationships with the Kennedys were widely analyzed by the news media, not least because of his own political potential. He looked like a movie star, with a flashing smile, dark hair going gray and the kind of muscled, breezy athleticism that went with tennis courts and sailboats. Like the Kennedys, he was charming but not self-revealing, a quick study but not reflective. Associates said he could be imperious, but his knightly public image became indelible.
He took root in Chicago. In 1954, he was appointed to the city’s Board of Education, and a year later became its president. In 1955, he also became president of the Catholic Interracial Council, which fought discrimination in housing, education and other aspects of city life. By 1959, he had become so prominent in civic affairs that he was being touted as a Democratic candidate for governor of Illinois in 1960.
Mr. Shriver did nothing to discourage reports that he was considering a run. But with the rest of the Kennedy clan, he joined John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign. As he and other family members acknowledged later, the patriarch, Joseph Kennedy, had told him that a separate Shriver race that year would be a distraction. So he resigned from the Chicago school board and became a campaign coordinator in Wisconsin and West Virginia and a principal contact with minorities.
As the election approached, the campaign learned that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been sentenced in Georgia to four months of hard labor for what amounted to a minor traffic violation. Mr. Shriver suggested that Senator Kennedy call a distraught Coretta Scott King, who was terrified that her husband might be killed in prison. His reassuring call, and another by Robert F. Kennedy to a judge in Georgia that led to Dr. King’s release, helped produce a windfall of black support for Kennedy.
Senator Kennedy broached the idea for a volunteer corps in a speech at the University of Michigan and crystallized it as the Peace Corps in an appearance in San Francisco. Mr. Shriver, who as a young man had guided American students on work-and-learn programs in Europe, seemed a natural to initiate it.
After the inauguration, Mr. Shriver, who scouted talent for the incoming administration — people who came to be known as “the best and the brightest” — was assigned to the task of designing the Peace Corps, which was established by executive order in March 1961.
As director, he laid the foundations for what arguably became the most lasting accomplishment of the Kennedy presidency. As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary this year, more than 200,000 Americans have served as corps volunteers in 139 countries.
Break mirrors, Mr. Shriver advised graduating students at Yale in 1994. “Yes, indeed,” he said. “Shatter the glass. In our society that is so self-absorbed, begin to look less at yourself and more at each other. Learn more about the face of your neighbor and less about your own.”
PAUL PICERNI, ACTOR IN ‘THE UNTOUCHABLES’
By DENNIS HEVESI
Published: January 20, 2011
Paul Picerni, a prolific television and screen actor best known as Agent Eliot Ness’s right-hand man in the hit 1960s series “The Untouchables,” died on Jan. 12 at his home in Llano, Calif. He was 88.
ABC, via Photofest
Paul Picerni, left, and Robert Stack appeared in “The Untouchables” from 1959 to 1963.
The cause was a heart attack, his manager, John Gloske, saWhen Agent Ness, played by Robert Stack, burst through the doors of a Prohibition-era speakeasy in Chicago, just a step behind him was his stocky, jet-black-haired sidekick, Lee Hobson, portrayed by Mr. Picerni (pronounced pitch-ER-nee).
Hobson was quiet, determined and fiercely loyal to his boss — a far cry from the gangster that Mr. Picerni had played in the show’s pilot episode in 1959. “The Untouchables,” based on an actual team of federal law-enforcement agents in the 1930s, ran on ABC for four seasons, with Mr. Picerni as Agent Hobson for the last three.
In a career that spanned nearly four decades, Mr. Picerni appeared in more than 60 movies and 450 television shows. His best-known film character was the romantic young man in the 1953 horror movie “House of Wax,” one of the first 3-D productions by a major studio. In the lead, Vincent Price plays a sculptor with a wax museum in 1910s New York whose hands are scarred by fire and turns to pouring wax over people to create his works. Mr. Picerni saves the day at the end, telling the police where the deranged sculptor has imprisoned the leading lady.
