Thursday, July 31, 2014

A00120 - Anthony Smith, Adventurer and Explorer


The Antiki crew that sailed across the Atlantic was from left, David Hildred, Anthony Smith, Andrew Bainbrigde and John Russell. CreditJudy Fitzpatrick/Associated Press
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Fancy rafting across the Atlantic?
Famous traveller requires 3 crew. Must be OAP.
Serious adventurers only.
So read a help-wanted ad in The Daily Telegraph, the British newspaper, on Jan. 28, 2005.
The ad was no joke. The man who placed it, Anthony Smith, then 78, was a storied English explorer and author who had crossed the Alps by balloon and traversed Africa by motorcycle, among other things.
For his newest adventure, he was seeking O.A.P.’s — old-age pensioners in British parlance, retirees in American — to cross the wild Atlantic with him on little more than a pile of logs.
Mr. Smith, who died on July 7 at 88, made that voyage, but not before a strenuous campaign to raise money; a prolonged effort to build his strange, seaworthy craft; and a crippling accident that nearly cost him the use of his legs.
By the time he and his comrades finished their journey in 2011 — a 66-day odyssey in which they braved storms, were blown far off course and endured significant damage to their raft — Mr. Smith was 85.


The raft made the voyage across the Atlantic in 2011.CreditJudy Fitzpatrick/Associated Press

They called their raft Antiki, partly in homage to Kon-Tiki, the raft on which the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl sailed the Pacific in 1947, partly in tribute to their own comparative antiquity. At journey’s end, the combined age of the Antiki’s crew was 259.
The crossing was not Mr. Smith’s last ocean adventure, nor even his most arduous. But it was undoubtedly his best known, minutely chronicled in the news media and through blog posts written midocean (theirs was an Internet-ready pile of logs) by Mr. Smith and his crew.
It was also a crowning achievement of a career so bold that in the 1960s Mr. Smith, feared lost on a balloon voyage over Africa, had the dubious privilege of reading his own obituary.
Mr. Smith undertook the Atlantic crossing, he often said, to honor the credo “Old men ought to be explorers,” from T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets.”
“Am I supposed to potter about, pruning roses and admiring pretty girls, or should I do something to justify my existence?” he asked in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph in 2011.
But he made the trip for another reason, equally compelling: to discharge a debt of honor that had tugged at him for more than half a century.
Anthony John Francis Smith was born on March 30, 1926, in Taplow, in Buckinghamshire, and reared there at Cliveden — Lord and Lady Astor’s estate — where his father was employed as the manager.
After serving as a pilot with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in the 1940s, the young Mr. Smith earned a degree in zoology from Oxford.
His adventures began in his student days, when he and several classmates traveled to Iran in the summer of 1950 in search of a fabled eyeless white fish, said to inhabit the qanats, ancient irrigation tunnels there.
They did not find it, but the trip gave Mr. Smith his first book, “Blind White Fish in Persia,” published in 1953.
His later books include “High Street Africa” (1961), which chronicles his five-month journey, much of it by motorcycle, from Cape Town to England; “Throw Out Two Hands” (1966), about crossing East Africa in a hydrogen balloon in 1962 (the balloon was thought to have exploded during the trip, and at least one British paper published Mr. Smith’s obituary); and “A Persian Quarter Century” (1979), in which Mr. Smith returned to Iran and discovered his storied fish — the blind cave loach, later named Nemacheilus smithi in his honor.
But the Atlantic always loomed. He had hungered to cross it under sail since he was a youth, when he read “Two Survived,” a 1941 history of men who had made the journey and barely lived to the tell the tale. The book, by Guy Pearce Jones, recounts the fate of the British merchant ship Anglo Saxon, sunk by an armed German ship in 1940.
Seven seamen survived, escaping into the Atlantic in an 18-foot wooden craft known as a jolly boat. During their 70 days at sea, five died. Finally, after almost 3,000 miles, the two survivors — Roy Widdicombe, 21, and Robert Tapscott, 19, both near death — made landfall at Eleuthera, in the Bahamas.
Mr. Smith had long wanted to reprise the voyage in tribute to his two courageous countrymen, but he was waylaid by his professional life: He was a science correspondent for The Telegraph and later presented science programs on British radio and television.
Then, at the dawn of the 21st century, just when conventional wisdom dictated he should settle down among the roses, Mr. Smith revived the idea.
He chose to go by raft for a practical reason: A raft, he said, was more stable than a boat.
“You can sit on the deck in your bedroom slippers having a drink,” Mr. Smith told The Telegraph in 2005. “I thought it would be far more civilized.”
Out of similar pragmatism, he chose an older crew. “Older people are more cautious about themselves,” he said in a 2011 interview. “They’re not as stupid as young people.”

