"Thank Heavens For Friends"
I first met Lisa by a set of mailboxes in the shabby lobby of the factory warehouse where we were both renting studios. It was located at 111 First St. in Jersey City about a block from the Hudson River. Lisa was a tile restorer who had done many jobs for the NY subway system until 9/11 came and kind of dried up the funding. The Spring Street mosaic comes to mind as one of the most prestigious. The large brick building in which we were renting advertised in large white letters P. LORILLARD & Co. on the front of the building. This was a former cigarette factory where Lorillard cigarettes were first manufactured. To prove it, brown stains of tobacco juice ran down the walls of most of the studios. The building was filled with about 150 artists of various skills, talent, and eccentricities. Some of the talent included neon sculptors to an architect whose sole job was designing interior layouts for yachts. Nothing was ever constructed but he was kept on retainer to change the plans monthly. We were a close knit group enjoying many openings and parties in the "community gallery" - curated by both professional and non-professional artists.
Lisa and I began talking about a young guy we had hired as an assistant. He was an endearing, sweet and talented guy, who, when he showed up, gave 150%. We could not understand the mystery of his lack of dependability vs. his stellar work ethic. One day we received a phone call from his girlfriend saying that Richard, at 25 , had died from a heroine overdose. The puzzle was solved. The memorial service we both attended was held at a well known restaurant in Hoboken with Richard's fantastic photographs showcased on the walls. Since then, Lisa and I have remained friends. Together, we have concurrently and cynically coined many phrases that have proved useful in depicting our feelings. Some of these include: "I wish I cared", and a T-shirt business we will start which reads on the front: "I Hate Everyone" - turn around and you will see: "And Everything!" When describing our business venture to a few friends, I am immediately met with a dry and straight-faced "I'll take one".
Over the years, we have developed a well-scripted dialogue of one of our many, many, phone conversations. It goes something like this:
Nothing, what's new with you?
Nothing. Ok, I'll talk to you in 10 minutes.
As many times as we say this we both laugh.