Ed Gavagan – Drowning On Sullivan Street – The Moth
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[Ed Gavagan - Drowning On Sullivan Street - The Moth]
Let’s hear it for Ed Gavagan.
[Ed Gavagan] Source: LYBIO.net
I came to New York with my architectural education and years of experience, building houses and furniture; and just enough money to open up a little wood shop in Brooklyn underneath the Manhattan Bridge.
And I hired a couple of earnest wool hat wearing carpenters from Vermont, and we made exclusive one of a kind pieces of furniture; and we sold them one at a time for about a year, until I realized that my business model wasn’t really gonna to work. I was actually funding a non-profit support group for earnest woodworkers.
And so we used to drink at a couple of bars in the village, the first one was a run down dive bar with black spray paint on the ceiling and a pool table. The other one was a little bit fancier, owned by an Irish guy, a firefighter and it was little bit nicer.
And I made friends with both the guys, we’d go there and we drink. And one night the owner of the dive bar we’re shooting pool and he’s bellyaching about his lease is going to be up, and he can’t pay the higher rent, and he is going to run out of business, because none of us are going to pay more for the drinks, and his life is going to be over.
And a light bulb goes off of my head, and I see my solution. I said if you buy the wood, I will design it and build it, and they will come. You will charge more money for drinks, we’ll have cute chicks in here on a Friday and Saturday night, I’ll work three nights a week, you work four nights a week, it’s going to be a beautiful thing.
He agreed, shook hands did the deal, I built the bar, it was beautiful. Friday nights, full of hot chicks, and on Sundays it was quiet and Vinny the Chin, Gigante’s guys would come in, and sit at the end of the bar. They’re very nice guys, they drink Glenfiddich in a champagne flute, and one of them took me aside one day and he goes; he goes, Eddie you know what you did here for us? You did a beautiful thing for the neighborhood, you took a cockroach, and you turned it into a butterfly, you are alright.
I was in seventh heaven, and I had everything I wanted, it was going great. I go to my buddy the firefighter and his fancy bar, pick his brain, I question him on how to make my bar run well, because I had never done anything like this; and my partner, he was used to running a dive bar with a pool table. So I pick up tips from him.
And one night, I’m walking over to visit my friend, and I’m thinking I have cracked the code for New York, I’ve got it all figured out. As soon as the bar gets going, I’m going to have revenue stream, I’ll carve my little mahogany pieces in Brooklyn, it’s going to be great.
So I walked around the corner to head down to his bar. And I walk into an initiation for a gang called the Latin Kings, and they had three guys with their knives out like this, and a lookout at either end of the block. To move up into the upper estrange of the game, that they had this ritual, they had to kill somebody. And I was the circumstantial guy, coming down the block.
So they – I was walking, and I stepped aside to let the three of them pass, and they jumped on me and they started stabbing me as many times as they possibly could. And one guy had a 10-inch knife, and it went in my side and up, the other guy was stabbing me on my back.
And though biographical note, when I went to college, I was at Notre Dame, I was on the boxing team, so I did okay there. And I got one punch, one straight right to the guy in the middle, and he went down like a sack of potatoes. And the guy with the big knife was still stabbing me. When I realized that I was being stabbed, I was little disconcerted, I started to scream, and the screaming, plus the fact that their middle guy was now down, they panicked, they started to pull him away, and I started to run down the block.
[Ed Gavagan] Source: LYBIO.net
The problem was, both my lungs were collapsed, and if you know anything about anatomy, my inferior vena cava was cut, which is basically a garden hose size vein that brings all your blood back to your heart.
So I’m running down the block to [Arturo’s], this is on Thompson between Bleecker and Houston. I’m screaming my head off, and all little Italian ladies on Thompson Street call 911, Arturo’s waitresses come looking out, and I go down to my knees, and I started to crawl, and my lungs are filling up with blood from my injuries. And I rollover on my back, and I think that things are going very badly for me at this time.
