03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Cell Phones, Pay Phones, Ira and Me


Yesterday I was at the cafe on Third Avenue where I met Ira a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago I did an online video about payphones in which I interviewed Ira (you can see it here -- the Ira part starts a little before the two-minute mark.) So, guess who I saw at the same cafe yesterday! Ira!

Ira and I hadn't met until I talked to him on that street corner. We didn't get this part on film, but he actually told us a little bit about himself and it turns out he is a songwriter--he wrote the song he sings in the video. Among other things, he and Cy Coleman wrote the music to The Life, a show that was on Broadway maybe ten years ago (I remember seeing the poster--an image of a big red stiletto heel). He told me "I am very Googleable." Indeed he is! He has a Wiki-page! I don't have a Wiki-page! He had a newspaper column! I don't have a newspaper column! (Although, if anyone is hiring...)

Yesterday, Ira and a I locked eyes as I opened the door to the cafe. He was sitting outside.
"You're a woman of mystery!" he said to me.
I went over and asked how he was. He wanted to know where I'd been. I asked him if he got the video I emailed him. He said he hadn't checked his email recently. So, I asked him if he'd come sit with me in the cafe for a minute and I'd show it to him on my laptop. Actually, it's a netbook. But more on that in a minute.

Inside, I met my friend Ian and we tried to get the wireless signal in the cafe so that I could show him the video on YouTube. It took a while.
"I just was talking to this guy outside," I said. Ian gave me an encouraging I'd-be-lifting-one-eyebrow-if-I-knew-how kind of look.
The door opened and in came a squat oval-shaped man with a white-beard and a baseball cap. That would be Ira.

I put on the video (is that an obsolete thing to call it?) and Ira and Ian, who also hadn't seen it, watched on. While it buffered, Ira and Ian discussed that great antediluvian topic: having a three-lettered name that starts with I. The speakers on my netbook are my only complaint about the this little device--they really suck. So, neither Ian or Ira could hear anything. So, they lost interest pretty quickly, even though I was breathlessly trying to explain to Ira how bizarre it seemed to me that between the last time we met and now, thousands of people around the world had seen him in this little clip. Many of them had said they wanted to be his new best friend! Okay, it's not the Cory Kennedy story, but still. Ira seemed unimpressed by this fact. Then he looked at the video for a moment longer.
"Oh!" he said. Suddenly, I could tell that he was mentally scrolling through the list of all the women on the street who have recently asked him to sing and then let him use their cell phones (it was the first time he'd ever used one). He lit up. "You're the girl who was doing the thing with the pay phones!"

This didn't seem exciting to him for long. He had moved on to other areas of interest. Specifically, he wanted to know where I got my netbook and how much it cost. I swear, having this thing is like walking around with my young cute cousin. I'm all "ahem!"
I was actually meeting with Ian to give him a digital video camera that he'd lent to me. So, Ian recorded a little bit of me and Ira yucking it up. I haven't looked at it yet. If it's not too awful, I'll put it up here. We could be the next Kelly and Regis.


Ira gave me the above business card. It has been in a special Ziploc bag since he gave it to me so you can be sure that it looked EXACTLY like this when he handed it over. Then he told me he needs to get new ones and asked me if I could suggest a place where he could get ones like mine. Mine are shiny thin and look like crap. His card, however, is a work of art. You know how many guys on Bedford Avenue would kill to have a card that looks just like this? This is the business card equivalent of a rent-stabilized loft in SoHo. You don't part with it. You aspire to it yet know that you were born a few decades too late to have gotten it in the first place. Ira, if you're reading this: keep those business cards in a cool dark place and hand them out sparingly.