The charismatic lead singer of Australian new wave band The Divinyls, Chrissy Amphlett, has died in her New York home of cancer and multiple sclerosis. She was 53. Above, "I Touch Myself," the autoerotic anthem of '80s teen females that became the Divinyls' greatest hit.
Last month, on her Facebook page, she wrote about the experience of being a breast cancer patient since 2010:
"Unfortunately the last 18 months have been a real challenge for me having breast cancer and MS and all the new places that will take you. You become sadly a patient in a world of waiting rooms, waiting sometimes hours for a result or an appointment. You spend a lot time in cold machines... hospital beds, on your knees praying for miracles, operating rooms, tests after tests, looking at healthy people skip down the street like you once did and you took it all for granted and now wish you could do that. I have not stopped singing throughout all this in my dreams and to be once again performing and doing what I love to do."
George Harrison of the Beatles, studying sitar with Pandit Ravi Shankar.
In the clip above, the late Indian music legend Pandit Ravi Shankar (web, Wikipedia, Amazon) performs on the Dick Cavett show, in an episode where his friend George Harrison of the Beatles introduces him to the viewing audience.
His family and his foundation have released a statement on the day of his death (PDF), with an obituary by Oliver Craske, a writer and editor who worked on Raviji's autobiography, ‘Raga Mala.’ Snip:
It is with heavy hearts we write to inform you that Pandit Ravi Shankar, husband, father, and musical soul,
passed away today, December 11th, 2012.
As you all know, his health has been fragile for the past several years and on Thursday he underwent a surgery
that could have potentially given him a new lease of life. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons
and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side
when he passed away.
Read the rest here at the Shankar Foundation website. He had upper-respiratory and heart problems, and underwent
heart-valve replacement surgery last week. The surgery was successful, but recovery was too much for the 92-year-old musician. His last performance was with his daughter, sitarist Anoushka Shankar, on November 4 in Long Beach, California. It was a celebration
of his tenth decade of creating music.
I interviewed him in 2003 at his home north of San Diego for Grammy Magazine. The article is no longer online, but I'll try to dig it up from the old print copy. His home was set up a little like an Indian villa, and I remember feeling like I was back in India as I sat on the floor in the room where he received guests and visiting reporters. He was very patient and attentive; very sweet to this starstruck and stuttering reporter.
Actress Sylvia Kristel died this week at 60 years of age. “She died during the night during her sleep,” her agent, Marieke Verharen, told the AFP news agency. The cause of her death was cancer. In recent years, she received treatment for throat and liver cancer, and suffered a stroke.
Steve shared some amazing conversations with the "First Man," from what I can tell.
Tang is a farce. That was the first thing Neil Armstrong told me last night. “We did not use it on the Apollo missions.”
I asked him, of all of the systems and stages of the mission, which did he worry about the most? (the frequently failing autopilot? the reliance on a global network of astronomers to spot solar flares in time to get the warning out? the onboard computers being less powerful than a Furby?....)
He gave a detailed answer about the hypergolic fuel mixing system for the lunar module. Rather than an ignition system, they had two substances that would ignite upon contact. Instead of an electric pump, he wished he had a big simple lever to mechanically initiate mixing.
That seemed a bit odd to me at first. So, I asked if he gave that answer because it really was the most likely point of failure, or because it symbolizes a vivid nightmare – having completed the moon mission, pushing the button... and the engines just wont start.
He responded that he had dreams about that for two years prior to the launch.
There is so much to say about what a beautiful soul Aileen was, what a cruel and ugly and brutal disease breast cancer is, how torturous treatment is, how enraging it is that science and medicine have nothing better to offer us yet, how unjust the financial devastation a diagnosis brings to so many women is—and, most of all, what it means to those of us with cancer to have the kind of support in our lives that men like Miles provide, selflessly and heroically and with unconditional love.
But for now, I just want the world to see, respect, and remember this photograph Miles took of his sister this morning, shortly before her life ended. He brought her dog Jethro from her home to the hospice house so Jethro could also say goodbye.
Gone but still loved by all. RIP Aileen Crimmings O'Brien Graef - 10/30/64-8/21/2012
She is survived by two beautiful daughters, Katie and Aileen, whom she loved very much.
And, their dog Jethro.
Update: Miles and her daughters suggest that donations in honor of Aileen be sent to Visiting Nurses Association of the Treasure Coast (@vnatc), 1110 35th Lane. Vero Beach, FL 32960. This is the hospice center that cared for Aileen in her final days. Services at Strunk Funeral Home, 916 17th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960. If you wish to send cards or flowers, this is the best address.
Writer, analyst, and eloquent opinionator Gore Vidal died today. He was 86. The LA Times reports that he died Tuesday in his Hollywood Hills home, from complications related to pneumonia.
In his lifetime, Vidal received the National Book Award, wrote many novels, short stories, plays and essays. He was a political activist, and received the most votes of any Democrat in more than 50 years when he ran as a Democratic candidate for Congress in upstate New York. Vidal's The City and the Pillar was one of the first American novels to present homosexuality in a direct manner, and outraged many at the time.
Above, his epic 1968 debate with noted dirtbag William Buckley, in which he tells Buckley to "shut up," and calls him a "cryptonazi."
Donald J. Sobol, the author who created the great Encyclopedia Brown series, died last week. Encyclopedia Brown were kids' mystery stories about a boy detective, whose solution required careful reading and imaginative reasoning. When I started working on Little Brother, I told people it would be "Encyclopedia Brown meets Wargames" -- and I've often noodled with the idea of a set of contemporary, Internet-based mystery stories called "Wikipedia Brown."
I'm always running into die-hard Encyclopedia Brown fans in the happy mutants set. GeekDad's Ethan Gilsdorf is another megafan, and he's written a very good, informative obit for Sobol:
I lived vicariously through Encyclopedia Brown. And I came up with a hundred schemes a summer to make money, trick the bully, or otherwise engineer a scenario to be the smart one who would sweep in to save the day.
But Encyclopedia’s success wasn’t only due to his problem-solving prowess. Credit his best pal (and girl Friday) Sally Kimball: older, stronger and sometimes smarter. She also could stand up to Bugs, and was Encyclopedia’s bodyguard. That was a novel premise, to give that role of “the muscle” to a girl.