RIP – JAMES RIZZI


EXPIRED: 12/26/11  – James Rizzi, 61, was one of the most fun pop artists of all time. You couldn’t help but smile at his playful paintings and childlike 3D sculptures.

Born in Brooklyn, Rizzi studied at the University of Florida. But in 1974 he returned to NYC and took a studio in SoHo – back before it became a shopping mall and could actually house struggling artists. And struggling he was. At age 24 Rizzi was a renegade street artist.

Known for his bright, cartoon-like drawings he gained fans quickly. In 1981 he was commissioned by Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth to create the album cover for their first release as Tom Tom Club. It was so popular, they also asked him to create the video for their first single Genius of Love.

In 1996 Lufthansa commissioned him to decorate a jet with pastel stars, birds and travelers. In 2011, he created the BamBoo, an electric-powered concept car with an inflatable roof for automaker Rinspeed. Needless to say, Rizzi was loved around the world, especially in Germany, where a school in Duisburg was named for him.

He died in his sleep in the same studio he has been living and working in for decades.

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RIP – HEIDI THE OPOSSUM


EXPIRED: 09/28/11 – Heidi, 3, overcame adversity and found celebrity despite being considered ugly. The orphaned 3-year-old opossum, originally from North Carolina via Virginia, was cross-eyed and looked as dumb as a box of dust, but inspired a YouTube song, a line of stuffed animals, and a Facebook page with almost 400,000 followers.

Heidi was offered to appear at the 83rd Academy Awards earlier this year but instead appeared on the late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live!, in which she predicted the winners of three Oscar categories. She missed one prediction, choosing the long-shot Oscar-nominated 127 Hours to win over the eventual Oscar-winning The King’s Speech for Best Film. A Heidi stuffed animal was included in some gift bags available to Oscar guests.

The Leipzig Zoo in Germany, Heidi’s home for the last year, said Wednesday that the marsupial had been listless and unable to move for several weeks. After repeated attempts to treat her failed, the eyelids on her little crossed eyeballs were shut and she was put to sleep.

Heidi’s crossed eyes may be caused by fatty deposits behind her eyes, the result of poor diet from when she was younger. While this condition does not affect the opossum’s health in any way, mainly because opossums are nocturnal, it would nonetheless make her vulnerable to predators in the wild.The zoo put Heidi on a strict diet shortly after her arrival; it was reported in late January that she had already lost 400 grams (about one pound).

German zoos have had several notable celebrity animal guests in recent years, including polar bears Knut and Flocke, and Paul the Octopus.They all died, too.

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RIP – GEORGE BROWN


EXPIRED: 06/18/10 – George Brown, 81, was born Georg Braun (he changed his name when he came to North America), the youngest of six, and grew up in Mateszalka, Hungary. When the Nazis invaded, passing laws that isolated the Jews from their countrymen, his family was put into a ghettos and finally packed into a freight train bound for a destination written in chalk on the outside of the cars. Auschwitz.

“Auschwitz didn’t have sunshine. The sky was full of ashes,” Brown remembered in an interview. “There were no birds, no butterflies. Only death.”

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RIP – KEN BROWN


EXPIRED: 06/09/10 – Ken Brown, 70, should have been a Beatle. In fact, if it wasn’t for Ken Brown, there might never have been the Beatles at all. (You can thank him next time McCartney sings Silly Love Songs in concert.)

In the late 50’s, Liverpool businesswoman Mona Best opened the Casbah Coffee Club as a place for kids to hear live music and drink some cold drinks. She hoped to support her family ad keep an eye on her son Pete in the process. She hired the Les Stewart Quartet, a little known Liverpool-based skiffle band which featured both Brown and a very young George Harrison as guitarists, to be the house band.

When Brown missed rehearsals to help decorate the club for the opening on August 29, 1959, Les Stewart refused to play. Mona needed a band, and quickly. So Brown and Harrison recruited locals John Lennon and Paul McCartney to help them fulfill the residency, and the four played under the name The Quarrymen.

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RIP – PAUL SCHAEFER


EXPIRED: 04/24/10 – Paul Schäefer, 88, was a former Hitler Youth who grew up to be a corporal in the Nazi party and when World War II was over, he stayed in Germany so he could carry on hurting people as a child molester.

When he got accused of his pederast ways in 1961 he fled for southern Chile and started cult-like Baptist ministry there.

And although he denied allowing Chile’s secret police to use the enclave as a centre for torturing left-wing dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s, he did indeed have close ties to Chile’s elite during General Augusto Pinochet’s rule during the military dictatorship of the time.

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RIP – INGA HAAG


EXPIRED: 12/10/09 – Inga Haag, 91, was an employee of the German Foreign Ministry who participated in the plot to kill Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944.

Obviously the plot failed. But she survived.

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RIP – ROBERT ENKE


EXPIRED: 11/10/09 – Robert Enke, 32, played soccer goalie for the German club Hannover. He was a pretty good goalkeeper, too, debuting for the national team in a 1-0 loss to Denmark in 2007 and played eight matches for Germany. After Jens Lehmann retired following the European Championship in 2008, he was promoted to No. 1 for Germany, but was set back by a broken hand. His last international game was a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan on Aug. 12.

But then he was diagnosed with a bacterial stomach ailment and missed nine weeks before returning 11 days ago and playing two Bundesliga games.

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