Monthly Archives: January 2011




A tiding, gulp, murder, tittering, charm of magpies:




A lute, flush, puddling, brace (in general) of mallards:

File:Mallards pond 2009.ogv
Mallards pond 2009.ogv

Several drakes swim in a pond.



sord (in flight) of mallards:

File:Mallard in flight.jpg

A richness of martens:

File:Martes martes crop.jpg

A gang, mob, clan of meerkats:

File:Suricata suricatta -Auckland Zoo -group-8a.jpg

A mischief, horde, harvest of mice:


A bite of midges:


A stream, swarm, shoal of minnows:

File:White Cloud Mountain Minnow 1.jpg

A labor, company, movement of moles:

File:Close-up of mole.jpg

A troop, barrel, carload, cartload, tribe of monkeys:

File:Cebus capucinus.png

golden snub nose


A herd of moose:

File:Moose 983 LAB.jpg

A scourge of mosquitoes:

File:Mosquito Tasmania crop.jpg

A fleet of mudhens:

File:American Coot Flock.jpg

A pack, barren, span, rake of mules:


A watch, route, match of nightingales:

File:Nachtigall (Luscinia megarhynchos)-2.jpg

A herd of okapi:

File:Okapia johnstoni -Marwell Wildlife, Hampshire, England-8a.jpg

A passel of opossums:


File:Opossum 2.jpg

congress of orangutans:



Video of Orangutans at a rehabilitation centre in Borneo.


A flock, herd of ostrich:


A romp, bevy, family, raft of otters:


A parliament of owls:



A team, yoke, drove of oxen:


A bedculch, hive, cast of oysters:

File:Oyster reef Hunting Island SC.jpg

A company, pandemonium of parrots:

File:Rainbow lorikeet.jpg

Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo kobble08.ogg

A Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo using its strong bill to search for grubs.


File:Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus wild.jpg


Amazon edited.ogg

Video of an Orange-winged Amazon saying “Hello” having been prompted by some people. SOURCE




 A bevy, covey of partridge:

A pulchritude, party, muster, ostentation, pride of peafowl:

File:Peacock courting peahen.jpg
A pomp of Pekingese:


A pod of pelicans:

File:Pelicans of Naples Florida.jpg

Penguins (in general):

A colony, rookery, huddle of penguins:

File:135 - Cap Virgenes - Manchot de Magellan - Janvier 2010.JPG

A nursery, creche of penguins:

File:Antarctic adelie penguins (js) 21.jpg

Pheasants in general:

A nest, nye of pheasants:


A brood, nide of pheasants:

A take-off, bouquet of pheasants:

A flight, flock, kit of pigeons:

File:Rock dove - natures pics.jpg


In general:

A drift, drove of pigs:
File:Wild Pig KSC02pd0873.jpg

Pigs (boars/swine):

A sounder, singular of pigs:

File:Pigs July 2008-1.jpg

Pigs (hogs):

A team, passel, drift, parcel of pigs:

Pigs (piglets):

A litter, farrow of pigs
File:Suckling pigs.JPG


In general:

A congregation of plovers:

File:Lesser Sand Ploverwith Sanderling I IMG 9382.jpg

A wing, flight of plovers:

A chine of polecats:


A prickle of porcupine:

A pod, herd, school, crowd, shoal of porpoises:


A coterie of prairie dogs:

File:Kissing Prairie dog edit 3.jpg

A covy of ptarmigans:
File:Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus Muta).jpg

A bevy, covey of quail.

File:Coturnix coturnix (Warsaw zoo)-1.JPG

 . . . .to be continued.

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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?


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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.

January 19, 2011    

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 1994, President Bill Clinton awarded Mr. Shriver the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Ten years earlier, President Ronald Reagan conferred the same award on Eunice Shriver. They were the only husband and wife to win the nation’s highest civilian honor individually.

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.”





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.

January 21, 2011    

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.”





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.

January 19, 2011    

Everett Collection

Don Kirshner in 1976.

January 19, 2011    

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.”





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.

January 18, 2011    

Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos

Remmy Ongala leading his band Orchestre Super Matimila in New York in 1989.

But it became one of Mr. Ongala’s best-known songs in a career as Tanzania’s most beloved and influential musician, on and off the dance floor, with songs that had both a groove and a conscience. He sang serious thoughts about poverty, corruption, mortality, faith and Tanzanian pride, and he called his music “ubongo beat” — “ubongo” is Swahili for “brain.”

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.





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.

January 17, 2011    

Associated Press

Susannah York in “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” (1970).


January 17, 2011    

John Pratt/Keystone Features/Getty Images

Ms. York with Warren Beatty in “Kaleidoscope” (1966).

January 17, 2011    


Angel Medina G./European Pressphoto Agency

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.”


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Crab Nebula in multiple wavelengths
J.Hester / A.Loll / R.Gehrz / NASA / ESA

Bulletin at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

The Crab Nebula Flickers!

