Category Archives: Obits

Remembering the late Marvin Chernoff

Photo from Charles Pulliam's Facebook page.

Photo from Charles Pulliam’s Facebook page.

I thought it was great to see the letter remembering Marvin Chernoff in The State today — and good initiative on Cindi and Warren’s parts, getting that in in spite of their new, earlier deadlines.

I especially liked that it was from Tim Kelly — one of a number of then-bloggers who encouraged me when I was first starting a blog myself in 2005, and the man who singlehandedly talked me into getting into social media in 2009, after which I promptly became a Twitter addict. But I like Tim anyway.

I had wanted to write something about Marvin myself yesterday, but didn’t feel like I had enough material at hand. Marvin had told me stories about himself, while he was working on his memoirs, but I had just enjoyed the stories without taking notes.

Tim’s letter encourages me to just plunge ahead…

I knew Marvin first as one of the people, along with his partner Rick Silver, Bud Ferillo and Bob McAlister, who would bring clients in to the editorial board to pitch their points of view (something I occasionally do now).

I remember him as the “idea man” — the gently mocking title Neil White gave him — who came up with “It’s Happening Now.” Which didn’t catch on the way “Famously Hot” has (shameless plug for ADCO, competitor of Chernoff Newman), although I actually thought it was better than most people did.

I even worked with Marvin, very briefly, right after leaving The State. He had just started his new virtual agency, MC2, and he had a client who needed help writing an op-ed piece. I got my first taste of the communications/PR side of life taking a lunch with him and the client, and listening to Marvin speak expansively about all the great things he could do for the client. So this was what it was like outside the editorial boardroom, I thought. Which for me at the time was a little like being under deep cover behind enemy lines…

Marvin was originally a political consultant, and he came to South Carolina to promote the legendary campaign of Pug Ravenel. After that campaign — the last really exciting one in SC, according to those who were there — crashed and burned on a technicality, Marvin stayed on, contributing to the community in many highly visible ways.

I’m sorry I won’t have the chance to hear those stories again, and write them down. The last couple of times I talked with Marvin, he was working on his memoir. According to The State, he completed it, although the book remains unpublished. I’d like to get ahold of a copy…

In memory of Jack Bruce of Cream

Upon the death of Jack Bruce, legendary bassist for Cream, my elder son posted the above video on my Facebook feed.

To which I responded, “That’s my favorite! And not only because I suspect it may have inspired ‘Stonehenge‘…”

Yeah, this is just the kind of over-important, mock-epic kind of rock song that Spinal Tap was making fun of, but I love it anyway. I’ve always seen it from the perspective of the adolescent boy I was, as an evocation of the way the seemingly (to an adolescent boy) supernatural allure of women can drive a young man mad (which is what the story of Ulysses and the sirens was about, after all), done through the lens of the gods of rock, which made it all that much more meaningful.

I like it musically as well. I love the shift back and forth from the hard-driving parts to the bits that go, “Tiny purple fishes…” with a thin line on Clapton’s guitar gently hovering and Ginger Baker using his cymbals to evoke the sound of waves kissing the shore and receding…

It’s interesting how the star of this video is Bruce. I guess the camera crew on the Smothers Brothers show figured since he was singing, he was the front man. They didn’t quite get who Clapton was yet. You hardly even get a glimpse of his face (he was in a mustache phase), or even of his guitar.

Rock and roll! Everyone hold up your lighters now…

(c) Manchester City Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I’m so sorry to hear about Anne Postic’s (ShopTart’s) Dad

I don’t know if y’all saw this, or made the connection, but our friend Anne Wolfe Postic, whom we know as The Shop Tart, lost her Dad, Rhett Oliver Wolfe, in a shocking accident at Litchfield Beach on Friday.wolfe

According to one friend, “Rhett and his wife Glenda were visiting some property that needed repair. Rhett leaned against a railing and it gave way. He fell… and apparently died instantly.” Here’s a news story about the accident.

He was only 65. Anne lost her Mom just a little over three years ago.

Here’s a link to his obituary in The State. As you can see, he was heavily involved in good works in the community.

Mr. Wolfe’s business was ADCO’s next-door neighbor on Pickens Street, but I just knew him as Anne’s and Elizabeth’s Dad. I am so terribly sorry for their loss.


