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August 12, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are now in the 22nd week of our closure. Talk about the summer doldrums! Each week I receive other newsletters and blogs from a variety of folks both near and far in which they share their thoughts, hopes, dreams, aspirations--yes, even recipes and summer reading lists. As the summer drags on, however, a week here and there is skipped. It seems like we're all finding it difficult to continue the process of expressing what it means for us to be alive in this increasingly strange and uneasy time. 

After the Israelites had been set free from their enslavement in Egypt, within ONE MONTH they were begging to return. Why go back to a life of back-breaking servitude? Well, because in Egypt they knew what to expect. Yeah, there were pyramids to build, but, hey, remember those buffet lines with all-you-can-eat bread and meat? Remember when we didn't need to wear masks? Remember when we could hug our friends and hang out on someone's backyard deck or patio swilling a cold one? 

Grumble, grumble, get me out of here, they said. So, low and behold, here comes the miraculous manna from heaven. But Moses had another job to do, and the children of Israel felt that their leader had forsaken them, and they wanted out so bad that they started looking for answers anywhere they could find them. Even if it meant worshipping a golden calf! Or taking hydroxychloroquine! As the story goes, all that golden calf business simply made everything a whole lotta worse, and they ended up wandering in the desert for forty years. Twenty-two weeks is only a droplet in the bucket of time compared to forty years, but as my mama used to say "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." Can I get an Amen, somebody?

I guess, lesson learned? Wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands, don't touch your face. Stay in your bubble! But it's hard to put on a happy face when every fiber of my being just wants to wake up from this  nightmare and return to normal. 

Some days it is nigh unto impossible to keep putting one foot in front of the other when the path forward remains unclear and the destination is still uncertain. 

Last week I needed to go to Cash & Carry to pick up some cleaning supplies. I pulled into the parking lot and promptly burst into tears. I was only in the store a few minutes, but I bawled the entire time and was a slobbering mess by the time I reached the checkout counter. Before our lockdown, you could find me at C&C several times a week to pick up candy and soda or butter for the popcorn. In December, I bought cases of coffee syrup for our Big Lebowski Rice Russians. I knew the folks who worked there, and they knew me. Kind of like "Cheers," without the drinking. They always, always took everything out to my Subaru and loaded it for me while we shared a smile and a bit of conversation. I never even had to ask.

These days, it's strange how the most innocuous activity can trigger a sense of hopelessness.

Yet today, I am feeling hopeful. We have a smart, well-educated, strong, engaging, justice-dedicated woman of color on the Democratic ticket. And even though #45 and his obsequious cronies are doing everything they can to cheat the outcome of this election, I know there are tons of folks still out fighting the good fight. Making good and necessary trouble. Registering people to vote. Checking in with each other. Sharing love even when it is socially distanced. And go, Portland!!! It's day #76 of the PDX protests against systemic racism!

As most of you know from other letters, I'm not a religious person. Having been raised a fundamentalist Christian, I'm like a former smoker when it comes to religion. Yet I still find meaning in the stories. If you're wandering around for forty years, I bet you would have plenty of doldrums. Plenty of time to sink into boredom and depression. Plenty of time to get into trouble, and not the good and necessary kind. And plenty of time to turn the tedium into something worthwhile. 

I've always been fascinated by "quotidian." The first year I bought the theater I dreamed of hosting a Quotidian Film Festival--film and video dedicated to the everyday, commonplace, and ordinary circumstances of our lives. I've always believed that anything we do can be art, if we are creating it artfully. In the Benedictine tradition, quotidian tasks become a prayer. Spirituality is strengthened through making food, washing dishes, sweeping floors--any of the countless, insignificant, routine acts we do every day can be transformative. I find it far too easy to march through my day's "to do list" with leaden feet, but with thoughtfulness, every act and every interaction can bring us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in this world. 

Lots here for me to chew on, especially since it looks like I'm going to have more time on my hands. Sadly, it will be months before we can open again. Thank you for all the ways in which you are helping us tread water until a lifeboat arrives.

While I was writing this letter, I kept hearing the late, great John Prine sing this song in my head, so enjoy it with me.

We are still struggling to keep the bills paid now that we are into our fourth month of closure. If you are wondering how you can help us stay afloat, let me count the ways....  

Holding the Light

Stuart Kestenbaum
                                         for Kait Rhoads

Gather up whatever is 
glittering in the gutter,
whatever has tumbled 
in the waves or fallen 
in flames out of the sky,

for it’s not only our
hearts that are broken, 
but the heart
of the world as well.
Stitch it back together. 

Make a place where
the day speaks to the night
and the earth speaks to the sky.
Whether we created God
or God created us

it all comes down to this:
In our imperfect world
we are meant to repair
and stitch together 
what beauty there is, stitch it 

with compassion and wire. 
See how everything 
we have made gathers 
the light inside itself
and overflows? A blessing.



We still have films available through our Virtual Cinema. We will be cutting back on the nationally-released films to focus on the CoVideothon, and highlighting our local filmmakers and performing artists. However, you can still check 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."


 You Never Had It - An Evening with Bukowski

If you're watching the Bukowski documentary, then you might consider...

Charles Bukowski Turns 100! A Birthday Celebration Hosted by Matt Dillon
12 PM PST, Sunday August 16th, 2020
Live on Youtube

April 16th, 2020 would have been Charles Bukowski's 100th Birthday. On this special occasion, please join us for a live conversation on the great American writer and poet whose words still resonate so powerfully today — with a few people who've attempted to bring some part of Charles Bukowski to the silver screen.

Matt Dillon, who portrayed Bukowski's alter ego "Hank Chinaski' in 2005's Factotum
Matteo Borgardt & Silvia Bizio, the filmmakers behind the new documentary You Never Had It - An Evening With Bukowski

Please promote far and wide! This event is open to all!

Jazz on a Summer's Day


  • Whisper Skin Productions
  • More from Jet Black Pearl
  • Invincible Czars
  • Lots more Guignolfest


rePRO by, August 12-16, 2020, is a five-day virtual film festival accessible to anyone watching from the United States. Through various lenses – and by harnessing the power of cinema as a catalyst for connection and conversation – rePRO presented by will explore the past, present, and future of women*’s and AFAB people’s reproductive healthcare, awareness, advocacy and bodily integrity in America. 100% net revenue from rePRO ticket sales will be donated to our reproductive justice beneficiary organizations: Sister Song, Endometriosis Foundation of America, Center for Reproductive Rights, URGE, and Trust Women.

*definition of “women” includes transgender, genderqueer and non-binary people who are woman-identified.

My friend and writing mentor, Ariel Gore, just published a coloring book of "weirdo encouragement." If you are interested in buying a copy or two, they are $12 and you can get one by sending $12 through Venmo @Ariel-Gore-1 along with your mailing address, or order through Microcosm Publishing.

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

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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