retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Two giants in their very different cultural fields have passed away..

• Jim Harrison, who sometimes seemed as if he emerged from a Hemingway novel, but whose fiction and non-fiction writing was far more lyrical and and sensibility was far more poetic as he wrote books such as "Legends of the Fall" and "Revenge" (both of which were turned into movies), has passed away at age 78. No cause of death has yet been announced.

Harrison, a dedicated outdoorsman from Michigan, was a burly, one-eyed, bearded figure who, as pretty much all the obituaries noted, had a lusty approach to life, especially food and drink. He once wrote about a 37-course lunch that took 11 hours and included 19 wines, a summer during which he tried 38 varieties of Côtes du Rhône, and a sitting at which he consumed 144 oysters.

It was just a week ago that, in an interview with the New York Times book review section, Harrison was asked about disappointing books, and what the last book was that he'd put down without finishing. "I don’t get very far into disappointing books before I abandon them," he responded. "Life is short and brutal."


• Garry Shandling, who as one of the most influential comedians of his generation created two breakthrough television series - "It's Garry Shandling's Show" and "The Larry Sanders Show" - passed away last week of an apparent heart attack. He was 66.

Shandling was a frequent guest host on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," and turned down opportunities to host his own late night talk show, opting instead for the lacerating humor of "The Larry Sanders Show," which went behind the scenes of a fictional talk show. From all reports, Shandling also was a mentor to many young comedians, sharing time and energy and talent to help them through career minefields.

It was just last season, when guesting on "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," that while discussing the death of Robin Williams with host Jerry Seinfeld, that Shandling mused that dying is pretty much the only time when people say, "But he was so young."
KC's View: