Wednesday, August 10, 2011

R.I.P. Bobby "Fish" Billelo

I had the pleasure of meeting Bobby at Sloan Kettering this past December. He was holding court in the waiting area. We struck up a conversation and when I told him I grew up on the Lower East Side he asked, "Where?" When I described the area he said, "Oh, the Fourth Ward." I knew immediately then that he was the Real McCoy. He said he visited there often because of his fish and restaurant business and that he knew some of the neighborhood old timers.
an excerpt from the nydaily news:
Bobby "Fish" Bilello, 54, was loved in Brooklyn by his friends, family and business associates.
He sleeps with the fishes now but the Fish tale continues.
When they filed into Scarpaci Funeral Home in Bensonhurst last week for the wake of Bobby "Fish" Bilello, 54, two elderly Italian women approached his bereaved wife, Connie, and offered condolences.
Then the two ladies in black walked with old-fashioned solemnity to the casket where the once 470-pound fish wholesaler from Brooklyn lay in repose at a trim 260, dressed in a black Fila track suit, Pink Floyd T-shirt, with black baseball cap with the name B. Fish and a swordfish emblazoned on the crown. They looked down at a bunch of La Hoya cigars scattered around his coffin, knelt to say a prayer, and the strains of "My Way," by Frank Sinatra - triggered by the knee rest - began playing from hidden speakers.
"And now/The end is near/And so I face/The final curtain..."
"That's Fish," says Downtown Ronnie Califano, one of Fish's best friends, smoothing his custom made Louis Roth suit. "He's still making people laugh from his coffin. Old ladies come in, mascara like mud slides, and when they kneel they get blasted with Sinatra, Pink Floyd and Michael Jackson. They look all around, astonished, like "Who's blaring the radio in the parking lot?' But that's just Fish's way of saying, 'Hey, I'm dead but I ain't gone, baby. The Fish tale continues.'"
The funeral parlor was a floral aquarium of bouquets designed like giant tunas, swordfish, lobsters. A 6-foot cigar leaned on one end of the casket.

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