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How to Survive a Plague

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PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 9/30/12 at 12:46am
I watched the movie again tonight, this time On Demand in my living room. We paused the film a few times to point out unidentified friends and acquaintances. ("There's Ron Goldberg!" "There's Keith Haring!" "There's John Weir!" "There's Michael Cunningham!")

I cried a little bit more at the deaths of lovely Ray Navarro, whose delightful rendition of Jesus presages his breathtaking acceptance of death in the face of blindness and deafness...and Bob Rafsky, whose powerful orations inspired my activism and whose public speaking I considered on a level with John F. Kennedy and the Reverend Martin Luther King.

And I am happy to confirm that I am visible, not on the floor of Grand Central during that demonstration, which was my first, and not in the die-in in the middle of the road in Kennebunkport, which I attended with Reginald Tresilian!

No, I am visible as a blur, in one of the meeting scenes at Cooper Union: the one in which the crowd congratulates Bob Rafsky for having confronted Bill Clinton during the 1992 primary campaign, which put HIV/AIDS into the national presidential discussion.

I am in my usual position, standing behind the last row of the auditorium, applauding for Bob's inspiring activism, visible to the camera briefly as the blur of a white shirt, the blur of a full head of thick black hair (I was younger then, and had hair) and the blur of my habitual black-rimmed glasses (chic now, but far from it then).

I am only a blur, but that is appropriate, since that is all I remember of those years, of my friends' deaths and the deaths of so many others, and my involvement with Act-Up.

I am a blurry freeze frame who once lost friends, acted-up, fought back and fought AIDS.

yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
Updated On: 9/30/12 at 12:46 AM
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FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 9/30/12 at 12:47am
Jesus Gaveston, I really DID my best to bring the thread back to the topic of the documentary.
'First the Bastille than the butt plug.' -- M ______
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FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 9/30/12 at 12:51am
PJ, that film and these reactions are living antidotes to Larry Kramer passing out fliers after The Normal Heart saying that every effort had been an abject failure. Nice to find he managed to say something good about it in the movie.

We've talked about this before. I wonder if you and me and Reginald were bodies on the ground anywhere near each other in Kennebunkport? Oh, if only there had been cellphones with cameras back in those days. It would have been the Arab Spring of HIV.

'First the Bastille than the butt plug.' -- M ______
Updated On: 9/30/12 at 12:51 AM
PalJoey Profile Photo
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 9/30/12 at 01:13am
I like to think we were. Here is some neckwear I discovered I still have from those demonstrations.



The legend on the reverse of the yellow one reads "CALL GEORGE BUSH 202-456-1414 DEMAND LEADERSHIP."

It's funny the things you discover you held onto while you were letting everything else go…
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
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FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 9/30/12 at 10:25am
Nice collection. I don't think I parted with my "Silencio = Muerte" t-shirt but lord knows where I stashed it.
'First the Bastille than the butt plug.' -- M ______
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YouWantitWhen????
Broadway Legend
joined:7/16/05
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 9/30/12 at 11:04am
I know it sounds weired, but reading te exchanges here almost is like a living history. I sometimes think there is the making of an amazing documentary among these threads and personalities of those who have survived.

In a weird way, it reminds me of the interconnections of the movie Crash.
<---------- No kids, no man, but I have some great pussies! And, If you're lucky, you too can call me Your Sassy Hagness.
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FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 9/30/12 at 11:41am
One of the things I totally forgot to mention was that my screening was attended by Mark Harrington, who features prominently in the movie. (And who, at one point in the documentary, somebody at ACT UP accuses of sending anonymous letters to others, a charge he denies; see? we didn't need no internet to have flame wars back in the day!), and I have to say seeing him now, right after watching the time go by on screen, you do realize that through a random mixture of good luck and/or the advent of the drug cocktail, many more of us made came out the other end of the tunnel, making it a lot longer than most any of us assumed we would. Of having, as Peter Staley puts it, "come home from the war."

At a Q+A after the show, somebody asked Harrington about the sense of humor that was evident in so many of the actions and echoing Emma Goldman, he talked about what a crucial factor "play" was in every public protest they did. Play, theatricality. Life.

He also stressed that this documentary is just one story of one small group of people in NYC's chapter of ACT UP and that there were so many more stories to tell from all over the world. What you wrote is what he was getting at YWIW? I am grateful France's documentary exists and while I was watching it, I was remembering coordinated actions timed to coincide with ACT UP NY's events. Things so many of us took part in around the country, each with its own fascinating back story and cast of characters.

It's also important to know there was a LOT of criticism from within the gay community. People often talked about their political concerns and hopes but couched their statements with things like, "I'm not like ACT UP, which goes way too far." I'm actually really grateful those voices were kept from the film, but I remember them well.
'First the Bastille than the butt plug.' -- M ______
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PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 10/9/12 at 11:23pm
Please go see this move. Please.
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
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FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 10/9/12 at 11:34pm
I just realized how many people from the old days (not necessarily from AIDS activism, but occasionally) have been popping up in my dreams since seeing this documentary. It really touched something in me.
'First the Bastille than the butt plug.' -- M ______
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FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 10/12/12 at 12:33pm
Oh for crap's sake. Ed Koch does movie reviews? Peter Staley has Koch's review of "How to Survive a Plague" on his POZ blog. The disingenuousness begins at the top of paragraph 2:

The plague began in 1981 when a handful of gay men in San Francisco were struck down with a new disease.


'First the Bastille than the butt plug.' -- M ______
Updated On: 10/12/12 at 12:33 PM
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tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 10/12/12 at 12:40pm
It's finally opening here this weekend. Seeing it Wednesday night.

