The 10 Most Dead People of 2018


More people died this year! These are the ones that are so dead that even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia admits it.

10. Stan Lee


Face front, true believer! Stan Lee had such a flair for self-promotion that it just makes sense that the timing of his final Marvel Cinematic Universe cameo was so perfect, as we can just assume that the old man got disintegrated by Thanos’ snap. Of course, that’s assuming that it was his final cameo. Given that his cameos are invariably cutaways from the main action that don’t involve any of the films’ stars, there’s no reason they can’t separately film Stan Lee cameos well in advance of the next 100 years’ worth of Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Fifty years from now, there’ll be a film for a Marvel character who doesn’t even exist yet. And look! There’s his creator, Stan Lee! Not only that, but because of future corporate mergers, a century of Stan Lee cameos will create confusion of the historical record, inevitably leading him to be credited as creator of Batman. And not only would it be what Bob Kane deserves, but it would be the way Stan Lee would have wanted it. His Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko also died in 2018, they say, but don’t believe it. It was all Stan the Man, baby, all the way.

9. Joe Jackson

Joe-JacksonThey say if there’s a rock and roll heaven, well, you know they’ve got a hell of a band (band, band). And just from 2018, you’ve got Pantera’s Vinnie Paul (hell, yeah!), Motörhead’s “Fast” Eddie Clarke (awesome!), Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchinson (uh, okay, it could work), Microsoft’s Paul Allen (yeah, he sucks, but he’s paying for all the studio time and equipment), Avicii, Mac Miller and XXXTentacion (huh?), and, firing all of them from the band, The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. But managing the band? That sounds like a job for Joe Jackson. Not that Joe Jackson could ever get into a rock and roll heaven, not with that satanic, cartoonishly evil-looking pencil mustache (literally a pencil mustache; it appeared to have been drawn on with an eyebrow pencil). Oh, and not with the way he used to whale on his many children with switches, belt buckles and electrical cords. Or the way he made fun of the young Michael’s nose so relentlessly that he tried to turn himself into Diana Ross, though he had to settle for Tycho Brahe. While Joe may have died just short of seeing his daughter Janet get elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, not to worry; he, along with Murry Wilson and Marvin Gay Sr., is a charter member of the Asshole Rock Dads Hall of Fame.

8. The Dynamite Kid


Bill Cosby might have been stripped of his Kennedy Center Honor, TCA Career Achievement Award, and Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2018 for drugging and raping women, but on the bright side, he’s now an honorary member of the British Bulldogs. Yeah, they did that too. As innovative as Tom “Dynamite Kid” Billington was in the ring—he was a technical wrestler par excellence, with the most devastating finishing move in the business, a diving headbutt so deadly it (indirectly) killed Chris Benoit’s entire family—he was equally inventive in finding ways to be a world-class asshole outside the squared circle. He woke his wife up by pointing a shotgun in her face. He smashed his best friend’s daughter’s kneecaps for the insurance money. He put laxatives in people’s drinks, slipped them roofies before they got behind the wheel, and swapped his own tag-team partner’s steroids out for milk, just to see if it would do a body good. He was a locker-room bully to the point of pushing Jacques Rougeau to deal him a sucker punch that cost Dynamite four teeth and Jacques $1810 ($10 for the roll of quarters Rougeau concealed in his fist while performing the dental work, $1800 for a follow-up appointment from an actual dentist). He deserved it and more. And he got more: Dynamite’s punishing wrestling style resulted in him sitting in a wheelchair and pissing in an old tin can for the last twenty years of his life, and it was well-earned karma, if only for the kneecap smashing thing.

7. Anthony Bourdain


With respect to all of the greats who were crossed off the Alive Wrestlers List this year—and there were many, such as Larry “The Axe” Hennig, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and Charles “The Kraut Hammer” Krauthammer—the most famous name hailing from Parts Unknown was Anthony Bourdain. He had a professional wrestler’s flair for feuding, as well. He called Paula Deen “the worst, most dangerous person to America,” Sandra Lee “the hellspawn of Betty Crocker and Charles Manson,” and Guy Fieri the result “if Ed Hardy fucked a juggalo.” This guy was awesome. And this dude would eat anything, no matter how disgusting—fermented shark, maggot fried rice, unwashed warthog anus, even Chicken McNuggets—because he was as courteous to his hosts during his travels as he was caustic to his fellow TV chefs. If the food gave you the heebie jeebies, his musical tastes ran to CBGB; he was called the original rock star of the culinary world for good reason. He declared playing Billy Joel in his restaurants a firing offense, although he did claim to like Billy Joel’s old two-man heavy metal band Attila, though, which has been reviewed as “colossally stupid” and “the worst album in the history of recorded music.” Anthony Bourdain used to do a lot of drugs, you see.

6. Stephen Hawking

Stephen-HawkingSpeaking of rock stars, that is in fact not theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking on Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier.” That’s just Thom Yorke using the same speech software Hawking used. But that is Stephen Hawking on Pink Floyd’s “Keep Talking” from 1994’s The Division Bell, so his place in rock history is assured. He was the only person smart enough to understand both the actual big bang theory and the appeal of the Big Bang Theory, which he graced on seven occasions with his cheeky comedic delivery (his speech-generating device being operated via a single cheek muscle). Hawking insisted on keeping that same robotic voice for 32 years, a longer commitment than either of his two marriages (yes, he left his first wife for another woman, although, awkwardly, this probably consisted of the second woman wheeling him away from the first ), even though any Waze user could get a Morgan Freeman, Terry Crews or Mr. T voice. He could have been dropping bad-ass lines like “I pity the fool who says ‘God does not play dice with the universe.’ Consideration of black holes suggests not only that God does play dice but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen.” Honestly, if he was so smart, why didn’t he even have a catchphrase? Some genius.

