This was AIDS


Would you look at this? Exactly 25 years ago to the day. Almost. Where were you?

January 7, 1992

Had lunch with Kat at The Brasserie. It’s as close as I’ll ever get to the Four Seasons. I had a club sandwich. She had a spinach salad. $43. I picked up the tab. I have to once in a while. It’s emasculating to never pay.

I don’t think she’s happy with her girlfriend, although she claims she loves her very much. She doesn’t think she likes having sex with women and all she ever wears is sweats. They’d better get that shit sorted out before they do any more house hunting. She told me about a house in Lido Beach they’re interested in. She said it’s an up/down and the bottom half can be rented out. In describing the bottom unit, she kept saying you have your own entrance and you walk out the door onto the beach and you have your own private terrace. You, you, you. I don’t think I was imagining it. I’d have to give it some thought. Commuting from Long Island has never been a dream of mine although wearing sweats 24/7 is.

I visited Elvin last night. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since his mother passed. He doesn’t seem to be taking it well. He’s lost a lot of weight and didn’t have much to start with. I mentioned how sorry I was for his loss but he clearly didn’t want to discuss it so I dropped it.

He had a friend over I’d never met. Tim. I think I’m the only straight person Elvin knows personally. That goes for ALL of my gay friends. It seems gay people ONLY hang out with other gay people. I think I’m a token. One of Oscar’s friends called me a breeder. Nice.

We sat in the living room and chatted like a bunch of mature adults. Elvin lit a fire. One day, I would like an old Brooklyn brownstone with an old Brooklyn fireplace that still works. There’s a photo of Victor on the mantle just before he passed away and he looked really, really bad. Elvin and Tim listed all the people in the neighborhood and friends of friends who are sick with AIDS. It was a long list. I was thinking to myself how lucky I am to be straight. Not that I’m immune, but I like my odds. For dinner he made chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce. It was very good. I left a little heavy-hearted because of all the talk about death.

Oscar threw a party for a friend who was just accepted into law school. I’ll tell you what…my gay friends sure know how to host a shindig. Loud, thumping music, dancing, scrumptious food and lots of laughing.

The next day I was watching the Cowboys/Lions playoff game and the two guys below me were having loud sex. It’s annoying. I cranked up the TV so I couldn’t hear them. Listening to gay sex while watching the NFL left me discombobulated. I don’t understand gay sex. There’s no part of a man that I find even remotely enticing. Poor women.

When I lived in Arizona my apartment shared a thin wall with newlyweds. That’s was pretty great. They went at it day and night. The girl was a screamer. I remember once, between moans, she said, “You shouldn’t. Remember what the doctors said.” That didn’t stop him. Can you imagine if he’d dropped dead right in the middle of it? I’m certain that it happens all the time.

Lucy and I saw a play at the Walter Kerr. Crazy He Calls Me. About a Brooklyn mama’s boy who falls in love with a Polish immigrant. It was just awful. Lucy didn’t like it either. It’s a two-hander and I felt bad for the actors. Polly Draper from thritysomething is in it. Lots of Hollywood folks come out here slumming on Broadway to burnish their resumes. She should run right back to LA.


I would display this in my grand foyer if I had one.


Yue Minjun
The Last 5,000 Years


Estimate: $120,000 – $180,000
Price realized: $199,500


Manhattan sunrise. I caught this just before they extinguished the lights on the Chrysler Building. It’s my favorite skyscraper.


64 thoughts on “This was AIDS

  1. “Poor women.” I’ve often thought that. I especially think it working in this high school. The girls are radiant, poised, so formed, and then they go out with these misshapen walking boils. It’s amazing we breed at all.
    My brother contracted HIV in the mid-80s. He should be dead, along with so many of his friends from that era. Somehow he cheated AIDS. All that death (and why not me?) messed him up a bit. Well, one of many things that messed him up. But I love him.

    • Men are exactly as you say. Vile creatures. Especially at that age. What are my poor daughters to do? Can I hope they’re gay? Is that wrong?

