A body pulled from the East River at 3 p.m. Sunday was that of actor-writer Spalding Gray, who had been missing since January 10, the New York City medical examiner's office said Monday afternoon.Strange how celebrities can seem important in our lives -- I remember watching the film of Swimming to Cambodia when I was a teenager and thinking, "Wow -- you can do that in a theatre?" When I was looking at colleges, NYU was my top choice, and on my first visit to Manhattan I went to see Gray in Gray's Anatomy at Lincoln Center. It remains one of the best shows I've ever seen. One man sitting at a desk and telling stories about his crazy life. (The film they later made of it doesn't quite capture the effect.) During my three years at NYU, I saw Gray here or there, and once even had the chance to speak with him, though I shied away and hid in a corner. What did he need some foolish kid saying, "Ummm ... I like your work..." to him for?
When I heard Gray was missing in January, I kept hoping he'd just gone off for some time alone. I knew it couldn't possibly be true. Having read or seen most his monologues, I knew the man too well.
Here's a moment of silence, then, from the snowy hills of New Hampshire, in memory of Spalding Gray, who gave that tired old word unique some meaning.