January 20, 2011 | A recent study shows that the Crab Nebula, long considered a steady source of X-rays, actually fluctuates. > read more 

A Sign of the Times

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 

Shining New Light on “Hanny’s Voorwerp”

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 

March Digital Edition Available

January 17, 2011 | The digital edition of the March 2011 S&T is now available. > read more 



Orion SkyScanner and StarBlast reflectors
Tony Flanders

SkyScanner 100 vs. 4.5-inch StarBlast

January 10, 2011 | How does the little $100 scope stack up against its venerable bigger brother? > read more 

Tour January’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

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 

Saturn’s New Bright Storm

December 27, 2010 | A massive new storm in the ringed planet’s northern hemisphere is bright enough to see in small telescopes. > read more 

This Week’s Sky at a Glance


Dawn view

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

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 



Cosmic Cruise's <i>Zuiderdarm</i>
Alan French

S&T‘s Cosmic Cruise

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



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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.


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January 20, 2011 Direct | Published by the Applied Research Cente

Halfway Through Term, Obama Still Hasn’t Earned His Nobel Prize

As the president greets Chinese President Hu Jintao, he does so with more words than deeds on human rights. Michelle Chen looks at the record.

Also: Follow Michelle Chen’s Global Justice column at

Mapping America’s Brutal Past, and Humanity’s Capacity for Revolt

Imara Jones on how the 1860 census of the American South reveals much more than the region’s demography.

Mississippi State Senate Passes Anti-Immigration Law

Julianne Hing reports on the first state to make good on its talk of passing a law that mimics Arizona’s SB 1070.

Also on Huerta: Let’s Violate Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Ban
The United Farm Workers co-founder urges Tucson’s educators to continue ethnic studies courses.Quick! Last Chance for 20 Percent Off Black Items in MLK Day Sale
One Southern California surf shop chose to celebrate Monday’s holiday in all the wrong ways.

Compton Latino Residents Sue for Elections Overhaul
A battle between black and brown voters is brewing in Southern California.

Cherokee Nation Court Rules in Favor of Descendants of Slaves
Court says that descendants of freedman are members, too.

Ex-Firefighter Sues to Block Park51 Construction
Lawyers accuse New York City officials of an all-out conspiracy.

Editor’s Blog
Global Justice  
Election: Now What?  
14th Amendment
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Here is an update on the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee Freedmen/Women issue that came to a head way back in 2007. According to the following article, the Cherokee Nation Court has ruled that Cherokee Freedmen/Women can legally claim tribal membership.


The decision rendered has declared that under the 1866 treaty between the United States government and the Five Civilized Tribes, the 2,800 disenrolled Cherokee Freedmen/Women are citizens of the Cherokee Nation.

For more on the ruling, click here. (Opens in a PDF format.)


Tribal judge says freed Cherokee slaves are protected citizens.

BY CHRIS CASTEEL Oklahoman    
Published: January 15, 2011

A Cherokee Nation judge ruled Friday that the descendants of freed Cherokee slaves are protected citizens of the tribe under an 1866 treaty, throwing out a tribal constitutional amendment that required tribal blood for citizenship.

The tribe’s attorney general signaled a possible appeal to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, while an attorney for freedmen descendants said he hoped the tribe would now treat all Cherokee citizens equally.The issue of freedmen citizenry has spawned repercussions far beyond Tahlequah, where the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is based. Some Democratic members of Congress, mostly blacks, filed legislation aimed at stripping the tribe of federal funds and called for a Justice Department investigation.

The tribe mounted a multimillion-dollar public relations and lobbying blitz to counter the congressional effort, and the legislation never advanced in a Democrat-controlled House.

In the decision Friday, Cherokee Nation District Court Judge John Cripps wrote that the post-Civil War treaty signed by the Cherokee Nation and the U.S. government specifically addressed the status of freedmen — former slaves who had been owned by tribal members. The treaty provided that freedmen and their descendants “shall have all the rights of native Cherokees,” Cripps wrote.

The nation is still bound by the treaty, Cripps wrote. Though the French, Spanish, English and U.S. governments have violated treaties made with the tribe, Cripps said, “This does not mean that the Cherokee Nation should descend into such manner of action and disregard their pledges and agreements.”Diane Hammons, attorney general for the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, said, “We have received the district court decision, with which we respectfully disagree.

“We believe that the Cherokee people can change our Constitution, and that the Cherokee citizenry clearly and lawfully enunciated their intentions to do so in the 2007 amendment. We are considering all options, including our right to appeal to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court.”

Cripps’ four-page ruling came in a class-action lawsuit filed by the tribe itself, testing the validity of the amendment in its own court system. The lawsuit was filed without the knowledge of the lead plaintiff, Raymond Nash, a freedman descendant from Nowata who was expelled from the tribal rolls after tribal members overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the Cherokee Constitution in 2007 that based citizenship on tribal blood.

