Monday, February 1, 1971
A long, frigid day. I had a bad night and didn’t really feel well this morning, but I got up early and went to BC. Last night I felt I really needed a vacation, needed to go away, but it was gratifying to go into LaGuardia and see Mikey, Sari, Shelli, Anna, Hal and the rest.
My first class was Poli Sci, taught by a quiet man, Prof. Sungjoo Han. In the course were going to examine the political systems of China and Japan, especially in terms of the individual.
Next was Russian Lit, a small class taught by Prof. Spencer Roberts, who is good and looks like Jack Gilford. He started with a discussion of Russian literature’s origins. Jeannie is in the class.
My Art teacher, Miss Dinnerstein, looks like an Art teacher — but the course (Northern European Renaissance Art) doesn’t look too fascinating. Of course, it was the best of what I could choose from registering when I did. Jay and Fran are in the class.
Being really hungry and unused to the morning class hours, I was happy to go to eat with Kang and Jerry. I decided to drop Comp Lit, as it’s just too much staying that late.
Mendy didn’t come in from yeshiva till late, and from one day it appears the Spigot is falling apart. With Mark, it just won’t work. (Mark, by the way, came in with Consuelo.) Carole, Miriam, Elspeth, Bill and Shelli were doing work, but we don’t have enough copy, and I’m afraid it’s hopeless.
Kingsman came out today with a story about a proposal to charge tuition for higher-income students. But the City University has always been free for everyone, and I don’t think they’ll change that tradition.
I ran into Renee, who apologized for her behavior on Friday night, and I told her to forget it, I didn’t know what she was talking about.
Tonight I went back to school to buy $30 worth of books. Jonny’s still sick in bed, and tonight he had 102° temperature.
Tuesday, February 2, 1971
Groundhog Day. Dr. Freund came for Jonny this morning, and he said Jonny has the grippe that everyone’s come down with. Even Dr. Freund had laryngitis.
It was very cold, and I took a cab to BC. Leon gave me an invitation to the ninth annual Safari Awards, the social event of the year.
My English 59 class is large, and the teacher, Mrs. Schlissel, said we’re going to concentrate on how Jews are pictured in American literature. It looks good. Jack sat next to me.
I picked up the Assembly minutes from our Student Government secretary, Mrs. DeSouza, and before the meeting, Gary and I shared a sandwich in SUBO.
Lillian Cruz of SO-FED-UP said that nothing has been done for handicapped student facilities, and a committee was set up to meet with Dean Glickman.
A lot of other business was cleared up, and Marty spoke on his four main priorities for the term: guaranteed pre-registration, SUBO control, support for the soon-to-be-released Governance Report, and a change in the control of Auxiliary Enterprises (the bookstore, cafeteria, etc.).
Hal, Pam and Larry gave their recommendations for improving the college ecology: paper recycling, clear water, and glass windows on doors. Mendy was approved as Spigot editor, and after the meeting, he, Gary and Bill went to the printers in Williamsburg.
I enjoy student government activity because it keeps me busy and therefore happy. I came home to rest, but went back to school for the Mugwump caucus. We’re going to start organizing early this term despite the fact that Governance Report hasn’t been released.
Marty asked who was a candidate for Prez – and they are Elspeth, Hal, Mel, Harris and Mickey. For a goof, I said I’d run, and surprisingly, they took me seriously. The candidate will be chosen from a screening committee of five: Mike, Casey, Sindy, Shira and Bob. Wouldn’t it be wild if I got the nomination?
Friday, February 5, 1971
A dark and rainy day — cold, too. Speaking of colds, I’ve got a beauty. But I’ll leave my kvetching for later.
I actually arose at 4 AM and turned on the TV just as the astronauts landed safely on the moon. Five minutes later, I shut it off; the whole thing is a big bore, if you ask me.
The clean-cut, all-American astronauts are so sure of themselves, it’s almost a kick to see these WASPy technocrats fail once in a while. I couldn’t stay to watch the moon walk, but I don’t think I missed anything.
The streets were very icy this morning. In LaGuardia, Jerry, Jill, Dick and Elspeth were around, discussing the upcoming Frazier-Ali fight.
In Poli Sci, Mr. Han discussed the Confucian ideas that are embedded in Chinese government; he’s a little dull, or maybe it’s the subject. In Russian, Prof. Roberts discussed the life of Pushkin, whose stories we have to read for Monday.
