I'm no music elitist - strike that - yes, I am. Yet with that said, I'm all for broadening my horizons and exposing myself to new music. Yet when I read Pitchforkmedia.com's Best of 2005 record and album lists, I noted bullshit artists like Kelly Clarkson (in the top ten no less), R. Kelly several times (who also makes their Worst of 2005 list somehow) Gwen Stefani and Antony and the Johnsons at number one. I get it, Pitchfork wants to be seen as trendsetters with its quirky, ironic music sensibilities. The staff writers there are probably all issued terrycloth wristbands and white pleater belts at their orientations.
George Best (November 25)
The worst blow outsideLeft.com suffered in 2005 was the death of George Best, the original outside left. George began his football career at 15 when Manchester United scout Bob Bishop telegrammed coach Sir Matt Busby and proclaimed, "I have found a genius." Even though he played for over 14 football clubs in his 21 years in uniform, he'll always be known as a Man. U Red Devil where he scored 178 goals over 466 games in 11 seasons. A combination of searing pace, incredible balance, ability with both feet, goalscoring prowess and "cheeky-chappie" image helped rank him amongst the greatest players ever to have set foot on a football pitch. News of his death led to tears on the streets of his hometown of Belfast, before and during his funeral not unlike the tears that fell in the offices of outsideleft.
Don Adams (September 25)
I used to work with one of Don Adams' many kids at a dot.com - I say many because old Don liked to love 'em, fuck 'em and leave 'em during his Get Smart heyday. I think he had about 11 kids with 5 wives or something like that. Anyway, his daughter used to regale me with stories of her daddy's glory days: Don blowing it all on the ponies, Don finger banging playmates at the Playboy mansion's grotto, Don being sort of embarrassed of Get Smart at the time. Cute girl, but flaky - she always promised she'd take me to the Playboy mansion with her when Don went. Maybe this obit would be more positive if she ever followed through.
Anne Bancroft (June 6)
I loved her in the Graduate. Although I didn't discover the film until my high school years, almost 20 years after it debuted, Bancroft's grace and style proved timeless. She's the template for the reason why I have a thing for older women with '60s-era hairstyles and black garter belts. One of the very few deaths that hit me hard this year.
Johnny Carson (January 23)
I was never too crazy about Carson. Yeah, he had his moments and he new how to turn shit into fruit salad when things went awry on the set of his late night gig, the Tonight Show that he hosted from 1962 to 1992. But he just always seemed too smarmy for his own good. Plus I never liked the fact that every one treated him like the king of comedy who, if he deemed one worthy, would call comedians over to his Tonight Show couch after a set. This signified that he really liked you and it also acted as an indicator for the rest of the entertainment industry that you were now officially employable.
Johnnie Cochran (March 29)
The asshole attorney that defended shitbags like OJ Simpson (pictured here with Cochran) for killing his wife, Michael Jackson for sucking prepubescent dick, Sean Puffy Combs for gun and bribery charges, ex-child actor Todd Bridges for position of crack, football running back Jim Brown for beating the shit out of his wife and Tupac Shakur for - gee, a shocker - sexually abusing a female fan and encouraging his possee to beat and sodomizing her. Etc., etc., etc. Johnnie's death couldn't come any sooner.
Sandra Dee (February 20)
Best known for her lead role in 1959's Gidget, but then typecast as a wholesome good girl after that thus sort of halting her livelihood. It didn't help matters that she married career pariah Bobby Darin when she was 16 and stared in a line of clunkers until her final role in Fantasy Island. Still, I like to think of her in her Capri pants, sleeveless gingham blouse and blond, high-set ponytail.
Bob Denver (September 2)
Goodnight, little buddy.