      AIDS isn’t the death sentence it once was. You hardly ever hear it discussed anymore. But I’m old enough to remember when that wasn’t the case. NYC was hit hard. Reading this section of my journals brought me back.

  2. I think your thoughts at the top read just like a novel. Gritty, rich, honest, entertaining. I thought of you recently on a work/pleasure trip in Pitt. at the Warhol museum. Don’t know if you’ve visited, but it’s 7 floors and tells the story of his life. Talk about a man before his time. It was and he was fascinating. That’s a great sunset shot. I like the lit up office. Hope 2017 is a good year for you, Mark 🙂

    • There’s the nicest compliment I’m likely to get for a long time. Many thanks. What a great way to start the new year!

      I’ve never been to the Warhol museum but i I’m aware of it. It’s on my A-list of places to visit. One of these days I’m going to take a drive out there. It’s not that far. Was the Ai Weiwei exhibit still up when you were there?

      • Nope. He’s a contemporary artist and rabble rouser. He gets in trouble with the Chinese government once in a while for being political. Warhol was one of his inspirations so they held an exhibit there. I’m sorry I missed it.

      • I’m curious now to learn more about him. I’m not as current on art world news as you are. 🙂
        A trip to the museum is definitely worth your time. Only $20 per ticket and would make for a great blog post!

      • That was Andy’s opinion of the world as well, which is evident by his documentation of even the most mundane things. Imagine him with a blog! I’ll look forward to your post!

      • I’m so pissed i missed the Ai Weiwei exhibit, they even extended it due how popular it was, problem was it ran through the summer when i’m jammed up with boyo stuff… you ever come to the burgh i may even leave the house… but yes the Warhol is an interesting place for sure..

      • It’s ridiculous. I drive to Clevo 2x a year. It’s right on the way. I have no excuse for missing that exhibit. But the Warhol museum is still there and that’s reason enough to visit.

  3. I feel sad about all the people who died of AIDS before effective drugs were developed. I saw a documentary about Freddie Mercury, made many years after his death, in which his last boyfriend was interviewed, seemingly still in good heath. They would probably now be married if Freddie had lived.

    Great sunrise photo! Have you ever wondered what calculations are required to predict when the sun will rise and set in sny location on the globe?

    • They were dark days but I like that nobody has to talk about it anymore. God bless science.

      Poor Freddie. My high school-aged daughter listens to Queen. No lie. The choir did Bohemian Rhapsody. Of course they did. That stuff is timeless.

      I like to track where the sun rises throughout the year. Sometimes it’s to the left of the Chrysler Building. Sometimes the right.

  4. Oh boy. We had thin wall in a condo we lived in once. Our neighbours were loud and they’d almost be knocking pictures off our wall. They were both somewhat noisy. This was a male/female relationship. The day after one rockin night they broke up. Wonder what went
    That’s creepy expensive art..

  5. AIDS. What a terrible spectre that was.It still is, for some, but as you say,science has produced almost magical treatments.Shame the greedy buggers making the pills don’t want to bring the price (profit) down.
    But then I saw the Chrysler and I cheered right up.The ESB? Kinda clunky. But the Chrysler – sheer elegance. Tank you for the lovely sunrise.

    • Do you remember what it was like? How bad it got? Yong people don’t know. Books (or blogs) can’t convey the horrors. Yet, here we are, 25 years later, and nary a word.

      I agree about the ESB. Clunky/chunky outside. Too boxy. But a KILLER interior.

      • I can’t imagine. I’m 25 myself, but my Mom had me at 40 so she was full of stories… but even through documentaries and recreations and 1,000 productions of Angels in America or The Normal Heart or RENT, it’s honestly a lot to comprehend. We’ve been spoiled by immediate knowledge and the 24 hour news feed…. It must have been terrifying as the world is trying to figure out just what exactly this is…. the fear. The stigmas. The pain. The immense, immense loss… I wonder how much this epidemic fueled anti- LGBT legislation.

        In my lifetime, AIDS has always been treatable in some capacity.

