Whatever you’re reading, I strongly suggest that you put it down immediately and walk your fingers over to Amazon.com to buy Jack Gray’s new book Pigeon in a Crosswalk: Tales of Anxiety and Accidental Glamour, a recounting of his rise to fame, fortune, and glory as a television news producer. You’ve never heard of Jack Gray? Don’t worry, no one has except his 1M+ followers on Twitter and Anderson Cooper. Just to put that in perspective, Kim Kardashian has over 17M followers on Twitter and Anderson Cooper has heard of her, too. Clearly, Twitter and Anderson Cooper have questionable standards.
In all seriousness, I loved Jack’s book so much that I have laughed out loud numerous times on the subway while reading it and missed my stop more times than I care to admit. I couldn’t put it down, even if it meant I was in danger of walking 20 blocks out of my way because I forgot I was on the express train and there was no uptown service at all on my line. I laughed so much I didn’t even care about the inconvenience of missing my stop. (Maybe the MTA should start handing out Jack’s book to disgruntled riders to improve morale.) My unbridled laughter while on the subway has caused passengers on the 2 / 3 train to clear a wide area around me and their facial expressions say something akin to, “Damn, here comes that crazy lady and her book about pigeons.” Crazy has its privileges.
For Jack, everything that’s ever happened to him and anyone he’s ever known is fair game for his comedy. Nothing is sacred. Not even the Kennedys. Especially not the Kennedys. Memoirs are a tricky genre. The book market is flooded with them. They’re so personal and it can be difficult to figure out if the stories in them have mass appeal or appeal only to people who know the author. Pigeon in a Crosswalk falls squarely in the former category.
Jack’s life caused me to howl with laughter, mostly at his expense, and he seems fine with that. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have written the book. Sadly, nothing gives us a good chuckle like self-deprecation and horrible strokes of bad luck happening to relatively decent people. (I have no idea why this is – blame it on our insane desire to feel better about our own lives at any cost.) Jack’s book has both of these in spades. But it also has something more that makes it special and memorable, even lovable.
Look, life here in New York is a little like hell. Especially in February. It’s cold, dreary, windy, and getting more expensive by the minute (literally.) We all need a good, honest laugh as often as we can get it. Jack’s book delivers on the comedy front and he also has a wonderful sense of irony and hope. It’s a rare combination and a fine line that he negotiates beautifully with seemingly little effort. He’s just telling his story and we happen to be there in the front row. Please tell me that he plans to make this a one-man show. I’d pay good money to see it, and I bet Kathy Griffin would, too, as long as Anderson Cooper promises to be her date for opening night.