Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered that flags at City Hall be lowered to half-staff this evening to honor the late Nelson Mandela, who died earlier today at the age of 95. Read More
Peter’s New York City was filled with villains and knights, and no subject was too small to escape his sharp eye and golden tongue. Read More
It was exactly the kind of thing you’d imagine David Rakoff, the sweet but kvetchy essayist who died last year, rolling his eyes at.
Last week, 62 readers convened on the fourth floor of the Union Square Barnes & Noble to commemorate the posthumous publication of Mr. Rakoff’s novel in verse, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish.
Yet perhaps in the spirit of the Canadian-born essayist, who was 47 when he succumbed to cancer last August, the evening was remarkably touching without slipping into overt sentimentality—a signature trait of Mr. Rakoff’s work. Read More
When looking back on the career of Alan Abelson, the longtime Barron’s columnist who died last week at age 87, one gets the sense that he could have written about any subject if he had wanted to.
Mr. Abelson was known as much for his elegant prose as he was for his keen insight into the financial Read More
Michael Wolff’s mother, Van, died Tuesday morning after a two and half year illness, the Observer has learned.
Mr. Wolff wrote about his mother’s declining health and worsening dementia in a moving and controversial story for New York Magazine in May that questioned the modern approach to end-of-life care. Read More
Screenwriter, director, and essayist Nora Ephron died last night; she was 71. Wonderful tributes and memories of Ephron’s legacy keep pouring out (just one example: it turns out the You’ve Got Mail website is very much intact, and itself a wonderful, odd little remnant of one of her more profound tributes to the Upper West Side).
If you haven’t read the New York Times‘ exceptional obituary of Ms. Ephron do so. Meanwhile, we have been relishing our own small piece of Ephron’s legacy: The You’ve Got Mail character Frank Navasky, played by Greg Kinnear. Read More
Adam Yauch, a founding member of the Beastie Boys—otherwise known as “MCA”—died today in his native New York City after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was a crucial component in the rise of hip hop as a culture and rap as an art form, and instrumental in the group’s transition: from their early days as a punk outfit and then a brash and belligerent party-rap act, to one of the most sonically deft acts in the history of contemporary music. Never content to rest on their laurels, the Beastie Boys always surprised their listeners, contemporaries, and critics with each subsequent musical course they charted. Yauch’s influence on the lasting relevance of the Beastie Boys, their evolution, and their cultural purview can’t be overstated. Read More
Dick Clark, who famously acted as the longtime host and producer of American Bandstand, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, The $10,000 Pyramid, as well as a stint as the announcer on MTV’s short-lived The Jon Stewart Show, is dead at 82. His representative told the New York Times—who noted Clark as an “icon”—that he died of a heart attack.
Over the last decade, Clark’s popularity waned as another new plucky, seemingly immortal Caucasian man named Ryan Seacrest generally took his place at the throne of organizing innocuous television that everybody you know watches, shame factor not withstanding. His most famous appearance in the final decade of his life may have been at the top of it, in Michael Moore’s Oscar-winning 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine, in what is arguably one of the funniest scenes in the film: Dick Clark escaping Michael Moore by yelling at his associates to jump in a van, and then speeding away in it. Read More
Christopher Hitchens died yesterday at the age of 62 after a long illness with cancer. The Observer was lucky enough to have his byline grace our pages, including this book review of Michael Isikoff’s Uncovering Clinton, (note how he calls Mr. Isikoff’s prose “Capitoline” — “’rising stars’ intersecting with ‘insiders’ all the way”) and Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others.
“I never met him, and spoke with him on the phone only rarely, but from our slender contact I can tell you that he was an absolute professional: On time, spot on, and spotless. Every editor’s dream,” remembered former Observer books editor Adam Begley. “I would have used him constantly if I’d had the budget.”
“His writing leaves an enduring and inspiring legacy to readers everywhere,” said his book publisher, Cary Goldstein of Twelve, in a statement. “We are proud to have played our part in sharing it with the world. He will be missed.” Twelve is publishing a forthcoming memoir, Mortality.