Akbar’s Missing Phone

My roommate here at Village Care came from his bedroom, his arms stretched out in supplication: “I can’t find…my phone…” he murmured, apologetically. “Can you help me?”  Aki is eighty-five, partially demented. “Of course I’ll help you, Aki. Let’s take a look in your jacket pockets.”  I went to his closet, opened it, pulled out his black cloth jacket. Systematically did a search through both the outer and inner pockets. No phone. Checked  the drawers in his night table; nothing. Looked under the bed. Nope. I stood helplessly in the middle of the floor. “Maybe…” Aki began. “Maybe you could call from your phone…” Well, what a smart idea. Of course. If we heard his phone ringing, we could track it down. I fetched my iPhone and turned to him. “What’s your number?”                          “Ahhh..” he said and a blank look came into his eyes. “Aaaah…” he repeated, scowling in concentration. I couldn’t help it, I had to suppress a guffaw of laughter.

PS: Aki has a daughter. I called her and she gave me his number. We eventually found the phone, it had fallen behind a pillow.

Funny Bus encounter


I’m at 23rd and 10th, waiting for the bus uptown, checking my phone on the MTA app for the time of the next arrival. The app tells me the bus is five stops away.         Among the passengers sitting on the steel bench, there’s a heavy-set woman who’s observing me with a quizzical look.   “Five stops away,” I say to her.

“How you know that?” she asks me. I show her my screen. “You can program in the number of any bus and the phone will show you when it’ll get here.”                                 She nods in a kind of smiling bewilderment. Wow, I can hear her thinking, modern technology.                                                                                                                                           She gives me a half smile. “My son, he give me phone like yours,” she tells me. “But I no know how to use.” She shakes her head.

“It’s really not so hard,” I say. “You just have to learn a few moves, like what features you want to tap. It’ll tell you the time, for instance, or the weather, or how to get to Yankee Stadium. You can look up anything.”                                                                                She’s looking at me impassively. “Anything?”

“Yeah. You want to know what year Napoleon was born? You can look him up on your search engine.”

I see her look of incomprehension; she doesn’t know what a search engine is.

I sit next to her and hold up the instrument so she can see. “Look, you see this bar at the top? If you tap it like this, the keyboard will appear, and you can type in whatever you want to look up, Like Napoleon, say, or how to cook pork chops.”

I get up and move into the street, looking down the avenue for the bus. I see her beckoning to me with her finger. I return to her and she whispers a word to me: “Diarrhea.”

I’m startled. “Diarrhea?” I cry.  “Shhh!” she cautions me, “can you find?”            “Sure.” I type the word into the search bar: D-I-A-R-R—

–and it comes right up: the Wikipedia definition: a condition in which feces are discharged from the bowels frequently and in a liquid form—–and then, People Also Ask: How long does it last? How do you treat it? Etc.

She’s amazed. She reaches for the phone and I let her have it for a moment. She’s reading avidly. I move six feet into the street to check on the bus –and it’s here! I return to the bench and reach for my phone.

         “No!” she cries, “please–!” She yanks the phone away protectively. She’s so enthralled by the info she’s been reading but then realizes she has to relinquish the instrument. It’s mine, it belongs to me.                                                                                     We sit opposite each other on the bus. She’s in a mild state of agitation, thinking about the world of possibilities waiting for her if she will simply start tinkering with the phone her son gave her.

Finally, she leans forward to me: “Thank you.” She says,

And I go on my way hoping she’ll do the follow-up.


After The Holidays – Judy

My bid to join the ranks of Hugh Martin (Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas) and Irvin Berlin (White Christmas). Got a lovely send-off here from Judy, 1968.

I’m proud to say that Michael Feinstein is singing “Holidays” in his current Christmas show at 54 Below. If anyone would like the sheet music to this song, please contact me personally at jmeyr@earthlink.net.