And my vision goes down to little pinpoints, and I had to move my head to see who is looking down on me, and everybody is just in complete panic. And I realized how bad it is, and I just feel like, there’s no way anybody is going to be able to help me. I know that it’s bad, and I’m going.
In this big New York city garbage trucks pulls up, and off the back of the garbage truck, jumps one of the guys who happens to be a Vietnam vet. He hears what’s happened, he comes over, he stands over me and picks me up by the front of my shirt and he starts to smack me, and he goes, don’t you fucking die on me.
And he goes into his flashback, and I start to wake up. And the pain was intense enough to give me a little boost, and I look at him and I go, please you are hurting me, can you stop? The blood now is coming out of my mouth, and then the ambulance pulls up. And I’ll never forget, the ambulance comes up, and the first guy out of the ambulance is a very tall slender black guy with little dreadlocks, little two inch dreads coming. He looks down on me, and everyone is telling him what happened, what happened, and I’m looking up at him, and he grabs me by the chin, and he said this is going to hurt, and I said, okay.
And he takes his scissors and he starts to cut my cloths off. And I remembered, I had a really nice cashmere sweater on, and I said, do you have to cut the sweater? And he’s stuck in an adrenaline needle in my neck, and looks back at his partner, he goes, why they always say that?
And in back of my mind, I knew for the first time that he’d done this before, and that maybe I was going to be okay, because he knew exactly what he we was doing. So they took all my clothing off my torso, and he lifted up my arm, he sliced me open under between my ribs and he shoved a tube between my ribs into my lung.
And that hurt worse than anything I had ever felt, and I came up off the sidewalk, and he pushed me down, he goes, oh we got to do the other side. So he lifts my arm up and he sliced me open, he shoved another tube in, which hurt equally as bad. The good part about that is that, all my blood was now draining onto the sidewalk, so I could breathe.
They put me in the ambulance, they bring me to the hospital, surgeons are ready, I was in surgery, it took them about 10 hours to open me up, take all my organs out like unpacking a suitcase, check everything and then take – I lost organs, I didn’t know that I had. And they took about 12 feet of my intestines out, stitched me all back up; put it in out at this point.
And I wake up the next morning on life-support, I got tubes up my nose, I got tubes up my lungs, I’ve got catheter, I’ve got morphine drip, I’ve got – I mean just punctured through and through. And at the end of my bed, there are two homicide detectives. And the surgeon and the homicide, and everyone is so sure that I’m going to die, that homicide has the case, right?
What they say to me is, we caught those guys, and the DA will be here in a little while, and we just, you don’t have to talk, we’d just tell you, what’s up and you can agree and put a little x on the form, and we’ll – and they thought, I was going to die, like they – nobody thought, I would make it. And they were so sure that I wouldn’t live through the surgery, the next 48 hours with the infection, nobody thought, I was going to make it.
[Ed Gavagan] Source: LYBIO.net
And the detective says, you know, we recovered the knives, and I have never seen anybody get hit, with the kind of knives you got hit with, buddy what do you eat? And I said, Guinness, and that seemed to have satisfied them.
And I became basically the mascot in 6th precinct for not dying. And then my dad and mom flew out, and they stood at the end of my bed, while they were at divorce and they argued, but anyway they were happy that I was alive.
Then my dad went to the bar that night and met everybody, and he came in the next morning, and he goes, Eddie, you know what, I got an envelope here. And this man came up to me last night, and he goes, is it the case that you’re father of Ed Gavagan? My dad was like yeah, would you please come here, I have to tell you something.
He goes Mr. Gavagan, there was a time when those punks wouldn’t have made it on the block, but those times are gone, and we’d like apologize, here is the card for your son. When I opened the card, it’s full of money, and it was cheesiest hallmark card you can ever see signed by the boys of Sullivan Street, the mafia.
So I get out of the hospital, come off life-support, and when I get off life-support and released under this program, special program they have for people with no insurance, which when they find out you don’t have insurance, they’d give you a bottle of Percocet and a cane, and push you out the door.