Nash said Friday that he didn’t know anything about the lawsuit when it was filed.He said he had been hoping to get medical benefits from the tribe and was glad the judge had ruled for the freedmen.“They should have honored that treaty a long time ago,” Nash said. “There should have been no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

Attorney Jon Velie of Norman, who is representing the freedmen in the federal lawsuit but did not participate in the tribal court case, called Friday’s decision “great.”In a statement, he said: “The Cherokee District Court affirmed that the Treaty of 1866 granted full citizenship rights to the Cherokee Freedmen. This is in direct opposition to the defenses offered by the Cherokee Nation and Principal Chief Chad Smith in the ongoing federal actions in the Washington, D.C., District Court.”

A separate freedmen suit, actually filed by descendants, has been in federal court in Washington since 2003, when freedmen were barred from voting in a tribal election. An attempt by the tribe to have its arguments heard in federal court in Tulsa failed last year.

In previous statements, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith has said that the 1866 treaty never guaranteed citizenship but was intended to address property rights. The tribe also has countered charges of racism by saying that the question isn’t about race but about tribal membership; many freedmen descendants, including one of the lead plaintiffs in the federal suit against the tribe, have Cherokee blood.

The 2007 constitutional amendment came after a tribal law was struck down in 2006. The decision on Friday is expected to restore citizenship to about 2,800 freedmen descendants.Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller said the 2,800 were those who had gained citizenship after 2006 but then lost it after the constitutional amendment passed in 2007.

Moreover, the decision requires that the tribe process within 30 days applications for citizenship by freedmen descendants since the amendment was passed.


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Possible Terror Attack on MLK Parade in Spokane Thwarted

by Bill Morlin on January 18, 2011

A backpack bomb with the potential of killing or injuring dozens of people was found Monday along the route of a Martin Luther King Day “unity march” in downtown Spokane, Wash., authorities said today.

“It was a device that clearly was intended to harm or kill people,’’said Frank Harrill, a senior FBI agent and spokesman for the bureau’s Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The FBI posted a $20,000 reward Tuesday and released three photographs, including one of the black Swiss-Army backpack that contained the destructive device.

Harrill would not discuss the type of explosive or its construction, including whether the backpack contained an explosive shield intended to spray shrapnel toward potential victims.  He also declined to say if the device was intended to be detonated remotely or by a timer.

“It had the potential to detonate during a unity march on the King Holiday, so, obviously it had political or social overtones,’’ Harrill said.

There was no threat made before the device was discovered by three construction workers about a block from the city’s Opera House and Convention Center where various speakers, including Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, spoke after the march.

No similar devices have been found and no group or individuals have claimed responsibility, Harrill said.

The device was rendered safe by a police bomb squad on a park bench where it was found after police rerouted 1,500 unity parade marchers around the site.

“We recovered a great deal of evidence,’’ Harrill said, declining to say whether fingerprints or DNA evidence may have been recovered.

Although a motive hasn’t been publicly identified, Harrill said the timing and placement of the potentially deadly bomb suggests possible ties to domestic terrorism or hate groups.

The investigation was assigned to the Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force, composed of various investigators from an assortment of federal, state and local agencies.

Those investigators worked through the night Monday but had made no arrests by late Tuesday. The same task force also continues investigating another improvised explosive device that was left last year, unexploded, outside the federal courthouse in downtown Spokane.

“We are not able at this time to link this device to any other similar device, but that certainly remains an area of intense focus,’’ Harrill said.

In the 1980s and 1990s, individuals with ties to extremist and hate groups were convicted of planting and detonating homemade pipe bombs at various locations in Spokane and nearby Coeur d’Alene and Hayden Lake, Idaho, which served as headquarters of the Aryan Nations.

The FBI released photographs of two T-shirts found in the backpack after it was disarmed Monday.

One of those T-shirts was from a cancer fund-raising event in 2010 in Stevens County, in northeastern Washington. Individuals linked to the earlier bombings in Eastern Washington and North Idaho had ties to militia and Christian Identity groups in Stevens County.

On July 27, 1996, a backpack bomb exploded near a park bench in Olympic Centennial Park in Atlanta, Ga., killing a woman and injuring 111 others. Eric Robert Rudolph, raised in a family with ties to Christian Identity, ultimately was arrested and convicted of being the Olympic Park bomber.


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January 17, 2011 Direct | Published by the Applied Research Center

Tim Wise: We Twisted King’s Dream, So We Live With His Nightmare

Anti-racist writer and educator Tim Wise revives the radical politics that the right has airbrushed out of King’s dream. 

Remembering MLK: The Things We’ve Forgotten Would Guide Us

Civil rights movement scholar Barbara Ransby says we are all King’s political heirs.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Call for Peace as Racial Justice Still Rings

Global Justice columnist Michelle Chen explores the legacy of King’s antiwar activism.

