My Charlie Sheen: Robert

Only the good die young.  Maybe only the crazy die young.  The best Irish poets and writers were all fall down drunks, Edgar Allen Poe loved coke and opiates, Hemingway spilled a fifth of scotch a day.  Joplin, Morrison, Hendrix and so many others bit the bullet early. Artists indeed, but great wealth and fame was thrust upon them at an early age.  I love rock and roll, I love blues and I miss the dudes and dudettes that have gone to the other side. We have so many future contenders from the “new” crop”, Brittany, Miley and Sheen, and many we don’t know about yet.  But, I have a couple from Wall Street that I knew very well.  Money, insecurity and nonsense  can be a killer.  This piece is also a bit therapeutic for me, as I am watching this Sheen guy everyday and I saw some of the same things with my buddies.  I miss my bud Robert.

I met Robert at Lehman Brothers in 1986, about six months before the crash of 87.  He was from Boston and became my desk  mate.  When we were introduced I called him Bob, he said  “please call me Robert”,  I thought he was a condescending ass, but just I gave him a strike with a second chance. We ended up being roommates within a week in Battery Park City, a five minute walk to Wall street.  We had a blast, money, chicks and single. It didn’t suck and it was a good commute. Robert had presence, when he walked in a room you knew he was there, he was the funniest bastard I had ever met in my life (and I’m a tough sell), a brilliant genius, educated in Boston and knew Latin and Italian fluently.  He was charming as hell, everyone loved him, good looking and sharp as a tack.  We were best friends.  I have never since met anyone with such incredible wit.  Just brilliant.  Problem.  Robert loved coke,  he also drank a fifth of scotch a night when he was in the mood, which was a few night s a week. I didn’t know that when we met, we partied, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t think he was Charlie Sheen. Let it be known that I was no stranger to a good time, but that was it for me.  He was off the hook, ‘gone’ on so many levels. I watched his self destruction on a daily basis. We separated as roommates and went our own way, Lehman let him go.

I felt horrible, I helped him get into rehab, I put him in touch with the right people and held his hand through the mess that was rehab.  It took a while.  He was clean, he went his way and I went mine.  Weird how shit goes, but it does go.  Four years later (we did stay in touch, but only occasionally)  he called me and said he wanted to start a firm, he was sober, so I was interested, he was after all the greatest salesman I had ever met and I loved the guy.  We had bonded beyond words when we cribbed together and I missed him.  I confirmed his sobriety with twenty buddies and said ” let’s talk.”  I did my due dilly.

We started a firm.  He was living in LA, started our main office there, married a gorgeous woman with  a heart of gold and he bought Dean Martin’s old house in the Hollywood Hills.  Things were good, we had the players.  We used to laugh in his living room, as we called ourselves the 90’s version of the “Ratpack”.  We laughed about Sammy Davis kicking Sinatra in the balls after too many drinks in that room.  I ran the downtown Wall Street office and we opened a Midtown New York office, as well as a Boston office.  Within a year we had one hundred and fifty traders/brokers, and analysts all over the place.  Robert and I recruited most of the new talent from Robinson Humphrey and Montgomery Securities, which at the time, were the two hottest west coast IPO/emerging market firms in the universe.  They knew we were hot and wanted to come.

Everyone knew about Robert’s past “issues” and I was three thousand miles a way, so I couldn’t see anything,  but I had friends in the LA office that had standing orders to watch him.  I had my life savings in the firm, so I had skin in the game.  Mistake.

One day I got a call from one of my guys that Robert had started putting vodka in his cranberry juice, he had never done this before, at least in the last five years.  He started disappearing and coming in late.  Robert had an ego, so similar to Sheen when he was blitzed, he actually sounded like Sheen sounds on his recent interviews when he was coked.  When he was sober he was the master of his universe, when messed up, he sounded like a fruit loop on ecstasy.  So, people saw that he wasn’t the same.  It got ugly.

People left the LA office in droves and they couldn’t leave my office fast enough as rumors of the tent folding gained steam.  I knew that Robert was now out of control again, sometimes rehab fails, sometimes it works, but comes back to bite you years later.  One day he came into the LA office in cargo shorts and a “The Doors” t shirt, he was wrecked.  It was over for us, people smell failure and fear and it was done.

Robert got back to partying, lost his beautiful wife and his house in the Hills and died a few years ago totally bankrupt (had zillions)  in a shit hole motel at the end of Sunset Blvd in LA.  He was with some chick that didn’t speak English, she has a lot of tattoos they told me.  His heart had exploded from a coke/crack cocktail and too much scotch.

Charlie said he did “seven grams of rock at a clip on his binge and made Jagger and Flynn look like armless doe eyed boys..”  Charlie, I am sad that that this is how you judge your  existence.  We all know someone.  Your comments are more than welcome.

I think about Robert everyday, what a ride.  Tomorrow night I will post about my other Charlie Sheen, Yes, also from Lehman Brothers and a very close friend.

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