Saturday, July 27, 2002

An old friend returns

For this to make any sense I have to preface this. You know how certain things become a soundtrack for cetain years of your life? I do that and so do many of my friends. It's hard for me to identify with people that don't get excited about music in some type of format. Music doesn't have to dominate your life but you should feel strongly about some sort of music. If you hate all forms of popular music but you claim to whistle a lot we can still talk.

I mention that because I adore Bill Cosby when he does standup. I grew up listening to his first few albums from the sixties. The albums I devoured initially were the five albums he put out between 1963 and 1967. I did that the usual kid thing with something you like and listened to them repeatedly. At one point in my life I could do the Chicken Heart routine by Cosby from start to finish. Chicken Heart is twelve minutes long. I remember entertaining Alan Popa in the lunch line some time around the fourth or fifth grade. I may not have done the routine perfectly but I did it pretty good.

The material from that time period spent a lot of time covering idealized stories about childhood. A very romantic urban existence is portrayed where drinking fathers were not mean but merely oddly scary and kids had adventures together that played like fairy tales. I used to record these albums off my uncle's old scratchy vinyl copies with a microphone that fed into one of those old portable cassette recorders that are now only sold at Radio Shack. Who in the fuck still buys those things?

I remember a Saturday afternoon at my home with my grandparents, my parents and me. We were sitting around listening to my audio cassette version of Cosby's album, Himself. I was a teenager then and very familiar with old time radio and families gathered around a radio. The Cosby bit, Chickenheart, revolves around old time radio. That afternoon my jambox was sitting on top of our televsion. We sat and listened to the whole album. Forty minutes worth, three generations, all laughing very hard and enjoying the performance together. I had initially started playing the tape so the adults could hear the first piece on the album and they reluctantly indulged. After the first track ended no one asked me to shut it off. We all silently agreed to let it play. I have never had a similar experience. One of those very true and unforced inter-generational moments.

With all that being said, Bill Cosby may have contributed more to my world view than any other artist.

The reason I mentioned all that is because I just finished watching Bill Cosby do about ten minutes worth of stand-up on tonight's episode of Late Night with David Letterman. He did a great bit about his wife getting mad at him for watching tv and "doing nothing." He then acted out his wife not letting him do anything around the house because he does things wrong so he feels safer on the couch. Things like washing the wrong clothes together and running the dishwasher when it's only half full. As is standard with Cosby the material was pretty generic but his storytelling ability and his way of seeing the little funnies in every day enounters were what was really on display. Heck, it was just good to see Bill doing stand up. For the first time in a very long while Bill Cosby made me laugh and it took place just a few hours ago. That makes me feel really good.

Also, earlier this evening Durktle, Bookpimp, Dutch and the Lesbian Straightener came by and, uh, listened to some music. That's all. Just listened to music and watched Sci-Fi. I forgot to play Tipsy but maybe we can do it again, fellas.

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