Mike Nichols, Director of The Birdcage and The Graduate Dies at 83

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

Publicity photo for Mike Nichols

This was a brutal year for fans of the 1996 box office smash The Birdcage.

There will be no Dumb and Dumber, twenty-year-later sequel for the movie that showcased South Beach as a whimsical American Riviera. This August, the film's star Robin Williams passed away and just yesterday, its director Mike Nichols died of cardiac arrest.

That comedy about a gay couple pretending to be straight helped transform South Florida's image in pop culture as packed with cocaine dealers and riddled with gangland shootings into a region of decadent brunches.

While The Birdcage has great relevance regionally and also portrayed homosexuals in a positive light before Ellen came out or Will & Grace aired, it still might be just an asterisk in Mike Nichols brilliant career.

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Counting Down: a Tribute to Casey Kasem

Photo by Alan Light
Before the option of typing the name of any song into Google, the surest way to hear the hits of the day was on Sunday mornings. You would simply turn the radio station to American Top 40 and Casey Kasem would count the best tunes down from numbers 40 to one.

Between songs, he would spout out little known facts about the artists, the movement of the songs on the charts, and even recite long distance heartfelt song dedications between lovers, proud parents, or grieving pet owners.

Kasem who died this past Sunday had a timeless voice that continues to live on with rebroadcasts of the syndicated show American Top 40 - The 70's that can be heard locally on Magic 102.7 every Sunday morning 7 to 10 a.m. In honor of the man's passing here's a top 10 countdown of Casey Kasem's 82 years on this Earth.

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RIP, Crazy Fingers' Corey Dwyer: Joined the Righteous Jam in the Sky


Crazy Fingers officially got its start at Ultimate Farms on Halloween of 1990. Founded by the rhythm section of drummer Peter Lavezzoli and bassist Bubba Newton, it wouldn't be until 1993 that the band would find its strongest and longest lineup with the addition of guitarist Rich Friedman and multi-instrumentalist Corey Dwyer. Establishing themselves as the premier Grateful Dead tribute band in Florida, Crazy Fingers built a devout following with a pretty serious work ethic that could be likened only to their musical heroes.

Performing three to four times a week, Crazy Fingers also released two albums of original material, the sold-out Come On and Dance and Strange Life. Heavy on the hippie jam, these albums have helped make the band stand out in a saturated sea of Grateful Dead wannabes with their diverse inclusions of Latin and blues sounds. Another key factor in helping the band was Corey Dwyer.

See also: Best Tribute Act Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2012 - Crazy Fingers

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GWAR Frontman Dave Brockie, the Great Oderus Urungus, Found Dead

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

Photo by Ian Witlen
We just read the very sad news today that the great Oderus Urungus has left this scummy planet for good. Dave Brockie was found dead in his Richmond, VA home, according to TMZ.

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Harold Ramis RIP: Writer and Director of Caddyshack, South Florida's Funniest Film

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

Justin Hoch

In the '80s, kids' first Ghostbusters dress-up choice was to pretend to be Bill Murray's Peter Venkman, then Slimer, followed by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But eventually, some kid would be saddled with the bespectacled Egon Spengler, such is life for the straight man. Harold Ramis, who played second fiddle to Bill Murray not only in the Ghostbusters movies, but also in Stripes, passed away today and though he will be best remembered as a sidekick, his resume is one that shows him a comedic mind second to none.

Not only did Ramis co-write the afore mentioned Stripes and Ghostbusters movies, he also contributed in one way or another to just about every 1980s comedy worth a damn. He was one of the writers of Animal House, Meatballs, and Back to School. He wrote and directed National Lampoon's Vacation and Groundhog Day, but if you had to pick one slapstick masterpiece that he was involved in that stood above the rest (which for a child of the '80s is like asking an art historian select a favorite portion of the Sistine Chapel) it would have to be his directorial debut, Caddyshack.