So I ended up at home, my girlfriend at the time is completely distract, she hates New York. I can’t go to sleep because every time I try and sleep the movie starts, the stabbing and the horror, and so she wants to leave New York, and I say, I’m not going to leave New York, you know, nobody is, I’m not leaving. She is like; well I’m going to. If you don’t leave, I’m leaving you. Okay, got to go, bye. LYBIO.net
So at this point then, everything is bad like I have – behind of all of my bills because I had expended every ounce of credit, I borrowed money, I had maxed my credit cards everything to open this bar. I was behind on the rent when I went into the hospital, and now I’m getting the call, so right the creditors every morning, and yet, I’m so happy to be alive.
So I walked down the street, and I look at a flower, and it will be singing. You know like: I’m so happy to be here every minute, I’m just like overjoyed. And yet, my life is shit because every day it’s like until the phone got cut off, and the landlord has padlocked my shop in Brooklyn, because he wants to make sure he can keep my tools to sell when I don’t pay the rent; and I get the eviction notice.
And my folks say, we are not going to help you stay in that horrible city, they’re back in Wyoming, where I grew up. And they said, if you come back here, we’ll buy you a pickup truck, and you can get better and just maybe build houses here, you don’t live there, it’s a horrible city. And I said no, actually I don’t like the strings you are attaching to the help, and so I’m not leaving and I’ll be here, thank you.
And I talked to my partner at the bar, and I said, you have money, is there any money, and he said, well, business is hard, expenses are high. And I thought to myself, well okay. And then I came home one day and all my possessions were in plastic garbage bags on the sidewalk, and I was evicted. And homeless guys were picking through my stuff and carrying it off, and I was like go ahead, I got no place to go.
[Ed Gavagan] Source: LYBIO.net
And so I called this cute Canadian bartender that we had at the bar, she was a poet, and I said can I sleep on your couch? So she agreed, and so I went to sleep on her couch, and I was getting more and more angry at the world, and it would alternate with, I’m so lucky to be alive. And then my medical problems were so horrible, but I had no money to do anything, like I couldn’t even ride the subway.
And I then have these moments where I’d look at a door knob and think, all the lives that had come and opened that door knob and now how exquisite everything was, and then I thought all those guys that are sitting and rocking in the corner in the mental institutions, this is what every day’s life for them, and I press it down, press it down and keep going.
And then one day I was like, you know at that bar, it’s got to be making something, I got there, and I went in there late Saturday night, I go in and I go through the books.
Turns out my partner had re-negotiated our deal until I could work the three nights a week, I was a zero percent partner, and the bar had actually been doing really well. And I went berserk, so I started to bust up a joint and take out all the beautiful things that I’ve made, and smash everything I could get my hands on and the manager called 911.
And the 6th precinct came to arrest me, put me in handcuffs and bring back to station house, I was on my way, and the door, who do I see, the detective. And he’s like Eddie what the, take the cuffs off of him, what do you want, coffee? Sit down, get him a sandwich, come here. Sit down they fingerprint me, and in comes the phone call from my partner, and I did say, I was going to kill him. So he said to them that he needed an order of protection, and so the detective says to me, you know what you got to do? You give that guy the ultimatum, you won’t kill him, he gives you a check. He goes, the bigger the check, the sooner you forget who he is. It was great advice.
[Ed Gavagan] Source: LYBIO.net
I got a check, I was able to get some therapy, go back to the doctor for the first time, get some medication, found out how to, yo know, deal with everything, married the Canadian poet, bartender. And uh, my brother calls me from Wyoming, and he says you know Eddie how come you never left like, you know, you didn’t have anything going, what was that? What kept you there? And I said, you know, you can almost die anywhere in the world, but this city saved my life.
Ed Gavagan – Drowning On Sullivan Street – The Moth. I was behind on the rent when I went into the hospital, and now I’m getting the call, so right the creditors every morning, and yet, I’m so happy to be alive. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.
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