A Writer’s Diary Entries From Mid-June, 1992

by Richard Grayson

Sunday, June 14, 1992

4 PM. It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I looked at an apartment at Camelot on SW 34th Street and SW 2nd Avenue,  about nine blocks east of the law school and catty-corner from the Publix I usually go to.

Because it’s old and smaller, the apartment isn’t as nice as this one, of course, but it’s $389 a month as opposed to $475, which is what this apartment is going up to, and Camelot throws in gas, water and sanitation.

There’s also a heated pool, and several law students live there. While I’ll miss my washer/dryer, I don’t need the extra microwave, and the new apartment does have a dishwasher – although I know I’ll never use it.

It’s just as close to the law school as this place, it’s probably less noisy, and I won’t have problems parking during football season.

Look, I’ve lived in over a dozen apartments, and I can get used to anything. So tomorrow I’ll probably put down a $200 deposit plus the first month’s rent.

When they came from College Park to show a couple my apartment, I told them I’d be moving out.

Last evening I finished the Law and Psychiatry reading for Thursday, so that will lighten my workload this week.

It took until 1 AM for me to fall asleep, but I didn’t get up until after 8:30 AM, so I had plenty of rest.

This morning I read about half the Sunday Times, watched the interview shows, and did low-impact aerobics.

At 1:30 PM, I took myself out for McLean Deluxe (just like last time, they first gave me one with cheese) and an orange juice.

When I got home, I called Harold in Minneapolis. He told me he’s had to deal with nasty departmental politics at Minneapolis Community College. Now he’s waiting for an interview to be scheduled for a full-time position for next year.

The Minnesota economy isn’t so bad, but they’ve got budget problems which are exacerbating the usual cutthroat academic politics.

He was supposed to fly to Fort Lauderdale today to visit his relatives, but that fell through, so he still hasn’t gotten to Florida.

Harold does seem to like the Twin Cities: there’s a lot of culture and ethnic restaurants, and Minneapolis is a livable city with amenities he didn’t have on the Lower East Side.

It’s hotter there today than it is here, and Harold says the weather goes from very cold to hot without a pleasant spring.

I’d love to see Minneapolis one day.

Harold asked if I would consider staying in North Central Florida after I finished law school, and I laughed because it’s something I never would have thought about.

No, I don’t mind Gainesville, but there’s no reason to be here any longer than I have to. For now, two more years seems permanent enough.

Last night I started wondering if I’d ever spent June in Florida before. In 1980 I spent most of the month at MacDowell in New Hampshire, but since then I’ve been in New York City every June except 1982 and 1983.

In 1982 I taught the first summer session at Broward Community College and hung out with Sean till about June 20, when I left for Rockaway, and the next year I returned to Fort Lauderdale on June 10 or so to teach the second summer session at BCC.

In June 1981, I moved from Marc’s in Sheepshead Bay to Teresa’s  to New Orleans for the NOCCA interview and then to D.C. to spend July at VCCA.

From 1984 to 1990, I spent every June at Teresa’s on West 85th Street.

I hope I don’t make Ronna crazy during my visit, but I’ll be thrilled to get a chance to stay on the Upper West Side again. I plan to make the most of my few weeks in Manhattan and drink in as much of New York as I can.

Last year I liked being in Rockaway, but all summer long, I went to Manhattan only a dozen times or so.

This year, if I can also stay at Alice’s while she’s away, I’ll get the extra treat of living in Greenwich Village for the first time.

Monday, June 15, 1992

3 PM on another rainy afternoon. These afternoon thunderstorms really get the temperature down. I just went out for the mail, and it must be only 75° now.

I put a $200 deposit down on Apartment 101 at Camelot and signed a lease that begins on August 11.

The manager showed me the apartment, which still has the last renter’s furniture in it, and it looks fine. While it’s not as spacious as this place, the guy had a king-size bed in the bedroom and it fit in easily, so I should have plenty of room.