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JAN. 30, 2011
Anthony Smith’s raft, the Antiki, set sail for Eleuthera, Bahamas from La Gomera in the Canary Islands.
Atlantic Ocean
APR. 29, 2012
Arrives at Eleuthera,
APR. 6, 2011
The raft arrived at St. Maarten, some 700 miles off course.
APR. 6, 2012
Smith sets sail from St. Maarten with a different crew.
1,000 MILES

And so Mr. Smith placed his advertisement. More than 100 replies poured in from round the world, some touting qualifications not strictly suited to life at sea.
“Someone said he used to play the trombone,” Mr. Smith told The Telegraph in 2005. (That application was rejected.)
As the crew was being assembled, so was the raft. Measuring 20 feet by 40 feet, the Antiki was made of lashed-together plastic pipes, which lent it buoyancy and also held 2,000 liters of drinking water. Its superstructure was a small hut of corrugated steel, modeled on those used to house pigs.
In 2009, as he strove to finance his venture, Mr. Smith, in England, was hit by a van. The accident crushed his hip and left him with a metal plate in one leg; to the end of his life, he walked with two canes. But the compensation he received paid for the journey.
On Jan. 30, 2011, the Antiki set sail from the Canary Islands stocked with three dozen tins of baked beans, several bottles of single-malt whisky, pasta, bananas and “a colossal pumpkin,” as Mr. Smith described it in one of his weekly dispatches to The Telegraph.
Its navigational gear, a satellite phone and a computer were powered by a wind generator, solar panels and a foot pump. The raft had no motor; its single sail flew from a telephone pole.
Mr. Smith’s crew, though not as antique as he, was bereft of callow youth. The skipper, David Hildred, from the British Virgin Islands, was 57; the raft’s doctor, Andrew Bainbridge, from Canada, was 56; the fourth crewman, John Russell, an English lawyer, was 61.
The Antiki was a matchbox on the sea.
“There is an awful lot that could come our way — storm, unhelpful changes in wind, raft failure of any kind, whales of less gentle disposition,” Mr. Smith told The Telegraph in a midvoyage interview.
On the third day, two rudders broke, though the crew managed to jury-rig replacements. Three times, winds blew the Antiki hundreds of miles in the wrong direction; the raft’s average speed was 2.1 knots — about 2.4 miles per hour.
But there were abundant pleasures: schools of dolphins and whales of gentle disposition; bread freshly baked in the raft’s tiny oven, as was the cake for Mr. Smith’s 85th birthday, celebrated at sea; and the accord of the crewmen, strangers at the start.
“The word ‘mutiny’ was only spoken about two or three times a day,” Mr. Smith told The Associated Press. (His crew did maintain that in the 26 card games they played, Mr. Smith cheated on 27 occasions.)
On April 6, 2011, the Antiki made land at St. Maarten, in the Leeward Islands. Mr. Smith had hoped to land at Eleuthera as the sailors he honored had done, but the winds dictated otherwise.
In 2012, Mr. Smith completed the St. Maarten-to-Eleuthera leg aboard the Antiki with a new crew, a 700-mile journey that entailed high winds and savage seas.
Mr. Smith, a resident of Thame, in Oxfordshire, died of respiratory failure in an Oxford hospital, according to Robin Batchelor, a longtime friend.
His two marriages, to Barbara Newman and Margaret Ann Holloway, ended in divorce. Survivors include two sons, Adam and Quintin; three daughters, Vanessa, Laura and Isabelle; and a grandson.
Mr. Widdicombe, who survived the sinking of the Anglo Saxon, died in 1941; his shipmate Mr. Tapscott died in 1963. In the 1990s, Mr. Smith helped arrange to have their jolly boat, which had long lain in storage at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, repatriated to the Imperial War Museum in London.
Mr. Smith’s memoir of the Antiki’s voyage is scheduled to be issued by the British publisher Little, Brown Book Group in February.
Its title: “The Old Man & the Sea.”

