O-Bits: Not a Jolly Hallyday Edition

Quel dommage. Johnny Hallyday, le rockeur national de France, c’est mort. For those of you not francophones, what a pity. Johnny Hallyday, France’s national rocker, is dead at 74.  He was often compared to Elvis Presley, and like Elvis, also acted, but unlike Elvis, he ended up in some prestige projects, including Jean-Luc Godard’s Detective and giving a wonderful performance as the aging thief in Patrice LeConte’s Man On The Train. He could fill soccer stadiums in France, but for him, the Maginot Line held.  Everywhere else, he was the answer to a trivia question. If the question you’re asking now is “what would ‘Hey Joe’ sound like sung in French?” well, wonder no more!

Bollywood is also mourning the loss of one of its biggest stars. Shashi Kapoor has died at 79. Best known in America and England for his work in Merchant-Ivory 1960s productions Shakespeare Wallah and Heat and Dust, and more recently, as the father in Stephen Frears’ Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, written by Hanif Kureishi. His cremation was a state occasion, with thousands in attendance.

Finally, Vincent Scully has died.


No, not that Vin Scully. You think we’d leave that Vin Scully to the end of a story? No, this is the Yale art professor who died at 90. His lively and absorbing books about architecture could explain a whole society through the order of a column. One of the leading intellectual voices for modern architecture, and a cutting critic of what he saw as substandard buildings, he was a fine stylist as well. We’d love to pull off a description as sharp and visual as this, about the buildings by Mies van de Rohe:

His architecture cried on nobody’s lapel; it made perfect, technologically appropriate cages, and limpid volumes of air, and that was all.

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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