NPR has the unhappy news of the passing of Marian McPartland, jazz pianist and genteel radio host. McPartland was one of the last four survivors of the photographic portrait from 1958, “A Great Day in Harlem.”
Cosmo Allegretti, puppeteer and voice of Dancing Bear, Bunny Rabbit, and Mr. Moose, has dropped his last ping pong ball.
A voice for centrism, former Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, has died. Of his short-lived run for the presidency in 1995, he quipped,
“I was the only one of nine people in New Hampshire who wanted to keep the Department of Education.”
Russell Train, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, has died. He is remembered, briefly, by Robert B. Semple, Jr.
His death serves as a reminder of the G.O.P.’s historic tradition of environmental stewardship, a tradition stretching as far back as Teddy Roosevelt, which the party has now repudiated.
Dick Tufeld, voice of the Robot in TV’s Lost in Space (the only character who sounded remotely grounded in reality), has passed away.
(News via Leta.)
Isabel Wilkerson revisits this year’s obituaries from 750 newspapers across the country. It was a year of “the first African-American to…” O the strides made in humble mundanity.
Sometime in the future, the phrase will be invoked for the biggest first of all, the first African-American elected to the Oval Office, a designation that surely the first milk-delivery man and the first postal clerk and the first business agent for Heavy Construction Laborers’ Union Local 663 in Kansas City, Mo., had, upon consideration, more than a little something to do with.
At Via Negativa, Dave Bonta offers “This poem has nothing to do with 9/11.”
- I was looking for packing material at my cousin’s place and came across a Saturday edition obit for Jerry Ragovoy; otherwise I would have missed it altogether. Ragovoy co-wrote “Piece of My Heart,” which was recorded in a wrenching live performance by Janis Joplin and later, more regrettably, by a country pop singer.
- Linda Himelstein reports on research that looks at how dyslexics master syllable-based writing systems (and their languages) as opposed to character-based system.
- Alan Feuer filed a fine report on the natural areas of Jamaica Bay, still the only National Wildlife Refuge that you can get to via subway. Mylan Cannon adds a great photograph of conservationist Don Riepe, an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) on a ground-level nest, and a passenger jet in the background.
Jamaica Bay’s conservationists — fishermen and firefighters, limousine drivers and owners of small boats — are not your typical tree-hugging types, not “Upper West Side, Park Slope, brownstone Brooklyn people,” as Mr. Riepe put it. They are people like Mr. Lewandowski from the canoe club, a transit official…
I don’t usually do video embeds, but I was inspired in part by Via Negativa’s Memorial Day mix. Herewith, Ed McCurdy’s “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream,” performed by Arlo Guthrie and Shenandoah.