Mia Madre – Italian Film

mia madre photoThis film is extraordinary. It follows six weeks in the life of a female film director and how she deals with the ordinary tribulations of her life. She’s got a dying mother in a hospital. She’s got a brother who inexplicably quits his job. A daughter from an ex-husband…and she’s juggling these strands while trying to make a film in Rome. The American star (John Turturro) is a neurotic egotist who causes her no end of trouble. In the middle of all this, she has to be emotionally supportive of her teenage daughter and… well, it’s just like life. And that’s the point. And as we go along, we feel for her as she gamely keeps her head above water, and we realize that unlike an American picture – picture does not have an arc…and that’s exactly the point. We are witnessing a life in progress without a beginning, without an end. And the director is telling us, “that’s just the way it is.” And when we realize that’s the message of this film, it becomes unutterably moving. The film has no finish. It just ends. See it. It won’t be here long.

John as actor

Last time I acted was as Rick in my musical adaptation of the film Casablanca.  That’s Leila Martin – Phantom of the Opera – threatening me in an effort to obtain the letters of transit.


20 years later, I am once again acting in the musical adaptation of my memoir, Heartbreaker.  We’ll be giving a reading for the industry in early December.  Details to follow.

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John as Actor

Excerpt from Semi-Memoir in Progress: Joel considers Scallops.

“And we have scallops,” said the waitress, “they’re slightly breaded and pan-seared in white wine with lemon and capers.”
Joel felt that irresistible tug, that tempting, provocative pull.
“You can’t have ‘slightly breaded’” he told her, “that’s like being a little bit pregnant. They’re either breaded or they’re not.”
Beside him, he felt Lessey sigh. Why does he always do this? he could feel her thinking.
The waitress was giving him the kind of smile that says, Oh, Christ, Another Crank. But he wasn’t going to let this drop. There was too much of it going around, these inexact, imprecise, just plain Wrong locutions.
“So, please, don’t keep telling people the scallops are slightly breaded, just say they’re breaded, okay?”
“If it makes you happy,” said the waitress, and he wondered, belligerently, should he call the manager? Because this was just outright Snippy.
“I won’t be here,” he countered. “But it will make me happy to know you’re at least speaking English the way it was meant to be spoken.”

Burgundy Tasting 5/9.14

Gary Fradin, who runs an elegant wineshop, gave a tasting of Burgundies -both red and white. Eleven people attended, it was an intimate group: five couples and a single woman. The tasting was led by a Kentucky girl, Melinda, who spoke with a broad Southern accent and had trouble with the French nomenclature. She and I got into an argument that almost verged on a real battle when I came out in favor of non-filtered wines -and she held the position that, to assure commercial viability, many vintners needed to strip their wines of the grape residues and tannins that result in the depth and substance that characterize the real Burgundy experience. These wines will often throw off sediment -which, to my mind, is a most desirable thing. Filtered wines -while safer to preserve- taste noticeably thinner. “Yes,” she said, “but if you’re shipping internationally, ten thousand cases, you need to guarantee these wines’ll arrive in good shape and stabilize them.” “Well,” I replied, “that’s a commercial decision, not an artistic one.” Neither of us wanted to back down, and the other ten people were hanging on this, hoping, of course that it would escalate. The shop is called Quality House, it’s on 33rd street between Park and Madison…and they have an excellent selection of older vintage Burgundies. images

Moss Hart Celebration 4.20.14

I got to meet the son of one of my idols last night -Christopher Hart, Moss’s boy. Normally, I don’t approach people of renown unless I have something that can enrich them, but in this case I did: in honor of Moss’ 52nd birthday, Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz wrote and performed (on record) a 30 minute original musical of ACT ONE, patterned on Moss’s terrific memoir. And I have a copy of this mini-musical. Except it’s on reel-to-reel and I need to transfer it to CD if I want to  give it to Christopher.Moss Hart

The show was a mixed bag: highlights included David Garrison’s crystalline rendition of the tongue-twister TCHAIKOVSKY (from Lady in the Dark), Malcolm Gets’s charming, British-accented performance, accompanying himself on piano, of Cole Porter’s WHAT AM I TO DO? (from The Man Who Came to Dinner) and Montego Glover (pictured below). Her delivery of Irving Berlin’s HARLEM ON MY MIND (from As Thousands Cheer) was inspired and passionate.  TO BE CONTINUED –below you see Montego, David, Malcolm…and Lewis Stadlen, who portrayed a variety of characters, each expertly, in sketches from the revues and excerpts from the plays. The serious songs were handled by Kelli O’Hara and Victoria Clark.

Montego GloverLewis J. Stadlen