I am not the enemy, ladies.


April 6, 1992

Should I feel guilty about having fun at the pro-choice rally in D.C.? I believe in the cause wholeheartedly. It’s a matter of life and death. But Suzanne asked me to go with her and her friends and I wanted to seduce her. It was mayhem, as expected. The crowd was estimated at a half million people. How can they know for sure? Regardless, I think we got our point across.

I thought it was going to be a gentle, rolling sea of delightful bachelorettes but it was actually a raging tsunami of pissed-off political militants. There were portions of the rally that were downright anti-man. I felt like the enemy. I am not the enemy! I’ll tell you what it was a sea of: lily white faces. 100% Caucasian. Where was the minority representation? It’s their cause, too.

Planned Parenthood sponsored a special non-stop train there and back. I stopped at the Middle Eastern bakery on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn the night before to load up on snacks for the trip. I bought dried apples, cashews, dried bananas, peanuts, dried apricots, yoghurt covered raisins, some breads and a big bottle of water, the total of which weighed about 70 pounds. I got the gold medal for snacks. A fun, healthy, politically progressive combo. By the end of the day my body ached for a thick, undercooked cheeseburger. They all brought boring stuff to eat and glommed off my stash.

We got to the Washington Monument late in the morning. Bella Abzug spoke as well as the editor of Ms. Magazine and a bunch of other women. No men. None of them said anything new or inspirational. I was disappointed. You’d think a crowd that size would light their words on fire but each speaker was as boring and predictable at the next. Peter Paul & Mary sang “If I Had a Hammer.” Seriously? It’s not 1968, you idiots. Do something relevant.

We moved to the stepping-off point for the march and waited, literally, an hour before we could walk. It was that crowded. We were packed pretty tight and Suzanne started to have a panic attack so I told her to close her eyes and rest her head on my chest. I got excited. They had a bunch of boring, stock protest chants so I wrote this one on the spot:

I wish Bush could ovulate.

We finally moved and marched past the White House, which I’d never seen in person. It’s tiny. It’s like a toy model of the real thing. El Presidente made damn sure he was in Camp David for the weekend.

The march ended at the other end of The Mall by the Capitol Building. More bad speeches. Cindi Lauper sang a pretty song. There were a bunch of neo-hippies banging bongos, congas and drums with broken skins. At one point, Suzanne and I were sitting on a curb resting. I was spinning my web when, suddenly, bunch of them formed a drum circle around us and started drumming and chanting. There was some freeform interpretive dance that made me laugh very hard (inside). They resembled dying poultry.

There were so many different agendas being addressed that I began to feel disengaged from the core reason for the march. There was a feminist speaking (screaming, actually), calling for a new political party composed of just women, gays and minorities and with that voting bloc, they would take the White House this fall. Let me know how that works out, dreamers. Oh, and by the way, thanks a lot. Part of her speech was an attack on Middle America. You know, where my family is from. She screamed, “They don’t want US, so WE DON’T WANT THEM!” That’s a marvelous approach to our problems. Build those bridges, cupcake.

We got back to Penn Station about 11:30 at night. Everyone was exhausted, dirty and quiet. On the way up the escalator I thought the girl in front of me looked an awful lot like Mary Stewart Masterson. In the Times this morning, it said she attended, so I suppose that was her. Pretty.

I spoke to many, many people throughout the day and at some point in a conversation, I was eventually asked, “So, where did you go to school?” I like the look of disbelief on people’s faces when I tell them I’ve never stepped foot on a college campus. It allows me a brief respite from my self-loathing, which usually returns in fairly short order.


There’s a great Stuart Davis exhibit at the Whitney. He’s one of my favs. He plays to my graphic design sensibilities.

On June 23, 1964, after watching a French film that ended with ‘fin,’ Davis added it to the painting on his easel before going to bed.


That night, he had a stroke and died in the ambulance on the way to New York’s Roosevelt Hospital. That’s how I’d like to go. Do the thing I love the most, go to bed and never wake up.


Two from Christie’s contemporary art auction a few months ago:

Christopher Wool
And If You
Enamel on aluminum
Est: $12,000,000-18,000,000
Sold for $13,605,000

Jeff Koons
Mirror-polished stainless steel
Est: $6,000,000-8,000,000
Sold for $6,885,000


That Christopher Wool is such a fraud. But Jeff Koons! What an innovator! Only $6 million?

Kidding. What does either piece mean? Anything? The lobster was interesting in that it looked exactly like an inflatable pool toy. You didn’t know it was metal unless you rapped it a few times with your knuckle.

57 thoughts on “I am not the enemy, ladies.

  1. Great journal entry. Protest without letting the sympathizes all around you feel welcome or relevant. You nailed that feeling, Mark.

    Did you see the film ‘The Lobster’ this year? I think you’d enjoy it. I thought it was a good thinker.

    Have a good week, my friend.

    • Hey, pal. Nice to see you. Hope you had a nice summer. It’s pretty much over, you know?