The passing of Howard Baker


This came in a little while ago from The Washington Post:

Former senator Howard H. Baker Jr. of Tennessee, who framed the central question of the Watergate scandal when he asked “what did the president know and when did he know it?” and framed portraits of history with his ever-present camera while Senate majority leader and White House chief of staff, died June 26 at his home in Huntsville, Tenn. He was 88.

The cause was complications from a stroke, said longtime aide Tom Griscom….

That’s me with Baker in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1980. I had just arrived to cover him as he campaigned for the presidential nomination. It’s a shame that he didn’t do better than he did.

And it’s a greater shame that there are so few pragmatic centrists like Baker left — a fair-minded conservative who did not hesitate to grill the Nixon administration to discover the truth.

We still have Lamar Alexander, who comes out of that same commonsense Tennessee Republican tradition — people who gained high office before the Reagan revolution, and before the hardening of ideological positions on both ends of the spectrum. Our own Lindsey Graham is made from a similar mold — although, being of a later generation, he is more marked by the partisan wars than Baker ever was.

But the Howard Bakers, the Sam Nunns, the Scoop Jacksons… they’re all gone. And we’re worse off for it…

Could a man have a better headline on his obit?

HonorThis front page obit today noting the passing of Leroy “Nab” Inabinet bore a headline that any man should aspire to.

I suppose there are other attributes by which one would wish to be remembered — “good father,” “loving husband.” Some may aspire to the status of “hero.”

But you can only get so much into a headline, and in a newspaper it’s most appropriate to refer to the public side of a subject’s character.

With that in mind, it’s hard to beat this tribute.

It’s the sort of thing that makes me wish I’d known Mr. Inabinet, and feel a sense of loss because I did not.

Those who did were fortunate, and are no doubt reflecting on that today.

Statements regarding the passing of Butler Derrick

Members of the SC congressional delegation react to the passing of former 3rd District Congressman Butler Derrick

Congressman Clyburn Mourns the Passing of Butler Derrick

(Columbia, SC) – House Assistant Democratic Leader and South Carolina Congressman James E. Clyburn released the following statement on the passing of Butler Derrick, former South Carolina Congressman from the Third Congressional District, today:

“Butler and I got to know each other when I worked for Governor West and he was serving in the South Carolina legislature.  He was a kind man with a desire to better South Carolina and help those who called it home.  He loved this state and devoted his life to making it a better place for its citizens.  Our friendship grew when I was elected to Congress and he was serving as Chief Deputy Whip.  His leadership and dedication to South Carolina will surely be missed.


Wilson Statement on former Congressman Butler Derrick

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following statement on the death of former Congressman Butler Derrick (SC-03).

“South Carolina has lost a great statesman. Former Congressman Butler Derrick served the people of the Third Congressional District for twenty years with true distinction.  I am very appreciative of his willingness to cross the political aisle and work with the late Congressman Floyd Spence to promote new missions at the Savannah River Site.  Roxanne and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to all of the Derrick family during this difficult time.”

On the Passing of Butler Derrick

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made this statement on the passing of former Congressman Butler Derrick.

“In Washington, Butler Derrick rose through the ranks of Democratic politics to become a strong voice for his party in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Closer to home, he was known for a very caring and effective constituent service operation which put the needs of his constituents first. 

“Butler was a good man and I will always be grateful for the assistance he provided to me in my transition to the U.S. House of Representatives. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time.”


Here’s hoping Sen. Graham doesn’t get even more grief from his primary opponents for saying nice things about a Democrat. Even when he has the excuse that this was the man he succeeded in Congress.270px-Butler_Derrick

And how about Joe Wilson, expressing appreciation for Derrick’s willingness to work across the aisle — anathema to a significant portion of the GOP today.

The name “Butler Derrick” hearkens back to when Democrats and Republicans managed to disagree while dealing with each other as mature human beings. There was such a time, boys and girls…

Andy Hardy’s dead, and I don’t feel so good myself


Sad to see this news:

Mickey Rooney was a 5-foot-3 dynamo. Whether he was acting, singing or dancing, he poured an uncanny energy into his performances. It’s an energy that sustained a lifelong career alongside some of the biggest names in show business, including Judy Garland and Elizabeth Taylor.

He died Sunday at his North Hollywood home, at age 93. He was still working — on a new film version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

From 1938 to 1941, he ranked as Hollywood’s top-grossing star. His inimitable onscreen persona earned him major parts in a variety of films, from the lighthearted Babes in Arms to more dramatic fare like Boys Town….

