A Eulogy for the BearThis past weekend, in the wake of former Bear Stearns CEO James Cayne’s getting over the denial stage and selling out his shares in the firm, thereby clearing the way for takeover by JPMorgan, 85-year-old Bear Stearns was prepared for death with more pomp and circumstance than an Egyptian pharaoh.
Bobby Fischer, Eccentric Chess Champion, Dies at 64The story of international grand chess master Bobby Fischer has a lot of New York highlights. Fischer grew up and learned chess in Brooklyn, and for those not old enough to remember his iconic role in the Cold War, the Washington Square Park scenes from the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer are a cultural touchstone. In his later years, while living in exile, he turned against the city and America. After the September 11 attacks, he announced on the radio: “This is all wonderful news. I applaud the act.” When Fischer died yesterday, at age 64, it was far from his childhood home, in Reykjavik, Iceland. “The tragedy is that he left this world too early, and his extravagant life and scandalous statements did not contribute to the popularity of chess,” chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov said of him. “He single-handedly revitalized a game that had been stagnating under the control of the Communists of the Soviet sports hierarchy.”
Chess Champion Bobby Fischer Dies [Guardian]
Worker Killed at Trump Soho Was ‘Hardworking,’ ‘Always Smiling’The worker who was killed on Monday in the accident at the Trump Soho was identified by the Times this morning. Yuriy Vanchytskyy was a Ukrainian immigrant who lived in a Greenpoint walk-up, below a bunch of hipsters and above the Pakistani couple who owned the building. By all accounts, he seemed nice: He helped his landlady take out the trash, she said, and a co-worker at DiFama Concrete, the subcontractor at Trump Soho, describes him as a “hard working brother; always smiling.” He had a wife and three children. The Times also found that Vanchytskyy wasn’t the first DiFama employee to be killed on the job: In 2004, a worker fell 60 feet from a crane at the Lumiere, the condo building on 53rd Street, and since then DiFama — whose clients have included William Beaver House and 15 Central Park West — has received seventeen federal violations. Seven of them were related to issues relating to fall protection.
Many Violations for Employer of Worker Who Died In a Fall [NYT]
Earlier: Intel’s coverage of Monday’s accident at Trump Soho
In Death, We Are All the SameWe smirked a little when we saw that the Times had juxtaposed the obituaries of renowned author and critic Elizabeth Hardwick and Pimp C, the seminal hip-hop artist. Could two people be more different?, we thought. But when we looked a little closer at the defining facts of their lives, we realized that actually, Pimp C and Elizabeth Hardwick are kind of the same! Well, they’re not unalike. For instance:
They Had Straightforward Styles That Helped Them Define Their Genres
• Hardwick was “credited with expanding the possibilities of the literary essay, through her intimate tone and forceful logic.”
• Pimp C “helped define Southern hip-hop, with his thoughtful but unapologetic rhymes about Southern street life.”
They Represented an Era
• Hardwick and her husband, Robert Lowell, were, along with some other authors, “among the last of an era of rambunctious intellectuals.”
• Pimp C, along with his UGK bandmate, became “godfathers of the Houston hip-hop scene.”
They Rubbed Shoulders With Legends
• On her “nightly searches for good jazz in the clubs on West 52nd Street,” Hardwick “got to know, among others, Billie Holiday.”
• Pimp C and UGK’s “biggest moment came in 2000, when Jay-Z invited both rappers to contribute rhymes to ‘Big Pimpin,’ one of his biggest hits.”
The Last Days of LydiscoYou know how you start sleeping with someone, and then one day, all of a sudden, he completely grosses you out and you have to immediately break up with him, and maybe even pretend it never happened? We call this Sudden Revulsion Syndrome, and we think Lydia Hearst must have gotten a strong case of it regarding her BF Cisco Adler. It seems like mere weeks ago that Lydia and the large-balled Whitestarr front man were making out at the Box, and freaking each other in L.A. on Halloween, and Lydia was gushing that their relationship was “a whole other form of creation.” But a socialite’s love is fleeting. “Page Six” this morning reports that Lydia was overheard saying, “I’m so single!” this past weekend, and her rep tells the Post, “they were never really boyfriend-girlfriend.” Ouch. We’re not too worried about Cisco though. We feel he’ll bounce back. In fact, after the jump, our suggestions of ladies he could start being spotted canoodling with.