      I still remember being at that really and the feeling of ‘why am I here?’ Plus, I got cock-blocked by a drum circle.

      I didn’t see The Lobster but I did see Star Trek and Florence Foster Jenkins. Both great fun and two movies that couldn’t be further apart aesthetically.

      • Yeah, this summer raced by. I got a new job at the Liverpool Public Library in May, managing social media and handling other communications. I love it, yet it originally cut down on my blog reading too much. I’m back, though, with enthusiasm.

        I saw both Star Trek and Florence Foster Jenkins. I liked the voice of the Fast and Furious director handling our space guys better than I did Meryl handling FFJ’s flounce.

      • Flounce, you say! That’s a $50 word. I might use that on my kids.

        I’ve cut down on blogging this summer as well. I think I’ve done about six posts since early June. But they’ve been QUALITY posts. I hope. Haven’t been reading much, either. I’m trying to assemble these journal entries into a narrative and it ain’t easy. It’s a big time suck although it’s enjoyable, in a painful way. Glad to hear about the library gig. Work is good.

  2. Pingback: I am not the enemy, ladies. — Exile on Pain Street | WordNerdProblems

  3. But you WERE the enemy – didn’t you come to the rally to seduce a free-thinking independent woman?
    Although since you were at it, when asked what college you went to, you should have said that you intentionally chose not to apply since colleges are an epitome of the white male patriarchy and you chose not to perpetuate the oppression.
    You’d get more dates from that answer at the rally than from that Middle Eastern bakery.

    • Well, the might’ve been my primary mission but that’s not the whole truth. I really did believe in the cause and wanted to lend my support. That should count for something, shouldn’t it?

      That’s a snappy answer for the college question but 25 years ago my mind didn’t work that quickly. I was mostly in defense mode. Still am.

  4. Yeah, what’s all this dried fruit and peanuts malarkey? Bacon sarnies wrapped in tin foil, matey!

    She had a panic attack? Well, how fortuitous. I think it was actually a peanut allergy and you knew that all along, you cad 😉

    We should have been artists. Easy street.

    • I had to Google ‘sarnie.’ Dang. You’re like a culinary dream come true. Where do they hide your type?

      Yeah, I was pretty happy about the panic attack. I was hoping it was feigned for my benefit but no such luck. You know what Lou Reed said: Women never really faint.

      I got the email from your ‘people’. I will bookmark the new site, which is beautiful, by the way. Tell your peeps I said thanks.

  5. New York is rife with so many opportunities (including those that take you to other cities, for the weekend or a day). I can’t imagine what trouble I’d have gotten into if I’d stayed in the country.
    I’m stunned speechless by the selling point of that stuff – I’m seriously thinking that I need to reevaluate profitable writing ventures and try my hand at “art.” Hmmm.

    • I know it looks bad—like I was just trying to take advantage—but my heart was in the right place at all times.

      The art is an outrage. That’s why I post it. To share my outrage. $6M would mean I’d never work another day in my life. Imagine that! I do all the time.

  6. This entry, that chant. Totally worth the wait. You cad. You definitely skewered the blinkered nature of protest. And behind it all, this: “I went to a pro-choice rally to get laid.” Love it!

    I look forward to further comments in this thread.

  7. These rallies always attract angry people. They go there to let off steam. But you deserve credit for having the more noble motive of getting into someone’s pants. Bravo!

    That Koons lobster looks like a intercontinental ballistic missile with its nose hitting the earth. Looking at it would be less fun than picking it up and brandishing it.

  8. Modern dance resembling dying poultry, brilliant, somewhere Werner Herzog is smiling… and i’ve just learned Gene Wilder has died, i loved that man.

    • I’ve explored all the arts and the only ones that never really stuck were modern dance and opera. God. Opera. My bride and I tried. Do you know how long those things are? Too long, that’s how long.

      Now Gene is with Gilda, at last.

  9. Woody Allen should make this journal entry into a movie. It is just brilliant. And your chant? I’m going to use it next time I go to a Trump rally.

    I actually agree that often women fighting for women’s rights act as if men are the problem. But bravo to you for going, even if you had more than one motive. Everybody at that age did. Which is of course part of why we need to have choice.

    • Why, thank you. I agree that Woody could interpret these better than anyone else. My “character” is very Woody-like. At a loss for what to do with women. Getting their attention but not the kind he’d like. Might work. How does it pay?

      I still remember that rally. It was ostensibly about the right to an abortion, but that was just a jumping-off point. It was women’s rights and minority rights and women’s rights, oh, and women’s rights, which I’m all for but they made me feel like the bad guy. I’m not the bad guy, other than the fact that I wanted to get into that girl’s pants. Never did.

