Posts Tagged ‘And The Band Played On’

World AIDS Day

Sadly, there are more than 1.1 million people in the United States that are HIV-positive and what’s scary is that 18% don’t even know that they are infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus infection), which can lead to AIDS.  That’s almost one-in-five people who don’t know they are HIV-positive!

Today, December 1, 2013, marks the 25th anniversary of “World AIDS Day”, which was started in 1988 to raise awareness to the spread of HIV and the AIDS pandemic.

world aids day

Here’s some sobering numbers for you:  AIDS is still a problem, even if it’s now treatable.  There were still 15,529 deaths in the U.S. from AIDS in the U.S. in 2010.

us-statistics-1

White gay and bisexual men are the groups with the highest new infection rates and black gay and bisexual men follow right behind.

THE BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE ANNOUNCE NEW TV CAMPAIGN

However, here’s something that needs to be addressed and people need to wake up.  While African-Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population, they account for 44% of new HIV cases in 2010/living with HIV.  And, Hispanics account for 16% of the U.S. population, but make up 21% of the new HIV cases/people living with HIV.

We’ve come a long way in the past 32 years, but we have a long way to go.

Flashback to the spring and early summer of 1981.  Doctors in New York and California started noticing that some of their young, gay patients were coming in with weakened immune systems and were developing pneumonia and cancer.

NYT

“The New York Times” published one of the first articles on this new disease that didn’t even have a name and was incorrectly labeled “GRID” (gay-related immune deficiency) in 1982.  It was changed to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) once doctors realized that it didn’t only affect gay men.

The early 1980s was a scary time because there was so much that doctors didn’t know about this “gay cancer”, as it was also called.  This led to fear and many misconceptions about who or how people could catch it.

Princess Diana

Ryan White Pic

Ryan White, an Indiana hemophiliac, contracted AIDS from a contaminated blood transfusion and he was diagnosed with the disease shortly after his 13th birthday during a partial-lung removal procedure.

His school refused to let him come back and the family was subjected to threats and a bullet was even fired into their living room forcing the family to leave Kokomo, Indiana.

Ryan White

Ryan died in April 1990 at the age of 18.

Jerry Falwell

Before Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS in late 1984, Reverend Jerry Falwell in the summer of 1983 called AIDS, the “gay plague”.  He also made other ignorant and hateful comments about AIDS and gay people.

Falwell

Sept 1986, Ken Died 3 Days Later

In the early-and-mid-1980s, a diagnosis of AIDS was an almost certain death sentence.  Outside of large metropolitan cities, many in America still thought it was a strictly a disease that affected gay men.

Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell

In retrospective, that doesn’t seem illogical because President Ronald Reagan didn’t even mention AIDS publicly until 1987, six years after he began his presidency and AIDS went public!

corbis_rm_photo_of_ACT_UP_protest_banner

While the President chose to or just remained silent on the topic, the nation’s started talking in the summer of 1985 when one of America’s biggest movie stars of the 1950s and 1960s startled the world when he admitted that he had AIDS.

Roy Scherer, Jr., who was born outside of Chicago, moved to Los Angeles in 1946 to become an actor after serving in the U.S. Navy in Philippines during World War II.  His name was changed to Rock Hudson and he became a matinée idol and made several romantic-comedies, including a few with his dear friend, actress Doris Day.

Doris Day Rock Hudson

Hudson was a heartthrob — a tall drink of water at 6’5″ — and the magazines loved him.

Rock Hudson 1951

However, rumors that he was gay dogged him.  When “Confidential” magazine threatened to out him in 1955, he got married that same year and then divorced in 1958.

In 1956, Hudson was nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Giant” that also starred Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean.  He worked steadily in movies and television through 1985 and his last role was on “Dynasty” as Daniel Reece, the love interest of Linda Evan’s character, Krystle Carrington.

Rock Hudson Dynasty

While Hudson’s character was killed off in the spring of 1985, the gasp that could be heard around the world came months later, in July.  Hudson appeared in a promo to promote his friend, Doris Day’s new television show.

Doris Day Rock Hudson 1985

The actor appeared thin and unhealthy.  He spoke incoherently during the press event.  This led to widespread speculation about his health.  Days later he collapsed at a hotel in Paris, France, and his publicist, Dale Olson, denied that Hudson had AIDS and that he was suffering from inoperable liver cancer.

Four days later, on July 25, 1985, Olson admitted that Hudson had AIDS and that he had been diagnosed one year earlier and had been flying to Paris for treatments.

People Headline

Hollywood freaked out over this revelation, including some on the set of “Dynasty”.  However, it’s been reported that Linda Evans was not one of those people even though they shared intimate love scenes together.