In the Andy Hardy series, Rooney played the title role: a teen growing up in an all-American family. The series showcased his youthful, wholesome appeal and catapulted him into stardom. He starred in 16 Andy Hardy pictures altogether.

During that same period, MGM dreamed up another teen franchise starring Rooney and the young Judy Garland as a plucky song-and-dance act….

Yep, Andy Hardy was silly, and corny, and trite. And repetitive. It seems contradictory that someone making such fluff was the top box-office draw at a time when the world was ripping itself apart in the most horrific, all-encompassing war in history. And yet it makes sense, too. Andy Hardy was an expression of the light-hearted things and the shared values that Americans had in common — back when they saw themselves as having things in common (even if it was nothing more than a common love of a well-executed song-and-dance routine).

I read a book review this morning (the book was The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, about the roots of our Culture Wars today) that noted how our sense of commonality largely lasted through the 1950s. We find it hard now to agree on the simplest things.

And now Mickey Rooney’s dead.

I feel like we ought to do something to address this state of affairs. If only it could all be solved by putting on a show…

They got old Guarnere this time


Joe Toye: “You got a smoke?”
Donald Malarkey: “Yeah.”
Toye: “Jesus. What’s a guy gotta do to get killed around here?”
Medic Eugene Roe: “Bill, you’re going first.”
Bill Guarnere: “Whatever you say, Doc. Whatever you say.”
Roe: “Over here! Take this man.”
Guarnere: “Hey, Lip, they got old Guarnere this time.”
Stretcher bearer: “We got you, soldier. Just lie back.”
Guarnere: “Hey, Joe, I told you I’d beat you back to the States.”

— Band of Brothers

That light-hearted scrap of badinage occurred on January 3, 1945, between two soldiers of Easy Company, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment, Joe Toye and Bill Guarnere. Just seconds before, each had lost his right leg to German artillery, and they lay bleeding profusely into the snow among the trees of the Ardennes. Toye was hit first, and despite the barrage Guarnere rushed out to try to pull him to safety, and was doing so when his own leg was blown off.

The dialogue, which I’ve taken from the TV series “Band of Brothers,” may seem like typical Hollywood B.S. — guys lying around cracking wise and bumming cigarettes after receiving horrific wounds. But it follows fairly closely the account in Stephen Ambrose’s book, based on interviews with men who were there. Joe Toye and Bill Guarnere were a couple of tough monkeys.

Both had been wounded before. Toye had been knocked about by two hand grenades within minutes of each other that should have killed him on D-Day, but walked away unmarked. That same day, his buddy “Gonorrhea” earned the sobriquet “Wild Bill” for the ferocity with which he attacked the Germans — he had just learned, hours before jumping into Normandy, that his elder brother had been killed at Monte Cassino.

A native of South Philly, Guarnere was sort of the guy in Easy (or one of them) who filled the role of the stereotypical brash, streetwise Italian city boy from war movies.The kind of guy who alleges that his commanding officer who chews him out for killing Germans before being given the word to fire is some kinda Quaker or something, elaborating that without a doubt “He ain’t Catholic… he don’t even drink!”

Bill may have beat Joe back to the States, but Joe was the first to leave on life’s final evacuation, passing away in 1995.

Over the weekend, just a month shy of his 91st birthday, Bill Guarnere followed him.

There are only 18 members of Easy Company left alive.


We lose Maurice Bessinger and Harold Ramis on the same day


Which means nothing, of course — I mean, the fact that they died on the same day means nothing; obviously their respective deaths mean a great deal to their families — but it struck me as an odd juxtaposition.

Maurice Bessinger, purveyor of yellow barbecue and “South Will Rise Again” tracts was 83. The man who gave us Egon “Print is Dead” Spengler and Army recruit Russell Ziskey (and as a writer and director, such gems as “Groundhog Day” and “Analyze This”) was only 69. And yes, my very first thought on the latter’s passing was that maybe collecting spores, molds and fungus was not the healthiest hobby. I mean that fondly, and intend no disrespect.

In Maurice’s behalf, I’ll note that his barbecue was my youngest daughter’s favorite. As the baby of the family, she had trouble understanding why the rest of us preferred not to give him our custom while that flag was flying at his restaurants. But now my daughter is off in Thailand with the Peace Corps, so I don’t think her BBQ preference limited her horizons or worldview any.

