Dick Gregory was a brilliant comedian, social critic and health nut, but my primary impression is that he was wise and droll. He saw and raged against it all, but he never let his anger gain a foothold. His book, “From The Back of the Bus“, put the hook in when I was a kid. He was a Zen cat first and a contrarian foot soldier second. Always admired him, thought he was sharp and cool and sly.

During the second Clinton term I used Gregory’s Bahamian Diet powder to lose weight. I first learned about it in Jerry Stahl‘s “Permanent Midnight“, which stated that junkies were known to live on Gregory’s BD powder because it provided all the necessary nutrients without having to eat regular foods. When I was working at People in the late ’90s I heard that Ben Stiller, preparing to play Stahl in the movie version, had used the Bahamian Diet powder as part of a weight-loss regimen. Believe it or not, there was angry blowback because I mentioned this.

An old Gregory routine, posted on his Wiki page: “I know the South very well. I spent twenty years there one night. Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant and this white waitress came up to me and said, ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said, ‘That’s all right. I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’ Then these three white boys came up to me and said, ‘Boy, we’re giving you fair warning. Anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you.’ So I put down my knife and fork, I picked up that chicken and I kissed it. Then I said, ‘Line up, boys!'”