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 15 and 16 – Are You Excited Yet…

(suggested music – Luckie by Laura Nyro)

“Are you excited yet?' That’s the prevailing question from the usual eclectic group at Starbucks. Conversation before the pogie nap. (Pogie in Canada meaning Employment Insurance - how’s that for double speak – I guess from the British for welfare).

Excited. No. Nervous. Yes. Anxious. Yes. Rushed. Yes.

Three things to get done before going:

  1. yardening
  2. web page update
  3. packing
  1. Yardening – our yard has over 200 perennials and about 2000 weeds. That’s pretty straight forward – except for the ivy, the wild clematis, and the morning glory.

    The morning glory is a reality. I pull it up which doesn’t solve it or if I can isolate it, I spray it with Round Up which is the only thing that kills it (as well as anything else it touches – except little maple trees – not sugar maples – garbage maples). So morning glory is my exemption to the total no chemicals code of ethics.

    I guess that ivy and wild clematis are also a reality but a different kind. They grow like shit in this 7b zone! So it’s a constant pulling down, creating huge piles of green refuse that the city has nowhere to take.

    Pruning comes down to the Wisteria. To do or not to do. I guess that’s why there’s a zen koan about it. This year – do! – otherwise wisteria wisdom tells you that there will be no blooms. A personal affront to even the laziest gardener. The last thing to do before I leave. (btw - It doesn’t get done…)

  2. Web Page – just when I want to polish the web page as I may get a chance in NY to flog it, my web page design program develops a mind of it’s own. Rather than bore you with tech details, here is a summary:

    • frontpage sucks!
    • frontpage help sucks more!
    • The index page is the most important page and I can change it no prob but the lousy built in cheap FTP won’t upload
    • My good friends (I’m serious here) at show me how to get a top notch FTP for free – by the way, doteasy is the best for low cost, affordable, very good combo of domain name and hosting – and I’ve checked everyone of them (note - not good host for high traffic site as others are cheaper)
    • Still doesn’t work - I know problem is in the index page save but the more I mess with it, the more chance of leaving for NY as web master with no site up at all.
    • When I get back from NY, I figure out how to trick frontpage into thinking I’ve made big changes when I haven’t, and index page uploads, never to be changed again...hahaha...
  3. Packing – as far as I can tell there are three types of packing: Buddhist, existential, and Hindu…all really the same…

    1. Buddhist – they always pack long underwear – polypropylene preferred - the reason being: Buddhists monasteries have long, intensive periods of mediation called Sessins (spelling may be incorrect). The one in December is the eight day long grand person of them all, leading up Buddha’s enlightenment. Now many climates are chilly or downright cold in December and Buddhist head monks love the open-air window effect. Now it’s hard enough if all your muscles are aching, your mind is in total rebellion, one does not need to be shivering for 20 hour mediation days. The one’s who have been here before (now) they bring long underwear to go under their robes.
    2. Existential – the theory being that climates exist. So depending on where you are going and when, one can look up the existential norm on CNN or your guidebook. So for example, CNN tells me that it’s still snowing in NYC. I know this is a great cosmic joke but existentially I must be prepared. Now, the preparation parts again. The rich folk just buy something warmer or cooler when they get there and give the weather the finger. Me, traveling very much as a quasi hobo who has a notebook computer, well the best for us is to pack just one extra thing for warm and hot. The alternative is check out what thrift stores are nearby and rely on the thrift store gods…
    3. Hindu – to understand this one, you need to hear another of my little stories. I was hiking in the spring in Nepal at 11,000 feet. In India, male hobos, bums and tramps have been somewhat culturalized by becoming saddhus, holy men who either hang out at temples, hang out with Westerners as they have the best hash, or go on genuine pilgrimages. So the degree of holiness varies but I knew when I met a true holy man saddhu. And at 11,000 feet I met one. He was on a pilgrimage to a place called Muktinath, which at the time was closed to Westerners. We were both staying in the same house. Me, I had my down sleeping bag as it did get quite cold at night. The saddhu had as his total possessions the thin cotton pinkish robe that are common and one very thin blanket. At night, as I got into my sleeping bag, he wrapped himself in his blanket, smiled, rubbed his arms and said ‘cold’.

So the hindu blanket becomes the Spanish jail blanket and as we will see becomes the Bowery blanket. I wanted to say ‘fuckin’ Bowery blanket but neither the Bowery nor the blanket did me any harm. It was just for continuity sake anyway...

back to Days 13 and 14 | on to Day 17