|December 18, 2020
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As the year draws to a close, I've been spending a lot of time cocooned in my bubble and immersed in my thoughts. With each passing day, I'm finding it more and more difficult to fully articulate all the profound emotions that keep bubbling to the surface. Time and again I keep coming back to an analogy of fabric and our connection to one another and the world, especially during this holiday season when memories of Christmas stories, rituals, and traditions flood in.
Growing up a fundamentalist Christian, I knew that after Mary gave birth to her son, she swaddled him and laid him in a manger. Of course, as a child, knowing a word and understanding the concept are not one and the same. I had never seen a swaddled baby. Sixty plus years ago, back in Oklahoma, where I hail from, babies might have been wrapped in a blanket, but not in any way that would have constricted the movement of their tiny arms and legs. This "swaddling" must have been a significant detail in the story of Jesus' birth, however, because when the angels appeared in a burst of blazing light to poor startled shepherds (who were, after all, only minding their own business of tending sheep out in the fields), the angels told them that they would find the long-awaited Messiah in Bethlehem, and he would be in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.
When my own children were born 40 plus years ago, I still didn't understand what it meant to "swaddle" a baby, but this ancient, common practice has made a comeback. Two thousand years ago, swaddling was a sign that a child was cared for--in the book of Ezekiel, Israel is described as "unswaddled," a metaphor for abandoned. Today, many believe that swaddling helps a baby feel more safe and secure as it adjusts to life outside the womb, and you can find plenty of step by step guides and video tutorials to help you learn the perfect technique.
As we grow into adulthood, we continue to be tightly wrapped by those who love us. They are the fabric of our lives--parents, siblings, then friends and teachers, coaches, mentors, coworkers. We separate or move apart, and the fabric unravels a bit. Later, we create new layers with our own partners and children, and sometimes with death or divorce or painful estrangements, the fabric tears. Lots of folks, some whose names I don't even know, are part of the fabric in which I am swaddled, and my life is immeasurably enriched by them all.
As an example, I've been going to the same dental office for over 15 years. My dentist retired a little more than a year ago, and a new dentist bought the practice, but there was continuity in the other members of his team. This year, however, when I was finally able to get in for my regular checkup in July, Tiffany, my dental hygienist, no longer worked there, having chosen another line of work because of Covid. Perfectly understandable and I am happy that she is doing well, but even though I only saw her twice a year, she was part of my "swaddling," and I always looked forward to hearing about her kids or sharing a picture of my grand-babies.
Sally, the receptionist, went above and beyond the call of duty, sending a text reminder not only for my appointment itself, but because of knee replacements and the need to take an antibiotic before any dental work, even a cleaning, she always texted the morning of the appointment to remind me to take my pills. I didn't hear from her in early December when it was time for my next regular six-month checkup, but I didn't think anything of it--life has been so strange these days. Sadly, however, when I arrived and Sally wasn't there, I heard the heartbreaking news that she had died in September. Covid didn't take her life as it has more than 300,000 of our fellow Americans, but Sally suffered with asthma, and she didn't recover from an attack brought on by the wildfires. Again, I felt an even keener sense of unraveling.
In the nine years since Roger and I have been the stewards of the Clinton, I have learned from your own stories how much the theater is part of the fabric of your lives. I have seen and experienced myself how much magic can be found in our having a gathering place to celebrate life's wonders. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, new babies. Acting debuts and World Premieres! In fact, at the 2018 Portland Underground Film Festival, a filmmaker from Argentina met her future husband right outside our front door. We have also comforted each other through life's more difficult moments. Break-ups, lost jobs, illness, even death. We find solace with each other and with the characters that have graced our screen and our stage. For all of these reasons, and for many more, I am committed to keeping the Clinton alive and well until we can open once again. Unfortunately, our funds run out at the end of this year, so unless Congress gets its act together and provides more help through the Paycheck Protection Program or other funds, we have our hand out once again asking for your help.