5. Aretha Franklin


There’s a reason Aretha Franklin’s signature song demanded R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The Queen of Soul would not permit challenges to her throne, and tore a strip off Beyoncé for introducing Tina Turner as “the queen” at the 2008 Grammys. She shrugged off both her furs and criticism from PETA, and she clapped back thunderously by telegram at columnists who dared to criticize her copious display of bosom. Not only did she demand payment in cash, but she wouldn’t perform anywhere that had air conditioning, and was known to stop singing mid-song, say, “I feel air,” and walk offstage. She’d halt phone interviews if a favorite soap opera came on. She sent a fax to the Associated Press five years after Whitney Houston’s funeral to clarify that she was not Houston’s godmother and that Dionne Warwick was a liar for saying so. (Franklin covered Warwick’s hit “Walk on By” twice: once on record and another time right to her face, when her archrival tried to tried to hug her after making this very libelous statement.) Was Aretha Franklin a prima donna? In every sense of the term! And she proved it by stepping in for opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammys when he called in sick a half hour after the show had already started to sing the aria “Nessun Dorma” in a supreme display of titanic talent and supreme self-confidence. Was Aretha Franklin a diva? No, she was not. Aretha Franklin was the diva.

4. Burt Reynolds


It’s hard to explain now what a big star Burt Reynolds was in his heyday. He was the number one box office star five times, a distinction achieved by only Reynolds, Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood and Bing Crosby. (Only Tom Cruise has more wins, with seven.) And he could have been even bigger. He turned down the roles of James Bond (wisely), Han Solo (less wisely; Han making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs is just Cannonball Run in space), and Michael Corleone (very unwisely; while Marlon Brando may have—understandably—threatened to walk if Reynolds were hired, Reynolds had actually once been rejected for a part for looking too much like Brando, so the casting of father and son would’ve been brilliant). He turned down Richard Gere’s part in Pretty Woman, even though his main criteria for taking on projects was right there in the title. He even turned down his own role in Boogie Nights seven times, out of habit. The movies he did do were mostly garbage, mere excuses to hang out with his pals and clown around, as if the Rat Pack had made Six Pack. But he was having so much fun that audiences did too, just watching Burt Reynolds be Burt Reynolds, wearing a sweet mustache and a cowboy hat, chomping on a wad of gum, and acting like a smart aleck, with a twinkle in his eye that let them know they were in on the joke, as dumb as it was.

3. John McCain


John McCain was a maverick, they said. But what did that mean? Well, if being a maverick means being a hot dog U.S. Navy pilot with a reputation for crashing planes, then John McCain was a real Tom Cruise in Top Gun. If being a maverick means joking that teenage Chelsea Clinton was so ugly because Janet Reno was her father, then John McCain was a maverick. If being a maverick means being ill-tempered enough to furiously respond to his wife’s playful jibe about his thinning hair, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt!” then John McCain was a maverick. And if being a maverick means cavalierly riffing on “that old Beach Boys song, ‘Bomb Iran’” in response to a question about military action in the Middle East, well, then John McCain was a maverick, as well as an ignoramus who didn’t even know that “Barbara Ann” was written by Fred Fassert of the Regents and was only covered by the Beach Boys. It’s ironic that he was called a maverick, however, as the term derives from Sam Maverick, a Texan rancher who refused to brand his cows, while John McCain was, quite simply, all hat and no cattle. He was a war hero, no question, but he coasted off that rep for decades. While some may prefer heroes who weren’t captured, a lot of us prefer ones who don’t turn into gutless, grandstanding old windbags who lack the courage of their convictions and constantly put on theatrical shows of disagreement with their party’s policies, only to fall in line and vote along party lines almost every single time.

1. George Herbert Walker and Barbara Bush (tie)


Often called America’s First Grandmother, Barbara Bush once infamously let that nice old lady facade when she called Democratic vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro something that “rhymes with rich,” though she later clarified she meant “witch” rather than “bitch.” Good save, Bar, but it’s classic projection. It really says something that she was so privately cold and cruel as to be considered the “bad cop” in a partnership with someone who helped South American dictators torture and murder their political foes as director of the CIA.

As vice-president, George Herbert Walker Bush had the distinction of being the first of his office to serve as acting president during an eight-hour surgery to remove polyps from Ronald Reagan’s colon. Not only that, but a polyp from Bush’s own colon later went on to become president too. As a president, however, Bush deserves more than to be remembered as a one-term mediocrity. For instance, he deserves to be remembered as a son of inherited wealth whose father had demonstrated ties to a white supremacist regime. As a serial groper who put an underqualified sexual harasser on the Supreme Court. And as someone who used ugly, racist dog-whistle political ads to get elected. And as someone who used a flurry of political pardons to protect his shady dealings with foreign governments. Does any of this sound familiar? Let’s hope the “one-term mediocrity” thing does.

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