“Above-the-Fold” Candidates

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the hierarchy of obituaries in the New York Times, noting that the ultimate measure of a person’s fame (or infamy) was the prominence of placement of his or her obit in the newspaper. Recognizing that virtually no one rates an obit in the Times, to make even a minor appearance in the back pages is a testament to one’s influence. The hierarchy works its way from the back to the front page where various levels of recognition exist. It may be a simple notice at the bottom of the front page that so-and-so has passed away, or it may be a notice that includes a photo. Better still is an obit that begins on page 1, especially if accompanied by a flattering photo. Of course, the pinnacle is an obit that appears above the fold with a photo with a banner headline. Such recognition is reserved for major world figures like presidents, popes and royalty, so for all intents and purposes, the best anyone could hope for is an obit above the fold with a headline that spans a couple columns. You can see my previous blog for examples of such luminaries, but included in this rarefied company were Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I saw a photo the other day of Bob Dylan looking quite ancient which prompted me to question his longevity – and I wondered where his obit would appear, concluding that he would rate “above-the-fold.” The man has been one of the most influential pop artists over the past 50 years and is known world-wide for his work. Here is a list of others I predict would get “above-the-fold” treatment should they somehow prove mortal. (Note: (NYC) after the name means their association with New York would help their case with the Times editorial board, and (LS) means long-shot, but still plausible)

Arts & Entertainment
- Paul McCartney
- James Levine (NYC)
- Mick Jagger
- Barbra Streisand
- Bruce Springsteen
- Placido Domingo (NYC)
- David Bowie (LS)
- Stephen Spielberg
- Robert Redford (LS)
- Francis Coppola (LS)
- Woody Allen (NYC)
- Mikhail Baryshnikov (LS)
- Barbara Walters
Sports
- Jack Nicklaus
- Arnold Palmer
- Tiger Woods
- Derek Jeter (NYC)
- Pete Rose
- Michael Jordan
- Pele
- Wayne Gretzky (LS)
Literature
- Philip Roth
- Joyce Carol Oates
- Toni Morrison
Religion
- Dalai Lama
- Pope Francis
- Timothy Cardinal Dolan (NYC) (LS)
Business
- Bill Gates
- Warren Buffet
- Jeff Bezos (LS)
- Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. (NYC)
- Rupert Murdoch
Politics/Government
- Any president/ex-president
- Michael Bloomberg
- Queen Elizabeth II
- Prince Charles
- Tony Blair
- Bob Dole (LS)
- Nelson Mandela
- Al Gore
- Fidel Castro
- Vladimir Putin
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- Hillary Clinton
- Kim Jong Un
- Mario Cuomo (NYC)
- Caroline Kennedy (NYC)
- King Abdullah of Jordan
- Benjamin Netanyahu (LS)
- Ariel Sharon
- Joe Biden (Only if while in office)
Science
- Steven Hawking
- Gordon Moore (LS)

Comments and additions welcome.

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J. J. Cale died the other day and although I wasn’t a fan, I acknowledge he was a gifted song-writer who won a Grammy and whose tunes were recorded by such celebs as Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and The Band. He also possessed a name quite similar to John Cale, a founder of the seminal band Velvet Underground and a favorite musician of mine. Long before the days of eBay when anything you desire can be purchased online, I used to scour record stores for rare copies of John Cale’s early solo albums, especially “Paris 1919,” “The Academy in Peril” (cover by Andy Warhol) and “Church of Anthrax” with Terry Riley. I would proceed to section “C” of the LP record bin, flick open the folder for “John Cale” and experience momentary excitement upon spotting an album, only to be disappointed by the presence of a mis-filed J. J. Cale record. I came to hate J. J. Cale for continually dashing my hopes.

Now that I own all of John Cale’s vinyl collection, I can say without malice aforethought, “rest in peace J.J.”

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