Won't They Miss Me When I'm Gone

Links to a.d.sullivan & info on Susan Walsh

 

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I don't think anyone knows why Sue picked July 16 to disappear. But she

rarely did anything of such a momentous occasion without having

significance.

 

"She often went on and on about the significance of things," one friend

from college told me.

 

Goldstein called her "a drama queen," and her life, from age three to

thirty six was a constant stage production, much of which she

orchestrated herself.

 

If she chose to vanish on July 16, then the date must have had

significance for her. This was a moment of high drama, she would not let

it slip away, although in her angry state, she may have hurried the

moment, struggling to send her message of desperation to all those who

had abandoned or hurt her. The meaning of the day may have had some

personal significance, rather than public, or she may simply have been

waiting for some other act to transpire so she couldwould not l

 

If of public significance, then numerous possibilities leap to mind.

July 16 was the last day of the anti draft riots in New York City in

1863. It also the day that Parley P. Christensen became the presidential

candidate for the Farmer's Labor Party in 1920 and the date of the first

general strike in U.S. history by the San Francisco Long Shoremen in

1934.

 

More fitting her temperament and her ill-luck, Sue might have shaped her

disappearing act around the man Douglas G. "Wrong-way" Corrigan, who

unable to obtain a flight exit permit to Europe, took off from New York

and landed in Dublin Ireland, claiming he was heading for California in

1938. FDR was nominated for president in 1940 on July 16. And perhaps of

more significance to Sue, and fitting with her sense of drama, it was

also the date when the first atomic bomb was detonated in New Mexico in

1945.

 

Yet for the rest of us, a much more fitting event happened on July 16,

in 1956, when Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Balley Circus ceased

performances under the big top.

 

Perhaps Sue sought to emulate the poet, Weldon Kees, poet, writer,

documentary film maker, painter, jazz pianist, composer, photographer,

who vanished mysteriously on July 18, 1955. Kees' 1943 poem "For my

Daughter" seem to capture Sue's relationship to the men in her mother's

life:

Looking into my daughter's eyes I read

Beneath the innocence of morning flesh

Concealed, hintings of death she does not heed

Coldest of winds have blown this hair, and mesh

Of seaweed snarled these miniatures of hands;

The night's slow poison, tolerant and bland

Has moved her blood. Parched years that I have seen

tThat may be heres appear: foul, lingers

Death in certain war, the slim legs green.

Or, fed on hate, she relishes the sting

Of others' agony; perhaps the cruel

Bride of a syphilitic or a fool.

These speculations sour in the sun.

I have no daughter. I desire none.

 

 

Or she may have chosen to mark the moment in 1962 when two army officers

were ambushed, marking the first dramatic deaths of Americans in

Vietnam.

 

In 1967, the riots in Newark were well underway. She might also have

thought to honor the launch of Apollo 11, bringing the first men to the

moon in 1969, or the discovery of the Watergate Tape recordings on this

day in 1973. She might even have timed her disappearance to the 16th

anniversary of Ronald Reagan's nomination for president in 1980 or the

sefirst men to the moon in 1969, or the discovery of the Watergate Tape

recordings on this day in 1973. She might even have timed her

disappearance to the 16th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's nomination for

president in 1980 or th

 

Most likely, Sue timed her disappearance to Michael Alexander's, who had

actually set his vanishing act for the anniversary of Bastille Day, July

14, but screwed it up when his wife caught him collecting some of this

things on Monday, July 15.

 

Sue has always copied other people's ideas, and rushed to do things

other people intended before they could. In this case, she must have

been in a truly emotional state, putting together the last of her plans

within two or three days of her vanishing.

 

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Sue thought she deserved to get published. She saw her freelance work

for Screw Magazine as beneath her, even though she stole many of the

ideas she published there for other writers.

 

Why couldn't people recognize her talent as a writer? Why did she need

to struggle so hard when she obviously warranted better treatment?

 

Of course, some people thought her cruel, too, because she knew how to

manipulate some of the odds in her favor. What was wrong with that? Why

should she have to justify every little thing in her life?

 

One of the great ironies in the Susan Walsh Story is the fact that as

much of a manipulator as she was, and as hard as she tried to get over

on people, she largely wound up with little or nothing to show for it.

Yes, she got to drive around in Al Goldstein's limo, strutting her stuff

as if she was actually someone of importance? Yes, she got to see her

bi-line in one of the formerly most prestigious publications in the

country. But in the end, Al Goldstein told her to get lost and Ridgeway

took her work as if just one more of his lackeys, and she found herself

without money, without importance, without even any body to love her.