        I mean, with the way people react with H1N1 or Ebola (miniscule in comparison), I can’t imagine what living in the day-to-day NYC must have been like…. and no one seems to really want to talk about it. It’s muted. and with all of the monuments, it’s haunting.

        It’s sadly understood that I will never understand and so they won’t even try.

      • It was pretty rough trade for a long time. I’m straight but had a lot of gay friends so I never really felt at risk. But I watched what that community went through with a horrified semi-detachment. The beginning was really frightening because they had NO IDEA what it was or what caused it. The religious kooks said it was God’s revenge against the gay community. Can you imagine such raw cruelty? If that doesn’t swear you off organized religion, nothing will.

        Thank God (ha) the very worst is long behind us. It’s no longer a part of the conversation. I missed out on being with multiple partners when I was young and I’m sorry for that, but I’m happy to be alive and healthy.

  6. I lost two very good friends to AIDS–one was gay, and one was straight. It was such a scary time. It seems that most people don’t even worry about it now, which seems so strange after living through that time.

    • I don’t think anyone has lost a friend to AIDS in a very long time. You’re right about this strange perspective. Remember when it was an overwhelming force? Especially if you were single and on the prowl? Nobody is cautious anymore.

  7. There’s nothing discombobulating about juxtaposition of gay sex and NFL game. I mean, what is football if not a bunch of sweaty dudes excitedly grabbing each other and wrinkly balls?

  8. Football is a lot like gay sex. Lots of slamming into each other and grunting. Also, you had thin walls in your apartments back then. I think we are all thinking what the doctor said no to. But I guess she just got swept up in the moment and figured it was worth walking funny the next day.

    • Football doesn’t strike me as being quite as gay as wrestling. Now, THERE’S some slamming and grunting. The early wrestlers wrestled NAKED. For real.

      It might have killed him at a later date but it didn’t kill him that night. I heard subsequent couplings. I popped popcorn and listened in.

  9. It was a horrible time; I am so glad that it isn’t the scourge it once was. I marvel now at the brilliance of the AIDs movement to force folks to work on drugs for HIV. Brilliant. I use it as a teaching tool when I teach civics. How citizens can truly effect change. Damn good for them.

    This piece is beautifully edited, Mark 😉 ….

    • It *was* horrible. Here I was just at the age when I could go out on the prowl in New York and the city put the collective breaks on hooking up. It wasn’t called hooking up back then. I forgot what the nomenclature was at the time.

      Edited to within an INCH OF ITS LIFE.

  10. Oh boy, you had me laughing and cringing all in one post. Gay sex. I just can’t fathom how the sex is err, done. However, they manage in the end. I really wasn’t aiming for a pun. I’ve seen illustrated drawings. It is mind boggling. Recently, I saw a cartoon- I think it might have been on FB, of Putin putting it to el Trumpo. Lord have mercy that was the ugliest damn thing I’ve seen in a long time.

    Aids was tragic and I do feel for all the victims that died and or lost a lover/partner. I’m so glad that scientists got busy and developed meds for the scourge.. My cousin was a researcher in Houston and she was flown by helicopter to some of the prisons where she obtained blood samples. Can’t remember how many years she did that. She died about seven or eight years ago from a brain tumor after having moved to Manhattan when she retired.

    • I unintentionally founded myself in a hornets nest of gay activity! All kidding aside, I had quite a few gay friends. There after a lot of them out here! I think some people assumed I was gay too. It never bothered me.

      It sounds liked your cousin lead a fascinating life. What’s more gratifying than saving lives? I did it s few times in the Coast Guard and you go to bed feeling pretty good about yourself.

      • My hats off to you if you were in the Coast Guard. Not many folds know what all the Coast Guard does. It can be a very tough job and thankless at that. It’s a wonderful branch of the military.

      • The Coast Guard save my life. I wasn’t cut out for college and I honestly don’t know what would’ve become of me if they hadn’t taken me into their warm bosom. I enjoyed it immensely and sometimes question the wisdom of leaving after six years. It remains, to this day, the most satisfying work I’ve ever done.

