January 23, 2008

A Death in SoHo

The news of Heath Ledger's death yesterday came as such a shock, and I was surprised to learn he lived just a few blocks away. Like most, I learned of his tragic death from the mass media. For my after-dinner walk, I walked south along Greene St., past the luxury furniture store, the high-end coffee place, the Apple Store, and all the design stores and boutiques. I was nearing Broome Street when I saw ahead of me the flashing lights of the NYPD police cars and an ambulance heading west. I learned later that Ledger's body was removed from the building at 6:30 p.m.

Standing across the street from Ledger's SoHo apartment building, I was surrounded by six satellite vans and a growing throng of mostly twenty-somethings of Ledger's age. They talked to reporters, text messaged friends, and snapped photos. I overheard a few references to Marilyn Monroe. There wasn't much to do except look up at the fourth floor loft windows or glimpse at the live feeds in the satellite trucks.

As I have been thinking about the concept of "home" lately, I thought about the young Australian's life so far away from home. His building on Broome Street, a classic well-kept SoHo cast iron, seemed kind of cold to me, as the view from the street did not reveal any evidence that someone lived there. I often wonder about the challenges of living in buildings that were designed to store objects as opposed to house human beings, and I think it takes a lot of work to make them into a semblance of "home."

So, here's this talented and handsome actor, I thought, far away from home in a cold-looking loft in lower Manhattan, and he's found dead without his clothes on at the foot of the bed. Tragic indeed.

Life buzzes along at all hours in New York, and it's often punctuated by louder noises, and sometimes all you want to do is sleep.

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