I first saw Brian Gari on October 24, 2008 at the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention held in Newark, NJ. He moderated a very interesting panel discussion with guests such as Lucie Arnaz, Betty Rose, and Ervin Drake. Joe Franklin was there, too. Brian presented a loving tribute to his father, Roberto Gari, who passed away in January 2008. I was very impressed with Brian's participation, so I went to the Drama Book Shop and I bought his book, "We Bombed In New London," to learn more about him and his career.
I sent this on April 15, 2009:
I am almost finished reading "We Bombed In New London," and I am loving it so much I am not wanting it to end. This is a fascinating story of a true journey... and I think what is so amazing is how the narrative is factually presented with visual memorabilia and is also written with layers of extemely dark wit and humor. It is hilarious! I am just astounded by so many parts. And it is so well presented that I feel as if I am actually watching the "vignettes" unfold.
The book has sort of Larry David "Curb Your Enthusiasm" moments:
p. 47: "(David Susskind) wasn't on the phone more than ten seconds when he screamed, "I'll never get involved in musicals again!" I guess he was right; he died a very short time after my phone call."
p. 115: "He didn't give a shit. He would report me. Imagine continuing to ride with this obstinate jerk."
p. 116 "I was flattered. My songs being bootlegged? What fun!"
p. 182 "Gee. I was shaking in my boots. I had incurred the wrath of the great Cindy Adams."
I think you did a great job showing in subtle ways how people interact and relate to each other. Brian, your book is just wonderful. Let me put it this way: it's a book that is the best independent film I have ever read.
Shortly after I sent the above E-mail to Brian, I wrote to him again and asked if he would be interviewed for this blog. He immediately replied, "sure," and we met on Thursday, April 30th, at noon... in the Key West Diner on upper Broadway. We started to talk, and right away I was impressed with Brian's straightforward, honest, and down-to-earth manner. He spoke about his musical, "Late Nite Comic," and he said he realized the show's "time (on Broadway) was short." He discussed, in a very forthright manner, how the last few days of the show turned into a "free-for-all" because the perfomers were not getting the response they expected. He wrote "Late Nite Comic" based on his relationship with his girlfriend at the time, named Janet. Janet never saw the show. Brian says in his book she blocked all communication with him. This was a huge disappointment to him that he lives with to this day.
We then discussed Brian's "Love Online," which is based on his real-life experience about finding love on the internet. He met a woman on AOL who answered his written ad. They had many E-mail exchanges and telephone conversations... and he fell in love with her "through her words." He fell in love with her phrasing, the depth of her conversations, and her life story. And after they finally met, the romantic relationship lasted two and a half years. He was strongly emotionally involved and their connection was deep. Brian insists it is possible to fall in love before meeting because... he "lived it."
Brian has an extensive list of accomplishments. He has a salute to Brian Wilson, which he will be performing at Don't Tell Mama and he has done a Christmas album as well as a Brazilian album. He did a salute to the music of Roger Nichols and Paul Wiilliams. Brian is still writing songs and doing speeches with his mother about his grandfather, Eddie Cantor. He is also working on a musical about his grandfather.
This was an enjoyable interview for me and I thank Brian very much for sharing his insights and pieces of his personal experiences. He is an extremely talented man and he is as heartfelt in person as he is in his writing.