Disenchanted with the usual biographical summery, but allowing that your kind attention must not be treated inhospitably in the face of it's fair and natural curiosity; We offer you not a padded resume dryly measured out against the conventional benchmarks of schools and jobs, but a Fibonacci sequence of anecdotes spiraling geometrically through the years of a life, in the hopes that this may better answer the question: Who is this?
At 0 Reeve was born in New Jersey, U.S.A., 13 miles from New York City.
At 1 the longest solar eclipse of the twentieth century passed through the area exactly on the opposite side of the earth from where he lived. He had no idea.
At 1 he escaped from a playpen his mother had placed in the garden. He crawled up the steps and out into the road. He very nearly became a speed bump that day, but an alert motorist stomped the brake just in time.
At 2 he discovered his shadow. He could not out-smart it.
At 3 he and his friend decided to go to New York. They didn't know how to get there, but they started walking in pretty much the right direction and reasoned that they would recognize it when they saw it, since it had tall buildings. They walked about a mile, met some other kids, and played with them until the sun went down. As it got dark it dawned on them that they were lost, but just then they were found. The Police in three towns had been searching for the unfortunate children, who felt fine and didn't get what the fuss was about.
At 5 his parents placed on the windowsill a glass bulb containing a solar pinwheel of black and white squares. It spun furiously in the midday sun, but only gently at the end of the day.
At 8 he was given a telescope. He looked at the moon and the stars, and studied the distant buildings. He took it apart and was surprised and a bit disappointed that there wasn't really anything inside. He played with the component lenses, burning little holes in paper and throwing upside down images on the wall. He felt first hand the power of a god when he focused his merciless death ray on a bug. He felt remorse, and did not become a serial killer.
At 13 a friend's father lent him a twin-lens reflex camera in which he had shown interest. It was not an expensive model, but compared to the instamatics with which he was familiar, it was a very grown-up machine. It had gears linking the two lenses so that when you turned one, they both moved. Popping up the shade hood and peering into the soft frosted glass he could take balls of luminous fuzz and dial them into revelations of solid fact.
The next Saturday, up in the woods, he was photographing the rocks and rills of a hillside brook when he fumbled and dropped the camera into a small pool. He plucked it out and ran home.
He took the camera completely apart as if he were a bomb disposal engineer. He dried ever bit with tissues and Q-tips, and successfully reassembled the whole thing. The only problem was that when he screwed the lens back together he couldn't tell where, in the long fine threading, to stop and set the lock screw. For one lens one could see the focus on the ground glass, but for the bottom lens, the one that takes the picture, one would have had to have carefully marked the proximate pieces, but he had not know that, and now it was too late.
It was still early, so he took a train into New York to a camera repair shop. The guy explained about calibrating lenses and optical benches in brief, then took the camera and tuned it up for a very kid friendly fee. The guy was impressed by how well the kid had done on his own.
But looming behind all this was the question: did he really intend to pretend it hadn't happened, in essence to lie about it? The camera was fine, so why say anything? But not so fast, for actually the camera was better than before, and the camera guy had added dots of black enamel to seal the tiny steel screw heads. The cameras owner might notice this, and then he would be found out to be deceitful, which was far worse than just being clumsy. If he were honest he could at least show how responsibly he had handled the problem and throw himself on the mercy of the court of Avuncular Trust.
He was already leaning towards coming clean in the matter when the condition of the leather and velveteen camera case tipped the balance solidly towards forthright honesty. It looked like a pair of gloves left on the radiator after a snowball fight.
At 21 he was in film school in New York with a job as a teaching assistant at the darkrooms. It was here that he first made a pinhole camera. He lived in the Village snapping pictures with a beat-up Nikon and scribbling in a journal stained with coffee and beer. Mamoun's falafels kept him alive.
One evening, on a subway platform, he was menaced by a teenage gang. Quite suddenly their nonchalant ambling about the pavement coalesced into a precise ring-a-round of 7 thugs, the leader 3 feet from his face, "Whatdaya got man?"
"Really nothing really. I got a cigarette." and he gave one to the alpha thug and lit it. He took one for himself and offered them around. The Alpha made a gesture that seemed to mean "peace" and "this time you're lucky". At that signal they drifted out of attack formation, sniffing the air as they went.
At 34 he was in the film business, in the union as a prop and working on shoots for commercials and movies. He was well acquainted with all of the most sophisticated camera equipment in the world, and he was adept at building rigs for in-camera magic effects. As a prop, he styled settings for scenes, made rain, smoke and snow and carried furniture around, and around, and around.
Once, while in Philadelphia working on a movie, he was sleeping in a hotel room when he had a vivid work dream. Common among film crews, these dreams feature an insane movie shoot for which the dreamer is required to execute surreal tasks, like carpeting the beach or attaching Jell-o to the ceiling. Nearly overwhelmed by time pressure and the bizarre, unraveling complexities, the dreamer slogs through the deepening chaos, never really questioning the sense of it all. These dreams are actually quite realistic.
This first night in a strange hotel, the dream featured being late for the Big Scene, and so, still fast asleep, he jumped out of bed and rushed out the door to try to catch the van to the set. He awoke in the hall, on his way to the elevator. He wasn't late. He was 3 hours early. It was the middle of the night and he was just standing there naked and locked out of his room. He didn't know the layout of the hotel, or the room number for anyone else on the crew. He couldn't find a house phone in the hall, or any sort of linen closet or housekeeping station where there might be a towel, a sheet, or a phone. There were no newspapers or floor mats, no room service trays, no shoes left for the valet, and the vase on the console table was bolted and glued down. There wasn't even a "Do not disturb" sign, though he wasn't sure if wearing that would have helped the situation much, especially if the "make me up now" side was showing.
He returned to the door, studied the latch mechanism, and realized that there was absolutely nothing he could do without some sort of tool. He was just a trapped monkey. A naked, freaked-out, trapped monkey.
He heard the muffled sound of television coming through a door on the hall. He knocked softly. He knocked hardly. He knocked harder still and called through the door. Finally, the voice of a man who had dozed off with the T.V. on answered. He was apprehensive about opening the door, but he consented to calling the front desk, which he undoubtedly would have done anyway, what with a naked monkey in the hall. Someone should be called.
Reeve tried to act casual, matter-of -fact, and without guile as he waited in horror for the elevator door to open.
The guy in the room never came out and probably went right back to sleep to have his own nutty dream.
The clerk with the key said nothing. He just chuckled softly and opened the door.
"Thank You. I'd give you a tip, but I don't have a thing on me."
55, the next entry, will not be ready until 2009.
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