Thursday, May 20, 2004

Picking up where I left off...January, 2002

OK, so, I guess I should get back to my chronological account of what happened with my company, FUEL new york....

Around this time, in early January 2002, I’d received an unusual call from my mother. She was crying. As you might imagine, being Japanese, this is a truly rare occasion, and I can literally count the number of times I have heard or seen my mother cry on a single hand. This was serious. I was somewhat shocked since I'd spent some time with my parents on New Year Day, just a few days before, and they seemed fine as usual -- I asked her to take a breath and tell me what was wrong, and she was immediately apologetic, which I assured her she needn’t be.

She'd begun to share with me that, due to financial problems my father was having -- the Japanese bubble had burst and the economy there was still declining -- this, in conjunction with 911, there was a severe drop in Japanese business coming to my father. My mother was upset as it appeared that, in order to make ends meet, they may have to sell their beloved property in Westchester, where they'd lived in for over a decade, the property they'd spent a significant amount of energy (and money) into renovating.

I knew that, even with the slowing economy, their Westchester property was worth well into seven figures. Thankfully, I'm a little more familiar with the American financing system/industry in some respects than my parents, and I assured her immediately that the property needn't be sold -- there were other ways to leverage the property. I told her that, as hard a pill as it may be to swallow, they could rent their property out to someone, and as much as it would be difficult to have to move and to let someone else live in their property, it would allow them to retain ownership. Further, the money coming in from rent would likely be enough to provide them with a comfortable enough base income to make minimal adjustments to their lives. Plus, if they did want to ultimately sell the property, it would allow them to buy some time to ride out the economic slowdown, allowing them to sell the property for a lot more, should they choose to down the road.

This seemed to calm her, and we talked some more before deciding that I should come out there to talk it over dinner with both my parents. My father decided that the renting route was the way to go, and they needed to act on the decision relatively quickly -- their financial situation was fairly dire.

As you may recall from my earlier postings, at this point, Jeremy Tick and I’d decided fairly conclusively to move ahead with FUEL new york, mostly based on Jeremy Tick’s repeated assurance that we would be certain to make well into six figures with this venture by the end of the year (again, which was why I’d made sure we’d met with Steve Kleiner, my financial advisor at UBS). However, given my core apathy for the fashion industry (I couldn’t care for the “glamour” of the industry --having grown up in New York most my life and being of relatively down-to-earth constitution, I was jaded by the glitz), I was still not emotionally committed to the idea, which is why I was still entertaining the idea of the job in Tokyo with Siebel Systems.

In addition to the apathy, given my lack of experience in the industry, the only reason I was interested in the venture at the time was for the experience of helping build and running a business -- as I used to frequently say to potential models and other colleagues: “I want this to be a business, that happens to be a model agency.” Since day one, I didn’t want to have much contact with the industry people, given my sentiment regarding poseurs in general I mentioned before in a separate post and given that this industry was ripe with poseurs more so than any other given industry, and my main focus was on the back-office.

After having had the discussion with my parents in regard to their financial situation, however, it became more definitive that this was no time for me to go to Japan...even with the plan of renting the property and seeking somewhere else to live, it was going to be a time of tremendous change and stress for my parents. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I'm an only child and my parents haven't much family here in the States (another long story I will get to later on...) -- my parents and I were a small unit of mutual support that needed to stick close, especially during trying times, which were certain to come (albeit in a far different manner than anyone might have imagined at that specific point in time...!).

That night, upon returning from my parents' and to my apartment in Manhattan, I'd told Jeremy Tick that our venture, FUEL new york, had to work. It was at this point I'd made my full emotional commitment to the venture -- if in fact Jeremy Tick was right in his repeated assurances that we would be generating "well into six-figures by year end," I would be in the position to remain in close quarters with my family, and I could look to picking up where I'd just left off with Accenture within a year as far as income was concerned.

The decision was final -- that night, I sent Geofferey Dallas at Siebel an e-mail, communicating the decision. I'd followed up with him with a phone call explaining that I needed to remain close with my family, and that regretfully, I was not in the position to be able to relocate to Japan at that time.

In retrospect, to be fair, I should have been a lot more skeptical in believing Jeremy Tick outright, especially what with my past experience in reading and helping prepare business plans for other start-ups -- rarely do you see companies making profits within the first year of operation. However, it was an industry I was wholly unfamiliar with, and, on paper, there was minimal overhead -- the bare minimum needed to operate the company was a live telephone line (at least as we knew at that time). With such minimal overhead, and given that one of my ex’s was making six figures a year as a model, barely working four months in total per year, it wasn’t infeasible that with 15-20 models we were aiming for, we could be generating six figures in profits within the year.

Finally, both Steve Kleiner and I had the repeated assurances of Jeremy Tick (whom we thought was) a Skidmore grad who had worked at John Hancock. Upon having reviewed all of the contact information we'd collected over New Year's, Jeremy Tick was even more confident we could do it, and to his defense, he probably did really think he could achieve those figures, likely because of his minimal brain power. Unfortunately for all, his guestimation was FAR FAR off the target, as we would discover relatively soon.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Sarah Griffin, et. al.

