Tag Archives: RIP

RIP Bettie Page

The original queen of S&M dies aged 85.

With her trademark bangs and super high heels, Bettie Page sadly waited late into her life to cash in on her status as an icon. A lot of the obits have focused on her decline but we’d rather remember her in her heyday. Bettie made light S&M look joyous and fun. Her shoots never featured men — only women as master and servant — and most of the time she is pictured with a broad smile on her face, even when trussed up to the nines. In the sexually-stifling context of 1950s America she showed men and women that sex (and pretty subversive sex at that) was positive and even a bit of a lark. Was she exploited? Yes, but by those who replicated and marketed her image without paying her — not those who called the shots. It was not to be until the 1990s that Bettie started to recoup some of the money that had been made out of her image. And by then, an icon was born.

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Paris is Burning

Paris’s best-known taxidermist is set to rise from the ashes ….

Deyrolle was founded 177 years ago by Jean-Baptiste Deyrolle, an eminent entomologist, but recently a short circuit triggered a fire in the shop. The disaster has galvenised a Parisian-style rescue effort.

French soldiers on a routine patrol smelled the smoke and tried to secure the building. They were joined by dozens of firefighters and hundreds of police officers in battling the blaze. The French Army opened one of its nearby military depots as a warehouse for the burned animals and objects.

Christine Albanel, the minister of culture, sent out an all-points bulletin to the provincial museums of France for the donation of classic wooden display cases.

Hermès reissued its “Plumes” scarf in a limited edition to raise money. Gallimard, the publishing house, joined in the fund-raising by releasing a slim history of Deyrolle with a preface by the French novelist Pierre Assouline. One French woman donated 50 boxes of butterflies. A Frenchman gave back the head of a bull he had bought at Deyrolle a few months before.

Ninety percent of the shop’s stock, including most of the animals, a celebrated fossil collection, an antique skeleton of a Nile perch and a 19th-century diorama of more than 100 birds, was lost. The dark-wood cabinets that housed birds, butterflies and beetles went up in flames.

Artists and photographers who had drawn inspiration from one of the most celebrated taxidermy sites in the world donated their works. Christie’s Europe offered to sell those items as a fund-raising auction, waiving its commission along the way.

Since the fire, some of the rooms in the multistoried, 4,300-square-foot space have been reopened. The back corridors still smell of smoke, but new animals are slowly moving in: a giraffe, a lion, an ostrich, a camel, a zebra, a tiger, a peacock, among many others. It lives!

With thanks to Jessica Joslin for flagging and no thanks to Sophie and Nick.

Source: New York Times.

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RIP Nagi Noda

The Japanese artist/designer/director has died aged 35.

Dog HatsNagi Noda was maybe best known for her “Sentimental Journey” video for Japanese pop star Yuki, which featured multiple “analog” clones of the singer and influenced Jack White’s 2006 Coca-Cola commercial. Noda’s body of work included short films, sculpture and even character art like Hanpanda, the half panda/half other beast who appeared in her art exhibits and was also part of a collaboration with L.A./N.Y. fashion brand Libertine. Last year, she collaborated with painter Mark Ryden on her own fashion label Broken Label. Her most recent creations included delightfully strange hairpieces in the shapes of various breeds of dog.

“Beyond being a brilliant artist and wonderful talent, Nagi was one of the most incredibly unique spirits that I have known,” says Sheila Stepanek, CEO/EP Partizan US, which represented Noda. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.” Stepanek says that Noda passed “in her Mark Ryden dress, Chanel boots, perfect make-up with Viktor & Rolf lace black eye lashes.”

Source: Creativity Online.

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RIP Albert Hofmann

Inventor of LSD dies aged 102.

Hofman first synthesised what was to become known as LSD in 1943. According to his obit, Hofmann was disappointed when his discovery was made illegal and remained convinced that the drug had the potential to counter the psychological problems induced by “materialism, alienation from nature through industrialisation and increasing urbanisation, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanised, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life”.

Source: The Telegraph.

