• Photo by Chris Bishop
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(Imagine This) Plans for AIDS Memorial Park in New York City

The first known AIDS related death in New York City was in the last month of 1980.  It was the fourth American known to have died from the disease.  From there the numbers grew continuously across the following years, until by 1995 the count in New York alone grew beyond that of all Americans killed in the Vietnam War.  But still today, in 2012, there is no memorial in New York City to this crisis which claimed so many of the country - and world's - greatest minds & talents, aside from a commemorative granite bench in Hudson River Park.  But it looks quite likely that this is about to change. (more…)
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Pianist & Composer Fred Hersch – New CD & On Tour

From the moment you click onto the website, you'll be streaming the lucid, light, deep and delicate jazz piano compositions of composer & 3 time Grammy nominee Fred Hersch, whom Vanity Fair has described as "the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade..."  This music has whole conversations between the keys, and the opportunity to listen in is provided on his newest cd:  Fred Hersch Trio - Alive at the Vanguard.  This is not a throwaway title.  (more…)
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How to Survive A Plague (film)

If you've ever felt a deep, burning commitment to a cause, but weren't sure how to begin to speak out about it, see this documentary for outright inspiration.  Then, like so many heroes we meet in this film, do something about it in a bold way.  The men and women on the early battlegrounds of the AIDS epidemic/plague/CRISIS were the essence of humanity as they stood up against egregious infractions to all of our civil rights.

How to Survive A Plague, journalist David France's gripping documentary chronicling the birth of ACT UP and the strides it made in getting AIDS treatments out of the laboratory & into the bodies of the infected & dying, opened last week at the IFC in New York and has a robust schedule of screenings across the country in the coming weeks. The images I have posted only begin to channel the energy of the late '80s and early '90s carrying through this 109 minute tale.   (more…)

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Support the Robin Hood Tax!

It's the Financial Speculation Tax, H.R. 6411, but it's become known as the Robin Hood Tax, and it's a very sane tax of 0.05% or less on the transactions and speculative trades of Wall Street.  This includes all transactions involving stocks, bonds, foreign exchange currencies, and derivatives (i.e. futures, swaps and options.)  The amount is way less than a penny, yet it could easily generate enough revenue to end the AIDS epidemic, support other needed medical care, support small businesses, fight climate change, and so on.  What kind of revenue are they talking?  $350 billion per year. PER YEAR! (more…)
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Public Speaking (movie)

Okay, this movie came out two years ago.  And it runs about an hour & a half, primarily of Fran Lebowitz talking - just giving her opinions on life.  It's insightful and sometimes hilarious and some of the points she makes are indeed debatable.  But why am I bringing this up now?  How, exactly, does it connect to the theme of this blog?  She talks about history - her personal history in the culture of NYC.  And as you know, she came up through the ranks via Interview magazine and Andy Warhol.   So yeah, she was deep in "out" culture when AIDS hit.  And she takes a moment to remember what happened.   (more…)
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GNORML

A small group of independent filmmakers in Los Angeles are preparing to shoot a film about a photographer with a germ phobia and a secret:  she is HIV positive.  Their very original story, titled "GNORML" (pronounced "Normal"), has a unique element in that the photographer is a female, and on a mission to overcome the stigma associated with being HIV positive, as well as find out what exactly it means to be so-called normal.   (more…)
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deepsouth – documentary feature opens in DC July 24

In the southern United States, the reach of the AIDS epidemic is real, and it is growing.  In a region of society where many continue to consider it a sin to be homosexual and AIDS a curse from God, those who are HIV infected are ostracized, quarantined, denied services, and left to their own devices - while often already existing in grave poverty.  And it should come as no surprise that the African-American population has the highest numbers for both men and women infected by HIV. Among those who want this to end are the filmmakers behind the new documentary feature film deepsouth.  Traveling 13,000 miles over  (more…)
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Paintings of Hugh Steers – on view through July 20th in Chelsea, NYC

Upon first seeing the paintings of Hugh Steers, my mind went to Edward Hopper.  The color juxtapositions, the simplicity of his subject matter, but mostly, the way he distills a space in time down to its deeper essence.  One breaths with the moment when viewing his work.  Through images of playfulness, campiness and deep compassion, Steers' paintings touch upon (more…)

Elton John’s new book, “Love is The Cure,” addresses his reaction to the AIDS crisis

It's possible that many have experienced a similar emotional crisis as that which Sir Elton John admits to in the pages of his new memoir, Love is The Cure. People close to us became very sick and were gone within a year - sometimes months - leaving us confused and reeling, and ultimately, perhaps, doing nothing more than numbing ourselves to the pain.  It is warming to find a book opening up this experience, and describing how it inspired him to do such good. He refers to the book as a collection of stories that he hopes (more…)

AIDS Memorial Quilt Turns 25

Is this the ultimate piece of American Folk Art?  It seems to be the most inclusive.  In the 25 years since it originated, the AIDS Memorial Quilt has grown to incorporate 94,000 names on 48,000 panels covering 50 miles.  100,000 people have been involved in the sewing, embroidering, stitching & overall creation of this essential piece of remembrance.  And The Names Project, custodians of the Quilt, continue to receive a new panel or two each day.  Being entirely hand-sewn, (more…)

July is National HIV Awareness Month

Start by taking the pledge to end HIV in America; click here to sign. If you can make it to Washington, DC in the latter part of the month, you can attend the XIX International AIDS Conference on July 22nd - 27th, marking its first occurrence in the US in 22 years.   Elton John will be the keynote speaker on July 23rd.  And there are plenty of related cultural events being presented in the weeks around the conference.  Click here for a list. One of the best things listed is the Arena Stage's presentation of Larry Kramer's play "The Normal Heart" from June 8th through July 29th. (more…)

The Purpose of this Blog

Several years ago I started photographing friends, and friends of friends, wearing a pair of 1970s vintage blue sunglasses that had belonged to a performance artist friend who had died of AIDS.  I had been the custodian of these glasses for over a decade, yet their somewhat overt style had made me hesitant to don them for any sort of daily sartorial function.  I wanted to put them to use, though.  And they had such a glamor to them that fun (more…)