  10. I wonder what life would have been like for you back then if online dating was as big as it is now… perhaps it would have saved you from attending various “events” like this and enabled you to find better matches for your “needs” back then… Of course, I’m married and don’t have any experience with such things, but I think there are questions involved that help you to kind of sort through people… Don’t really know where I’m going with this comment, Mark, but your response should be interesting! lol

    • Are you kidding? I would have LOVED online dating. Do you know what a hassle it was to find dates back then? There was nowhere to go. Being able to do online shopping for a girlfriend must be such a breeze compared to the barroom tangos I had to dance.

      Despite all the angst these journals convey the truth is I enjoyed dating. It was easy to go out in NYC. There was always something interesting to see. But, BOY, was it expensive. It kept me good and broke.

      • Always better to go out than spend your time online anyway… something that seems to be becoming more of a thing these days… I can just hear my grandma saying, “You met how?” lol

      • ON THE OTHER HAND…you make a good point. Would I have had all these nutty adventures if I’d been hold-up in my apartment pouring over Tinder listings? Maybe not. Maybe it’s better to be engaged in LIFE.

  11. I think one of the reasons your old Journal entries are so fascinating to me is how similar and yet how distant they seem from my own (current) 20-something experience in the city. It’s so honest and conversational… yet poetic.
    And it’s so crazy how everything seems different and completely the same. The political atmosphere. Feeling significant. Keeping creativity alive while also working to keep lights on. Romance (or lack thereof) I have to say though, I romanticize relying on landlines, payphones and answering machines.

    THANK YOU for the spotlight on Davis… that story was haunting and I am opening up my weekend to see the exhibit. Whoa, right?

    • Re: Journal entries. Humans love nostalgia. Something about analyzing the past and seeing events that were tragic or nonsensical as literary devices in a life-novel we’ve already read. Ya know?

      • P.S. Not all nostalgia is pleasant. I am sparing you guys the really dark and lonely parts of my journal. Who wants to read that? I come to blogland to be entertained. Not to leave feeling worse than when I got here.

      • I would LOVE to read that, are you kidding me? If experiences are a dime a dozen, reading and relating to someone else’s darkness could be humanizing and relieving. Plus, knowing your writing, I’m sure it’s full of quotable phrases.

      • I don’t like revisiting that stuff. Some of it took a long time to leave behind and it gives me the blue blues when I think about it. There’s a reason I went extended periods of time without companionship. Women can smell a train wreck a mile away and steer clear, as well they should. I don’t know what people think of me but if I start to reveal everything, they’ll think a lot less.

    • There’s not much new under the sun, truthfully. You think your experiences are so unique and extraordinary but the truth is our experiences are pretty much a dime a dozen. That’s not a bad thing. Even though people have been through this sort of thing before, the experience is new to YOU, and that’s what counts.

      I’ve always loved Stuart Davis. I was so happy when the Whitney announced the show. A true American artist with an American sensibility.

  12. I remember that rally and went to it for similar, diabolical reasons that had nothing to do with protecting a woman’s right to choose: I just wanted to see Cyndi Lauper in person. But that’s not what I told my wife at the time…

  13. They rally sounded like a dud. All that to impress one woman. You didn’t end your story of whether you impressed her or not. (Hopefully you did). The bongo or drum beating hippies seems to have been the best entertainment of the day. Or actually I suspect they were a diversion from the boring speakers.

    I live in the bible belt and oh horrors the bible thumpers are out on Saturday mornings and want folks to honk if they oppose abortion. I know I have strayed off topic here. Sorry about that.

    • I had high hopes for the rally for many reasons. I wanted my voice to be heard and wanted to make some time with Suzanne. Both were kind of a bust. The angry voices all around me had a lot to do with the way women are treated by men. There were moments when I didn’t feel all that welcomed. Like I’d invaded the enemy camp. But I was totally on their side!

      You are welcomed to stray off topic here any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

      • Thank you, Mark. I am sorry to say that I agree with you about women that want to heard or to be an activist. You don’t catch flies with vinegar. Those kinds of rallies or demos remind me of the Trump people. All are filled with hate and/or rage.

  14. I can’t imagine being around a half million man haters and no restrooms. Were the Cherry Blossoms in bloom yet (April)?
    Like the Gambler said “the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep”.
    I always appreciate your Art pictures, but now I think you are trying to send a message with the amount of money that is being spent on this Contemporary Art. It’s insane!! Aren’t these the same people who….. not going to go there.

    • If there were cherry blossoms, I didn’t notice them. No mention is made in my journals. Nobody was outwardly hostile to me but I did have a few uncomfortable moments. Like everything was my fault!

      I post those auction results because they’re outrageous. Nobody would believer me if I said it.

  15. Cool diary posts Mark. Those large rallies are often just the bland repeating of monologues. Every now and then they provide the stage for someone brilliant like Dr.King or Kennedy to say something so advanced and so profound that it changes the course of history.

    • I was hoping for inspiration but all it was was perspiration. Each speech seemed like a repeat of the previous one. They all follow a template. You’re right, Paul. History-making speeches are few and far between.

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