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[Last call music and female voice] "Mark Steyn's last call."
Mark: The Chicom virus is overloading the obituary pages and I want to note a few of the passing before they get lost in the avalanche of deaths.
Terrence McNally was one of the most successful Broadway playwrights of the last 40 years. He wrote Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, a touching play about a waitress and a short order cook. If you saw it on screen with Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, I'm sorry you didn't see it on stage with F. Murray Abraham and Kathy Batesâ€”casting matters. McNally also wrote Corpus Christi in which a gay Jesus gets sodomized by Judas Iscariot. You can imagine what I made of that. And he wrote musicals including with Kander and Ebb, Kiss of the Spider Woman.
"Sooner or later
You're certain to meet
In the bedroom, the parlor or even the street
There's no place on earth
You're likely to miss
Terrence McNally dead of Covid 19 at the age of 81. That title song from Kiss of the Spider Woman is creepily apt for the age of contagion. "Sooner or later you're certain to meet in the bedroom, the parlor, or even the street. There is no place on us you'll likely to miss her kiss." No place on Earth you're likely to miss the kiss of COVID 19.
Sooner or later
In sunlight or gloom
When the red candles flicker
She'll walk in the room
And the curtains will shake and the fire will hiss
Here comes her kiss"
Also dead at the age of 89 Lucia Bose, the winner of Miss Italia 1947. [Brief clip plays in Italian introducing Bose]
Mark: 1947 was a good year. Lucia Bose was up against Gina Lollobrigida and young Lucia beat Signorina Lollobrigida and took the Miss Italia title. She became a leading lady of Italian neorealist cinema in the 1950s. Here she is not yet 20 in Antonioni's first feature film, Cronaca di un amore. [15 second clip plays in Italian from movie]
[Next clip from Kiss of the Spider Woman plays]
"Sooner or later your love will arrive
And she touches your heart
You're alert and alive
But there's only one pin
That can puncture such bliss
Mark: I'm no expert on Spanish nobility but as I understand it the title Grandee of Spain is the highest dignity in all of Europe. The king addresses you as cousin and you are entitled to remain covered in His Majesty's presence. Dead of the Chicom virus at the age of 83, Carlos FalcÃ³ y FernÃ¡ndez de CÃ³rdoba was not only such a grandee but also the twelfth marquess de Castelmoncayo and the fifth marquess de Grignon, which lesser title he preferred to go by, and which is also the name of his family's wine, which is one of the best wines on the planet and I would love to raise a glass to him but alas that small pleasure of a glass of Marquess de Grignon is lost to me for the duration.
Here is the marquess de Grignon descending his stately staircase of a morning and greeting his servants. They liked him. [Clip plays in Spanish]
[Next clip from Kiss of the Spider Woman plays]
Sooner or later you bathe in success
And your minions salute
They say nothing but "YES"
But your power is empty
It fades like the mist
Once you've been kissed
[News clip plays of State of the Nation, from Zimbabwe]
"State of the Nation with Zororo Makamba. 'Happy New Year. We've just started a new decade, we're coming out of one of the most dramatic decades in our country's history. This decade saw a lot of big changes, big changes to the economy, big changes to our politics, from changes of currencies to changes of leaders..'"
Mark: Dead of Covid 19 at the age of 30, Zororo Makamba, Harari journalist and a rising star of Zimbabwean television. He covered the last sputters of the vile old crocodile, Robert Mugabe, and outlived that evil nonagenarian monster by a mere six months. [Clip of Makamba] "He falls down the stairs of the airport. Who can forget all the memes that trended all over the world, then the man reads the wrong speech in Parliament."
[Next clip from Kiss of the Spider Woman plays]
"You can run
You can scream
You can hide
But you cannot escape!"
