Y’know who I respect? Hell, who I admire? W. Kamau Bell.
A few years ago, he made a made a highly personal, essentially moral decision. He was just hitting the big time. He’d already had his first big break, hosting his own daily talk show on FXX called Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. It was fun and rollicking as well as profound and informative. And — lo and behold — it was that rarest of creatures, a talk show hosted by a black man.
Totally Biased was the equivalent of a starter marriage. W.’d gotten his feet wet, made the inevitable mistakes, learned from them, and the show was cancelled after a little more than a year on air. Despite its failure, it was clear W. was ready to burst even brighter on the national television scene.
But rather than leap blindly into the future, W. picked up his phone, and called his agent. “Don’t ever,” he said, “set me up with a show I have to do every day.”
Horrors, right? W.’s career was soaring like a skyrocket and here he was pouring rain on the thing. Who in the hell would do that?
Simple. He didn’t want to sacrifice the rest of his life, hell, his very humanity, to the voracious monster that is daily TV. It takes a special kind of person to do daily TV. A person who prioritizes fame and the attendant big dollars above all things. Putting out a daily national TV talk show eats up 23 hours, 55 minutes of a human being’s day, leaving a scant five minutes or so for that person to do simple human things like hugging his kids or going to the bathroom. Big fame of any sort prohibits the possessor of same from living a decent, normal life. Did you ever wonder why Michael Jordan had a bald head? It’s because he couldn’t even go to the barber w/o being swamped by autograph seekers and other who wanted to touch the hem of his garment. So he went out and bought a barber’s clippers and started shearing himself every morning.
The many famous hosts of daily TV shows must give short shrift to friends, family, kids, the casual reading of books, going for a hike in the woods, playing cards on a whim, or walking down to the convenience store for an ice cream sandwich. All of it falls by the wayside when one has made the commitment to put out a half hour of TV content.
W. Kamau Bell said to hell with all that. He wanted to live a life.
And the decision hasn’t turned out badly at all. He now hosts the ongoing CNN series United Shades of America. He also works on the radio show Kamau Right Now on KALW in San Francisco and the podcasts Politically Reactive with Hari Kondabolu and Denzel Washington Is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period.
I bring this up because our town’s beloved Janet Cheatham Bell, an author and the woman who gave birth to and raised W. Kamau Bell, is moving out of Bloomington. Yep. She’s heading west to the Bay Area so she can live near her son.
Dang, mang, if I had a kid like W. Kamau Bell I’d want to live near him too!
Which One Are You Again?
Have you ever gotten the feeling that the goings-on in and around the Korean peninsula are confusing?
Try this on for size: The long-time dear leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (AKA North Korea) was named Kim Jong-Il. He died in 2011 and was replaced by his son, Kim Jong-un. Meanwhile, one of the most powerful men in the Republic of Korea (we call it South Korea), a man who pulled so many strings that he was called that nation’s kingmaker, died Saturday. His name? Kim Jong-pil.
I suppose it’s like the three most powerful men in, say, Great Britain being named John Smith, John Smythe, and Jon Smith.
Then again, two of our own holy land’s most recent presidents have been named George Bush so we’ve got no room to talk.
President George Bush (L) & President George Bush