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THOUSANDS MARK WORLD AIDS DAY

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The rhythm of the bass drum was as steady as a heartbeat, pounding once each time the name of another AIDS victim was read.

Gathered under black umbrellas at Philadelphia's City Hall, about 600 activists and artists, family and friends, visionaries and victims listened to the names and mourned the losses.It was one of many ceremonies across the country Thursday commemorating World AIDS Day. Elsewhere, there were mock funerals, candlelight prayer vigils and demonstrations.

It was a day of sounds, from the angry protests of people demanding more money for AIDS research to the "thunk" of a 9-ton granite boulder being dropped into place at an AIDS memorial garden in San Francisco.

And it was a day of no sights: Works of art were shrouded or taken down to represent the losses AIDS had inflicted on the art world.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Renoir's "Two Girls at the Piano" was removed from the wall, and a Rembrandt self-portrait and David Hockney's "Mount Fuji and Flowers" were shrouded.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles took a different approach. It left its exhibits untouched, admitted people free and asked artists to present readings and performances, "so you don't just feel a sense of loss, you feel a sense of there is something you can do," said museum spokeswoman Dawn Setzer.