Also on Self-Destruction of Government-vs.-the-People Ideology
The violence in Arizona prompts bigger questions than Sarah Palin’s semantics, says Kai Wright.

Investigations Force Feds to Revisit Murders of Civil Rights Era
There were many more killings than those of activists. Benjamin Greenberg looks at a Louisiana black businessman’s murder investigation that has been reopened.

Where is the Relief Money for Haiti?
Hatty Lee’s infographic breaks down the tragically slow recovery. The recovery in photos; how the earthquake may have reversed Haiti’s HIV success; and more.

Man With Golden Voice Ted Williams Heads To Rehab, How It All Unfolded
An interactive look at how Ted Williams went from from hero to villain in less than two weeks.

ELLE Cover Lightens The Most Beautiful Woman in the World
ELLE is at it again. This time they’ve lightened Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai.

Editor’s Blog
Global Justice  
Election: Now What?  
14th Amendment
Like us      Follow us is published by the Applied Research Center 

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Published: January 13, 2011

Ellen Stewart, the founder, artistic director and de facto producer of La MaMa Experimental Theater Club, a multicultural hive of avant-garde drama and performance art in New York for almost half a century, died Thursday in Manhattan. She was 91.

January 13, 2011    

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Ellen Stewart in 2006. More Photos »

Ms. Stewart had a history of heart trouble and died at Beth Israel Hospital after a long illness, said Sam Rudy, a spokesman for La MaMa, where she had lived for many years in an apartment above the theater, on East Fourth Street.

Ms. Stewart was a dress designer when she started La MaMa in a basement apartment in 1961, a woman entirely without theater experience or even much interest in the theater. But within a few years, and with an indomitable personality, she had become a theater pioneer.

Not only did she introduce unusual new work to the stage, she also helped colonize a new territory for the theater, planting a flag in the name of low-budget experimental productions in the East Village of Manhattan and creating the capital of what became known as Off Off Broadway.

She was a vivid figure, often described as beautiful — an African-American woman whose long hair, frequently worn in cornrows, turned silver in her later years. Her wardrobe was flamboyant, replete with bangles, bracelets and scarves. Her voice was deep, carrying an accent reminiscent of her Louisiana roots.

Few producers could match her energy, perseverance and fortitude. In the decades after World War II her influence on American theater was comparable to that of Joseph Papp, founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival, though the two approached the stage from different wings. Papp straddled the commercial and noncommercial worlds, while Ms. Stewart’s terrain was international and decidedly noncommercial.

Her theater became a remarkable springboard for an impressive roster of promising playwrights, directors and actors who went on to accomplished careers both in mainstream entertainment and in push-the-envelope theater.

Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Olympia Dukakis, Richard Dreyfuss, Bette Midler, Diane Lane and Nick Nolte were among the actors who performed at La MaMa in its first two decades. Playwrights like Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, Maria Irene Fornes and Adrienne Kennedy developed early work there. So did composers like Elizabeth Swados, Philip Glass and Stephen Schwartz.

La MaMa directors included the visionary Robert Wilson; Tom O’Horgan (who helped create the rock musical “Hair” at the Public); Richard Foreman, who founded the imaginative Ontological Theater Company; Joseph Chaikin, who founded the Open Theater; and even Papp, before there was such a thing as the Public Theater. Meredith Monk, the composer, choreographer and director, presented her genre-bending pieces there regularly.

A few La MaMa plays, like the musical “Godspell,” moved to Broadway, and others had extended runs in commercial Off Broadway houses.

“Eighty percent of what is now considered the American theater originated at La MaMa,” Mr. Fierstein once said in an interview in Vanity Fair, perhaps exaggerating slightly. His play “Torch Song Trilogy” was developed there.

La MaMa became the quintessential theater on a shoestring. Salaries were minimal, ticket prices were low, and profits were nonexistent. For decades Ms. Stewart often swept the sidewalk in front of the theater herself.

But an adventurous theatergoer would be rewarded there. More than 3,000 productions of classic and postmodern drama, performance art, dance and chamber opera have been seen on La MaMa’s various stages. For Ms. Stewart a vast number of them were leaps of faith, arising from her instinct and belief that what artists need more than anything else is the freedom to create without interference. She would typically appear onstage before a performance, ring a cowbell and announce La MaMa’s dedication “to the playwright and all aspects of the theater.”

During the earliest days of her theater she supported her family of artists — her children, she called them — with the money she continued to earn designing clothes. She installed a washer and dryer in the basement for the performers, and many a visiting artist slept in her apartment or in the theaters themselves.

She didn’t begin directing shows herself until relatively late in her life. She often said she didn’t read plays; she read people. Her gifts, as affirmed by a MacArthur Foundation award in 1985, were intuitive and hard to pin down.

