I wish to God I didn't have to write this: On Friday, December 1, Eric Ng was riding his bike up the West Side bike path. He was on his way from a show to a party -- that was Eric, always busy, always seeing people -- when a fucking drunk driver ran him down. The driver had traveled at speed for over a mile on the bike path, ignoring dozens of exits, literally dozens of chances to return to the road. Dozens of choices. The car hit Eric with such force that his bike was crushed, he was thrown into the air, his tire and shoe landing fifty feet away. The horrific details are in the news, if you want them.
Eric. What can I even say? If you knew him, you know. I met Eric at NYU, four years ago. He was three years younger than me. Straight outta Jersey, a beautiful punk rock kid with a constant smile on a direct line from a big heart. A staccato laugh like a snare drum in a string section. A teddy bear with muscles. I remember his guitar, taped together & with a few screws missing, the one time we played music together: "Dude. I think we should play it faster."
And now a phone call and a shock. Not Eric. I feel old too soon; Eric was 22 perfectly. A body full of honest energy and a face like contagious hope.
I've been making ghost bikes for strangers for a year and a half. Eric's is not the first that made me cry, but it's the first that made me hurt. A big group of Eric's friends spent the weekend mourning, talking, and, finally, making. We made a ghost bike for him on Saturday and sunflowers on Sunday. Eric's memorial plaque reads "Love & Rage" -- no resting in peace for this rock star.
We are planning for a memorial ride this Saturday, December 9th, meeting at 1pm in Washington Square Park and then proceeding to the site of Eric's death. Non-bikers can head straight to the site, on the West Side bike path near Clarkson St. Please bring flowers (especially sunflowers), sidewalk chalk, paint, whatever you want. There will also be a memorial service after the ride at 2:30pm at St. Mark's Church with music and a slideshow, and a party at 8pm at Time's Up, at 49 E. Houston St.
Thank you to everyone who has been e-mailing and to those strangers who have already placed signs and flowers at the site. Thank you for your kindness and your anger both. A lot of people have been talking about pressing for physical barriers against cars on the bike path and other infrastructure improvements to help prevent future deaths. This is a great idea, and people should not hesitate to contact local elected officials, and get in touch with Time's Up and Transportation Alternatives, who I know already are working along those lines.
Eric's loss is a collective one; the sheer number of people who cared deeply for him is amazing. The depth of their pain is a mirror of the joy he brought to this world. That joy remains, pushed under but still there. If you ever had it, hold it.
I know my words are ever inadequate to express all this. Please feel free to use the comments section for memories and messages.
Update: Information on funeral services and ideas for contacting elected officials are in the comments.
Update 2:We've finally confirmed a full set of events for Saturday:
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9
1PM: Memorial bike ride. Meet up in Washington Square Park at 1pm. We will ride together to the site of Eric's death at 1:30 SHARP. Non-bikers can go directly to the West Side Greenway, near Clarkson St. By train: take the 1 to Houston St.
2:30PM: Memorial service at St. Mark's Church. Friends & family will share stories, show photos, and play music. St. Mark's Church is at the corner of 2nd Ave and 11th St. By train: 6 to Astor Place, R/W to 8th St, or F train to Houston St.
8PM: Memorial dance party. Do not go gently into that good night. DJs & live punk rock. At Time's Up, 49 E. Houston St. By train: 6 or B/D/F/V to Bleecker-Lafayette.