The summer of 1990 was my nadir. An ex-girlfriend suggested I move from Boston to New York to give our relationship another shot. I arrived at Penn Station with sixty bucks in my pocket. After some difficulty, I found her place, said hi to her roommate, dumped my bag, and five hours later, we were standing on the sidewalk outside some bar on Ludlow Street and she was calling me an asshole. I was too drunk to remember what precipitated this, but I’m sure she was in the right.
Dawn found me on the corner of Sullivan and Bleecker. I had a bag with a pair of jeans, three boxer shorts, and two t-shirts. I had three bucks. I calculated that if New York bars closed early like they did in Boston, I’d at least have twenty.
I didn’t know New York. I’d visited my on-again/off-again ex a few times and knew streets ran east-west and avenues north-south, but beyond that, I was lost.
I killed some time in Washington Square Park, overwhelmed by the sheer number of men who brushed past me whispering “Smoke Smoke.” I wandered a few blocks north and east to a Kentucky Fried Chicken on the corner of Second and 14th. I bought an eighty-cent cup of coffee, plopped down on a counter by the window and contemplated my fate. That I chose a KFC out of all the possible places in New York to have a cup of coffee provides insight into the state of my mental health.
Fate intervened in the form of a former classmate. Nathaniel Wice spotted me on his way to work through the KFC window. He waved and I beckoned. He asked what I was up to and I explained to him I’d moved down from Boston, that my girlfriend and I got into a fight and I had no place to go. Nathaniel said he had a studio in a five-story walk-up on MacDougal that was being renovated. He cautioned that the floors had been ripped out, there was no bath or shower (only a communal toilet at the end of the hall), but I could stay there until the work was finished.
I gladly accepted. Nathaniel slipped two keys off his key ring, scribbled some directions on a napkin, and told me he’d find me later. I wandered back across Washington Square Park with slightly more hope then when I left it. After finding the building, I huffed my way to the fifth floor, reminding myself, with every step, to cut back on the smokes. As advertised, there was no floor, but a hose ran from the sink into a large bucket on the floor I figured I could use for a whore’s bath.
Sponging myself, I looked out the uptown window and noticed a huge, nude man staring at me as he ate Chinese takeout. We locked eyes – two broken, naked, men, and carried on with our respective tasks.
By the way, I mean no disrespect to this person or his size. There could be have been a medical or genetic component at play, and most likely a mental and spiritual one. I don’t judge and feel hurt when I'm judged. I overheard someone once say, “Whether you drink it, snort it, shoot it, f**k it, or eat it, it’s all the same. It’s all about killing feelings.”
I sat in the lone chair in a corner of the apartment and noticed a full bottle of scotch on a shelf. It was probably only 11 in the morning, but I said to hell with it. I lit up a smoke, had a swig, and casually scanned the apartment building to the east. It was a bit like “Rear Window.” An older woman stirred something on a stove on the fourth floor, a man read a newspaper on the third. But something directly across from me caught my eye. Through a window on the fifth floor, I saw a poster from the film, “Betty Blue.” There was something incredibly familiar about it- the color of the wall it hung on, the duvet covering the bed. It was my ex-girlfriend’s bedroom.
In a panic, I ran down MacDougal to Bleecker, hung two lefts and immediately recognized the Palm reader’s shop that shared an entrance to Caitlin’s building.
Of all the apartments to hole up in in New York, with a dollar to my name and nowhere to go, of course, it was my fate to be directly across from my ex-girlfriend’s bedroom. My vigil started in earnest. I went back to Nathaniel’s Apartment and waited for evening to come. I knew she had gone to work and would be getting off at six. When seven-thirty rolled around, and there was no sign of her, I panicked. Nine, eleven, three AM, no Caitlin- just an empty room and Betty Blue, her face illuminated by a bedside lamp, staring at me.
By the following night, I was increasingly desperate and running dangerously low on cigarettes. Sitting in my underwear, I picked up the phone and leafed through my address book, hunting for the home number of the first and only film director I’d ever worked for, Michael Newell. Michael gave me my first job on a CBS Made for Television Movie about the Boston busing crisis in the mid-seventies, “Common Ground,” (based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by J. Anthony Lukas).
Even though it was years before he would go on to direct “Donnie Brasco”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” in 1990, Mike Newell was still a big deal. He’d directed one of my favorite films, “Dance with a Stranger,” (about Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in England) starring Miranda Richardson and Rupert Everett. It was Mike Newell and Meg Simon who’d found me in Boston and Taft-Hartley-ed me into “Common Ground,” allowing me to join the Screen Actors Guild.
