Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Groucho Presley Van Allen

When I posted about Elvis yesterday, I’d forgotten that today is the anniversary of his death. Not to worry, I’m not going to recall “where I was when Elvis died,” because I don’t remember exactly when I heard about it. I remember a little about that day, 29 years ago -- it was the second day of band practice in preparation for band class in my junior year of high school, and it was hot as hell. As it tends to be in August in South Texas.

That evening, some fool local anchorman in San Antonio opened the news with the exact words, “The king is dead!” Groucho Marx died that same week, by the way, so he didn’t get the postmortem attention he deserved.

I found out today that James Van Allen died recently. It was one of those deaths for which my reaction was, “He was still alive?” Moreover, he lived in Iowa City, which I didn’t know, so if I’d thought of it in recent years, I could have (theoretically) visited him to ask how it is to have big belts of radioactive particles named after oneself. Mountains, lakes, rivers and other earthly features have been named after people, but to have your name fixed to near-earth feature like that is seriously cool, and while you’re alive no less. Beats being a space scientist with a song written about you by Tom Lehrer, but only just.

Labels: ,


At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alfredo Stroessner died this week, too. ANK

At 4:21 PM, Blogger e. Readicker-Henderson said...

It always really bothered me that Groucho went that same week--next day, as I recall, or it might have been two days later. Elvis had completely disgraced himself, and shown no sign of ever doing anything else (some people--say, Neil Diamond, can make a comeback with grace; others--say, Elton John--just keep digging the hole of disgrace deeper and deeper; Elvis was about to break through to China), whereas Groucho remained the perfect entertainer he'd always been.

In his last years, he lived in Phoenix, and played golf on an almost daily basis with Alice Cooper.

Beats dying with a handful of drugs and bad food.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Geof Huth said...


My family was driving from Washington, DC, to Nashville, Tennessee, the day Elvis died. We were moving to Tennessee that day. We heard the news on the radio somewhere on I40. I think we were in Tennessee by then.



Post a Comment

<< Home