Having a throwback moment. And it’s not even Thursday. I was just reading about the passing of Glenn O’Brien and what some of his friends and colleagues had to say about him. If you don’t know who Glenn is, he was an editor at Interview Magazine three times over, did style sections for GQ and Details magazines, edited Madonna’s book “Sex,” and was the creative director for advertising at Barney’s, among many other things - which also included working closely with Andy Warhol for many years. As a young upstart in New York City, just in from Miami, I heard about him around the halls of the fashion PR agency I worked for, answering phones at the front desk.
I was in New York pursuing a writing career. My first job before the agency was working as an assistant for artist Hunt Slonem in his loft on Houston Street that housed over 100 parrots and a hedgehog. I’d come north from the balmy climes of Miami in the middle of a freezing New York City winter to set down roots in an East Village tenement with no money and no real plan.
But I had hope in my heart, as you do when you’re young.
In Miami, I had helped put on a weekly visual and performing arts event at an old art deco theatre in the design district. It was a smorgasbord of mostly not great art, meets mostly not polished performance, meets total rowdy fun. We had a good time. And as a burgeoning impresario of the local art community I met a lot of infamous New Yorkers who drifted south in the winter, loving on the groovy South Beach scene. Back then I was covered in Rolling Stone, and Details Magazine when it featured downtown culture, not men’s fashion. I didn’t tell the people at the PR agency that I had a past that eclipsed the work I was doing at the front desk. I was in the midst of reinvention, and that meant keeping a low profile.
But reading what Mr. O’Brien’s friends wrote about him sent me back to the good old bad days when there was an underground, when we weren’t hyper-connected by the internet, and downtown culture meant something.
Feels like a much different world. I’m not saying it was better, but it was fresh.