“If a script ‘beeps’ to me, I do it,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. “Audiences may hate these plays, but I believe in them. The only way I can explain my ‘beeps’ is that I’m no intellectual, but my instincts tell me automatically when a playwright has something.”

Her programming stretched far wider than the American theater. It was at La MaMa that Andrei Serban, a Romanian director transplanted to the United States, refought the Trojan War with his reinvention of Greek tragedy, “Fragments of a Greek Trilogy,” incorporating “Medea,” “The Trojan Women” and “Electra.” La MaMa became a magnet for the most adventurous European and American companies, including Peter Brook’s Paris group. Playing there now is “Being Harold Pinter,” a politically charged production by the Belarus Free Theater, based in Minsk, some of whose members were arrested and others forced underground by an authoritarian regime.

La MaMa’s range of activity was kaleidoscopic and multicultural, embracing an Eskimo “Antigone,” a Korean “Hamlet” and a splashy re-creation of the golden days of the Cotton Club in Harlem, directed by Ms. Stewart herself.

She was a theatrical missionary, scouting new talent abroad and planting La MaMa seeds wherever she went. She produced site-specific performances all over the world — a “Medea” created by Mr. Serban and Ms. Swados, for example, at the ruins in Baalbek, Lebanon, in 1972. Satellite La MaMa organizations sprouted from Tel Aviv to Tokyo. With the $300,000 MacArthur grant she bought a former monastery in Umbria, Italy, and turned it into an international theater center.

Even when her network of theaters was reduced for economic reasons, she remained the avant-garde’s ambassador to the world.

“If the play is good, then it’s good,” she said when asked about her devotion to experimental work. “If it’s bad, that does not change my way of thinking about the person involved. I may be disappointed in production values, but I’ve never been sorry about anything I put on.”

Ms. Stewart was born in Chicago on Nov. 7, 1919 and spent her childhood years there and in Alexandria, La. She was never eager to speak about the part of her life before her arrival in New York, and details about it are scarce. She was married at least once and had a son, Larry Hovell, who died in 1998. Her survivors include an adopted son, Duk Hyung Yoo, who lives in South Korea, and eight grandchildren.

What is known is that she studied to be a teacher at Arkansas State College and worked as a riveter in a defense plant in Chicago during World War II. In 1950 she moved to New York with the intention of going to design school, but ended up having to support herself with a variety of jobs. At one point she was a porter and operated an elevator at Saks Fifth Avenue.

According to a story she often told, on a visit to Delancey Street one Sunday, she met a fabric shop owner who encouraged her dream to become a fashion designer. He gave her fabrics to turn into dresses, and when she wore her own creations to work at Saks, she created such excitement that the store made her a designer.

Her theater career began as a good turn. Her foster brother, Frederick Lights, wanted to be a playwright but had difficulty getting his work staged. Sympathetic to him and to Paul Foster, another aspiring dramatist, she began a theater in 1962 in the basement of a tenement on East Ninth Street.

Everyone already referred to Ms. Stewart as Mama, and one of the actors suggested La MaMa as a name for her space. The theater was called Cafe La MaMa, and later La MaMa E.T.C. (for Experimental Theater Club).

At first people were sometimes literally pulled in off the street to see the shows: Tennessee Williams’s “One Arm,” Eugene O’Neill’s “Before Breakfast,” Fernando Arrabal’s “Executioner.” Ms. Stewart would sometimes present a play — like “The Room,” by Harold Pinter — without authorization.

Neighbors initially tried to close the theater down. They thought she was running a brothel, she said in interviews. Otherwise, why would so many white men be visiting a black woman in a basement?

But the shows went on. La MaMa was one of New York’s first coffeehouse theaters and became a pillar of Off Off Broadway, which sprang up as alternative theater when Off Broadway began pursuing a more mainstream audience. As word of La MaMa spread, artists flocked to it.

Gradually federal and foundation grants came in, giving added certification to a theater that became an important New York cultural institution.

In 1969, with the help of $25,000 from W. MacNeil Lowry and the Ford Foundation, the company moved to a former meatpacking plant at 74A East Fourth Street, where it created two 99-seat theaters and office space. Ms. Stewart lived above the theaters. In 1974 she opened the Annex, a 295-seat theater a few doors down the street in a converted television studio. It was renamed the Ellen Stewart Theater in a gala celebration in November 2009. La MaMa also has an art gallery, a six-story rehearsal and studio building nearby and an extensive archive on the history of Off Off Broadway theater.

Ms. Stewart virtually never stopped working. Despite a variety of ailments, she had been putting on about 70 new productions a year. The shows will go on. The theater said it would continue to present its schedule without interruption, and Mia Yoo, who has been co-artistic director since September 2009, will continue in that capacity.

“When I think about the fact that she is in the last part of her life, even though I’ve been there a lot of her life, I can’t bear the thought of this world without her,” Elizabeth Swados said in a 2006 article in the theater journal TDR: The Drama Review. “I can’t imagine La MaMa without her. There may be a place called La MaMa that somebody brings good avant-garde international theater to, but it will not be La MaMa. La MaMa is her.”

