Monthly Archives: January 2016

IN REMEMBRANCE: 1-31-2016

THORTON DIAL, OUTSIDER ARTIST WHOSE WORK TOLD OF BLACK LIFE

Mr. Dial was a self-taught artist whose paintings and assemblages fashioned from scavenged materials found their way to the permanent collections of major museums.

BY Corinne Segal  January 29, 2016 at 12:45 PM EST

Artist Thornton Dial. Photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio

Artist Thornton Dial worked with everyday materials to create paintings and assemblages that drew critical admiration and comparisons to Jackson Pollock. He died Monday at the age of 87. Photo by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio

Who gets to be called an artist?

Thornton Dial, a self-taught artist whose works with everyday materials spoke to the difficulty of black life in the South, challenged the art world’s answer to that question. Dial died on Monday at the age of 87.

“He changed the art world’s world conception of who artists were or could be and where art comes from.” — curator Joanne Cubbs
Born in 1928 on a farm in Emmelle, Alabama, to a family of sharecroppers, Dial only attended school until the third grade and spent much of his childhood picking cotton. He was a metalworker for the Pullman Standard Company for 30 years until it closed in 1981, then did jobs in farming and construction. All the while, he created paintings, sculptures and multimedia pieces from the objects that surrounded him.

“The first thing I remember making I was a little old bitty thing,” Dial said in an interview with the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which owns a number of his pieces. “I hook up a matchbox to two hoppergrasses, tie threads around their neck. I wanted to have my own mules and wagon. Called it ‘the green horses.’”

He often worked with found materials — rope, cans, carpet and steel — and styled them, drawing on African-American folk art traditions, into commentary on the problems of systemic racism and oppression in the South. Some of his pieces spoke to the tradition of African-American yard shows, which consisted of sculptures created from cast-off objects. He “made something out of nothing,” Alvia Wardlaw, who curated an exhibition of his work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2005, said.

The collector Bill Arnett met Dial in 1987 and spent the next few decades championing Dial’s work through the mainstream art world, in part by organizing tours of curators through Dial’s studio in Bessemer, Alabama. At the time, many self-taught artists were relegated to the category of “outsider art,” a problematic designation that seemed to suggest his art was less worthy of attention, said Joanne Cubbs, who curated a retrospective of Dial’s work at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2011 and authored a book on his work.

On the contrary, his work “challenges the canons of art history,” Cubbs said. “You could say in many ways that Dial’s artwork represents a missing chapter in American art history and serves as a kind of emissary for the rich, and yet unrecognized, tradition of black vernacular art for the South.”

Dial’s work defied the stereotype of what self-taught art looks like — it was bold, expressive and provided insight into some of the deepest socio-political issues in contemporary history, Cubbs said. “He changed the art world’s world conception of who artists were or could be and where art comes from,” she said. “He confused the stereotypes normally assigned to artists … who were ‘untrained’ in the conventional sense.”

As museums began to show his work in the 1990s, his work drew comparisons to Jackson Pollock and William de Kooning along with critical admiration. “He has a genuine talent that he brandishes fearlessly,” art critic Roberta Smith at The New York Times wrote in 1993.

But Dial never liked to talk about himself, according to Phillip Jones, the former director of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. “The thing that he said all the time was, ‘You have my art, so you have my mind. Why would you ask me what I think about something when you can see for yourself?’” Jones said.

So we followed the artist’s advice. Here’s what the curators had to say about four of his pieces.

“Don’t Matter How Raggly The Flag, It Still Got To Tie Us Together”

"Don't Matter How Raggly The Flag, It Still Got To Tie Us Together," 2003. © Thornton Dial, image by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio. Collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art

“Don’t Matter How Raggly The Flag, It Still Got To Tie Us Together,” 2003. © Thornton Dial, image by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio. Collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art

The damage to this flag is immediately apparent. Bits of fabric — Cubbs called them “bloody rags on a war-torn battlefield” — form a twisted version of the U.S. flag.

Dial created this piece in 2003 at the outset of the Iraq War, and it is “conscious of the horror of an unchecked quest for domination and power,” Cubbs said.

The flag, though, forms only one layer of the painting. Beneath it are mattress coils, along with two figures, one black and one white. The mattress coils form “a metaphor for the hard bed we’ve made for ourselves,” Cubbs said.

But the piece — and especially its optimistic title — also reflects the idea that all U.S. citizens are held together by the flag, however shredded it becomes, Jones said. i think it’s a lovely but simple statement on the importance of getting along,” he said.

“Beginning of Life in the Yellow Jungle”

"Beginning of Life in the Yellow Jungle," 2003. © Thornton Dial, image by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio

“Beginning of Life in the Yellow Jungle,” 2003. © Thornton Dial, image by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio

Cubbs called this piece “one of the most overt musings on the metaphysical that Dial created.” This analysis comes in part from the painting’s emphasis on living things; scraps of floral fabrics, artificial plants and soda bottles form the shapes of vegetation, surrounding the figure of a doll. That doll could be interpreted to represent humanity at its birth, Cubbs said. “I think this is his sort of rapturous vision of how we all came into being,” she said.

Dial used a lush blend of yellow tones in the piece, ones that he has used before to symbolize racial equality. Through those colors, “He wants to represent the coming together of the races, coming together of all humanity, a kind of blending,” she said.

“Green Pastures: The Birds That Didn’t Learn How to Fly”

"Green Pastures — The Birds That Didn’t Learn How to Fly," 2008. © Thornton Dial, image by: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio Collection of the High Museum of Art

“Green Pastures — The Birds That Didn’t Learn How to Fly,” 2008. © Thornton Dial, image by: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Collection of the High Museum of Art

The painting is a historical heartbreak. One of a series, it shows figures of birds constructed from work gloves hanging on a line, a reference to the historical atrocities that people of color have endured in the U.S., Cubbs said.

In the background is a “green, enigmatic field of color,” Cubbs said. That, along with the piece’s title, makes reference to Psalm 23:2, which speaks of comfort and relief from suffering in “green pastures.” Cubbs called it “a Biblical reference to the world beyond physical and historical adversity, and the final place of redemption for those who suffer oppression in this world.”

