You Can’t Take It With You

Jenni Rivera 1969 to two weeks ago Sunday
An airplane crash cut short the ambitious life of the “diva of banda.”  She “founded and ran television production companies, a cosmetics company, and a real estate firm and a clothing company, which sells a line of jeans.”  She was a mother of five, giving birth to her first daughter when she was only 16.  She leaves behind those children, 15 million records, 3 grammy nominations and this, her most popular video on Youtube:

 

N. Joseph Woodland 1921 to two weeks ago Sunday
Woodland might have  been remembered as the father of elevator music.  But instead, “his father, who had come of age in ‘Boardwalk Empire’-era Atlantic City, forbade it: elevator music, he said, was controlled by the mob, and no son of his was going to come within spitting distance.”  And as if elevator music isn’t inhumane enough, Woodland goes on to invent the ubiquitous bar code that tracks everything from produce to packages.  He leaves behind the most pervasive metaphor of dehumanization in the late 20th century.

Senator Daniel Inouye 1924 to two weeks ago Monday
Inouye passed away in the middle of ninth term as a senator from Hawai’i.  Distinguished not only by his 48 years in the Senate and two in the House, he was also the first Japanese-American in both chambers of Congress.  Avoiding internment during WWII, he became a founding member of the all-Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the “most decorated unit in American military history.”  In 1944 he was shot in the chest and in 1945 this happened: “His platoon was pinned down by three machine guns.  Although shot in the stomach, he ran forward and destroyed one emplacement with a hand grenade and another with his submachine gun. He was crawling toward the third when enemy fire nearly severed his right arm, leaving a grenade, in his words, “clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore.” He pried it loose, threw it with his left hand and destroyed the bunker. Stumbling forward, he silenced resistance with gun bursts before being hit in the leg and collapsing unconscious.” Even-keeled and -handed, this action-hero’s steady manner calmed the controversies and around Watergate and Iran-Contra–perhaps tasks of comparative ease to his exploits in 1945 Italy.  His presence will be sorely missed in the Congress he leaves behind.

Donnie Andrews 1954 to two weeks ago Friday
Omar Little is arguably the greatest character in arguably the greatest television program of all-time, HBO’s The Wire.  And Omar would not be but for Donnie Andrew’s relationship with David Simon, creator of that TV masterpiece.  Andrews–the model for Omar–was famous throughout West Baltimore for his “audacious robberies” that climaxed (or hit their nadir) in the 1986 homicide of a drug dealer about which murder he felt so guilty that he turned himself in.  Though a thief, he was not a killer.  After all–and Donnie’s story leaves us behind this wisdom–a man must have a code.

Robert H. Bork 1927 to last Wednesday
What was it about Bork?  Was it the de facto racism–refusing to allow the judiciary to protect people whose rights are denied by the majority?  Maybe a liberal fear that a Roe v. Wade overturn might be near? Or was it just the neck beard?  Whatever the case, Bork failed to get on the SCOTUS, but did manage a greater distinction.  He leaves behind his name turned into a verb: to Bork something is to reject it on political or ideological grounds–merit ain’t got nothing to do with it.

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