Sunday, August 06, 2017

Z is for Zevon

Warren Zevon was 56 when he died in 2003 but his songs have such a wicked sense of humor that I’m including him anyway. He was way cooler than I will ever be and frankly - I’m okay with that.

Y is for Yates

Paula Yates was 40 when she died of a heroin overdose in 2000. She was famous pretty much for being famous but her credits included being married for almost 10 years to rocker Bob Geldof. The closest I've come to Sir Bob is occasionally belting out "I Don't Like Mondays" - un-creatively enough - on Mondays.

X is for Malcom

Complicated political figure Malcom X was 39 in 1965 when he was assassinated in New York City. This quote is attributed to him and holds a lot of water given today’s politics: "You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it."

W is for Wilde

No one has ever asked me this question, “if you could have any celebrity, living or dead, to your house for dinner who would you choose?” If anyone did ask, I might answer, Oscar Wilde. It’s true that I haven’t read Walden but I have read “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”
Oscar Wilde died in 1900 at age 46, three years after being imprisoned for “gross indecency with men.” Arresting and jailing someone because they are gay seems about as far-fetched as having a portrait in one’s attic that becomes aged, old, and ugly, while its owner stays ever youthful.

V is for von Richthofen

WWI Flying Ace Manfred von Richthofen, otherwise known as the Red Baron, was 25 when he was killed over France in 1918. His death was a severe blow to German war morale. I myself am afraid to fly. Technically he belongs under the letter “R” but I really wanted to include Gilda Radner.

U is for Uncle

Uncle Buck (aka John Candy) was 43 when he died in 1994. Who didn’t love John Candy? John Candy was born in Ontario in 1950. I too have Canadian ancesetry.

T is for Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was only 44 when he died in 1862. His book “Walden; or, Life in the Woods” was published in 1854. It has never been out of print. I confess that I've started but never finished "Walden" but I’ve been to the pond.
Thoreau would have turned 200 this year.

S is for Sutcliffe

Stuart Sutcliffe was the original bass player for the Beatles. He left the band to pursue a career as a painter but died when he was just 21 of an aneurysm. It’s debatable, really, whether he accomplished more in his life that I have thus far, hell I’ve painted and strummed a guitar but until I started researching for this list the only ex-Beatle I’d heard of was Pete Best who is still very much alive.
My favorite Beatles song is "In My Life."

R is for Radner

It's always something.
Comedian Gilda Radner was 42 when she died of ovarian cancer in 1989. I enjoyed her character Roseanne Roseannadanna on Saturday Night Live even though I knew a few people who took my name and dubbed me “Roseanne Roseannadanna Joanna Briana.“

Q us for Queen

Queen Nefertiti was 40 when she died in 1330 BC. She was married to the pharaoh Akhenaten who ruled during one of the wealthiest periods of Egyptian history. It’s rumored that after Akhenaten’s death she ruled Egypt herself before the accession of King Tut. You go girl!

P is for Phoenix

According to Wikipedia, River Phoenix’s work included 14 films and television appearances and yet he only lived to be 24. My personal favorite was Phoenix as Chris Chambers in “Stand By Me,” which hit the screens in the summer of 1986 while I was deep into my Stephen King phase. “The Body” was one of King’s rare - non-scary - works.

O is for Orwell

George Orwell died of tuberculosis in 1950 when he was 46 years old.
I read both “Animal Farm” and “1984” in 1992, when I was 24.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

N is for Nazareth

Jesus of Nazareth was 33 when he died at the beginning of the AD calendar. 
Jesus’s contributions were many. His most well-known may have been his admonition to us to love our neighbor as ourself.
He’s also famous for feeding a multitude of followers by the sea of Galilee with only a few loaves of bread and some fish. I assume the food went as far as it did for the same reason it does in my house.

The multitudes were all picky eaters.

M is for Morrison

Jim Morrison, the Lizard King, was only 27 when he died in Paris in 1971.
I have never looked particularly good in leather pants.

L is for Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft was 46 when he succumbed to cancer in 1937 after postponing going to the doctor’s office like a typical guy. Not famous in his lifetime he’s posthumously become known as one of the founding fathers of horror fiction.
I keep all my doctor’s appointments.

Friday, April 14, 2017

K is for Kennedy

Pretty sure I’ve outlived half the Kennedy clan.
Joe Kennedy Jr., died at 29 in 1944.
Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy was 28 when she died in 1948.
John F. Kennedy was 46 when he was assassinated in 1963
and Robert Kennedy was 42 when he was killed in 1968.
My favorite quote from JFK, the one that seems most relevant today is, “we enjoy the comfort of opinion, without the discomfort of thought.”

Thursday, April 13, 2017

J is for Jones

Not just the protagonist of a Grateful Dead tune, Jonathan “Casey” Jones was a real life train engineer who died at 37 because he stayed on his train trying to slow it down rather than jumping to safety. Casey Jones was the only fatality when his train collided with Engine 83 outside of Canton, Mississippi on April 30, 1900. Not only immortalized by Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Wallace Saunders, Jones’s friend and colleague wrote “The Ballad of Casey Jones” which has been recorded numerous times in various incantations.
I too, enjoy riding public on transportation.

I is for Iscariot

I don’t know how old Judas Iscariot was when he killed himself after turning Jesus over to the Roman authorities for 30 pieces of silver but since he was a contemporary of the 33-year old carpenter’s son, I think it’s safe to say he was less than 50 years old when he died.
Cornelia Parker’s “Thirty Pieces of Silver,” is one of my favorite art installations.

Monday, April 10, 2017

H is for Houdini

Escape artist Harry Houdini was known for escaping from milk crates, chains, and straitjackets, but he died in 47 in 1926 from an apparent appendicitis. There are days when I can't get out of my own way but I did survive having my appendix removed in 2007.

G is for Guevara

Wikipedia describes Ernesto “Che” Guevara as an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. Not sure how he managed to fit them all into only 39 years.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

F is for Anne Frank

Anne Frank was 15 when she died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. She would have been 17 in 1947 when her book “Diary of Anne Frank” was posthumously published. She would have been 52 in 1981 when I read her book in junior high school. She would have been 87 if she were still alive today.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

E is for Elvis

The King of Rock and Roll was 42 when he was found dead in the upstairs bathroom of his mansion, Graceland, supporting the finings that there are more bathroom-related deaths every year then there are shark attacks. 
For years I had a framed poster of Elvis in the downstairs bedroom we used as an office. I remember the time one of my sons pointed to it and asked me, “how are we related to that guy?"