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RIP Old Sparky

Finally, an RIP that’s nice to know

On February 8th, the US state of Nebraska declared that execution by electric chair amounted to an unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. The US state was the only one still using electrocution as its sole method of execution and the move came after a condemned man, Raymond Mata, appealed against his sentence. In its nine-decade history, this particular chair had been used 15 times. old-sparky.JPG

Little by little, America is beginning to balk at capital punishment: the method rather the madness of it. The most popular method — lethal injection — is currently being investigated by the Supreme Court and Nebraska may struggle to find a replacement way of meting out ‘justice’.

Source: The Economist.

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RIP Polaroid

Instant camera brand ceases film production

polaroid.jpgThe history of invention is littered with brands that had it all, and lost it all. Sadly, Polaroid has just become one of the victims. The iconic instant photography brand announced this week that it is shutting down film production, bringing to an end the era of polaroid photos.

So what went wrong? In short, Polaroid backed the wrong innovation pony. In the late 1970s, sensing that some kind of seismic shift was coming, it invested heavily in Polavision – an instant movie camera system. Not only was the product a complete turkey, Polaroid missed the real market shifts to come: first the videocassette, then digital. In 2001, Polaroid filed for Chapter 11 and in 2005 was bought by a private investment firm. The brand isn’t completely defunct — it will now focus on producing flat-panel TVs and digital photography gear — but its time as an innovator apparently is. Expect a buying and selling frenzy of dead stock on eBay — we’ll be there.

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French Femicide

Rock star who beat his actress girlfriend to death is freed from jail after serving just four years

people_trintignant_marie_1.jpgAs with the defence of ‘homosexual panic’ in gay bashings, crimes of passion seem to have an automatic ‘get out of jail’ card. We were angered and dismayed to hear that Bertrand Cantat — who hit actress Marie Trintignant an estimated 19 times in one attack — has been freed from jail half way into his eight year sentence for her murder. Apparently a ‘model prisoner’, Cantat now intends to resume his career as a singer and no doubt benefit from the deeply dubious halo effect of being ‘the left wing popstar who smashed his girlfriend’s head in in a jealous rage’.

Born Jan. 21, 1962, in Boulogne-Billancourt, just outside Paris, Marie Trintignant started her film career at age 5 when she appeared in “Mon Amour, Mon Amour,” which was directed by her mother and starred her father. She went on to act in more than 50 films and nominated 5 times for a César. She was also the mother of four children.

La Meute (The Pack), a feminist organisation, said that Cantat’s release sent the wrong signal to men in France, where one woman is killed every three days by a partner.

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RIP Deborah Kerr

The star of Black Narcissus dies aged 86

BlackNarcissus4.jpgKerr starred in The King And I and From Here To Eternity but it is for her role as a sexually-deranged nun in Black Narcissus that we think she should be most fondly remembered.

She was nominated for the best actress Oscar six times and was given an honorary award by the Academy in 1994 (as is the way with brilliant actors who continuously miss out on the Academy’s votes). Kerr, who had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for a number of years, died in Suffolk on Tuesday.

Source: BBC.

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RIP Alex

Alex, the parrot which (who?) has (controversially) changed perceptions of non-human language usage, has died, at the age of 31.

11parrot-600.jpgHis last words, to his trainer Irene Pepperberg (link contains links to video of Alex) of Brandeis University? “You be good. I love you. See you tomorrow.”

Alex was an African grey parrot that Pepperberg bought in a pet store 30 years ago. By the time of his death last Friday, he had a confirmed vocabulary of more than 100 English words that he could apparently understand and use correctly, rather than merely ‘parroting’ them. Pepperberg has published dozens of scientific papers about Alex’s verbal, mathematical and cognitive abilities, and the two have appeared on a wide variety of television programmes and popular press stories. In the process, they have transformed people’s understanding of the mental abilities of non-human animals.

A necropsy performed over the weekend found no apparent cause of death. Alex had seemed in fine health the day before, and no problems were found in a checkup less than two weeks earlier.

Read more at Nature‘s website. Image nicked from the New York Times report on Alex’s death.

See also recently published research on the cognitive abilities of crows from New Caledonia.

UPDATE: Alex may well be the first bird to get an obit in The Economist.

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Rave On Tony Wilson

Factory Records legend dies aged 57.

joy-division.jpgAll we have to say is: Ceremony, Hallelujah, Blue Monday, Hacienda.

Via NME.

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