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A Walk in My Shoes- Ray Kludys

“Life is short / It can pass you by / It can all be gone in a blink of an eye

Go for it now / While you still can / You may not pass this way again.”

-lyrics from “Slip Away”, original song by Ray Kludys on 355 Bleecker

My name is Ray Kludys. I played guitar and have written over 225 original songs. I’ve written a sci-fi epic novel of over 460,000 words. I was also an avid hiker, runner, and skier even skiing into my 70’s. I was fortunate enough to have experienced adventures and traveled the world before I was diagnosed with ALS in December 2022, but I still feel this disease has robbed me of 20 years of life.
I was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1948 and moved to the U.S. with my mother Irene Vasankari in 1949. We settled in Pelham, NY (a close suburb of NYC) in 1953 where my mother married Salvatore Fazzino, and soon my brother Charles Fazzino, internationally renowned 3D pop artist, and sister Josie-Ann Fazzino-Cavanaugh, an artist in her own right, were born. Growing up primarily in New York, I decided to travel after high school, visiting Florida, Colorado, then France, Spain, and Morocco. I eventually came back to New York after going to school for computer programming and found myself working as a consultant for companies like Merrill Lynch, and the New York Times, where I worked for 15 years. I raised a family in New York, including two beautiful daughters, Sylvie and Sonia.
I rediscovered my creativity in the mid-90’s when I wrote my first original song, “Harley D.”, in 1993. I went on to play in a few bands, performed in many venues in NYC, and released a CD, 355 Bleecker. After having worked for the New York Times for many years, it was time for a new start in Mesa, Arizona, where I moved to in 2004. It was here that I picked up my unfinished novel, 66 Billion B.C., and spent several years researching, writing, and editing this massive science-fiction novel. After finishing this novel, I was in the process of sending it out and trying to get it published. It was also during this rediscovery of my creative side that an “accident” occurred in 2017 where I was bumped while taking a photo which then became the inspiration for my abstract style of photography. From 2016 – 2022, I’ve taken thousands of photographs using only my iPhone 6, a digital Cannon pocket camera, and of course my iPad with editing software. This also inspired me to create original abstract art after seeing an exhibit at the Heard Museum by acclaimed artist David Hockney who created some of his art only using his iPad. I sincerely hope that my artwork and novel will be published so that my legacy will live on.
All these passions slowed down and eventually stopped as ALS crept up in October 2021. I first experienced weakness in my right arm. Soon, it also affected my legs.  I underwent cervical spine surgery in June 2022 with no improvement, and eventually lost all use of my arms, hands and legs by March 2023. This disease has taken so much away from me, now essentially a quadriplegic, but I still try to find purpose. My family and very best friends in the world, Jan and Jerry Kew -Jerry whom I’ve been friends with since kindergarten- are my biggest supporters and are an immense help during this time.  

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