The newspaper today contained the obituaries of Betty Comden (screenwriter and lyricist) and Anita O'Day (singer), and French actor Phillipe Noirette (best known for roles in "Cinema Paradiso" and "Il Postino"), all of whom died on Thanksgiving Day, and this reminded me that there had lately been several other deaths of note; Mississippi Delta blues guitarist and singer Robert "Junior" Lockwood died on the 21st, the day after Director Robert Altman, and four days after R&B singer Ruth Brown. The day before that it was economist Milton Friedman. On the 10th it had been Jack Palance, on the 9th Ed Bradley, and on the 3rd it was Marie Rudisill, fairly recently come to fame as the Fruitcake Lady on The Tonight Show, but already obliquely famous as one of the aunts with whom Truman Capote lived for much of his childhood and who had been, thinly disguised, a character in his funny but haunting early novella The Grass Harp.
Contemplating this assortment of the famous and near-famous, I might have noted how November is the harvest season after all and, in seasonally appropriate elegiac mood, thought something about the harvest of souls, but what did in fact come to my mind was odder; It suddenly occurred to me what an interesting event it would have been had this lot been brought together for a cocktail party. (I'd try to imagine the details of such an event, but the concept of it has boggled my mind.) As it happens, most of these personages have some degree of milestone status in my own life, being associated in my memory with significant personal events, and it's a bit distressing to me that so many such should all be leaving the world in such a short span of time. It's especially ominous that it should be happening in November, a month which has in my earlier years been the occasion of much tumult both good and ill. The autumnal chill takes on a chilling quality, the overcast is overcast. The month having yet a few days to run, I wonder what will happen next. What famous person unfortunate enough to have a powerful association with something in my life will soon be dropping off this mortal coil? And will I get blamed for it?
Ah, yes, the passing of the famous. It's all about me! It's all about all of us.