Volume 16 • Issue 41 | March 12 - 18, 2004

Police blotter

Gay marriage advocates protested outside Police Plaza March 11 in support of others who have been arrested for participating in same-sex marriages. Councilmember Margarita Lopez, not shown, was one of the demonstrators.

Gray’s body found
The body of a man clad in black corduroy trousers that washed up on the Williamsburg side of the East River on Sunday afternoon, March 7, was identified on Monday as Spalding Gray, the performance artist missing for two months from his Wooster St. home near Canal St.

Police were working on the assumption that Gray, 62, who had a history of depression and who made his emotional fragility the subject of many of his highly acclaimed monologues, committed suicide by jumping off the Staten Island ferry shortly after he was last seen by his wife, Kathleen Russo and their two children.

On the day he disappeared, Gray was wearing a gray jacket with a blue scarf, brown sweater, brown shoes and black corduroy trousers.

Gray, who suffered a fractured skull and a crushed hip in June 2001 in an auto accident during a vacation in Ireland, had previously been prevented from suicide jumps into the waters near the family’s other home in the Hamptons. He threatened more recently to jump off the Staten Island ferry and one of his final phone calls was made from a payphone near the ferry terminal.

Gray had just returned from a movie with his wife and two young sons on the evening of Jan. 10 when he told his wife he was going to meet a friend. He didn’t return and did not show up the following day at the airport for a ski trip to Aspen, Colo.

Russo notified the First Precinct a day later that Gray was missing. The family’s anxiety increased as days of near-zero weather went by. There were reports, however, that Gray had been seen at various locations, including the ferry.

Gray’s mother committed suicide in 1967 at the age of 52. That was the year Gray moved to New York. Three years later he joined Richard Schechner’s experimental Performance Group. In 1975 he founded the Wooster Group with director Elizabeth LeCompt, and four years later began writing and performing a series of monologues.

Wickham Boyle, a Downtown Express columnist and arts critic who was an actor with La Mama Experimental Theater Company in the 1970s, recalled her admiration for Gray’s talent. “We all saw each other’s shows and when his monologue, ‘Swimming to Cambodia,’ went to Lincoln Center, it took experimental theater to a new level. We felt that mainstream theater was open to all of us,” she said.

In addition to his wife and their sons, Gray is survived by a stepdaughter, Marissa, and two brothers, Rockwell, an English professor at Washington University in St. Louis, and Channing, a music critic for the Providence Journal. His former wife, Renee Shafransky, also survives.

A friend of the family said Gay’s body would be cremated.

Train severs arm
A man struck by a northbound No. 5 train in the Fulton St. Broadway station at 12:25 p.m. Wed. March 3 lost his left arm and was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition, police said. There was no evidence of criminality and the victim, described only as a black man, 63, is believed to have put himself in the way of the incoming train, police said.

Break shul window
An employee of Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem, the synagogue at 145 E. Broadway between Pike and Rutgers Sts., heard the sound of breaking glass at 3:30 p.m. Sun. March 7 and discovered the front door window broken. Police are investigating it as a possible bias incident and said an unknown vandal used a metal object to smash the window.

—Albert Amateau


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