...that said, Sarah Griffin, who used to be one of our models, called from Seattle, and we talked for some time for the first time in a while. I'll get to her eventually in my chronological account of the sagas around FUEL new york, but, I will say she's a dangerous little thing. Dangerous, because she's a free spirit and is a little trouble-maker -- when we'd first met, she'd just turned 16, and she'd made it a point to tease guys, full well knowing that she was two years younger than the "legal age." However, it needs mentioning that she's a real sweetheart and a loyal friend. When I mentioned what happened recently with another business associate, she, again, as she did when the Jeremy Tick debacle occurred, offered to beat the crap out of him on my behalf. Jokingly, we'd agreed that every new person I meet from then on would have to be stringently screened by her -- Sarah Griffin, an 18 year old waif, would essentially be my bouncer.

Nevertheless, just as Sarah Griffin, most all of our models stayed by my side (both as my models and friends) when all hell broke loose, but Sarah Griffin is one of the few that still stay in touch with me, aside Lee Zumdome, Ian E., Sergio Gatti, Jennifer Joiner, Inese, and Juliana Fine -- all of whom I'll mention more on later...

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Saturday, May 15, 2004

Jeremy Tick, the Poseur

If you're a New Yorker, have lived here long enough to rightfully claim to be one (in my opinion, that would be for the equivalent of at least three presidential terms, giving you enough insight to know that each twenty-or-so-block section of Manhattan is a distinct neighborhood, and can name most of them -- if you're really good, you can even name the zip and the precinct number for each), or simply are as down-to-earth as most native New Yorkers are, you know the one thing even more tasteless and futile in this town than cheering for the Red Sox at a Rangers (not even Yanks) game is simply being a poseur. At least the Red Sox fans get a token respect for being loyal to their team and for being bold enough to state it. We generally grow a sense real quick about poseurs, and we have a healthy dislike for this imported quality often mistakenly associated to New Yorkers as a whole by anyone who has never actually lived here.

With that said, I did sense a poseuristic quality about Jeremy Tick since the moment I met him. For instance, he claimed he was from the UES or had lived there, yet I saw in him nothing that is commonly associated with the people (both positive and negative) of this neighborhood, and only the "stereotypical" qualities. My suspicion was confirmed when I'd asked about certain buildings and clubs (not night clubs...the somewhat staid, traditional clubs whose libraries are lined by portraiture of many men who have gone on to become presidents and other dignitaries), and he had no sense of what I was referring to, claiming that he'd always taken cabs so he wouldn't know.

Sure enough, when I did finally ask him about where specifically in the UES he'd lived, it came to light he had actually lived in a neighborhood more commonly known as Yorkville or Carnegie Hill, almost Spanish Harlem. To most New Yorkers, the UES designation is usually reserved for the neighborhood between 59th and 79th (maybe 86th these days) between Fifth and Park (maybe Lexington these days), a neighborhood where old money is truly old money. Furthermore, one would be aware that there are at least two other neighborhoods of equal caliber, all on the east side -- I could get into the whole age-old discussion of East vs. West in Manhattan, but I'll save that for another day...

Irregardless, I do want to distinguish what my disgust with Jeremy Tick stems from, and it is not from the fact that he hadn't ever lived in the UES, hadn't completed university, hadn't graduated from a prep school, or hadn't actually been in the employs of respectable organizations other than as a temp. As I've mentioned before, I will say that my appreciation for the weaning process that occurs as part of this selection process has increased ten-fold --

I, like most others do, had taken this for granted, that the people you are in school or are working with has gone through a rudimentary or strict level of screening. There is a lot of merit to this process. I do believe that the great sense of camaraderie, for instance at Accenture, I did experience doesn't stem solely from the commiseration factor of being overwrought, but also in the knowledge that Accenture (at least, at the time when I got hired) has run a thorough background check, seen your university transcript, done a brief psychology profile, has contacted a minimum of three of your professional references, and has put you through three rounds minimum of interviews, even BEFORE putting you through a basic, yet globally common, level of training -- there is a basic level of standard, whether at an intellectual, moral, and/or ethical level, that you have met, and you know full well you are in company of those who have met this minimal standard. At Accenture, I would like to think that this was a relatively high standard.

That point aside, obviously, I have colleagues of background lacking in experience with renowned organizations or even universities, yet they have all applied themselves effectively, and the reasons for their not pursuing "the norm" was overshadowed by their pursuit of their passions, or something noble, such as their family business. They all have good reasons for their alternate pursuits, and most importantly, they do not hide the fact they hadn't completed university, nor do they outright lie about having been in the employs of this organization or the other -- as a matter of fact, and rightfully, many of them announce it rather proudly, that they have accomplished much without staying the course of the norm.

In the case of Jeremy Tick, my disgust stems from the fact that he had blatantly and continued to lie about it -- and even had the nerve to scoff at Tufts University, simply because it isn't an Ivy League university -- all in attempts to lead others to believe he is what he is not, and probably to make himself feel somewhat better in some pathetic sort of a way. Again, as someone put it aptly, he is a figment of his own imagination, and he seems to expend quite a bit of energy and what little mental prowess he might possess into creating this fictional character.

