mojosmom: (Gautreau)
Three recent deaths:

Jean Dinning, who wrote Teen Angel:


Bob Marcucci, who discovered Frankie Avalon:


and Fabian:


and Owsley Stanley:



Seems like just yesterday . . .
mojosmom: (Black cat)
Bookstore owner extraordinaire. I used to love going into his store, though it's been quite a number of years since it closed.
mojosmom: (Music)
Chicago's own legendary saxophonist Fred Anderson died yesterday, at the age of 81.


Fred Anderson's jazz hands
Originally uploaded by mojosmom.



From the Chicago Tribune
mojosmom: (Food)
I had such a cute dessert the other night! I mentioned awhile ago that I had joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). They are doing tastings every couple of weeks from the produce available that week. One was this past Thursday. So after telling us we were getting an African vegetable stew and rice pilaf with apricots, raisins and almonds, the chef said, "And for dessert, French fries and ketchup." HUH???? What they did was to slice a pound cake into strips the size of fries (decent-sized ones, not those skinny things you get at McD's), crisp them in the oven, and sprinkle crystallized sugar on top to look like salt. The "ketchup" was strawberry purée. Wouldn't that be great to serve at a party for kids?

I had thought I'd go to Summerdance last night, but I was feeling a bit headachey, and it was threatening rain (which might have had something to do with the headache). When I got home from work, I took an ibuprofen and went to bed. A couple of hours later, I was awakened by a phone call from my kid sister. We had a nice chat, and the drugs and nap had chased away my headache.

Today, I went to a memorial service at the Newberry Library for Franklin Rosemont, Surrealist, anarchist, unreconstructed leftie, and publisher. He and his wife, Penelope, helped me find a home at the University of Michigan's Labadie Collection for the letters and other papers of my maternal grandfather that my mother had in her possession, so I wanted to pay my respects. It did go on and on, though. Nearly three hours!

Came home and had some luscious sweet corn for dinner!
mojosmom: (Music)
Norm Pellegrini

Yesterday, I woke, as usual, to WFMT's Morning Program. Shortly after the regular newscast and a bit of music, the host, Carl Grapentine, announced that they had just been told of the death of Norm Pellegrini. Who, you ask, is Norm Pellegrini? For forty-three years, he was WFMT's program director, and it is no exaggeration to say, as the Trib's classical music critic John von Rhein does: If WFMT is a unique classical radio station in the nation and the world, it is largely due to Mr. Pellegrini's vision, influence, elevated taste and uncompromising principles.

I do not recall any other radio station being on in our house as I was growing up. Norm was, therefore, an enormous influence on my musical education. As an on-air host, his voice was instantly recognizable. The words "mellifluous tones" seem to have been invented to describe it.


Chicago Tribune obituary-Norm Pellegrini )

--------------------------

Dempsey Travis

Later in the day, I saw the news of the passing of Dempsey Travis, another name not well-known outside Chicago, but a man whose life had an extraordinary impact on the city. Born into a blue-collar, working-class family, he rose to become a business leader and real estate developer who fought redlining and segregated housing, and worked to revitalize Chicago's South Side. Jazz buff, historian, author, he was also very politically active, and was instrumental in Harold Washington's election as the first black mayor of Chicago.

Chicago Tribune obituary-Dempsey Travis )
mojosmom: (frown)
Leon Despres, 1908-2009, the "grand independent" and "conscience of the city of Chicago"
Leon Despres

Barely a year ago, I wrote here:
On Thursday, I went to an author event at our local library. Former journalist, and current author and bookstore owner, Kenan Heise, wrote a book called Chicago Afternoons with Leon: 99 1/2 years old and looking forward, conversations with former alderman Leon Despres, lawyer, thorn in the side of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, social activist and gadfly. Here's why I like Leon: he was asked about the plan to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016, specifically, the plan to build a stadium in a local park. Said Leon, who is now 100: "If they build a stadium in Washington Park, I'm boycotting the Olympics!"

Chicago Tribune obit

Sam Ackerman, 1934-2009, another Hyde Park activist

And word comes of the death on May 1 of Sam Ackerman, a mere 74 years old, but just as contrary and feisty as Len. The Trib described him in some of the same terms they described Len, an activist and "a vocal opponent of Mayor Richard J. Daley".