Among Mr. Picerni’s other film credits are “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure” (1979), “Airport” (1970), “Marjorie Morningstar (1958), “Torpedo Run” (1958), “To Hell and Back” (1955), “Adventures of Hajji Baba” (1954), “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima” (1952) and “Operation Pacific” (1951).
His television credits include appearances on “Kojak,” “Mannix,” “Gunsmoke,” “Adam-12,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Perry Mason,” “Rawhide,” “Bonanza,” “Zorro” and “The Millionaire.”
Horace Paul Picerni was born on Dec. 1, 1922, in Corona, Queens, to Fabrizio and Nicoletta Picerni. His father was a water meter reader for New York City.
After high school, Mr. Picerni enlisted in the Army Air Forces and served as a bombardier in Asia during World War II. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles as a drama major in 1950 and was soon hired by the Los Angeles Rams as their halftime master of ceremonies, a job he held for 30 years.
Before graduating, he had been cast in a small role in the war movie “Breakthrough.” That led to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers, including his role in “House of Wax.”
Mr. Picerni is survived by his wife of 64 years, the former Marie Mason; three sons, Charles, Paul and Phillip; three daughters, Gemma Salona, Maria Atkinson-Bates and Gina Picerni; a brother, Charles; three sisters, Paula Picerni, Eleanor Tamburro and Marilyn Cuchario; 10 grandchildren; and 4 great-grandchildren.
In his autobiography, “Steps to Stardom” (2007), written with Tom Weaver, Mr. Picerni offered advice to budding actors: “Give stars their due.”
“Don’t challenge them,” he continued. “Learn from them. If they’re generous to you, you be loyal to them. Don’t step on their toes.”
DON KIRSHNER, SHAPER OF HIT RECORDS
By BEN SISARIO
Published: January 18, 2011
Don Kirshner, the music publisher of Brill Building hits like “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,’ ” who later served as a deadpan Ed Sullivan for Kiss, the Ramones and others with his 1970s television show, “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” died on Monday in Boca Raton, Fla., where he lived. He was 76.
Don Kirshner in 1976.
William “PoPsie” Randolph
From left, Don Kirshner, Al Nevins, Little Eva, Gerry Goffin and Carole King in 1962, promoting Little Eva’s song “The Loco-Motion,” written by the Goffin-King team.
The cause was heart failure, his family said.
The Brill Building age of pop, named after the Manhattan building where many of its songwriters labored, lasted from the mid-1950s to the mid-’60s and is celebrated for the people behind its innocently aching music: producers like Phil Spector, writing teams like Carole King and Gerry Goffin (“The Loco-Motion”).
But the guiding force behind many of those people was Mr. Kirshner, whose hustle, hit-trained ear and good timing helped shape pop in the days when Tin Pan Alley’s song-craft traditions were being mingled with the rhythms of rock.
As a pioneering musical matchmaker, Mr. Kirshner discovered many of the era’s best songwriters, prodded them for hits and shopped the results to top artists. Later in the 1960s he married bubblegum to television with two manufactured, semifictitious bands: the Monkees and the cartoon Archies.
“He had a great sense of commerciality and song, the ability to hear a song and know it’s a hit,” said Charles Koppelman, a veteran music executive who began his career in Mr. Kirshner’s company, Aldon.
Yet to music fans who came of age in the 1970s and ’80s, Mr. Kirshner is best known as the leisure-suited, monotonous host of the syndicated “Rock Concert,” which from 1973 to 1982 presented live performances by Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Sex Pistols, David Bowie and Ted Nugent, among many others.
Unlike “American Bandstand” and other early TV rock shows, on which performers lip-synched their music or played a song or two in a sterile studio, “Rock Concert” featured full, loud performances in an arena or club setting. In his spoken introductions, however, Mr. Kirshner often seemed strangely out of place, as if he barely knew the acts he was introducing — which was sometimes the case.
