We were hurrying up 2nd Avenue, trying to get home, and to the rooftop, in time. But as we walked along Stuyvesant Park, I could see the lights of the Empire State Building dim. We stopped at a clearing, and the few buildings we could see from street level had begun going dark. Snapped out of our momentary pause, we hurried to 18th St., and up to the roof. It was the first "Day Without Art/Night Without Light" (Day Without Art had begun the year earlier), and it was indeed spooky to see the New York City skyline darkened. As the lights clumsily came back on, that too was eerie - how odd it was that the lights coming back on didn't signify some great event like the lighting of great skyscrapers ought to. We left the rooftop after brief but tight hugs, and settled into Phil's apartment for the RED HOT + BLUE t.v. special.
The album had come out a few months earlier, I think, but this was national television, and we were anxious to see what the artists would do visually, and what sort of safe sex and AIDS awareness messages would finally be broadcast to a mass audience. Neneh Cherry's I've Got You Under My Skin was visually amazing, the stark blue/black lighting, the thumpthump pulsing of the bass (but we did giggle at the dancer in his skintight latex outfit and his fringed mask). Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry's Well Did You Evah was fun, K.D. Lang's So In Love was stunning. Simple, as she dutifully washed/sterilized someone's clothes, but as she hung up a woman's slip on a hanger to dry, and ever-so-briefly carressed it, we all turned to each other with our jaws dropped - one or two years before her "official" coming out! Memories of each video, or Richard Gere giving brief, digestable facts are kinda vague 12 years later, but it's still difficult to watch the Erasure video. We were all pleasantly surprised to see this light-hearted song, Too Darn Hot, use footage from several ACT UP demonstrations, with faces we knew being dragged off by police, big banners with redpaint (blood) splattered; but still, the emotions are still churned up knowing how many of thse folks aren't here today. And of course none of us could help crying during Annie Lennox's Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye. But when it was over, there was this quiet empty feeling. Yes, it was good, yes it was long overdue. But would it help? Would friends regain their health? Would the bigotry and misinformation end? Somehow I managed a few years of screaming at buildings, and learning chants, and risking arrests at demonstrations, some volunteering thrown in, but by the end of 1994, whatever advances that might have been going on didn't seem to affect the people closest to me. Dave died in November. The first few months of 1995 involved a very close friend getting sick, his friends struggling like little children, clueless how to help, he couldn't handle it anymore, Rick died. I don't have a "keep trying" message, words of wisdom or "play safe" slogans. Writing this just reminds me how angry, sad and bitter I am.