Cathie Anderson: Taxi Dave makes his way to Comedy Central

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 - 8:16 am

The party just keeps rolling on for David Rivera, the Sactown cabbie better known as Taxi Dave.

His "Black and Yellow" video was posted on comedian Daniel Tosh's Tosh.0 website – and went viral with roughly 1.2 million views. Rivera will appear tonight at 7 on a segment of Tosh's Comedy Central show, "Web Redemption."

Rivera landed his job as a cabdriver four years ago when he was destitute, he said, and he desperately wanted a strategy that would allow his cab to stand out from the competition.

"I started driving around downtown and playing music to attract people," he said. "When they're hammered, they're looking for a cab, and they see one that's playing music that they like, and they'll go to that one before they go to one that's not."

Consumers can choose the cab they want, Rivera explained, even if there's a queue of competitors. When customers chose him, Rivera entertained them by pumping up the music and singing along, or sometimes he'd do a parody.

Customers so enjoyed his entertainment that Rivera launched a Taxi Dave channel at One patron saw his riff on the rap tune "Black and Yellow" and asked Rivera if he would mind him posting it on Tosh's website. The rest is history.

Rivera is now earning a steady living as a taxi driver, and his Web fame has allowed him to supplement his income by selling his original material. He'll be at a "Web Redemption" viewing party tonight at 10 at Bisla's, 7042 Folsom Blvd., in Sacramento.

Tosh often features online gaffes in the show, but Rivera doesn't expect any zingers.

It's uphill for tow service

Edgar Stratton installed a motor and transmission into an old tow truck to launch Dependable Tow 30 years ago in Truckee. He now has 14 trucks in his fleet and is known up the hill as "Edgar Allen Tow."

If you're watching National Geographic's new documentary series, "Hell on the Highway," which airs at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, then you'll see the kind of dangers that Stratton encounters in winter.

The documentary examines how Caltrans employees, California Highway Patrol officers and tow-truck drivers keep treacherous snowstorms from shutting down Interstate 80, one of the most important routes of commerce in the United States.

What you won't see, though, is just how hard Stratton, his wife, Galeen, and sons Sawyer and Austin have fought in the last few years to bring in revenue equaling $500,000 to $1 million. Fewer tourists have headed for ski vacations as the economy faltered, and last winter's dismal snowfall didn't help matters.

There are other pressures. Nevada towing concerns pay less in taxes, registration and regulatory fees, and they've offered cut-rate prices to woo California business from auto clubs, insurers and other national companies. Stratton's biggest season is now summer because he's faced winter competition from a state agency.

"We used to make money when trucks couldn't make it up over Donner Summit in the snow," Stratton said. "We would go up there and tow them over Donner Summit. You could stay busy all day doing that, but now Caltrans has pusher trucks and they do it for free."

Stratton doesn't argue that there are times when the pusher trucks clear out traffic quickly, but he's also had times when his $320-an-hour truck was sitting right there, and the semi driver opted to wait 30 minutes or more for Caltrans.

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