Norman Mailer’s Self-Penned ObituaryBack in 1979, at the height of his curly-haired glory, Norman Mailer composed a witty and sharp obituary for himself for Boston magazine, which has reprinted it on their Website on the occasion of his death this past weekend. “Norman Mailer passed away yesterday after celebrating his fifteenth divorce and sixteenth wedding,” it begins:
He was renowned in publishing circles for his blend of fictional journalism and factual fiction, termed by literary critic William Buckley: Contemporaneous Ratiocinative Aesthetical Prolegomena. Buckley was consequentially sued by Mailer for malicious construction of invidious acronyms. “Norman does take himself seriously,” was Mr. Buckley’s reply. “Of course he is the last of those who do.”
In it, he offers up fake eulogies from some of his friends, which in retrospect are surprisingly poignant. “He was always so butch,” “Truman Capote” says. “I thought he’d outlive us all.”
Mailer’s Death: We Called It [Boston]
Earlier Intel’s prodigious coverage of the death of Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer for Mayor of New York, 1969As friends and family paid respects to Norman Mailer at his wake in Provincetown, Massachusetts, yesterday, we decided to dig up our part of one of Mailer’s most colorful personal stories: when he ran for mayor in 1969. “I am paying my debt to society,” he told Time that summer. “That is why I am running.” He ran alongside newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin, who ran for City Council president. They began their campaign at the urging of friends like Gloria Steinem and Jack Newfield, at a time when they saw the city as a wounded place in need of healing. Breslin recounted his experience of running, and how Mailer convinced him to do it, in a May 1969 New York cover story. Click below to read.
MAILER-BRESLIN: Seriously? [NYM, pdf]
Norman Mailer, Warhol’s Inverse, Helped Invent Modern FameIt’s safe to say, now, that Norman Mailer did not become the heavyweight champion of fiction — safe to say because he’s no longer around to take a swing at you with his cane. Even in his last year, Mailer would vigorously defend his reputation if he heard something he didn’t like. After this magazine recently published an innocuous chart chronicling his many highly entertaining feuds, he called to deliver a loud, hearing-challenged verbal pummeling. But, though he doubtless wouldn’t fully concede the point, even he must have realized that his greatest work was not fiction.
Norman Mailer Dead at 84Prolific, outspoken novelist Norman Mailer passed away this morning at Mount Sinai hospital, where he’d been admitted several weeks ago with respiratory problems.
A true New York character, both colorful and controversial, Mailer co-founded The Village Voice, penned over 30 books, directed four movies, won two Pulitzer Prizes, and tossed at least one drink at Gore Vidal. A fascinating man with an ego to match, Mailer was nothing if not captivating, and the world of letters won’t be the same without his bluff and bravado.
Earlier:The Rise of Mailerism [NYM]
Father to Son: What I’ve Learned About Rage [NYM]
Linda Stein, Realtor to the Stars, Has Been MurderedLinda Stein, the punk-music pioneer turned real-estate broker, was found murdered in her Fifth Avenue penthouse on Tuesday. According to the AP, the medical examiner says an autopsy found that she died from fatal blows to the head and neck. Stein was the original “broker to the stars,” helping turn the sale of fancy real estate in the city into the gossipy, publicity-driven soap opera that it has become today, where we all know, or think we know, which boldfaced name lives where, and how much they paid. A tempestuous, bawdy, funny woman who, through her marriage in to Sire Records founder Seymour Stein (the man who discovered and nurtured Madonna as well as the Talking Heads), transformed herself from a fifth-grade teacher in the Bronx to Ramones manager and international party girl (best friends with Elton John and Studio 54 regular). And then, after she and Stein divorced, she transformed herself again. Like many a divorcée, she got her real-estate license. But she had something else going for her. “I saw that there was money to be made,” she told New York Magazine when Michael Gross profiled her back in 1991. “My clients are my friends.” They included Bruce Willis, Billy Joel, Sting, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Calvin Klein, Joan Rivers, Sylvester Stallone, Jann Wenner and Rupert Everett.
Leona Helmsley Dies at 87
The Queen is dead. Leona Helmsley, the real-estate magnate and hotelier dubbed the Queen of Mean, died of heart failure today at her home in Greenwich, Connecticut. She was 87. She was famously convicted on tax-evasion charges in 1989, after a trial in which a former maid testified that Helmsley had told her that “only the little people pay taxes.” In October 1988, before that trial started, Jeanie Kasindorf profiled Leona and Harry Helmsley — spouses, business partners, co-indictees — for New York, finding a couple whose lives centered around making every dollar they could.