Even more disturbing, when the facts he never went to university or didn't actually graduate from a prep school did come to light, it wasn't out of a meek, confessionary note, but rather out of anger and blame -- he blamed his own mother for not "having been more forceful on [him] to go to college." It's one thing to have chosen not pursue and/or complete these goals, but to blame someone else, worse, his own mother? THAT is base, especially in this day and age when a college degree has become so much more accessible, with degrees from relatively decent universities readily available through online coursework. I venture to say he was perhaps attempting to draw sympathy of some sort, as twisted as that may be, and obviously, feeling sympathy for someone of this ilk was no longer in my system, especially in this type of a pretext.

Furthermore, he has had the nerve to suggest or openly criticize our models, many of whom WERE college-educated and have traveled to and from various nations around the globe, as being unworldly. Clearly, these comments are rooted from his own deep insecurities, yet their arrogant, insolent tone in conjunction with the overall absurdity of it all borders on pure comedy... laughable, really.

The well-read might be able to point to numerous great literary works centering on characters who'd projected false-images of themselves, yet, these stories tend to center on the greatness of core character or accomplishments achieved that ultimately shine through. The case of Jeremy Tick is clearly not to be taken as anything in similar ilk of (and will not be easily mistaken with) those tales, although that is what I personally had naively tried to believe the entire duration of my working with him. In the case of Jeremy Tick, the motivations are far more base and reprehensible.

The great works I refer to tend to be marked with clear lessons to be learned, undeniable truths that graciousness, grandeur, and nobility of character stem from the core irregardless or bloodlines or upbringing -- I would have fiercely protected Jeremy Tick's deceit and false-pretense had there been even a minute tinge of these characteristics been present in Jeremy Tick. However, in this particular case, in the case of Jeremy Tick, he has become so engrossed in his own deceit that he feels he has the right to snobbishly scoff at others who often have more right (should they have the nerve -- which most who rightfully do, do not) to scoff at him.

I will say, to his credit, he has mastered the English language to a certain degree, albeit his innumerous spelling and grammatical errs. I am angry, yes, but mostly because I consider myself an intelligent being, and when my intelligence and kindness are taken advantage of all under a false pretense and manipulation, I feel I have the right to be somewhat flustered by it...

With that said, thanks to Jeremy Tick, I've learned to recognize a tactic that people of his ilk use to mislead other good people. [Lesson Number 6: They will often and frequently make vague, general statements knowingly, that either make them look better than they actually are, or make others look badly, and when asked for specifics and details, they tend to stammer.] Granted, there are occasions many of us find ourselves in a similar type of situation, but we stammer only for consideration for the sake of protecting those we're disclosing something that reflects on them poorly, or fall under discretion. This, in the case of the Poseur, is not the case and is done wholly for the sake of far more self-serving intent. Furthermore, in polite society, most people will not usually venture to ask for specifics, and this is precisely the inclination of most that people of this ilk prey on.

I highly recommend digging in a little more when you have suspicions -- as I can tell you from my experience, it's better to be safe than sorry. Also, if in fact the person is whom they claim to be, chances are, you may find mutual acquaintances through some of those findings, as I have with many and have discovered time and time again how small this planet can really be. Nevertheless, in the case of Jeremy Tick, when he mentioned the prep school and the college, I'd asked if he'd known certain people, whom he obviously had no way of actually knowing -- similarly, he'll lead you to believe he's well traveled, yet, I came to discover that he's only stepped out of this country once -- decidedly far less frequent than the worldly, traveled air he attempts to carry.

The reason this came to light was when I had a friend's little brother come in town -- J. Harry Edmiston that I've mentioned before. Jeremy Tick, as usual, was drunk, and he kept on parroting J. Harry's English accent every time J. Harry said something. Obviously, it was entertaining to Jeremy Tick (and to no one else, pretty much...we WERE laughing AT Jeremy Tick, I will say), but it obviated how un-worldly Jeremy Tick actually is, and it was somewhat appalling to witness so blatantly how simply dumb he is.

Again, the point here isn't to snobbishly discredit him simply because he isn't well-traveled -- obviously, there are plenty of good people who haven't ventured outside of the United States. I am perfectly aware that the statistic on this is something like only 8% of American citizens have traveled outside of the United States. The point is how the poseur attempts to lead others to believe that he is in fact well-traveled -- he speaks of Paris, French culture, or his ability to speak French as though he's lived there or visited on many occasions, for instance, yet he cannot communicate with you the aromas of the city nor the one thing the Parisians have New Yorkers beat in terms of their construction of their subway/metro...

And it's not because he has traveled other French-speaking nations, islands, and cities other than my best knowledge, I don't think he's even been to cities in North America that have a strong French influence (i.e., Quebec or Montreal) or even, a stretch, I know, New Orleans (all three great cities, and I have great stories from each, but I'll post those later...). Even if he'd been in these cities, the French would scoff at the idea that the languages spoken there are "true" French!