Listening to the classic, droning, onomatopoeia of an English phone ringing, I watched as the burning cherry from the end of my cigarette dropped onto my thigh. I sat frozen, holding my breath, torn between whether to flick it off or wait until someone picked up. As the burning ball of ash seared my flesh, I screamed “Auuughhh!” just as someone answered the phone.
“Hello?” said a very proper and pleasant Englishwoman.
“Hello,” I stammered. “Is Mr. Newell in?”
There was a pause. “He is. May I ask who’s calling and what this is in regards to?”
“I’m Donal Logue,” I said. “I‘m an actor who worked with Michael on “Common Ground” and he said if I was ever thinking of coming to England to give him a call.”
“Oh. Are you in England now?”
“Right,” she said. “Well, let me see if I can rouse him for you. It’s fairy early in the morning here.”
The conversation was as awkward, confusing, and as inappropriate as you might imagine. I went on a bit about how I was thinking about moving to England and if he thought I had the ability to give it a shot, professionally speaking. He was kind. Obviously, there was nothing he could say, save general, vague words of encouragement. I'd called a professional, at his home, where he lived with his family, clearly drunk and slightly manic. Despite that, he was as kind as any man could be in those circumstances. That doesn’t mean whatever folder he had on me in the filing-cabinet of his mind wasn’t going to get a red-tab attached to it. I fu*%ed up. I knew it. He knew it.
“It’s been TERRIBLY nice catching up with you, Donal,” he said, “but I’m afraid my family is waiting for me at the breakfast table and…”
“Of course,” I said. “I’m sorry to have bothered you.”
“No bother at all,” he said. “I am just… indisposed at the moment.”
I said a quick goodbye, hung up, and immediately fell into a pit of despair. Whether it’s an ill-timed reach out to a friend, an ex, calling too soon about a potential job situation or whatever, I had committed the crime (as my friend Bob Lowry refers to it) of dialing 1-800-PAIN.
Caitlin didn’t come home for a week. Out of desperation, I called her roommate and tried to dig info out of her. She was sympathetic and diplomatic, but straight.
“She went to Montauk with some guy for the weekend.”
“She’s gonna marry him,” I said.
“Wow,” she said. “That’s a little dramatic.”
(It turns out, she did marry him, and by all accounts, he’s a fantastic guy, dad, etc. She’s a great person, too, and deserves happiness. But the twenty-three-year-old nut that I was hadn’t evolved to a level of spiritual magnanimity that could process any of this.)
I spent the next few days crawling through the Village, East and West, tracking down acquaintances, bumming smokes, bucks, a drink or three. I was in professional mooch mode. Another angel from that time was my friend, Jeff Wise, now a successful author and a world aviation expert (he’s written some fascinating pieces recently on the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370). Jeff and I had a drink at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge on Second Street in the East Village. He told me something I'll never forget: “Life is like a Ferris wheel, it goes up and comes down. Right now your chair is at the bottom, rocking around a bit. Soon the great carney in the sky will pull the lever and it will head up again, albeit slowly at first.”
Jeff was heading to the Philippines for a few weeks to write a piece for Cathay Pacific and said I could stay in his pad off Third and A while he was gone.
I won’t get into what happened after that, the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, and my short-spell at Third and A is its own story, but it was dark and involved a lot of humiliating, ill-timed, puking episodes. A few weeks later, ass-whupped and in full surrender mode, I gave up on my New York experiment and bummed a ride back to Boston from my friend, Aline Brosh McKenna.
The drive felt freeing. As we approached Hartford, the Benny Mardones hit, “Into the Night” came on the radio and we sang along with as much gusto as we could muster. Then we spent the next half hour talking about how f*&ked up it was some adult wrote a song about being in love with a fifteen-year-old girl and how all the (reasonable) adults in his life cautioned him to “Leave her alone…” to no avail.
It’s tough being a friend to someone who’s down and out. I’ve lived both sides of that coin. I’d like to think that in the two and a half decades since that period in my life, I’ve done absolutely as much as I could to help people out when they were down. But being around a dark weight takes a lot of love.
