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November 9, 2006

rips ed


Easy Ed Bradley passed away today. I had a chance to stand a few people away from him at an event many, many years ago and I remember thinking with no small measure of admiration that that was one classically cool older cat. I think the event was that certain kind of borderline-fake party for some or another buppie coffee-table book, and I have to admit to feeling a little out of place there - too much facial hair, locks that I purposefully kept relatively un-manicured, prickly alternative ambitions. Bradley and I didn't exchange a word or even a real look, but I extracted a sense of soothing, well, permission just from his being in the room, a feeling of kinship, largely imagined by me, I know, but that nonetheless made the scene more open and friendly.

I have to confess that it wasn't the funny persistence of his earring that put me at ease, or even the charming, royal boredom with which he attended to his duties as the most famous person in the room, Bradley clearly having taken accurate measure of the folks around him and yet still finding the grace to share a genuine laugh and hello with all comers. No, it was the fact that he was a master flirt that got me, how Bradley seemed to be one of those powerful, married, older men (was Bradley married then? It had to have been '93) whose yen for women had not curdled into a creepy coveting of youth, but had instead ripened into a rakishly cool (that word again) playfulness - gently suggestive, sharp, expert, and completely harmless all at the same time. The way Bradley lived in his skin suggested to me that there were plenty of ways to go about being a successful and uncompromising black man in media, some of them great fun, some of them relevant to a nervous, yellow misfit like me.

Rips, Ed. I wish I'd come over and said hello and thank you that night.

Posted by ebogjonson in media, memory, on November 9, 2006 9:34 AM


As a former freelancer @ BET, I shared elevator rides with most of the 60 Minutes reporters at some point. They all looked like shriveled old men in person. Bradley was the only one whose screen presence was possibly smaller than the real-life version. I always felt the urge to speak to him, the couple of times our paths crossed, but was much more entertained by the clamor of middle-aged secretaries openly flirting with him. Any man would be lucky to have a tenth of his mojo after 65...

Posted by: dutchtwista at November 14, 2006 11:24 AM