Jones said the figures could also be interpreted as a “statement about lost potential.”

“Stars of Everything”

"The Stars of Everything," 2004. © Thornton Dial, image by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio. Collection of Souls Grown Deep Foundation

“The Stars of Everything,” 2004. © Thornton Dial, image by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio. Collection of Souls Grown Deep Foundation

At the center of the painting: a half-buzzard, half-American eagle figure, downtrodden and bloated.

Constructed from a background of paint cans, split open to form the shape of stars, the painting positions the central figure as an entity that presides over his own artistic materials. Jones said he has always thought the piece was a self-portrait of Dial.

By 2004, when Dial created this piece, he had gained fairly widespread recognition in the art world. The positioning of the figure, along with the materials used to create it, speak to Dial’s reaction to that success and the struggle to gain it. It also speaks to the idea of power in general and who wields it, Wardlaw said.

The figure itself is partially constructed from carpet, an illusion to the social oppression of black men, and “presides over a universe fashioned from his used paint cans,” Cubbs said. “He is, in a sense, satirizing the notion of celebrity here, as well as representing a kind of genuine quest for success.”

Jones called the piece “a lighthearted way of speaking to what was happening in his own life with his work.”

SOURCE

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CONCEPCION PICCIOTTO DIED. YOU KNOW WHERE SHE STOOD, EVEN IF YOU DON’T KNOW HER NAME

She’d held a peace vigil in front of the White House since 1981.

By Jennifer Bendery, White House & Congressional Reporter, The Huffington Post01/27/2016 09:19 pm ET

 

Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
“We need people to mobilize, to stop killing and the wars all over the world,” Concepcion Picciotto said in 2013.

WASHINGTON — Concepcion Picciotto died Monday. You might not recognize her name, but if you’ve spent any time in Washington, D.C., you know who she was.

Picciotto was that peace protester camped out in front of the White House since 1981 — the face of what’s been called the longest-running political protest in U.S. history. When the weather was nice, she often stood outside her makeshift tent handing out flyers to the tourists who, after taking their obligatory photos of the president’s house, drifted over to see what exactly was going on with those massive signs decrying nuclear bombs.

She wore a headscarf constantly, and if you looked closer, you’d see a helmet underneath it. That was for protection, she’d tell you, because she’d been attacked over the years by random people — even pushed around by the Secret Service, she said. When she wasn’t at her tent, she lived at The Peace House with other activists who took turns manning the encampment. Someone has to be at the tent all the time, or the U.S. Park Police can come along and dismantle it.

That happened in September 2013, when the activist on duty one night walked away.

The Huffington Post talked to Picciotto the next morning as she stood at the site, waiting for the police to bring back her tent. They eventually did.

“This is the time, more than ever, we need people to mobilize, to stop killing and the wars all over the world,” she said. “It’s frustrating, because it’s hard to be there. I am in the heat, in the cold and the snow.”

Picciotto sat in that tent during blizzards and heat waves. She was there through presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Whenever any of them looked out the front windows of the White House, the peace vigil was in plain sight. There’s no evidence that any of them ever went out to talk to her, though.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday that he didn’t know if Obama was aware that Picciotto had died. But he praised her commitment to the cause of peace.

“We’ve certainly got to pay our respects, not just to the life that she lived but her passion for making the world a safer and more peaceful place,” said Earnest.

Charles Dharapak/Associated Press
Picciotto kept up the peace vigil during a East Coast blizzard in February 2010. Brrrr.

The peace vigil was started by another activist, William Thomas. Picciotto joined up with him some months after it began, and they camped out there together for 25 years. When he died in 2009, she kept it going with help from other activists she lived with. It wasn’t always pleasant. Some saw her as a hero, others as a fool, per The Washington Post. There were also concerns about her mental health.

“Connie may not have been the easiest person to live or work with but the peace vigil was never about Connie and even throughout the biggest struggles we all knew that,” reads a Tuesday post on The Peace House’s Facebook page. “That was the reason why we suffered through sub-zero temperatures, hurricanes and dealing with impolite people.”

On Wednesday morning, people left bouquets of flowers for her at the protest site. Someone wrote a note and clipped it to the top of the tent: “Concepcion R.I.P.”

The vigil will go on. Craig, who was manning the tent on Wednesday, said Picciotto had been taking turns with four other people staying at the tent. After she died, 17 more people signed up to take shifts.

“That’s 21 now,” he said. “A lot.”

Picciotto died at N Street Village, a D.C. nonprofit that supports homeless women. She was 80 years old.

Jennifer Bendery/The Huffington Post
People left bouquets of flowers at the vigil on Wednesday in memory of Picciotto.

SOURCE

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ABE VIGODA, SAD-EYED CHARACTER ACTOR

By Hillel Italie, AP National writer NEW YORK — Jan 26, 2016, 3:59 PM ET

 

PHOTO: Abe Vigoda attends the 55th Annual New York Emmy Awards gala at the Marriott Marquis Times Square, April 1, 2012, in New York City.PlayAstrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
WATCH Abe Vigoda Remembered

Character actor Abe Vigoda, whose leathery, sad-eyed face made him ideal for playing the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series “Barney Miller” and the doomed Mafia soldier in “The Godfather,” died Tuesday at age 94.

Vigoda’s daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, told The Associated Press that Vigoda died Tuesday morning in his sleep at Fuchs’ home in Woodland Park, New Jersey. The cause of death was old age. “This man was never sick,” Fuchs said.

His death brought to an end years of questions on whether he was still alive — sparked by a false report of his death more than three decades ago. Though Vigoda took it in stride, the question of whether he was dead or alive became something of a running joke: There was even a website devoted to answering the much-Googled question, “Is Abe Vigoda dead?” (On Tuesday, it had been updated with “Yes,” with the date of his death.)

Vigoda worked in relative obscurity as a supporting actor in the New York theater and in television until Francis Ford Coppola cast him in the 1972 Oscar-winning “The Godfather.”

Vigoda played Sal Tessio, an old friend of Vito Corleone’s (Marlon Brando) who hopes to take over the family after Vito’s death by killing his son Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). But Michael anticipates that Sal’s suggestion for a “peace summit” among crime families is a setup and the escorts Sal thought were taking him to the meeting turn out to be his executioners.