Mark: A couple of years ago my daughter and I visited Longleat House, a great estate in Wiltshire and the ancestral home of the Marquises of Bath, in connection with some research I was doing. And I had a word with the seventh marquis, whose mother, Daphne Fielding, was an old friend of mine and a very funny lady. The Baths are not your typical marquisate. As we neared Longleat, my daughter noticed that the road was lined with billboards of huge lions, the lions of Longleat. The house has beautiful grounds, landscaped in the eighteenth century by England's greatest gardener, Capability Brown, but it also has a safari park. It's said that when they applied for planning permission from the county, the council assumed that by "wild animals," the Baths meant wild deer and were astounded when the lions started arriving. Surviving as a marquis in post war Britain required a deal of wit and ingenuity. Awaiting his inheritance under his courtesy title, Viscount Weymouth was a painter and writer and musician whose artistic endeavors earned him less fame than his ponytail and eccentric hippyish garb and the prodigious number of mistresses installed in estate cottages all over a Longleat. He called them his wifelets.
Woman interviewer: But you had 75 wifelets, as you called them.
Marquis of Bath: Yes, most unproductively. I'd been trying to persuade them to have huge amounts of children by me but I haven't been very successful.
Woman interviewer: Why did you call them wifelets?
Marquis of Bath: I felt that it would be running them down to call them things like concubines,mistresses; I just preferred a pleasantly humorous term that one can call the happy wifelet.
Woman interviewer: And has your wife chosen that?
Marquis of Bath: No, these are my values and what I've been trying to do.
Woman interviewer: But she has gone along, you had an open marriage and that she knows about the wifelets.
Marquis of Bath: She certainly knows but I don't suppose you could say she approves of it, she puts up with it.
[End of old interview]
Mark: Unlike the wifelets living at Longleat, the actual wife, a Hungarian actress preferred to spend 3 out of 4 weeks in Paris. Their children adjusted as best they could, although a threat by Lord Bath's son to evict the wifelets from Longleat led to the seventh marquis boycotting his boys wedding to Emma McQuiston, the daughter of a Nigerian oil billionaire. Emma is best known in Britain as a spirited competitor on Strictly Come Dancing, the British original of what Americans know as Dancing with the Stars.
Oh okay, what did Bruno make of Emma?
[Clip from TV show]
"So that's two votes for Emma and Aljaz. Should Bruno now vote to save them they are through to next week. Bruno who do you want to stay?"
"I have to save the couple that's shown absolutely no mistakes I have to say, stronger, cleaner on focus: Emma and Aljaz."
"That means we're going to have to say goodbye to Dev and Dianne."
[End of clip]
Mark: Lord Bath was not unknown to TV audiences himself. He sang a song accompanied by his guitar one night on the telly and the legendary Dez O'Connor called him up and said you got any more like that? The marquis said sure and Dez got him a recording contract. Every song on the album was dedicated to one of his then lovers, including one of the Bond girls from On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
This song was for the long suffering missus, "Love Words." [Brief musical clip]
[Odd, gruff unidentified voice] And that was the eccentric English lord, Alexander Lord Weymouth, the loins of Longleat and his 1974 vanity pressing acid folk album,I Play the Host. That guy had 70 wives and he lived in a stately home and he painted all the walls himself with murals of his bizarre communal lifestyle.
Dead of the Chinese coronavirus at the age of 87, the seventh Marquis of Bath.
Emma from Strictly Come Dancing is now the first black marchioness in the history of the British peerage.
If you go to the Spanish municipality of SeseÃ±a, about 20 miles south of Madrid, you will notice that it is not as other towns. It was the scene of an ill-advised assault by Republican forces against Franco's troops in what was the first use of tanks in the Spanish Civil War, but that's not its most obvious distinction. During the property boom of the 2000s,SeseÃ±a became the scene of one of the biggest of all property developments, nearly 14,000 housing units costing over 9 billion Euros, which is a lot of money. Unfortunately the developer Francisco Hernando Contreras, failed to make provision for gas and water and other utilities because he was too busy bribing the mayor and other local officials to look the other way. As a result the homes were essentially uninhabitable. Then came the 2008 global downturn and the popping of the house bubble. Only 3000 units were sold and fewer than 1,000 have anyone in them. Surrounded by a ghost town of 13,000 empty homes.
[News clip in Spanish]
Francisco Hernandez Contreras was long gone, hastily relocating himself and his business to Equatorial Guinea and then he moved back. Dead of the Chinese coronavirus at the age of 74, Francisco Hernandez Contreras.
[Brief musical clip]
[Clip from Yogi Bear show] What can't Covid 19 do? Yeah, what can't Covid 19 do? It's managed to kill off Yogi Bear's girlfriend, Cindy Bear, or least the actress who voiced Cindy for three decades.
