Unedited: Celebrating Arthur Weinstein Four Years Later
Four years ago today, nightlife lost a legend, a family lost a father, husband, son…friends lost a dear friend. The loss seemed immeasurable at the time, and four years hasn’t eased the pain. Arthur Weinstein had more faults than most, but he also had more heart and soul and more of an ability to see what’s hidden behind the green curtain than anyone I have met. Toward the end of his life he found work doing lighting for those who saw him as a light. This morning, Greg Brier called me to remind me.
Many refer to my era of nightlife as "the good ol’ days," but compared to the generation before me, it was… amateurish, mundane. Clubs like Save The Robots, Paradise Garage, Area, The Continental, The Mudd Club, Nells, Berlin, Studio 54, Nickel Bag, Stickball, The Nursery, Danceteria and such preceded my reign of terror. I became relevant when I operated The World for Arthur, Peter Frank, and some other guys. Arthur was a mad genius who understood that it was heart that pumped up the volume and love that ran through the veins and cool that ran the thought process. Nowadays, for better or worse, most joints run with little heart, cash for blood, and with lots of educated but not-so-creative brains running the action. Self-interest has replaced the art of it. Arthur would be in Brooklyn now looking for, latching onto, and educating the next big thing.
Below is a lost article I wrote just after his death. It can’t be found online anymore but I found the unedited copy I sent in for edit the day after I heard the sad news.
"Art passed yesterday after a courageous fight with cancer. Known to everyone with clout in the nightclub industry Art was a familiar face for a few decades. He owned and operated some of the best clubs in history. The World, Hurrah, The Continental, The Jefferson provided thousands of extraordinary nights for thousands of hipsters long before the word was unfortunately coined. Everybody loved and respected him, even those who were over him. Even years after he had operated anything he could still get Calvin or Ian or Grace on the phone. Grace Jones paid a visit to him recently as he lay dying in his Chelsea hotel apartment. He told me of hanging with Ian Schrager and David Bowie who he called the "White Knight" and he never ceased to amaze me with stories of life in the fastest lane. It wasn’t the drugs or the booze that killed the beast it was, as Carl Denham once said, it was beauty that killed him. He was trapped by the drug called clubs, its kaleidoscope like enchantment, its vision and pitfalls and by his camera and his art, the pitfalls were ignored as Arthur only saw the possibilities.
Arthur’s world was light and magic and imparting wisdom on those of us who had less than he, and that just about covers everyone, Arthurs eyes saw through the hype and saw the souls of those around him, once when at the door of one of his clubs I was hustling the celebrity du jour inside when Arthur chided me, “why do you give a fuck about him? get these kids in!” and it was a posse of skaters and then he went inside to share some Stoli with them. Art never gave a damn about the hype. You were either cool or you weren’t and no amount of tabloid success made you cool but a hat tilted at the right angle made you a pal. He loved the Yankees and he would call me and take me to a game and we would roll up and I’d ask where we were sitting and he’d say “shud up!,don’t worry about it” and we’d walk right in with a wave and no tickets and we’d sit downstairs in the good seats and move around a lot because he could not sit still. He could never sit still. He didn’t have a lot of patience, especially for assholes. Often I’d like someone and Art would say “that asshole” and my head would tilt , I’d look a little closer and I’d get over the dudes rap or rep and find no reason anymore to hang with him. Art was right , he was always right about assholes. But then he’d latch on to some loser and find the glory in him and reveal to us why this underestimated denizen of the deep was worthy of our precious time. Again I was wrong, confused, snobby or just dumb, the fool was me and not the denizen.
I don’t know how to continue without Art. He was my biggest critic yet my biggest supporter. Sometimes the press the public and everyone around me would be all up my ass congratulating me on some job well done and Art would point out my flaws and show me a better way. Sometimes I’d be down on myself, designer blocked and he’d tell me “I was on to something. It was really good “and I’d pull it off." He was the wisest of the wise guys and those who met him always knew they had met someone. Once when I was working for him it rained real hard and the crowd was small and he walked in and I made a rain excuse about the numbers. He said “shud up! never blame the rain” and looked around the room “what a great crowd everybodies having fun, get in there with a smile on that puss of yours” and so I did and it was great and I had learned , one lesson of a thousand lessons.
You can’t tell a man’s life in a thousand words and as I write this I’m hard pressed to stop as if when I do he’ll actually be… really gone, I’ve cried for hours and I can’t remember the last time I’ve cried and I remember the last time I saw him so thin, so weak with tubes draining fluids and that tachometry hole and I had been warned by Greg Brier( Arthur and my dearest friend) that it would be shocking. In a few short weeks he had lost his body following the loss of his ability to speak a few months before. I walked in and said “hey art I got 2 tickets to the Yankee game… lets go!” and he opened his mouth wide in a huge silent laugh and I saw my poor friend with his best rings on and knew the fight would soon be over. Colleen and Dahlia, his wife and daughter, will be part of my family forever and I will do my best to be there for them. With his death Arthur has given me new life and commitment to try to live up to the standards he set for me. That he considered me his friend is the greatest validation ive ever had, Im gonna have to stop now as I cant see my words any longer."