More than 4,500 nice words (or not, if you’re Gaddhafi, Bin Laden, or Al Davis) for 41 different entries await you in this year’s CJS Cavalcade of Death. Once again, not one of the people any of our Regulars or staff picked last year bit it, so we’re cancelling this year’s Ghoul Pool mostly because we all suck at it, but also because it makes us feel icky picking dead celebrities in public.
So, we’ll honor the dead the way we always do around here – by having Dagger write barely coherent thoughts about how he obliquely has some obscure memory about each of these fucking people. Strap in kids, we got a lot of dead folks to wade through.
January 2 – Pete Postlethwaite
How do you say this guy’s last name? It doesn’t matter really, because this guy was the tits in The Usual Suspects, was just about the only thing keeping that manic Romeo + Juliet remake tethered to reality, and killed it in small parts in Inception and The Town. He was also acclaimed in well-regarded highbrow fare that I have not seen because I am apparently incredibly shallow. You never saw this guy in a movie and thought, “Oh shit, not this guy again!” He was always awesome, and movies will be less without him.
January 2 – Anne Francis
Anne Francis is white. Outside of the fact that she’s an actress, that’s all I know about her. I know that because in Reservoir Dogs when Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel and Chris Penn talk about black actresses in the 60s and 70s who played cops, Steve Buscemi derisively reminds Tim Roth, “Anne Francis is white.” It’s possible I have seen this movie too many times.
January 4 – Gerry Rafferty
And hey, speaking of Reservoir Dogs… Use your best Steven Wright voice for this next paragraph:
“Joe Eagen and Gerry Rafferty were a duo known as “Stealers Wheel” when they recorded this Dylan-esque pop bubble gum favorite from April of 1974. That reached up to #5, as K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70s continues.”
Then fondly remember “Stuck in the Middle With You” as Michael Madsen cuts that poor cop’s ear off in Reservoir Dogs, and that’s why Gerry Rafferty matters to you. What you probably don’t know is that Stealers Wheel made this song up as a dig at Bob Dylan, which I find unspeakably cool. From the Cracked.com article “6 Songs That Were Supposed to Be Jokes”: “Stuck in the Middle With You” was written as a parody of Dylan’s more paranoid, drug-induced ramblings, which is another way of saying it’s a parody of every single Bob Dylan song ever recorded… Rafferty also borrowed Dylan’s distinctive singing style, which sort of sounds like Neil Diamond trying to eat oatmeal while having a stroke… Rafferty couldn’t believe it when their little joke hit big and peaked at #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.”
January 20 – Sexy Cora
Every year I include some strange ones into the Cavalcade of Death – usually it’s people with funny names because my comedy is JUST THAT GOOD. But this year it’s German pornstar Sexy Cora who died from complications from breast enlargement surgery, which would have been her sixth such operation. She once tried to break the world record of fellatios performed in one day with 200, but had to stop at 75. It’s that type of reach for the stars disposition that warrants mention here at CJS. That, and there’s a dearth of hot chicks on this list.
January 21 – Tony Geiss
The composer of our childhood (or at least the most ubiquitous song of it). If that theme doesn’t make you feel nice and warm inside, you’ve probably OD’d on the current Sesame Street which seems to feature nothing but Elmo. For the rest of us, it’s a warm invitation to come and play, everything’s A-OK…
January 23 – Jack LaLanne
We have his juicer in our pantry. We’ve never used it once. But for whatever reason, I’m as happy it’s there as I am sad we don’t get those goofy commercials with him hawking this thing anymore and wondering how he got juice out of a carrot, which has no juice. Godspeed, you fit old bastard. Whip those cream puffs in the afterlife into shape. And then make them drink carrot juice.
February 27 – Duke Snider
Centerfielder primarily of the Dodgers and elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980, he was known as “The Silver Fox” and “The Duke of Flatbush.” I realize Flatbush is in Brooklyn, but to be called “The Duke of Flatbush” is righteous. If you’re The Duke of Flatbush, I’ll bet you wreck the pussy. It probably doesn’t hurt that you were an 8x All-Star, won two World Series, and had your #4 retired by the Dodgers. Wreck the pussy.
March 6 – Mike DeStefano
Someone I never found funny but someone whom the comedy community loved. And when you listen to as much WTF w/Marc Maron as we do in this house, you take notice when one of their brothers passes on. So, a hat tip to Mr. DeStefano from us. Thanks for making many laugh, sorry we weren’t among them.