One of our small theater advocates, Bill Denver, recently wrote, "Think about the memories that abound centered around small single screen theaters. Romance erupted and laughter cascaded over the seats and out into the streets, and people thought about their place in the world. ...Theaters in many ways are living organisms, purveyors of dreams, of hopes and of celebration." Denver continues, "These theaters stand wounded before an increasingly uncaring Hollywood and a pandemic that is brutal and indiscriminate. What you may not realize is that if these small-town theaters shutter, the heart of towns across America will forever stop beating. The town will diminish and people will wonder why. The peril that theaters are facing are threatening to erode the fabric of small town America once and for all."
Portland is not a small town, but our sweet little corner feels like we live in one. That's the reason we could proudly proclaim ourselves the "Clubhouse of the Portland Anarchist Jurisdiction." We're kind of like the small theater/performing arts space equivalent of "Cheers"--a place where everyone knows your name. And even if we don't know your name, we know your face and your spirit and what you bring to our community. When this is over, and someday it will all be over, I don't want for there to be any unraveling of the fabric that swaddles me and swaddles you. Please, take care of yourself this holiday season. My world will be diminished without you.
sonnet for the long second act
your body is still a miracle thirst
quenched with water across dry tongue and lips
or cocoa butter ashy legs immersed
till shine seen sheen the mind too cups and dips
from its favorite rivers figures and facts
slant stories of orbiting protests or
protons around daughters or suns :: it backs
up or opens wide to joy’s gush downpour
the floods the heart pumps hip hop doo wop dub
veins mining the mud for poetry’s o
cell after cell drinks ringgold colors mulled
cool cascades of calla lilies :: swallow
and bathe breathe believe through drought you survive
like the passage schooled you till rains arrive
—after alexis pauline gumbs
About the Poet: Embracing both free verse and formal structures, Evie Shockley straddles the divide between traditional and experimental poetics.
About this Poem: “I wrote this poem late this spring (2020), after teaching a semester-long course on the elegy in the African American tradition, during which events in the world made the poems more timely—and painfully so—than I had imagined they could be. At the same time, for other courses, I was reading and teaching Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ (also disconcertingly timely) book M Archive: After the End of the World. My sonnet attempts to leap from the encounter with her book back to the Black Poetry course, carrying with it my distillation of the balm I found there.” —Evie Shockley
WANT TO HELP????? WATCH/GIVE....
An Interactive Online Performance by Master Magician DAN KAMIN
Dan Kamin responded to the Covid crisis by creating a mind-bending performance of eye-popping online magic called SHAZOOM! It’s upclose and personal, and it beams from Dan’s Magic Parlor directly into your home, office or school. Interested? Just say the magic word—SHAZOOM!—and contact Dan. The virtual party runs up to one hour.
Dan trained Robert Downey, Jr. for his Oscar-nominated performance in Chaplin and created Johnny Depp’s physical comedy moves for Benny and Joon. He also played the vengeful wooden Indian that came to life in George Romero’s cult horror classic Creepshow 2. Dan has performed his one-man shows in theatres and with symphonies worldwide.
You can read more about Dan in The Escape Artist, his highly entertaining account of how the legendary Harry Houdini got him started in magic. And be sure to check out his super cool website, which has video clips galore.
ALL PROCEEDS BENEFIT CLINTON STREET THEATER!
Dan Kamin contact information:
New stuff is available! BUY A TICKET, WATCH AT HOME, AND SUPPORT THE CLINTON!!!
A DOG CALLED MONEY
As imaginative as the creative process it documents, A DOG CALLED MONEY is a uniquely intimate journey through the inspiration, writing and recording of a PJ Harvey record.
Writer and musician Harvey and award-winning photographer Seamus Murphy sought first-hand experiences of the countries she wanted to write about. Harvey accompanied Murphy on some of his worldwide reporting trips, joining him in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Washington DC. Harvey collected words, Murphy collected images. Back home, the words became poems, songs and then an album, which was recorded in an unprecedented art experiment in Somerset House, London. In a specially constructed room behind one-way glass, the public – all cameras surrendered -- are invited to watch the five-week process as a live sound-sculpture. Murphy exclusively documents the experiment with the same forensic vision and private access as their travels.