  11. I will say this unequivocally that gay men throw the best parties and are the best partiers, they were my best customers when i was in the game, always polite and with cash and hence i got invited to a lot of shindigs, i was also that rare straight man who didn’t shy away from heading out to a gay bar to hang out and from that there was a mutual respect, i knew the shit they faced and they appreciated the fact i accepted them as people and didn’t judge them on their sexuality, every now and then one would hit on me and i’d tell them it was the highest of compliments, gay men have always had more taste and style than 95% of the straight guys out there, though as i’ve said before the drag queens i hung out with were hands down the best fun, beautiful people… another winner from the journals my friend…

    • Some stereotypes contained grains of truth. I got mistaken for gay more times than I can count but it never bothered me. I had some gay friends of friends tell me I was gay but didn’t know it yet, which REALLY bothered me (my friends would never say such a thing) but overall it was a non-issue with me. I think everyone should have gay friends.

      Thanks for that last line. I try never to fish for compliments. When one arrives that I haven’t solicited, it’s a real treat.

  12. I’m not sure if I like it when people list the favorite things from my blog posts, like cutting it up into parts, but I’ll do that to yours and say I really chuckled at the mash-up between the gay sex and NFL line. The narrative just moves at such a clip: I know you edit the hell out of your posts, but it really pays off. I’d love to read a longer piece (aka a BOOK) if that comes together. I wonder, as far as it goes with ‘voice’ and how I think about Sedaris being such a guru to me for that, such an inspiration — and you had the chance to sit in a writing class with him, and your voice is so crisp: was it that fucking writing teacher the two of you had or what? Or whom? Or WHY goddammit?

    • That’s all very nice of you to say. I appreciate it. You know, I threw together a manuscript and sent it to about a dozen agents and when I got in return was crushing silence. I think these scribblings are entertaining in small batches but they don’t hold together at 70,000 words. A professional editor told me I need to find a common thread to link them altogether but that’s beyond my ken. It sounds like a lot of work and I am, for all my strong points, a slacker at heart.

      I saw Sedaris not long ago. We had a nice chat after the show. This year, he has a book of diary entries coming out. He told me he mentions the class he and I were in. It should be interesting.

      • Huh, I get that comment about the thread (“one ring to bind them”) but not sure it’s beyond your ken, but maybe so if you think. I waver with that myself but have to wade out into the ocean. Heavy right? That’s neat, your connection with Sedaris. Sorry to hear about the silence though not surprised; oh baby it’s a wild world. Hard to get by, just upon a smile…

  13. The Brasserie and the Four Seasons are both gone, Mark still going strong!
    I have been mistaken for a gay person too. No harm done when you are secure in your sexuality. What determines that you are gay anyway? Is it only your sex partners? Then being gay must be about the sex. See, too many questions makes one sound like a hater. It makes me so mad to hear that ‘God’s revenge crap’ from the moronic moral majority. It has so many holes in it.
    It looks like a snapshot super imposed on that office building. What is it? Thanks for the Art that I never saw before.

    • What an excellent point. Both of those storied institutions are dead and gone but I’m still rocking.

      Determining whether or not you’re gay may not only be about your sex partner, but it’s a pretty big part of it. Kind of hard to ignore that. But it doesn’t bother me. I don’t know why anyone would care who someone else is sleeping with. But it seems to really upset some folks.

      That photo is taken from my office at 7:20 in the morning. No retouching. No superimposing. Nothing. That’s the raw shot.

  14. Expedia did a poll on which hotel behaviors guests found most annoying in other guests. ‘Loudly amorous guests’ was near the top, but I believe our opinion of the loud sex in the next room has a lot to do with whether the guy or girl is louder.

    • Call me a contrarian but I have no problem with loud amorous guests and/or neighbors. And this might be something worth serious discussion but I am a-ok with noisy hetrosexual sex but do not care for noisy homosexual sex. What do you make of that? If you scratch my surface, am I a homophobe?

      • We generally dislike noisy neighbors. I don’t think disliking noisy homosexual sex says anything about you other than you don’t like noise. Being okay with noisy heterosexual sex just means you’ll accept a level of distraction if it activates your heterosexual imagination.