“Someone once told me I had to put on Alice Cooper,” he recalled in a 2004 interview with The Washington Post. “I said, ‘Well, is she any good?’ ”
Donald Kirshner was born in the Bronx on April 17, 1934, the son of a tailor. He had hopes of being a songwriter, and got his start in the music business when he met a brash young singer named Robert Cassotto at a candy store in Washington Heights. They became partners, working on jingles and pop ditties (their first: “Bubblegum Pop”), but their collaboration ended after Mr. Cassotto — under his new stage name, Bobby Darin — scored a hit in 1958 with “Splish Splash,” which he wrote without Mr. Kirshner.
That year Mr. Kirshner founded Aldon with Al Nevins, who had played in a successful instrumental group, the Three Suns. Mr. Kirshner and Mr. Nevins opened an office at 1650 Broadway — a block away from 1619 Broadway, the Brill Building — and soon signed two struggling songwriters, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. By 1962 they had 18 writers on staff.
The list of Aldon alumni includes Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Neil Diamond, Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. To some degree the company operated as an assembly line: teams of writers in piano cubicles churned out songs that would be recorded immediately, as demos or sometimes as finished productions.
In 1963 Mr. Kirshner and Mr. Nevins sold Aldon to Screen Gems, a Columbia Pictures subsidiary, for more than $2 million, and moved to a luxe new office on Fifth Avenue. Meanwhile, with the arrival of the Beatles, the American pop landscape was shifting toward bands that wrote their own material. Mr. Nevins died in 1965.
Yet one of Mr. Kirshner’s biggest achievements was in some ways an adaptation to the Beatles era. In 1966 he was hired to put together the music for the Monkees, a Beatles-y group assembled by television executives. Mr. Kirshner commissioned songs from many of the best Aldon songwriters, like Mr. Diamond (“I’m a Believer”) and the Goffin-King team (“Pleasant Valley Sunday”).
When tensions arose with the band, Mr. Kirshner moved on to the Archies, an animated version of the clean-cut comic strip. “I want a band that won’t talk back,” Mr. Kirshner later said.
The Archies’ music, performed by uncredited studio musicians, brought bubblegum to the pinnacle of its success: its still-ubiquitous “Sugar, Sugar” was the best-selling song of 1969.
In 1972 Mr. Kirshner began to work with ABC on a live performance show, “In Concert”; he left that show the next year to begin “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” which had its premiere in September 1973 with the Rolling Stones. In the 1970s Mr. Kirshner also continued his work as a music executive, signing the band Kansas (“Carry On Wayward Son,” “Dust in the Wind”) to his CBS-affiliated Kirshner label, but by the early 1980s he had retired.
He is survived by his wife, Sheila; his son, Ricky Kirshner, a producer of the Tony Awards show; his daughter, Daryn Lewis; and five grandchildren.
Though he began his career as a songwriter, Mr. Kirshner said he realized early that he was better at recognizing talent in others than at creating the work itself.
“My idols were people like Walt Disney, and I feel that what he did with Pinocchio and Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse I had the ability to do in my own right — build the stars as a star maker,” he told The New Yorker in 1993. “And maybe it’s because, you know, I don’t read or write music — and I guess I live vicariously through these people, ’cause I don’t have the talent myself — but, you know, I’m the man with the golden ear.”
REMMY ONGALA, TANZANIAN MUSICAL STAR
By JON PARELES
Published: January 16, 2011
In 1990, as the AIDS epidemic was gathering strength in Africa, the Tanzanian songwriter, singer, guitarist and bandleader Remmy Ongala released an ebullient dance track called “Mambo Kwa Soksi” (“Things With Socks”). Its lyrics called for men to use condoms (“socks”) to prevent AIDS, and it stirred up controversy; Radio Tanzania refused to play it.
Remmy Ongala leading his band Orchestre Super Matimila in New York in 1989.
