An entertainer, a criminal, and an architect died this week, and we should remember them all.
The most notable person to die was singer Tony Bennet, 96:
His peer Frank Sinatra called him the greatest popular singer in the world. His recordings – most of them made for Columbia Records, which signed him in 1950 – were characterized by ebullience, immense warmth, vocal clarity and emotional openness. A gifted and technically accomplished interpreter of the Great American Songbook, he may be best known for his signature 1962 hit “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
In later years, he memorably dueted on the standard “Body and Soul” with Amy Winehouse, and released a full-length duet album with Diana Krall and a pair of recordings with Lady Gaga. Even after the revelation in early 2021 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he remained active.
Kevin Mitnick, 59, also died this week, but he won't be quite as missed as Bennet:
Described by The New York Times in 1995 as “the nation’s most wanted computer outlaw,” Mr. Mitnick was a fugitive for more than two years.
He was sought for gaining illegal access to about 20,000 credit card numbers, including some belonging to Silicon Valley moguls; causing millions of dollars in damage to corporate computer operations; and stealing software used for maintaining the privacy of wireless calls and handling billing information.
Ultimately, he was caught and spent five years in prison. Yet no evidence emerged that Mr. Mitnick used the files he had stolen for financial gain. He would later defend his activities as a high stakes but, in the end, harmless form of play.
At the time of Mr. Mitnick’s capture, in February 1995, the computer age was still young; Windows 95 had not yet been released. The Mitnick Affair drove a fretful international conversation not just about hacking, but also about the internet itself.
Today, 20,000 credit card numbers wouldn't even rate a single paragraph in the Times. How things have changed.
Finally, Chicago architect Richard Barancik, 98, left his mark on the world not just by designing iconic bowling alleys, but also as the last of the so-called "monument men" who repatriated art that the Nazis stole in the 1930s and 40s:
He was the last-known surviving member among nearly 350 "Monuments Men" who recovered art looted in Europe during World War II and shot to prominence with a 2014 film directed by George Clooney and starring Matt Damon, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett. Barancik hadn't talked much about the assignment before the movie, his daughter said, but once it came out, he was inundated by letters from schoolchildren and by autograph seekers and "World War II nuts."
By then, he had retired from an architecture career that paralleled the Gold Coast's post-war residential development, with high-rises sprouting on Lake Shore Drive and farther inland, readying the Near North Side for the yuppie invasion. His projects included 990 and 1212 N. Lake Shore Drive, office buildings 142 and 211 E. Ontario, and the 44-story and 73-townhouse development at Eugenie and Wells streets in Old Town.
Barancik also pursued suburban office complexes like the East-West Tech Park in Naperville and Woodfield Lakes in northwest suburban Schaumburg, and he designed Chicago Public Schools' Willa Cather Elementary School on the West Side, his daughter said. His bathhouses at Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park near Zion feature wavelike undulating roofs.
In media vita morte sumus. Requiescat in pacem.