I’ll miss my washer/dryer and a frost-free refrigerator, but I’ll be getting a bathroom with two entrances (so a guest can sleep in the living room and not disturb me) as well as close proximity to Publix and my bank and other stores.

And it’s on the first floor with easy access to a heated pool, something I don’t have here.

It should be fine. My new address is 3425 NW 2nd Avenue #101, Gainesville, FL 32607. Gordon, the manager, said I should call him around August 1 and that I didn’t have to give him a check for the first month’s rent until then.

Earlier, I spoke to Amy, who said the financial aid office should be sending me an award letter any day now; they have me budgeted as a law student, not a grad student.

Settling this stuff is a relief.

Last evening, after I watched TV and finished reading the Sunday paper, I dozed off listening to the radio at 9:30 PM.

Sleeping soundly, I didn’t stir till 3 AM. I was up for about an hour, but I found Bergman’s The Touch on Channel 9 from Orlando, which sometimes comes in clearly in the middle of the night.

When I did fall back asleep, I had a marvelous dream in which I visited all my grandparents. It gave me a good feeling to see Grandpa Herb, Grandpa Nat and Grandma Sylvia again.

At 8 AM, I picked up some groceries at Publix and exercised before going to school, where I got a big smile from Professor Dowd as I passed her and we exchanged pleasantries.

On Nexis, I printed out reviews of hip-hop performances and of Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer to use for my idea about a story on the 2 Live Crew trials.

It will take a long time to put this stuff together, and I’ll have to go through my huge pile of clippings, but I think it will be a fun project.

At home, I read all of the material Collier gave us on R.A.V. v. St. Paul, the hate-crime ordinance case that there should be a decision before very long.

After looking at the Minnesota court decision, the briefs, and the transcript of the oral argument, I expect the Supreme Court will not buy St. Paul’s ordinance.

They’re a pretty reactionary court (see today’s decision upholding the U.S.’s right to kidnap foreign citizens to bring them to trial here), but in regard to hate speech, the conservative agenda is pro-First Amendment.

Congress has passed an extension of unemployment benefits to replace the last extension, which ends on July 1, but I don’t know if it will apply to me. If I could get another four weeks of benefits, of course, I’d be in Fat City.

As it is, I’m going to have a hard time scraping by. I’ll just have to be tight with a dollar. Like today and Friday, I didn’t spend the 75¢ I usually do on the Wall Street Journal.

For Con Law, the only material I haven’t yet read in the reprints are Doe v. University of Michigan and UWM Post v. Board of Regents, but I read both cases, striking down college free speech codes, last semester.

While I’ve still got to read for Property, I can do that tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, June 17, 1992

7:30 PM. I found Tom’s Stuttgart lecture to be a terrific piece. Written in the second person, it essentially describes his undergraduate experiences at the University of Arkansas and his love affair with literature and film.

Tom graduated when I was a freshman, but his experiences in Fayetteville seem to take place in another era: he had mandatory ROTC training. But although Tom wasn’t active politically the way I was and seems to have been more of a loner, he experienced the Vietnam War and all the ’60s-era stuff that ended for him with commencement on the heels of the Kent State student strike.

I want to read his piece again.

This morning I got to school at 9:30 AM and read before class. Both Collier and Julin were less interesting today than yesterday, but neither class seemed unbearably boring.

During the break I hung out in the cafeteria with Rob, Paul and John, who are all conservative Christians – but I didn’t feel that weird. I flatter myself that I can hang out with every group.

When Property ended, I came home and found that Mom had sent a clip from Sunday’s Miami Herald, about Batman Returns screenwriter Dan Waters, who was replaced by Wes to “normalize” his dialogue.

There’s a little war between the two of them, as Wes apparently bad-mouthed Waters’s script in an interview in M magazine (I’ll have to get a copy), and Waters said Wes contributed nothing but banality.

But Waters felt vindicated because the finished film kept most of his vision.

It sounds so weird. Hollywood is like the Yanomami or Trobriand Islanders, some weird culture that requires an anthropologist to explain it to me.