“Tell Mike it was only business,” Sal mutters to consigliere Tom Hagen, played by Robert Duvall, as he’s led away.

In a statement, Duvall said Tuesday it was “great working with Abe in ‘The Godfather’ and wonderful to have him among us. We had some great memories together and he will really be missed.”

The great success of the film and “The Godfather Part II” made Vigoda’s face and voice, if not his name, recognizable to the general public and led to numerous roles, often as hoodlums.

But it was his comic turn in “Barney Miller,” which starred Hal Linden and ran from 1975 to 1982, that brought Vigoda’s greatest recognition.

He liked to tell the story of how he won the role of Detective Fish. An exercise enthusiast, Vigoda had just returned from a five-mile jog when his agent called and told him to report immediately to the office of Danny Arnold, who was producing a pilot for a police station comedy.

Arnold remarked that Vigoda looked tired, and the actor explained about his jog. “You know, you look like you might have hemorrhoids,” Arnold said. “What are you — a doctor or a producer?” Vigoda asked. He was cast on the spot.

“The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows,” a reference book, commented that Vigoda was the hit of “Barney Miller.” ”Not only did he look incredible, he sounded and acted like every breath might be his last,” it said. “Fish was always on the verge of retirement, and his worst day was when the station house toilet broke down.”

Vigoda remained a regular on “Barney Miller” until 1977 when he took the character to his own series, “Fish.” The storyline dealt with the detective’s domestic life and his relations with five street kids that he and his wife took into their home.

The show lasted a season and a half. Vigoda continued making occasional guest appearances on “Barney Miller,” quitting over billing and salary differences.

But he remained a popular character actor in films, including “Cannonball Run II,” ”Look Who’s Talking,” ”Joe Versus the Volcano” and “North.”

His resemblance to Boris Karloff led to his casting in the 1986 New York revival of “Arsenic and Old Lace,” playing the role Karloff originated on the stage in the 1940s. (The murderous character in the black comedy is famously said by other characters to resemble Boris Karloff, a great joke back when the real Karloff was playing him.)

Born in New York City in 1921, Vigoda attended the Theater School of Dramatic Arts at Carnegie Hall. In the early 1950s, he appeared as straight man for the Jimmy Durante and Ed Wynn TV comedies.

For 30 years, he worked in the theater, acting in dozens of plays in such diverse characters as John of Gaunt in “Richard II” (his favorite role) and Abraham Lincoln in a short-lived Broadway comedy “Tough to Get Help.”

Vigoda attributed his high percentage in winning roles to his performance in auditions. Instead of delivering the tired soliloquies that most actors performed, he wrote his own, about a circus barker. At a surprise 80th birthday party in New Jersey in 2001, he gave a spirited recital of the monologue to the delight of the 100 guests.

Reflecting on his delayed success, Vigoda once remarked: “When I was a young man, I was told success had to come in my youth. I found this to be a myth. My experiences have taught me that if you deeply believe in what you are doing, success can come at any age.”

“Barney Miller” became his first steady acting job.

“I’m the same Abe Vigoda,” he told an interviewer. “I have the same friends, but the difference now is that I can buy the things I never could afford before. I have never had a house before, so now I would like a house with a nice garden and a pool. Hollywood has been very kind to me.”

He was married twice, most recently to Beatrice Schy, who died in 1992. He had his daughter with his first wife, Sonja Gohlke, who has also died. Vigoda is survived by his daughter, grandchildren Jamie, Paul and Steven, and a great-grandson.

Reruns of “Barney Miller” and repeated screenings of the two “Godfather” epics kept Vigoda in the public eye, and unlike some celebrities, he enjoyed being recognized. In 1997 he was shopping in Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan when a salesman remarked: “You look like Abe Vigoda. But you can’t be Abe Vigoda because he’s dead.”

———

AP Television Writer Lynn Elber in Los Angeles and Entertainment reporter Lauri Neff in New York contributed to this report.

Biographical material in this story was written by The Associated Press’ late Hollywood correspondent Bob Thomas.

SOURCE

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YVONNE CHOUTEAU, WHO BROUGHT GRACE AND ACCLAIM TO THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA

By World’s Editorial Writers

Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2016 12:00 am | Updated: 1:31 am, Sat Jan 30, 2016.

We note with sorrow the death of Yvonne Chouteau, an Oklahoman whose artistic brilliance brought great pride to her home state.

Chouteau started her dancing career at age 14 with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and went on to found (along with her dancer husband, Miguel Terekhov) the University of Oklahoma School of Dance and the Oklahoma City Civic Ballet, the precursor to the Oklahoma City Ballet.

 

She was one of the “Five Moons,” five female American Indian dancers from Oklahoma who took the ballet world by storm. The five — Maria and Marjorie Tallchief, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin, and Chouteau — are honored with statues on the lawn of the Tulsa Historical Society and in a mural at the state Capitol.

Chouteau, 86, was prima ballerina and an acclaimed teacher. The whole state mourns her loss.

SOURCE

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Yvonne Chouteau died Sunday at age 86.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma has lost another of it’s famous five Indian ballerinas. Yvonne Chouteau died Sunday at the age of 86.

At 14, Chouteau was one of the youngest dancers ever accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. At age 18, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

She and her husband founded the School of Dance at the University of Oklahoma and organized the Oklahoma City Civic Ballet.

The ballerinas, known as the “Five Moons,” were named Oklahoma treasures and honored with a mural at the state capitol.

With Chouteau’s passing, Marjorie Tallchief is the only one still living.

SOURCE

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Yvonne Chouteau, 86, Celebrated Native American Dancer

Ms. Chouteau, a former principal dancer of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, was one of five celebrated Native American dancers from Oklahoma.

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION IN MEMORY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST: JANUARY 27, 2016

International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

On January 27 each year, the United Nations (UN) remembers the Holocaust that affected many people of Jewish origin during World War II. This day is called the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. It also commemorates when the Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on January 27, 1945.

January 27 is a special day to remember World War II’s holocaust victims.
©iStockphoto.com/Dan Moore

What Do People Do?

