Saturday, March 11, 2023

Malachy McCourt beats the Reaper

Laurie Gwen Shapiro, in this New York Times story, tells how Malachy McCourt, at age 91, was "kicked out of hospice for not dying quickly enough." He now looks forward to marching on St. Patrick's Day in his electric wheelchair. He also has, post hospice, "resumed his role as a co-host of a Sunday morning radio show on WBAI."

Ms. Shapiro tells of Malachy's long career as a bartender, bar owner, radio show host, actor, playwright, and autobiographical author. She doesn't mention his ownership, in the mid 1970s, of the Bells of Hell, which was my regular hangout from the summer of 1976, shortly after Malachy had sold it, until the fall of 1979, when it closed. I was told that during Malachy's ownership Con Ed had shut off the Bells' electricity several times because of overdue bills, which is why the Bells had an antiquated  mechanical cash register and a copious supply of candles. 

For many years, Malachy was an almost mythical figure to me. During my post Bells years of hanging out at the Lion's Head I got to know his brother Frank, from whom I heard, while we were sitting at the bar, some of the stories that later appeared in Angela's Ashes. I finally met Malachy, and enjoyed some pleasant conversation with him, about fifteen years ago at a party hosted by another Lion's Head alum, Jack Deacy, and his wife, Bonnie Stone.

In her reply to Dermot McEvoy's email yesterday to the listserv he maintains for Lion's Head alums, Mary Breasted Smyth told of how she met Malachy in 1972 at the Lion's Head when she and Malachy were being interviewed, on different subjects, by Ken Auletta. Mary's first book was Oh! Sex Education. Read the linked review and see how her book anticipated, from 1970, the controversies that political figures like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are exploiting today. In her reply to Dermot's email Mary mentions how Malachy lost his job as host of a radio program on WMCA when a listener called and asked Malachy's opinion about President Nixon's firing of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox (who was my Constitutional Law professor in 1968-69). Malachy's response was, "I'd say he's a right Cox-sacker!"

 Photo: David Shankbone, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Wayne Shorter, 1933-2023 - "Footprints"

"An important cog in the ever turning wheel of universal humanism has passed through leaving all he touched better than it was before. He was and will always be: purveyor of pentatonic perfection; master of blues inflected melodies; hero of vertical and horizontal harmonic implications, giant of saxophone regardless of register; improviser extraordinaire in any and all musical environments; mercurial wit and biting humorist with uncommon humility and depth of understanding, seer, reader, and interpreter of ancient and modern myth…..jazz messenger. Rest In Peace." - Wynton Marsalis