March 8 – Mike Starr
Last time I saw poor Mike Starr (not to be confused with the character actor Harry and Lloyd accidentally poison in Dumb and Dumber), he was getting exploited by professional exploiter Dr. Drew on Celebrity Rehab. He did not look good. Given that he spent considerable time near Layne Staley, I’m amazed he lasted this long.
March 15 – Nate Dogg
Bill Simmons burnt many calories extolling the virtues of Nate Dogg, and sprayed considerable flopsweat across our computer screens comparing him to Robert Horry, so I won’t waste much time on Nate Dogg’s career here. I will say there was a point in my life where I spent an unreasonable amount of my free time practicing “Regulate” and deliberated whether or not to sing it with my friend Conor at karaoke in some shitty bar in the suburbs though. We never did, and I think the world is better for never having had to live through it.
March 17 – Michael Gough
The first Michael Keaton Batman movie was awesome. The second one was too weird and ugly, but still somewhat enjoyable. The Val Kilmer one started to suck balls, and the George Clooney one totally ate hog. Michael Gough, as Alfred, was the only one in all four of those movies, and just about the only enjoyable element of the last two. Michael Caine’s done a dandy job in the most recent two, but he’s got nothing on the Alfred of our childhood.
March 19 – Knut
What is it with fucking polar bears? People go apeshit for them. From Cracked’s obituary piece, “Where Aren’t They Now? 11 Overlooked Deaths of 2011”:
Knut (rhymes with “ka-kute”) was a world-famous polar bear, raised in captivity at the Berlin Zoo. It was no wonder Knut spawned a mass media phenomenon known as “Knutmania” — toys, books, DVDs, the whole shebang. He was even solely responsible for a 5 million Euro increase in the zoo’s profits.”
Jesus. It’s a polar bear, not Blue Man Group. It’s not like you’re going to show up one day and get to see its precious little life snuffed out callously, right, Cracked obituary piece?
“He was constantly surrounded by people (over 600 watched him have a seizure before he fell into the pool and died), and he was enclosed with not one, not two, but three aggressive lady bears who chased, bit and bullied him for fun.”
Germans are fucked up.
April 9 – Sidney Lumet
Academy Award winning director of 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and The Verdict. All of those movies fucking rule, and so do many of the others he directed over the course of an astonishing career. You could, and should, have a Sidney Lumet film festival at your house. If you invite CJS, we’ll bring Bagel Bites, which, somehow, became the Official Snack of CJS Sanctioned Events. Neither Hart nor I can remember how this happened.
May 2 – Osama bin Laden
Whenever I have a problem putting someone on too high of a pedestal (like a company CEO I have to present to, or something), I remember that everyone has to wipe their ass. Then I’m no longer intimidated. By the same token, after seeing the photo above, can you believe this guy was one of the scariest people on earth? That looks like he lives in a shithole dorm at Buttfuck State University. You half expect to see a half empty bottle of Cholula in front of him stolen from the local Chipotle.
All kidding aside, I know sensitive types get upset at statements like this, but I don’t care – I’m glad this cocksucker is dead. Rot in hell, you soulless evil parasite. This world is better a place without you.
May 7 – Seve Ballesteros
Despite not really giving a shit about golf in general, I work in a place where feigning interest in it aids upward career mobility. So I heard a lot about Seve Ballesteros. Seemed like a good guy and an interesting golfer (at least as far as golfers are concerned). Let’s turn it over to golf fetishist Rick Reilly for a proper eulogy because soon I’ll be forced to recycle one of my three golf stories, so let’s move on.
May 11 – Robert “Tractor” Traylor
Once a marquee player at the University of Michigan, “Tractor” Traylor was noted as much for his size, 6’ 8” and over 300 lbs, as he was for his skills. He was drafted by the Mavericks in 1998 and traded for a guy you may have heard of, a skinny German prospect named Dirk Nowitzki. I always associate him with an SNL parody commercial called KCF Shredders (which also debuted in 1998) mostly because I can easily picture him taking Tracy Morgan’s place in saying “I’m a big man! And I need a big Shredder!” I guarantee that won’t be in any other of Traylor’s eulogies.
May 17 – Harmon Killebrew
Nor will the first line of any other eulogy to Harmon Killebrew be about how Jack Geller looks for his Harmon Killebrew bat in that episode of “Friends” where Monica and Richard (Tom Selleck) announce they’re dating at Jack’s birthday party. Yet, that’s what I remember about Harmon Killebrew most. Not that at the time of his retirement, he was second in homeruns only to Babe Ruth, but that his bat was used as a minor gag in a rerun of “Friends” I’ve seen probably 25 times. This is why I don’t write these things professionally.