Holocaust survivors and various leaders make their voices heard on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Many of them speak publicly about the Holocaust or their experiences around the event, its aftermath and why the world should never forget what happened in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Many statements emphasize the need for future generations to learn about and remember the Holocaust and for everyone to work towards preventing genocide.

The UN organizes and supports events such as: concerts by musicians who survived the Holocaust or are survivors’ descendants; art exhibitions influenced by the Holocaust; presentations of special stamps; the introduction of special educational programs; and film screening and book signing focused on the Holocaust.

Israel and many countries in Europe and North America mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. Many academics present discussion papers or hold seminars or round table discussions on the Holocaust and its legacy in the modern world. Schools or colleges may also have special lessons on the Holocaust. The Holocaust and how people commemorate it receive special attention on the Internet, television, radio, print media.

Public Life

The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

The Holocaust, or Shoah (Sho’ah, Shoa), is the term used to describe the deliberate murder and desecration of millions of people prior to and during World War II in Germany and German occupied areas in Europe. Many of them were Jewish but the Roma people, Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, ethnic Poles, people with disabilities, homosexuals and political and religious opponents were also killed. Many people died in concentration and death camps spread across Nazi-occupied Europe. One of the most notorious camps was Auschwitz-Birkenau, near Oświęcim, Poland. More than one million people died in Auschwitz-Birkenau before Soviet troops liberated it on January 27, 1945.

On January 24, 2005, the UN General Assembly commemorated the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Following this session, a UN resolution was drafted to designate January 27 as the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The resolution called for education programs on the Holocaust to help prevent genocide. It also rejected denials that the Holocaust occurred. On November 1, 2005, the assembly adopted this resolution so the day could be observed each year. It was first observed on January 27, 2006.

Many Jewish groups, particularly in Israel, also observe Yom HaShoah, which is a day of mourning for Holocaust victims on 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, which falls in April or May of the Gregorian calendar.

Symbols

The symbol of the “Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme” consists of four elements on a solid black background. Two elements are the words “Remembrance and Beyond” and the UN symbol, both depicted in white. The UN symbol consists of a projection of the globe centered on the North Pole surrounded by two olive branches.

The other two elements are a piece of barbed wire and two white roses. The strands of the barbed wire merge into the stems of the roses. The barbed wire represents: the concentration camps; the loss of freedom of Jewish people and many other groups before and during World War II; and their pain and suffering.

The white roses represent peace, freedom and remembrance. These flowers also remind people of the White Rose, a non-violent resistance movement that was active in Germany from June 1942 until February 1943. In the United States and United Kingdom, white roses symbolize the investigation, remembrance and prevention of genocide.

2016 Theme: “The Holocaust and Human Dignity”

International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type Where it is Observed
Wed Jan 27 2010 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance
Thu Jan 27 2011 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance
Fri Jan 27 2012 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance
Sun Jan 27 2013 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance
Mon Jan 27 2014 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance
Tue Jan 27 2015 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance
Wed Jan 27 2016 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance
Fri Jan 27 2017 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance
Sat Jan 27 2018 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance
Sun Jan 27 2019 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance
Mon Jan 27 2020 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust United Nations observance

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SKYWATCH: MERCURY IN THE PREDAWN SKY, THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING QUASAR, AND MORE

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This Week’s Sky at a Glance, January 29 – February 6

As soon as it’s fully dark, spot the equilateral Winter Triangle in the southeast. Sirius is its brightest and lowest star. Betelgeuse stands above Sirius by about two fists at arm’s length. To the left of their midpoint shines Procyon.

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With Mercury’s Arrival, Five Planets in View

Early risers have been patiently waiting for the innermost planet to join four others — and the Moon — in the predawn sky. Now they’re all in view.

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With Mercury’s Arrival, Five Planets in View

Early risers have been patiently waiting for the innermost planet to join four others — and the Moon — in the predawn sky. Now they’re all in view.

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Solar and Lunar Eclipses in 2016

This year there’s a total solar eclipse on March 9th (visible from Indonesia) and an annular on September 1st (central Africa). But the terrific “tetrad” of total lunar eclipses is over.

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How to Stay Warm Observing in Winter

Does the cold make you think twice about winter observing? Here are a few tips on how to do it in comfort.

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S&T‘s Astronomy Podcast for February 2016

This month’s audio sky tour starts before dawn, when you can spot all five bright planets by eye, and moves to the sparkling stars seen on winter evenings.

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HATEWATCH: OREGON SHOOTING VIDEO MAY GALVANIZE, INCITE ANTI-GOVERNMENT FRINGE

Oregon Shooting Video May Galvanize, Incite Antigovernment Fringe

After the FBI releases a video of the shooting of LaVoy Finicum antigovernment extremists release a call to action

The release late Thursday of FBI aerial video, showing the fatal shooting of Oregon refuge occupier LaVoy Finicum, was intended to dispel “inaccurate and inflammatory” accounts spreading on social media and in extremist circles.

But there are already indications the release may be used as a springboard for the extremist movement to make the 54-year-old Arizona rancher and foster parent a new icon for the antigovernment movement, much like Gordon Kahl became in the 1980s and Vicki Weaver in the 1990s.

A Pacific Northwest militia group issued a statement today, saying it “condemns the violent action taken by the Harney County Sheriff’s Department along with the FBI in the shooting death of Mr. Lavoy Finicum.”

The statement released by the Pacific Patriots Network urged “all Americans to come to Burns, Ore., to come to the aid of the American people standing against these violent, malicious and deceitful tactics.”

“Come stand together with other Americans, and express our Constitutional right to PEACEFULLY assemble and air our grievances,” the statement said. Its release came as FBI negotiators continued to work around-the-clock to convince four heavily armed occupiers remaining in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns to peacefully surrender.

The four remaining holdouts have been identified in various media accounts as David Fry, of Cincinnati; Jeff Banta, of Elko, Nev., and Sean and Sandy Anderson, a married couple from Riggins, Idaho. They posted a YouTube video Thursday entitled “Husband and Wife – Maybe Last Dance?” as they danced to a sad-sounding country-western tune outside the refuge headquarters complex as FBI agents tightened their perimeter around the occupiers.