Chicago Trib obit

Hyde Park, and Chicago, are a bit poorer today.

A sad loss

May. 1st, 2009 03:17 pm
mojosmom: (frown)
Every criminal defense lawyer who gets the chance goes to the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia. As a baby adolescent public defender, I was lucky enough to be sent there by my office. And lucky enough to have, as one of my instructors, Bill Moffitt. He challenged me. He made me mad. He made me try new things. He taught me never to say, "I can't do that in my jurisdiction." He showed me how to make myself a better lawyer.

Bill, a former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, represented people nobody else would, people like Dr. Sami Al-Arian, for whom he won an acquittal of terrorism charges after a six-month trial and three years of solitary confinement. (Dr. Al-Arian's tribute to Bill is here.)

Bill died last Friday. There aren't enough lawyers like him, and now there's one fewer.

Obit from Law.com
mojosmom: (Theatre)
Exactly one year ago, I wrote: But another old man is still going strong. Last night I went to the Goodman theatre for "A Conversation with Horton Foote", and cake and champagne in honor of his 92nd birthday (coming up next week). I hope I'm in such good shape when I'm ninety-two! (Assuming I get that far, which, considering the longevity on both sides of the family, is a distinct possibility.) I'd seen Blind Date and The Actor last Saturday evening. Apparently the latter is almost completely autobiographical, judging from what he said last night. Tomorrow, A Trip to Bountiful.

He died today.

New York Times.
Chicago Tribune
mojosmom: (frown)
He was 96 years old, had the fullest life of anyone I know, and I'm sitting here bawling like a baby. I guess it's at least in part because I grew up listening to his interviews on WFMT, and the station has never seemed the same since he left it. I can't remember a time when he wasn't a presence in my life, through his radio show, his books, and his readings, that gravelly voice, that laugh both instantly recognizable. He didn't invent oral history, but he sure as heck made it what it is today. He was Chicago, he was Everyman, he was unique.

If there is a God, Studs is interviewing her right now.

Link to Tribune Obit.

Text for posterity )
mojosmom: (Gautreau)
First, it's Yves.

Then, it's Bo.

Now, it's Paul.
mojosmom: (frown)
Former state Representative Larry McKeon has died. Of course, the headlines read "first openly gay Illinois lawmaker dies", and Larry was a fighter for GLBT civil rights and his mere presence in the legislature as an openly gay (and openly HIV-positive) man educated a lot of folks. But as one of his colleagues said today, "He may have gone in there as the first openly gay state legislator but he is leaving as a very good legislator who happened to be gay." He was an advocate for veterans (ex-Army himself), the elderly, and consumers, and worked to improve education, to provide affordable health care, and for environmental causes. He was a good guy.


Press release announcing his retirement )

Two deaths

Apr. 1st, 2008 08:09 am
mojosmom: (Default)
Jules Dassin has died. Now will somebody please release "He Who Must Die" on DVD?

We have also lost Robert Fagles, the brilliant translator of Homer and Virgil. (I admit, however, to a sentimental fondness for Lattimore, whose translation first introduced me to the power and beauty of Homer.)
mojosmom: (Default)
Sad news yesterday. Giuseppe di Stefano has died. (New York Times obit. I was never fortunate enough to hear him live, but his Cavaradossi to Callas' Tosca and Gobbi's Scarpia is probably the best opera recording ever. I listen to it often.

But another old man is still going strong. Last night I went to the Goodman theatre for "A Conversation with Horton Foote", and cake and champagne in honor of his 92nd birthday (coming up next week). I hope I'm in such good shape when I'm ninety-two! (Assuming I get that far, which, considering the longevity on both sides of the family, is a distinct possibility.) I'd seen Blind Date and The Actor last Saturday evening. Apparently the latter is almost completely autobiographical, judging from what he said last night. Tomorrow, A Trip to Bountiful.

Saturday morning I went up to Lakeview to stock up on tea. There's a place there that sells my favorite (Lapsang Souchong) in bulk at a very reasonable price. Then I went over to Aiko's. I'm sad. They are closing in April. Not enough people are doing traditional binding anymore, and not enough people appreciate the quality of the paper and tools at Aiko's or the quality of the people there. They'd rather buy cheap from people who don't even know what mending tissue is. So everything is 30% off, and I spent more than I should. And commiserated with Chuck, who has worked there for 29 years and has been the owner for fifteen. April 11th is their last day, but on the 12th they will have a silent auction of some special items, limited edition books and that sort of thing, with the proceeds going to the Aiko Fellowship at the Center for Book and Paper Arts.

