As usual I’m behind in my reading of NY Times Book Review sections, which arrive with every Sunday paper. So it was just yesterday when I spotted this letter, reacting to a review from the previous week:
Bill Cosby may not have been “a slacker, a dropout or even a drinker,” as Neil Drumming writes in his review of Mark Whitaker’s new biography (Sept. 21). But he did leave my high school, Central High School of Philadelphia, then a magnet school for academically talented boys, after 10th grade. (He later received his G.E.D. in the Navy, and went on to Temple University.) Nevertheless, Central inducted Cosby into our High School Hall of Fame in 1998. And in his wildly funny acceptance speech, he told us his “prime motivation for attending Central was to get to carry the prestigious crimson and gold Central High School book covers to impress everyone on my subway ride to school, and hoping to elicit praise.” But, he made clear, “despite my not taking full advantage of a Central High education, it taught me the importance of excellence in education, which inspired me my whole life.” And so it did. Dr. Bill Cosby not only became an extraordinary humorist, but pursued excellence in education by earning a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts. Quite a man!
MORTON A. KLEIN
“Quite a man” indeed. Especially in light of recent headlines, all of which I hasten to add out of fairness to the writer, appeared after the above letter, which was dated 10/10/14.
Like Mr Klein, whom I don’t know, I also attended Central High School; unlike Bill Cosby, whom I also don’t know, I graduated. And while I also went on to Temple (“7 years of college education wasted”), the administration bypassed me and asked Bill Cosby to join its board. Up until recently that decision would have been rated a no-brainer. Of course, I probably could have found some other way to bring controversy (if not disgrace and embarrassment) where it wasn’t wanted.
Cosby’s career appears to be a flaming train wreck these days, a total reversal of everything he ever projected on and off stage. As stated above, despite our having trod the same paths several years apart, I don’t know him personally, and know quite little about his various teevee incarnations. That aside, I find these recent allegations a bit fishy — are we up to an even 50 yet? Is Wilt Chamberlain’s record claim in jeopardy? Can anybody join this club? — and remind myself that to date, he’s been accused, not indicted or convicted. The general public may never know.
Meanwhile, the best line I’ve seen is from the wag who tweeted, “Hey Bill! Pull up your damn pants!”