Again, all of this wouldn't be an issue whatsoever, if he didn't pose as though he's some sort of a connoisseur. In this posturing, he has, unbeknownst to him, spoken down on several of my friends who are actually French or have lived in France, which one wouldn't know at first since their English is impeccably American. Aside the embarrassment this has caused me, which my friends have shrugged off thankfully, what these experiences demonstrated to me is that poseurs have this eerie ability for selective hearing...I think in this one instance, my friend was making some joke with the Eiffel Tower, and Jeremy Tick was off and running, or I should say, his mouth was off and running as soon as he'd heard Eiffel.

As well, another thing I can credit him for is his uncanny ability to plagiarize others' words as though they were his own. I've witnessed him do this in various context and occasions -- I guess this is another talent of the poseur: [Lesson Number 7: be weary of those who seem to plagiarize others' words and opinions as though they were their own.] I noticed this blatantly done by Jeremy Tick most recently when I was on the phone with him, while attempting to collect monies he still refuses to cough up -- in attempting to find out more facts through him, I'd mentioned that there are two sides to every story, and he immediately parroted this phrase (word for word!) as though it was his own, so that his immediate neighbors at his office who might overhear the conversation could hear. Obviously a maneuver in an attempt to make himself look more balanced and intelligent than he actually is, despite the fact he was obviously upset.

However, if anyone were to think on it a moment, one might see that, from my point of view, I have no reason to bother calling him, had I thought there were no reasonable justifications for his behavior. As anyone who knows me will attest, I'm not exactly the petulant, immature type that would reach out to others simply to nag or harass. I can only reason his behavior stemmed from his fear I may threaten his facade he was attempting to maintain at his occupation...sadly, what he doesn't seem to realize is that people ultimately wise up to him, no matter how much effort he puts into this appearance maintenance...


Jeremy Tick's "Resume"

Because I was somewhat fascinated by how deceitful Jeremy Tick is, I've pieced together his employment history. Below is Jeremy Tick's resume I found, pieced together with his resume I found on that there are still gaps and dubious dates of employment...the glaring one being the one at John Hancock -- he claims he was at Skidmore College until 1998, yet he's also claiming he started working at John Hancock in March, 1997. It would be one thing if the college was in the same town as John Hancock, but, as you likely know, Skidmore College is in Saratoga Springs, NY...I am going to venture a guess that he only went to Skidmore between 1995 and 1997 at most.

Also, he's obviously not going to include them on a resume, but other places I know he's worked are: Cohen's Fashion Opticals (both in Boston and in New York), Gateway Diner (Albany, NY), and other random restaurants here and there as a waiter (like the Village Den, a diner, and L'Express, a French Bistro on Park Avenue South). The Gateway Diner accounts for the gap in 2001. I'm not sure when exactly he worked at Cohen's Fashion Opticals in Boston, it could be either: before he was supposedly at John Hancock, which would further shorten his tenure at Skidmore; after he claims he'd begun working for John Hancock in March, 1997, shortening his stay at John Hancock; or during the time to account for the gap in early 1999. The last option seems least likely, since I'm also aware he was a temp at both Vogue and at Ralph Lauren at one point through United Staffing -- I'm not sure where all that would fit in.

Details aside, what does matter is this singular, undeniable fact: in the time between 1997 and 2001, he had worked at a total minimum of TEN different employers (John Hancock; Cohen's Fashion Opticals, Boston; Vogue; Ralph Lauren; Dean & Deluca;; AIG; Prudential; R. Models; and Gateway Diner). And in the less than three years since 2001, he has worked for seven companies -- he'd been with FUEL new york, the Village Den, L'Express, Gateway Diner (where he worked prior to FUEL new york as well), V Models (which I'll get to later on...), Cohen's Fashion Opticals in Manhattan, and now at Satchi Model Management/SVM. In other words, he has worked for a minimum of FIFTEEN different companies in the course of roughly seven years -- sixteen if you count the two different branches of Cohen's Fashion Opticals separately, seventeen if you count the two separate instances of working for Gateway Diner individually. And those are only the companies I'm aware of!

It's one thing to have so many employers in such a limited time period if one is simply seeking income to support oneself while pursuing other goals, as in the case of many of my colleagues who are actors/models/artists/musicians (...yet, even among them, I don't know of anyone who has had that many different employers in that short a time period). However, as will be made evident in my chronological account, such is not the case with Jeremy Tick. Again, I'm not going to venture guesses as to why he has had so many different employers, but these are simple facts.

As a reference, here's what he claims, all in his own words, from his resume and on

10/2001 - Present
FUEL New York
Agent/Managing Partner
Responsible to scout, develop, and market fashion models in New York and International Fashion Markets
Manage daily sales efforts of full service model agency
Coordination of test shoots, relocation, placement efforts, trafficking, and overall management of daily activities for 20 models
Manage all marketing and publicity activity through use of grass roots/guerilla media outreach

(note: he'd left to go to Albany during this time, to work at Gateway Diner. Also note that, given the fact he was ineligible for unemployment insurance in December 2001, whose relatively lax requirement is that an individual work full-time for any six month period within the previous 18 months, he was either not on a full-time salary with R Models or is completely falsifying this record and potentially the tenure as a temp with Adecco Staffing as well)

12/2000 - 7/2001
R. Models
Responsible to scout, develop, and market new talent while managing the daily activities of a full service talent agency.
Managed all public communications, publicity, marketing activity, client relations, and talent bookings.
Directed placement efforts, coordination of test shoots, photography selection; sourced alternate means of income for individuals in pursuit of modeling as a career.