Mel Gussow, a theater critic and reporter for The Times who contributed to this obituary, died in 2005.


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 15, 2011

An obituary on Friday about Ellen Stewart, the founder of La MaMa Experimental Theater Club in New York, misidentified one of the writers whose works La MaMa presented. She is Adrienne Kennedy, not Adrienne Rich.





Published: January 12, 2011

David Nelson, the elder son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, the brother of Rick Nelson and the last surviving member of the television family that perhaps more than any other stood for the Eisenhower-era middle-class American dream, died at home in Los Angeles on Tuesday. He was 74.

January 13, 2011    


The Nelsons — David at far right; Ozzie, center; Harriet, rear; and Rick, far left — in “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”

January 13, 2011    

Nick Ut/Associated Press

Mr. Nelson, center, in 1996 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The cause was complications of colon cancer, said Dale Olson, a family spokesman.

At first on radio and, beginning in 1952, on television, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” dramatized the gentle conflicts and lapses in communication of the sweet-tempered, well-behaved Nelson clan and brought them into American homes for 22 years.

By today’s standards the word “Adventures” can be read as ironic. The plots generally revolved around misunderstandings — a presumed traffic ticket that turns out to be a Christmas card, a pair of mistakenly delivered chairs — and were invariably resolved good-naturedly. Sex, religion, politics and other subjects with argument-starting potential were avoided. Though the show spanned the years from World War II to Vietnam — the radio show began in 1944 and the television show stopped filming, after 14 seasons, in 1966 — the outside world rarely if ever penetrated the comfortable idyll that the Nelson family seemed to inhabit.

“Ozzie and Harriet” laid the groundwork for other mild, family sitcoms like “Leave It to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best,” but it also had a weirdly postmodern and prescient aspect to it: the four Nelsons were, in some ways, television’s first reality stars.

The show was scripted, but the characters were based on the Nelsons themselves, named after the Nelsons themselves and, from 1949, when 12-year-old David and 8-year-old Ricky replaced the actors who had initially voiced their roles on the radio, played by the Nelsons themselves. Their actual Los Angeles home was used in filming, and a reproduction of its interior was built in the studio. When David and Rick married in real life, their wives were incorporated into the show.

David Nelson was probably the least prominent of the four characters, dully mature as a son, quietly sage as an older brother. (In one departure from reality, his character graduated from college and became a lawyer.) Ozzie was the know-it-all dad whose presumptions often got him into trouble and drove the story. Harriet was the wisely, teasingly understanding helpmeet, and young Ricky was the adorable one, the mischievous boy who mispronounced words, made wisecracks, grew up impossibly handsome and became a pop star. His career as a singer took off in 1957 when he performed the Fats Domino song “I’m Walkin’ ” with a backup band during an episode of “Ozzie and Harriet.”

David Oswald Nelson was born in Manhattan on Oct. 24, 1936. The family lived for a time in Tenafly, N.J., but moved to California when David was about 5. Ozzie Nelson was a popular bandleader, Harriet his lead singer, and they worked together in films and were regulars on Red Skelton’s radio show. When Skelton joined the Army in 1944, Ozzie wrote a script for a show based on his own family, and the Nelsons’ future found a new direction. For two years after the show began on television, it continued, with separate scripts, on radio as well.

David graduated from Hollywood High School and attended the University of Southern California. Aside from “Ozzie and Harriet,” he had an abbreviated career as an actor, appearing in films like “Peyton Place” (1957), “The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker” (1959) and “The Big Circus” (1959), in which he played a catcher on a trapeze team, a role that led to his studying circus aerialism and performing as a catcher in an aerial troupe known as the Flying Viennas.

Ozzie Nelson died in 1975, Harriet in 1994. Rick Nelson was killed in a plane crash in 1985. David’s first marriage, to June Blair, who appeared on “Ozzie and Harriet,” ended in divorce. He is survived by their two sons, Daniel and James; his wife of 36 years, Yvonne; her three children, John, Eric and Teri, all of whom Mr. Nelson adopted; and seven grandchildren.

During the final years of “Ozzie and Harriet,” David directed several episodes. He went on to work as a director of other television shows and commercials and to form his own production company.

In 1971, five years after “Ozzie and Harriet” went off the air, Esquire magazine interviewed all the Nelsons about the differences between their real selves and the characters they played on television. It was David who made the most vehement distinctions. One family was real and one wasn’t, he said.

“For your sanity you had to keep that clear,” he said. “Rick and I had to distinguish between our father and the director telling us what to do. If we got the lines crossed, that’s where the arguments started, and I would end up putting my fist through a wall behind the set, because I was that angry.”

