The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Studs Terkel Dead at 96


A Hallowe'en that began with the entire globe holding its breath, waiting to hear if Kenneth Anger would, as the man himself predicted, join the choir invisible, has for all practical purposes concluded with news of the passing of Broadcaster and Oral Historian Studs Terkel at the age of 96. As the planet seems to slowly and inexorably drain itself of individuals worthy of admiration, the death of a man who steadfastly refused to accept the term 'ordinary' as descriptive of anyone ought to give us an opportunity to reflect either upon how far we've travelled as a culture, or how low we've fallen.

It ought to; but it won't.

Studs Terkel's life and work are covered, somewhat, in the following Obits:

The New York Times

The Chicago Tribune

The Los Angeles Times

11 comments :

Mr DeBakey said...

Terkel's radio show was the best

It was a highlight of the week.



In one of his books - Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do - Terkel talked to Black Hawks winger Eric Nesterenko.

Nestorenko is from Flin Flon, Manitoba.
The transcriber had no idea what a Flin Flon is.
I don't have a copy here to confirm, but the spelling was priceless.

Julie said...

Yet Kenneth Anger lives on? Conceptually this is very interesting...

Tom Sutpen said...

So it would seem that the author of Hollywood Babylon endures.

I'm beginning to suspect Anger's 'I'm going to croak on Halloween' prediction was a scam to alter his standing in some Death Pool somewhere. You know, push the heavy betting towards Halloween '08 and clean up big time when it doesn't happen.

I was saying to someone yesterday how astonishing it is, considering the life he's lived, that Anger has managed to outlive just about every so-called Underground filmmaker of his generation (he made his first film, after all, in 1943). Somehow I don't believe any of that occult foolishness he's indulged his senses in over the decades has had anything to do with it.

At least I hope not.

Tom Sutpen said...

Mr. Debakey:

I've only heard a handful of 'Studs Terkel's Wax Museum' shows; not nearly as many as I would like. I read a few years ago that he turned over all his tapes to some foundation in Chi-town. I hope they don't bury them.

Vanwall said...

He fit the raconteur profile like no one else - a great American has passed on.

Richard Gibson said...

I'd never heard of Studs but this sad news made it to BBC Radio 4 this morning and he sounded like a very interesting man indeed. We were told that his dream was to live until 05/11...

I'd never heard about Anger's prediction until I saw it here and on your Facebook page Tom.

Julie said...

I didn't mean to pass over Studs Terkle's death at all. It makes me very sad. But Tom, I'm with you as far as Anger's outliving everyone else in his circle. Given the dabblings in the occult, you kind of gotta wonder.

I watched Rosemary's Baby again last night, which probably is the reason for my Faustian leanings today...

Tom Sutpen said...

Richard:

About a year ago last August, Kenneth Anger attended a memorial service for his (former) friend and (former) collaborator Curtis Harrington, He made a bigger spectacle of himself than usual at this shindig, which is saying a lot; interrupting the eulogy repeatedly with corrections, insults, all manner of attention-getting techniques. Somewhere in the middle he announced to the assembled mourners that he was dying of prostate cancer (the potential for jokes on this point are literally endless) and knew the date of his death: Hallowe'en, 2008. The cancer thing turned out to be true . . . he underwent surgery for it in February of this year . . . but, as we now know, his prediction clock was otherwise in need of repairs.

Perhaps he decided to hang around and vote on Tuesday; who knows (how would you like to be at that polling station?).

Julie:

For Faustian leanings, I'd say Rosemary's Baby is as good an inspiration as you could ask for!

Jessica R. said...

With faux populism pandering by canidates his passing especially stings. What I liked about him and his work is how it was done without a whiff of condescension. It's more than everyone has a story, it's that everyone's story matters. We've lost that faith in ourselves and each other. I don't think it's extinct I'm just not sure how to get it back.

Jessica R. said...

With faux populism pandering by canidates his passing especially stings. What I liked about him and his work is how it was done without a whiff of condescension. It's more than everyone has a story, it's that everyone's story matters. We've lost that faith in ourselves and each other. I don't think it's extinct I'm just not sure how to get it back.

Ben said...

I saw Anger doing an introduction/Q&A to accompany a screening of some of his films on Friday (Halloween) afternoon, funnily enough.

I was unaware of the death prediction, but I thought he seemed a bit nervous!

Very sad to hear about Terkel. An amazing guy in every respect.