[Another clip from Yogi Bear, this time with Cindy Bear.]
Cindy Bear: It's when boy meets girl, something clicks and they start sharing everything.
Yogi Bear: Sharing everything? Hmm, I didn't hear any click.
Cindy Bear: That's the time when you whisper sweet nothings in my ear.
Yogi Bear: That I can do.
Cindy Bear: Oh Yogi.
Yogi Bear: Nothing, nothing, nothing. Nothing. Because you're such a sweet kid here's another nothin' for nothin'.
Cindy Bear: Oh Yogi.
[End of clip]
Mark: Julie Bennett started out as a stage and screen actress in the Burns and Allen Show, Superman and Dragnet. But she found her greatest success as the voice of enduring animated characters. In the nineties she traded Yogi Bear for The Amazing Spider Man, as Peter Parker's poor put upon Aunt May. [Brief clip from Spider Man]
Dead of the Chinese coronavirus at the age of 88, Julie Bennett.
[Another musical clip]
In recent years those countries that have legalized abortion have not merely legalized it but moved on to criminalizing opposition to it. Xavier Dor was an embryologist at the hÃ´pital de la PitiÃ©-SalpÃ©triÃ¨re in Paris, and a researcher in cardiac embryology at INSERM, the Institut national de la santÃ© et de la recherche mÃ©dicale, but precisely because of his researches, he was opposed to abortion, and so thanks to a disgraceful French law of 1993, he found himself hauled up before the courts every other year.
Six years ago he gave a pair of knitted slippers and a medallion showing the Virgin Mary to a woman considering aborting her baby. And so he found himself charged and convicted of exerting "moral and psychological pressure" upon her.
[Brief clip in French]
The court of appeal eventually overturned Xavier Dor's conviction for this curious crime, but nevertheless fined him â‚¬10,000 Euros for obstructing an abortion. Warned by multiple judges to cease his opposition to a woman's right to choose, Monsieur Dor responded that, mÃªme sur mon lit de mort, je continuerai."Even on my deathbed, I will continue."
Dead of the Chinese coronavirus at the age of 91, Xavier Dor.
[Another musical clip] Psychedelic lyrics by the late Marquis of Bath. Best of luck to the wifelets now that his son is running those estate cottages.
Mark:While I was sitting in for Rush the other day, I was thinking this thing is kinda like Jaws, some of us like the Mayor of that town and thing and shut down the beach are you crazy and others are like the Richard Dreyfuss character, and saying these teeth marks are way bigger than a regular shark, everyone is gonna die, and the rest of us are trying to do a Chief Brody and steer a middle course, but in the end, a lot of it's to do with your allotted role in the narrative, for instance, if you happen to be the mother of a young boy eaten by a shark.
[Clip from Jaws]
"I just found out, that a girl got killed here last week, and you knew it, you knew there was a shark out there, you knew it was dangerous, but you let people go swimming anyway. You knew all those things, but still my boy is dead now, and there's nothing you can do about it, my boy is dead, I wanted you to know that."
[End of Jaws clip]
Mark: Lee Fiero, as the grieving Mrs. Kintner, in Jaws, in the famous face slapping scene, with Roy Scheider. Steven Spielberg did not want a star studded cast for Jaws, despite pressure from the studio, because he thought for example that, Charlton Heston, who wanted to play the police chief, would give it a glamor, and grandeur, that would undermine the sense of a normal small town under attack.
He filmed it in Martha's Vineyard, and many in the cast were locals, like Lee Fiero, who was the Artistic Director of the Island Theatre Workshop, and after she'd hit the big screen in Jaws, she went right back to being Artistic Director of the Island Theatre Workshop, where she stayed for another 42 years, beloved by hundreds, and hundreds of actors, who passed through, that small Martha's Vineyard Island theatre.
Dead of the coronavirus at the age of 91, Lee Fiero as with her kid in the movie, they waited too long, to close the beach.