In Art, Miss Dinnerstein again showed us slides of illuminated manuscripts. While chewing on a cough drop, I broke a filling and it’s giving me some trouble. After class, I went back to LaGuardia and talked with Gary.
We walked into Marty’s office, where Mike, Hilda, Casey, Sharon and Mrs. D were passing the time. Due to the efforts of Mike and Hilda and Estelle, the school is going to hire a gynecologist (that was the lead story in yesterday’s Spigot).
Anyway, feeling poorly, I left for home to rest and watch those damn moon pictures. At least Jonny’s beginning to get better.
Monday, February 8, 1971
Last night our televisions went back on at 10 PM, so we knew that the blackout in Manhattan was over, with electricity back on at the Empire State Building antenna.
I felt really horrible when I woke up this morning, but I dragged myself to the college anyway. Mike’s Student Info Center has set up “The Grapevine” for students in LaGuardia lobby.
Up in the Spigot office I found Gary and Hal, who invited me to a “wink party” at his girlfriend Jacqui’s house on Saturday. Jacqui goes to high school and lives next door to Steven. I have no idea what a wink party is and Hal wouldn’t tell me.
In Poli Sci, Mr. Han discussed Chinese reactions to Western intrusion, but I was feeling so lousy, I didn’t really pay attention. I couldn’t summon the strength to go to Russian, so instead I went to LaGuardia and left a note for Mendy, saying I was sick and couldn’t meet him as scheduled.
Elspeth started talking about a friend who had just got over mono, and right away I thought, “I’ve got it!” because I seem to have all his symptoms. Anyway, my throat was very sore, my eyes ached, my cough was getting worse and I felt generally blah.
Not wanting to go all the way to Albemarle Road to see Dr. Freund, I made an appointment with Dr. Emanuel Fletcher around the corner on Avenue N.
He said I was “generally sturdy” but had a virus with a fever and a really bad sinus infection (hence my eye pain), and he gave me pills and liquid medicine which I’m to take throughout the night.
Dr. Fletcher said to stay in bed for at least 48 hours. I called Gary and asked him to pick up the minutes for the Assembly meeting tomorrow, and then I called Dr. Wouk and canceled out for Wednesday.
Mark called from his temporary job; Consuelo will be getting a phone soon. Mark wants me to continue on the Spigot, but of course he’s not around anymore.
I’ll probably go stir-crazy the next two days.
Friday, February 12, 1971
A beautiful, mild, springlike Lincoln’s Birthday — but there was school.
Kingsman printed my letter suggesting names for the new temporary buildings: U Hall, Andy War Hall, Monty Hall, Robert Hall, etc. It was kind of funny, and I said the winner of the “name the temp” contest would win keys to faculty bathrooms. Anyway, Gary and Kjell appreciated it.
At Sugar Bowl, I had coffee with Jack and Ray. They had a Mobe meeting on Laos yesterday, but Nixon has numbed everyone to the point where no one cares. Renee told me she was upset by a stupid Kingsman letter by Richie Greenberg attacking her last column.
In Poli Sci, Mr. Han lectured on nationalism in China. Mr. Roberts said he missed me in Russian class; today he lectured on Lermontov, and I copied the notes from the two classes I missed from Jeanne. In Art, Miss Dinnerstein showed slides by the Master of Flemalle; I decided to take the course pass/fail.
After class, I went to the Faculty Dining Room with Gary, Allan and Timmy, and we joined Ray and Father Jim Reagan, whom Gary says is a great teacher.
Leon brought his camera to film more of his parodies of famous flicks that he’s going to show at the Safari Awards. I went upstairs and played a memory game with Jerry, Jill and Elihu and discussed sexuality with Marty. Elspeth and Mason hitched upstate to visit Jessie in Woodstock.
Friday afternoons are boring on campus because everyone leaves early, so I got a ride home with Timmy.
Mark called from his job, giving me ideas for news stories; he still can’t leave the Spigot. Mark did leave his shrink, though. He said Consuelo went to visit Stella in Minneapolis for the long weekend, so he invited Lou to stay with him while she’s gone.
