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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