A00119 - Martin Tahse, Television and Broadway Producer

Martin Tahse in New York in 1982. He produced touring versions of Broadway shows.CreditThe Los Angeles Times
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Martin Tahse, a producer whose television shows examining the troubles and traumas of adolescence were frequent features on the long-running series ABC Afterschool Specials, died on July 1 in Los Angeles. He was 84.
A friend, Oliver Fuselier, confirmed the death, which he said was not immediately made public.
Early in his career, Mr. Tahse (pronounce TAH-see) was a producer for touring versions of Broadway shows, including the musicals “Fiorello!” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Much later he had an abbreviated run as a Broadway playwright himself: He adapted the Allan Gurganus novel “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All” into a one-woman show that starred Ellen Burstyn. It closed after opening night in 2003.
He earned much greater success on television, where between 1974 and 1989 he was a producer or executive producer of more than 20 dramatic shows intended for schoolchildren home at the end of the day. The shows, most of them 45 minutes or an hour long, were generally driven by the predicament of a child with a problem (in “The Skating Rink” (1975), for example, the protagonist is a teenage boy with a stutter) and were frequently, in the end, uplifting.
Still, Mr. Tahse’s shows often ventured into serious issues like teenage pregnancy, parental alcoholism, race relations and suicide. Two of the shows won daytime Emmy Awards: “Very Good Friends” (1977), which starred Melissa Sue Anderson (later of “Little House on the Prairie”) as a 13-year-old girl coping with her younger sister’s accidental death, and “A Matter of Time” (1981), about a girl facing her mother’s imminent death from cancer.
Delaney Martin Tahse was born in Cincinnati on April 24, 1930. After graduating from Culver Military Academy in Indiana he served in the Air Force and moved to New York City, where, in addition to acquiring the touring rights to Broadway shows, he produced one show on Broadway, a one-man musical revue, “Laughs and Other Events,” starring Stanley Holloway. It played eight performances in 1960.
In the 1970s, Mr. Tahse helped revive “Kukla, Fran and Ollie,” the classic puppet show from the late 1940s and ’50s created by Burr Tillstrom. He produced 13 new episodes, in color, with Mr. Tillstrom and syndicated them along with other color episodes that had been produced for public television.
Mr. Tahse’s other credits include the television movie “Matters of the Heart” (1990), which he wrote and produced with Linda Bergman, about an affair between a pianist (Jane Seymour) and her much younger student.
He is survived by a brother, Robert.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A00118 - Margot Adler, NPR Journalist and Priestess