“They want guarantees they won’t be arrested,” FBI regional chief Greg Bretzing told reporters late Thursday at a press conference where the bureau took the unusual step of releasing evidence video 48 hours after the arrests and fatal shooting. There were reports that an arrest warrant had been issued for at least one of the four remaining holdouts. By continuing to defy the FBI, the others, too, may now be subject to arrest.

Bretzing said senior FBI officials believed “it was incumbent on us” to release the video and make copies available on YouTube and for downloading by every American.

“We know there are various versions of what occurred during this event — most inaccurate, some inflammatory,” said Bretzing, the special agent in charge for Oregon. “To that end, we want to do what we can to lay out an honest and unfiltered view of what happened and how it happened.”

Even before the release of the FBI video, the shooting of Finicum was sparking assorted, substantially unverified versions of what occurred.

Conflicting accounts of how Finicum died have fueled rumors and rage, with some calling his death unjustified while others saying Finicum resisted arrest or wanted to become a martyr via “cop-assisted suicide.” One account on social media suggested Finicum was shot while his hands were in the air. In another, he was charging at officers. In still another, he was shot in the head while on his knees.

The reports sparked outcry from antigovernment and militia groups who sympathize with the occupiers or with their message. The leader of the Pacific Patriots Network militia group issued a call Thursday for “thousands” of its members to descend upon Harney County to pressure the FBI into leaving.

“This is NOT a man reaching for a gun. THIS is a man with his hands up being executed because he is a patriot,” a posting on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page said. The page is where associates and supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy follow activities that began with his April 2014 militia standoff with federal agents at Bunkerville, Nev.

“LaVoy was murdered in cold blood,” said another post on the Bundy Facebook page. The page also announced that a viewing and funeral for Finicum has been scheduled for next Friday at a Latter Day Saints church in Kanab, Utah, where a large turnout is expected.

The Pacific Patriots Network statement and many other social media posts by assorted antigovernment individuals and groups have contained factual inaccuracies about the arrests and shooting that can be quickly unbolted.

For example, the Harney County sheriff’s department deputies actually weren’t involved on scene in Tuesday’s arrest of Ammon Bundy and seven other leaders as they drove in a white pickup and a Jeep from the Malheur national Wildlife Refuge, north on U.S. Highway 395, with two FBI surveillance planes tracking their movements.

“FBI agents and Oregon State Police troopers were involved in this operation,” Bretzing said. It was only OSP troopers, not FBI agents, who “utilized deadly force due to their proximity to LaVoy Finicum as the situation unfolded,” he said.

The Pacific Patriots statement called for Oregon State Police to immediately arrest “the FBI special agent in charge along with all agents and LEO involved in the shooting death of Lavoy Finicum.”

In compliance with Oregon law, the shooting death of Finicum by state police is being investigated by Deschutes County Major Incident Team which will issue a report for review by a county prosecutor.

In releasing the video, the FBI chief also gave a narrative detailing the arrests of Ammon Bundy and the others. Two FBI aircraft were in the air watching the occupiers’ caravan and FBI agents – likely members of its elite Hostage Rescue Team – lie in wait in vehicles hidden in the forested off-roads connecting the snowy, mountainous highway.

The tactical operation — planned to arrest the leaders of the illegal refuge occupation away from the facility, in a remote area —  clearly appeared to have been carefully planned by federal agents who train daily to carry out just such operations.

The aerial video shows a white pickup, driven by Finicum, in the lead, north-bound on U.S. 395, followed by a Jeep.

FBI and Oregon State Police vehicles, with the lights flashing, pull in behind the Jeep which “quickly pulls to a stop while the white truck — driven by LaVoy Finicum — continues some distance up the road,” Bretzing said as the video played.

In short order, the three occupants of the Jeep complied with verbal commands from officers and exited the vehicle. Ammon Bundy and Ryan Payne were taken into custody without incident. The driver, who the FBI declined to identify, later posted a video identifying himself as Mark McConnell, disputing reports from Bundy family members and others that Finicum was shot while on his knees with his hands raised.

As those three men were being detained, Ryan Payne exited through a backseat door of Finicum’s white pickup, but he and two other occupants, Ryan Bundy and Shawna Cox, refused orders to step out of the vehicle, Bretzing said.

At that point, Finicum drove off at a high rate of speed with his two passengers, only to encounter other FBI and OSP vehicles and agents who had deployed a spike-strip across the highway. Finicum avoided the spike-strip and attempted to drive around the law enforcement vehicles blocking the highway, but his truck became stuck in a snow bank after narrowly missing an FBI agent, Bretzing said.

Finicum jumped out of the driver’s seat of the white truck and initially appeared to have his hands raised as he continues walking away from the vehicle as two OSP officers approached, their handguns drawn, from different angles.

“On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket,” the FBI official said. “At this time, OSP troopers shot Finicum.”

Bretzing wouldn’t disclose how many shots were fired, only that it “was in the single digits.” It appears shots were fired by two OSP officers. After he was fatally shot, officers found a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in Finicum’s left jacket pocket, the FBI official said.

After the shooting, it took FBI agents and OSP officers approximately another 10 minutes to convince the three passengers in Finicum’s truck to  exit and surrender. That occurred after agents fired noisy “flash-bang” device and  “OC” pepper spray gas into the vehicle, Bretzing said.

Ryan Bundy and Shawna Cox were arrested without further incident, as was a young woman passenger whose identity and connection with the occupiers wasn’t released by the FBI.

Inside the pickup, agents later recovered two .223 caliber assault-style rifles and a .38 revolver – all loaded with ammunition, Bretzing said.

“Actions have consequences,” Bretzing said in responding to a few media questions. “As the video clearly shows, it was a reckless action that resulted in consequences you have seen here today.”

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11-YEAR-OLD GIRL, “SICK OF READING ABOUT WHITE BOYS AND DOGS”

Wow. What a brilliant, captivating and amazing little girl.

Much love and respect for her endeavors.

She took a stand and all those touched by her actions will be strengthened.

Way to go, Marley Dias!

Way to go!