Mr. Ongala died on Dec. 13 at his home in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. He was 63. His death was announced on the Web site of Real World Records, for which he recorded. No cause was specified.
He was a superstar in East Africa, and in the 1980s and 1990s he reached European and American audiences with albums for Real World, a label founded by Peter Gabriel, and international tours that included many appearances at Mr. Gabriel’s Womad (World of Music and Dance) festivals. He jokingly called himself “sura mbaya” (“ugly face”), but fans gave him the honorific “Doctor.”
Ramadhani Mtoro Ongala, nicknamed Remmy, was born in 1947 in what was then the Belgian Congo (later Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). His hometown, Kindu, is near the Tanzanian border. After both parents died, Mr. Ongala started working as a musician in his teens, playing drums and guitar in the Congolese style called soukous: dance music with intertwined guitar lines and an Afro-Cuban lilt. As he sang with bands in Zaire and Uganda, he was already writing songs with messages.
In 1978 he moved to Dar Es Salaam and began performing with Orchestra Makassy, a band led by his uncle. With that band, he wrote his first hit single, “Sika Ya Kufa” (“The Day I Die”).
Mr. Ongala is survived by his wife, Toni, an Englishwoman he married when she was teaching in Tanzania, and four children.
When Orchestra Makassy relocated to Kenya, Mr. Ongala remained in Tanzania, joining and then leading Orchestre Super Matimila, named after the patron who had bought the band its equipment. That group mingled soukous with Tanzanian and Kenyan elements.
As Mr. Ongala’s popularity grew, his songs stayed forthright. At one point the government considered expelling him, but it later granted him Tanzanian citizenship, and a district of Dar Es Salaam was named after him.
A British friend brought one of Mr. Ongala’s cassette recordings back to England, where organizers of the Womad festival heard and admired it. They first booked Mr. Ongala and Orchestre Super Matimila for the 1988 Womad Festival in Reading, England. Mr. Ongala began making studio albums in England for Real World, which released “Songs for the Poor Man” in 1989 and “Mambo” (a Swahili word for observations or comments) in 1992; both albums contained songs in English as well as in Swahili. During the 1990s Mr. Ongala and his band toured Africa, Europe and the United States.
A stroke partly paralyzed Mr. Ongala in 2001, but he continued to perform as a singer from his wheelchair. In his last years he turned to gospel music. Following his mother’s wishes on the advice of her traditional healer, he never cut his hair during her lifetime. On her death he did cut it, then let it grow again until late in life, when he gave up secular music and cut off his locks.
SUSANNAH YORK, BRITISH ACTRESS
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: January 16, 2011
Susannah York, an Academy Award-nominated actress known for her portrayals of exquisite, often fragile young women in British and American films of the 1960s and ‘70s, died on Saturday in London. She was 72 and lived in London.
Susannah York in “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” (1970).
John Pratt/Keystone Features/Getty Images
Ms. York with Warren Beatty in “Kaleidoscope” (1966).
Ms. York at an awards ceremony in 2005.
The cause was cancer, her son, Orlando Wells, told The Associated Press.
Blue-eyed and delicate-featured, with a wide mouth and feathery blond hair, Ms. York was frequently described in the news media of the period as an English rose. She belonged to the generation of celebrated postwar British actresses that included Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Christie, Maggie Smith and Glenda Jackson, though she was perhaps less well known overseas than they.
Ms. York was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar in 1969 for “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” In that film, which starred Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin as contestants in a Depression-era dance marathon, she played Alice, a dissolute Harlowesque floozy. She lost to Goldie Hawn, for “Cactus Flower.”
Her other notable roles include a woman struggling with schizophrenia in “Images” (1972), directed by Robert Altman, and Childie, the immature young lover of the protagonist (played by Beryl Reid) in “The Killing of Sister George” (1968).