At the time, some erroneously thought that you could contract AIDS through kissing.  YOU CANNOT GET AIDS FROM KISSING!  This is a perfect time for the facts about HIV and AIDS.

HIV HIV Prevention

On October 2, 1985, Rock Hudson died at home in his sleep in Beverly Hills, California.  He was 59.

Rock Hudson 1950s

Shortly before he died, Hudson sent a telegram to Commitment to Life, a Hollywood AIDS benefit, saying “I am not happy that I am sick. I am not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others, I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth.”

Comedian Joan Rivers added, “Two years ago, when I hosted a benefit for AIDS, I couldn’t get one major star to turn out. … Rock’s admission is a horrendous way to bring AIDS to the attention of the American public, but by doing so, Rock, in his life, has helped millions in the process. What Rock has done takes true courage.”  And, actress Morgan Fairchild said that “Rock Hudson’s death gave AIDS a face.”

HOLLYWOOD EDUCATING AMERICA THROUGH MOVIES

While health officials worked tirelessly in the 1980s and 1990s to educate the public about HIV/AIDS, activists staged protests at government offices to work harder to fund research and to find a cure.

Slowly, Hollywood came around and “An Early Frost” on NBC in November 1985 was the first movie to address AIDS.

An Early Frost

34 million people tuned to see Aidan Quinn as a Chicago lawyer, who not only became ill with AIDS, but he also had to tell his parents (Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands) that he was gay.  The movie earned 14 Emmy nominations, winning three.

While it was the most watched show of the night beating out football and “Cagney & Lacey”, NBC lost $500,000 in commercial revenue because some clients were scared away by the subject matter.

Here are some other incredible Hollywood movies and television movies or series that excel at telling the HIV/AIDS story.

“Longtime Companion” (1989) is one of my all-time favorite movies.

While it was the first wide-release theatrical movie to address AIDS,  it only earned $4.6 million at the box office.  It stars Campbell Scott, Mary-Louise Parker, and Bruce Davison, who earned a Best Supporting Oscar nomination.

It follows a group of New York City friends from the 1981 beginning of the AIDS pandemic and shows how they learned to live, fight, and die from the disease.

Longtime Companion

“And The Band Played On”, a 1993 HBO movie, is probably the best historical movie for you to learn about the history of AIDS without it sounding like a boring history lesson.  The Emmy Award winning movie (it won three out of its 14 nominations) stars Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Richard Gere, and Phil Collins.

And, the book was written by Randy Shilts, who was born in Davenport, Iowa.

And-the-Band-Played-On

In 1993, “Philadelphia” became the most profitable AIDS movie in Hollywood history earning $206.7 million (almost $77 million of that was from the U.S.).

Tom Hanks won an Oscar playing a closeted lawyer at a big law firm, who is given the company’s biggest case only to have them fire him when a partner sees a lesion on his forehead and he is hospitalized.  He hires a homophobic, personal injury lawyer played by Denzel Washington.

Philadelphia

Another touching small theatrical movie, “The Cure”, tells the story of Dexter, a Midwestern boy who befriends his latch-key neighbor, Erik, who’s a little older.  Initially, Erik is afraid of Dexter and his disease.  But, the boys form a close friendship when they decide to travel down the Mississippi River to New Orleans to find a rumored cure for AIDS.

The Cure

Not all AIDS-related movie are dramas.  “Jeffrey”, a 1995 film by funny man Paul Rudnick, made about $3.5 million at the box office and stars Steven Weber and Michael T. Weiss.

Weber is Jeffrey, a New York City man who is scared of catching AIDS, so he gives up sex and then he meets Steve, the man of his dreams only to find out that Steve is HIV-positive.

The movie features an all-star cast including Patrick Stewart, Olympia Dukakis, Sigourney Weaver, Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski, and Kathy Najimy.

Jeffrey

The play, “Angels in America” blasted onto HBO in 2003 with a cast that included Al Pacino, Meryl Streep (playing four characters), Emma Thompson, Jeffrey Wright (also playing four characters), Mary-Louise Parker and Patrick Wilson.  The almost six-hour series earned 21 Emmy nominations and 11 wins, including acting awards for Pacino, Streep, Parker, and Wright.

Angels in America

And, in 2014, Ryan Murphy, the man behind the award-winning series, “American Horror Story” and “Glee”, will be directing the Larry Kramer-penned, Tony Award-winning play, “The Normal Heart”.

TheNormalHeart

The HBO movie stars Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons. Matt Bomer, and Taylor Kitsch, and focuses on the AIDS crisis in New York City in the early-1980s.

