Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Ancient Life: Articles I Ripped Out of The New Yorker, 1--Golden Gate Bridge

Hey, kids: in the olden days, before the internet, if you wanted to “save” a magazine article, you didn’t bookmark it, you ripped it right out of the pages of the magazine (hopefully, this wasn’t a magazine you were reading at the doctor’s office or the library). I have a notebook of articles* I ripped out of various magazines, and while I’m away from the blog, I thought it might be interesting to look back at some of those that I took from The New Yorker:

*I have stories and poems too, but apparently those notebooks are buried somewhere in my scary storage area.

[Oh, and don't forget to enter the book giveaway:]

“Letter from California: Jumpers”
The fatal grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge
By Tad Friend
October 13, 2003


Survivors often regret their decision in midair, if not before. Ken Baldwin and Kevin Hines both say they hurdled over the railing, afraid that if they stood on the chord they might lose their courage. Baldwin was twenty-eight and severely depressed on the August day in 1985 when he told his wife not to expect him home till late. “I wanted to disappear,” he said. “So the Golden Gate was the spot. I’d heard that the water just sweeps you under.” On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. “I still see my hands coming off the railing,” he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”

Kevin Hines was eighteen when he took a municipal bus to the bridge one day in September, 2000. After treating himself to a last meal of Starbursts and Skittles, he paced back and forth and sobbed on the bridge walkway for half an hour. No one asked him what was wrong. A beautiful German tourist approached, handed him her camera, and asked him to take her picture, which he did. “I was like, ‘Fuck this, nobody cares,’ ” he told me. “So I jumped.” But after he crossed the chord, he recalls, “My first thought was What the hell did I just do? I don’t want to die.”


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.