By capturing the immediacy of their encounters with the people and places they visited, Murphy shows the humanity at the heart of the work, tracing the sources of the songs, their special metamorphosis into recorded music and ultimately cinema.
SONG WITHOUT A NAME
Based on harrowing true events, SONG WITHOUT A NAME tells the story of Georgina, an indigenous Andean woman whose newborn baby is whisked away moments after its birth in a downtown Lima clinic - and never returned. Stonewalled by a byzantine and indifferent legal system, Georgina approaches journalist Pedro Campas, who uncovers a web of fake clinics and abductions - suggesting a rotting corruption deep within Peruvian society. Set in 1988, in a Peru wracked by political violence and turmoil, Melina León’s heart-wrenching first feature renders Georgina's story in gorgeous, shadowy black-and-white cinematography, "styled like the most beautiful of bad dreams" (Variety). SONG WITHOUT A NAME is a "Kafkaesque thriller" (The Hollywood Reporter) that unflinchingly depicts real-life, stranger-than fiction tragedies with poetic beauty.
New York City Children's Film Festival
Kid Flicks One, Kid Flicks Two and Viva Kid Flicks remain available through December 31st. Now for only $6.99!!! What a bargain!
VHS Vengeance presents
"Kingdom of the Spiders"
VHS Vengeance is Portland’s longest running Live Movie Riffing Comedy Show. Each month Hosts Nick Puente, Aaron Wagner & Michael Garcia present the best of the worst VHS tapes in their collections, offered up with hilarious commentary, special guests, and audience participation.
For this special stream of the William Shatner classic, Kingdom of the Spiders, the boys are joined by Portland’s premier Shatner expert and host of the Boohaha podcast, Avalon Leonetti!
VHS Vengeance presents
"The Boy in the Plastic Bubble"
For this special streaming event the boys are joined by Portland producer & comedian, Ricky Stratton! So why don't we all sit back, relax, and give the John Travolta quarantine classic The Boy in the Plastic Bubble a good talking to.
IN OTHER NEWS
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
This Solstice Aurora Chorus kindles fires of hope and comfort, lifting heavy hearts with inspiring performances from years past. I hope you will join them (and me) in reminiscing while in the comfort of your own home. The Zoom video presentation is free of charge, but please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support Aurora Chorus in honoring the strength and beauty of women’s lives through choral singing.
Reserve your ticket https://secure.givelively.org/event/aurora-chorus-inc/the-longest-night
On Saturday, Dec. 19 (the day before the video presentation), you will receive an email with a Zoom link to view the video presentation on Sunday afternoon.
If you are in Portland on Saturday and have a little free time, please consider checking out this exhibition/sale of original art and painted ceramics made by houseless artists and other artists working together through the fantastic organization Gather:Make:Shelter.
Date & Time:
This Saturday, December 19, 11:00 - 4:00 pm
Gather:Make:Shelter HQ, 906 NW 14th Avenue
The exhibition, ART FROM THE VILLAGES features one-of-a-kind works by artists who live in the C(3)PO villages and Dignity Village. Artists receive 100% of the sales of their work. Gather:Make:Shelter workshop products including bowls, t-shirts, and cards will also be available for your holiday gifting!
They'll roll up their large garage door onto 14th Ave and have a sidewalk celebration with limited-capacity viewing inside the space. Masks will be required, the event will be ventilated, and hand sanitation will be provided at the door. The event will also mark the end of their GoFundMe campaign (charity.gofundme.com/gms2020) where Gather:Make:Shelter is raising funds for 2021 programming.
Whether or not you can attend the live event on Saturday, please consider donating to the GoFundMe campaign.
For all my burner friends, go on a Playa Adventure. Your ride awaits.....
Did you know that Portland Parks and Recreation has loads of videos for you and your family? How about some soccer practice for your littles one? Or maybe you prefer to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (it's by Mozart, in case you hadn't heard)? They've even got Dance Fitness routines for 4 minutes or 30. Check it out!
This holiday season, remember to Show the Love to Portland! Our city is facing a tough economic winter. Your money talks. Be here for Portland by shopping local.
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
― Rabindranath Tagore
Don't be a stranger. Write until we can meet again.