May 20 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage
The Macho Man earned 2,000 words from me last May, so we won’t belabor him again here. I’ll just ask you one more time to pay your respects to the man that prevented the Rapture, which was also scheduled for May 20.
June 3 – Dr. Jack Kevorkian
Dr. Death is dead. He helped many die peacefully, and we hope that he was able to go the same way after dying from… [looking it up]… Gah! Liver cancer! Good grief. Plenty of pain there, which, I suppose, is the dildo of irony non-right-to-die folks love.
June 20 – Ryan Dunn
When I was in high school, I thought Tom Green pushed the envelope as far as it could possibly go on television. Then I got to college and Jackass happened. Johnny Knoxville put a beard of leeches on his face, Steve-O swallowed a goldfish and then vomited him back up, and in the eventual movie, Ryan Dunn did what Steve-O wouldn’t. He shoved a toy car up his ass and got it x-rayed. That is one fucked up group of friends. Based on what I’d heard about these guys, it doesn’t surprise me that he died due to a drunk driving accident, but it does sadden me.
June 23 – Peter Falk
Our point of entry into The Princess Bride, for which we’re ever grateful. A subtle parody of fairy tale tropes that simultaneously serves as a damn good fairy tale in its own right. Kind of like “Colombo” which, I read somewhere, wasn’t a “whodunit” but a “howcatchem.” They showed you who committed the crime in the first five minutes. The joy was in seeing how Colombo got to the bottom of it. And as Rob Schneider’s character in Big Daddy says, “This Colombo – he pretend to be stupid, but he’s actually very smart.”
July 8 – Betty Ford
If you don’t like your First Lady politically active, you can blame Betty Ford. She commented on every burning issue of her time including feminism, equal pay, the ERA, sex, drugs, abortion, and gun control. In our humble estimation, she was on the right side of every one of these issues. She founded the Betty Ford Center after battling her own addiction to alcohol, which serves as a hopeful beacon for drunks everywhere. A super classy lady to whom our hat is off.
July 12 – Sherwood Schwartz
Created “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch.” Became an icon when those became syndicated. Syndication is a total mixed blessing. It was awesome in college when we had that uberblock of syndicated goodness in The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Friends, Blind Date, Home Improvement, and That 70′s Show, but sucks ass when you’re hungover in Vegas and all that’s on is Yes Dear, Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and a Half Men, and Law and Order. Also, Schwartz wrote both theme songs to Gilligan and The Brady Bunch. Have fun singing those all day now. Here’s the story, of a lovely lady…
July 23 – Amy Winehouse
I predicted this one two years too early. Happily, I thought the worst was over for poor Amy, but that was way too optimistic. Back to Black is outstanding, and Amy gave us so much general weirdness during her time on this earth, she gave us more entertainment in her short time on this earth than a decade’s worth of reality television. We will now play “You Know I’m No Good” and groove in tribute. [grooves to himself, cat stares at him, he stares back, standoff] [gets a beer]
August 3 – Bubba Smith
Officer Hightower! There’s a police academy near my house and every time I drive by it, I think to myself, “That place must be HILARIOUS! I wonder what they’re doing to their crotchety captain right now!” I loved these movies growing up, and even though Hightower was a scary imposing dude, I always thought he was the sweetest. Just a big teddy bear.
August 6 – Fred Imus
My dad used to drive me to school and we’d listen to Imus in the Morning. Fred was a frequent guest, and Imus used to pimp his Turquoise Buffalo tortilla chips. I heard him do this so often, I didn’t think anything of it when my dad bought me a Turquoise Buffalo golf shirt. It fit great, was comfortable as hell, and I wore it all the time. In fact I wore it when I interviewed Zebrahead. I was sad when I heard Fred died, and that’s mostly only because I don’t get to see my dad everyday anymore.
August 11 – Jani Lane
It occurred to me the other day that the music I love most – punk rock from 1995 – 2008 (approximate) – is fixed just as much in time and place as disco, psychedelic rock, grunge or hair metal. Bands around today aren’t trying to emulate Less Than Jake or Blink-182. This made me sad because at some point there won’t even be any new music that I love, and even further down the line, some of these fuckers are going to die. With that in mind, my heart goes out to any hard rocking kid from the 80s that loved “Cherry Pie” or whatever the hell else Warrant sings. Time is a motherfucker.
