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July 2, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

So sorry that I skipped my newsletter last week. I've been incapacitated by a pinched nerve in my neck, and it's been almost impossible to work for more than a few minutes at a time. Roger ordered a neck brace, and it seems to be helping. I just need to remember to sit up straight and not slouch over my laptop. And, unfortunately, I grit my teeth--so, I need to stop gritting my teeth!

Though if you, like me, have been gritting your teeth too much during these past few months, we've got plenty of good reasons. Some days it seems nigh on impossible for us to be civil to one another. On YouTube the other day, I caught a snippet of video starring Texas Congressperson Louie Gohmert. Like an obstinate toddler, Gohmert banged on his desk while the former deputy attorney general Donald Ayer made a formal statement at a hearing into the politicization of the Department of Justice under current attorney general, William Barr. As much as I don't like to admit it, I'm older than Gohmert by six months, and he should know better. Didn't his mama teach him any manners? More and more our elected officials on too many levels have their fingers in their ears and they're screeching, "la, la, la, la," at the top of their lungs.  

Artwork by Keith Haring

Maybe because of the physical pain and my inability to do much of anything these days, I feel sadly disconnected to this country that I have known and loved for my 66 years. This poem seems to sum up my sense of alienation, especially when "the person" in the poem is the United States of America.


Again Later

Martha Collins

The person you are trying
is not accepting. Is not
at this time. Please
again. The person
you are trying is not
in service. Please check
that you have. This
is your call. Your
person is not accepting.
Your person is this
number. You have
not correctly. Your person
is a recording. Again later
at this time. Not accepting.  

We deserve better. Our children and grandchildren deserve better. 

Speaking of grandchildren, my great-grandbaby is a continual source of wonder and delight. I want him to have preschool. I want every child to have preschool, and to have preschool teachers paid a living wage. Please join with me in signing the petition  for Universal Preschool in Multnomah County.

We are still plugging away at trying to stay open. This is going to be a do or die month. Unfortunately, I think we will see a lot of small businesses closing down throughout July and August. Governor Brown has extended our state of emergency through the end of September, so, sadly, we will definitely be closed another three months. What I thought would be a six-week shutdown has turned into a nightmare of indeterminate length. We didn't open by Easter, we didn't open by Memorial Day, we won't be open for the 4th of July, we won't be open for Labor Day. Living on hope, however, I have booked THE BIG LEBOWSKI for our annual Christmas screenings, and I do so much want to be able to fix you one of our signature Rice Russians. We have never needed the Dude as much as we do now.

Thanks for all you are doing to keep us afloat. If you want the Clinton to be here when we are finally able to live somewhat normal lives, these are the ways you can help:
  • We have one new film to watch in our Virtual Cinema, THE LAST TREE.
  • We're having another Popcorn Pop-Up Friday & Saturday from 4 to 8pm. If you're not sure what a Popcorn Pop-Up is, then please drop by if you are in the neighborhood. We have the best hot popcorn in town and we are selling bags of popcorn, along with beer, cider and candy, at rock-bottom prices. You are helping me draw down my inventory so that it doesn't go to waste, and I will refill our cupboards with all new stuff when we can safely open again.

AND....Coming Soon!!! The Clinton Street Theater Videothon! Different groups that love the theater and call it home--like Guignolfest, Junglecorp, the Bubble Man, and Killer Queen--are providing shows for us to put up online. We'll have a small sliding scale fee to watch each program. Next week's newsletter will be all about the wonderful live and recorded entertainment you can enjoy through CST-TV.

Finally, have a safe and fun 4th of July. The following poem by Langston Hughes is one I share each year. This year as we white people are waking up to the true realities of systemic racism faced daily by the BIPOC members of our human family, it rings more true than ever.  

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes - 1902-1967
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!



Check the homepage of the Clinton Street Theater website for up-to-date links to film screenings that benefit us with a portion of the proceeds from your ticket. If you click on any one of the film titles or the film poster, you will go to a page with a more in-depth description of the film, a link to the trailer, and a link to buy your "ticket."

New This Week:


THE LAST TREE follows the story of Femi, a British boy of Nigerian heritage who, after a happy childhood in rural Lincolnshire, moves to inner London to live with his mum. Struggling with the unfamiliar culture and values of his new environment, teenage Femi has to figure out which path to adulthood he wants to take, and what it means to be a young black man in London.

Still Playing:

My First and Last Film: An independent, feature-length documentary on aging that explores our universal questions about life, love and loss.

My Darling Vivian: This "fascinating" (Variety), "deeply affecting" (The Hollywood Reporter), and "thoroughly engrossing" (Rolling Stone) new film traces the romantic and dizzying journey of Vivian Liberto, Johnny Cash's first wife and the mother of his four daughters. Features exclusive never-before-seen footage and photographs.

The Killing Floor: Praised by The Village Voice as the most "clear-eyed account of union organizing on film," The Killing Floor tells the little-known true story of the struggle to build an interracial labor union in the Chicago Stockyards. The first feature film by director Bill Duke, "THE KILLING FLOOR" is part of our nation's history--a fascinating and bloody episode in the history of the U.S. labor movement... a powerful, personal drama...." - Marilyn Preston, Chicago Tribune


A listing of Black Lives Matter Resources will be available on our website.

POW (Portland Oregon Women's) Film Fest is virtual this year.

Reminder--Portland's Black Owned Businesses Need Your Support. These businesses are part of what makes Portland great and your support is more important now than ever. 

Support Black Owned Businesses

We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. And if they are thrown away, it is our duty as artists and as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children, and, if necessary, bone by bone.
--Alice Walker

Don't be a stranger. Write until we can meet again.

Kind regards,

Lani Jo

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Clinton Street Theater · 2522 SE Clinton Street · Portland, OR 97202 · USA