Paul Hester (March 26)
You don't know his name, but you know what he did. Paul Hester was the wacky Australian drummer for Split Endz, but more importantly, Crowded House. The clown prince of rock and roll eventually quit Crowded House (the band helped form in 1984 with singer Neil Finn) sometime in 1994 when he felt touring kept his away from his newborn daughter for too long. He bounced around Australian television with some mid-level fame until he landed the gig my 3.5-year-old daughter loved him best in: Paul the Cook on the Wiggles. Hester's body was found in a local park hanging a noose from a tree. Aparently Hester had just split from the mother of his two daughters (aged 8 and 10 at the time of his death) and had recently abandoned plans to marry a girlfriend. It is believed that he had been suffering from depression for a number of years. Goodbye, sweet prince.
Rose Marie Kennedy (January 7)
In 1941, when Rose Marie was 23, her father was told by doctors that a lobotomy would help Rose Marie, who was born mildly retarded, calm her "mood swings that the family found difficult to handle at home." Instead of producing the desired result, however, the lobotomy reduced Rose Marie to an infantile mentality that left her incontinent and staring blankly at walls for hours. Her verbal skills were reduced to unintelligible babble. Rose Kennedy, her mother, remarked that although the lobotomy stopped her daughter's violent behavior, it left her completely incapacitated. Rose was devastated; she considered it the first of the Kennedy family tragedies. Thanks, mom.
Arthur Miller (February 10)
Not a fan of his work (his most famous piece being Death of a Salesman), but as a writer myself, I applaud him for figuring out how to use his profession to bag and marry Marilyn Monroe. She even converted to Judaism for him. Well played, Mr. Miller, well played.
Pat Morita (November 24)
I loved this guy - always the comic foil in his younger acting years as Arnold the Japanese restaurant entrepreneur as on Happy Days - - he had the greatest one-liners on that show. Then he topped his role as Arnold and took on the role as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid films. Sure, the films sucked after the first one, but Morita was unbelievable in the first installment.
Gaylord Nelson (July 3)
Gaylord was a Democratic American politician from Wisconsin. He played a large role in the founding of Earth Day. Other than that, I just find it amusing that his name was Gaylord.
Rosa Parks (October 24)
"There are three things that Black people need to know the truth about. Number one: Rodney King should've gotten his ass beat for being drunk in a Honda in a white part of Los Angeles. Number two: O.J. did it! And number three: Rosa Parks didn't do nuthin' but sit her Black ass down!" - - As said by Eddie played by Cedric the Entertainer in 2002's Barbershop.
Richard Pryor (December 10)
Personally, I never really got his brand of potty mouth humor. He had some decent bits, but I grew up with Eddie Murphy in his prime and now Chris Rock. I think it was just a lot easier to make people laugh in the '70s. He was great in film though: Which Way Is Up?, The Mack, Silver Streak, and my all time favorite, Uptown Saturday Night. Great timing on the screen.
Nipsey Russell (October 2)
Best known for being a guest panelist on many 1970s and 1980s game shows, such as Match Game, To Tell the Truth and Pyramid. Never really got the fame he deserved because Redd Foxx stoled his thunder as they both came up at the same time. Still, he always got great laughs with his Pg-rated lymrics whenever he was on one of the awful '70s game shows.
I got a Sirius satellite receiver for the car and home for Christmas this year and I haven't listened to regular radio since. Actually, that's wrong, I did turn on a talk radio station a few weeks ago, but shut it off immediately after spending 7 minutes listening to a string of annoying commercials. Sure I'm paying $12 a month for this service, but it's worth listening to Howard Stern in the morning and the trance/ambient channel for the rest of the day.
Hunter S. Thompson (February 20)
An average writer who was able to squeeze out a niche for himself by acting like a pretentious asshole. He was known for his flamboyant writing style, most notably in his novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which blurred the distinctions between writer and subject, fiction and nonfiction. He is also known as the creator of gonzo journalism and, as such, is widely imitated by hack bloggers everywhere.
Luther Vandross (July 1)
I don't know a whole lot about Luther, but I do remember first seeing him sing backup for David Bowie during the Young American sessions on some PBS special. Best known as a romantic crooner, one can only assume that a whole lot of unplanned pregnancies were conceived to the backdrop of Luther's silky vocals back in the '80s. You are my lady, indeed.
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