Friends and family filled pews at Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenue Monday for the funeral of Steven Vincent, the American journalist murdered while reporting in Iraq on August 2. They came to recall Vincent's life as East Village resident, former editor of an East Village newspaper, writer on art, and most recently, war correspondent. Vincent was killed in Basra after he and his translator were abducted; the killers remain at large.
Vincent stood on the roof of his apartment on September 11, 2001, and watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Thereafter, he concentrated on writing about politics and Islam. He had also visited Iraq in 2003 and 2004, and was author of "In the Red Zone: A Journey Into the Soul of Iraq" (Spence Publishing Company).
"He was a soldier whose weapon was the pen. He was an artist whose canvas was the world," said Vincent's friend Jonathan Roth, chair of the history department at San Jose State University. He described Vincent's zest for life and his many experiences delivering fine art, driving a cab at night, and working as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vincent loved both high and popular culture, noted Mr. Roth: Wagner and Frank Sinatra, Shakespeare and Spiderman.
Vincent was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, and later moved to New York, where he became a fixture in the East Village community and was active in political circles. As a founder of the Democratic Action Club, Vincent was among those instrumental in Antonio Pagan's election to City Council in 1991.
Among those in the front row at the funeral was his widow, Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, who first met Vincent at a showing of "The Road Warrior" at a Times Square movie theater in 1982. Those paying respects included painter John Currin and his wife Rachel Feinstein; painter Damian Loeb; artist Inka Essenhigh; artist Steven Mumford, who shared an apartment with Vincent a year ago in Baghdad; Anthony Haden-Guest; Phoebe Hoban, author of a biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat; editor in chief of Art+Auction, Bruce Wolmer; auction correspondent for Art+Auction, Judd Tully; Marlborough Gallery director Janis Gardner Cecil; "Absinthe" author Barnaby Conrad III; Martha Sutherland of M. Sutherland Fine Arts; contemporary realist artist Su-en Wong; Alexandra Peers of the Wall Street Journal; and painter John Newsom.
"Stephen's life touched many different worlds, from East Village bohemians to the Giuliani administration to the world of high-end art and auctions and the American effort in Iraq," senior critic of Artnet.com, Charlie Finch, told the Knickerbocker. As Vincent's casket was carried from the church, a tearful Mr. Pagan stood up and applauded Vincent, prompting all those present to rise and join him. Asked later about this tribute for Vincent, Mr. Pagan described the fallen journalist as an American hero.
"Really, your true gift is for listening," Rolling Stone magazine writer David Frick told Dick Cavett, who said he had watched innumerable hours of "The Dick Cavett Show." The two spoke at Borders Books Tuesday at an event celebrating the release of a three-DVD set, "The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons," which featured episodes from 1969 to 1974, including such guests as David Bowie, George Harrison, Stevie Wonder, and the stars of Woodstock the day following the festival.
Mr. Cavett said that as a class of people, rock performers were pleasant and intelligent. He recalled, however, that some of that period's television viewers wrote in complaining: "Why do you think we want to see these smelly hippies?"
Mr. Frick regretted that today music acts on "Late Night With David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" perform songs but are seldom asked anymore to sit and talk. He recalled a sit-down interview Mr. Cavett conducted with Paul Simon "about songwriting." Mr. Cavett added, "Yes, Simon conducted rather a master class on composition. It was so wonderful."
He shared a recollection of a prescient exchange he had on air with Mick Jagger, then in his 20s. Mr. Cavett had asked the young Rolling Stone, "Can you imagine still performing onstage when you're 60?" Mr. Jagger responded, "Yes."
Marveling at his roster of guests, Mr. Cavett recalled how on one show, he had "Bride of Frankenstein" actress Elsa Lanchester, Stevie Wonder, singing cowboy star Tex Ritter, and French film actor Alain Delon. "I do seem to have a knack for talking with disparate people."
Among those in the standing room-only crowd was actor Hootch Hoolahan, who was wearing a summer straw hat and said that Mr. Cavett was always the most warm of talk show hosts, never indulging in one-upmanship with a guest. A teacher from Bayside, Queens, Ken Katz, told the Knickerbocker: "With my mother, I attended a taping of 'The Dick Cavett Show' for PBS in 1979 with his guests Jonathan Miller and Glenda Jackson."