Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cool Mini-Documentary about the Senator Theatre

It occurs to me that, in case anyone outside of Baltimore is reading this blog, I probably haven't adequately described the Senator Theatre or why I'm so passionate about preserving it. I found a mini-documentary on YouTube by justingladden, which helps give a sense of why the theatre is so special.

Built in 1939 in the Art Deco style, the Senator is one of the most intact examples of the classic old movie palaces. It has been run by the family of current owner Tom Kiefaber for its entire existence, and it will have its 70th anniversary this year. Unlike many other theaters of similar vintage, it has never fallen into a degraded status, been closed, become a porn theater, or been used as anything other than a movie theater showing first run movies and hosting community events. It is in nearly pristine historical condition, although it could undoubtedly use a lick of paint here and there, a little restoration, and an HD digital projector of its own.

Over the years, the Senator has held fundraisers for many community non-profits, hosted educational events, and premiered many movies. The colorful painted blocks in the sidewalk in front of the theater attest to many of the special events that have been held, often with Hollywood directors and stars in attendance, and recall many of the movies that have been shown.

The theater hearkens back to the day when movie-going was really a special experience and the theaters themselves were works of art. When you enter the circular lobby with its murals and its colorful floor design, you know you've arrived at an exciting destination. In fact, after visiting many neighborhoods and homes for sale in Baltimore when I was first moving here, it was the proximity of the Senator and my first visit there to see The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton, which really told me that this particular neighborhood was uniquely interesting, as I fell in love with the Senator immediately.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Super Bowl and Local Bands to Rock the Senator

It looks like there are some exciting efforts coalescing around the efforts to save the historic Senator Theatre in Baltimore.

This Sunday, the Senator will be hosting an HD Digital presentation of the Super Bowl on the big screen. Come watch as the Pittsburgh Steelers battle the Arizona Cardinals!

Admission is free, but donations of non-perishable food are encouraged, because this event will serve as a food drive for the local GEDCO “Cares” food pantry.

Doors open at 5:00 PM. Kickoff is at 6:18 PM. The Senator seats 900, but based on the turnout for the inauguration event just over a week ago, you may want to get there early.

But what about the beer? Yeah, I know. Watching the Super Bowl works up a thirst, right? Don’t worry. There will be beer and wine sales to people over 21.

Hey! I just wrote my first blog about sports, and it didn’t even hurt. (OK, I admit to being not much of a sports fan personally, but I think I’ll go to this anyway.)

The next event is more like my cup of tea, really.

Starting on February 13th, there’s going to be a whole weekend of local band concerts to rock the Senator and help save it too. There’s a press release that came out yesterday, but it’s an evolving situation, and I hear the events will be much more extensive than the press release that’s on the Senator’s web site says right now.

I’m not sure it’s all set in stone, but it looks like there will be a rock concert on Friday night, the 13th, then an acoustic concert on Saturday, then a jazz concert on Sunday. Stay tuned for details, because I don’t know all of the band names or details just yet. But anyway, here’s a quote from the original press release:

BALTIMORE - Popular Baltimore-based bands The Payola Reserve, J Roddy Walston and The Business, and Wye Oak announced today their plans to hold a first-of-its kind live benefit concert to help the renowned Senator Theatre remain in operation. The concert is a timely response to actor David Arquette's recent celebrity MySpace blog highlighting the endangered status of "Baltimore's Premiere Showplace".

The Senator, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is converting to non-profit operation as an enhanced arts and entertainment facility; however the recent economic downturn and fixed overhead costs threaten to shutter the stunning art deco landmark theatre before the transition can be accomplished.

The indie band showcase, co-produced by The Payola Reserve and Manifesto Promotions, is envisioned as "a Fillmore-style rock revue with an arts twist" by promoter Sean Brescia." The concert, featuring an array of popular local bands, film
shorts and performing arts, is scheduled for Saturday, February 14, 2009. Proceeds will assist The Senator's transition into a community owned non-profit facility, offering a wide variety of live music concerts, HD simulcasts, films and special events.
I heard the rock concert is now going to be on Friday night, though, so I’m not sure that last paragraph I quoted is accurate.

As mentioned in the press release, the Senator is also getting some celebrity attention from actor David Arquette, who visited Baltimore and was really impressed by the theater. Thanks, David!

