Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cigarette City

HIV Home Set Afire

Houston Chronicle (09/25/96) P. 15A

A home for people with HIV in rural Paicol, Colombia was set on fire by arsonists Monday night as a father and son slept inside. They were unhurt. The house is operated by a Roman Catholic group that provides shelter to poor people with HIV in Colombia. The community had threatened to force the residents out for months, fearing that people with HIV could contaminate the water supply and crops by bathing in a stream that flows into the town.

Notice that is a news clipping from 1996. 10 years ago. People keep asking me, when discussing this diary, if things are different now from how they were back then. I saw that clipping and thought it might work as a guidepost. But that FEAR OF AIDS ERA was coming to an end. Also, 10 years ago, after coming back to life, the diary started becoming incredibly boring as I did a lot of navel-gazing. And I was pretending that I was a lot more famous than I really was. You know. Like now.

10 years ago, we were getting ready to go to New York. We had a staged reading planned thanks to Don Kirkpatrick from El Paso (a diary reader) and I was rushing my friends Alan Satchwell, Ginger Freers and Chip Esten into Barry Fasman's studio for a quick recording of "When You Care" so that I could finish my demo of TLS to play for NY producers.

And it was over 10 years ago that Jimmy and I drove into Vegas to visit my beloved Aunt Freida because my mom and dad were in town from Louisiana (before the new pills had rescued me). This past Thursday, we did it again!

Aunt Freida

She was really happy to see that I looked healthy and strong. My Aunt Freida is the best laugher in the whole world. She is laughing long before the punchline because she knows it's going to be funny. She laughs during the telling of the quip and then she guffaws when she hears the punchline. It's not that she's missing the joke. She just loves the joke and she loves to laugh. Aunt Freida is a really smart person, too. I've always admired her. She looks like Rue McLanahan. She's my Auntie Mame.

It's my mom! (She never changes. Not bad for 75.)

Jim hugging mom.

I similarly love my parents. They looked really good. Mom is having sciatica. It's really painful. She never complains about it, either. She hates it when anyone worries about it. Jim also had painful sciatica, so they bonded in pain for a moment. Then he said, "Shall I tell you what cured it?"
Mom and Aunt Freida got really serious for a moment.

Jim said, "I got new shoes! Rockports! Three days later, no sciatica."

Which sent Freida into another laughing jag. She was expecting a long, medical explanation.

My dad looking bemused.

My dad is like a rock. He's so himself. He's genuinely one of the warmest persons I've ever met though he usually has this stoic look on his face.

He is constantly amused by mom and Aunt Freida and just smiles at them through his crinkly western Roy Rogers / Clint Black eye squint. I love my dad. He's the most Zen person I know.


It was also great to see Thomas with his cowboy hat. Thomas has since had cancer in his throat, surviving a nasty radiation and recovery with Freida nursing him all the way. I was overjoyed at seeing how healthy he looked.

More laughing.
Jim, being the great storyteller, held Aunt Freida, dad and mom in thrall. They wanted to hear all about "Zero Hour" and "The Big Voice" and all the Hollywood stories we could come up with.

Things really lightened up when we talked about "Project Runway," our favorite show all around.

The only "glitch" about Las Vegas is that we tried to go out to dinner, but the first restaurant was filled with smokers. Jim was particularly incensed about a woman eating, smoking a cigarette at the same while while blowing smoke in her baby's face. What is WRONG with people?? Jim started getting an asthma attack, so we went to another restaurant and it was packed. More smoke.

So, we sent everyone home, drove over to El Pollo Loco, got some chicken and had a great time back at Freida's place sitting around the table. It was more fun than a restaurant, anyway.

The ride home was beautiful. Lots of desert landscapes.

I particularly liked this hill that just popped up out of nowhere.

And this mountain range.

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Anonymous said...

What a wonderful looking family. Delightful. I'm sitting here smiling. Thanks.

Coming home from Vegas, I'm always facinated by the bypassed sections of highway with the rows of dead motels lined with prone palms. Check them out next time.

Hugs to you both........

Anonymous said...

They haven't changed a bit from when we first met! So glad you posted pictures of everyone!Love to all!


Anonymous said...

Your parents are gorgeous people!!!! I love the pics of your Mom laughing. Just great.

Gabi Clayton said...

Thanks Steve. Beautiful pictures of your beautiful family!

Jackie said...

What beautiful pics of your family, I can feel the love and hear the laughter.
I've had sciatica too. OW! Rockports huh?

Steve Schalchlin said...

Jimmy changed to Rockports and his sciatica went away almost overnight. He swears by them.