O-Bits: Marty Crane, RIP edition

John Mahoney, who won two Emmys for playing Martin Crane, the bluff, gravely-voiced, lovable retired policeman and father to Frasier and Niles Crane on Frasier, died Sunday, at 77.  He always seemed like the kind of avuncular old guy you’d find holding court at the end of a bar, nursing his whisky, still flirting with the bar maids; the kind of guy who populates the work of Studs Terkel, Saul Bellow, and David Mamet. He made Kid Gleason, the manager of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, into a man of great pathos, trying to be a friend and protector of his team, and both shocked and understanding why his players would betray him.  He so embodied that kind of no-nonsense Chicago guy it was a shock to find out he was born in Manchester, England.

Shopping for funeral homes and caskets on-line strikes us as a little, shall we say, bloodless. Much like a car, we think you should be able to get a feel for your final resting place,  kick the tires and check out different models side-by-side in a showroom. Then again, buying cars on-line seems kind of silly to us. But, apparently, it’s a thing, and The New York Times reports that funeral homes are using a loophole in the 1984 FTC Funeral Rule, requiring all funeral homes post their prices. Since it was drafted when Apple was still the little guy tossing hammers into Big Brother’s IBM-PCs, there’s nothing in the regulations requiring them to list their prices on-line. A report by the Funeral Consumers Alliance found that less than 25% of funeral homes provide meaningful information on the web. “It is time for the F.T.C. to bring the regulations into the digital age,” the report concludes. 

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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