5/2000 - 12/2000
Adecco Staffing
Temporary Associate
Acting Assistant to Director of Executive Development, Prudential Securities
Special Assistant to Director Human Resources, AIG Insurance - hired to develop and coordinate annual divisional outing (450 attendees)

11/1999 - 5/2000
Marketing/Merchandising Associate
Worked with VP of Marketing to develop brand image through selection of copy and imagery, management of online partnerships and development of supporting product.
 Responsible to develop product that would "communicate and facilitate romance" for high net worth, aspirational males aged 35 – 50. Responsible for all aspects, from concept to development to execution.

4/1999 - 11/1999
Dean & DeLuca
Marketing Associate
Supported the management of the Corporate Brand and Mission Statement through development and implementation of traditional and grass roots marketing initiatives.
Managed corporate communication efforts, including press relations, marketing activities, product placement, sponsorships, online affiliations, and customer service scripts. Represented Company interest at industry related functions.
Liaison between catalog, e-commerce, and retail management teams to ensure consistency in product offerings, promotional efforts, and professional affiliations.

(note: somewhere during this gap is where I would have to guess he'd worked for both Vogue and Ralph Lauren, through a temp Agency)

3/1997 – 11/1998
John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance:
Senior IGP Assistant:
Supported Senior Vice President in the solicitation and initiation of new members into the John Hancock International Group Program, a multi-national pooling of insurance risk.
Responsible for all communication efforts for the John Hancock IGP program to its Western European and Asian client base. Tasks included drafting of all written correspondence, outbound client service calls, direction and distribution of annual and bi-annual reports. Provided account service as necessary.

Broker Relations Analyst:
Provided extensive costumer support, performing account maintenance, resolving service issues, performing market updates, minor financial planning, and marketing funds to prospective buyers.

(note: somewhere during this period is when he'd worked for Cohen's Fashion Opticals in Boston)

EDUCATION: Skidmore College US-New York-Saratoga Springs
Some College Coursework Completed

(note: how is it that his college coursework at Skidmore, located in Saratoga Springs, NY, could overlap with his work history with John Hancock in Boston, MA? I don't believe remote education was in place as of yet at that time, so it is most likely he is being untruthful either in his educational history or in the length of his tenure at Hancock.)

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Stand Your Ground / Jeremy Tick's Twisted Psyche

I guess were I writing all of this out for some type of a literary format, I would have left a lot of these unpleasant surprises down the road just as I'd discovered them. But it's just that there were so many red flags from the very onset that I CHOSE to ignore, and that is the main reason I was angry with myself. Obviously, everything is much more obvious in hindsight, but...

Another personal quality of mine that was often deemed highly in my professional past that was taken advantage of by these self-serving idiots is my tendency to be a devil's advocate -- always seeking a balanced perspective before drawing any type of conclusions. As much as I did notice many of these red flags along the way, I had proactively rationalized or justified reasons on their behalf.

This proved to be my downfall ultimately, when Jeremy Tick and I'd parted ways -- I'd spent quite some time coming to understand his perspective, which apparently made Jeremy Tick feel even more justified in his actions solely because I understood intellectually his motivations, and he couldn't understand, nor did he bother to spend much time in attempting to understand, my rationale. Needless to say, my rationale would be considered closer to that of common sense, as verified by many who have had the similar displeasure of having worked with him or gotten to know him, yet, as one put it aptly, you cannot discuss things rationally with someone who "is a figment of his own imagination" such is the case with Jeremy Tick.

Unfortunately, as I'd come to discover again with another individual, as unique an instance as I thought he may be, I have come to encounter another character of a similar psychological constitution that I am beginning to suspect that there may be others like those -- which is why I have really begun to appreciate all people I have encountered in the past who are not of this ilk. Thankfully, people unlike Jeremy Tick are in the bountiful, for the sake of all humanity. (Knowing him, he'll probably take that as a compliment, as testimony to his "uniqueness"...)

Nevertheless, another important lesson I did walk away with from my dealings with Jeremy Tick was [Lesson Number 5: as prudent as it may be to always try to have a balanced opinion, always know what your stance is, and your stance should take your own motivations and benefits as the main account -- unfortunately, when dealing with certain people, you are the only person that is looking out for your own interest.]. It seems like common sense, but, putting aside your own ambitions and desires for the common good of the group of otherwise isn't exactly a common trait, I'd come to learn.

