Swimming to Manhattan
A personal journey to Spalding Gray’s Memorial Service in NYC
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
April 13th, 2004
by John Boland (aka ‘Ratz Garcia’)
Dedicated to Kathie, Melissa, Theo, Forrest … and Spalding
Days 13 and 14 – Trips to NY as a Kid
(suggested music – He’s a Runner by Laura Nyro)
And I started listening to only New York artists – the only two I knew lots about and had lots of were Laura Nyro and Al Kooper. Laura Nyro has 2 web sites: www.lauranyro.com seems to be the official one but www.lauranyro.net seems to have more info. For Al Kooper (think very first Blood Sweat and Tears album) it’s just www.alkooper.com).
My reality was that I was still working everyday trying to retrieve spaldinggray.com which now should have become the intellectual property of the Estate. After I had sent fabulous.com a number of emails hinting at the plan we had if they would not hand over the domain name, they decided that it wasn’t worth the legal hassle – translation: they were concerned about our plans and they knew they were in violation of recent court decisions – they wrote that they would sell it for $200.
I got on a chat with a benefactor and they said pay it. Yet, I was a trained negotiator. The government had trained me. Then they seemed surprised when against many odds I decided to fight them over their impolite booting me out in a hurry one Friday afternoon cause one of them had a plane to catch for a Dominican Republic vacation, and even more surprised when they had to pay me $117,000 – which in Canada is a very high labor settlement – 2nd or 3rd highest in Canada at the time.
So, no, our top price was $100. They accepted, cost an arm and a leg to transfer the money to them and then they took their sweet time making the transfer – an internet catch 22 – change the DNS #’s by signing into fabulous and get the sign in password after you sign in. But it did get transferred, I began to rebuild the site, and I signed the rights for the domain name, spaldinggray.com over to Kathie and the Estate.
That was part of the reality going on. The thoughts, memories and dreams came about when someone asked if I had ever been to New York before.
Yeah, I had. This requires a story background. My uncle Carl (married to my father’s sister Dorothy (bless her heart)) had graduated from law school and taken a job in New York with a small communication’s company just starting, called AT&T. Because they were new, they paid him well but mostly in stock. So skip a few years and he retires early on the splits and dividends. The AT&T stock becomes to me like the monolith in 2000 and 1. They had no children and there were only three nieces and nephews – me being in the nephew category.
They moved to a very large house in Connecticut (near where Letterman now lives) which even in the 50s was well linked to rapid transit to NYC. So every Thanksgiving and other times as well, we (I remember my father and mother and my myself, don’t remember my brother and sister) would drive down from Canada to visit. My uncle only had three passions: New York Yankees, golf and a new Thunderbird every year. This was the time of the sports car T birds so my uncle knew that the first thing every time was take me for a drive in the country in the sports car. Then we had to watch the World Series. I realized why when this time I went into the Yankees store and noticed that they had won the World Series eight times in the 50s. No one else would watch it. My uncle liked me. He and my Aunt spent the rest of his life traveling around the states and the world so that she could get her Grand Master in bridge by getting 100 Master points and he just golfed wherever was nearby. (When I was between eight and 12, my aunt was always my bridge partner! Yikes, if I made a mistake – good for learning to play slams – she never played a hand – I had to play every one.)
My father would take me into NYC regularly on the speed train. All I remember is a lovely picnic in Central Park and going up the Empire State Building which was the official beginning of my life long fear of tall buildings.
So, yes I figured that I had been in NYC about 24 times, and the last visit was 42 years before. My father died when I was about 12 and the visits ended. Years later my other aunt committed mail fraud to steal the AT&T stock and that fucking monolith came crashing down.