OK, so it’s the mid-90s. I’m depressed but I don’t know it. I’d left Los Angeles with some vague plan of making a movie in Asbury Park, New Jersey and I was staying at my mother’s in Chelsea. The plans were loose at best. My best friend during that phase of my life had left LA and moved to NYC, so I sort of followed her. We were both at loose ends; her marriage was falling apart, and I just could not seem to get my life together. I wanted to make movies, I thought. But not really. I didn’t know what I wanted. I think I just wanted to be cool. My friend had rented a place down the street from my mother’s building. It was Jack Kerouac’s old place. It was a fantastic place. Two huge rooms with tall windows, crown molding, and fire places. She had great, effortless style. Very creative, truly chic… but that’s another story. She bought a set of charming love seats at the old flea on 6th avenue. We mostly laid around on those. There were lots of cigarettes, angst, and waiting for it to get dark so we could get dressed up and head to Moomba, the club we hung out at.

One night, on Valentine’s Day eve, we were upstairs at Moomba, lounging around smoking cigs, when I met this tall, cool, thin guy. I can’t for the life of me remember his name, but he was dark and damaged. A real project. Just my type. He was some sort of black sheep heir to a massive fortune, but he was in the doghouse – or at least pretending to be. I’m sure there were drugs somewhere in the story, but I never got that far into it.  He was living at the Riverview, which was an SRO hotel. It was an old Georgian, built in 1907 to house sailors. It also housed some survivors of the Titanic, and later on it had a moment as an off-Broadway theater staging Hedwig And the Angry Inch, and today it is the Jane Hotel, “a lot of dash for not much cash.” But back then, it was a legit fleabag, a “by the hour” type joint.

Anyway, I concocted some fantasy that this guy was a winner and that we were destined to be together. In my defense, we did spend four solid hours together on a nightclub banquette talking about absolutely nothing.  I mean, that’s how all great love stories start, right? At the end of the night, when we were back at her apartment, my friend and I sorted through all the information and decided that it would be a good idea for me to drop by this guy’s hotel and surprise him on Valentine’s Day. Great idea.  I was already envisioning scenarios from “Sixteen Candles” or “The Breakfast Club,” except I was Michael Schoeffling and he was Judd Nelson. There was no Molly Ringwald in this scenario, anywhere.

So the next morning, Valentine’s Day arrives and I whip together some homemade Valentine. You know, something clever and quirky -- like a homemade card and a tall boy of Budweiser, instead of a box of chocolates. Around 5:00 I hit the road and headed out to deliver myself. Walking down 10th Ave, past all the happy Valentine couples headed out for the evening, I was feeling very optimistic, like I was participating in the holiday like a normal, healthy person. When I got to the River Hotel, I walked up the stairs and into the green fluorescent lobby, past the bulletproof “concierege” window, and up to my new boyfriend’s room. I mean, he had given me his room number; that was like basically asking me to marry him. I walked down the dingy hallway and found his room. I knocked on the door,  and before it even opened I knew I had made a huge error. The part of me that got me through my miserable twenties kicked in and was screaming “RUN”. But it was too late. He’d opened the door. Shirtless and confused, he looked at me like, “do I know you?” In the background, on what appeared to be a murphy bed that filled the whole room, was a Kate Moss clone who did not look too happy. She appeared to be crying, and I realized that they had been fighting. I also realized that they were together, if you know what I mean. This was not his kid sister. I was a goofy romantic, but I wasn’t dumb.  I could read a room, and I read that room from the hallway in less than a second.  I’d like to say that I said something witty to save face, but I did not. I carried through with the plan, thrusting the RIDICULOUS valentine at him and saying something like “you said to drop by,” I may have even said “Be my Valentine.” I sort of blocked it out. I do remember I got the hell out of there, quick.

It was a very long walk back up 10th Ave to my mother’s apartment.


The Jane Hotel

D. Porthault

Pizza Rollio

Lady M


Jack Kerouac - On The Road

Cy Twombly

Spotify Playlist