Dave's Cafe Americain

"Come on in, Toots. Sam's back. He knows what you like. I'll have him play it again."

Back Story:

Sam is the singer-piano player at Dave's joint. Coincidence, really. Nothing like in the movie. [Point of fact: the line from the movie Casablanca was, "Play it, Sam."]

Nevertheless, in the beginning . . .

The pianist, Sam, is auditioning for a gig. He plays the most beautiful songs, but the titles he gives his pieces are just too outrageously gross. Really, the worst: dirty, salacious, crude, offensive, scatological, vile. Dirty . . . Dirty.

So the night club manager says, “You know what? I really like your music. And I want to hire you. So go ahead and play for my customers. Just don’t tell them any names for your tunes.”

The entertainer agrees, “OK, that’s all right.”

One evening he starts playing the piano. The crowd goes crazy. A standing ovation. They never heard anything like it. The songs are so beautiful. The piano playing sublime.

After an hour or so, he says, “I’m gonna take a short break. I gotta go to the can.”

So he leaves. He goes to the bathroom.

On his way out of the restroom he forgets to zip up his pants. Somebody sees him and says, “Hey, do you know your zipper’s undone, and your dick is hanging out?”

The music man says . . . “Know it? I wrote it!”

Mr. Kay and His Broadway Barber Shop

 Painting "Broadway Barbershop III" Max Ferguson (1959)

The Broadway Barber Shop was started in 1904. Located on Broadway between 103 and 104th Streets in what is called the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It's last proprietor Kyriacos Demetriou, spoken to by all as Mr. Kay, served customers with rare distinction for 40 years until his retirement in 1996. 

The antique fixtures were donated to the Museum of the City of New York.

When I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the 1980s I walked the 18 blocks to have my hair cut by Mr. Kay. I wore it very short then, and Mr. Kay once disclosed he had cut Yul Brynner's hair. Among other luminaries. After he finished he would take a stiff bristle brush and vigorously give my scalp a massage. Very eye opening. Illuminating. 

Nearly every time he finished my hair cut he would proudly remove the cover sheet with a flourish and grandly state, "Now you look like a Prince!" Well, I was flattered. Then one time as I waited my turn, he said to the fellow ahead of me, "Now you look like a Prince!" It was stock boilerplate. I smile every time I remember that. 

Mr. Kay died at age 80 in 1999. Read a glowing tribute here.

Mr. Kay was an institution. Lots of press. Even cartoons in the New Yorker. Opera always on the radio.

Source: Rob Morton

Here is also an excellent video documentary featuring Mr. Kay at work. Look at minute 33:00 for that famous line.