Finally, I am nearing the end of this sordid tale, dear readers. I find myself a little sad and nostalgic at writing those words as it means the tale of Big Gray is almost over is almost over. Perhaps it's fitting that Alfred Hoffman, the inventor of LSD died yesterday (at 102), as it was fitting that Jerry Garcia died a few months before the end of Big Gray in 1996. I look for those portends always- signs on the path. Anyway, back to the "Real, Real World" as we later called Big Gray in our recruitment ads. Recruitment was the lifeblood of the house because "house chemistry" was really key to enjoying living at Big Gray where we all, more or less suffered each other's warts, as long as we had that spark between us. For me, because I have always both recognized the need , and enjoyed the result, I sought that "chemistry" between myself and the house "fire chiefs" In meetings, I often took their side, but tried to stay short of creating rifts in the tribal fabric.
But, the prospect of getting someone to replace Sam (a Fire Chief who I bonded with) and Dan (who had a looser bond with me) , and someone who had the vision of Big Gray I did, was not something I looked forward to. The culture wars at Big Gray were becoming boring to me. Recruiting had become a tedious process. I needed someone who I liked, someone who had expertise , someone who wouldn't hide in their room, but instead, and this was always the kicker for me, I needed someone who would vigorously promote the idea of the communal experience. This is why I loved our parties large and small. It opened our home and exposed us, not as people shut off from each other , but rather as family members of Big Gray. If you visited one of us, you visited us all. You weren't just Sam's girl friend, or Kristin's mom and sisters, or Becky's friend or... well, you get the idea don't you? Aside from the "chemistry" component and the communal spirit, there was one other very necessary condition. We always needed someone who took care of business financially.We rarely found all of these traits in the same person. I don't honestly remember a single time in the house where everyone was paying their bills in a timely manner. We had always been home to people in transition. Lovely people with little money. Who among the thousands of people perusing the Village Voice wanted to move to the end of the line in Brooklyn, and live in a huge house filled with people who shared their business? They had to be a little crazy. It was our job on the phone and in subsequent interviews to weed out the very crazy, the very boring and the very poor. Then, we had to reach consensus, or continue our search. It's easier to elect a pope.