With that said, I'm fairly certain that, were Jeremy Tick to somehow discover my ramblings here, he would be flattered in some twisted sort of way, flattered by the fact I would spend the time and energy into jotting down these thoughts...however, as obvious as it is to anyone aside himself, stroking his ego is hardly the motivation I am writing these thoughts out -- it is mostly for my own exercise, and also as a precautionary note to whomever that may encounter this shady character. He managed to fool me through his charm and twisted psychology, despite the general opinion that I am a fairly intelligent being, albeit too generous for my own good at times.

Obviously, there are two or more sides to every coin of the truth -- but most of what I am laying out here are hard facts, and areas that are vague to me, I have left it explicitly clear as only estimations...

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Jeremy Tick's "credentials"

There were other things around this time that I really should have been more attentive to in regards to Jeremy Tick's credibility. For one, he didn't have his own checking account. For two, when I'd suggested he look into collecting unemployment in order to help sustain himself in the coming months, he wasn't eligible to collect unemployment.

Again, I didn't really think about it at the time, and instead, in my eagerness to help, I'd offered to let him use my personal checking account for the time being -- truly a stupid move on my part. [(an OBVIOUS) Lesson Number 3: NEVER, EVER, EVER let anyone else access your personal checking account unless you really truly know them well enough, and even then, for only a short-term, for emergencies only -- like DUH, right??]

Also, the very fact he wasn't eligible to collect unemployment is somewhat suspect, since, almost anyone who has worked at least six months in a (I believe) 12 or 18 month period is eligible, at least, in New York State -- to this day, I'm really not certain why he wasn't eligible for unemployment, especially since he claimed to have worked for Dean & Deluca in New York City and also at a diner in Albany. I can only venture a guess that the diner may have been paying him under the table in cash and/or that he actually really didn't work for at least six months within a period of 12-18 months up to December 2001. I didn't really press the issue much at the time since I thought it was a relatively private issue. However, given that this was someone I was allowing to LIVE in MY apartment, going into BUSINESS WITH, and ALLOWING into my PERSONAL CHECKING ACCOUNT, I really truly should have pressed for clear answers that were factually backed.

Nevertheless, in a similar vein, all of these factors are obvious as somewhat suspect in hindsight, yet, as many of my colleagues and I have come to agree that, most of us hardly suspect that these things are indicative of other things, since most of us WANT to believe that all people are "good" people at the core. Even in an extreme instance, such as one with my most recent encounter with a business associate (whom I'll get to later on) who ultimately ended up date raping someone I know, even after the fact it happened, when the girl who was raped and I talk, underneath the obvious rage that she and I both feel, we still want to believe somehow that there is a "decent" person in there, despite an obvious criminal and horrendous act.

With that said, however, that belief does not -- and should never -- equate to condoning those actions. My most important lesson I've learned is that: [Lesson Number 4: there are people that, whether consciously or subconsciously, PREY on this basic belief of many people that WANT to believe that all people are good, and TAKE ADVANTAGE of those inclinations of others for their own, and only their own, benefit.]

I sincerely hope for the sake of many that they will not have to learn this lesson on their own -- it is an unpleasant truth to have to encounter. I have yet to decide if I am fortunate or unfortunate for having learned this lesson at this stage in my life. I'm inclined to say I am fortunate overall, since I have learned the lesson, yet I really prefer that this planet was devoid of such people altogether. As I mentioned earlier in this blog, however, it is because of these types of people I have really become appreciative of the innumerous good people I have been fortunate enough to encounter otherwise in my life.

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Saturday, May 08, 2004

The move revisited and other discoveries...

The move itself was rather comical. Because we were strained for time, and because we had no boxes to put everything in, we'd packed everything into huge, black, plastic garbage bags. Because we were pressed for time, which meant we didn't have time to reserve a Ryder/U-HAUL truck, we moved everything using limousines. So, if you will, imagine one December evening, a fleet of black limousines pulling up to a small building on a side street of New York City, and one white Jewish kid, an Asian kid, and a black girl carrying huge black plastic garbage bags filled with who-knows-what into a basement door (the apartment is a basement apartment), you get the picture.

Half of my entire apartment was filled with these bags, and we were off. We'd spent the majority of Christmas 2001 unpacking and sorting through the massive amount of crap. Getting rid of anything irrelevant, and then separating Shareef Jenkins' personal belongings from core essentials for the business we would need. It was during this process we would discover that Shareef Jenkins' only legitimate job was at a Gap store and also at In retrospect, Jeremy Tick told me something about having met Shareef Jenkins through an NYU fashion show or that he had met Shareef Jenkins when he'd scouted someone he knew, but I am venturing a guess that is probably where the two met, as I became aware later on that Jeremy Tick was "employed" there as well.

Irregardless, other things we found included disciplinary letters from when Shareef Jenkins worked at the Gap, along with his defense statement, and a strong indication that Shareef Jenkins was using the model agency as a front to satisfy his libido and his desire to be plugged into the nightlife. Once we were done with the sorting, I packaged all of Shareef Jenkins' belongings and put them into storage, informing Shareef that his belongings could be picked up there...I'm not certain he ever did, as I'd kept on receiving bills from the storage company -- I'd stopped paying for the storage after the first two months. I'm horrified by the thought that when they did go into the space to auction the items off, they'd found and assumed that all of the gay photography and paraphernalia were actually my belongings...just a funny sidebar in the whole scheme of things...

