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Stanislaw Ryniak, Lived to be Old

Stanislaw Ryniak managed to live to be old and to die of unknown causes. This was no small achievement.

February 28, 2004
Stanislaw Ryniak, Auschwitz Inmate, Dies at 88

WARSAW, Feb. 25 — Stanislaw Ryniak, the first person imprisoned at Auschwitz, the World War II Nazi concentration camp, has died. He was 88.

Mr. Ryniak died of unknown causes and was buried on Friday at the Osobowicki cemetery in Wroclaw, the Auschwitz Museum said Wednesday. No exact date of death was given.

Mr. Ryniak was arrested by the Nazis in his hometown, Sanok, in southern Poland, in May 1940 and was accused of being a member of the Polish resistance. He was 24.

He arrived at Auschwitz on June 14, 1940, together with hundreds of other Polish political prisoners on that first train load of inmates.

Numbers were tattooed on prisoners' arms in the order of their arrival. The first 30 numbers were given to German criminal prisoners who would serve as camp guards. Mr. Ryniak's number was 31.

In 1944 he was sent to the Leitmeritz work camp, in what is now the Czech Republic, where he was subjected to hard labor until the end of the war. On his release, he weighed 88 pounds.

"I have no idea how I survived it all," Mr. Ryniak told the Polish news agency P.A.P. in a 1995 interview. "Where did I get the strength?"

The Nazis, who started World War II by invading Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, built the Auschwitz camp in the southern city of Oswiecim in 1940 for Polish prisoners. (Auschwitz is the German rendering of Oswiecim.) They soon expanded it to include the Birkenau complex and began confining hundreds of thousands of European Jews. Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died at the camp.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Judas is Dead

It's hard to avoid pop culture phenomenons. Our current obsession is Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of The Christ. Beneath these behemoths lie a world of a billion smaller cultural moments, places, people, and things.

My Significant Other took a singing workshop with Carl Anderson in Rome a few years ago. I remember her speaking of him at the time. He told them never to compete when singing. Don't compete with others ontage, don't compete against your singing idols, don't even compete with your own mental vision of what your singing should be. He said to merely be, to sing as you are.

Carl Anderson was a great artist, a man who knew that there was no Passion without betrayal. Again and again, he played Judas. Again and again, the thirty pieces of silver. Again and again, he preceded Jesus into death onstage. Let us remember Judas, to sing as we are, and never let the big compeletely smother the small.


February 27, 2004
Carl Anderson, 58, Judas in Rock Opera, Dies

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 26 (Reuters) — Carl Anderson, the actor and singer best known for his stage and film portrayal of Judas in the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar," died here on Monday. He was 58.

The cause was leukemia, his manager said.

Mr. Anderson learned that he had leukemia last summer, during a national revival tour of the musical, which is by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Ben Vereen originated the part of Judas in "Jesus Christ Superstar" on Broadway in 1971, but Mr. Anderson took over when Mr. Vereen fell ill, and the two later took turns playing the role.

Mr. Anderson caught the attention of a talent agent and got an audition for the part after his rock band performed songs from "Superstar" at a Palm Sunday church service. The show had been a hit in Britain.

Mr. Anderson was subsequently cast as Judas in the 1973 movie adaptation, receiving Golden Globe nominations as most promising newcomer and best musical actor.

He returned as Judas for a 1992 touring revival of "Superstar." He also appeared in Steven Spielberg's "Color Purple" (1985) and in the 1997 Broadway musical "Play On!"

He is survived by his wife, Veronica; a son from a previous marriage, Khalil McGhee-Anderson; stepdaughters Hannah and Laila Ali; and several sisters.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Steve Neal, Giant


Earlier this week, Steve Neal, hard-hitting political columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a world-renowned political historian, committed suicide in the garage of his suburban Chicago home. Neal joined the Sun-Times in 1987, a crazy year in Chicago politics. Legendary mayor Harold Washington dropped dead in his office, touching off a firestorm of protest and machinations to appoint a successor, eventually leading to the reign of Richard M. Daley. I was just becoming politically aware at this time, and everything Steve Neal wrote was gospel to me.

The loss of Steve Neal is the loss of a giant.