He added: “We would keep up the front of this totally problemless, happy-go-lucky group. There might have been a tremendous battle in our home, but if someone from outside came in, it would be as if the director yelled, ‘Roll ’em.’ We’d fall right into our stage roles. You’d get to wondering which was the true thing. It’s an awfully big load to carry, to be everyone’s fantasy family. How long can you keep protecting that image and never let any of the outside world in?”





Published: January 12, 2011

Bobby Robinson liked to recall how it all began: with him, a World War II veteran, sitting on a fire hydrant in front of a hat shop in Harlem in 1946. Hundreds of people (potential customers?) walked by.

January 12, 2011    

Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Bobby Robinson, one of the first blacks to own a shop on 125th Street, in 2003. His record store, Bobby’s Happy House, became a treasured institution and spawned a recording business.

His inspiration was to use all his savings to buy the shop and turn it into a record store that, as Bobby’s Happy House, became a treasured Harlem institution for a half century. The store spawned a remarkable recording business that helped launch artists from rhythm and blues giants like Gladys Knight and the Pips to the rap stars Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Mr. Robinson died on Friday at the age of 93 in Manhattan, his family said. He had been one of the first blacks to own a shop on 125th Street, the fabled Main Street of Harlem, and his was one of the last old-time stores to battle the neighborhood’s relentless gentrification, albeit unsuccessfully.

Old-timers remember James Brown’s limo parked outside, and people breaking into a happy strut as they responded to the music tumbling onto the street. Mr. Robinson, known for his style that in later years included a cascade of white hair, did not sing or play music himself, but he produced, sold, found, promoted and simply lived it.

He was very good at spotting opportunities. The musicians who visited his store as they strolled from the Apollo to a nearby steakhouse inspired him to start his own record labels. He had many, sometimes with partners and often with colorful names like Fury and Enjoy. He recorded early works by Ike and Tina Turner, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and the Scarlets, later The Five Satins.

Mr. Robinson’s musicians were admitted to the rhythm and blues, rock and roll and hip-hop halls of fame.

His instincts were keen. In 1959, he paid $40 for an extra 15 minutes of recording time so that Wilbert Harrison could record one more song. The result, “Kansas City,” was a No. 1 hit.

“I record things that touch me,” Mr. Robinson said. “And I try to record them pure, 100 percent, no water added.”

Morgan Clyde Robinson, a grandson of slaves, was born in Union, S.C., on April 16, 1917, and as a teenager walked six miles to high school, where he was valedictorian. The Black Music Research Journal in 2003 told how he fell in love with the blues: he and other townspeople gathered outside a jailhouse window to listen to a talented singer. The incarcerated bluesman let down a pail for contributions.

During World War II, Mr. Robinson was a corporal stationed in Hawaii in charge of hiring entertainment, from big bands to a one-footed tap dancer. He amassed $8,000 in savings by offering sailors and soldiers another service: “I was the biggest loan shark there,” he told The New York Times in 2003.

Mr. Robinson headed for Harlem, where he had no problem paying $2,500 cash for the hat store — hats not included. “I said to myself I will open a small record store and if that fails, no one can say I didn’t try,” he told The New York Amsterdam News in 2001.

He hedged his bet by buying four electric shoe-shining machines. These were in the front of the store, the records in the back.

Shoe-shining was soon unnecessary. An early doo-wop group he recorded, the Vocaleers, who harmonized on 142nd Street, rivaled Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays as Harlem folk heroes, the music historian Philip Groia wrote.

Mr. Robinson got to know the powers of the music business. Ahmet Ertegun, the renowned head of Atlantic Records, stopped by to chat about trends. “He’s a major personage in Harlem,” Mr. Ertegun said of Mr. Robinson in 2003.

When Alan Freed, the D.J. who championed the new music, first broadcast in New York in 1954, Mr. Robinson helped answer phones.

Happy House acquired its euphonious name in 1956 in honor of a doo-wop song Mr. Robinson wrote for Lewis Lymon & the Teenchords titled “I’m So Happy,” a hit in the Northeast. (Lewis Lymon was the younger brother of Frankie Lymon, best known for a song with the Teenagers, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”)

In the 1970s Mr. Robinson became one of the first label owners to record rap music, presenting artists like Doug E. Fresh and Spoonie Gee. In the early 1990s he moved his store from 301 West 125th Street around the corner to Frederick Douglass Boulevard to make way for a KFC franchise. He was evicted in 2008 in favor of an office building.

Mr. Robinson is survived by his daughter, Cheryl Benjamin; his sister, Minnie Stewart; two grandchildren; and five great grandchildren.

Another legacy is the catchy stage name of Gladys Knight and the Pips. When meeting the group, Mr. Robinson asked, “What the hell’s a Pip?”

The answer, The Times reported, was that the family ensemble was named for a cousin who used to sneak them into nightclubs.

“I said, ‘Gladys is the singer, so you better put her name out front,’ ” Mr. Robinson remembered. “They went for it, otherwise Gladys Knight would’ve been just another Pip.”