The Theatre Historical Society of America is also getting involved, writing in a letter from their president Karen Colizzi Noonan to Governor Martin O’Malley, Mayor Sheila Dixon, and city and state legislatures:

For nearly 70 years, The Senator Theatre has served Baltimore as an icon of architectural distinction, cultural excellence and civic pride; a revered and iconic neighborhood movie house whose neighborhood happens to be all of America.

When the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Main Street Center named "historic theaters nation-wide" as their top endangered element of American life, an image of The Senator's stunning facade was used as the attention-getting hallmark representing the mission to "Protect the Irreplaceable".

Truly, The Senator Theatre in Baltimore is one of the most intact and well known examples of the architecture, grandeur and elegance of Hollywood's golden era, when the theatres were themselves attractions along with the films being shown.

Today, we find ourselves at a cross roads for this magnificent, renowned structure. It either remains in day-to-day operation to evolve, or we watch it slip from our American tapestry. In the coming weeks the country will be literally watching Baltimore and the State of Maryland in relation to the precarious fate of the endangered Senator Theatre.

In 2009, The Senator now stands as the only remaining single-screen movie house in Baltimore, a former "City of Theatres", which once boasted over 150 unique movie houses that served as cultural centers and economic engines, anchoring the heart of the city's commercial and residential districts.

If The Senator's owner is not assisted in his efforts and the theatre is allowed to go dark, it will be to the detriment of Baltimore's historic fabric and economic vitality. An abrupt shutdown of the theatre must be averted, or it will quickly become a regrettable failure of vision and civic responsibility and a resounding loss to the cause of enlightened historic preservation nation-wide.

Owner Tom Kiefaber and his family have worked diligently for seven decades to protect, operate and preserve The Senator for the citizens of Baltimore. The theatre
under Kiefaber's independent stewardship and guidance is regularly honored in the national arena as a consistent, guiding light for the protection and preservation of America's remaining Main Street theatres.

Mr. Kiefaber has received numerous historic preservation awards and film industry
accolades as The Senator's devoted owner. We note that through his leadership, the community has been encouraged to become involved and helped to formulate an innovative vision for The Senator Theatre's future as the premiere, community-owned arts and entertainment venue in the region.

You can read the rest of the letter here.

For their part, the City seems to be slowly getting on board, also. My letter to Mayor Sheila Dixon received a response that said, in part “I assure you that we are committed to finding a long term solution that secures The Senator's future for generations to come.” That sure sounds like they plan to find a way to keep it open, which is encouraging.

Of course, the Senator also continues to play movies on a daily basis. Starting Friday, look for a return engagement of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which played there a couple of weeks ago and is back by popular demand.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend this movie, which has been nominated for 13 Academy Awards. I always like movies that are just a tad off-kilter from the reality with which we’re familiar, so the concept of a man who gets younger instead of older was immediately intriguing to me. Brad Pitt’s character, Benjamin Button, isn’t just a freak, though, but someone with surprisingly normal problems. Both he and Cate Blanchett are amazing in this movie.

If you enjoy being astounded by the crazy things film makers can do in terms of creating appearances, you’re going to have your jaw drop to your chest when you see the age makeup in this movie, too. You could just about swear they invented time travel just so they could film Pitt and Blanchett when they’re like 80 years old. It’s pretty wild stuff, but I bet it’s a lot more fun for us to watch than it was for them to wear.

Check the web site for times.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Senator Theatre – Possible Buyout

There’s a report from the Baltimore Messenger that the City of Baltimore has offered to buy the Senator Theatre by buying out Tom Kiefaber’s debt. I am strongly in favor of saving the Senator and having it remain open as a community-owned nonprofit, however, I have some thoughts and concerns about the City’s offer, as reported.

The biggest concern I have is that the Senator needs to remain open during the transition. A closure would surely result in losses to nearby businesses, as well as causing a depressed look in the area, which might drive people away and encourage crime. Psychologically, that is just not the message to send to the community and visitors to the area. Tom Kiefaber has a Photoshopped image of what the Senator might look like if closed. It was on display in the lobby recently, showing a very decrepit appearance. It’s something I don’t want to see in real life. (I tried to find that image on the internet, but couldn't find a link, so if anyone has it, let me know.)

