We at Around the Grid just picked up the news of Dani Plassitz’ sudden death on December 15. While not a friend, I admired Dani’s dressmaking skill many times, and her abilities as a singer and performer are also well known to many in Second Life. Her many friends will miss her, and I hope you will join us in praying for her and her family at this time — an especially hard time to lose a loved one.
Both dresses by Dani
The King has gone home. Riley B. King, better known to his millions of devotees as B. B. King, died today at age 89. B. B. was respected by both contemporaries and by the many younger musicians in jazz, blues and rock that he inspired with his guitar playing and Delta blues. A multiple Grammy winner, he was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1995.
Eric Clapton considered him a teacher, and recorded an album with him that I loved. I’ve never collected blues music, but this one, and its title song, has stayed with me for years, including the spoken recitation near the end:
I stepped out of Mississippi when I was ten years old
With a suit cut sharp as a razor and a heart made of gold
I had a guitar hanging just about waist high
And I’m gonna play this thing until the day I die
Rest well, Your Majesty. We’ll take care of Lucille for you.
If you’re of my generation and into science fiction, you grew up with Star Trek. And one of the great cast of that show — and extremely popular with the ladies — was Leonard Nimoy, who personified the logical lifeforms of the planet Vulcan in his character of Spock. His family announced Nimoy’s passing today from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, possibly caused by smoking back in his earlier days.
Nimoy was a versatile actor, and played in roles other than that iconic one — I recall him as Paris, the master of disguise who took over from Martin Laudau’s “Rollin Hand” on Mission: Impossible. (He also had notoriety as one of the aliens in the old Republic serial, Zombies of the Stratosphere.) But he became almost indelibly associated with the Vulcan from those 79 episodes of Star Trek. The role at times felt as an albatross about his neck; however, he came back to it in the end, filming nine Star Trek movies as Spock, including both of the movies so far in the J. J. Abrams reboot of the ST Universe, and a two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The strange and fantasial became something of a stock in trade for him: a part in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers alongside Donald Sutherland; and he narrated the Alan Landsburg syndicated television series In Search Of…. for its entire run. Beyond these things, though, he was much more — Theo van Gogh in Vincent; Morris Meyerson in the miniseries A Woman Called Golda (opposite Ingrid Bergman); a director of both movies and television. His distinctive voice and cadence made him a natural choice for work as a narrator and voice actor — he appeared several times on The Simpsons as himself, did “recitations” on the computer game Civilization IV, and did recordings alongside the a capella group The Western Wind in celebration of the holy days of his Jewish background and faith. And I know of at least one exhibition of his photography, as well as his two memoirs and poetry. Truly a Renaissance man in his achievements.
He will be missed.
“Some may find them [songs] merely diverting melodies. Others may find them incitements to Red revolution. And who will say if either or both is wrong? Not I.”
I really have played a little guitar in my time, long before I had to hock my axe at a particularly bad financial period. Never one for picking, I’d rather strum chords and sing along, and so I was attracted primarily to folk songs with simplified chord structures. Not surprisingly, as I scoured the library looking for song books I could copy out or photocopy, I came across Pete Seeger’s The Incompleat Folksinger, writings by him and others on the history and basis of folk and the early consciousness protesters.
Pete was a man who wasn’t afraid to speak what was on his mind and call a spade a spade. Witness his troubles with the House Un-American Activities Committee, starting in 1955 and lasting until 1962, when he refused to name names or answer any questions about his past political affiliations, based on his First Amendment rights. That conviction to do what was right, not what was easy, never wavered in Seeger; he protested war, pollution, discrimination and violence with his music wherever he found it. On the head of his banjo, his preferred instrument, he usually wrote the phrase, “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” in imitation of his friend Woody Guthrie’s guitar, which was emblazoned with “This machine kills fascists!”
Many of us didn’t see this, probably. We were attracted first of all by the music; traditional songs, original songs, funny and serious and heartbreaking songs; they made us laugh, and cry, and — most of all — think about things. Pete always encouraged his audience to sing along with him, and they would, knowing almost all of his repertoire as well as he did. In recent years, as Pete’s high tenor started fading due to age, the audience would help fill in the music, and everyone — especially Pete, I’d wager — was happy. It wasn’t a pure Forties or Fifties hootenanny — not when you had to buy a ticket to get in — but it came fairly close. I’d be willing to bet that, if Pete’s fetched up beside the Apostles after dying yesterday, he’s got that old five-string banjo in his hands, and a twelve-string guitar sitting in a stand nearby, ready to use, and he’s started leading the singalongs. Blessings be upon you, Mr. Seeger.
Myself with Squinternet Larnia (on the right), at her main store in March 2012. Far too brief an acquaintance on my part; the few times I met her were always a pleasure.
Word came down this morning from Cajsa Lilliehook that Squinternet Larnia died this morning. Giulia never gave up in her fight to master the cancer that was sapping her life, and our world’s been richer to have a woman of such beauty, imagination and determination in it. I hope you’ll join me in prayer for her.
My own words are failing me at the moment, so that’s basically it for now. As Cajsa, if I hear of a memorial planned for Squinternet, I’ll spread the news here.