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11-YEAR-OLD GIRL, “SICK OF READING ABOUT WHITE BOYS AND DOGS”

Marley Dias Book Drive 1,000 Black Girl Books Janice Dias/for PhillyVoice

Marley Dias at Lingelbach Elementary School in Germantown, collecting books as part of her #1000BlackGirlBooks social action project. Dias cited Mildred Taylor’s “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” as a book she’s been happy to discover since starting her project.

January 19, 2016

11-year-old Jersey girl launches #1000BlackGirlBooks

Campaign collects books in the name of social action

In the past year, Philadelphia native Marley Dias has successfully written a proposal for (and received) a Disney Friends for Change grant, served food to orphans in Ghana and recently launched a book club.

Dias is 11 years old.

“I’m hoping to show that other girls can do this as well,” Dias told PhillyVoice. “I used the resources I was given, and I want people to pass that down and use the things they’re given to create more social action projects — and do it just for fun, and not make it feel like a chore.”

Dias’ latest social action project is the “#1000BlackGirlBooks” book drive. Frustrated with many of the books she’s assigned in school, she confessed to her mother during dinner one night that she was unhappy with how monochromatic so many stories felt.

“I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” Dias said, pointing specifically to “Where the Red Fern Grows” and the “Shiloh” series. “‘What are you going to do about it?’ [my mom] asked. And I told her I was going to start a book drive, and a specific book drive, where black girls are the main characters in the book and not background characters or minor characters.”

So far, she said, she’s collected about 400 books — nearly halfway to her goal of 1,000 by Feb. 1. The project is part of an annual social action effort she makes as part of the Philadelphia-founded GrassROOTS Community Foundation Super Camp for young girls, designed to empower and improve the health of ‘impoverished’ girls middle-school-aged and younger. Dias’ mother, Janice, cofounded the organization seven years ago with lead MC of The Roots, Tariq Trotter (aka, Black Thought).

None

Janice, who grew up in Jamaica, calls watching her daughter grow up with such an investment in giving back a surreal experience. She further explained that her daughter’s “#1000BlackGirlBooks” project has been eye-opening even for her.

“I didn’t need identification, or I didn’t desire it because I grew up in an all-black country,” Janice told PhillyVoice. “She’s not growing up in an all-black country; she’s growing up in a fairly white suburb, in a country that only has 12.6 percent of blacks. For her, identification is a bigger deal. … For young black girls in the U.S., context is really important for them — to see themselves and have stories that reflect experiences that are closer to what they have or their friends have.

“And it doesn’t have to be the only thing they get, but the absence of it is clearly quite noticeable.”

The two just wrapped up a book drive at Lingelbach Elementary School in Germantown but are still on their way to hitting the 1,000-book mark. By the end of the drive, they’ll put together a reference guide that compiles the book titles, authors and age groups. Books collected will be donated to a low-resources library in St. Mary, Jamaica, where Janice grew up — in the spirit of giving back to their roots.

And in case you’re wondering what Dias wants to be when she grows up:

“I want to be a magazine editor for my own magazine,” she explained, without hesitation. “And I’d also like to continue social action. For the rest of my life.”


Book donations can be sent to 59 Main St., West Orange, N.J., 07052, Office 323.

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IN REMEMBRANCE: 1-24-2015

CLARENCE REID, R&B SINGER KNOWN AS BLOWFLY

By January 17, 2016
blowfly
Clarence Reid, the R&B singer who moonlighted as the innovative, masked and very explicit rapper Blowfly, passed away at 76 Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic

Clarence Reid, the R&B singer who moonlighted as the innovative, masked and explicit rapper Blowfly, passed away Sunday. He was 76. Reid’s death comes just days after it was revealed that he was admitted into a South Florida hospice care facility as he suffered from terminal liver cancer and multiple organ failure. A spokesperson for Reid confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone.

“Clarence Reid, the genius known both by his given name and as Blowfly, the Master of Class, passed peacefully today, January 17th, in his hospice room,” Reid’s longtime collaborator and drummer “Uncle” Tom Bowker wrote on Facebook. “His sister Virginia and I thank you for all the love you have shown this week. We also thank you for supporting Clarence’s 50+ year music career – especially these last few years. We love you and will keep you informed on services and tribute performances in Clarence’s honor.”

Artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Ice-T, Flying Lotus, DJ Quik, Pete Rock, Run the Jewels’ El-P and many more have turned to social media to pay tribute to the one-of-a-kind artist who had an unforgettable impact on many in the soul and hip-hop community. “I had the great privilege of playing with BLOWFLY. So much joy. R.I.P. Clarence Reid,” Flea tweeted, while Ice T wrote, “RIP and respect to the ORIGINAL.” (Flea appeared on Reid’s “Shake Your Ass” in 1991 and riotous “Funky Party” video two years later.) Flying Lotus also posted a photo of one of the iconic masks worn by Blowfly, which he gifted to the Los Angeles producer.

In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Public Enemy frontman Chuck D spoke to Reid’s influence on the group’s landmark 1989 hit “Fight the Power,” specifically the verse calling Elvis Presley and John Wayne racists. “Blowfly had a record called ‘Blowfly’s Rapp’ [aka “Rap Dirty”] in 1980,” Chuck D recalled. “And there was a line in there where one of the characters in the song was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and basically he had a lyric, ‘Well, I don’t care who you are, motherfuck you and Muhammad Ali.'”

As one of the main songwriters for Miami label TK Records, Reid penned a string of songs in the Sixties and Seventies for numerous soul and funk artists, including Gwen McCrae’s “Rocking Chair” and Betty Wright’s “Clean Up Woman.” He also wrote tracks for KC & The Sunshine Band, Sam & Dave and Bobby Byrd before giving birth to Blowfly, his outlet for performing comedic, explicit songs that over the years traversed the genres of soul, R&B and hip-hop; Blowfly is considered one of the earliest rappers. “He laid the foundation for hip-hop with ‘Shake Your Ass’ and ‘Rap Dirty’ and taught everyone that their dick could fly,” Bowker tells Rolling Stone.