We also took this opportunity to look at all of the models on the board to see what we would need to do, and at this juncture, I put my faith in Jeremy Tick to wean out models we would not represent. In the whole, I do believe he did a fair job given the state of the board at the time, and at this point, we'd pared down the 30+ models down to about 10-15. I'd updated the FUEL models web site accordingly, using a slow, grainy scanner to scan all of the images in (I believe the machine was a Brother MFC 3100C -- it was the same fax/printer/scanner I'd bought several months before for the agency). This process took well into the New Year to complete.

During this time, we'd also managed to pull out some important contact information for the industry, and we'd begun scanning and manually inputting these into Outlook contacts. It was a painfully slow, tedious work. We did take a break to go to Mac Premo's apartment for the New Year's Eve celebration, which was a very low-key, relaxed NYE -- the streets were quieter than I'd ever seen -- given its proximity in time to the events of 911, a lot of people opted to stay low-key. Whatever the case, 2002, here we come...!

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Always run a background check

At that time, all I knew about Jeremy Tick was that he'd "gone" to a prep school near Boston, then to Skidmore College, had worked for John Hancock right after that, and that he had done work for Dean & Deluca and a model agency called R&L Models in New York. I can't remember if he told me he was laid off or he had quit, but just before coming down to New York in November 2001, I was aware he was working as a waiter up-state at a diner, and he had told me that he was offered a job as a booker with some agency in Chicago, I forget which one, but was supposedly unable to go because of 911. In retrospect, I highly suspect this was all an elaborate lie, shamefully using one of the darkest days in U.S. history as an excuse for his joblessness -- I realize this sounds darkly suspicious, but if you know Jeremy Tick, I doubt you wouldn't have a similar sentiment.

Nevertheless, at the time, it all sounded reasonable enough -- I'd graduated from a prep school in Westchester County, and had gone to (i.e., graduated from) Tufts University, and began my career at IBM/Lotus Development Corporation, then onto several IT/Business consulting with media companies like the Discovery Channel, (blah blah blah...just look at my resume for more in-depth description), etc., so, naturally, I thought I was in the presence simply of a younger colleague.

20/20 hindsight as they say [Lesson Number 2: ALWAYS run a background check on someone whom you'll be working with, no matter how smooth the person is -- the smoother the person, the more I would encourage a background check, also checking personal and professional references], but that's the general backdrop for the events in December. Given (what I thought was) his education and his work experience at John Hancock, I gave a lot more weight than I should have on what he claimed about how much we would be making by the end of 2002. So, the temporary arrangement to let him stay in my apartment was agreed upon, and we had decided to go forward with the agency, renaming it to FUEL new york, thanks to Shawna McBean and Mia Eaton's suggestion.

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December 2001

Where was I? Oh yeah, December 2001...

Other background info of the time: I'd just finished the placement services courses provided thanks to Accenture, and although the pickings were still slim, I was beginning to get referred to some opportunities. Siebel was interested, but because the opening was in Tokyo, I told them I would have to think on it. It worked out ok, as the holidays were approaching, and Geofferey Dallas, my main point of contact, told me that we could touch base first thing in the new year.

Also, although I had received a decent severance from Accenture (three months base salary, remainder of the bonus, and I was able to retain the Accenture stock granted during the IPO), because of 911, I was able to receive extended unemployment as well -- rather than the standard six months, for that year, it was extended to nine months. Unfortunately, there is a weekly payout maximum cap of $405 (otherwise, the unemployment is half of the income during the maximum quarterly income during a 12 or 18 month period). I wouldn't say I was living comfortably, but I wasn't doing too badly without work. I knew that I would also be receiving a sizable tax refund that year given that I worked mostly out of my own apartment for Accenture -- in February of 2002, I'd received about $7,000 in refunds. All of this, in conjunction with about $12,000 in line of credit, amounted to about $45,000 (mostly tax free) I would have at my disposal in the coming time even if I were not to earn a dime. (That amount is aside what little my investments in the market had come down to at the time...)


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The "discovery" and the move

In other words, we realized then that the money from Shawna McBean's campaign wasn't used for rent or other necessary expenses, and the most likely scenario is that Shareef used the money to pay for cocaine. We knew all along he had a bit of a cocaine problem (Jeremy Tick later mentioned that Shareef had tried to push cocaine onto Jeremy Tick's little brother, Gabriel). We explain the situation to the landlord and manage to appease the landlord, but this is where I made another mistake out of generosity. As part of the agreement, FUEL had to vacate the premises immediately. Which meant that Jeremy Tick would no longer have a place to stay in the city. Another big mistake I'd made was allowing this idiot into my own apartment. BIG mistake.