Some years back, a dear friend’s father passed away. The family was incredibly tight and he was a kind of man you could only dream of being. He was an amazing patriarch. The loss, as you can imagine, was devastating. One of his old friends spoke at the funeral. He started with some funny stories of their childhood, growing up tough in Brooklyn. How my friend’s dad started in the button business and became a big success. How much he liked to gamble. How he’d park his old RV in front of a Vegas Casino and rail at the valets about who he was. How much he loved his family, his wife, his daughters. And then, as the laughs quieted down, and tears were wiped away, he got serious. He drew in a breath, took a long dramatic pause, and said, “The one thing Ronnie used to always say to me, something I’ll never forget, is, "A friend in need… is a PAIN IN THE ASS.” The whole synagogue howled.
Let me get back to where this story's heading- a bar on the corner of Ninth Avenue and Fifty-First (gone now) famous during the heyday of the Hell’s Kitchen Westies -- Irish Eyes West. I was headed back for more punishment in the Big Apple.
When I was in Boston, I called an actress (I’ll call her Marilyn) I befriended on “Common Ground.” I told her how I was in flux and asked for her advice on career stuff, life, etc. She suggested I come back to New York. She lived in Hell’s Kitchen and was heading out to LA for pilot season and needed someone to house-sit for her and take care of her dog. She told me she could even introduce me to her agent and put in a good word for me. Scared as I was about the prospect of returning to New York, the couch surfing/living situation was even more complicated in Boston. My best friend Clay was kind enough to give me a place to sleep for a couple of nights, but more importantly, gave me a good life pep talk over dim sum in Chinatown. I told him of Marilyn’s offer to house sit for her in New York and he told me to go for it. He said, “Don’t let one bad personal experience flavor your feelings about a city of eight million people.” Then he bought me a bus ticket to NYC.
It was hot as hell when I arrived at Penn Station. I walked up Eighth Avenue towards Marilyn’s pad (this was back in the days when Eighth Avenue was Eighth Avenue, seedy as hell- peep shows, dive bars) wondering what the hell I was doing. I got to 51st Street and buzzed the super, a guy named Donnie, who Marilyn told me he would hook me up with keys. She also gave me the number of the guy who’d been taking care of her dog, Lucy.
I met Donnie, a short, hilarious guy with a lazy eye (like me) and he let me into the place. I didn’t know it then, but I know now the proper term for what I encountered is “hoarding.” There were clothes stacked in piles, stuff strewn everywhere. I called the guy with the dog and he asked when would be a good time to drop her off. I said anytime and he blurted out, “Now?” I sensed desperation in his voice.
About four minutes later, the buzzer rang and I went down to meet Lucy. The guy shoved a bag of dog food at me, another with a weird cone thing in it, put her leash in my hand, and said, “She’s a great dog, really, really a sweetheart. She has a problem biting herself so you have to use the cone!” and took off RUNNING.
I let Lucy pee outside first and took her back to our new home. In the past, Marilyn had been a successful actress, mostly on Broadway. She had gone to a prestigious Drama School and married a classmate of hers who went to LA, booked a pilot, met a woman out there, left Marilyn and never looked back. The apartment was chock full of evidence of how the clock had stopped in her life circa the late 70’s. Even the bottles of shampoo in the bathroom had chemical striations they were so old. If I was a chemist/biologist/geologist, I could have ascertained the age of each by the geosynclinal-like segments of liquid separation.
Hungry, I reached for a box of Cornflakes on top of the fridge and shoved a couple of dry handfuls into my mouth. Something about them tasted off, so I spit them out. I looked at the expiration date on the box, and it read 11/1979. That cereal had been sitting there for eleven years.
I knelt down and took in Lucy. She was sweet, but old, and missing a few teeth. What the guy said was right, Lucy had skin issues and had been munching on her hind-quarters. She couldn’t stop. I took the cone out of the bag and put it on her head.
I decided to head downtown and look up a friend named David Samuels. Like a few of the people in this story, David’s gone on to a very successful career as a writer. David lived on Mulberry and Spring, and I started to hang out there every day, smoking cigs on his fire-escape, basically killing time while he was busy pitching stories or writing magazine articles. It was a safe place for me. The only thing that was a pain, was that I was dead broke and always had to walk from Little Italy back to Hell’s Kitchen to make sure Lucy was fed and walked.
I needed a job. New York in 1990 was in the midst of a bad recession and no matter how hard I tried, how many places I hit up, no one was hiring. I got shut down at UPS (loading and unloading trucks from 3 to 8 AM), turned down at bookstores. One temp agency I went to said they used to send out 250 people a day, and now they were down to nine. And on top of that, I had no skills with accounting spreadsheets.