[Music playing: theme song from, Jaws]
Mihailo Knezevic, was born near Valjevo, in Western Serbia, and was tonsured as an Eastern Orthodox monk, scalped and renamed, after a great Serbian king of the early fourteenth century, Stefan Milutin. Thereafter Milutin Knezevic led a most peripatetic life as graduate of the theological faculty of Saint Sava, in Libertyville Illinois, Secretary of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Canada, a parish priest in Niagara Falls, Bishop of Australia, and New Zealand, and finally home to Valjevo, as Bishop in 2006.
[Music clip, woman singing]
Since we are, pretty much unchurched, this Easter, here is Bishop Knezevic six Easters ago, 2014 preaching against the heresy of the Roman Pope, quote "we are not going to forget Rome's heresy, Rome's Pope, who proclaimed the greatest heresy in this world, when he said that he is the vicar of God's son. How so oh you pope of Rome?"
[Sound clip of Bishop Knezevic in Serbian]
Mark: Bishop Milutin Knezevic: "The pope gave birth to Martin Luther, and Martin Luther gave birth to thousands of sects that are sweeping through the world, and who often drink human blood, who kill children to drink human blood, terrible sects, that are the fruits of Rome's pope."
I'm no Theologian, but sounds to me like there are bigger differences between Rome, and the Serbian Orthodox Church, than between Rome and my dear old Anglican Communion. Drinking human blood is not a good idea right now, but then members of the Serbian Orthodox Church receive communion through a single spoon, dipped and re dipped in wine for all congregants, a practice the continued until a fortnight ago. Bishop Knezevic shared the same spoon as everybody else, then he fell sick, was taken to hospital in Belgrade, and became the first Eastern Orthodox Bishop to fall victim to the Chinese coronavirus.
Dead of COVID- 19 at the age of 71, Milutin Knezevic.
[Music clip from the movie, Jaws]
Mark: is there anybody who watches La Dolce Vita for the shoes? I mean Anita Eckberg, sure, and Marcello Mastroianni, Nino wrote his music, but who pays attention to the shoes?
[Sound clip in Italian from movie]
Well Federico Fellini did, and he loved the footwear of a young man, called Sergio Rossi, the son of a shoemaker from San Mauro Pascoli. Sergio was 25 and Fellini decided that Anita Eckberg, would wear his shoes in La Dolce Vita, and people did notice and Sergio Rossi became a world famous shoe designer, and a global luxury brand. When the coronavirus hit Northern Italy, Signor Rossi gave â‚¬100,000 to the Luigi Sacco Hospital in Milan. Not all his wealth could save him, he died about 10 miles from where he was born in the part of Italy, he loved best, but also alas, the most afflicted by the Wuhan scourge.
Dead of the China coronavirus at the age of 84, Sergio Rossi.
I've mentioned before, I think in Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, that I used to date a nurse who worked at the Royal London Hospital, and at the end of her shift, we'd go for a drink across the road at the local pub, The Blind Beggar, an East End landmark, famed for one night in the sixties, when Ronnie Kray, one half, of the notorious Kray twins, strolled in and pulled a gun on his gangland rival, George Cornell,
[Movie clip from The Legend: "Well, well, well, Mr. Kray, you haven't got the bottle." Gunshot ]
Mark: George bet wrong, when it came to Ronnie's bottle, Ronnie shot him between the eyes. The jukebox was playing, The Walker Brothers number one hit, "The Sun ain't gonna shine anymore," and it was said to have got stuck on the title phrase, over and over. The sun isn't gonna shine for him anymore, said Ronnie. ,
[Detective Nipper Read, of Scotland Yard]"We eventually traced most of the witnesses there, but none of them, would give evidence that they'd seen Ronnie Kray. They were immovable because there was always this wall of silence, first of all, this natural wall of silence, that people in the East End, don't talk to the coppers, and the second thing was this wall of fear, it was almost common knowledge that Ronnie Kray, had shot George Cornell at The Blind Beggars. As a matter of fact, when later I started to investigate it, people in the East End, said to me, that the Krays did everything, but take the front page of The Times, to advertise the fact."
Mark: that's Detective Chief Superintendent, Leonard Read, of the Metropolitan Police, better known as Nipper Read, of the Yard, back in the days, before the Met became woke wankers. In the East End, in those days, nobody gabs to the Peelers. So no matter how insanely pointless, and arbitrary their violence got, the Kray twins, Reggie was the straight one, Ronnie was the gay one, both of them were psychopathic, the Kray twins were untouchable. Even when you found a witness, a week or two later, they had a revelation from the Lord.
