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New York Daily Photo: Spalding Gray
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Sunday, 5 August 2007

Spalding Gray

This tree and plaque in Washington Square Park is a relatively unknown memorial to Spalding Gray (1941-2004). If you are unfamiliar with Spalding and his work, I suggest you go to his website here. Spalding was an award winning monologist par excellence, although his work and life was certainly controversial. Gray wrote 18 monologues and appeared in many films. He is most well known for Swimming to Cambodia, the filming of one of his monologues based on his experiences in Southeast Asia while working in a small acting role in the film The Killing Fields. In January 2004, he was reported missing - read the article here. In March, 2004, Spalding's body was found in the East River. It is believed his death was a suicide and that he jumped into the river from the Staten Island Ferry. He had threatened to do this in a note to his wife in 2003 - click here for the entire story. He had previously attempted suicide in 2002 and his mother had also committed suicide. Spalding moved to NYC in 1967 and lived in the Village. In 1988 the New York Times ran an article where they asked 12 well known New Yorkers where they would go to show a visitor the real new York. In it Gray said: "And then there's Washington Square Park. I go there every day. It's a little carnival: the fire-breathing guy, the guy sitting on a little stool, giving out free advice. It's distinctively New York, not a Parisian thing, or a San Francisco thing. What I figured out in L.A. is, they've got lots of nature, like birds and trees, but no human nature. Here it's like a dance, everyone very aware of their own body space. The other night, I saw four people on a specially made bicycle for four. They had a generator that was lighting up four huge spheres, light bulbs on their heads, as they rode up Second Avenue. It takes a lot to catch an eye in New York, but they did, and I said, you know New York always redeems itself." ...


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