      • Thanks for boiling it down. I was starting to feel pangs of guilt and doubt. Am I closet homophobe? According to your rational, I am most certainly not! Just a closet peeping Tom is all.

  15. I didn’t even know what gay was until college. A friend of mine and I both really liked a mutual friend, Mike, but he came out our sophomore year, crushing our romantic hopes. He was “turned” by this guy whose thing was seducing straight men. Or I suppose men who thought they were straight, but his gay-dar told him otherwise. He had a reputation for prowling around campus, hunting for victims.

    One summer the three of us, along with Mike’s latest boyfriend, spent our time at gay bars and straight discos. Once we spread a picnic lunch on the 5-foot-wide grassy median in the middle of a busy road, drinking fancy champagne and dropping grapes in one another’s mouths. The whole time period in my memory is underscored by Blondie thumping in the background. She was queen then, especially in the gay community.

    I later heard that many of our friends from that time died of AIDS, including one of his most steady boyfriends, Eric. He was a real sweetheart and I mourn his loss. He was my date for camouflage whenever we went to straight discos. The predator also died, and I’m a bit more conflicted about that. Can’t help feeling he probably did more than his fair share to spread that then-fatal disease.

    That’s a beautiful sunset.

    • I heard that Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach under serial child molester Jerry Sandusky, had to be told was sodomy was. Imagine that.

      Speaking of predators…did he really have an agenda of finding gay men and outing them? That seems kind of insidious to me. Nobody is turned. It’s the equipment you’re born with. Believe me, if you could be turned, I probably would’ve flipped several times over. I had plenty of opportunity but never felt the spirit move me in that direction.

      Never mind the sunset. That’s a beautiful comment. Don’t waste it in here. Expand on it a tad and put up a post. It’s worth it.

      • No, I understand about being who you are – one of my daughters is gay. That’s why I put “turned” in quotes. Because Mike probably knew he was gay in his heart of hearts, but back then, it just wasn’t somewhere a person went willingly. For most, gay was the opposite of its traditional definition of happy and carefree, don’t you think?

        And yes, that guy (I think his name was Pete) really was a predator who got his kicks seducing and outing guys. I would never say someone deserved to die – never think it, either. But I also can’t help wondering if Pete was one of those who knew he was infected and kept right on having sex with “innocent virgins,” if you know what I mean.

      • I know what you mean and that’s some dark matter. There are bonified monsters in the world.

        I wasn’t kidding about your comment. It’d make a wonderful post. Okay. I’ll drop it now.

  16. If Kat had a girlfriend then it doesn’t emasculate you not to pay. You only pay when you want brownie points. Or is that the subliminal gesture? Menage a trois?

    Wow. The art world still fetches in 2017. I kind of like those figures for some reason that I don’t fully understand.

    Beautiful shot. Go and put it in an art gallery quickly and set the price at something ridiculous.

    • Not only did Kat have a girlfriend, she was RICH. I was broke-assed, which is why she usually paid. But it felt creepy to never pay. It made me feel like a bit of a user. There was no menage a trois but Kat and I made out on two separate occasions. It was exciting.

      Thanks, but beautiful shots are a dime a dozen without proper gallery representation.

  17. My upstairs neighbour vacuums a lot. And slams doors a lot. And walks with a very heavy footfall a lot. There’s probably a lot of repressed anger because there’s no sex, either gay or straight.

    Great post. Your journals frequently remind me of things that I’d sort of forgotten about. It’s always amazing to me how we (or maybe it’s just me) immediately start incorporating these medical breakthroughs into our lives and start forgetting about what it used to be like. I have two acquaintances who have AIDS and take many, many meds with many, many side effects, but who also have somewhat normal lives, too. That certainly didn’t happen 20 years ago.

    • I think I might be ruined for apartments. I was going to move back into the city after my daughters left home but now I’m not so sure I can. I don’t know if I can stand someone walking on my ceiling again. And what am I going to do with all the STUFF I’ve accumulated?

      I page through my journals and am reminded of all sorts of episodes I’d completely forgotten about. Thank God I kept them.

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