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 5 – A Quiet Day

(suggested music - Inside (the Taj Mahal)/also called Taj Mahal (both will do) by Paul Horn)

I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. Being depressed takes a tremendous amount of energy. Hence, the lack of motivation and the lack of energy when helpful ‘friends’ and family tell ‘you’ to ‘buck up’, ‘pull up your socks’, ‘get a job’…

So today I’m tired. Not depressed really. Just tired.

Today is also the day that I received the impossible mistake that was made on my ‘signed’ copy of IV (Impossible Vacation) – wrapped just like you would expect a signed copy. I wrote them and they sent me a phony ad that had been changed. I didn’t have a copy of the original ad so I just reported them to abebooks as shyster frauds. If I had the original proof, I would slam their name here.

I chatted on line with my semi editor in England. He is really a world-class scientist who helps edit once in awhile when he has time – which now is never. But he has invented something that when added to cell phones or your hard drive will absofuckinglutely (thanks Big) revolutionize the industry. A hint – the size of your hard drive in gigs will become totally irrelevant. So we got dibs on the pre stock offering (IPO), at which point we retire. So I constantly tell him to work hard, long hours but to take very good care of himself cause if he’s dead there are weasly lab rats lined up to steal the invention.

Always nice to chat with him. He gives me great encouragement and shows infinite patience. I met him years ago in university. I’d decided to join the rock climbing club to get over my fear of heights. It sort of worked. Now I can look up at a tall building and not puke. So, I was a lousy climber and he was an excellent climber. The rock jocks left me behind but we used to climb together a lot. Then we did a major hike across Baffin Island and he saved my life at least twice. So he’s a life long friend even though I haven’t seen him in about 16 years. (Alas, 2 years later when I had a stroke, he refused to communicate for reasons I still do not understand.)

And a funny thing came popping up from the past. When I was writing my Mulligan mystery book called Murder in the Caymans (, I decided to work the Swan Islands into it – look them up – just off of Nicaragua. In about 1960, the Islands were bought by the Manhattan Shipping Company. It turned out however that this shipping company had no ships but plenty of big radio towers. The Manhattan Shipping Co. was a front for the CIA. It appeared as if they were just interested at blasting propaganda at Cuba. I knew all this cause when I was a kid, I was big into short wave radio.

So I thought ‘work it into the book’. Research indicated that (no longer there) was run by a developer in the Caymans, who was looking for investment dollars to take cruises from the Caymans to the Swans. I don’t think he knew the Nicaragua guards had standing orders to shot any approaching boats but he’d find out. So I’d sent him a prank email saying that Mulligan’s friends (Mulligan is my hobo detective) in the Caymans, Bruno and Mr. Big were interested in investing. Now, at least a year and a half later, he writes back looking for about 3 mill in Cayman Island dollars to get going. By this time in my books, Bruno was in Bangalore, India hanging out with the Dell folks. So that’s what I wrote him. I guess Bruno better get back to the dude soon.

Now the Bruno shit is fiction but the CIA stuff was real. Oh, by the way, the CIA wasn’t broadcasting propaganda, it was broadcasting secret messages to the Bay of Pigs invaders. After that failed (cause the head of MI5 was a Russian spy!), the islands were given back to Nicaragua, so the guards can wait for mr. developer to show up and then fucking shoot him.

It was a nice diversion for a quiet day.

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