As for why the juxtaposition is notable, well… Maurice was a man who went out of his way to stand up for outmoded ideas, a man who insisted on pushing a discredited worldview even when it drove customers away. Ramis, on the other hand, was a harbinger of a new ironic meme in our popular culture, the smirking wise guy who poked gentle, mocking fun at our social foibles. One insisted on respect for ideas that had never deserved it; the other urged us not to take ourselves so seriously.

For what that’s worth…

The passing of Ariel Sharon, who inspired the UnParty

Well, he sorta, kinda inspired it.

It was his decision, in 2005, to leave the Likud behind and form another, more centrist party that started my mind on the way toward dreaming up the UnParty, as I disclosed in the original column announcing the formation of the UnParty.

So one day, when the UnParty dominates American politics, and the planets are aligned, and the lion lies down with the lamb, our party’s flame-keepers will honor the warrior known alternately as “the Bulldozer” and “the Lion of God” for his unintentional role in our formation.

For now, President Obama has offered his condolences to the Sharon family and Israel for “the loss of a leader who dedicated his life to the state of Israel and reaffirmed “our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security and our appreciation for the enduring friendship between our two countries and our two peoples.”

Lindsey Graham said, “With the passing of Ariel Sharon, America has lost one of her best friends and the Israeli people have lost one of their greatest champions.  He was a fierce fighter for the State of Israel who boldly embraced peace.  His life’s work has made him an Israeli icon.  May he rest in peace.”

Meanwhile, Palestinians celebrated. Which isn’t cool, but you know how things are over there.



I’d like to have a Kalashnikov lawnmower


For me, Mikhail Kalashnikov is one of those “You mean he was still alive?” people. I had not known he was still among us. But he was, until today, when he died at 94.

It’s ironic that he survived so long, since his invention was the cause of the premature deaths of untold thousands around the world.

Mikhail Kalashnikov/

Mikhail Kalashnikov/

His AK-47 (and its variants) was made to supply soldiers of the Red Army with a reliable modern rifle, but it became the weapon of choice of “national armies, terrorists, drug gangs, bank robbers, revolutionaries and jihadists,” as the WashPost put it.

Kalashnikov was a former Red Army sergeant with little technical training, who ended up leading the effort to create a rifle that met the requirements of a weapon that was cheap to produce, easy to maintain and operate, and reliable. He was wildly successful.

He produced an automatic weapon that took next to no maintenance, and would work under the most demanding conditions. There are stories of Kalashnikovs found buried in mud under rice paddies in Vietnam that still fired.

The AK enabled almost anyone to put a tremendous amount of lead (30 rounds to a magazine) on a target in a big hurry. And by anyone, I mean anyone — it’s the ideal weapon for child soldiers in Africa because it takes relatively little upper body strength to use.

And so we have the paradox of Mikhail Kalashnikov — hardly anyone in the past century has produced a product of any kind that performed as well as his rifle, and was so universally sought-after and used.

But hardly anyone has been the cause of more death.

He noted the paradox of tremendous achievement vs. tremendous harm himself:

“I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists,” he said on a visit to Germany, adding: “I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work – for example a lawnmower.”…

If he had, I definitely would have wanted one of those lawnmowers. It would have started immediately every time, run on very little gas, and you’d only have to clean the filters once a year. And it would have lasted a lifetime.

I’d like to have seen a sequel in which Billy Jack, with great reluctance and a heavy sigh, kicks Old Age’s butt

"You know what I'm gonna do?"

“You know what I’m gonna do?”

Local boss man Stuart Posner couldn’t take down Billy Jack. Billy kicked his butt.

Posner’s worthless, sniveling son Bernard couldn’t do anything to Billy Jack, either. Billy kicked his butt once, and when that didn’t take, made him drive his ‘Vette into a lake, and when that didn’t work, came back and killed him with a chop to the windpipe.

Deputy Mike, daddy of the pregnant runaway girl, couldn’t stop Billy Jack, despite shooting him in the gut with a rifle.

A rattlesnake couldn’t even kill him. Its multiple bites were just steps on his path to becoming stronger.

In the end, the most banal, mundane, everyday bully got Billy Jack — old age and years of failing health.

“Billy Jack” was, as anyone who has watched it again years later can attest, a painfully amateurish, rather silly film. The one thing a fair critic can say for it is that it was better than the three other films in which Tom Laughlin played the character.

But that one semester that I attended USC, the fall of 1971, the film was what Jesse Pinkman would call “the bomb.” We loved it. We’d never seen anything like it before, although we’d soon see something that copied the formula on TV — the formula being a character who’s all about talking nonviolence and exotic mysticism, but who is forced, with great reluctance, to kick bad guy’s butts on a regular basis. Which was why we watched.