Tonight I went back to the college to see a Seals and Crofts concert — to me, their music is only fair — with the comedian David Steinberg, who was funny. I sat with Gary, Shelli, Sindy and Kieran, and Ivan (Ronna is the Catskills for the weekend). I hadn’t gone out at night in weeks, and still felt weak from the virus, so I left after the show ended.
Sunday, February 14, 1971
It turned cold and sunny. Last night’s wink party was all right, I guess, better than staying home, but as I said, it’s not my life’s dream to spend the night kissing various strange girls, and the only one I liked at all was Evan’s sister, and I just kissed her and didn’t really get to know her at all.
I was more attracted to the other guys at the party, and as Brad says, my future lies in that direction. So be it.
Incidentally, before the party, I dropped in at the store at Kings Plaza, where my step-cousin Merryl was working. I find her a bit vacuous, but she probably thinks the same of me.
I’ve been trying to diet for the umpteenth time. I finished Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time, which rates somewhere between fair and excellent. It’s been a while since I’ve done any of my own writing although I’ve been doing some plot-planning. Maybe when I finish a book, I can have it published by some vanity press outfit.
After lunch, I went to Kings Plaza to see Andy Warhol’s Trash, a plunge into the lower depths of a drug addict’s life. It was blatantly physical, and I found some scenes funny, but mostly it filled me with revulsion.
Shelli called, seeking refuge from the second engagement party for her sister and Kieran that her parents were giving for their relatives. We talked for over an hour, but I had to hang up to catch The First Churchills.
Monday, February 15, 1971
Today was the first of the new Monday holidays designated by law, the celebration of Washington’s birthday even though the normal holiday should be next Monday. Does that make sense?
I felt dizzy and last night and kind of crappy all morning. Shelli called to ask me over later to her house to eat the food left unconsumed by the relatives yesterday.
I left early, as Mom and Dad were going to the shopping center to help out in today’s sales. Picking up a couple of girl hitchhikers, I rode through Brownsville and East New York, stopping off at a roadside vendor to buy one of those Snoopy dolls I got for Jonny for Shelli. It’s sort of a joke because Shelli played Snoopy in her high school play, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
She seemed quite pleased with the gift and gave me a kiss. We got to talking and fooling around and I was surprised to find myself with a strong erection. I really wanted to go to bed with her then and there, but her mother and grandmother and the cleaning woman were in the next room and other guests were on the way.
I know she’s a virgin, but maybe some other time . . .
The other guests included Gary, Allan, Harris and a couple of Shelli’s friends from high school, Ellen and Bunny. We played records, played “psychiatrist,” talked and looked at old high school yearbooks.
Shelli’s mother served whatever food was left over from yesterday (Sindy and her father went to an upstate winery today). Mendy found me there and called to tell me to get a story on drugs from Aaron. I rang up Aaron when I got home and he said he’d already spoken to Mendy.
Tonight I called up Jerry to tell him the news Carole told Shelli: that Carole’s marrying Irving Itzkowitz, that obnoxious guy she’s been dating. Jerry and I talked for two hours: about politics (he’s run many campaigns already), the change in Mark since he left school and moved in with Consuelo, and life in general. Jerry’s really the nicest guy I know.
I had tea with Mom and Dad after they got back from a long day at Kings Plaza.
Thursday, February 18, 1971
Leon got me into his movie this morning; we filmed it at the old freight rail tracks south of the Junction. I had to wear a lab coat and a civil defense hat and blow a whistle to direct traffic (mostly Elihu on a tricycle) while Mason and Jill were being killed by a sniper.
Leon filmed all day. He’s a weird director. I don’t know what the movie is about; it’s also weird.
In English, Jack told me of a story he’s been working on which Kingsman refused to print. It seems that Stephen Lubarsky, the president of Young Americans for Freedom and an all-around fascist, had sent notes to all the teachers in various departments warning that if they participated in a strike, they would be subject to “verbal and physical harassment.”
After class, I found Lou and Elspeth, and the three of us went to the rally at Whitman. Rennie Davis was there, and I was surprised to see Susan Stern of the Seattle 8, who told me that there were reports that Lubarsky was going to bust up the rally. So Ray had me, Gary, Timmy, Jack, Neil and some other guys stationed at the door. Father Jim said we should indict Lubarsky on conspiracy charges.