August 31 – Wade Belak
A tough guy for the Avalanche that died way too young at the age of 35. Like many athletes retired from contact sports, Belak suffered from depression. We like to dump on the NFL around here and believe Roger Goddell is a disingenuous toady who only pays lip service to the concussion problem in football, and we still believe that. But when guys who get hit in the head too much continue to die too young (pro wrestlers), get dementia in their 40s (football players), and suffer depression in disproportionate numbers (hockey, and all other contact sports), maybe we should acknowledge that some of the sports we like are inherently unsafe. That’s not a conversation I like having, so let’s rip on ESPN.
September 7 – Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei, Karlis Skrastins, & 41 others
I rarely watch ESPN anymore (for reasons outlined here and many others), but when an institution its size fails to even fucking acknowledge any of the players who died from a sport their competition airs and they don’t, I think we can all collectively ignore their news department from here on out. This is clearly an organization with a biased agenda that has now gotten too lazy to even make a token attempt to hide that fact.
My heart goes out to the players of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and anyone else who perished in the plane crash, their families, and fans of the team. I used to think George Costanza’s pestering of Keith Hernandez about entire teams getting wiped off the earth was funny. Then I saw We Are Marshall. Not funny anymore. Then I forgot the movie. Funny again. Then this happened. Not funny again. I’m an idiot.
September 15 – Frances Bay
As Happy’s grandma, she was the emotional center of Happy Gilmore. Without her, that movie is likely just as untethered as The Waterboy or Mr. Deeds. As the marble rye enthusiast who gets mugged by Jerry Seinfeld in a seminal episode of “Seinfeld,” she allows us to see Jerry acting irrationally and aggressively, something fairly rare in the run of that show. As both of these characters, Frances Bay serves as a pleasant reference point for two entertainments I love.
September 16 – Tom Wilson, Sr.
And speaking of “Seinfeld,” there’s a guy who reviews old episodes of the show at The AV Club. He loves the old episodes to death, even ones that I downright loathe like “The Parking Garage,” “The Chinese Restaurant” (which is profoundly overrated in terms of comedy, and interesting because for whatever reason it serves as a nexus for what TV comedy could become), and that awful two-parter that takes place in LA where Kramer somehow ends up accused of being a serial killer.
He gives short shrift to the later episodes and seems to have no appetite for J. Peterman, Elaine’s eccentric boss. Senor Limon and I love Peterman and frequently quote his bizarre bon mots to each other with his curious inflection. Among our favorites, when Elaine rips of a Ziggy cartoon and gets it published in the New Yorker, Peterman reads it, leaves, and zips back into frame. “Flash of lightning, Elaine! It’s a Ziggy!”
Why am I talking about Seinfeld? Because Ziggy comics, which were created by Tom Wilson, Sr. were stupid and seemed to consist entirely of this fat little toad reading signs and looking befuddled by them. Seinfeld provides my happiest Ziggy memory.
October 8 – Al Davis
“You may not like Al Davis, but you have to respect him,” say idiots.
No, I don’t. I neither like nor respect Al Davis. The man was a hobgoblin who uprooted his cheating, awful, collection of thugs twice in under 20 years and wasn’t even smart enough to get a new stadium out of the deal. He encouraged goonery, drafted borderline (if not outright) criminals, created a culture that was embraced by LA gangs, and since getting blown out by Tampa in the 2002 Super Bowl, went 45-99 over the next 9 seasons until he died. Respect my ass. Fuck Al Davis.
October 20 – Muammar Gaddafi
I’ll miss Fred Armisen’s hilarious impression of this wingnut, and that’s about it. If more dictators could fucking die every year, that’d be super. And if more people liked Fred Armisen’s weird show “Portlandia,” well, then I’d have someone to talk about it with.
November 4 – Andy Rooney
Andy Rooney got to be on a consistently top 20 rated national network television newsmagazine every week for 33 years and got to complain about whatever he wanted for about two minutes. That’s the best gig on television, hands down. Anyone could realistically do that job, but very, very few could do it that many times and still have people anticipate tuning in. I hated Andy Rooney and would take shots at his wrinkled old ass anytime someone brought him up or I happened to leave “60 Minutes” on after a football game. But I was one of the people who always stuck around to hear what he had to say. He took a tiny little slice of television, and made it indelibly his own. That’s something special, no matter how you feel about the guy. And I would know, because he drove me crazy.