Desperate, I went through Marilyn’s apartment and dug up every coin I could find. I separated them by denomination, quarters on the left, pennies on the right. It made a tidy sum of around forty dollars. As a drunk, I certainly found a way to keep drinking. Whether David, Nathaniel, or Marilyn’s coins, I always had five bucks on me to get a shot when needed.
A bar I frequented in my neighborhood was the Blarney Stone on Ninth Avenue between 52nd and 53rd. It was cheap and colorful. An older, Puerto Rican lady named Helga would get hammered, dance up to random customers, and thrust her hips at them like she was shooting them with her vagina and say “Peeew,” making a Star Trek-like phaser sound.
One night, after walking Lucy, I decided to try something different. Walking down 51st , I studied the neon cross that hung outside the entrance of St. Paul’s Mission. Emblazoned on the cross, vertically and horizontally, in red and white neon, was the heeding, “GET RIGHT WITH GOD.”
I crossed Ninth Ave and looked into a window of Irish Eyes West, a bar that sat on the southwest corner. It looked pretty mellow. It was more brightly lit than the Blarney Stone, a little emptier, and had a pool table in the back.
I went inside and took a seat at the bar. Now back then, I had long hair and an Irish face. For some reason, the combo seemed like a mark of Cain. I had a target on me. I didn’t look innocuous enough to blend in, but different enough to draw attention. My friend Robert Burke told me later, “I had the same look. Guys used to pull me around in bars and say ‘You were never in ‘Nam!’ and take a swing at me. I know exactly what you’re talking about.”
I ordered a Johnny Walker on the rocks and a bottle of Budweiser. Waiting for my drink, a guy with bright, red, curly hair sitting in the corner of the bar, said, “Hey- what are you? You in a band? You a Bon Jovi rocker or something?”
I told him I wasn’t in a band and took a sip of my scotch.
A guy who'd been standing next to two women sitting further down the bar approached me. He was a stocky guy, not Irish looking, more Puerto Rican or Italian. He was muscly and wore a tank top. What concerned me, however, was the fact he was wearing a fanny pack. Fanny packs have been endlessly ridiculed over the years, but in that neighborhood, a fanny pack meant something different. A fanny pack in Hell’s Kitchen meant business.
“Is that guy fucking with you?” he asked, pointing to the curly haired guy in the corner.
“No, it’s cool. He just asked me if I was in a band.”
He stood with his arms crossed and said, “If that guy fucks with you, you let me know. I’ll fuck him up. My name’s Franky.”
He held out his hand and I took it. He gripped hard, not hard like “I want to crush your hand” hard, but “This is a test of strength” hard.
I said, “Thanks, Franky, I’m alright.”
He nodded and rejoined the women further down the bar. They had some sort of small dog with them, and the dog started humping Franky’s leg.
“Hey Denise!” he yelled. “Your dog’s fucking my leg over here!”
He stepped back and the Pomeranian (or whatever it was) mounted a bar stool instead and kept humping.
“Look, his little lipstick dick is out!”
It was true. Everyone in the bar laughed hard, and for some reason, I felt an immediate biometric shift in the air pressure. It felt dangerous. I did a scan. The bartender, a big guy at the far end of the bar, was talking with another burly guy, who I thought might be the bouncer. A thin guy was shooting pool by himself in the back. Franky was with the two women and the red, curly-haired guy was still in the corner. I lit a cigarette and pulled an ashtray towards me.
“What the fuck you doing?” said Franky. He strode towards me, angrily.
“Just getting an ashtray.”
“What you up to, mother fucker?” You shoot pool?”
He was shooting questions fast, putting me on my heels.
“Shoot pool then, mother fucker. Walk the fucking walk. Fucking hundred dollars a game.”
I looked down the bar to see if the bartender or bouncer noticed what was brewing, but they were just chatting away.
Franky smiled. “I’m just fucking with ya,” he said. “My name’s Johnny.” Franky/Johnny stuck his hand out again and I reluctantly took it. This time he squeezed harder.
My mind was racing. I was looking for exit strategies, figuring out logistics, pondering psychological tactics to use. I shifted slightly in my stool to face him, so I wouldn’t be just a straight-shot, cold cock, target from behind.
“You got coke, man?” Franky/Johnny asked.
“Then what you doing in here? You don’t got coke, get the fuck out of here.”