Wally Moran, the fired Ed prof, spoke first, then Bob Greenblatt spoke about the spring offensive and the People’s Peace Treaty (I signed it, as did “all the right-on people on campus,” as Ray said) and the April 24 March on Washington and other stuff.
Then, with Aaron saying Lubarsky had left, I went into the auditorium and sat with Juan and Elspeth and took notes as Rennie spoke. At one point he said, “If the government of the U.S. doesn’t stop the war, we will stop the government of the U.S.”
But very few people showed up to hear all this. After Rennie finished, I joined him, Susan Stern, Lou and Ray for lunch. They thought the rally went well, but I was kind of depressed. There are so many schmucks like Lubarsky and Norman Wolitzer around, and the people on our side are disorganized.
I went back to the office and dealt with this nice Haitian girl, Marline Fiset, who’s worried about the Brooklyn Museum closing due to lack of funds. We talked about what students can do.
Heavy fighting in Laos today.
Saturday, February 20, 1971
This is going to be none too clear, for the simple reason that I am stoned at the moment. At least I think I’m stoned. I’m very, very sleepy – the way Timmy gets after smoking. I’m also hungry.
I really am not enjoying the feeling; I like to be in control more. It’s so hard for me to concentrate on what I want to be writing. I am free-associating.
Anyway, I woke up late this morning. Grandma Ethel was already downstairs, and Gisele came in to do the housework. I spoke to her daughter Jeanette on the phone the other day; she’s a very bright little girl.
I took a drive out to Oceanside, and walked in as Marty was yelling at Rosemary on the phone about something in the Green Acres store.
The kids are recovering from colds, and Arlyne told me it’s difficult to go back to college at her age. She said she learned to become “a champion bullshitter like people in your generation.”
On the way back home, I had an anxiety attack of nausea and nerves as I drove through Valley Stream, so I stopped in at Green Acres to relax and say hello to Merryl and Rosemary in the store.
I felt better and managed to drive the rest of the way back to Brooklyn. Grandma Ethel made dinner, and on the way home from work, Grandpa Herb brought Great-Grandma Bessie here, and Gary also joined us for the meal.
After we ate, my grandparents and great-grandmother went over to Aunt Claire’s to play cards, and Gary and I turned on. Eventually I felt very high and sleepy.
I’m sort of sorry I invited Gary over, really, but I don’t really know. Shelli called to say that she and Elspeth want me to become editor-in-chief. I told her to forget it. She also asked me if I wanted to live with her in an apartment.
Sunday, February 21, 1971
I got up late and went out for bagels. Grandpa Herb forgot some of his clothes so we went to Rockaway to pick them up.
I spent the morning reading the Sunday Times, News and Long Island Press, cutting out all the articles in the Brooklyn sections; I really am a Brooklyn lover, and I try to convey that in my fiction, but I fear that I’m less than successful. Politics is beginning to stir again, and there’s speculation that Mayor Lindsay may become a Democrat to run for President.
Bonnie came from next door to ask if she could borrow my Quotations from Chairman Mao for a term paper. I lent it to her, and then did some catching up on my Poli Sci reading of Mao’s biography.
After lunch, I called Shelli. She was very depressed after another family fight. Her mother really makes life miserable for her, and Shelli wants to leave home badly. To cheer her up, I came over and took her for a drive to Kennedy Airport to watch planes take off.
She’s a peculiar girl: irresponsible, immature, yet somehow very lovable. We took a walk in the Georgetown shopping center and saw that Hal had won a prize in the bookstore’s poetry contest.
The poem, placed in the window, was really good. Hal actually is a sensitive person, though he’d belt you if you called him that.
As we were driving up Ralph Avenue, Shelli said she was scared of sex, that she’d passed up every opportunity. Half-joking, I pulled into an alleyway and took off my coat and shirt and was about to undo my pants when I saw she was scared. I hadn’t expected her to take me seriously.
Home in my room, we kissed and this time I really tried to seduce her; I was really excited, with an erection that ached. It’s nice to know that I can get it up.
Shelli is a very sexy girl — to me, anyway. It’s a good feeling knowing that I can have a heterosexual relationship.
Tuesday, February 23, 1971
Another rainy day: will the sun never shine again? I’m depressed at the moment. The day began pleasantly enough; I got up late because Grandpa Herb drove me to the college.