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Lou Reed: We Remember the Legend

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

Wikipedia Commons

Lou Reed was the ego to Iggy Pop's streetwalking cheetah id and Bowie's grandiose glam super ego. His stories were seedy, but he told them like Homer: epic, sentimental, otherworldly but, simultaneously, strangely familiar. To invoke a second Freudianism in only three sentences: Lou kept the uncanny weird enough to remain off-beat, but endowed the queers and proto-hipsters that lived in his lyrics with the humanistic relatability of Top 40 pop.

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After Midnight: J.J. Cale Passes Away at Age 74

Categories: Obituaries


It's an unfortunate fact, but for many, the name J.J. Cale might just as well belong to John Cale, the ex-Velvet Underground musical provocateur, or J.J. Abrams, the screenwriter and producer, or, well, anyone or no one at all.

Songwriter and musician Cale, who died Friday of a heart attack in La Jolla, California, at age 74, pursued his craft nestled somewhere under the radar. Not that he avoided recognition; he recorded 15 albums in all, beginning with Naturally, his 1972 debut and one of the earliest offerings on Leon Russell's fledgling Shelter Records label. His efforts brought him well up to the present day, culminating in the 2006 song summit with longtime friend and fellow traveler Eric Clapton, the Grammy Award-winning collaboration The Road to Escondido, and, just this year, his contribution to Clapton's current covers album, Old Sock.

In truth, though, it wasn't Cale's recordings that will solidify his lingering legacy. It was the song classics he penned, like "Cocaine" and "After Midnight" as interpreted by Clapton. Or "Call Me the Breeze," a staple of Lynyrd Skynrd's. Or "Ride Me High" and "Travelin' Light," appropriated by Widespread Panic. Or any of his tunes covered by Santana, the Allman Brothers, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash.

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RIP, Michael O'Brien, South Florida Punk Rock Legend

O'Brien and friend while working in Antarctica, early '90s.

It is not easy to write about a person who has passed away, especially when the one you're writing about is someone you respected and looked up to.

It was with a heavy heart that we reported on the Eat's drummer, Christopher Cottie's, passing back in 2004, and it is with a heavy heart and watery eyes that we report that on Thursday, July 25, Michael O'Brien, the younger of the brothers, has died at home after battling cancer.

It is well-known in South Florida's music circles how big a fan I have been of the Eat since I first heard the band on a mixtape and embarked on a long journey to seek out their recorded work. The Eat, and specifically the brothers O'Brien, basically invented South Florida's raucous punk rock scene -- equal parts roots rock and the underlying aggression that would eventually surface as "hardcore."

That these dichotomies existed succinctly within one band and never fully tilted one way or the other will always be the downright mathematical alignment of the brothers and their bandmates. They were guided by a twisted Irish-Catholic sense of humor that snarled acerbically at communism, the Mariel Boatlift, South Florida's sunny living, animal rights, and an encyclopedic love for sports.

See also:
- Eat Your Heart Out
- RIP, Johnny Salton, one of South Florida's greatest guitarists
- R.I.P. Lisa Hodapp, Wife, Mother, South Florida Punk Scene Legend

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The Doors' Ray Manzarek Succumbs to Cancer at Age 74

Categories: Obituaries, RIP

Bob Hakins
Although it was Jim Morrison who hoarded the spotlight and dominated their image, no single musician contributed more to the Door's iconic sound than keyboardist and co-writer Ray Manzarek. Manzarek -- who died in a German clinic yesterday after succumbing to bile duct cancer -- was not only an integral part of the Doors' musical persona, but one of the most influential organists of all time.

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Jeff Hanneman, Slayer's Legendary Axe-Man Dead at 49

Categories: Obituaries, RIP


To say that Slayer has brought me moments of happiness is an understatement.

From the aggressive thrash to the hepped-up on meth speed metal with hardcore punk underlinings, Slayer's contribution to reducing the suck factor of the 1980s is undeniable. Proud of wearing '70s metal on his sleeve, as well as his punk rock roots, guitarist Jeff Hanneman was essential in influencing hundreds, if not thousands of young heshers to pick up the instrument and rock out.

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