Blackout With Spalding

12190078_10153061454240974_9218873418363904992_n.jpgI found this old picture. There was a island wide loss of power that night, ten years ago in NY. Savitri and I were dining on spaghetti in the Wooster St. apt of Spalding Gray, Kathy Russo and their sons Forest and Theo. We got out the candles and lit ourselves and the table. Spalding was having a rough night, always second guessing himself. hesitating, regretting the smallest things with bitterness. Kathy was encouraging him but also clearly had a long-game of patience. The boys were ages - 6 and 10 - something in that range, and they were sustaining a cheerfulness more easily, but already Forest, the older boy, was sneaking glances at Dad. Savi and I insisted on the role of happy guests, but some of our social talk was left as well-intentioned quips hanging in the air. 

I always loved Spalding and sought his approval as an older brother with such an original artistic place in the world. At a critical point in my own hesitation about what to do with my work, he scolded me about my habitual producing of other artists, including him. "Stop producing and do that preacher character. Go to Times Square and preach on the street and don't stop. Do it all day." 

We walked from the apt through the dark streets, Theo was falling asleep. We walked to Union Square. There was a festive feeling, lots of laugher. We arrived at the old speaker's corner of our town and a crowd was waiting together in the darkness. Perhaps I had a feeling of foreboding about Spalding, and then there was a eery laughing ancient quality to things on the plaza under the trees. I had my vestment and collar in my satchel and put it on and began to preach. I was lit up by the flashlights of folks sitting there. Now discovering this picture ten years later, I am moved by it, the grotesque glory of it. Preaching against the darkness for Spalding.