....but the world goes 'round
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FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 10/12/12 at 12:56pm
'First the Bastille than the butt plug.' -- M ______
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PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 12/19/12 at 08:00am




For those who have seen the movie or were lucky to have known him, yesterday brought the sad news that Spencer Cox died yesterday morning. For those who haven't seen it, here is his interview from the outtakes of the movie, which you can download on Amazon Instant Video:

http://youtu.be/unDyouBoo9M

Spencer had been a child actor from the age of 9 or so, and by the time he was in his 20s, he was kind of over the whole actor thing. But he knew every lyric from every musical and every line from every old movie. He passionate activism kind of gave the theater queens of the 80s and 90s the courage to become activists. Remember that before BC/EFA, before 1995, most actors were very closeted and afraid to attend rallies or demonstrations. Spencer had nothing to lose and didn't care.

The activism of Spencer and the other men and women featured in the documentary forced the government in 1996 to release the anti-HIV drugs that stopped the deaths that were happening so relentlessly in the 1980s and early 90s. It also changed the way drugs are distributed today for other diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis.

In the YouTube clip here, Spencer describes what it was like in 1995 to go from knowing death was imminent to knowing death could be halted, temporarily. These are his words:

"What I learned from that is that miracles are possible. Miracles happen, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. I wouldn't trade that information for anything. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know what'd going to happen day to day. I don't know what's going to happen next year. I just now, you keep going. You keep evolving and you keep progressing, you keep hoping until you die. Which is going to happen someday. You live your life as meaningful as you can make it. You live it and don't be afraid of who is going to like you or are you being appropriate. You worry about being kind. You worry about being generous. And if it's not about that what the hell's it about?"


Amazon InstantVideo: How to Survive a Plague

yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
Updated On: 12/19/12 at 08:00 AM
Roscoe Profile Photo
Roscoe
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 12/19/12 at 09:09am
Very sad news about Spencer. I knew him only very slightly many years ago, and we were facebook friends, and I'm not claiming a particular friendship with him or anything, but I'm very saddened by his passing. Flights of angels sing him to his rest.
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog: http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com/
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FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 12/19/12 at 09:16am
“Spencer single-handedly sped up the development and marketing of the protease inhibitors, which currently are saving 8 million lives,” says TAG executive director Mark Harrington. “He was absolutely brilliant, just off the charts brilliant.”

Talk about your acts of kindness. Thank you, Spencer Cox.

Love,
The World
'First the Bastille than the butt plug.' -- M ______
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Roscoe
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 12/19/12 at 11:04am
Is the film still available on demand?
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog: http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com/
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henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 12/19/12 at 02:13pm
I saw it at Sundance. It's extraordinary as history, as political document and as filmmaking. I believe it's still on Time Warner Cable "on demand" Roscoe. In the interest of full accuracy (shill transparency), the director David France is a friend of mine.

Updated On: 12/19/12 at 02:13 PM
PalJoey Profile Photo
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 12/21/12 at 09:01am
Spencer's obituary in the NY Times today:
Spencer Cox, AIDS Activist, Dies at 44
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
tazber Profile Photo
tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 12/21/12 at 09:49am
I was just going to post that, PJ.

RIP.

....but the world goes 'round
PalJoey Profile Photo
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 1/10/13 at 10:17am
How to Survive a Plague was nominated for an Oscar this morning.
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
FindingNamo Profile Photo
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 1/10/13 at 10:32am
I'm glad for that.
'First the Bastille than the butt plug.' -- M ______
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doodlenyc
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/04
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 1/10/13 at 11:58am
I cant see how, but I've missed this thread over and over!

I'm so glad this film was nominated this morning. If for no other reason than as a tribute to those who fought so valiantly for ourselves and each other.

It takes me back to my early days in NYC, where it seems I probably crossed paths with so many of you! Working at the Community Health Project, now the Callen-Lorde center helped me grow up quick and meet amazing people...I dont want to say it was the best time of my life, but it was very special (and seems like yesterday!)
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

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tazber Profile Photo
tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 2/26/13 at 07:36am
Out today on dvd.

....but the world goes 'round
broadwayjim42
Broadway Legend
joined:5/19/03
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 2/26/13 at 08:07am
Saw the movie in January with my best friend, who participated in some of the protests shown and knew a lot of people in the movie. He loved Bob, broke down every time Spencer appeared on screen (he visited him during his final weeks) and would say "oh there's so and so" every time someone he knew showed up.

The movie itself was incredible...I lost it almost completely twice (Bob's passing and the final reveals) and seeing itwith my friend enriched it that much more. Have watched it twice since on Netflix and definitely plan on getting the DVD.
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PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 2/26/13 at 02:14pm
One of the most insightful articles on the movie and the topic in general by Atlantic Monthly writer Garance Franke-Ruta. She was just a teenager when she volunteered for ACTUP and then for TAG.

Her insights are startling:

ACT UP worked because America worked. I'm not sure we expected that, even as we hoped for it. It taught me that everything that is marginal and powerful in American life eventually becomes central, part of the great churning from edges to mainstream that is one of the most underheralded but deep-seated patterns of our politics. That politicians only ratify social changes that start elsewhere, while true leadership comes from the grassroots, and the people. And that whoever has the most energy in any political battle usually wins. ACT UP was a fireball of energy.
The Atlantic: The Plague Years, in Film and Memory
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
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SonofRobbieJ
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/09
How to Survive a Plague
Posted: 2/26/13 at 02:30pm
Ooooof. That was a tough read.

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