His debut The Weird Wild World of Blowfly was released in 1971, with Reid’s alter ego releasing upwards of 25 albums since then, bearing titles like Porno Freak, Blowfly’s Party, Blowfly and the Temple of Doom and Fahrenheit 69

His life was chronicled in Jonathan Furmanski’s 2011 documentary The Weird World of Blowfly, which found the singer touring the United States and attempting to reclaim and augment his legacy as both a jovial parodist and serious R&B vocalist (though mostly the former). In the film, Reid explains how as a child, he would pass the time working on a Georgia farm by creating dirty lyrics to popular songs to anger his white bosses. They ended up loving his X-rated renditions.

While the explicit nature of his music ensured that he never broke into the mainstream, Blowfly influenced many hip-hop stars (“Blowfly is a legend,” Snoop Dogg told Nardwuar) and, thanks to his crazed live performances, he maintained a fervent fan base, one that helped raise the necessary funds for the singer when his house was in danger of foreclosure in 2014.

Prior to Blowfly’s death, Bowker promised the rapper would release one last LP this year titled 77 Rusty Trombones.

“While most performers sit on their laurels in their later years, Clarence constantly wrote new material and grinded tour dates like a 20-year-old,” Bowker says. “He treated gigs at Halloween house parties in suburban California the same as arena gigs in Germany and massive Australian festivals. He never refused an autograph, or an opportunity to tell a dirty joke. He was a once-in-a-century talent, and it was an honor to reintroduce him to the world these past 12 years.”

SOURCE

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ETTORE SCOLA, ITALIAN WRITER-DIRECTOR

Ettore Scola Dead: Italian Director Was

Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

January 19, 2016 | 05:48PM PT

Ettore Scola, one of the last of a generation of great Italian writers and directors, who was best known for “Il Sorpasso” (1962), “We All Loved Each Other So Much” (1974), “A Special Day” (1977), “The Family” (1987) and “The Dinner” (1998), died late Tuesday at a Rome hospital. He was 84 and had fallen ill on Sunday.

Scola was perhaps best known for “We All Loved Each Other So Much,” a 1974 portrait of postwar Italy that starred Nino Manfredi, Vittorio Gassman and Stefania Sandrelli. He directed and co-scripted with Maccari the 1977 Sophia Loren-Marcello Mastroianni film “A Special Day,” which picked up Oscar nominations for best foreign film and best actor for Mastroianni. He and Loren played neighbors who meet in 1938 during Hitler’s visit to Italy.

Scola won best director at Cannes for 1976’s “Ugly, Dirty and Bad” and shared the festival’s best screenplay award for “La terrazza” (1980). Another film much applauded on the festival circuit was the director’s 1983 film “Le bal.”

Scola started as a screenwriter, co-scripting 1962’sa “Il Sorpasso” with director Dino Risi and Ruggero Maccari. Starring Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant, the film was a road movie that is a classic of the genre.

Scola directed and co-scripted 1987’s “The Family,” starring Gassman, Stefania Sandrelli and Fanny Ardant; the Washington Post called the film “a thoughtful Italian ‘Upstairs, Downstairs.’ ”

He directed and co-scripted 1998’s “The Dinner,” starring Ardant, Gassman and Giancarlo Giannini; Variety said of the film, “A grotesque grab bag of trattoria diners, repping a cross-section of Italian society, eats its way through Ettore Scola’s ‘The Dinner,’ a relaxing, well-oiled comedy with little to digest.”

Scola’s last picture was a moving tribute to his friend Federico Fellini titled “How Strange to Be Named Federico: Scola Narrates Fellini” which screened at the Venice Film Festival in 2013. Praising this unique mix of clips and recreations of encounters between two postwar Italian greats Variety called it “a magical trip through history and memory.”

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in a tweet that Scola’s death “leaves an enormous hole in Italian culture.”

Scola is survived by his wife Gigliola and daughters Silvia, who is a screenwriter, and Paola, who is a writer and assistant director.

SOURCE

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GLENN FREY, GUITARIST AND CHIEF ARCHITECT OF EAGLES BAND’S VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL BLEND

 

So when Frey turned up at the celebrated Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood in the late 1960s to audition as a singer and guitarist for rising country-rock singer Linda Ronstadt, her manager wasn’t sure he’d be a good fit.

“I had pigeonholed him as this punky kid from Detroit who wanted to be a rocker,” John Boylan said Monday. “But he surprised me with the scope of his musical knowledge. The very first rehearsal we had with Linda, we were doing a [Hank Williams] song, ‘Lovesick Blues.’ He knew the country sixth chords that Hank would use — he knew the whole genre already. I figured I would have to teach this guy about ancient country music, but he could have taught me.”

Frey went on to become a founding member of the Eagles, one of the most successful bands of all time — a group that will be forever associated with the Southern California country rock sound.

Frey died in New York on Monday from the rheumatoid arthritis he’d struggled with for 15 years as well as acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia.

“When they went on tour with me, it was the first time Glenn had ever gone on the road,” Ronstadt recalled Monday. “We didn’t have enough money for everyone to have their own rooms, so the guys had to double up. That’s when Glenn and Don [Henley] started working together. When they said they wanted to form a band of their own, I thought, ‘Hot dog! Yes, you should put a band together.’ The first time I heard them sing ‘Witchy Woman,’ I knew they were going to have hits.”

His death could spell the end of the Eagles, a group whose sound captivated listeners worldwide starting with their first No. 1 hit, “Best of My Love” in 1974, and continuing with such successes as “One of These Nights,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Take It to the Limit,” “New Kid in Town,” “Heartache Tonight,” “The Long Run,” and one that became a contemporary standard replayed nightly by bar bands around the world, “Hotel California.”

That song explored the darkness they found lurking beneath the bright promises of fame and fortune often dangled in front of musicians, actors and other artists who come to California in pursuit of their dreams.

Frey and band mate Don Henley wrote of the excesses they observed — and famously indulged in themselves — in and around Hollywood:

Mirrors on the ceiling,

The pink champagne on ice

And she said, “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”

Besides reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart in 1977, “Hotel California” was subsequently honored with the Grammy Award for record of the year.

In a statement issued Monday, Henley said Frey “was like a brother to me; we were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction.”

That was a reference to the internal tensions the band was notorious for, and which led the group to disband at the end of the 1970s.