I spent some time thinking about other historic buildings and theaters I’ve been aware of that closed and then had to struggle to reopen, and my recollections are not pretty. I think if the City does not have a plan in place for what to do with the Senator, so that it can remain open during the transition, it is likely to close for at least a year or two, not some shorter period.

My second biggest concern is that the report about the City’s buyout plan says that a steering committee would have to determine whether the Senator can be sustainable as a nonprofit. Well, who is going to be appointed to this steering committee? Will it be members of the community who are fully committed to finding a way for the Senator’s operations to become self-supporting? Or will it be some sort of bureaucrats who don’t really care if the answer they come up with is “No, it won’t work?” It seems to me that whether or not a solution is found is very closely tied to how determined the steering committee members are to finding one. For that reason alone, it’s imperative that the steering committee include members of local resident and business groups from the immediate neighborhood.

If the Senator is going to remain open daily, there need to be movies playing there, which means someone who knows how to run a movie theatre needs to be involved. There’s no way there will be special events every day, and the theatre needs to be open regularly to continue to provide the attraction to visitors that it currently does provide.

I’m a little disturbed by some of the attitudes I see posted in comments on the Messenger article. I never understand why some people think that because one problem isn’t solved, it means government shouldn’t spend money on solving other problems, or why some people think no money should ever be spent on the arts. What we’re talking about here isn’t a huge amount of money when it comes to government budgets, and putting it toward solving other problems, such as the crime in Baltimore, wouldn’t solve those problems. And for people who think government should never spend money on the arts, I’d really like to know what they think their lives would be like with no music, no movies, no TV, no books, no visual arts. Pretty boring, I would think.

Anyway, in my opinion the amount of money the City is talking about spending is not huge in terms of their budget and if done right, it could help keep the Govanstowne/Belvedere Square neighborhood vital during this difficult time. It would also help preserve and enhance the attractiveness of Baltimore as an arts-oriented community.

I also realize I’m relatively new to Baltimore, but I don’t get the attitudes a few people and some in the media seem to have toward Mr. Kiefaber. I think he's a nice guy who has been successful in keeping the Senator running for the past 20 years in the face of rather staggering odds. Yes, he has sometimes appealed to the community for help, but you know, for those of us who think the Senator is an important part of Baltimore, that shouldn’t be a problem. He also appears to be a very community-oriented businessman, very respectful of the neighbors and nearby businesses. I’ve seen plenty of business people who are just out to make a buck, so I have to say I prefer the community-oriented kind. If Kiefaber were just out to make a buck, he’d have ditched the Senator long ago, but he’s trying to preserve something he thinks is worth preserving. And hey, if you don’t agree, at least don’t be mean. That’s the way I see it, anyway.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Defiance - Now Playing at the Senator

Like all war movies that try for a sense of realism, Defiance is rather horrible and grim, but like all stories where defiant heroes stand up against injustice, it is inspiring at the same time.

Based on a true story, Defiance shows us four Jewish brothers in World War II Poland who escape into the forest after members of their family are murdered by the Nazis. There they encounter other Jews in hiding and build a forest village to help themselves and many others survive and remain free.

The refugees, through necessity, grow into a kind of community. They are led, sometimes unwillingly and not always graciously, by the eldest brother Tuvia Bielski (Daniel Craig). Like all communities, they have their disagreements and their power struggles. They have far more than their share of hardship in order to survive, but share a few joys as well.

Struggling to feed so many, they must raid neighboring farms, always in danger that their raids will be reported to the Nazis. They struggle to find a balance between compassion for the poor farmers within reach of their camp and the danger of leaving witnesses; differing opinions lead to infighting between Tuvia and his brother Zus (Liev Schreiber).

The woodland scenery is often beautiful, sometimes forbidding, but much like the references to the Jewish faith throughout the film, it lends a subtle sense of wonder and the hope that perhaps we are not quite as alone as we often think we are.