November 7 – Joe Frazier
Can you imagine what it would feel like to be the second best in the world at something? You’re better than everyone else in the entire world at what you do, except for one motherfucker. That’d drive a person mental. On a much, much smaller scale, for the longest time I was the best out of my friends at ping pong. Never lost. Always found a way to win. Then I met CJS Regular R, who schools me every time we get together. It’s maddening. I can beat anyone else, and this fucking guy lights me up every game.
So I can understand why Joe Frazier had “the man who took Muhammad Ali to the limit twice!” on his outgoing answering machine message, and I don’t begrudge him that, even though he did beat Ali in ’71. I personally also loved Frazier because he was in Mr. T’s corner at WrestleMania 2 when Mr. T boxed Roddy Piper in a horrible, worked, bullshit fight. But, WrestleMania 2 remains the first WWF PPV I ever saw, so my nostalgia kicks in extra hard for guys like Frazier.
November 8 – Bil Keane
“Okay. You sit down and read your paper, and you’re enjoying your entire two-page comics spread. Right? And then there’s the Family fucking Circus, bottom right-hand corner, just waiting to suck.”
“Then why don’t you just not read it?”
“I hate it, yet I’m uncontrollably drawn to it.” – Dialogue from the movie Go.
And that sums up my relationship to Bil Keane’s ubiquitous comic strip. Although this is much more thoughtful and interesting.
November 8 – Heavy D
When I was 10, I was at a friend’s house, and his mom took us to another friend’s birthday party at the roller rink. On the way there, my friend pulled out the cassette single for “Now That We Found Love” by Heavy D and the Boyz and made his mom play it over and over all the way there with the volume way up. My parents would have never stood for that shit, so I was happy we were in his mom’s car. Because this song ruled. Listening to it again now, it still rules.
November 29 – Patrice O’Neal
I mentioned WTF w/Marc Maron earlier, and one of the topics that comes up frequently is how tough a room The Comedy Cellar in New York (which you might recognize as the club Louis CK walks into at the end of the title credits in his show “Louie”) is. Apparently Colin Quinn, Jim Norton, Nick DiPaolo and a bunch of other hard ass dudes just sit in the back and heckle everyone that goes onstage. Maron doesn’t roll like that, and neither do many of his guests including Chris Rock and Mike Birbiglia. Apparently one of the best ballbusters of them all was Patrice O’Neal. I believe it considering he killed on VH-1’s forgettable “Web Junk,” and stole a few scenes from Steve Carell as one of the warehouse workers. Once again, the comedy community weeps like the gaggle of sad clowns they are.
December 7 – Harry Morgan
Probably best known for his work on “M.A.S.H.” and Dragnet, I know him from his stellar work in the 1978 Disney movie The Cat from Outer Space. He plays angry Army General Stilton who orders around a cadre of imbeciles trying to figure out where this spaceship came from. Little do they know it’s a alien cat who shacks up with the guy from “F Troop,” Sandy Duncan (of Wheat Thins fame!), another guy from M.A.S.H., and the guy who played Wilbur on “Mr. Ed.” In short, if you grew up watching Nick at Nite like I did, this was your movie. Plus it’s got a cat! That pilots a spaceship! And he levitates stuff! Okay I’m done. And he can somehow fix football games through the television set! Okay now I’m really done.
December 15 – Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens was one of the foremost intellectuals of the world and possessed a scathing wit that could take down a bull elephant just by sheer force of zinger. On Jerry Falwell: “If [Falwell] had been given an enema, he could have been buried in a matchbox.” On Michael Moore: ““The laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious, and ignorant and so on. And they’ve taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities.” I read many obituaries of Christopher Hitchens from sources with a variety of political standpoints – Huffington Post, Washington Post, New York Times, Penn Jillette, Patton Oswalt – and while many on the left despised Hitchens for his support of the 2003 War in Iraq while many on the right despised him for his rampant atheism, all praised his writerly genius and champion intellect. The loss of Christopher Hitchens’s insight into the world is one of the truly great losses this world has suffered this year.
December 17 – Kim Jong-il
This loss, on the other hand, was not. Kim Jong-il, that rare dictator who can be played equally brilliantly by Amy Poehler and Gilbert Gottfried, certainly seemed to be as batshit crazy as everyone said, so it’s with great hope that we believe North Korea somehow turns into something other a poverty-ravaged hellhole filled with nothing but gray buildings and an army that seems to walk around all day in those ugly uniforms.
Also, you can bet your big fat cock this is how Kim Jong-il feels in the afterlife.
And until next week, when our next article shows up, you’ll likely be a ridow ronery too. Have a happy and safe 2012, everyone!
05 Jan 2012 E Dagger