O-Bits: Definitely NOT The Best of O-Bits Edition

From our “The Band Played ‘Nearer My Goethe To Thee'” desk, comes a story from Elkins Park, PA, that could put a dent into the funeral pre-planning business. Walter Skold, founder of the Dead Poets Society of America, decided to commission his headstone, hiring Michael Updike, son of the late author John Updike (but not associated with a Dead Writer’s Society, as far as we know). He seemed healthy, and both Skold and Updike figured the stone wouldn’t been needed for a while. A month later, he was dead. Heart attack.  As Updike told the Associated Press, Skold had very specific instructions for his stone, including a skeleton holding a quill carved above his name. We’re hoping here he chose “Iamb Somebody” for his epitaph. (This reminds us of the story of an album Bob Marley and the Wailers made in 1970 for producer Leslie Kong, best known in America for Desmond Dekker’s 1969 hit, “Israelites.” It was called “Best of the Wailers,” over Bunny Wailer’s objections. How could it be their best, he asked. You’ll only know it’s their best when they’re dead. Using that title, he warned, would only be asking for trouble. He was right, but not about the Wailers, who went on to have some pretty fair success. But Leslie Kong was dead a week after its release. It gives us an excuse to post the album’s—sadly, not available on Spotify— “Soul Shakedown Party.”)

Steven Mirkin

Steven Mirkin’s diverse career has taken him from politics to pop culture to high art, offering him a front row seat to some of the most fascinating events and personalities of our time: writing speeches, fundraising appeals and campaign materials for Ed Koch, John Heinz and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson; chronicling the punk/new wave scenes in New York and London; interviewing musicians such as Elton John, John Lydon and Buck Owens; profiling modern masters Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Safran Foer; and writing for TV shows including 21, The Chamber, Let's Make A Deal, and Rock Star: INXS.

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