I gave Elspeth her card and present, and she looked happy. Shelli bought some cookies and wine, and we had a small party. Then I went to English, where, after considerable complaints from the class about the heavy reading, Mrs. Schlissel finished our discussion of McTeague.
After getting the minutes from Mrs. D, I went with Elihu to the Assembly meeting. Bob gave his report on the Student Government budget and said that until the Auxiliary Enterprises money comes in, we’re broke. Scott was really obnoxious and said that Bob had misappropriated funds.
Lee wanted to freeze funding for Third World Edition and some people from BLAC will come next week. Fred Franklin of SO-FED-UP said that Dean Glickman has been lying and bullshitting about facilities for the handicapped.
Joel recommended allocating $15,000 to club football, but Bernie gave a minority report against this. After a plea by Dick Wright, the whole thing was thrown back to the Athletic Department.
Pam told me she’ll probably run for the Mugwump nomination for President, and isn’t that good news? As Pam’s secretary, I’ve become close to her, and I think it would be great to have a black female SG president. And maybe she could pick Mikey for Veep.
At the Faculty Council meeting afterwards, Pam, Aaron, Hal and Fred got SO-FED-UP an appointment with President Kneller.
But the thing that got me today was that Mendy refuses to print the story on Rennie Davis. All my frustrations of the past weeks crystallized after that. Mark had come into the office and I told him and he just said to cool it.
But after consultations with Gary and Jerry, two people who usually never agree on anything, I decided to quit the Spigot and I told Mendy I would no longer be news editor.
How can you do this to me? was his response, and schmuck that I am, I said I’d think it over for a day. But I plan to quit definitely tomorrow and hand in my keys to the office. I’m sick over the whole thing, but Dr. Wouk said I made the right decision in quitting.
We discussed what happened with Shelli on Sunday, and he said mazel tov, that my sexual identity is changing. I’m not so sure.
Still, the only person that really made me feel better about the thing with the Spigot was Shelli. At the Drop-In Center tonight, we went to see Alice, who told us that she met a thirtyish Greek sculptor and was in love. She also quit her job at Vandeveer.
The South Vietnamese are losing badly in Laos.
Thursday, February 25, 1971
I’m really not certain what’s happening to me. Is this being in love? I always thought it would be impossible, especially with a girl, but I don’t know . . .
It’s good having Mom and Dad home again. They came back from Aruba looking tanned and relaxed, with presents and stories for everyone.
Before class this morning, I went into Elihu’s office to gab with him, Jerry, Leon and Lois. Shelli came in with Elspeth; I’ve been trying to get her not to act so immature, and I think it’s working because she no longer pretends to be the Sesame Street Cookie Monster.
I feel funny going into the Spigot office now. Marty and Bob are very upset with Mendy, and things are really up in the air with the paper’s future.
In English, we discussed Ornitz’s Haunch, Paunch and Jowl, a book that really tells it like it was about the Lower East Side – none of that Sam Levenson crap. The Jewish Lower East Side was just like today’s Harlem.
Shelli, Elspeth, Allan and I had lunch at the Four Kings and then all went to Leon’s showing of a Czech film, a funny movie, Intimate Lighting. Consuelo said Mark wasn’t mad at me for quitting and then Mark himself came along to ask for help in lugging a breakfront he found on Ocean Avenue to their apartment.
Shelli, Elspeth and I volunteered. It was a rough job carrying it. On the way we passed Alice, looking very pretty, on her way to her new job.
Mark and Consuelo’s place is furnished with the same junk from the streets that her apartment with Stella had. Everyone thinks it’s chic, but it gives me the creeps: all those messed-up crates and stuff people have thrown away.
After shopping at Kings Plaza, Shelli walked over to our house, and she met Mom and Dad, who were very nice to her. But Shelli’s so insecure: in the car, as I drove her back to her house, she said she didn’t think my parents or brothers liked her.
Mom said she thought Shelli was lovely but said I treat her cavalierly. I called Shelli to apologize for that and we ended up yakking all night. A big issue is her weight; she can hardly talk about it.
She said she can’t tell me how she really feels about me, and vice versa. But I think I need her very much. (And vice versa?)
Ronna came over to Shelli in LaGuardia today to talk to her about her problems with Ivan. They’re only 17, but they’ve been going together for five years. Ivan loves Ronna, but not vice versa.