For those of you that don’t know him, Larry Kramer is and was one of the biggest health advocates in the history of HIV/AIDS and helped start the protest organization, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), in early 1987.

“AND, THE ACADEMY AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR SHOULD GO TO…”

dallas_buyers_club

Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club”!

The movie is based on a true story.  Ron Woodruff was a homophobic, hard-living, good ol’ Texas boy who loved his liquor, drugs, and women.  In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS and told that he had 30 days to live.

He tried to get on the AZT trials that were being rushed onto the market to fight the AIDS pandemic.  Since he was denied that opportunity, Woodruff started buying it on the black market.  When he almost died, he came up with a plan to smuggle medications out of Mexico to try to stay alive.  Since Ron couldn’t sell the drugs, he started a membership only “buyers club” to distribute the Food & Drug Administration-unapproved medication.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

McConaughey, who plays Woodruff, lost about 50 pounds for the role and his co-star, Jared Leto, who plays transgender AIDS patient, Rayon, who befriends Woodruff, lost about 40 pounds for the role.

Both actors were electrifying and sold the story.  After initially gasping at McConaughey’s first appearance in the movie, I was sold for the next two hours that both actors were HIV-positive people fighting for their lives, while the government dragged its feet.

If you lived through the 1980s and saw friends getting sick and dying, you saw those friends in Ron and Rayon.  If you know people who have become HIV-positive in the past decade, where with medication, healthier living, diet, and exercise, it’s become a manageable disease, there’s a sense of relief that AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence.

GRADE:  A

MUSICIAN LEND A VOICE, TOO

Madonna, George Michael, Cyndi Lauper, the Pet Shop Boys, and many other musicians have recorded songs about HIV and AIDS and losing friends or lovers to the disease.

In 1986, Elton John was joined by Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder on “That’s What Friends Are For”.  That Grammy Award-winning song reached #1 and raised over $3 million dollars for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, a nonprofit organization founded by some leading AIDS specialist and actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Six years later, Elton John founded the nonprofit organization, the Elton John AIDS Foundation.  His 1992 hit, “The Last Song”, about a father and son reuniting before the son died of AIDS, was the first of Elton’s American singles to benefit his AIDS foundation.

While pop music embraced the fight against HIV/AIDS and lent a voice, it took the biggest name in country music almost twenty years ago to release a song that was controversial in that musical genre to put a heterosexual face to AIDS.

Reba She Thinks His Name Was John

Typically, summer radio is filled with bubbly, fun songs.  However, in 1994, Reba McEntire serviced “She Thinks His Name Was John” to country radio as the second single from “Read My Mind”.   The song tells the story of a woman, who is dying alone of AIDS after an alcohol-fueled one night stand a few years earlier.

The song only reached #14 on the Billboard County charts.  But, it opened eyes in a genre that was used to drinking songs, but not one with the horrors of a disease that affected a large number of gay men.

While things are changing, there’s still a long way to go in the fight against HIV and AIDS.  And, we still need to educate people.

Annie Lennox

Back in 2010, Annie Lennon of the Eurythimics wore a “HIV Positive” shirt on “Idol Gives Back”.  This prompted many to think that she was ill.

She replied, “I can tell you the good news is actually I am not. However, many people are. In fact, 22 million in sub-Saharan Africa are currently HIV positive.  And I am wearing this in solidarity with them because it’s very hard when you are HIV positive to be open about your status and to be able to tell your family and your friends.”

Annie Lennox

Red Ribbon

You may not see many people these days wearing red ribbons to raise awareness, but more people than ever are getting infected with HIV.  Last year, around the world, 2.3 million people were newly affected!

hiv_013

Since 1981, more than 636,000 people have died from AIDS in the United States.  If those numbers don’t wake you up, try these:

AmFAR Stats

On this “World AIDS Day”, remember those who have lost the battle with AIDS.  Whether you know it or not, I can almost guarantee that you know someone who is HIV-positive or that you will in the future.

STOP AIDS

Abstaining from sex is what some tell you to do.  That works.  However, if you’re going to be sexually active, protect yourself.  Use condoms!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.”

HIV and AIDS are preventable.  Be safe.  It’s not just a slogan!

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — September 13, 2013

It’s been a long six-day work week for me since I’m working strange hours — the evening shift.  There are two sides to the coin on this one.  It means that I’ve gotten to sleep in past 1 a.m. this week.  But, it also means that I’m been working to almost 11 p.m. or midnight (last Sunday because of the women’s U.S. Open tennis final).