The film is rated R for violence, which can hardly be avoided given the circumstances of the story. I dislike films that are excessively violent, and for that reason I hesitated a bit before seeing this film. After reading Director Edward Zwick’s profile on IMDB, I realized that he had also directed Glory (1989), a film about the civil war’s first company of volunteer African American soldiers, which I enjoyed, in spite of its violence, for the theme of struggle for freedom, which Defiance also shares. Some movies require a certain amount of blood to convey the horror of the situation portrayed. Defiance is one of those where the violence is not gratuitous.

Times are hard right now for most Americans, but other humans in other times and places have lived through worse. On the way home from seeing Defiance, I found myself giving thanks for the relative safety of the majority of us. Unlike the men and women in the forest camp, most of us are not besieged, we are not hunted, we are not forced to live in hiding in rudimentary shelters in the cold of an Eastern European winter with very little to eat. For the very poor among us who are on the verge of starving or freezing to death this winter, we need to remember that they are members of our community and need our help.

Movies that portray historical events would be of little value if we could not apply their lessons to our present times. It is timely to recall that the holocaust started because Hitler found a way to use the Jewish people as a scapegoat for the economic distress felt in Germany at that time. Impoverished by the aftermath of World War I and the depression, too many Germans were eager to have someone to blame.

The German people do not have a special monopoly on evil. Their mistake, sadly, is one that we might all be capable of making when hard times and deprivation tempt us to listen to a leader who tells us someone else is causing our problems.

The next time fearmongers try to make us believe we are in mortal danger in order to lead us into another war, we might remember then too that violence is totally unacceptable except in defense of our lives and the lives of others, and even then it is regrettable when an injustice forces our hands to violence. Preemptive violence toward others who have not attacked us, carried out simply because we feel paranoid or deprived of something, is always a sin against humanity.

In the Baltimore area, Defiance is now playing at The Senator Theatre, the historic Art Deco movie palace, which is currently in need of the community’s help to remain a treasured resource for Baltimore. Strong attendance this week would surely help buy more time for the Senator as it makes the desired transition to community-owned nonprofit. Defiance is well worth seeing, and there’s no better place in the Baltimore area to see it.


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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Save the Senator Theatre

I was just at the Senator Theatre in North Baltimore for an emergency community meeting about the plans to convert the historic 1939 Art Deco theatre into a nonprofit, community owned arts venue. The situation appears to be this: the plans are stalled because the theatre is in imminent danger of closing, and the staff has all it can handle to just keep the theatre operating at this time. The current owner, Tom Kiefaber, who has striven for 20 years to keep the theatre open and provide entertainment and a community gathering place, cannot turn the theatre into a nonprofit if he can’t clear the theatre’s debts first.

The positive side to all this is, there is a great feeling that the community can expand the theatre’s role as a real place of community building. Many potential uses were mentioned, including a place for schools to show educational films related to their curriculums, a place for local filmmakers to showcase their work, and a place for live performances of many kinds.

There is a plan in the works for local bands to stage a fundraiser for the theatre, although those plans are not finalized. Some lawyers have made offers of free legal help for the theatre’s efforts to transition to a nonprofit as well.

I am new to the area, so I don’t have the fond memories of the history of the place that many members of the community have. I haven’t been there for the annual showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” during the holidays, for instance, or the many fundraisers for community nonprofits.

Several members of the community who were at the meeting mentioned in particular that the recent gathering at the Senator to witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama was an outstanding example of the kind of community-building function that the Senator Theatre can serve, and currently serves --- bringing neighbors together in a spirit of celebration to witness a historically important event, and to gather food donations for the needy at the same time. The standing-room only event truly was a special moment for this community.

The recent national and international economic crisis has put the Senator’s survival in grave jeopardy. The failure of the theatre would also endanger the businesses in the surrounding area, which have a symbiotic relationship with the theatre, the prosperity of each contributing to the prosperity of the others. It would also negatively affect the community psychologically and in terms of home values. With support from local and state government for the goal of turning the Senator into a nonprofit, the theatre need not close. It is clear there is broad support within the community for the theatre. The question is really whether government leaders will come to the table to discuss how the conversion into a nonprofit can become a reality.

I ask elected representatives in the Baltimore area to come together and help save the Senator and the positive impact it has on the economy and the quality of life in North Baltimore.

Tom Kiefaber told us at the meeting that it is not a question of raising a specific dollar amount, but a question of getting enough institutional support behind the project for it to move forward. That said, he did also say that he would be grateful for any angels who wish to come forward. When he said it, I pictured angels all around him.