Steve Neal's recent columns in the Sun-Times


McNary of Oregon: A Political Biography
Dark Horse: A Biography of Wendell Willkie
Rolling on the River: The Best of Steve Neal
Harry and Ike: The Partnership that Remade the Postwar World
Eleanor and Harry: The Correspondence of Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman
The Eisenhowers: Reluctant Dynasty
Soon to be published:
Happy Days are Here Again/The 1932 Democratic Convention, the Emergence of FDR -- and How America Was Changed Forever

Great Steve Neal leads (from Neil Steinberg's appreciation)

Nobody died at Watergate.
Operation Safe Road is the worst scandal in Illinois history because there are human casualties. At least 20 people have been injured, and nine were killed in traffic accidents involving truck drivers who obtained their licenses through bribes at George H. Ryan's office when he was Illinois secretary of state. There is blood on the highways because of governmental corruption. (April 5, 2002)
Is this a presidency or a National Lampoon movie?
William Jefferson Clinton, who will be 52 next month, is the world's oldest teenager. When confronted with allegations about his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky that threatened his presidency last winter, he gave evasive answers and plotted damage control with a sitcom producer.
In the short run, the strategy worked. By stalling the independent counsel and asserting that he wanted to get on with the business of the country, Clinton improved his ratings in the polls.
But at what cost? (July 31, 1998)
They still haven't been seen together.
So the mystery continues.
Is Mayor Daley really Forrest Gump?
The publication of a new book makes the question even more perplexing. At a bookstore near City Hall, a clerk pulled me aside and showed me a fresh stack of Gumpisms: The Wit and Wisdom of Forrest Gump. There are so many similarities between Gumpism and Daleyism that it's almost eerie. Daley is as Daley does.
"Curiosity killed a cat" is Daley's response when he doesn't want to know about something. A similar quote is in Gump's book. Are they splitting the royalties? (Aug. 5, 1994)
He cared.
Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, who died early Thursday, leaves a legacy of compassion.
In his 30 years as a bishop, he became one of the more influential religious leaders of his time. But he is deeply mourned because he was a good and decent man. Bernardin gave all of us hope. (Nov. 15, 1996)

Soaking In It

Most of us find ourselves in goofy situations in our daily struggle to make money and obtain enough calories to sustain life. Jan Miner was a serious actress. Jan Miner found herself telling people they were "soaking in it" over the course of 27 years. All hail Jan Miner.

Jan Miner, 86, Stage Actress Who Played Palmolive's Madge, Is Dead

Jan Miner, who had a long career on the New York stage but was best known as Madge the Manicurist in Palmolive commercials, died on Sunday in Bethel, Conn. She was 86 and lived in nearby Southbury.

She had been in failing health for several years and died at the Bethel Health Care Facility, said her New York agent, Michael Thomas.

From the 1940's to the 1980's, Ms. Miner was never far from productions on and off Broadway or on out-of-town stages, from New Haven and Stratford, Conn., to St. Louis. She was also on radio programs, including the popular "Boston Blackie" series as Richard Kollmar's leading lady in the late 1940's, and appeared in films and in television plays and series.

The Palmolive commercials featured Ms. Miner as Madge, who praised the gentleness of its dish detergent to a customer surprised to find that her hands were soaking in it. She played the character for 27 years. Meanwhile she appeared in repertory productions at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford for six seasons.

She frequently shared the stage with her husband of 35 years, Richard Merrell, an actor and writer, who died in 1988. Among her later appearances on Broadway were roles in revivals of "The Women" in 1973, Lillian Hellman's "Watch on the Rhine" in 1980 and "Heartbreak House" at the Circle in the Square Theater in 1983 and 1984.

Janice Miner was born on Oct. 15, 1917, in Boston, the daughter of a dentist and a painter. She studied at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston and trained for the stage with Lee Strasberg, among others. She made her stage debut in Boston in Elmer Rice's "Street Scene" in 1945 and in New York as Maria Louvin in "Obligatoo" in 1948.

She was seen with Rex Harrison in "Heartbreak House" and with Jane Alexander in "The Heiress." Other roles were in "Othello," "Major Barbara" and Franco Zeffirelli's productions of "Saturday, Sunday, Monday" and "Lady of the Camellias."

