Awful News

2016 continues to be brutal:

sek-rip

I’ve had enough death this year for the rest of this decade.








RIP, Gwen Ifill

Sad news:

It is with extremely heavy hearts that we must share that our dear friend and beloved colleague Gwen Ifill passed away this afternoon following several months of cancer treatment. She was surrounded by loving family and many friends whom we ask that you keep in your thoughts and prayers.

And Tom Friedman is healthy as a horse. 2016 is not going to end until it takes everything. EVERYTHING. Nothing is safe.








Rest in Peace, Gene Wilder

The world just got a lot less funny:

Rest in peace, good sir. And thanks for the laughs.








RIP, Elie Wiesel

Dead at 87:

Elie Wiesel, the Auschwitz survivor who became an eloquent witness for the six million Jews slaughtered in World War II and who, more than anyone, seared the memory of the Holocaust on the world’s conscience, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Menachem Rosensaft, a longtime friend and the founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Survivors, confirmed the death in a phone call.

2016 is deadly.








RIP, Pat Summitt

A real trailblazer:

Pat Summitt, who was at the forefront of a broad ascendance of women’s sports, winning eight national basketball championships at the University of Tennessee and more games than any other Division I college coach, male or female, died on Tuesday. She was 64.

Her death was confirmed on the website of the Pat Summitt Foundation.

Ms. Summitt stepped down after 38 seasons and 1,098 victories at Tennessee in April 2012, at 59, less than a year after she learned she had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Over nearly four decades, Ms. Summitt helped transform women’s college basketball from a sport ignored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association into one that drew national television audiences and paid its most successful coaches more than $1 million a year.

“In modern history, there are two figures that belong on the Mount Rushmore of women’s sports — Billie Jean King and Pat Summitt,” Mary Jo Kane, a sports sociologist at the University of Minnesota, said in 2011. “No one else is close to third.”

Too young.








RIP Guy Clark

There are some people who become type specimens.  They’re the folks who define the characteristics of the category of folks to whom they belong.  Guy Clark was — or rather, given what remains — continues to be the type specimen of the singer-songwriter.

Charles Pierce has already written his remembrance of this artist, who died today of what sounds like complications of a hard-lived, powerfully felt life:

He was a craftsman in all the best senses of the word–in the way he created his songs, and in the way he told his stories, and in the places the music took you…

That’s exactly right.  And yeah, go read the rest, and listen to Charlie’s picks of the Guy Clark songs that resonate for him.

For me?  Well, the first number I recall was his biggest mainstream hit, “L. A. Freeway” — which holds up OK, but isn’t what drew me back to Clark when I started listening to him with intent a few years ago.  This is the one that got me started, at a time (as I face again this year, dammit) when too many people that mattered in my life were dying on me:

 

This one got me next, and still does:*

And this is the one I think of on the day Guy Clark left us; he’s taken his place in the room he sings us into:

All of which is to say that Clark couldn’t have a good time. He loved a party** — just ask him:

The list goes on. The Hon. Pierce has it right: Clark was a meticulous song writer and a brilliant one (the two modifiers don’t describe the same quality). Dive in anywhere, and the worst you’ll get is fine fun. At his best….

Dammit — it’s been a crap year for musicians here in these United States.

I’ll leave you with one more favorite, one that captures the heart of what I love most about Clark — the way his music inhabits a story and vice versa:

Rest in peace, Guy Clark.

*And here’s a lagniappe.  Check out this tune, the one Clark sends us to in an homage and something of a statement — a recognition of the league in which Guy himself could play.

**In the old days, when it was Clark and Townes Van Zandt and some more bad boys and girls, I don’t think I could have come close to keeping up, had I had the amazing fortune to be in the right bar at the right time.  But that’s another story.  If you want to read up  on Mr. Clark — this is a fine and recent profile.