Margot Adler in 2006.CreditMichael Paras/NPR
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Margot Adler, a longtime correspondent for NPR who was also a recognized authority on, and a longtime practitioner of, neo-pagan spiritualism, died on Monday at her home in Manhattan. She was 68.
Her death, from cancer, was announced by NPR.
Ms. Adler joined NPR, then known as National Public Radio, in 1979 and was variously a general-assignment reporter, the New York bureau chief and a political and cultural correspondent.
She was the host of NPR’s “Justice Talking,” a weekly program about public policy broadcast from 1999 to 2008, and was heard often on “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.”
She reported on a wide array of subjects, among them the Ku Klux Klan, the AIDS epidemic, the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Sandy, the Harry Potter phenomenon and the natural world.
Ms. Adler was also a self-described Wiccan high priestess who adhered to the tradition for more than 40 years.
She was the author of “Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today” (1979), a book that both documented contemporary pagan movements and was credited with helping ignite heightened interest in them.
Reviewing the volume in The New York Times Book Review, Richard Lingeman called it “a comprehensive account,” adding: “Given the lurid connotations the subject has acquired,” Ms. Adler’s book stood as “a healthy corrective.”
The daughter of Kurt Alfred Adler and the former Freyda Nacque, Margot Susanna Adler was born on April 16, 1946, in Little Rock, Ark., and reared on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Her father was a psychiatrist who helped continue the work of his father, the distinguished Viennese psychiatrist Alfred Adler, who was first an ally and later an ideological adversary of Freud.
Ms. Adler graduated from the High School of Music and Art and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was active in the free speech, civil rights and antiwar movements.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Berkeley, she received a master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In 1982, she was a Nieman fellow at Harvard.
Before joining NPR, Ms. Adler was affiliated with WBAI in New York, serving as the original host of “Hour of the Wolf,” a show exploring the work of noted science fiction writers. The show has been hosted by Jim Freund since 1974.
Ms. Adler’s husband, John Lowell Gliedman, a psychologist, computer consultant and science writer whom she married in 1988, died in 2010. Survivors include their son, Alex Dylan Gliedman-Adler.
Her other books include “Vampires Are Us: Understanding Our Love Affair With the Immortal Dark Side,” published this year, and a 1997 memoir,“Heretic’s Heart: A Journey Through Spirit & Revolution.”
Ms. Adler was drawn to neo-paganism in the early ’70s, she said, because its invocation of ancient goddesses appealed to her feminism and its ecological concerns resonated with her love of nature.
In her sprawling apartment, on Central Park West, she maintained a pagan shrine in her bedroom and had formerly helped lead “a small coven” in the living room, The Times reported in 1991.
Though witchcraft was for Ms. Adler a serious endeavor, it also furnished an outlet for her constitutional puckish humor. To report a Halloween piece for NPR, she once outfitted herself with vampire teeth and took to the microphone.
She drew the line, however, at the rustic, gnarled-handled broom she kept in her kitchen. In 1991, when a reporter from The Times visited her apartment, Ms. Adler declared in no uncertain terms that she was not to be photographed alongside it.

A00117 - Thoms Berger, "Little Big Man" Author


Thomas Berger in 1987.CreditWilliam Sauro/The New York Times

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Thomas Berger, the reclusive and bitingly satirical novelist who explored the myths of the American West in “Little Big Man” and the mores of 20th-century middle-class society in a shelf of other well-received books, died on July 13 in Nyack, N.Y. He was 89.
His agent, Cristina Concepcion, said she learned of his death, at Nyack Hospital, on Monday. Mr. Berger lived in Grand View, a village in Rockland County, N.Y., where he had remained fiercely protective of his privacy.
Mr. Berger fell into that category of novelists whose work is admired by critics, devoured by devoted readers and even assigned in modern American literature classes but who owe much of their popularity to Hollywood. “Little Big Man,” published in 1964, is widely known for Arthur Penn’s film adaptation, released in 1970, starring Dustin Hoffman as the protagonist, Jack Crabb.
The novel, told in Crabb’s voice at the age of 111, recounts his life on the Great Plains as an adopted Cheyenne and makes the claim that he was the only white survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. But Mr. Berger’s body of work was far broader than that, and it earned him a reputation as an American original, if an underrecognized one. The author and scholar Thomas R. Edwards, writing in The New York Times Book Review in 1980, called him “one of our most intelligent, witty and independent-minded writers.” “Our failure to read and discuss him,” Mr. Edwards added, “is a national disgrace.”


