January 21, 2004
John Perry Barlow on Spalding Gray

I've been thinking for days about how to talk about Spalding Gray. Anna and I went to see him rehearse a new monologue, about three weeks before he disappeared. There were two stories, the first about the car crash in Ireland, which he was working through, and the second I don't even remember, because he could barely get through it. I remember thinking that he must be on serious painkillers for the car crash, and that they must have affected his concentration.

And I remember watching him shuffle offstage, with no regard for the applause, not rebuffing it, but somehow not noticing it either. If you had to characterize what it means to be depressed, it would have something to do with having a group of strangers in front of you, standing up and applauding, and being unable to see the strangers or hear the applause.

Every day I look at the east river, I wait for the moment -- sometime around 3 PM -- when it reverses direction. There's one minute or so where it actually stands still, and I had never noticed this phenomenon until George Plimpton pointed it out from the view from his apartment. I always try to catch that view and that moment from here at work, and I think about Plimpton every time. Now I find myself thinking about Spalding Gray as well, different river, same water. Different river, but the same water, something like that.

I haven't been able to find better words than those, but Gray's old friend John Perry Barlow recalls very moving memories of their time together, and makes no apologies for Gray's despair, or his decisions.

Posted by kevin slavin at January 21, 2004 04:27 PM

an old interview:

io: You're so exposed in your monologues -- do you reserve any part of yourself?

SG: I think that what an audience doesn't see is the enormous amount of pain that the humor comes out of. And they laugh right over it. Like the line in one of my monologues -- it's funny, but not funny -- that my father never went to see Swimming to Cambodia because there were no matinees and he wouldn't miss cocktail hour. The audience would just howl, but that was the truth of the matter.

Posted by: kevin slavin on January 28, 2004 10:31 PM
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