I just heard that Isaac Hayes passed away today at the age of 65. Usually two things come to mind for most folks when Isaac's name is mentioned: "The Theme from Shaft" and Chef from South Park. I'll always remember him as the epitome of cool with whom I shared a laugh one awesome night in DC.
My good friend Dana called one day to tell me that Mr. Hayes would be in the city signing copies of his new cookbook, Cooking with Heart and Soul. When Dana calls about that sort of thing, it typically means we're set for an evening of adventure. The night comes and we (Dana, his then-girlfriend AM, and yours truly) hightail it to the Borders after work like we're escaping from New York. We're about an hour early but we buy our books and receive the very first tickets. Soon, Isaac shows up wearing this purple African garb that only Isaac Hayes can get away with wearing (very similar to the photo above) and addresses the now-assembled crowd. He talks about growing up in Tennessee and how his mother's cooking was a big part of that. He also breaks into the Chef voice to discuss the chocolate salty balls recipe in the book. To say I was restraining myself from bouncing off the walls is an understatement.
We get in line to have our books signed and the next few moments are just magic. The tickets we received had a spot for spelling our names so I put my name down and a lyric from "The Theme from Shaft":
Isaac takes a look at my ticket, chuckles, and simply writes:
AM snaps a picture of me doing the infamous "thumbs up" as Isaac signs. Once he's finished, I tell him he rules and he initiates a handshake with a colossal grin, telling me to take it easy. Needless to say, I was walking on clouds for the rest of the night.
We lost a terrific dude today. Farewell Isaac. To me, you were truly an A-Number One guy.