Residents of the Baltimore area can help keep the Senator in business by going to movies there, of course. The next film shown will be Defiance, starting Friday. Check the theatre’s web site for times. Let’s pack the house!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Never Saw So Many People Gathered to Watch C-SPAN Before

I just got back from watching the inauguration at the historic Senator Theatre. I never thought I'd see so many people gathered to watch C-SPAN. It truly IS a new day in America when that happens! The 900 seat theatre had standing room only, and a very enthusiastic crowd.

The event was organized as a food drive, so the cost of admission was canned food. It looked like a lot of food was donated, so hopefully this is a big help to the GEDCO/CARES food pantry, which reports that it is seeing a record number of clients. I think their representative at the event said demand has doubled in the past few months.

It was really NICE to see the end of the Bush administration. I loved it when Bush waved to the crowd at the end of the inauguration and people in the audience shouted "BYE!" That was a good feeling. We can all breathe a bit easier now, for sure.

Obama gave a speech that touched on many important points, and I hope he is serious about green energy and job creation, and I certainly wish him the best in turning our country around and getting us out of this grave situation. Good luck, Mr. President, because you are sure going to need it.

I also hope he's serious about really bringing people of different backgrounds together and working toward the day when we can have peace. But I've got news for him. It's a lot closer than we think. Iraq? This is a war of choice. We could lay down our arms there right now, if we wanted to. We hear less about Afghanistan, but that seems to be a similar situation.

I was disappointed to hear him start off his speech by saying we're at war with a network of haters all around the world, because I don't think that's accurate. I think we're in wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think there are a relatively small number of criminals (terrorists) around the world who hate us, but to call our struggle with them a war is an exaggeration that serves only to keep the American people fearful, distract us from more important issues, and inflate the egos of the terrorists, probably encouraging them somewhat.

In other words, if we really want peace, when are we going to make it a priority? Because we could do that. It's a matter of choice. Obama ought to act on Dennis Kucinich's idea of a Department of Peace, as well as end the wars ASAP. And this notion of a global war on terror really is silly, so let's recognize that as well.

I was glad to hear him talk about how we don't have to give up our values and our liberties for security, and I liked his rather pointed criticism of the Bush administration, even if he didn't specify who exactly he was talking about.

So, there was a lot of hope in Obama's speech, but also a disapointing amount of same-old, same-old. Really, as far as I can tell, the terrorists are a bogey man that our leaders like to use to scare us, keep us in line, and distract us. They also use them as an excuse to start wars of choice so war profiteers can make money. I wish Obama would just admit that. But I suspect all leaders like to have an enemy they can blame when times get rough.

Anyway, with cautious optimism I will say it looks like there will be some improvements, and they are certainly needed.

In the spirit of service to the community which Obama mentioned, I don't want to forget to give a plug here for the Senator Theatre, which hosted the event. This is a real old architectural gem of a movie theatre from the 1930s. I just love the old Art Deco theatres. This is one of the few left. It also happens to be in my neighborhood, for which I am lucky.

The Senator has had a lot of trouble over the years remaining open as a historic, single-screen theatre. Right now I know they are looking at turning it into a nonprofit to keep it going. There's a community meeting there at 10:30 AM on Thursday, January 22nd. If you're in Baltimore, I hope you can make it. In the words of the theatre's web site:

Join us this Thursday, January 22nd at 10:30am for a communal call to action and express your support for The Senator remaining in operation as it transitions to become the region's premiere, community owned non-profit Arts & Entertainment Venue.

The mid to long-term prognosis for The Senator Theatre after its transition to non-profit ownership and operation appears promising, even in this economy. The immediate short-term status of the theatre,however, has become very precarious.

Like a nasty flu that sickens the healthy but can kill those who are already weak, the downturn in the economy has placed the operational status of The Senator, and its future, in great jeopardy.

To prevent a devastating shutdown, The Senator's economic viability must be quickly addressed among all those who share a vested interest in the theatre maintaining its near 70 year unbroken chain of day to day operation.

