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Friday, June 6, 2014

Reading the Obits

Posted by on Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Three recent obits at the New York Times that you really should read:

“All those years, telling you not to speak Navajo, and then to turn around and ask us for help with that same language. It still kind of bothers me.”

“But if I never made another film—look at the film I made.”

“The day of the wicked whisper is passed. But gossip based on fact will continue as long as there is a Hollywood. Gossip is news.”

It never occurs to me look at the obits section when I'm away from home and reading the NYT online. But when I read the print edition—which I still get at home—I'm always stumbling over the obit section, which seems to land randomly in various section of the paper over the course of the week, where I meet fascinating dead people like the three whose obits are linked above.

 

Comments (12) RSS

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rob! 1
Same for me with the L.A. Times. In addition to meeting new (dead) people, there's the plowing of the field of history, and the unearthing of connections small and great.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on June 6, 2014 at 8:55 AM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 2
My great aunt, born in 1896, called the obituaries the "Irish Sports Page" and always turned to it first.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on June 6, 2014 at 10:09 AM · Report this
stinkbug 3
You might enjoy reading one of the collection of NYT obits, such as
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0743215…
Posted by stinkbug on June 6, 2014 at 10:13 AM · Report this
4
Agreed, obits in the NYT can be some great reading and Chester Nez's, The Navajo Code Talker, is a good example.
Posted by carnivorous chicken on June 6, 2014 at 10:32 AM · Report this
5
I stopped in at the general store at the Stillwell Ranch once, and years later read the obit of Ida Stillwell in the NYT. Realized I had met the first white woman (as far as anyone can tell) to live west of the Pecos River. Pretty cool.
Posted by Texans on June 6, 2014 at 10:51 AM · Report this
6
The obit for Mr. Nez was fascinating; I want to go read up more on the Navajo Code Talkers now. Thank you!
Posted by MemeGene on June 6, 2014 at 11:10 AM · Report this
dnt trust me 7
Take note. No one, absolutely no one is more fascinating than Dan Savage. Dead or Alive.
Posted by dnt trust me on June 6, 2014 at 11:17 AM · Report this
Kevin_BGFH 8
I always read every word of the obits of my local gay press first, both to discover the sad news of acquaintances who have passed and to pay respect to the lives of people I never knew. I sometimes turn to the obits of our main paper, too, mainly to see if there are names of friends of my parents or grandparents (and periodically, there are). Sadly, last year I actually had to write two obituaries, something I had never done before and hope to not have to do in the near future.
Posted by Kevin_BGFH http://biggayfrathouse.typepad.com/blog/ on June 6, 2014 at 1:09 PM · Report this
Ophian 9
The Navajo Code Talkers rest on the shoulders of the Choctaw and Cherokee from WWI. However, the strategic use of Native American culture is an excellent example of why inclusion and cultural sensitivity isn't just nice, but is a real strength.

The Nazis would have done a lot better in the war, if the contributions of Jewish, Gay, Roma, etc. peoples were included in the Reich [e.g. Einstein]. But then, we probably wouldn't have needed a WW in the first place.

For all the strengths of Germany at that time, they would have been much stronger if they hadn't excised entire groups who had intelligence, skills, humanity and effort to give [e.g. German Jews who fought for Germany in WWI]. Germany would have done much better if they just hadn't been Nazis. We are still learning the same inclusion [no Godwin].

My point is that a polity that acknowledges, includes and respects its constituent minorities is a much stronger, richer, and more humane thing for everyone.

I am really confused and humbled by the Native-Americans, African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Female-Americans, Gay-Americans, etc. that were just as willing to serve and sacrifice as those who weren't getting pooped on in their own home country. [When Jess Owens got back to The States, he still had to use the service elevator.] I don't understand how/why they did it, but I am thankful and inspired that they did.

Sorry to be long winded--as usual--but I've been thinking about this stuff a bit recently...D-Day and all.
Posted by Ophian on June 6, 2014 at 5:18 PM · Report this
Dirtclustit 10
did you see the obit of the truck driver who was hauling govt. meat, his truck hit a cow, then veered off the road where it hit a tree and burst into flames?

his name was something Ming Lee
Posted by Dirtclustit on June 6, 2014 at 5:51 PM · Report this
11
I read obituaries every day . I skim thru, looking for deaths of young people. My 31 yr old son, A beautiful young man, died suddenly(heart attack), 10 yrs ago. When I read of other young people dying, for a moment I feel into their families grief- as I relive my own. Weird maybe, but it's what I do.
Posted by LavaGirl on June 7, 2014 at 5:00 AM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 12
@9, "For all the strengths of Germany at that time, they would have been much stronger if they hadn't excised entire groups who had intelligence, skills, humanity and effort to give [e.g. German Jews who fought for Germany in WWI]."

On one level, certainly. If they'd kept their Jewish scientists, then their weapons programs (in aerodynamics, jet engines, atomic bomb, etc), would have been that much further along AND the USA wouldn't have had as many very important immigrants from Germany in the late 1930's who helped our war effort. Look who broke the German Enigma code - a gay guy (Alan Turing) - England used him during the war, persecuting him only afterwards.

But part of Hitler's rise to power was enabled by scape-goating Jews and communists especially and also gays, Roma (gypsies) and the handicapped. Some of the appeal was that average Germans felt better about themselves because suddenly their lousy economy wasn't their fault, it was the fault of minorities and an unfair peace treaty at the end of WWI. We saw Bush use that post 9-11. And Carl Rove mobilized his base with State-level DOMA propositions. The Tea Party uses anti-immigrant rhetoric to good effect among their target audience.

So while I agree that devoting resources to exterminating people instead of utilizing them was (in addition to being evil) less productive, Hitler couldn't have swept to power so spectacularly without a keen sense and utilization of the fears and prejudices of his day.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on June 8, 2014 at 2:39 PM · Report this

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