Saturday, March 18, 2023

Happy Little Accident: The Grave of Bob Ross


"We don't make mistakes.  We just have happy little accidents."

Robert Norman Ross, aka Bob Ross, was born in Daytona Beach, Florida, on October 29, 1942.  He dropped out of high school and went to work for his father as a carpenter.  Later, when he tuned 18, he enlisted in the Air Force and served as a medical records technician, eventually rising to the rank of master sergeant.  It was during his service that he first visited Alaska, who's beauty would inspire his paintings to come.

While still in the service, Bob took his first art class, but found the style to be limiting.  "They'd tell you what makes a tree, but they wouldn't tell you how to paint a tree," he later recalled.  While working as a bartender, he discovered a TV program called The Magic of Oil Painting, from which his talent would eventually grow.

After the service, Bob returned to Florida and began working as a traveling salesman and art tutor.  Looking to promote his new business, he decided to create a TV series of his own.  The Joy of Painting first premiered on PBS in 1983 and would run for the next 11 years.  His idea had paid off, eventually earning him more than $15 million.

Bob had begun smoking at an early age, and by 1995, it had finally caught up with him.  He died of lymphoma on July 4th.  He was just 52 years old.

Bob Ross was laid to rest at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Gotha, Florida.  It is the most decorated grave that this blogger has ever seen.

Rest in peace, Bob.

  • To date, there's no official biography on Bob available, but there is a junior edition for kids.  Pick up a copy of Bob Ross: A Little Golden Book Biography from Amazon.

  • Vlogger Jordan the Lion recently visited Bob's grave and posted this video to YouTube.

  • Bob was never paid for his show.  Instead, he used it as a way to promote his teaching practice.

  • A not-so-happy carpentry accident sustained as a child took the top joint of Bob's left index finger.  It never impacted his ability hold a palette.

  • While just beginning as an art tutor, Bob saved money wherever he could.  One step was to have his hair permed so as to avoid weekly haircuts.  Although he grew to dislike it, it had become so synonymous with his image that he kept it for career purposes.  That too, was a happy little accident.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Mayor for Life


Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr., was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, on March 6, 1936.  He was a prominent figure in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, serving as the first chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

With an eye on politics, he moved to Washington, DC, where he was first elected mayor in 1978.  He rose to national prominence as the first civil rights figure to serve as chief executive of a major metropolitan city.  When Jesse Jackson ran for president in 1984, Barry gave the presidential nomination speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Barry proved a popular mayor and was re-elected in 1982 and 1986.  Before he could run in 1990 however, his political career was sidetracked by an infamous undercover FBI sting operation, involving Barry, a prostitute, and crack cocaine.  He went to prison for six months, then resumed his political career, ultimately regaining the office of mayor.

Marion Barry died of cardiac arrest on November 23, 2014.  He was 78 years old.  He was laid to rest at Washington's Congressional Cemetery.

Rest in peace.

  • This blogger's grandfather worked for Barry's predecessor, Mayor Walter Washington.

  • The nickname "Mayor for Life" was coined by the Washington City Paper, an alternative weekly publication.

  • Barry was famous for his annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaways to DC's neediest families.

  • In 2014, Barry released his autobiography Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr.  Pick up a copy from Amazon.

  • In 2010, Barry's life was chronicled in the documentary The Nine Lives of Marion Barry.  Check out the trailer on YouTube.

  • Want to see the footage that sent Barry to prison?  It's on YouTube as well.