 

When Sue first hooked up with Ridgeway, she fully believed she had

finally found the sucker she needed to bring herself recognition,

someone who she could use in her climb to the top. She called numerous

of her friends to tell them the good news. And when he co-authored

stories with her on the Russian Mafia' infiltration of the go-go scene,

she was convinced she had him in her pocket. He even pointed her in the

right direction for documentary films. She believed up until very late

that her name would appear on the cover of "Redlight" and she would be

able to publish her other work as a result.

 

And perhaps she suspected the truth -- even knew what would happen when

the book came out. Perhaps she had pressured him during the year before

to give her some guarantees. Ridgeway in his interview with Joel Lewis

denied making such promises. He said he never pushed her into danger or

insisted that she continue her dancing. She was a researcher that was

all, and while he admired her talents, he claimed never to promise her

anything more than what she got.

 

She thought otherwise.

 

So the credit she did get inside the book must have seemed like an

insult, and part of the pattern of conspiracy she feared all her life,

Ridgeway just one more mean man who used her and then threw her away,

like her mother's boyfriend who raped her at three, leaving her to fend

for herself, leaving her without money, position or dignity.

 

If she wasn't manic before the book came out, she certainly was

afterward, trying to balance her outrage with her desire to salvage

something from the ruins of her life. She thought the vampire thing

would fly. It didn't. She thought she could get the book publishers to

take an interest in the danger she was in. They didn't. Now she had to

do something dramatic, something that would prove those publishers

wrong, that would create such headlines that everybody in the country

would know her name and want her to publish her story.

 

Although she had planted seeds for this for months, the situation didn't

come together until about two weeks before she actually committed

herself to it. Michael Alexander's disappearance was already set. He was

even planning one last poetry reading for two days before his own

scheduled vanishing, something by which he could shed his old life and

take on his new one. For he was nactually committed herself to it.

Michael Alexander's disappearance wa

 

She wanted to be the one who initiated the disappearance first, and she

more of less thought he was stealing her thunder. She might even have

accused him of as much when she talked to him the week before her

leaving, asking, maybe even pleading with him to delay his vanishing

until she could get away with hers. But he was too pent up, and wouldn't

listen.

 

Ridgeway, Michael Alexander, Al Goldstein, Ray Zachmann, Rob Hardin,

Joel Lewis, even Glen Kenny had all let her down, and she was pissed.

While Ridgeway and Hardin tried to sell the press on the idea that Sue

became unhinged because of Xanax and alcohol. I think she became

unhinged because of rage.

 

She was so angry and so desperate she could hardly think straight, and

was forced to delay her plans for days, maybe even a week, while Michael

pranced around with his new Internet lover. Why should she wait? What

did it gain her?

 

Sometime in the last week before her vanishing, Sue made contact with a

Newark pimp named Malik, someone then operating out of the projects just

off Broadway, a place so dangerous that most women, white or black,

wouldn't walk there during the day, and no one, not even the cops went

there at night.

 

Although she was with Melissa the Friday before her vanishing, she went

off someplace over the weekend, and neighbors saw her returning on

Sunday in a Newark cab, something she did rarely, and never when she

wasn't scheduled to dance in one of the clubs in Newark. She usually

didn't have enough money to spend on a cab, sometimes having to give

back half her tips to the manager of the dance club for the privilege of

having danced. On most nights, she relied on friends to drive her to the

gig and men she picked up there to drive her home.

 

In this case, she needed to keep her one set of friends from knowing

about Malik or the world into which she intended to flee. She may have

used Ray Zachmann to help her make the connection, but she had kept her

contact with Zachmann and Michael secret from almost everyone of her

friends, even those like Glenn Kenny, who she came closest to loving.

 

She must have gone crazy waiting for Michael to make his move. Michael

was supposed to pretend to go off to work on Saturday, July 13, and then

flee. He apparently left on Saturday, stayed away from his wife all day

Sunday, then stupidly thought his wife would continue to go to work so

that he could sneak into his house and gather his things on Monday.

 

On that Monday, Sue struggled to keep herself busy, and visible, but was

apparently agitated, even as she sunned herself at the side of her

landlord's swimming pool, waiting out the hours to the time when she

could meet Malik and flee, too.

 

Then: "On July 16, 1996 Susan Walsh hurriedly dropped her son, David,

off with her estranged husband. She never said exactly where she was

going, but did claim she'd be back within a few minutes. But that

morning, 36-year-old Susan Walsh disappeared into the streets of Nutley,

New Jersey, only a brief commuter train trip from Manhattan. What

happened to Susan Walsh? " said Unsolved Mysteries.

Aftermath

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