Warner Brothers/Seven Arts, via Photofest


Published: January 11, 2011

Peter Yates, a British-born director whose best-known films were well-observed tales of Americana, including the car-chase cop thriller “Bullitt” and the coming-of-age, bike-race comedy “Breaking Away,” died on Sunday in London. He was 81.

January 11, 2011    

20th Century Fox, via Photofest

Dennis Christopher in “Breaking Away” (1979), a movie by Peter Yates that addressed class in America.

The cause was heart failure, his wife, Virginia, wrote in an e-mail message forwarded by Mr. Yates’s agency, Judy Daish Associates.

Mr. Yates was nominated for two Academy Awards for directing, for “Breaking Away” (1979), an underdog-triumphs story in which four local teenagers in Bloomington, Ind., take on a privileged team of bicycle racers from Indiana University; and for “The Dresser” (1983), an adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s play about an aging theater actor and his long-serving assistant, which starred Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay. (Both films, which Mr. Yates also produced, were nominated for best picture as well.)

Still, Mr. Yates’s reputation probably rests most securely on “Bullitt” (1968), his first American film — and indeed, on one particular scene, an extended car chase that instantly became a classic. The film stars Steve McQueen as a conscience-stricken lone-wolf San Francisco detective, and the chase begins with him behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang in a slow, cat-and-mouse pursuit of killers who were in a Dodge Charger. It escalates into high-speed screeches and thuds on city streets and ends in a fiery blast on a highway.

The chase, often paired in discussion with a New York City counterpart from William Friedkin’s “French Connection”, featured McQueen doing some of his own driving: a camera placed in the car and peering out the windshield registers the violent shifts in the driver’s perspective as the car bounds in chassis-challenging fashion over San Francisco’s famous hills.

Mr. Yates’s grasp of the American landscape and American characters stretched from coast to coast. He directed Robert Mitchum as a small-time hood desperate to avoid jail time in the low-key crime drama “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” (1973), set in and around Boston; it was especially attentive to the local color and local accents of the George V. Higgins novel on which it was based. Among his New York-based films were “For Pete’s Sake” (1974) — a gag-laced farce set in Brooklyn involving the Mafia, a call-girl operation, cattle rustling and the brassy woman (Barbra Streisand) who gets mixed up in it all — and the 1983 suspense thriller “Eyewitness,” set in Manhattan, starring Sigourney Weaver as an ambitious television reporter following a murder story and William Hurt as an informant who may or may not be reliable.

“Breaking Away” and “Eyewitness” were both written by Steve Tesich, a Yugoslavian immigrant with whom Mr. Yates shared a shrewd appreciation of details that perhaps only foreigners might determine were peculiarly American. (Mr. Yates also directed an Off Broadway play by Mr. Tesich, “Passing Game,” in 1977.)

“Breaking Away” starred four actors who were unknown at the time (one was Dennis Quaid). They played local Bloomington-ites — or, as they were disparagingly known, “Cutters” — who lived in resentment of the rich college students annually invading their hometown. Mr. Yates and Mr. Tesich used them to illustrate American attitudes toward class, education, upward mobility, romance and athletic success.

The film, wrote Vincent Canby in The New York Times, “is so cheerful it almost hurts, but its cheerfulness is grounded in a true appreciation of certain so-called American values (pluck, perseverance, family ties) which, though idealized more often than honored, are a part of the way we see ourselves.”

Peter James Yates was born in England on July 24, 1929. Most sources say his birthplace was Aldershot, Hampshire, about 40 miles southwest of London, though his wife said in an email that it was the village of Ewshot, which is closer to the city. His father was in the military.

He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and he worked as an assistant director for, among others, Jack Cardiff, on “Sons and Lovers” (1960)and Tony Richardson on “A Taste of Honey” (1961). It was a 1967 film, “Robbery,” based on the 1963 English heist known as the Great Train Robbery, that impressed Steve McQueen and earned him the assignment to direct “Bullitt.”

Mr. Yates’s career was marked by a willingness to skip from genre to genre, and for a director with so many significant hits, he had an up-and-down career. Among his other titles, not all well-received, were “John and Mary” (1969), about an anonymous tryst that leads to love, which starred a youthful Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow; “Murphy’s War” (1971), a historical drama about a sailor (Peter O’Toole) bent on avenging the sinking of his ship by a German U-boat; “The Deep” (1977), an undersea thriller with Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Shaw and Nick Nolte; “Krull” (1983), a science fiction adventure, and “Eleni” (1985), an adaptation of the memoir by Nicholas Gage about his search for the Communists who executed his mother during the Greek civil war.

Mr. Yates married Virginia Sue Pope, a New Zealander, in 1960. She survives him, as do their son, Toby, of Los Angeles, daughter, Miranda Yates Brassel, of Brooklyn, and two grandchildren.


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