Some 20 years ago, while enjoying a celebratory birthday dinner at a midtown Manhattan restaurant, I was enlightened about how fame is often fleeting in the acting world. My waitress looked very familiar, and I inquired about her background trying to determine where we might have previously met. I thought perhaps she previously worked at a restaurant I visited, but she insisted that wasn’t the case because she hadn’t worked as a waitress all that long.

“I’m an actress,” she said.

In those days, pretty much every server working in a New York restaurant was an aspiring actor or actress, so I asked her if she might have been in any plays or movies I might have heard of.

“I was in the Broadway cast of Les Misérables,” the waitress said, no doubt sensing that I’d be surprised to learn she not only appeared on Broadway, but also in one of the most successful shows ever staged on The Great White Way.

I was impressed, but figured if she was waiting tables, she likely was part of the ensemble cast.

“What part did you play?” I asked.

“I played Cosette,” she replied.

For those unfamiliar with Les Mis, a musical I belt out on every extended road trip when traveling alone, Cosette is a major role, one requiring formidable acting and singing skills.

Reading about the murder of Johnny Wactor in the early morning hours this past Sunday I was again reminded of how fame is so often fleeting in the acting world. Wactor played Brando Corbin for 164 episodes on the daytime soap General Hospital from 2020 to 2022 and was working as bartender at a rooftop bar in downtown Los Angeles when he became another statistic in my crime plagued city.

According to published reports, Wactor was accompanying a female co-worker to her car for safety reasons when he noticed his truck was jacked up by unknown individuals and mistakenly thought it was being towed when in fact they were stealing his catalytic converter. When Wactor, 37, approached the three masked men, one of them pulled out a gun and shot him.

The Daily Mail reported that Wactor moved to protect his co-worker when he realized the masked men were armed.

‘We’re Southern, born and raised, and we would never let a female walk to their car by herself,” Wactor’s younger brother, Grant, told the Daily Mail. “He came across them and he thought his truck was being towed. So he said something to the guys, like, ‘Hey, are you towing?’ And then once he turned around, he saw what was happening and he put his coworker behind him. And that’s when they shot him.”

From the reports I’ve read, Wactor didn’t move to stop the robbery of his catalytic converter, which is common in Los Angeles. Still, the incident prompted me to recall one of the most foolish things I ever did and how blessed I am that I’m alive to talk about it.

It was in the mid-80, and I had recently moved to the Detroit suburb of Southfield from Montreal. One evening I couldn’t find my keys, and I spent an hour turning my place upside down looking for them. I thought perhaps I left the keys in my door, as I often did, but they weren’t there.

I figured that if I possibly left my keys in the door and someone took them, they’d likely be in the parking lot looking to steal my car. I went downstairs, and sure enough, there was someone in my car just pulling away.

Unbelievably, I stood in front of the car, which the thief was having difficulty driving because it was a five-speed Toyota Celica. I recalled my cousin, who ran a parking business in Detroit, telling me that when encountering urban toughs, to always act fearless and defiant because it would unnerve them.

Exuding all the confidence I could muster, I approached the driver and said, “This is my car. I want you to get out and start walking away and we will pretend this never happened.”

Fortunately, that’s what the thief did. If he had a gun, the outcome could have been very different.

Living in Los Angeles, everyone has either had their catalytic converter stolen or knows someone who has. My cousin David was one such victim. My cousin Rob had his vehicle stolen from his driveway. One morning I awoke to find an unoccupied vehicle with the engine running in front of my home that turned out to be stolen. My neighbors had their car stolen.

If you catch some thieves stealing some or all of your vehicle, it’s best to call the police and let them handle it. Unfortunately, here in L.A., by the time the LAPD shows up, the thieves will be long gone.

When my house was broken into for the second time and I called 911, I received an automated message that began, “Due to unusually heavy call volume …”

One of the benefits I enjoyed when I leased my cars is that I always thought of them belonging to Chase’s billionaire CEO Jamie Dimon. There’s no way I’d risk my life to protect Dimon’s property.

An omission from my recent blog post about why China deservedly dominates the EV industry and possibly always will has been bothering me. I referred to the ingenuity and leadership of China’s EV entrepreneurs but forgot to supply some supporting evidence.

For that, I urge you to read this 14-year-old Fortune cover story by Marc Gunther. These days, many stories in the mainstream media can’t stand the test of time, and Gunther gets bragging rights for identifying and writing a story about what he described at the time as an “obscure Chinese battery, mobile phone, and electric car company” called BYD and explaining why Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway chose to invest $230 million to acquire a 10 percent interest in the business.

BYD is Tesla’s most formidable EV competitor, but when Berkshire first invested in the company it only had just begun making plug-in electric cars with backup gas engines, which are now referred to as hybrids and account for one third of Toyota’s global sales. GM and Ford, whose CEOs were once talking up electric vehicles, are now singing the praises of hybrids. Like Toyota, BYD founder and CEO Wang Chuan-Fu appreciated that plug-in hybrids would be a valuable stepping-stone to get consumers to embrace EVs.

What’s fascinating reading Gunther’s story is that Berkshire didn’t invest in BYD because the firm believed in electric vehicles. Rather, Buffett’s late partner Charlie Munger was fascinated with the brilliance of Wang, who he likened to “a combination of Thomas Edison and (former GE CEO) Jack Welch – something like Edison in solving technical problems, and something like Welch in getting done what he needs to do.”

“I have never seen anything like it,” Munger told Buffett.

The media frequently refers to BYD as being “Buffett backed” but that’s misleading. Berkshire last year slashed its stake in BYD, as the company became more of a formidable competitor to Tesla on the EV front.

“We don’t want that much failure,” Munger said, referring to the entrepreneurial prowess of Elon Musk.

Gunther has written considerably about ketamine, a psychedelic drug increasingly being prescribed to treat depression. Among ketamine’s most famous users is Elon Musk.

I doubt he’d remember, but I’d occasionally eat lunch with Gunther decades ago at Silver’s, a since closed office supplies store that served great food in downtown Detroit, when he was the television critic for the Detroit Free Press. In addition to being a great reporter, Gunther was a really nice guy.

“Zionism is running, and ruining, our country – disgusting 👿

A former client I especially admired and respected always cautioned me to keep my friends close and my enemies closer, which is why I closely read posts on LinkedIn by persons I perceive as antisemitic. These people are often easy to identify because they add a laughing emoji to posts about the suffering Israelis endured on Oct. 7 and commentaries sympathetic to Israel.

Some of the most rabid Israel haters are extremely well educated, and the corporate media is always assuring us that being anti-Israel isn’t tantamount to being a Jew hater. But when someone posts that “Zionism is running and ruining America,” that’s just a euphemism for “Jews are running and ruining America,” an all too familiar trope that was said about Jews in Nazi Germany and other countries over the centuries.

For the record, Zionists don’t chant “Death to America” and Jewish leaders don’t speak at conferences with ties to groups the U.S. government has designated as terrorist organizations.

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