The films were awful, but it would have been nice to have seen him prevail over the foe that got him in the end…

Courson reaching out to his Democratic (and GOP) friends, before it’s too late

I happened to be driving through Shandon just after 8 this morning, and there was John Courson, walking his dog on Wheat St.

I rolled down my window and stopped in the middle of the street to chat. No one was coming.

He said something about the shock of having lost four friends this past week, three of them younger than he is. I assume three of them were Lee Bandy, Steve Morrison and Ike McLeese. I didn’t ask him who the fourth was (I sort of hated to say, “Who was the fourth?,” because that would seem to diminish that person’s death by the fact that I had to ask), but my first guess would be Will McCain.

Will McCain

Will McCain

McCain, who had been then-Gov. David Beasley’s chief of staff, died before any of the other three, and it was a real shock to me. I didn’t think I was at the age at which I would start to peruse obits daily to see if my friends are there, but seeing Will McCain’s picture there as I was flipping by the page — looking just as he did during the Beasley years — made me think, “Maybe I am at that age.” Because he was born the same year I was.

We weren’t really friends; I don’t remember when I had seen him last. In my mind, he actually still looked that way — which added to the shock of seeing him on the obit page.

Maybe the senator had someone else in mind. (And Kathryn and Phillip give good reason below to think so.) In any case, my purpose in writing is to relate something else he said.

Sen. Courson said those deaths reminded him that he should get together with his friends and enjoy their company before they suddenly leave this vale. So he said he’s arranged a lunch with “some of my Democratic friends,” because his baseball buddy Ike was a Democrat. And then, he’s going to have lunch with some of his Republican friends.

Because that’s the way John Courson is. Cynics will say that’s the way he has to be, being a Republican (one of the most ardent admirers of both Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond I know) who lives in a largely Democratic district. Just as they might say Nikki Setzler, a Democrat in a largely Republican district, has friends and deals fairly with people on both sides of the aisle because he has to.

Maybe so. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe swing districts, which aren’t too strongly either way, attract people who already are the kinds of people who reach across the aisle and try to represent all their constituents, not just the ones of their party. Or maybe it takes people who are just as partisan as most lawmakers and makes them into statesmen who rise, out of political necessity, above narrow considerations.

Either way, we need more districts like that. We have far too few of them, because lawmakers make it their business to make as many districts as possible either super-Democratic or super-Republican. And it’s tearing our country apart.

Ike McLeese, longtime Chamber chief, dead at 69

I ran into Bobby Hitt this morning. I had last seen him at Lee Bandy’s funeral Saturday.

I asked Bobby how he was doing, and he said he hesitated to say for sure. After all, about five people he knew had died in the last week or so. We then chatted a bit about Steve Morrison, that having been the latest shock at the time we spoke.

Now, there’s another:

Ike McLeese, the President & CEO of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, passed away Tuesday.

McLeese led the Chamber for 19 years. He announced earlier this month that he would step down from his duties as CEO at the end of this year.

McLeese suffered a heart attack in September. When he announced plans to retire, McLeese said he would still work with military installations in the Midlands to help them through any future base realignment processes.

Many in the Midlands know McLeese for his leadership helping Midlands military bases avoid cuts in the 2005 rounds of base closings….

There was so much more that Ike led the way on — most recently last year’s penny tax referendum for transportation, and the current campaign for a strong-mayor system for Columbia.

Ike was everywhere, leading on everything, for almost two decades. We already knew we were losing that leadership, but we didn’t know we’d lose him, personally, so soon after the announcement of his retirement.

My greatest sympathy goes to his wife, Sue, and all his many friends.

Steve Morrison, a man of great intellect, passion for justice

Steve Morrison during his campaign for mayor, 2010.

Steve Morrison during his campaign for mayor, 2010.

The news being reported by The State today is a terrible shock:

A prominent Columbia attorney who fought for equity in the state’s public education system and left his mark on the community through extensive service to organizations championing the arts, education and South Carolina’s disadvantaged, has died.

Stephen “Steve” Morrison, 64, a partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Columbia, became ill and passed away unexpectedly sometime between Saturday night and early Sunday morning, said Jim Lehman, the firm’s managing partner.

Morrison was in New York attending a board meeting when he passed away….

This is a great loss for this community, and for South Carolina.