Dustin Hoffman in “Little Big Man” (1970), based on Mr. Berger’s novel about a survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. CreditMPI, via Getty Images

To many critics, “Little Big Man” was Mr. Berger’s best novel and a worthy addition to the American canon. (The Dial Press plans a 50th-anniversary trade paperback edition this year.) “Few creative works of post-Civil War America have had as much fiber and blood of the national experience in them,” the historian and novelist Frederick Turner wrote in The Nation in 1977.
Brooks Landon, Mr. Berger’s biographer, placed “Little Big Man” in a tradition of American frontier literature begun by James Fenimore Cooper. Henry Miller heard echoes of Mark Twain in it.
Historical fiction was just one genre that the restless Mr. Berger embraced. He took on the horror novel in “Killing Time” (1967) and the pulp detective story in “Who Is Teddy Villanova?” (1977). He ventured into science fiction (and Middle American sexual fantasy) with “Adventures of the Artificial Woman” (2004); utopian fiction with “Regiment of Women” (1973), in which men have surrendered their grip on the world; and the survival saga in “Robert Crews” (1994), an updating of “Robinson Crusoe.” He revisited the western, and his best-known character, in “The Return of Little Big Man” (1999).
The classics were also fodder. He dipped into the Camelot myth in “Arthur Rex: A Legendary Novel” (1978) and Greek tragedy in “Orrie’s Story” (1990), a replay of the Oresteian trilogy. At other times, he reworked popular fantasies: “Being Invisible” (1987), in which the protagonist has the power to disappear from sight at will, and “Changing the Past” (1989), in which a man gets to go back in time to the forks in his road and take the other path.
If Mr. Berger had a literary mission, it was to mine the anarchic paranoia that he found underlying American middle-class life. “Sneaky People,” from 1975, chronicles three hectic days in the life of a used-car salesman, a “family man” who keeps a mistress and hires a car washer to kill his phlegmatic wife. “Neighbors” (1980) records a nightmarish day in suburbia that parodies the rituals of neighborliness, among them competitiveness, bonhomie (false and otherwise) and a striving for civility in the face of a creeping conviction that the people across the street are barbarians. (“Neighbors” was made into a 1981 movie starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, one of four film adaptations of Berger books.)
In these and other novels — “The Houseguest” (1988), “Meeting Evil” (1992), “Suspects” (1996) and “Best Friends” (2003) — everyday social encounters quickly disintegrate into Kafkaesque comic horrors.
“It was Kafka who taught me that at any moment banality might turn sinister, for existence was not meant to be unfailingly genial,” Mr. Berger told the critic Richard Schickel in a rare interview in 1980, published in The New York Times. He gave expression to that view in “The Feud” (1983), which he set in the American Midwest in the 1930s. In this tale, a misunderstanding over the fire hazard posed by an unlit cigar devolves into a slapstick battle between two communities that somehow manages to convey a convincing portrait of the mean Depression years.
“The Feud” was the top recommendation of the fiction jury for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize, but it was passed over by the Pulitzer board in favor of William Kennedy’s Depression-era novel “Ironweed,” which had also been cited by the jury.
Before then, Mr. Berger’s focus had mainly been on contemporary American life, in all its sprawling disorder, in a series of books that trace the growth of a woebegone character (and perhaps alter ego) named Carl, nĂ© Carlo, Reinhart. The books — “Crazy in Berlin” (1958), “Reinhart in Love” (1962), “Vital Parts” (1970) and “Reinhart’s Women” (1981) — follow Reinhart from his bewildered youth as a soldier in Berlin to his mellower middle age as a serious cook.
Reinhart is “representative of the unrepresented,” the cultural critic Benjamin DeMott wrote in The Times in 1981. “We’re talking screw-ups, frankly,” he continued. “Chaps who, while seldom dropped from the lineup, continually whiff, in all senses, in the game of life.”
But Reinhart’s existence is not without meaning. “Possibly the simple secret of Reinhart’s value is just this: The fellow has hunkered down here in the U.S. of A.,” Mr. DeMott went on. “He’s stuck it. He is a man of no standing growing up stunted, naturally, blowing it in a thousand helpless ways, dreaming on into late middle age of the coup that will turn him overnight into Somebody, knowing it’s not in the cards, knowing (in totally unsystematic fashion) that They, the Managers, have more or less stolen his humanity, yet working hard to avoid being needlessly cruel to anyone.”
Of all Mr. Berger’s characters, none is as indelible as the Indian scout and adopted Cheyenne Jack Crabb. His homespun but shrewd colloquial voice drives the narrative of “Little Big Man.”
In his early years, Crabb is indoctrinated into the ways of Indians, including their diet.
“The antelope chunks weren’t too well done,” he says. “Indians don’t have a prejudice against grease, on the one hand; and on the other, they weren’t given in those days to using salt. Along with the meat was some chokecherries all cooked to a mush, and a root or two that didn’t have a taste until you swallowed it and it fell all the way to your belly and gave off the aftereffect of choking on sand.”
But he befriends his captors. “In later years I grew greatly fond of Old Lodge Skins,” he says of one. “He had more bad luck than any human being I have ever known, red or white, and you can’t beat that for making a man likable.”