Leona and Harry: Money and Love [NYM, PDF]
Leona Helmsley Is Dead at 87 [City Room/NYT]
Holy Cow! Rizzuto Dies at 89
There was a certain amount of eye-rolling when Phil Rizzuto, the scrappy Yankees shortstop who died today at 89, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. The Scooter had repeatedly been denied entry by the voting sportswriters on the grounds that his stats were good, not great (.273 lifetime batting average, one MVP year) and that his presence on seven World Series–winning teams was dumb luck. It was said at the time that his pal Yogi Berra had talked to the veterans’ committee, which digs up early players forgotten by history, and smoothed the way for his old buddy Rizzuto. This may or may not have been true, but, either way, it was ridiculous.
Groundbreaking Shrink Albert Ellis Dies at 93Albert Ellis, the groundbreaking and sometimes controversial psychotherapist who invented Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy in the fifties and in a 1982 APA survey was ranking the second most influential psychotherapists of the last hundred years, ahead of Freud, died today at 93. Matt Dobkin profiled Ellis for New York in 2005, when the board of directors of his Albert Ellis Institute had essentially thrown him out. Dobkin found Ellis characteristically pugnacious, fighting for his institute and continuing to see patients and hold his long-running weekly seminars. A state Supreme Court judge reinstated him the next year, and he died this morning in his apartment above the institute.
Behaviorists Behaving Badly [NYM]
Albert Ellis, Who Streamlined Freud, Dies at 93 [NYT]
Isabella Blow, ‘Fashion’s Nutty Aunt,’ Is DeadIsabella Blow — editor, character, inspiration — died in London today, and the news came as a sad shock to the fashion community, particularly those who adore that world’s more eccentric side. Blow, 48, was fashion’s nutty aunt: always dressed perfectly in an outrageous hat, couture duds, painfully high stiletto heels; her lips were always fuchsia, scarlet, aubergine, and richly so. She worked formally in a variety of industry jobs, starting as Anna Wintour’s assistant at Vogue and later serving as style editor of London’s Sunday Times and fashion director of Tatler. She served less formally as muse to and champion of some of today’s greatest talents: Alexander McQueen drew inspiration from Blow’s extravagant, jolie laide persona, and Philip Treacy, London’s top milliner, long designed with Blow in mind. Her personal life was famously rocky: She was painfully disinherited from her father’s estate and was open about the difficulties she and her similarly stylish husband, Detmar, faced when trying to conceive. But, above all else, she loved fashion. She’ll be missed for that, for her flair, her wit, her generosity of spirit, her style. —Harriet Mays Powell and Amy Larocca
Related: In Memory of Isabella Blow [Fashion Week Daily]
Boris Yeltsin Is Dead
Boris Yeltsin, post-Soviet Russia’s first president, died today at 76 from a heart-related illness. He has, of course, little to nothing to do with New York, or with New York, except that he’s a world-historical figure and the city, and the magazine, are both affected by world history. So a few quick words, then.
Remembering Kitty Carlisle Hart, a Last Link to Glamorous New York
Kitty Carlisle Hart belonged to the heyday of the ‘21’ Club and Sardi’s, of Harpo Marx acting up at parties where George Gershwin (who once proposed to her) played only his own songs. Her death today, at a vibrant 96, severs one of the last links to a New York that had more glamour than celebrity, more sophistication than wealth. In a newspaper interview a few years ago — between cabaret engagements, dates with beaux, and the other social commitments incumbent upon a “living landmark” of the city — she wondered what had happened to the place. Decades ago, she recalled, “we used to get all dressed up and go out dancing, then we’d go out for breakfast, and then we’d go to work the next day. I don’t know why they don’t do that anymore.”
Kurt Vonnegut at the AlgonquinAt the end of 2000, New York did a “My New York” issue. For it, 50-odd New Yorkers told us about their favorite places in the city, and Kurt Vonnegut, who died yesterday, spoke fondly of the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel. Growing up, he told contributing editor Logan Hill, he’d never been to New York but knew the legend of the Algonquin. When he arrived here for the first time to meet his sister, she asked him where they should meet. Not knowing anywhere else, he told her to meet him there, by the grandfather clock he’d seen in pictures — and in subsequent years that’s where he would always meet friends. After the jump, his reminiscence as printed in the magazine.
Galliano’s No. 2, Steven Robinson, Is DeadSteven Robinson, John Galliano’s right-hand man, was found dead in his Paris home Wednesday, most likely of cardiac arrest. The 38-year-old had been working on the new Dior resort collection, which is expected to show this summer. Robinson was credited by colleagues as the “huge engine and realizer” at Galliano and Dior. Fashion writer Suzy Menkes called him “a robust and burly figure in the shadows, but the one who made everything work.” Now Galliano, often touted as a fashion maverick, will really go it alone.