Steve may be best remembered for leading the legal team that fought in court for two decades to try to get the state to bring poor, rural schools up to par, so that the quality of education a child received wouldn’t be so dependent on the accident of where he or she happened to be born.

I never saw him in court during that lengthy case, but I heard him give presentations on the critical issues involved in speeches to community groups. He was always deeply impressive — not only for the intellectual force of his arguments, but for the passion and commitment that he exuded.

He exhibited these qualities in everything he did. And he did a lot.

By the way, here’s a footnote I wrote in 2010 about my own relationship with Steve:

Finally, a disclaimer — aside from the fact that Steve Morrison and I served together on the Urban League board, he has quite recently served as my attorney. Not a big deal, but I thought you should know. Aside from that, having known him for years, I’ve heard him give quite a few quietly compelling speeches, and asked him why he didn’t run for office. He always shrugged it off — until now.

I wrote that in the context of covering his candidacy for mayor. But back to Steve…

The bottom line is, the cause of justice for all in South Carolina has been set back.

Gathering to say goodbye to Lee Bandy

Lindsey Graham and Mark Sanford, at reception following Lee Bandy's funeral.

Lindsey Graham and Mark Sanford, at reception following Lee Bandy’s funeral.

Above are some of the better-known people who showed up at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia yesterday to pay their respects to the inimitable Lee Bandy.

There were other politicos, such as Sen. John Courson and former Attorney General Henry McMaster. But far more numerous were present and former colleagues of Lee’s from The State.

With the emphasis being on “former.”

Lindsey Graham wondered whether there were more alumni of the paper in the receiving line — which wound all the way around the fellowship hall — than the present total newsroom employment, and I looked around and said yes, almost certainly.

The former certainly outnumbered the present at the lunch that some of us went to at the Thirsty Fellow after the funeral and reception. That group is pictured below. Of those at the table, only three currently work at The State. The rest are at The Post and Courier in Charleston, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and various other places. Some are free-lancing. Some of us, of course, aren’t in the game at the moment.

That night was when we gave Lee a proper newspaper send-off. There were about 50 of us at Megan Sexton and Sammy Fretwell’s house. At one point in the evening, we crowded into a ragged circle in the biggest room in the house to share Bandy stories. The first couple of speakers were fairly choked up. Then Aaron Sheinin of the AJC cheered us up by saying, “What would we all say if he walked in that door right now?” And immediately, we all raised our glasses and shouted, “Bandy!”

So we went around the room, and after each testimonial — some poignant, some humorous, some both — we hoisted our glasses and cried out his name again. Just the way we did during his lifetime, in a tone infused with delight. That was the way everyone greeted him, from presidents to senators to political professionals to his fellow scribes. Everyone was glad to see him.

And everyone was deeply sorry to see him go.

There was in the room a rosy glow of remembrance of what we had all meant to each other once, and a joy at regaining that comradeship, if only for an evening. But none of the rest of us will have a sendoff like Bandy’s, nor will any of us deserve it as much…


Lou Reed as a young man, as seen by Warhol


Reacting to this news

Lou Reed, a massively influential songwriter and guitarist who helped shape nearly fifty years of rock music, died today on Long Island. The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May
With the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties, Reed fused street-level urgency with elements of European avant-garde music, marrying beauty and noise, while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock & roll poetry. As a restlessly inventive solo artist, from the Seventies into the 2010s, he was chameleonic, thorny and unpredictable, challenging his fans at every turn. Glam, punk and alternative rock are all unthinkable without his revelatory example. “One chord is fine,” he once said, alluding to his bare-bones guitar style. “Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.”…

… I happened to remember the above video. It’s one of Andy Warhol’s “screen tests” that he did of various people who hung around The Factory back in the mid-’60s.

Basically, Warhol would turn a camera loaded with a short bit of film (about four minutes worth) onto one of his subjects, and just let that person be for that length of time.

Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips put 13 of those clips to music, and I saw their show at Spoleto in Charleston a couple of years back.

Somehow, their lyrics seem appropriate to express just how old we’ve gotten since Reed sat there drinking that Coke.

For some of Reed’s own music, I include the clip below…

Remembering Jonathan Winters

Just thought I’d share a couple of clips to help us remember Jonathan Winters, in light of today’s sad news.

As it happens, Winters was the same age as Margaret Thatcher, 87. But he was way funnier.

I chose the one above in part to remind us of someone else. In light of the recent Jimmy Fallon news, I thought it would be apropos to look back at the original host of “The Tonight Show.”