Of all the indignities I have suffered, the fiasco of incompetence that has resulted from my decision to sign my life rights over to Broadway producers is no doubt the most gratuitous, not to mention the corniest. And beyond the accidents, the orchestra pit tumbles, the broken ribs and the cracked vertebrae—all slurs upon my legendary reflexes and agility—there is the matter of the measly sum I received for the option to turn my legacy into that hoary thing they call a musical. In 2005 I sank half of it into a beachfront Florida real estate deal I was roped into by that hustler Tony Stark. My entire portfolio remains underwater. The other half I gave to two film-school grads with a Mumblecore superhero script. The project never made it off the festival circuit.
I’ve never earned a dime off my efforts as a volunteer civic catastrophe-averter. Defeating supervillains comes with no stock options, no 401(k) plan. I still make my living as a photojournalist, and since the newspaper I worked for folded, I’ve been strictly freelance, mostly surviving on Web royalties. The Web, what a cruel joke for a man condemned by teenage radiation exposure to a spider’s fate. It’s a life not fit for an insect, much less a man with arachnid superpowers.
A lot of people ask me where I was on 9/11. “Spidey,” they ask, “why couldn’t you keep us safe?” At the time, I was hard up for cash. I was trolling the Hamptons for the dregs of the A-list lingering in Labor Day’s wake, snapping photos on assignment for a grocery-checkout-line tabloid. That’s right, I was paparazzi. When the planes hit the towers, I was sitting in a web I’d spun between trees in Jon Bon Jovi’s backyard. If I’d still been on my beat downtown, everything would be different. You want somebody to blame for those attacks? Blame Us Weekly.
I’m so lonely. I want to move out of my aunt’s crummy apartment in Queens, but I can’t afford it. I want to meet people. I want to meet creative people. I want to meet people who can appreciate someone a little bit creepy who wears primary colors. I want to move to Williamsburg, and I want to meet girls. Girls with bangs and tattoos. Girls who don’t mind being with someone who’s a little bit intense. Every girl I’ve ever known has left me for a “normal life.” Even Mary Jane. I love her, but now she’s gone. She was tired of the lies that come with a secret identity. She was tired of being tied to the front of speeding subway cars, dropped from tall buildings, handcuffed to ticking nuclear bombs. She was tired of crying all the time. She said it was time to “live for herself.” She told me I was “too profound.” She said she’d be happier with a guy who was “just a bro.” Maybe somebody who was a kind of “weird and interesting” but mostly someone “sweet.” Not a brooding mutant possessed of talents heretofore unknown on the planet.
I’m trying to write my memoir, but one superpower radiation exposure never provided me was the ability to overcome writer’s block. Perhaps that’s why I became a photographer. Every time I sit down to write, I get nervous, and proteinaceous spider silk squirts out of my wrists, gumming up the keyboard of my laptop or making the pages of my notebook illegible. Do you think a photojournalist can afford to pay someone to take dictation? Have you ever priced transcription services? Until I find some way to tell my story myself, it will be left to the hacks of Hollywood and Broadway. And the saddest thing of all is that there is no band I hate more than those self-righteous prigs U2. You don’t hire the Fly to score Spider-Man. If they had to get a washed-up act from the early ’80s to write the score, couldn’t they have called Paul Westerberg? I guess I’ll always be unsatisfied.
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