Unlike Biggie, Richard Pryor really was ready to die. When I interviewed him a few years ago, he told me what bothered him the most about his MS was not being able to jump around like he used to, reminding us that this most verbal of men was also as physically comedic as Chaplin. For those reasons Pryor's demise was a sweet release, a right fitting and proper breaking on through to that other side. Yet it remains a mournful event for the rest of us because, like Baldwin, Pryor—or "Richard," as we knew him in the '70s, because he was the only Richard you could possibly be talking about—always seemed less a negro celebrity than a beloved family member, one whose death automatically becomes a nostalgic reminder that better, funkier days are behind us. Like the equally monumental departures of Rosa Parks and Luther Vandross, his exit throws into relief the incredible triteness of Black American being in this... More >>>