My Frenemy, Al Goldstein

My frenemy is Al Goldstein, the late Publisher of Screw Magazine. Al moved in to an apartment in one of the condo buildings I managed in Ozone Park. Of course, I didn’t know that when I first went to his apartment: I only knew that there was a noise complaint about “the new guy.” So I went to see him.

I knew something was off with “the new guy” as soon as I got to his door. He had photographs of Joey Buttafuoco taped all over it! OK, I thought, an odd choice of decoration, but it doesn’t mean he can’t be reasoned with. So I knocked.

Al came to the door in a bathrobe. Nothing else. The belt wasn’t done, and it was wide open. I tried not to notice. Not easy. Al was emaciated. His skin, and everything else, hung off him in an ugly, unnatural way.

“Hi. I’m Lenny Falcone, the building manager. I need to talk to you… you got a minute?”

“I’m Al.”

“Yeah… actually I recognize you. You’re Al Goldstein! What are you doing living here?”

“It’s a long story. Come in.”

So I went in. There wasn’t any furniture in the apartment — just the largest TV I had ever seen in my life, an arm chair, and at least 25 opened banker’s boxes of papers of every sort. Oh yeah, and prescription bottles were all over the place.

First thing I did was ask Al to lower the TV volume. He did. Then I asked him to close the robe. He asked, “whadaya’, a prude?” 

“Listen, Al, I don’t want to play this game. I don’t want to debate, and I don’t wanna’ see this shit.” I pointed. And he kinda wiggled!

“Stop it.” I barked. “I’m not disarmed, although I certainly am disgusted. Still, your not gonna’ drive me away and just go on doing what you want. We have rules here. This shit won’t work with me. You understand?”

He closed his robe and tied the belt.

“I think we’re gonna’ get along fine,” he said.

I explained the noise complaint, and Al explained what he was doing there. He said that he had lost his fortune to the IRS, and that all his friends had turned their backs on him. He cursed out Dennis Hoff, and thanks to HBO, I knew who that was. He also cursed out a bunch of other folks I had never heard off. Guess I’m not well-versed in porn personalities, I thought. Then he told me that he had recently had gastric bypass surgery, and had just remarried (to a gal named Krista). He said his new mother-in-law had bought the apartment and was letting he and his wife live there. He showed me a bunch of memorabilia, and gave me a picture of his infamous 11-foot statue of a hand with a raised middle finger.

Then he asked about me. When he heard I was an attorney, he asked what law school I attended. When he heard NYU, he got agitated, then asked what firm I started at. When he heard Shea & Gould, well he got worse. He asked if I knew the firm Weil, Gotshal, and of course I said I did. Then he went a little nuts.

He took off for one of his boxes, pulled out a paper and held it up in front of me.

“Look, my son Jordan’s transcript from Georgetown. All As. 4.0. He had a scholarship to NYU law school, but I made him go to Harvard.”

He took off for the boxes again. He knew exactly where to go, and he grabbed another sheet of paper. Another transcript.

“Harvard Law. Look all As! “

“That’s awesome, Al.”

“He never worked a day in his life. I paid for everything. I PAID.”

“Al, that’s great.”

Now it was picture time.

“Look how handsome he is.” Well, he kinda’ looked like Al.

“Now he’s a corporate lawyer at Weil. AND HE DOESNT WANT TO KNOW ME! He won’t speak to me. He says he may even change his name. I couldn’t go to his graduation, and he doesn’t want me near his office.”

He started to cry. Like falling apart crying.

“He’ll come around, Al. He’s just a kid.”

“This is killing me. This is the fucking thing that’s gonna kill me. All those assholes couldn’t get to me. The government couldn’t get to me. But this is gonna kill me!”

“You’re too tough for that, man. You’re Al Goldstein.”

“Yeah, but it’s all bullshit. I’m really just an old fashioned Jewish father.”

I had a lot more encounters with Al. Mostly unpleasant: He was a very trying person. I tried to be understanding. I saw him as a tortured soul. When he set his kitchen cabinets on fire, I’m the one who convinced the Department of the Aging that he needed a full time aide. I hope I helped.