“The Killing of Sister George,” directed by Robert Aldrich, centered on characters who were lesbians, a taboo subject at the time. It drew especially wide controversy for an erotic scene between Ms. York and the actress Coral Browne. (The scene was cut from screenings in Connecticut, for instance, by order of the state police.)
Ms. York also played the daughter of Sir Thomas More in “A Man for All Seasons” (1966); an abandoned wife, opposite Rod Steiger, in “Happy Birthday, Wanda June” (1971), adapted from the play by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.; and, in the role that made her a star, Sophie, the love interest of Albert Finney in the 1963 screen version of Henry Fielding’s ribald novel “Tom Jones.”
She later played the biological mother of Christopher Reeve in “Superman” (1978) and “Superman II” (1980).
Susannah Yolande Fletcher was born in London in January 1939, though she sometimes gave the year as 1941 or 1942. Reared in Scotland, she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London before beginning her career, under the stage name Susannah York, in ingénue roles in British regional theater. Her first big film role was in “Tunes of Glory” (1960), with Alec Guinness.
By the late 1970s, the gamine look Ms. York embodied, so popular in Swinging London, had largely passed from favor. Her film work abated, and she turned to television, acting in a string of British TV movies and on the popular series “Casualty” and “Holby City.” On American television, she appeared on “The Love Boat” in the 1980s.
Ms. York also continued her stage work, playing Gertrude in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of “Hamlet” staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1998. She toured worldwide in a one-woman show, “The Loves of Shakespeare’s Women,” a pastiche of monologues, sonnets and recollections that was seen in Manhattan at the Blue Heron Arts Center in 2004.
She wrote two children’s books, “Lark’s Castle” (1976, illustrated by Michael Baldwin) and “In Search of Unicorns” (1984, illustrated by Patricia Ludlow).
Ms. York’s marriage to Michael Wells ended in divorce. In addition to her son, Orlando, a film and television actor in Britain, she is survived by a daughter, Sasha Wells, and grandchildren.
Among her other films are “Freud” (1962), a biopic directed by John Huston and starring Montgomery Clift; and “Kaleidoscope” (1966), co-starring Warren Beatty.
Ms. York often said that her fresh-faced good looks were more a hindrance than a help: she started out playing sweet young things and progressed to troubled (but usually still sweet) young women. In an interview with The Toronto Star in 1991, she described her ideal résumé thus:
“Hard-working character actress who longs to play drunks and nasties. Can also do comedy, she’s been told.”
J.Hester / A.Loll / R.Gehrz / NASA / ESA
Bulletin at a Glance
January 20, 2011 | A recent study shows that the Crab Nebula, long considered a steady source of X-rays, actually fluctuates. > read more
January 20, 2011 | What’s with the sudden realization that the zodiac has 13 constellations and that Sun signs have shifted due to precession? S&T devotees — and astrologers — have known this all along. > read more
January 21, 2011 | A mysterious, galaxy-size cloud of glowing gas, discovered by a Dutch schoolteacher in 2007, is teaching cosmologists a thing or two about how quasars work. > read more
January 17, 2011 | The digital edition of the March 2011 S&T is now available. > read more
January 10, 2011 | How does the little $100 scope stack up against its venerable bigger brother? > read more
November 30, 2010 | The New Year opens with a partial solar eclipse, a great meteor shower, and a canopy of bright stars and planets overhead. > read more
December 27, 2010 | A massive new storm in the ringed planet’s northern hemisphere is bright enough to see in small telescopes. > read more
Sky & Telescope diagram
January 21, 2011 | The Winter Hexagon fills the southeast after dark, while Jupiter sinks down on the other side of the sky. And the Moon meets Venus at dawn. > read more
January 19, 2011 | Imagine warm ocean breezes, sparking waves, exotic scenery, great speakers — and, at night, constellations you’ve perhaps never seen before! > read more
The Voyage of the Sable Venus, from Angola to the West Indies, from History of all the British Colonies by Bryan Edwards, 1801, by Thomas Stothard, 1794, copper engraving.