You Can’t Take It With You: Contemporary Culture

Chris Kelly 1978 to last Wednesday

The New York Times summarizes the 1990s sensation of Kris Kross who, this week, lost their Mac Daddy half:  “A pair of moppets with braided hair who wore their clothes backward, the kid duo Kris Kross was one of the unlikely music success stories of the early 1990s, multiplatinum stars who bridged hip-hop to pop, had indelible style, and showed that rap could sustain a youth invasion.”  He and the Daddy Mac had been rapping together since the first grade.  He was also a model of artistic integrity, just this year telling Yahoo, “I’ve worn my pants backward since 1991, never frontward.”  Mr. Kelly leaves behind this sublime artifact of juvenile hip-hop, the first hip-hop song to stay for eight weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100:

Eleanor R. Adair 1926 to two weeks ago Saturday

For reasons that will become clear, it’s probably worth noting that Dr. Adair did not die from cancer.  It was a stroke that did in this tireless proponent of microwave radiation which after decades of exposing animals, other people, and eventually herself she eventually declared posed no health risk.  Still, it’s kind of awkward that her research has just been called into question by the World Health Organization who now list microwave radiation as “possibly carcinogenic.” This is a big deal; microwaves are not just for popcorn and TV dinners – this kind of electromagnetic energy also sends your voice and facebook updates from your phone to the world.  She leaves behind an absence of regulation that allows that dude in the car in front of you to text at an intersection and miss the light turning green. (And your accompanying fury.)

Frederic Lieberman 1940 to Saturday

Fredric was the world’s leading Grateful Dead scholar, a man so prolific that his beloved University of California at Santa Cruz (home of the Banana Slugs) were the no-brainer choice to house the historical archives of Jerry Garcia & Co. Fred was also a top scholar on Asian ethnomusicology.  But that’s not why the students flocked to his classrooms: his ‘American Popular Music’ class was among the most popular at UCSC. Dr. Lieberman leaves behind clouds of blue smoke in his overenrolled classroom, where students were openly lighting up before the final. You needn’t do the same to enjoy this classic Dead cover:

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