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

Day 4 – in the dumps(ter)

(suggested music – Underlying Depression by Van Morrison)

I know a famous writer (not Spalding) and he is also diagnosed ‘manic depressive/bipolar’. What he did was years ago, stop drinking. He has never taken meds, and as long as he doesn’t drink, he feels that his moods are manageable (I still believe that being very wealthy from birth is not a hindrance). However, he has gone years at a time in a depression, sitting by the ocean so he can avoid the greedy publishers. And at other times, he can build wonderful sculptures on his land in a day and collapse. Or his latest book was written in 10 days and immediately made the amazon top one hundred (with a bullet as they say in music).

So my dilemma is can I write while very depressed and if I do, will it be any good. And over time, I’ve found that if I can force out the first few lines, I can still write some good stuff. So the mood doesn’t seem relevant although the symptomology of lack of motivation can make those first few sentences very painful. And low and behold, I’ve written some stuff while depressed that I thought was first rate and afterwards, I was just as depressed. So much for cures.

So today, it would be simple to tell you how I ‘met’ Spalding. I didn’t. I saw him perform Monster in a Box in Vancouver, and a friend went early to get the book signed, but I never met him. One time, I picked up a classic car in Atlanta and drove up the coast hoping to get to Sag Harbor, then take the ferry to see the above mentioned other author. The car was acting up so I decided to bypass NY and just head up the coast. Now that I know New York, I’d go visit in a heartbeat.

I had previously decided to write Spalding. I had heard he didn’t use the internet so I put together a package of what he was missing – the rare Spalding butterfly; Spalding, Georgia, political graveyard of the U.S.; Spalding University, home of the annual some kind of rodent race; Spalding auto wreckers; a burned CD of the punk/electronic music band Spalding Gray from Mexico.

You see I can admit it now – I burn music but the Canadian courts have ruled it legal. So I can drive around, listening to burned CD’s, carrying less than 14 grams of pot, and still probably be legal. The word probably is used as the courts have thrown out the cannabis laws, but the Parliament won’t touch it cause it’s a hot potato. So some keen cop could I suppose bust you but it probably wouldn’t even make it to court. Somehow 14 or 28 grams emerged as a more or less acceptable amount cause above that I guess they figure you might be dealing.

So, upon receiving the package, Spud sent me an email, using Kathie’s address, after which I soon had a complete hard drive china syndrome meltdown, losing the email and address. By the time I wrote another letter back, they had been to Ireland and suffered the fateful crash.

Remaining as I am depressed even after these solid memories, I write down:

Staying in bed
How the fuck can I get from
Victoria to Seattle

(so the haiku doesn’t follow structure, has 18 syllables, and doesn’t refer to a season – so sue me and then try writing haiku when you’re fuckin depressed...)

back to Day 3 | on to Day 5