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Random thoughts about Big Fish & Swimming to Cambodia

By March 15, 2004websites

The tendrils of the Internet reach into nooks that other communication methods simply do not reach. In explaining this I will have to be somewhat disjointed (which is how the Internet is).

Awhile back TPB Esq. blogged about how much he liked the movie Big Fish. Mostly on the strength of his recommendation, I went to see the movie. I enjoyed it tremendously (it’s a story about the strained relationship between a son and his imaginative, relentlessly story-telling father), which I knew that I would because of what TPB had written about the movie.

Flash forward to recently when Rick Klau posted something that is more than a review of the movie. He talks about taking his son to see a memorable movie called Big Bear (well, ‘memorable’ for his son), and then goes on to discuss his thoughts on the relationship between fathers and sons. I had the good fortune to meet Rick and his son, albeit briefly, at Disney World more than a year ago (and I’m looking forward to meeting Rick again in two weeks at the ABA Tech Show in Chicago).

Ah, yes. Fathers and sons, and chance encounters with friends. These are truly important things that rarely appear in the headlines of major newspapers.

Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll never get a chance to meet a fellow named Spaulding Gray whom I had not heard of until word of his disappearance was announced by several bloggers, including John Perry Barlow. Recently, his body was discovered in New York’s East River.

Spaulding Gray took his own life, and apparently he did so shortly after taking his kids to see the movie ‘Big Fish’. Spaulding Gray was an actor and, according to most accounts, a somewhat eccentric character. He was known for many things, perhaps least of all for his moderate role in the 1984 movie The Killing Fields.

After reading what John Perry Barlow had to say about Spaulding Gray I was intrigued enough about him to order from Netflix the movie Swimming to Cambodia. The movie is directed by Jonathan Demme (of ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Stop Making Sense’ fame), and captures one of Spaulding Gray’s trademark monologue performances in which he discusses varied subjects, such as Southeast Asian politics and the availability of sex and drugs in the Third World.

Clearly, this was a man that I would have liked to have met. I’m also hoping one day to meet John Perry Barlow. I suppose I have my chance tomorrow if I go to Loyola University’s Nunemaker Hall at 7;30 pm. There will be a debate on music piracy between Thomas Dolby (of Dolby surround sound and the famous song “She Blinded Me With Science”) and John Barlow. I’d like to go but I probably won’t. I’m tired of the debate about music piracy and online file-trading. I’d rather talk about something metaphysical, like death and the relationship between fathers and sons, and between good friends.

One thing I’m wondering about: will Spaulding Gray’s kids remember that their father took them to see ‘Big Fish’ right before he decided to jump into the East River and end his life? Years from now, when they see the movie again, what meaning will that movie hold for them? Surely, they’ll know it was the last movie that their father took them to go see.

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