Thomas Louis Berger was born in Cincinnati on July 20, 1924, the son of Thomas Charles Berger, the business manager of a public school system near Cincinnati, and the former Mildred Bubbe. Both parents loved to read, and Thomas’s mother encouraged him to adopt the habit.
After graduating from Lockland High School in Cincinnati in 1942, he enrolled at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and found he did not like it. So he enlisted in the Army, which put him in the Medical Corps and sent him to England and Germany as World War II raged.
After the war, he enrolled at the University of Cincinnati, earned his baccalaureate degree there with honors in 1948 and pursued graduate work in English at Columbia University until 1951, when he abandoned work on his thesis, on George Orwell. In the meantime he married. His wife, Jeanne Redpath Berger, a painter, is his only immediate survivor.
After Columbia, he held jobs as a librarian at the Tamiment Institute and Library (formerly the Rand School for Social Science) in New York and as a summary writer for The New York Times Index.
In the early 1950s, Mr. Berger moved from New York City to Rockland County, where he scraped by as a freelance copy editor and worked on his first novel, “Crazy in Berlin.” Writing the book took four years, in part because he had discarded the original manuscript after two and a half years and begun again.
For a time, Mr. Berger thrived on literary sociability. Writers, editors and publishers frequently gathered around the dinner table at his home. But he became reclusive, Mr. Schickel wrote in his 1980 article in The Times, to an extent that not even his publisher or his literary agent knew how to get in touch with him.
Mr. Schickel sustained his friendship with Mr. Berger by mail and was sworn to secrecy about his whereabouts. In his interview with Mr. Schickel, Mr. Berger unburdened himself of his disdain for the New York literary scene and his weariness of everyday living, saying, “Real life is unbearable to me unless I can escape from it into fiction.”
He was more sanguine about his craft:
“Why does one write? Because it isn’t there! Unlike Everest and other celebrated eminences. Beginners sometime ask me how a novel is written, the answer to which is: Any way at all. One knows only when it is finished, and then if one is at all serious, he will never do it the same way again.”
He concluded: “I should like the reader to be aware that a book of mine is written in the English language, which I love with all my heart and write to the best of my ability and with the most honorable of intentions — which is to say, I am peddling no quackery, masking no intent to tyrannize, and asking nobody’s pity. (I suspect that I am trying to save my own soul, but that’s nobody else’s business.)”