I was at a CLE (continuing legal education) seminar today, and will be again tomorrow.
mojosmom: (Music)
No, don't go rushing off looking for tickets. Here's what happened.

I went to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last night. The first piece of the second half was Webern's Five Pieces for Orchestra. Before it was played, the conductor, Mark Elder, addressed the audience, beginning, "I know most of you came for the Brahms . . .", and then discussed the Webern a bit. A then he said that, after the concert, they would play the Webern again (it's incredibly short - about five minutes), and said that he would invite us (or as many as could be accommodated) to join them on the stage (it's a small orchestra - 19 - for this piece), to, as he put it, "enter our space". So I stayed! It's an intriguing piece, and it was most interesting to listen to the musicians sitting behind them, seeing the hall they way they see it. And Elder talked about the piece for several minutes before hand, having different musicians demonstrate with a note or chord or two what Webern was doing with the instruments. I had such a good time!

This shows the importance of having subscriptions*. I rarely go to the Symphony (not a lack of desire, but a lack of time, money and organization!), but I got talked into a four-concert series. I'd have missed this! CSO is getting a bit more, well, "informal" comes to mind, but that's not quite right. It's more a "demystification" of classical music, via this sort of educational component, early evening "after work" concerts, etc.

Before the concert, I stopped off at a home décor boutique across the street from where I live, as they were having a holiday open house. I had a pomegranate martini (excellent, by the way) and scoped out some cute things. I didn't want to buy as I didn't want to carry packages downtown, but I'm going to go back tomorrow and take advantage of their 20% discount on holiday decorations. Saw some very pretty artist-made Christmas tree balls that will make nice stocking-stuffers.

Last weekend, I went out in the nasty weather for a concert of German Renaissance Christmas music by the Newberry Consort. It was at Saint Clement Catholic Church, which is a gorgeous, Byzantine-inspired church on Chicago's north side. Wish I'd brought my camera! It's not, though, the greatest place for a concert, despite excellent acoustics, at least not for the Consort, because it lacks the intimacy that I associate with this group. (Not to mention that the altar is between the audience and the musicians!) The music was glorious, lots of Praetorius, plus some other folks, including Martin Luther himself (who was, by the way, a very accomplished musician, composer and singer).

*Speaking of which, Danny Newman, who practically single-handedly invented the subscription series, died recently. Danny Newman obit behind the cut )
mojosmom: (opera)
O terra addio addio valle di piante

In 1976, I had graduated from law school, and to celebrate my first job (and now having some real income!), I became a subscriber to Lyric Opera. So I was privileged to hear, that season, Luciano Pavarotti's first appearance there as Cavaradossi, in Puccini's Tosca. Over the years, I would hear him many times, as Nemorino in Elisir d'Amore, the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, Radames in Aida, Riccardo in Ballo in Maschera, and often in recital. He was never less than magnificent. His was a voice that was unmistakable; as with Callas', you would hear one note and know instantly, without thinking, who was singing. Never a great actor (remember that godawful movie he made, Yes, Giorgio?), he did, however, have great technique, and also great feeling and passion. Sadly, his habit of breaking his contracts and cancelling performances at the last minute led to a rupture with Lyric, when in 1989, general manager Ardis Krainik made the difficult decision to sever the company's relationship with him.

But there were always those recordings to listen to, the radio and television broadcasts.

One of the greatest things about him was not what he did onstage, but his encouragement of young singers. He established a voice competition, as well as a training facility in Modena. And he introduced millions to this glorious music.

As Corriere della sera put it this morning, "Opera is in mourning, Pavarotti is dead."

New York Times )

La Repubblica )
mojosmom: (Default)
It was Amahl and the Night Visitors. My father had bought our first TV for the family one Christmas, and I watched it with him.

Gian Carlo Menotti dies at 95 )
mojosmom: (Default)
It was Amahl and the Night Visitors. My father had bought our first TV for the family one Christmas, and I watched it with him.

Gian Carlo Menotti dies at 95 )

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