I hope you have fun plans for the weekend.  Since the weather is going to be absolutely fantastic:  cooler temperatures and a decent chance of rain Sunday, I’m going to make soup today!

Rain

Liquid gold after the 36 consecutive days with no measurable rain at the Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois.

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE:  More than one-half of inch of rain could fall in the Quad Cities late Saturday night and Sunday!

Here are my random thoughts for this week!

I DON’T FEEL THAT I’M HYPOCRITICAL

In last week’s blog, I criticized some idiots in Tucson, Arizona, that are asking for a recall of a school council member (and several others).  I could care less that they’re wanting a recall.  However, they’re attacking one of the men because he’s gay and even implied that he wasn’t “a REAL man” because of that!

In teasing what I was talking about in my random blog on Facebook, I wrote “Remind me not to go to Arizona”.

This prompted a former co-worker of mine now living there to write this to me, “Nice to see you’re making judgements about an entire state by the actions of a few. I don’t find anything hypocritical in that at all. I love you Anthony, but I think you’re wrong to condemn an entire state for that one story.”

This got me to thinking about whether I was being hypocritical?  I know that there are good people in Arizona, but I was talking about a certain group of people and not everyone in Tucson or Arizona.  However, I don’t feel that I’m hypocritical if I don’t want to go to Arizona because of that and the governor that I referenced in the story.

RUSSIA-RIGHTS-GAY-DEMOUganda

In the past, I’ve talked about the anti-gay laws and gay bashing in Russia, Uganda wanting to make “kill the gays” a law, and Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy giving money to anti-gay organizations.  Because of that, I don’t want to visit Russia, Uganda, or Chick-fil-A, even if there are nice people in Russia and Uganda and LGBT employees or supporters at some Chick-fil-A stores.

ChickFilA

I don’t think that makes me a hypocrite!

SPEAKING OF RUSSIA AND I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING MORE…

Alexei Zhuravlev, a member of the Russian Parliament, plans to introduce a bill that would prevent gay parents from getting custody of their children.  He adds that if a single mother was found to be gay, she should lose custody of her child and he’d rather see the child go to an orphanage!

Alexei Zhuravlev

Zhuravlev says, “Homosexuals must not raise children.  They corrupt them. They do them much more harm than if the child were in an orphanage. I am deeply convinced of this.”

So sad!

WE NEED OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN NEXT YEAR

Did you attend the Riverfront Pops concert with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra and the music of Michael Jackson last weekend?

The symphony was amazing and the singer’s voice was incredible.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While I loved the music, I thought the show was too chatty and it zapped the energy for me.  I loved the music of ABBA much more last year.

This was only my second Riverfront Pops concert and I plan on making it an annual tradition.  Since we’re talking about the Quad City Symphony, I’ve never attended the Holiday Pops concert to kick off the Christmas season.  However, I want to see this year’s show with Debby Boone (“You Light Up My Life”) as the featured guest vocalist.

Debby_boone_christmas

Since I’m a planner, I have a suggestion for the planning committee for next year’s Riverfront Pops — Olivia Newton-John.

Olivia

She is an award-winning actress and singer that has been charting hit singles for more than forty years.  She was a hit at last year’s Northalsted Market Days in Chicago and she has performed with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Australia.

Organizers, please contact Olivia now and make this happen!   🙂

IT’S NOT TOO EARLY TO THINK ABOUT CHRISTMAS

There may be 103 days left to Christmas, but for fans of 1980s synthpop music, the holiday season arrives on November 12th this year.

Erasure will release its first holiday collection, “Snow Globe”.

Erasure Snow Globe

The album will feature a collection of original songs and seasonal classics.  The first single, “Gaudete”, is the duo’s take on a Medieval Latin carol, which was also a folk hit four decades ago for Steeleye Span.

Vince Clarke says of Andy Bell, “I haven’t actually heard him sing better.  And, Andy adds this about the recording sessions, “I found my inner choirboy again.  I thought I’d lost him but he was there all along.”

I can’t wait to deck the halls this year to Erasure’s sounds of Christmas.

And, since I’m talking about Christmas, I’m also excited about two other Christmas collections this fall:  “A Mary Christmas” by Mary J. Blige (October 15), produced by the legendary David Foster and featuring a duet with Barbra Streisand and “Wrapped in Red” by Kelly Clarkson (October 29), with Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood joining Kelly on “Silent Night”.

mary-j-blige-christmaskelly-clarkson-wrapped-in-red-album-cover

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Stop Believing

Emotional Rollercoaster Highlights

“WORK BITCH”

The countdown is on to next Tuesday morning when Britney Spears is set to make a major announcement.

