I repeat the initial paragraph here so you do not have to reference it after three prior posts. I’ve always felt it necessary to look back on what people who had an impact on my pop-culture history and in some cases my real life. In the past I’ve written these obits with the most marginal of information, but I’ve always broken it down by categories. Frequently there would be people I’ve missed people or even complete categories as my heart and soul weakens as I organize this work. This is the first time this type of writing is showing up on Pop-Culture Spectrum. It will appear in approximately five parts and then a final collection post of linking for those who don’t go backward in blog reading. In each category it is broken down alphabetically and the age of the person and their cause is in parentheses after. Each category will have its own specialties. This time I shall have more than one category as their sections are not long enough for an entire post. They will have links where available.
Michael S. Hart (64- heart attack): The founder of Project Gutenberg and by extension the e-book, he can be both thanked and blamed for the kindle, the nook, iBooks, comixology and many more. Yet without him, public domain books in easily accessible digital formats, be they .doc, .txt, .pdf, or .epub would not exist so I am eternally thankful.
Christopher Hitchens (62- esophageal cancer): One of the greatest minds of our generation, he wrote what needed to be written and said what needed to be said. Christopher Hitchens chose to be a controversial, derisive figure among analysts, political experts and the such. He was the non comedian version of George Carlin, with more bite, more vitriol and definitely way more to the point. He called a spade a spade and then he beat the shit out of that spade and stuck it up your mom’s bum and called it an idiot for even believing in not believing. Of course he wasn’t a perfect thought maker, like anyone of his measure and opinions, he had to get something wrong one in awhile or “wrong” as the case may be. His words and bravery to spread those words will be truly missed, but luckily he was quite prolific and left behind an amazing legacy.
Brian Jacques (71- heart attack): My bookshelf proudly holds various Redwall books, including an early version of the comic adaptation. These fantasy tales of anthropomorphic mice and more are brilliant and of course had to be a major influence on Scott Petersen’s Mouse Guard. Yet, it is Jacques other series that truly took my fancy and placed him among one of my favorite writers ever. The book, Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, was followed by two sequels which I have unfortunately only read one, but it and Angel’s Command are amazing works and cement Jacques.
Anne McCaffrey (85- stroke): The Dragonriders of Pern series was used very often to introduce children to adult science novels, when it was time for them to graduate. Not me in particular, I got started with Douglas Adams and Robert Heinlein between 10-13. Eventually I found my way to McCaffrey, devouring at a young age Dragonflight and such, but for whatever reason I didn’t stick with her completely. I found myself gravitated to Isaac Asmov, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelaney, etc. but I know how amazing the Pern books are and I absolutely adored the Dreamcast/PC game, despite the fact that it was heavily panned.
Bill Kunkel (61- heart attack): The Godfather of Video Game Journalism, he helped start the engine that has allowed Game Informer, Game Trailers.com, IGN, and even G4 to exist. While video games by their own existence became the phenomenon they did, Kunkel started the ball rolling that made them an excepted concept. So much so that you see video game reviews in GQ, Vanity Fair, Playboy and even The New York Times.
Takeshi Miyaji (45- unspecified): One the true pioneers of console gaming design. He worked on my favorite J-RPG of all time LUNAR as well as the GRANDIA series. While his work on LUNAR is not what turned the game into a forefrunt of love for me. That being the amazing animated sequences done for Silver Story Complete developed by Toshiyuki Kubooka and the amazing story written by Kei Shigema, but Takeshi was the spearhead behind making sure the original product existed and without him, Working Designs would never made the absolutely two thrilling North American Collector’s Editions which I am obscenely proud to own… including my Ghaleon punching doll.
Will Townsend (33- car accident): This young game producer helped on the DJ Hero project as well as other games at Activision. Gamasutra’s tribute article is a good read.
PERSONALITIES who don’t fit a single category
Edmund Snow Carpenter (88- natural causes): Visionary and anthropological genius, he opened the doors to the future of documentary work and historical analysis. Without him, visual anthropology and films which explored society through media would’ve never reached it’s pinnacle as both an accepted art form and as accepted academic research tool. He was an amazing writer and documentarian and you can get a feel for his work at this website if you aren’t familiar.
Steve Jobs (56- complications of pancreatic cancer): I was planning to keep this simple and state that I own an iPhone and I’m addicted to the thing, but Steve Jobs was so much more than this. When he left Apple and before he purchased Pixar he started a company which would go on to develop the software used by Apple for most of it’s current OS and digital products. It was his purchase of Pixar and helping steer the Disney deal in place that really cements his legend for me though. While he was only the business end there, it was his clear minded vision to see the future that allowed the future to exist and it is that vision that will continue to steer the future as it comes.
Jack Kevorkian (83 – thrombosis from cancer): If he wasn’t such an amazing presence on screen and speak such an important message which he was wrongly imprisoned for; and they didn’t make a compelling biofilm with Al Pacino (in one of those rare bothering to act roles) and John Goodman, I probably wouldn’t acknowledge his passing, but such as it is.
Jack LaLanne (96- pneumonia): The guru of fitness, the man also has some of the sickest feats of strength in history. Swimming shackled to Alkatraz Island at over 40? Doing it again at 60? Then something similar including pulling boats at 70? The man was a beast. Not enough of us (myself included) listen to his words of advice. He was a wise man who lived a fulfilled crazy life with a TV show, fame, books, and living legend status. Us stubborn, weak willed individuals (myself included) should have listened to him more. It’s not too late though, not too late.
Don Lapre (47- apparent suicide from cut throat & blood loss) : Con Man and infomercial master! If you never saw this dude growing up or as a teen or who knows how old you are… whatever. This dude sold vitamins, tips on how to make money by BUYING ads in newspapers and even tried to sell his scam skills to help people create infomercials to sell scam products. Man had guts… but the coward couldn’t handle it when the feds decided to throw the book at him. Instead of taking it like a man, he killed himself. Still he didn’t rape anyone, he just robbed them blind. He did it really entertainingly though.
Zoogz Rift (58- health complications): A long time ago in what feels like another galaxy I was very good internet friends with Zoogz Rift. We would e-mail each other back and forth, sharing wrestling theories, musical concepts and artistic visions. I even wrote a comprehensive biography of Bob which sits somewhere in my files. Writer, painter, avante garde musician and professional wrestling manager and booker, Zoogz, was quite the interesting cat. A man with many awesome successes and equally failures, but somehow a man who always bounced back and found a platform and to display his energy and entertainment and who definitely made his mark along the way in many lives. I still treasure my School of the Criminally Insane T-shirt which I will proudly display in any punk rock music video I ever make or any professional wrestling appearance I ever get lucky enough to be involved in again, even one of my own making and money.