[Read: "His story to me was, that that he had been walking around London, and suddenly he had a revelation from God, that he shouldn't tell this story, that it was a story that was false, and that when he suddenly came to his senses, he realized he was on Vallance Road, and he walked into 178, which was the home of the Kray's then, and there demanded to see a priest, and so one was brought to him, and then he confessed, that the story that was given before him, was false and that he now wanted to renege on that, and give the true evidence.]
Mark: The most methodical of copper's Nipper Read, patiently worked away, and eventually turned the bar maid, at The Blind Beggar, that night.
[Man reporting: given a new identity the bar maid was moved out of London, to a secret address in Essex.
Read: "...eventually she was persuaded, by the nature of the support she had, that she could tell the truth, and in fact later on in court, she very dramatically pointed to Ronnie Kray and said that is the man."]
Mark: It was the longest and most expensive trial, in English courtroom history. The twins were sent down for 30 years, which given their dominance of the East End life, was so extraordinary, that Reggie and Ronnie's family, listening to the verdict on the radio, back home, assumed it must've been a mistake.
[Woman telling her story] I was listening to it myself, and I was in the kitchen, and we were listening to the wireless, and when it came on, that and they got 30 years, you know, we were dumbstruck, really, we couldn't believe it, like I looked at my mother, and she said, I think they made a mistake.]
Mark: Nipper Read was outlived Reggie and Ronnie Kray, and the other East End criminals he put behind bars, and in later life, was inclined to see them as a phenomenon of the age.
[Read speaking: "I feel they were part of the 60s days, like the mini-car and Twiggy, and other things, you know, they were a part of it."]
Mark: As was Leonard Nipper Read, immortalized by Monty Python, as Harry Snapper Organs, the man who hunted down the Piranha brothers.
[Man speaking: news flash from Monty Python: "It was in February though, that Dinsdale made a big mistake, in a fit of pique he napalmed Cheltenham. Even the police, began to sit up, and take notice."
"The Piranhas realized they've gone too far, and the hunt was on. They went into hiding. I decided on a subtle approach viz some form of disguise, as the old helmet and boots are a bit of a giveaway.]
[Music playing from Jaws]
Mark: Dead of the coronavirus, one week after his 95th birthday, Detective Chief Superintendent Nipper Read.
I wonder what would happen if a Wuhan bat were to bite a shark, a sequel I hope never to see.
One more to return to where we came in. Singer John Prine, 73-years-old, he is one of the few song writers to have written about his own death, and one of the even fewer to make musical provision for the disposal of his remains.
[Song recording clip, John Prine]
"It's a suggestion of what to do with your body parts after you leave here. Just a suggestion. My doctor told me don't you go leaving any of your parts to anybody.
["Please Don't Bury Me," by Prine plays]
"Please Don't Bury Me"
Woke up this morning
Put on my slippers
Walked in the kitchen and died
And oh what a feeling!
When my soul
Went thru the ceiling
And on up into heaven I did ride
When I got there they did say
John, it happened this way
You slipped upon the floor
And hit your head
And all the angels say
Just before you passed away
These were the very last words
That you said:
Please don't bury me
Down in that cold cold ground
No, I'd druther have "em" cut me up
And pass me all around
Throw my brain in a hurricane
And the blind can have my eyes
And the deaf can take both of my ears
If they don't mind the size
Give my stomach to Milwaukee
If they run out of beer
Put my socks in a cedar box
Just get "em" out of here
Venus de Milo can have my arms
Look out! I've got your nose
Sell my heart to the junkman
And give my love to Rose
Give my feet to the footloose
Careless, fancy free
Give my knees to the needy
Don't pull that stuff on me
Hand me down my walking cane
It's a sin to tell a lie
Send my mouth way down south
And kiss my ass goodbye
Mark: A midweek Song of the Week extra from me to you, courtesy of John Prine. "Please don't bury me down in that cold, cold, ground, I'd rather have them cut me up, and pass me all around." But they cannot give your eyes to the blind and your arms to the Venus de Milo, not when you die of COVID-19.
Stay safe, stay free.