Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rob Base is Not Dead

Image courtesy of photostock 
Rob Base is not dead. But I thought he was. Here’s what happened. After doing a joke about old-school rap, an audience member came up to me after the show and said, “Did you know that Rob Base died?” What? I was flabbergasted. Joy & Pain Rob Base? It Takes Two Rob Base? No. I didn’t know.  To be honest I really haven’t been right since we lost Heavy D.

She told me that Rob had presumably been murdered and his car – a 1998 minivan – had been stolen. As we commiserated over the sad news, it bothered her deeply that Rob Base died living such an ordinary life. It doesn’t get any more ordinary than a minivan. There is an illusion that once famous, always famous. Once successful, always successful. Once wealthy, always wealthy. Even if you’re not in the public eye, day walkers (non-performers) like to assume that you’re off somewhere being famous and fabulous. Sadly, no.

What bothered both of us was that the death of Rob Base was not front-page news. He deserved better than that. I should’ve turned on CNN and heard it straight from Anderson Cooper’s mouth. My Mom contends that if you ever want to get news about Black celebrities, you have to read Jet Magazine. Now you’ll get the news late, but you’ll get it.

On the drive home I began to wonder how the mainstream media could have so badly dropped the ball on the death of a Hip-Hop icon. This is when the journalism half of my degree comes in handy. It reminds me to verify a story and not just check it out on Twitter. Just because you’re dead on the Internet doesn’t mean you’re dead for real. You go a weekend without a status update and folks can get a little nervous.

Once, on a ferry ride to a gig on Fire Island, my fellow comics pointed to a handsome older gentleman and whispered:
“Oh my god! That’s Mike D’Amato. He played for the NY Jets and won the ’68 super bowl.” The other comic said, “No, he won it in ‘67.” Not one to live with ambiguity when I don't have to, I checked and according to Google Mike D’Amato won the Super Bowl in 1968. But Google also said Mike D’Amato was dead. Now, if I thought he looked good for an old guy, then he looked absolutely fantastic for a dead guy. The first comic said, “Aww man, do you think he’d mind if I asked him for his autograph?” I said, “I don’t know. Do zombies even do autographs?”

It turns out, of course, that Rob Base is not dead either.
Chandler Spencer is.  Who’s Chandler Spencer? He’s the guy who sang the R&B hook to Joy & Pain. While sad, I can see why the mainstream media might have missed it. Lots of people die under the radar. I didn’t find out until months after the fact that Blossom Deary had died. Who’s Blossom Deary? That depends on what generation you’re from. If you’re from my parents generation, Blossom Dearie was the diminutive pianist and jazz singer with the girlish voice. If you’re from my generation, then she was the voice behind one of your favorite School House Rock songs. Unpack my Adjectives? Yeah, that’s Blossom Dearie.

I had the pleasure of seeing her perform live at Danny’s Skylight Lounge in NYC before she died … naturally. Tupac Shakur hologram aside, dead people don’t normally do concerts. I was delighted to hear her sing about things other than parts of speech. My favorite was Blossom’s Blues:

My name is, Blossom
I was raised in the lions’ den.
My name is, Blossom
I was raised in the lions den.
My nightly occupation?
Stealing other women’s men.

I’m an evil, evil woman
But I want to do a man some good
I’m evil, evil woman
But I want to do a man some good
I’m Gina Lollobrigida
I ain’t red riding hood.

If you don’t like my peaches, baby
Why do you shake my tree?
If you don’t like my peaches, baby
Why do you shake my tree?
Stay out of my orchard, baby
Let my peach tree be.

What do Rob Base and Blossom Dearie have in common? Me. I’m probably the only person on the planet who digs them both. So I’m glad that Rob Base is okay. I am sorry about Chandler Spencer and my condolences go to his family. I more than a little bit wish that the Overweight Lover was still in the house. It makes me worry. Has anybody seen Grandmaster Flash? At the very least, it might be time for him to get his prostate checked. 

Thanks for reading The Urban Erma. You can subscribe to the blogcast (yes, I made up this word) FREE on iTunes. And, in case you were wondering, in addition to blogging I am also an amazing stand-up comedian. I do "Thinking Cap Comedy." Basically, if comedy were music, I'd be Jazz. Want to see a show? Check out my schedule at @

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