Damn. What I feared was going down was going down. I had just spent my last seven bucks on that beer and shot. My only option was to get loud.
I got off my stool.
“Hey man,” I said, raising my voice. “I’m just having a drink and then I’m leaving.”
“Get the fuck out now.”
“I ain’t leaving ‘til I finish my drink.”
Now the bartender and bouncer were looking at us. But they weren’t looking like “we’d better step in and stop this thing,” they were looking like, “we got ourselves a fight card at the Irish Eyes West tonight.” Everyone was looking.
I took a step back and we squared off. Franky/Johnny threw the first punch and surprisingly, it was pretty weak. He drew back and I threw a left hand to his right shoulder to mess up his punch (A good tactic btw if someone tries to throw a haymaker. The fight was short and messy before it got to the ground. Franky/Johnny was strong as hell, but luckily he was drunk. He got my back (which is bad) and when I tried to get to my feet, I felt something grinding my left hand. I looked up and saw the guy with curly, red hair standing above me, his Timberlands pressing down on my hand.
I found my face up against the cigarette machine. I can still remember the rows of Winstons, Marlboros, Newports. Franky/Johnny was muttering “mutha fucka” in my ear. His breath smelled. He had a fistful of my hair and was trying to put my face through the glass. I managed to keep my base, pulled my right arm back and threw an elbow over my right shoulder that caught him under his nose, sending him on his back, blood gushing from his face. I twisted around and got in one more punch. That’s when the real beat down started. Everyone in the bar started raining punches and kicks on me. It was all a blur, but the bartender, the bouncer, the curly, red-haired dude, the skinny dude with a pool cue, the two women, they were all getting busy. I even remember the dog barking and growling.
I turtled up and took the hits. Suddenly, the beat down stopped. Four men picked me up and using my head like a battering ram, ran me through two sets of swinging doors and threw me into the path of an oncoming cab in the middle of Ninth Avenue.
Luckily, the cab swerved. To add insult to injury, the right leg of my pants had ripped open, leaving me naked legged and half-underweared.
I was concussed and in shock. I got up slowly. A kid ran out of the bar and handed me my cigarettes and my lighter. It was an act of kindness. He had a genuine look of concern on his face.
“Those people in there are fucked,” I said. “They're bad people and you know it.”
He didn’t say anything, just disappeared back into the bar.
Stumbling down 51st towards 8th Avenue, I looked to my left and saw the other side of the neon cross in front of St. Paul’s. It read: “SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT.”
I got back to the apartment and Lucy greeted me at the door. I made it to the bed and passed out with Lucy curled up next to me. God bless dogs.
When I woke up, everything hurt. You never feel the pain when you're fighting. The next day, your hair hurts. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to move. My hands hurt, my knee was jacked. I was also itchy and noticed red marks all over my arms and legs. I was in a daze and deeply confused. Lucy snored next to me. I looked at her closely and realized she was covered in fleas.
I worked my way to the bathroom to assess the damage to my face. It was worse than I thought. I sat down on a chair covered in clothes and through the haze in the dark apartment, I saw swarms of fleas jumping off of everything -- the carpet, the furniture, the piles of clothes. The idea of fleas everywhere broke me.
I picked up the phone and called David Samuels.
“David. I got my ass beat really bad last night.”
“Damn, I’m in the middle of some work, but can you make it down here?”
“I can try.”
“Do. We’ll figure it out. I’ll help you.”
I scrounged up some change and grabbed the subway downtown. People looked at me weird, but the sad thing was, back in 1990, I wasn’t the only person riding the subway that looked the way I did.
I got out at the West 4th Street Station. At the top of the exit, by the basketball courts, I ran into an old college classmate wearing a coat and tie. I knew him fairly well, but since my head was so messed up, I couldn’t remember his name.
“Hey, Donal!” he said.
“Hey, man. What’s up?”
“Yeah, I was in a cab that rear-ended someone last night.”
“Yeah.” I said. “It sucked. What’ve you been up to?”
“I finished my first year at Harvard Law and have a 1L internship down here with Kravath.”
1L summer internships were something of a legend. The details were hazy, but the rumor was that if you went to Harvard Law School (or Yale, or Boalt Hall, or whatever), big, corporate law firms would hire you for tons of money for cushy summer internships to figure out if they wanted to hire you when you got your Juris Doctorate. Standing there, broken-nosed, black-eyed, staring at a former classmate in a nice suit, I questioned every decision I’d ever made in my life.
“What you doing with yourself?”
