DIED: The Verbessem Brothers


Marc and Eddy were deaf and learned that soon they would both go blind. They were 45 and twins. Because they were Belgian, the option of assisted suicide was available to them. Believing they would no longer be able to live self-sufficiently, and to communicate with each other and family (they had developed their own sign language), they chose death by lethal injection. Before they died, they had coffee. READ MORE >

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January 25th, 2013 / 5:02 pm

DIED: Dave Brubeck

On May 9, 1961*, Iola Brubeck gave birth to a boy. He was given the name Charles Matthew.

The boy’s father, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck—who died today of heart failure on the way to a cardiology appointment and was a day shy of his 92nd birthday—wrote and recorded a song with his quartet called “Charles Matthew Hallelujah.”

Here’s the story I was told by a music teacher: Embedded in the song’s sections—there are two distinct sections—are, first, the words “Charles Matthew!” And then the follow-up “Hallelujah!” Follow Paul Desmond’s alto sax to hear them. Note that there seems to be an extra syllable in “Charles Matthew!” I always sing “Cha-earls Matthew!” when I sing along. The second section, a rolling sort of piano beginning at the 1:30 mark, has “I have a brand new baby boy, I have a brand new baby boy, I have a brand new baby boy, I have a brand new baby boy…” in it. The second and following “I have a brand new baby boy”s all start their “I”s on that stalled, heavy chord so the “I” takes a longer time to say. (Like Brubeck, the one who had the brand new baby boy is, in emphasizing the “I,” bragging a little. Or a lot.)

“Charles Matthew Hallelujah” is one of my favorite songs because it’s a hell of a birthday present. And a hell of a precise artistic statement about pure joy. It’s like the air in a balloon filled to capacity. The rubber skin is the constraint of time signature and the limitations of the instruments. But the air is stretching it as out as far as it will stretch.

Brubeck is nothing but all right in my book. RIP.

* A mystery: Wikipedia & IMDB say Charles Matthew was born on May 9, 1961. Wikipedia also says Time Further Out—the album “Charles Matthew Hallelujah” appears on—was “recorded” on May 3, 1961. So, six days before the birth of Charles Matthew. is Wikipedia referring to the first day of recording? Was it recorded all in one day, and Brubeck was anticipating the birth of a son? As the story was told to me, the song was recorded on the day of or the day after his birth.

Massive People / 4 Comments
December 5th, 2012 / 4:18 pm

“Laboratory testing for lethal intoxicating substances, stigmata of anaphylaxis, or metabolic derangements were negative.” He choked.

DIED: Keith Campbell

On October 5, Keith Campbell—one of the scientists who worked on Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell—died at the age of 58.

Adult cells have specialized jobs. They make one thing—skin, for example. Embryonic cells are not specialized. So, making an entire body from an embryonic cell is relatively easy. Making an entire body from a specialized cell is not. Campbell suggested trying to find a way to get adult cells to revert, to forget their specialization. Starving the adult cell did the trick. Dolly followed.

Some people call cloning “playing God.” Mostly, those people are talking about human cloning, not animal cloning.

But, still, Dolly caused a stir. And accusations of playing god. READ MORE >

Massive People / 2 Comments
October 16th, 2012 / 3:23 pm

DIED: Edward Archbold

On October 5, Edward Archbold, 32, won a live roach-eating contest at a pet store north of Miami, Florida. After his win, Mr. Archbold felt ill, began vomiting, and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Other participants in the contest did not fall ill and did not die, suggesting that his death might have been unrelated to the large number of live cockroaches he consumed. Or at least that, for the larger percentage of us, the consumption of a lot of cockroaches is not necessarily dangerous. READ MORE >

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October 9th, 2012 / 6:52 pm

DIED: Griffith Edwards

Griffith Edwards, Oxford-educated MD and addiction specialist, invented alcoholism. In 1976.

That is to say, he and a cowriter named Milton Gross first published a description of Alcohol Dependence Syndrome in the British Medical Journal in 1976, making the whole darn thing official.

Edwards spent his life considering, studying, talking about, writing about, and helping others with addictions.


ALCOHOL in HISTORY: Edited Highlights READ MORE >

Author Spotlight / 7 Comments
October 2nd, 2012 / 5:25 pm

DIED Snippet: On September 14, chronic illness legal advocate Jennifer Jaff passed away. Her advocacy was a reaction to her own diagnosis with Crohn’s disease. Frankly, I don’t even know where to begin talking about the messy maze of health insurance and chronic illness or pre-existing conditions. But I thought this might be a fine place to link to Giant contributor Ken Baumann’s essay on his Crohn’s in Vice Magazine. (And to mention that they have his name spelled wrong in the byline.)(Also, this essay is not sexist.)

DIED: Gabriel Vahanian

Gabriel Vahanian, author of the book The Death of God: The Culture of Our Post-Christian Era, died on Saturday, September 8. He was 85.

He was not an atheist. He was a theologian and critic of what he referred to as “Religiosity,” Christianity that appealed broadly to his contemporary culture, that embraced faith without doubt, that was literal in its interpretations of the Bible, that was “trivial.” Here he reveals the death of God in the names we give God: READ MORE >

Author News / 7 Comments
September 21st, 2012 / 2:00 pm

DIED: Dr. Thomas Szasz

Dr. Thomas Szasz was a professor of psychiatry who spent much of his intellectual life critiquing psychiatry. He believed much of psychiatry was unscientific and should not be used to justify coerced detention in mental institutions and that diagnoses should not be allowed in courts of law. He was popular with libertarians (because he believed in body and mind self-ownership over state control of our relative psychiatric [un]hingedness) and, because he called psychiatry a “pseudoscience,” he was embraced by the Church of Scientology.

Because he called psychiatry a “pseudoscience,” he was embraced by the Church of Scientology. READ MORE >

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September 19th, 2012 / 2:50 pm

DIED: An Ontario, California Rapper who called himself Inkyy or Jew’elz

A young, Southern California rapper who maybe went by the names Inkyy or Jew’Elz died in a car accident. According to the obituary in the UK’s Daily Mail (Online edition), Ervin McKinness (Inkyy/Jew’elz’s government name) had, moments before the car he was a passenger in ran into a wall after running a red light, tweeted the following:

Drunk af going 120 drifting corners #FuckIt YOLO

It is not believed that Inkyy was driving the car 120 miles an hour or drifting corners, but that he and his friends were—as he self-reports—”drunk as fuck” when they hit the wall. Five people died. It was 1:20am. Another report said they were at Creekside Drive and Haven Avenue: here. This article has video from the scene. There is an iron fence south of the LDS church on the southwest corner. I’m fairly certain that’s the one shown in the video.


A question one can ask about Existentialism—whether it is life affirming or life denying—can, I think, also be asked about #YOLO (You Only Live Once). It depends, it seems, on who is hashtagging. There are certainly those who have embraced #YOLO as life affirming. As of Friday, September 14, 1885 people have RTed Inkyy’s unintentionally final words. Those folks seem to have embraced #YOLO as life denying.

Where will you stand? #FuckIt. I stand with life affirming.

Have a good weekend, everyone. If you’re drunk af, stay off the streets. Inkyy’s video “Dreams” after the cut. READ MORE >

Music / 4 Comments
September 14th, 2012 / 4:52 pm