I used the $20 credit available on Visa to buy some supplies at Publix, and at 3:30 PM I went to the UF student infirmary for my appointment.

After I got a clinic card and filled out forms, Dr. Ron Woody, a young Southerner, talked to me.

He said I’d probably diagnosed my condition correctly and told me to stop taking Dimetapp and start taking Sudafed instead.

When he did the dreaded prostate exam (as he started, he said, “you once had a hemorrhoid” – I didn’t know it would always be there), I didn’t feel any pain as he probed and prodded. He said he didn’t see anything except one slight bump.

My prostate is only slightly enlarged, but he still sent me down to the lab, where a nice guy from Long Island (who said, “It’s nice to hear your accent”) whose wife is expecting a baby any day now took a blood sample for a prostate antigen test that will cost me $63.

However, if it can tell me if I have a malignancy, it will be worth it. I tend to doubt I have cancer, but if I do, I figure I’ve caught it at a stage early enough so that I can cure it.

It will take several days before I have the result. Apparently this test didn’t exist five or ten years ago.

I walked home and spoke to Alice, who needed legal advice. It seems that Bauer Publishing is being sued by Cher over a story they ran.

Woman’s World bought a piece from a London magazine, and Alice’s editor-in-chief asked her to rework it by adding material Alice got from other sources.

The article had a scurrilous but not defamatory title and was labeled “exclusive.” Apparently Cher’s cause of action is either defamation, invasion of privacy and/or misrepresentation.

When Alice’s boss asked her to come up with a memo telling what she did on the story to send to the company attorney, Alice became frantic.

“I don’t want to defend my publisher’s unethical tactics,” Alice said, “and I don’t want to pin it all on my boss by saying that I was only following orders. But I don’t want to have to go to court.”

She told me that someone else at the magazine – “a 25-year-old bimmie” – had to testify when they were sued by a couple whose photo they had bought from an agency and used to illustrate an article about a woman’s husband being gay.

Alice told me Ellen Dusenberg went through a protracted trial in regard to a story she did for the Hard Copy tabloid TV show on Las Vegas casinos: “Even though she was found not guilty” – in other words, not liable – “people now associate her name with the lawsuit.”

Once I explained some basic facts to her (it’s surprising she was afraid she could “go to jail” or “be fined,” not understanding the difference between criminal and civil actions), I told Alice she had little to worry about.

I advised her to write the memo in the passive voice (“the story was edited…”) to avoid using I or she (for her boss) – but, as I told Alice, I could have given her that advice when I was simply a writer.

At about 5:30 PM, I walked over to the Catholic church on University and NW 18th Street for an outdoor prayer vigil before the evening’s big gay rights march to the offices of the County Commission.

The Commission has postponed consideration on adding sexual orientation to the human rights ordinance until January following last week’s Gainesville City Commission fiasco, when the city not only rejected an anti-discrimination law but passed a resolution equating homosexuality with pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia.

About 150 people were there, and we listened to prayers from about eight supportive clergymen. Apparently the local Catholic church didn’t have a problem with us being there. (“The bishop is cool with it,” I heard someone say.)

An anti-gay local minister tried to interrupt, but the crowd drowned him out by singing “Fighting for Our Lives” till he shut up.

There was one incident before police came as a car passed with a sign that said “March your fag self out of town” and stopped for the light.

The car – this is “fighting words” in action – outraged some big guys in our group who tore away the poster. For a moment, violence threatened, but marshals quieted it down.

I didn’t feel like marching – because of the heat, my hunger for dinner, and the fact that at 41, I feel my marching days are behind me.

Later, I tried to go to the rally downtown, but I couldn’t find a single parking space anywhere near the plaza.

The best part of the prayer vigil was when we all held hands – yes, even me, the guy who didn’t do it at Hands Across America – and sang (no, I didn’t sing) some Hebrew song led by a rabbi.

Generally, though, the struggle depresses me. I feel I’m too good to have to ask trashy Southern idiots to give me “rights.” My feeling is, if they want me to march out of town – or out of the U.S.A. – it’ll be their fucking loss.