“Oh, I worked on TV movie thing and I’m just getting the acting thing going.” He took me in.
“Good luck with that. Maybe we could grab a drink sometime,” and disappeared into the subway.
“Damn,” said David, when he saw my face.
“Yeah, I said. “I got pretty jacked up.”
I explained to him what happened and David listened quietly. He was thinking.
“Why don’t you call them?”
“Call the bar. Talk to the owner. Tell him what happened. Tell him your brother-in-law is a big-time lawyer and your dad is a cop and you know bad shit's going down there and you need to get something for this. At least enough to get checked out by a doctor.”
We got the number to the bar and called. David sat by to coach me. I asked for the owner, who I think was a guy called Pat. After a long wait, Pat got on the phone.
“Hey,” I said. “I was in your bar last night and got my ass kicked for no reason by everyone in there. Some buffed out dude with a fanny pack started it and then things got bad.”
“Yeah?” The man said. “I heard a weirdo came in last night and started shit. That wouldn’t happen to be you, was it?”
“I don’t want to start shit or argue about this," I said. "I went in there for a drink. My dad’s a cop, my brother-in-law is a lawyer and I don’t want to make trouble for anyone, but what happened was criminal. And you know exactly who the people are I’m talking about.”
There was a long pause.
“What the fuck you want from me?”
“My nose is broken, I think I broke a few ribs, I just want to go see a doctor.”
“Come in tomorrow morning at seven. We’ll talk then. And don’t be late.” He hung up.
“What’d he say, asked David.
"He told me to come in tomorrow at seven and we’d talk."
"Do you think that’s smart?""
"I don’t know. Maybe he’ll be cool."
What I didn’t now then was that Irish Eyes West was well-known for being a lot gnarlier of a spot than just a place where people got their asses beat. Years later, in late ’97, I was in Thailand working on a flick called “A Bright, Shining Lie,” (like “Common Ground” based on another Pulitzer Prize-winning book, this time by Neil Sheehan) for the Irish director Terry George. I told him my Irish Eyes West story. Terry knew the world I was talking about well. Besides having done a six-year bit in Belfast’s Long Kesh Prison for getting caught in a car with known IRA members, Terry had (after his release) been instrumental in opening the Irish Arts Center on 51st Street with Jim Sheridan.
“Jesus,’ he said, smiling. “You were lucky to make it out. They used to cut bodies up in that place.”
That was something I didn’t know when I showed up at the bar at seven the next morning.
I went in and saw a small, red-headed, Irish guy sitting at a table. He seemed agitated. He looked up and said, “So you’re the hippie that started shit here, huh?”
I said, “Look, I didn’t start a thing. I came in and sat down and that’s all I did. You know who did this and I know it’s been done before. I ain’t looking for anything from you except to help me go to a doctor to take a look at this.” I pulled up my shirt and showed him my torso, which was more black than black and blue.
He shook his head. “Listen, I got robbed of $2500 bucks last night. You don’t know anything about that do you?”
He sighed. “Jesus Christ.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a fat roll of bills. He contemplated it for a minute and then peeled off nine one hundred dollar bills and put them on the table.
“Is this enough?”
“More than fair.”
“Alright,” he said. “Take it. And I never want to see your fucking face in here again.”
I went out the door with an extra lightness to my step. I bought Lucy some cans of fancy, wet dog food, flea shampoo, three “bug bombs,” and a carton of Marlboros. I got back to my pad and called David.
“Hey, man,” I said. “It worked out.”
“He gave me nine hundred bucks.”
“Awesome. You should start shit in every bar around town. Could be a new career move.”
I laughed. “No way. But I am going to need to crash at your pad with the dog for a few days, while I de-louse this joint.”
Twenty-five-years later, I was shooting an episode of Law&Order: SVU in Hell's Kitchen (excuse me- Clinton). I was talking with one of the Teamsters who grew up in the neighborhood. He's a great guy with a wild past. I knew that back in his day, Mike C. was a bad mother fucker. I told him about my night at Irish Eyes West.
"Yeah," he said. "That kind of thing used to happen to people we didn't know all the time. What'd you say the dude looked like?"
I described Franky/Johnny and Mike said, "Yeah, I know who you're talking about. That dude's name was Franky. Things went bad for him. He died of AIDS in '94. Truthfully bro- he could be a bit fucked up, but he wasn't a bad guy. That was just the neighborhood back then. It really fucked up his brother when he died."