With her husband she appeared in "The Gin Game" at the Missouri Repertory Theater. Her film credits included "Lenny," with Dustin Hoffman, and "Mermaids," with Cher. Her many roles as a guest star on television included a recent appearance on "Law and Order."

Ms. Miner is survived by a brother, Donald Miner, of Concord, N.H.

She made the Palmolive commercials in French, German, Danish and Italian. The legendary actress Eva Le Gallienne coached her in French.

"I'd dip my hands in Palmolive the rest of my life," Ms. Miner once said, because it left her free to pick and choose her theater roles.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Type Teacher: Rob Roy Kelly

As a writer, words are really all I've got. That's why typography and design have always been intense passions of mine. I'd rather hang out with type people than writers any day.

We lost a good one in Rob Roy Kelly. Here is an annotation of Steven Heller's obituary from the NYT for those of us who didn't know him while he lived. See Design Observer for insights from people who did.

February 1, 2004
Rob Roy Kelly, Specialist in Wood Type, Dies at 78

Rob Roy Kelly, a graphic design educator, historian and collector whose influential book on the history of 19th-century American wood type prompted a major typographic revival in the 1970's, died on Jan. 22 in Tempe, Ariz. He was 78.

The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his wife, Mary Helen, said.

Mr. Kelly's analytical history of antique and forgotten typefaces, "American Wood Type, 1828-1900: Notes on the Evolution of Decorated and Large Types and Comments on Related Trades of the Period," was originally published by Da Capo Press in 1977 [1969]. It was one of the first serious attempts to uncover the origins of this decorative vernacular style of type, which was introduced during the early days of American advertising.

Mr. Kelly's exhaustive investigation into printers' records inspired other scholars to study the ignored past of graphic design.

"All of my research projects began with personal curiosity which could not be satisfied because there was no body of information on the subject," Mr. Kelly wrote on a Web site of his writings created by the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he was formerly the William A. Kern professor of communications.

Mr. Kelly amassed a huge collection of rare types and specimen books he bought from old printers. Rather than lock them in a vault, he allowed his students to use them to learn past styles and methods. Their questions about when and how the types were made gave further impetus to Mr. Kelly's work, which also included the book "100 Wood Type Alphabets" (Dover, 1977).

Because of his collection's size, Mr. Kelly sold it in the late 1960's to the Museum of Modern Art, which later sent it to the University of Texas Library to be housed in a collection available to scholars.

Mr. Kelly was born in east central Nebraska on March 15, 1925. He studied design at the University of Nebraska and the Minneapolis School of Art and served in the Army during the Korean War. Later he did graduate work at the School of Art and Architecture at Yale, where he studied with Josef Albers, Alvin Eisenman, Alvin Lustig, Herbert Matter, Leo Lionni, Lester Beall and Alexey Brodovitch.

He both taught and administered graphic design programs at the Minneapolis College of Art, Kansas City Art Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Western Michigan University and, most recently, at Arizona State University.

In addition to continuing his research on typefaces and more recently pursuing an obsessive study of trivets, the vintage cast bases for irons, Mr. Kelly was devoted to improving graphic design education.

"There are many young teachers in the field today who have a sincere desire to be good teachers, but they come from weak educational backgrounds," he argued in the preface to a series of his academic papers collected on the R.I.T. Web site.

Mr. Kelly's first marriage, to Cherry Barthel, ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children from his former marriage: three sons, Rob Roy B., of Mankato, Minn., and Denri and Troy, both of Kansas City, Mo.; and a daughter, Shaun, of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Chairman Michael Powell's Statement on Super Bowl Halftime


FCC Chairman Michael Powell today issued the following statement:

“I am outraged at what I saw during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation’s children, parents and citizens deserve better.

“I have instructed the Commission to open an immediate investigation into last night’s broadcast. Our investigation will be thorough and swift.”

--From the FCC website


Daniel X. O'Neil: Chicago-based writer and internet developer. I am a co-founder of and the People Person for EveryBlock, a site that pulls together local news and public information. I run dozens of personal projects and websites for clients, and also own half of a poetry book company.


EveryBlock: A news feed for your block.
CTA Tweet: Unofficial Twitter tracker for the Chicago Transit Authority.
CityPayments: Database of all vendors, contracts, and payments that have been posted by the municipal government of the City of Chicago
Wesley Willis Art: Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
Wide Right Turn: An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.


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