New York Daily Photo Analytics

Sunday, August 05, 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." ...

6 comments:

Abraham Lincoln said...

This is an interesting shot and the commentary is enlightening to me.

Abraham Lincoln
Brookville Daily Photo

Brian said...

I was only recently aquainted with him by a friend. Not sure how I missed it - he was a significant player in NYC and in the Village where I live.

RD said...

Love this post. I remember reading about this when it happened. I always wonder what kind of hell a person is in when he takes his own life, knowing what it will do to those who love them.

uptonatom said...

I'm the webmaster for www.spaldinggray.com on behalf of the Estate. Thank you very much for mentioning the site.
Could we have permission to use the picture on the site? We would give you full credit and a link to any site you want.

Also, what kind of tree is it and what is the story behind the plaque/plant? Who put it there.
Does that say 'American Eggcentric...'? Who wrote the text?
If you go to the site and click on 'Contact' that goes to me.
Thank you again
jb

P. Titibasana aka Cassie said...

I love Spalding Gray and was so sad at the time of his death,

I recently saw Stories Left to Tell...it was a beautiful hommage to him. I also learned about the circunstances surrounding his death. I was not aware of his accident and subsequent chronic problems he was dealing with. These along with his depression sadly got the best of him.

I was not aware of this site in Washington Square, but I will visit the spot and think of him.

Cassie

P. Titibasana aka Cassie said...

Here is what Bette Midler had to say about he show:



"...SPALDING GRAY COMES BACK TO LIFE IN THIS WONDERFUL EVENING... HIS TALENT, HIS LOVE, HIS DESPAIR, ALL IN ONE HEARTBREAKING PACKAGE." -BETTE MIDLER