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 11 and 12 – Dreams and Plans

(suggested music – New York City (You’re a Woman) by Al Kooper)

Was I being too negative? Remembering negative things. Using the f word too often… Doesn’t matter now. I’m going to New York!!! People to do, places to meet. Time to surf the net. My calendar (the best!) had on it that I was going to be there for Buddha day. I thought Buddha Day was the full moon in May. At least, in Katmandu that’s what they used to say. Climb up to the top of the Monkey Temple in the evening, eat acid and party all night. Apparently, New York agreed somewhat. But I did find the best vegetarian restaurant in NY – but it was in Queens. Was it on Sex and the City that they said ‘no one goes to Queens’ or was that Brooklyn? I never did go to Queens. But if anyone does, the best vegetarian restaurant is:

Buddha Bodai (2 locations?)
42 – 96 Main Street
Flushing, Queens

And I could go to Central Park and see Strawberry Fields, I could avoid the World Trade Center remains, I could wander around Soho…

For some reason in my notebook I had written karma, dharma, and sangha. These are the three pillars of zen. But why had I written them in my diary in terms of dreams and plans. Was it my karma to be obsessed with Spalding. Was it my dharma to go to the Memorial. And was it the scattered Spuddys that were to be a sangha. I guess I don’t need to explain karma – although it certainly seems to be misused a great deal – as in ‘that’s a bummer, man’ would suffice over ‘that’s bad karma, man’. And dharma, well they called a sitcom after that, didn’t they. Sangha is the group, the cult members, the supporters, what have you...

Was it Spalding’s karma to end up in the East River. Were his writings the dharma. And did he have a sangha or even want one. You see - I have no idea why I wrote those words.

I looked up Spalding Gray – the three Spalding Grays in America were all the same : one lived part time on Ferry Road, one lived part time on Wooster St. and one apparently had a place in Carmel, NY. I figured only Wooster St. would be on my list. I certainly would have liked the others as well, but I think in Sag Harbor, I’d go for the house across from the cemetery. The one Spalding tried to buy back for three times what he got for it. Shit, I would have sold it back to the poor guy and probably only asked double…

And I wrote down Kathie’s office address and phone number. She must have emailed me that. Conveniently in the area where I was staying. Somehow, I remember asking her to lunch. She said she was real busy (no doubt!) but the Sunday might work for brunch. Call her office when I get to NY. I wrote her address and phone # on the to take notebook. Who knows, maybe the Buddha Bodai did a good lunch. I had dreams of coming downstairs at the Whitehouse – didn’t look anything like in reality – I had on my red plaid shirt, and a Harris Tweed Jacket. Kill the beard and a little more white in the hair, and I’d be there.

The front desk would be impressed.

‘Where are you off too?’

‘Oh, I’ve been invited to brunch. Somewhere called the Russian Tea Room. Ever heard of it?’

And David Letterman. Had to get stand by tickets for the Late Show.
Call 212 247 6497 starting at exactly 11 am – phone is open for 30 minutes more or less, until they have enough people to line up. No guarantees.

'And the body [Spalding] was found off the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn near Kent Ave.'
Was Brooklyn near Queens?
Cause if I went to Greenpoint, I’d need to either get spiritual or fucking drunk…

back to Days 9 and 10 | on to Days 13 and 14