Given the circumstance, I'd also agreed to let the belongings of FUEL into my apartment as well. In this move process, I brought back a decent amount of belongings into my apartment first so that I could also begin vacating some space within the apartment to allow for the extra luggage that was to arrive soon after. In this process, despite my specific instruction on several occasions to bring my TV/VCR back as well, Jeremy Tick manages to leave it behind. It is the only thing he leaves behind. Were it an innocent mistake, and were he to have taken responsibility and initiative in order to correct the issue, it would have been fine. Yet, I actually had to tell him to try to get the TV/VCR back several times. He never recovered the TV/VCR. I might as well as begin the counter now: material loss solely because of his neglect or actions so far = $350

After we move all of the things into my apartment and we settle a bit, we have a discussion to see what to do with FUEL itself. Jeremy Tick assures me on several occasions that we would be making well into six-figures by the end of the year. Because of this conviction on his end, we agree to move forward with the agency, and I agree to let him and the agency remain in my apartment, because he was confident we would be out of the apartment within a matter of a few months. I also arrange a meeting with Steve Kleiner, my financial advisor, at UBS to begin planning for tax shelters for the income we would be generating. We meet several times, and each time, Jeremy Tick assures both myself and Steve that "we will make easily into six-figures." "At least."

[Lesson number one: never believe what you hear, especially with someone whom you suspect has ulterior motives.]

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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

911 and generosity over-extended

I suspect that 911 had an effect on me more so than I realized then. There was a keen desire to be generous especially around that time, throughout the city. It was right around this time I'd met Shareef Jenkins, the original founder of FUEL Model Management. He'd originally approached me about taking me on as a model, but I was more interested in helping him build the company, since that was where my professional experience lay in. It was around this time that I met John Antaramian and Michele Alfonso, two good souls.

Which was why, aside the work I'd begun to put into the company, I'd bought the agency a printer/fax/scanner on the company's behalf and even brought in my old TV/VCR to the office/live space as a gesture of generosity. I'd helped them design logos, the web site, and even went as far as delivering packages myself. One of the many things I regret is getting the agency involved in the lives of Kylee & Mike, with whom I was friends with for a little over two years at that point.

For whatever shady reasons, FUEL no longer could stay in its original office at 119 West 23rd Street. They were desperately seeking another space, and I happened to know that Kylee & Mike were looking for sublettors for their apartment on 8th Street in the East Village, because they had just moved into a new building. I connected Shareef to Kylee and they agreed to let Shareef move into their space.

Fast forward to December. By this time, Jeremy Tick had joined the team -- I believe he came down to NY around Thanksgiving that year. Shawna McBean, who had just gotten a Courvoisier campaign, had suggested we take the agency cut from her check, despite the fact the agency didn't book the job for her, so that that money would help in setting up the agency. One December morning, I touched base with the people at the office/apartment, and Shareef had apparently disappeared after having gone off to run some errands. I show up at the office, and at this point, it is 6PM. Shareef had been missing for the entire day. We'd attempted to call Shareef, but the cell phone was going to voice mail.

At about 8PM, we receive a call from Shareef's friend in Philadelphia, informing us Shareef was there with him and that he didn't want to talk to anyone. We scramble to figure out what is going on -- we manage to find out recent bank activities and discover that Shareef had spent the $7,000 or so of the Courvoisier check in its entirety within a matter of a week. Not good.

I then receive a frenetic call from Kylee. Apparently, rent hadn't been paid since October, and the landlord was threatening to sue Kylee & Mike.

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Monday, May 03, 2004

Prelude to Jeremy Tick...Hail Jeremy Tick!

Jeremy Tick...what a piece of work. I guess the best way to demonstrate how he would certainly make an excellent study for the psychiatric community is to start from the day that I got introduced to him.

Which would be the year 2001. What a year that was -- I was working for Andersen Consulting at the time, after they'd just won the big lawsuit with its former parent company, Arthur Andersen. Although bitter about the fact that Andersen Consulting (which became Accenture as part of the settlement) lost its box seats to all the hockey games to Arthur Andersen, I was happy to be there as Accenture was gearing for its IPO. I'd received a fair share of grants as I'd been hired in laterally at a relatively high position.

Then came September.

I was letting a friend of mine's little brother, J. Harry Edmiston (whose sister, Pandora is gorgeous, btw, and was best friends through tennis camp with a high school friend of mine, Teru Bower...Harry has since been working on an interesting project, the British Luxury Council) stay with me for the summer. He came running into the apartment yelling: "the Twin Towers are gone!" I had no idea what he was talking about, but given his sense of urgency, I turned the TV on. I don't necessarily know if I want to go into the tragedy of that day and how it has affected the city and myself here, since I don't believe I can do its magnitude any justice.

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Sunday, May 02, 2004

Good people, UNITE!

Anyhow, so why is it that I am making the extra time and effort into looking up/catching up with old friends?

Simply, I feel the need to surround myself with good people. This past year, I've had the displeasure of encountering no less than five unethical, immoral, uneducated borderline criminals in a work-context. They are the types of people most people don't even think they exist, at least in my circle of people I have been around. They lie, they cheat, they will do anything for their own betterment -- they are a disgrace to all humankind, and a waste of oxygen and any other resources better reserved for even cockroaches and bacteria.

Let's begin with my ex-business partner, Jeremy Tick.

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