Steven Robinson, Dior Designer [IHT]
Injured Polar Bear Swimmer DiesAP has word this morning that 32-year-old Mohan Seneviratne, who dove into a sandbar during the Polar Bear Club’s New Year’s Day swim off Coney Island, has died. He was a producer on Hearst Magazines’ digital project, and he’d recently been working on the Esquire.com redesign, set to launch in the spring. “Mohan was one of those smart, funny people who brightened rooms with his thousand-watt smile,” Eric Gillin, editor of Esquire.com, told Daily Intel. “He had that rare combination of intellect and wit that will be sorely missed.”
Journalist Dies After Polar Bear Swim [AP via Newsradio88]
Flintstones Creator Was a New Yorker, a Booze PropagatorWhen Joe Barbera died at 95 earlier this week — you know, of Hanna-him and yabba-dabba-do — you probably thought of him, because he worked in TV, as an L.A. guy. Well, yes, that’s where he died. But he grew up in Flatbush and started his career as an animator first at soon-defunct Van Beuren Studio in Manhattan and then Terrytoon in New Rochelle before moving west to work for MGM in 1938. But more than just co-creating Tom and Jerry, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, the Flintstones, and so many others, he also changed Los Angeles in another way. In his 1994 memoir, My Life in ‘Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock, he argued that he introduced the Rob Roy cocktail to the West. “[It’s] essentially a Manhattan made with scotch instead of Bourbon,” he explains in his book, “and my destiny was to transport this drink to the West Coast, where, before my arrival, it had been unknown.” So multitalented! —Wren Abbott
Joseph Barbera, Half of Cartoon Duo, Dies at 95 [NYT]
Peter Blake, 1920–2006Peter Blake, New York’s first architecture critic, died this week at the age of 86. An architect himself, Blake was known for his stylish, refined orthodox modernism (even though he hated “modernism” as a term). His writing for the magazine, as a columnist from 1968 to 1976 and then on and off for another twenty years, was similarly polished, a refined voice in an age too often given to unrefined buildings. Here’s his witty conversation with the late Philip Johnson, published on June 9, 1996, shortly before Johnson’s 90th birthday.—Christopher Bonanos
Magic Johnson [PDF]
Peter Blake, Architect, 86, Is Dead; Designed Houses in the Hamptons [NYT]
Edelstein on Altman
Robert Altman — the greatest living American filmmaker until about this time yesterday, when he died suddenly at the age of 81 — told people he’d direct movies until his last breath, and that note of orneriness was his leitmotif: No one was going to tell him he couldn’t work. Sometimes he joked that he didn’t do much of anything anyway — which was a lie with a half-kernel of truth. Altman certainly didn’t direct the way others did. He assembled ecosystems (platoons of gifted actors with vast histrionic reserves), set them in motion, and then pointed a camera (often two cameras) and a microphone (always many microphones) at them. He would sift through his hours of vocal tracks for the words he wanted you to register — Bob Balaban, his collaborator on Gosford Park, marveled that Altman made choices in seconds that would have taken someone else months. He was a Zen director. His camera stood coolly back from the exhibitionists — sometimes contemptuously (if the characters were right-wingers or snobs), more often with wonder.
Ellen Willis, 1941–2006Ed Bradley wasn’t the only notable journalist to pass away yesterday. Ellen Willis — the New Yorker’s first rock critic, golden-era Village Voicer, radical feminist, and founder of the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at NYU — died of lung cancer in her Queens home. “Ellen was an extraordinary generator of ideas,” said friend and fellow critic Robert Christgau. “All rock criticism shows her influence.” At the New Yorker, she pioneered a critical approach to the public persona of the artist, rather than the work itself. As a feminist, she co-founded two influential groups, Redstockings in 1969 and No More Nice Girls in the eighties, and famously wanted to “smash monogamy,” arguing in favor of pleasure, choice, and pornography. At NYU, she was respected by students who remember her as a formidable teacher and a shy mentor. “I really loved Ellen, because she was so nurturing, in a totally unsentimental and charmingly awkward way,” said former student James Westcott, who is now an editor at ArtReview in London. “She ‘got’ all of us and championed all of us.” Willis lived in Queens with her daughter Nona Willis-Aronowitz and husband, Stanley Aronowitz. She was 64.
— Emma Pearse
Ellen Willis, 64, Journalist and Feminist, Dies [NYT]
Selected Writings [NYU.edu]