Friday, February 10, 2012

Shameless Self Promotion/How I met Bill Cosby

First let’s get the shameless self promotion out of the way. Although I started this blog in December of 2010, I didn’t post until mid November of 2011 and today I am celebrating my blog’s 1000th hit. That’s right over 1000 people have visited and read my posts in less than three months.  Could it be because my posts are witty, engaging and entertaining? That my work is found to be insightful, thought-provoking and urbane? 
Probably not, but keep coming anyway.  And thanks to all of you out there, many whom I’ve never met, for your kind words and support. By purchasing my books you have made it possible for me to finally move out of the homeless shelter and into my own refrigerator box in a trendy upscale neighborhood.
Who loves ya, baby? Yeah, that would be me.
Now on to how I met Bill Cosby.
In the 1970’s Greenwich Village had a number of venues that promoted up and coming talent. There was The Bitter End, Max’s Kansas City, Folk City, The Other End, Café Wha? Cockroach Art, The Dive and uptown’s Catch a Rising Star before it changed its format to strictly comedy. That is where I met Freddie Prinze of Chico and the Man fame but that’s another story.
I was a semi-regular playing at The Dive on Bleeker Street. Nice place, good food and most importantly the owner actually paid you.
Late one Sunday night I was playing to a less than enthusiastic crowd. It was raining heavily and most of the patrons, no more than 15 at best, were either drunk or playing grab ass under the table. 
Then all of a sudden Bill Cosby of the Jello-pudding pops, the Hey, Hey, Hey, of Fat Albert and the man who would rise to even greater fame in the years to come as America’s favorite dad, Dr Huxtable comes in, walks up to the bar, hands the bartender a twenty and asks for change, the bartender complies and just as the famous comedian heads for the door, I start playing, he hears me and instead of a wave or a nod of acknowledgement, he turns and takes a seat at a table in the front row.
Back in those days the performer did 5 sets a night, 45 minutes on stage with a 15 minute break.  I was only a couple of songs in when he sat down, but he stayed until I finished my set. When I thanked him, he told me he liked what he heard but that I needed to engage the audience more. “Get them to like you as a person as well as a performer and they’ll keep coming back.”
Only those who have made a living performing knows just how miserable and unsatisfying it is to play to crowd of drunks, playas and people who are only there because it’s a retreat from the weather. And that’s why Bill Cosby’s kind gesture remains as a treasured memory to this day.
And although we met only that one time and spoke for less than thirty seconds, and that a full twenty years had passed since, when I heard his son Ennis had been murdered I was deeply saddened. His son was home from college and had stopped to fix a flat when he was killed in a botched robbery attempt.
In the days that followed the Cosby family was inundated with letters from people promising them that when Ennis’ killer was captured, he’d be killed. The situation became so out of control Mr. Cosby had to hold a press conference to ask that those who wrote the letters, no matter how well intended, to let the LAPD and the justice system do its job.
Having a daughter in college myself at the time who also traveled a considerable distance between school and home, made the Cosby family’s loss that much more real and personal.
Fortunately the LAPD and the justice department did do its job. The killer was caught, tried and sentenced to life.


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