Henley had famously said the Eagles would reunite “when hell freezes over,” a phrase the band good-naturedly adopted when it did indeed get back together in 1992 for a new round of recordings and regular tours that continued into 2015.

“The bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that the Eagles were dissolved,” Henley wrote. “We were two young men who made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles with the same dream: to make our mark in the music industry — and with perseverance, a deep love of music, our alliance with other great musicians and our manager, Irving Azoff, we built something that has lasted longer than anyone could have dreamed. But, Glenn was the one who started it all.”

Azoff, who has managed the Eagles for most of their long career, said Frey was as astute in business as he was in music.

“He was always telling people, ‘When you’re in the music business, you’ve got to have your music right, and you’ve got to have your business right,’” Azoff said Monday. “He had incredible instincts. He and Henley and I would always plot what was coming next. He wasn’t just an incredible writer, singer and musician.

“I don’t know of a better family man, or father. He’s just gone too soon.”

The Eagles were to have been recognized with a 2015 Kennedy Center Honor in December, but in November the band requested that it be put off until “all four Eagles — Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit — can attend.”

At the time, Frey had a flare-up of intestinal problems he’d struggled with for years, Azoff said, and was hospitalized with plans for surgery. But he developed pneumonia and never was strong enough to undergo that procedure.

In 1986, Frey missed a reunion concert with Henley because of an intestinal disorder. An attempt to reunite the Eagles in 1990 was put off in part because of surgery to remove part of Frey’s intestine. And in 1994, their “Hell Freezes Over” reunion tour was interrupted by Frey’s bout with diverticulitis.

Frey and Henley collaborated on most of the Eagles’ signature songs, hits that came to define a quintessential Southern California pop sound in the 1970s, as distinctive as the Beach Boys’ sunny harmonies had been a decade earlier.

Frey and Henley, originally joined in the Eagles by Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, brought the two-, three- and four-part harmonies characteristic of country and bluegrass music to rock, powering them with electric guitars and drums in a tradition that had started with the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

Henley credited Frey for being the chief architect of the vocal and instrumental blend that defined the Eagles.

“We gave Glenn a nickname, the Lone Arranger,” Henley wrote in 2003. “He had a vision about how our voices could blend and how to arrange the vocals, and, in many cases, the tracks. He also had a knack for remembering and choosing good songs.”

Glenn Lewis Frey was born Nov. 6, 1948, in Detroit and was inspired by the Beatles to take up the guitar. He played in bar bands in the Motor City as a teenager, and for a time was part of rocker Bob Seger’s band.

But Frey had greater ambitions, and he went to California, drawn by the vibrant rock and country folk scene brewing in the mid- to late 1960s.

The Troubadour was a focal point of that musical community, and it is where Frey met Ronstadt through mutual friend and musician J.D. Souther.

Frey and Souther formed a folk-based band called Longbranch Pennywhistle that began to make a name for itself, and for a time they shared an apartment in Echo Park, living above yet another soon-to-be-prominent singer-songwriter: Jackson Browne.

Frey said it was Browne who taught him the discipline needed to become a first-rate writer.

“He had his piano and guitars down there,” Frey wrote in the liner notes for the Eagles’ 2003 compilation album “The Very Best of the Eagles.” “I didn’t really know how to sit down and work on a song until I heard him playing underneath us in the basement.

“I had never really witnessed that sort of focus — someone being that fastidious — and it gave me a different idea about how to write songs; that maybe it wasn’t all just going to be a flood of inspiration. That’s when I first heard ‘Take It Easy,’” a song Frey helped Browne finish and which became the Eagles’ first national hit, in 1972.

While becoming one of the most successful acts in pop music, the Eagles also had detractors who criticized the band’s often ultra-polished sound as soulless and excessively calculated.

But fans continued to lap up the band’s recordings and concert tickets. The group’s 1976 compilation album, “Eagles/Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975,” is the second-biggest-selling album of all time, according to the Recording Industry Assn. of America, the trade organization that bestows gold and platinum records.

It has alternated over the years at No. 1 and 2 with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which holds the top spot with certified sales of more than 30 million copies, to more than 29 million for the Eagles’ album.

During the band’s hiatus in the 1980s, Frey released three solo albums and ultimately logged 13 singles that made the Billboard Hot 100. Two of those peaked at No. 2: “The Heat Is On” (featured in the Eddie Murphy comedy “Beverly Hills Cop”) and “You Belong to the City.”

He also mapped out a second career as an actor, appearing in “Miami Vice” and other TV shows and starring in the short-lived 1993 series “South of Sunset.”

But it was with the Eagles that his reputation largely rested. After the group reunited in 1994, its tours generated bigger business at the box office than the group had in the 1970s, in large part because of the dramatic increase in the price of concert tickets over the decades.

The band commissioned a “History of the Eagles” documentary that aired on Showtime in 2013, and it recounted the light and the dark aspects of the group’s track record, including Frey and Henley’s decision to fire guitarist Don Felder, who had composed the signature guitar parts that help define “Hotel California.”

The documentary set the stage for a “History of the Eagles” concert tour that surveyed the group’s four decades of music-making and ranked No. 8 among the highest-grossing tours of the year worldwide, raking in $86.5 million in 2014, according to the concert industry-tracking magazine Pollstar.

As part of that tour, the Eagles played six sold-out shows at the newly renovated Forum in Inglewood at the outset of 2014.

Whether the Eagles could continue without Frey was a question no one was prepared to address Monday.

“I haven’t even given it a thought,” Azoff said. “It’s of no importance right now.”

Frey is survived by his wife, Cindy, and their children Taylor, Deacon and Otis.

“There will be a major memorial, and it will be in L.A.,” Azoff said. “The only thing the family and guys in the band ask is that we want to plan it right.”

randy.lewis@latimes.com

Follow @RandyLewis2 on Twitter.

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  1. For Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Black Leaders as Obituaries Portrayed ThemThe New York Times culled its files for a retrospective on how black leaders including Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Dr. King himself were regarded at their deaths.By SAM ROBERTS

For Martin Luther Kin

 

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SKYWATCH: SEE FIVE PLANETS AT DAWN, DOES THE SOLAR SYSTEM HAVE A NEW PLANET?, AND MORE

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