Ronna’s father ran off with a young girl and because of that, Shelli said, she doesn’t trust men; when Ivan sleeps over, he’s dressed and in the next room. Ivan says he’ll kill himself if Ronna doesn’t marry him, and Shelli’s trying to convince Ronna that she does love Ivan.
Mendy called late tonight and said that now he wants me to do a story on Rennie Davis. I said I would do it although I am not rejoining the Spigot staff.
Saturday, February 27, 1971
A wondrous, miraculous day. I didn’t sleep well last night and woke up feeling lousy. But what beautiful weather we had! It was sunny and the temperature climbed close to 70°.
So, after a late breakfast, I drove out to Rockaway. It was glorious there — really nice, you know? — but something was missing. It was just no good without Shelli.
I knew she was depressed about not getting invited to the Safari Awards, so I called her from the station at Beach 116th Street and she said she’d be ready for an outing in half an hour.
So I drove back to Brooklyn, changed into nicer clothes, brought my camera and a gift Mom had picked up for her at the store: a suede pocketbook. Shelli was lovely, as usual, and she liked the present.
We drove out to Rockaway with the car’s windows wide open, parked the car, and walked along the beach, watching the ocean roll in. Running after each other on the sand, we took some pictures. If only it could always be like that . . .
I spotted Grandpa Nat watching us from the boardwalk, and we went up and said hello to him and Grandma Sylvia, who said they were going upstairs and we should come over.
We wanted to walk on the boardwalk for a while, and we did, holding hands, until we went up to my grandparents’ apartment, where Grandma Sylvia gave us lunch. She has a lot of trouble walking now.
I think Shelli liked them and vice versa. We left after wishing them a happy 51st wedding anniversary. No one was home at Ivan’s house in Neponsit, so we came back to the house.
Mom was at Joe Pepitone’s and Dad was in Green Acres, so we went to my bedroom. We lay on the bed and hugged and kissed for an hour. I fondled her wonderful breasts, our legs thrashed about, and we tickled each other with our eyelashes.
She’s afraid of sex, so I was as gentle as possible. On the pretext of changing clothes, I got her to watch as I took off my shirt and pants; I’m sure she saw my erection, so maybe she can get used to it.
She said she thinks she loves me, but I couldn’t reciprocate — not yet, anyway. I wish she was coming with me to the Safari Awards tonight.
Sunday, February 28, 1971
Last night was that prestigious social event, the Safari Awards. Over fifty people crowded into Leon’s basement: Elihu, Jerry, Jill, Elayne, Stanley, Marty and Ruth, Casey and Sharon, Mikey, Mike, Hilda, Elspeth, Don, Jay, Timmy, Harris, Laurie, Jon Z, Allan, Alan, Robert, Bob, Estelle, and many others.
Leon really takes it seriously, with background music, envelopes, and a regular ceremony. Of course no one but Leon and Stanley has seen most of the films nominated.
Jerry and Elspeth, who haven’t spoken since their broken engagement, were called up together to read the nominees for best makeup (get it?), and I accepted that award on behalf of Fellini for I Clowns.
Bob and Estelle brought down franks and beans after the awards ceremony, and door prizes were given out. (Robert won an 8” x 10” of Doris Day.) I enjoyed the food and drink with Mason, Laura, Rosie and Steve.
Then Leon showed The Bride of Frankenstein and after that, the movie that he made at school: we all came out really well on film. The good times over around 2 AM, I drove home, dropping off a few people on the way.
Because I didn’t get much sleep last night, I was exhausted most of today. But I had work today; tomorrow we’re getting a quiz in Poli Sci, and although I finished the reading today, I’m quite prepared to fail, as I couldn’t concentrate on Mao — nor on Gogol’s Dead Souls, which I should have already finished.
I stayed home while my parents and brothers went to a small anniversary party for Grandma Sylvia and Grandpa Nat with Aunt Sydelle and her family and Grandpa’s brother Harry.
I called Shelli, who said she had diarrhea from excitement after being with me yesterday. I’m beginning to have doubts about this whole thing with her. After all, I’m gay. Or am I?
Things are very confused and complicated. Shelli said Gary called her last night and bent her ear for two hours.
Two months of 1971 have passed, and the winter is nearly over. I’m enjoying life.