• Like You Know Whatever
  • Posts
  • Morning Diaries: Mark Pagán researches Latin Lovers ❤️‍🔥 & shows firefighters his legs 👨‍🚒

Morning Diaries: Mark Pagán researches Latin Lovers ❤️‍🔥 & shows firefighters his legs 👨‍🚒

Old coffee and afternoon movies.

Hi friends! Welcome to another edition of Morning Diaries, where I ask writers I admire to recap their mornings from the time they wake up until noon. Today’s diarist is Mark Pagán, an award-winning producer, writer, and editor for non-fiction podcasts and film. He is the creator and host of the critically acclaimed show Other Men Need Help, and his work has been featured on Latino USA, Radiotopia, On the Media, 99 Percent Invisible, Code Switch, among others. He currently lives in NYC with his wife and an emo pit bull named Soca.

Mark is currently working on a new narrative project and you can find updates about his work on his Substack markpagan.substack.com or on Instagram @markpagan. Take it away, Mark!


5:47 AM:

My body is getting up earlier these days. No alarm. I don’t mind it. It’s so quiet and at this time of year there’s a nice bluish light that comes through the windows at this time. My wife and dog are sleeping deeply.

Caitlin, my wife, was out of town. This means I have a lot of leftover coffee from the four cups I put in our French Press which is our morning ritual but too much for me to drink alone. This is now two-day old coffee that I’m reheating. I’d like to be more snooty about my coffee but I put that energy elsewhere. Two day old coffee is fine with me. 

5:54 AM:

I sit with my computer, waiting until 6 to start blocks of the Pomodoro technique to do my writing. First thing tab opened in the morning is for one of my favorite repertory theaters in NYC. I’m always on the lookout for 35mm screenings of genre cinema. I may not be snooty about coffee, but don’t mess with my celluloid options. I lost my job earlier this year and I’ve spent many afternoons going to moviehouses along with other permalancers and the retiree population of Manhattan. They are the loudest people that go to movies and have the most random ringtones — I know this because 2-3 cinemagoers always forget to turn off the loudest item in their company before the movie starts. Movie theaters have always been my church and with the funky feelings that have come up with getting let go, I come back to church to sit in communion with all my fellow weirdos watching Ken Loach social realist movies at lunchtime on Houston Street. Along with catching Film Forum’s 1980’s series, I really want to see Babes and The Fall Guy before they leave theaters. 

6:00 AM:

I’m going to start writing but our windows are shaking because there are fire trucks outside. Time to wake up the dog to do an earlier walk and do some rubbernecking with what’s happening on our block. 

6:05 AM:

Ok this is legit. There are 8 fire trucks (?), some EMT vehicles, police all around. Our block is cut off along with 5th Ave which is the thoroughfare our street connects with. The firefighters are all focusing on the building across from ours. I join my two dozen neighbors and watch the firefighters exit without holding any information. My dog really should poop and EMT folks are standing by scrolling through their phones. This will still be going on when we come back. 

All images courtesy of Mark Pagán.

6:15 AM:

I’m wearing shorts. I just wanted to mention that.

6:17 AM:

To clarify, I mentioned the shorts because it’s that time of the year when I first start wearing them.

6:20 AM:

Ok, one more clarification. I stopped wearing shorts after the age of 14 because I was insecure about my body hair. Then I saw Armie Hammer’s legs in Call Me By My Name and got inspired to not just wear shorts again, but to wear short-shorts. I wonder how many people started wearing shorts after that movie. 

6:21 AM:

Yes, I know Armie Hammer is problematic but we didn’t know that back then.

6:23 AM:

Also, did you see Challengers yet? If nothing else, Luca Guadagnino knows how to make movies about guys who look good in shorts.

6:28 AM:

Ok, the firefighters are wrapping up. My neighbor tells me there was a fire in the building’s basement. No injuries and it’s all taken care of. One of the firefighters looks at my legs. Or my dog. I’ll say he was looking at my legs. 

6:35 AM:

I finally start my 25 minute block of writing. I have a weekly newsletter that comes out on Thursdays. This month I’ve written a series about the history of the Latin Lover trope. I’m drafting my next post along with research. Turns out Lenny Kravitz co-wrote Madonna’s “Justify My Love” and The Real World’s Pedro Zamora was only 22 years old when he died. You’ll have to read this week’s entry to know what the hell that has to do with the history of the Latin Lover. 

7:00 AM:

First Pomodoro break. I’m helping organize the Sunset Park Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival this summer. It’s my first time organizing a parade. It feels nice to both fall back on experience in other areas of my life while also going “I have no fucking idea how to do this” as you age. I actually do think that’s a stage of flow. 

7:05 AM:

Back to writing. Lots of research on the public health response to AIDS in the 1980s.

7:25 AM:

Break. Do I want to work in Public Health? Every few days since losing my job, a new occupation catches my attention and it all usually stems from an adolescent view of the world. I was a teenager who snuck out and went to clubs in DC and Baltimore in the 90s. These were very queer spaces and in my lumping it closely together, I remember so many of the masculine figures I met worked in public health. I thought, “that’s an amazing life as an adult”. Also, these folks welcomed me with ease — I always wanted to be that sort of grown up. 

8:30 AM:

Two cups of coffee already and I’m zooming around the apartment, getting ready for a call. I’m doing early research for my next big project; pre-interviewing immigrant and first generation folks who grew up with big age gaps with their siblings. This morning I have my third call and I have a doc called “sibling questions” that I’m drafting. One question I’m asking — did you or your sibling(s) have family gossip spread about you? I gonna throw the same question to you, reader. 

8:45 AM:

I go into the bedroom to see if Caitlin is quietly awake and scrolling through TikTok. Nope, still asleep. She sleeps late than me but this morning is different. She got in from a late flight early this morning and is zonked. I see that she brought back coffee and some other tchotchkes from Colorado. I’d like to say hi to her first before my work calls start for the day. 

9:00 AM: 

Call with “sibling subject.” Interesting takeaway — if you grow up in parts of Florida with alligators, at night you can hear their specific croak in the humid air.

10:30 AM:

I briefly catch Cailtin. It’s nice to see her. We only have a few moments to catch up before my next call. Her wrist hurts for some reason. She might get her nails done before we see Furiosa this afternoon (she’s joining me as a matinee weirdo today). 

10:45 AM:

My dog is doing his 10:30-11am pattern — coming to me at my desk and complaining if I’m not petting him. 

11:00 AM: 

I’m coordinating my first professional video shoot in five years. It’s a simple one with an overhead camera capturing a bunch of hands. I have a call with the studio where they give me a virtual tour. It feels good to be coming back to myself — being creative in ways that were pushed aside years ago as editorial and producing work in narrative podcasts became a monopoly in my life. It’s a really uneasy time in media, but the most wonderful ripple effect I’ve seen is how it’s shaken up peers and myself into being creative in new or lost ways. Like waking up from hibernation. 

12:00 PM: 

I shouldn’t have more coffee but I’m going to. Also, I’m no longer wearing shorts — I put on jeans.

The rest of the day:

Around 1pm, I closed my computer, ate some leftover chicken, and went to Alamo to see Furiosa with my wife. I'm glad she's back. I'm glad she took the day off. I'm glad she likes "dusty, dirty, folks covered in leather and grease" movies like me. She was upset she wasn't awake to highlight how much she's the one to make us wonderful breakfasts every morning, so I'm sharing that detail here. But she was asleep and when you sleep, you miss the firemen and you miss my shorts. 


You can find updates about Mark’s work on his Substack markpagan.substack.com or on Instagram @markpagan.

Join the conversation

or to participate.