For weeks now, a countdown clock has been ticking away on her website.  Is it the big reveal to her Las Vegas Planet Hollywood residency rumored to be coming this fall?  Or, will “Work Bitch”, the first single from her eighth studio album coming out this fall, hit radio Tuesday?

Britney Britney Tweet 1

Last weekend, she released this hot picture from her video shoot in the desert.

And, could the biggest supermodel of the world be involved in the project?

RuPaul Tweet

Whatever it is, I can’t wait.  But, just like fans across the world, I’m counting down to next Tuesday!

REMEMBERING 9/11

This week marks the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

9 11

Almost three thousand people died that day and more than six thousand others were injured in the hijackings and crashing of four planes in less than a two-hour period.

I was living in Ohio at the time.  Since I was filling in for the evening meteorologist, all morning I watched the coverage and thought, “how could this be happening?”.

That evening, we cut away from the national coverage and at the top of the 11pm newscast, I was “live” at a gas station covering the speculation that gas prices would skyrocket in the days to follow.  Minutes later, I was back at the station presenting weather on the green screen!?!?!?!   Strange producing without a doubt.

ANOTHER SOLEMN ANNIVERSARY

From 1981-2009, almost 30 million people died of AIDS.  In 2010, there were about 1.8 million deaths from AIDS, which was down from about 2.2 million in 2005.  And, as of 2011, it was estimated that there are 34 million people worldwide that are HIV-positive.

Those are some staggering numbers.  The bottom line is that HIV and AIDS are still major concerns and neither are not going away anytime soon regardless of the advancements in medication and treatment.

On September 11, 1993, one of the best movies about the AIDS epidemic, “And The Band Played On” premiered on HBO.

And_band_played_on_(1993)

The $8 million production featured an all-star cast including Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Ian McKellen, Richard Gere, Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Phil Collins, B.D. Wong, Anjelica Huston, and Glenne Headly.  It earned 14 Emmy nominations and won three awards.

The book from which the movie was based, “And The Band Played On:  Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic”, was written by Randy Shilts, who was born in Davenport, Iowa in 1951.

Randy Shilts

Shilts found out he was HIV-positive in March 1987, but he didn’t publicly reveal he had AIDS  until shortly before his death in February 1994.  He was 42.

If you ever want to watch a comprehensive, heart touching, and entertaining lesson of the early years and history of AIDS,  you have to see “And The Band Played On” and “Longtime Companion” (1990).  (You might even be able to find the entire movie on YouTube!)

A HAPPIER ANNIVERSARY

x-files

It was twenty years ago this week that “The X-Files” made its debut on Fox, on September 10, 1993.

12 million people tuned in that night to see FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully explore and try to explain the paranormal and the conspiracy to cover up an alien invasion and the existence of extraterrestrials.

It made David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson stars.

Gillian David The X-Files

When the fifth season kicked off in November 1997, more than 27.3 million people tuned in!

It’s still one of my favorite series of all time.  Although I’ve already watched it, I’m watching the series again with Ray, who never saw it.  We’re now into the sixth of nine seasons.

Happy Anniversary, “The X-Files”.

CRAZY ASS PICK HIT OF THE WEEK

Sometimes, I pick mainstream songs and video to showcase.

This week, it’s a song that is so far out there (try Norway) from a couple of brothers, Bard and Vegard Ylvisaker, who have a variety show called “Ylvis”.

They premiered “The Fox”, an electronic psuedo-parody last week and it was viewed 22.8 million times in just over a week!

The Fox Billboard Hot 100

The YouTube play, along with more than 71 million shares, was enough for the song to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 at #29!  And, a few radio stations are beginning to play it.  Check this out and then tell me that can forget it!  🙂

PEEPS’ ’80s FRIDAY FLASHBACK

The English band, the Human League scored six Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States from 1981 to 1995.

Of the six, three reached the Top Ten:  “Don’t You Want Me” (#1, 1982), “(Keep Feeling) Fascination (#8, 1983), and “Human” (#1, 1986).

“Don’t You Want Me” was their first American hit and it spent three weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 during my senior year of high school, 1982.

I finally got to see them in concert at Market Days in Chicago about ten years ago.  They were amazing!

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

Earlier this week, Ray and I finished season three of “The Walking Dead”.  It was absolutely incredible and mind-blowing!  So, “Dead” fans, we’re used to the undead being referred to as “walkers”.  What did you think of the Governor and residents of Woodbury calling them “biters”?  It grew on me and I like both references.

the-walking-dead-walker-zombie2

We’re going to finish season six of “The X-Files” and then take a break and finish out seasons four and five of “Fringe”.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

Anthony