Hot Stove
Flying|September 2020
How close do you need to get?
BEN YOUNGER

At the age of 27, having just made my first film, Boiler Room, I found myself riding a brand new BMW K1200RS south on the Henry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan. The bike was a gift from Ben Affleck (it’s customary to buy the director a modest gift when you wrap a film, but this was generous by any measure). This is a relevant detail because I thought the world belonged to me at that age, and an ancillary effect of that foolish thought is the sense that you are immune from harm. Or as some refer to it: your 20s.

I was in the left lane on the elevated section around 68th street, and I was flying—90 mph and threading the needle around slower traffic in front of me. I shifted my weight, leaned in, and shot from the left lane all the way to the right. An old Ford van switched lanes just as I made the move. He never saw me coming. No amount of braking would get me slowed at that speed. I was committed. The only thing my reptile brain allowed me to do was to try to make the quickly disappearing gap between the van and the short concrete wall overlooking the 100-foot drop down to the Hudson River. The van was so close, I might have touched it with my left elbow. I can’t remember. Your brain only allows the production of certain memories in situations such as these. Some details stick, others disappear forever.

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