I'll try to keep blogging in this new year about what's happening with the Senator. I'd really like to see it preserved.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Long-Awaited End of An Era

Well, the day the whole world has prayed for and eagerly awaited for eight years finally comes tomorrow - the end of the Bush administration. Let's all take a moment tonight to toast the fact that we survived, more or less, some of us anyway, and toast the departure of the worst president in American history and the arrival of a new president who can hardly help but be much better.

I don't have great hopes that Barack Obama is going to take the bold progressive steps that are really needed in the dire international situation we're in, but the world now has a slightly enhanced chance of survival, and that's something to be thankful for, at any rate.

On the federal holiday designated for the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, we can also give thanks that tomorrow also represents the long-awaited end of another era --- the one where many people of color believed there were certain offices in this country that were off-limits to them. Now, this does not mean that the problem of racism is gone. Tomorrow's triumph is in that sense mostly symbolic, but at least I think it will inspire young kids growing up today to set their sights a bit higher than they might have otherwise.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Dead Will Rise Again.

Don't worry. This isn't some dire warning about flesh-eating zombies. We defeated them in November, remember?

It's just that the Grateful Dead are going to be touring this spring. They haven't toured for four years, and that's one of many reasons the last four years were a dark, dark time in America. When the Dead are touring, I always suspect the world is more wonderful than we usually realize.

Yeah, it's not the same band we remember. Jerry is missed, and things will never be quite the same. Ticket prices are through the roof and I doubt that many can afford to tour the way some of us used to. Remember calling the hotline and getting the instructions about the number ten envelopes and the index cards and filling in your ticket order just so, so it wouldn't be rejected by the ticket gods, also known as the office workers in San Rafael?

Why is it that every time the Dead tour these days, a very sappy song that isn't theirs comes to mind? "Memories, like the corners of my mind. Misty water-color memories of the way we were." Maybe I'd just better say it's been a long strange trip.

So yeah, the ticket prices are too high, but remember: it's an investment in your insanity.

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The People's Job is to Hold Government Accountable

I just want to respond briefly to some attitudes I have been seeing a lot lately among fellow Democrats. I'm talking about "don't criticize Obama, especially before he gets into office," and "we need to move forward, not punish the Bush administration." I believe both these attitudes are wrong.

I haven't been blogging a lot, but whenever I do, I keep seeing people expressing one or both of these sentiments. Most recently, I saw it in some of the comments on a piece written by actor John Cusack on Huffington Post. Mr. Cusack proposes two questions to be asked of AG nominee Eric Holder during his confirmation process: 1. Is waterboarding torture? 2. (Paraphrasing here) Given that the correct response to question number 1 is Yes, what is Mr. Holder going to do to see that the parties responsible for condoning torture in the Bush administration are prosecuted? I heartily agree with his essay. We do need to stop torture, and the war criminals in the Bush administration need to be punished.

Now, many of the commenters on that piece gave variations of the two attitudes I described: "don't criticize Obama" or "we need to move forward." Here's why I think they're wrong:

Punishing members of the Bush administration for their crimes isn't really about looking backwards or being punitive. There are elements of that, but it's really about upholding justice and the rule of law. If Bush and Cheney get away with their crimes, what will prevent the next leader who thinks he or she is above the law from doing the same or worse? The founding fathers of the United States envisioned a government that was accountable to the people. What's more, they envisioned the people taking an active role in holding the government accountable. It's the only way our system works. Without that, a crucial piece of our system of government is missing. The people are supposed to be the ultimate check on abuse of power.

Here's where the second attitude that I'm objecting to comes in: "Fellow Democrats shouldn't criticize Obama." Say what? This is the same attitude Republicans tried to enforce about Bush. Don't criticize the President. Baloney. Democrats that have this "party loyalty uber alles" attitude have been objecting to progressives trying to push Obama to the left, or basically anyone who expects him to do anything that might inconvenience him. Again, I say baloney. Being President isn't supposed to be easy or convenient. He is supposed to be answerable to the people. We the people are supposed to be telling him what we expect of him and holding him accountable.

If he's not doing enough to investigate and prosecute Bush administration crimes, we need to let him know. If he's not doing enough to fight off economic depression by working from the bottom up, we need to let him know that too --- as some members of the Senate, such as Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, did recently (and were criticized for it by Obama loyalists). Democrats, progressives, liberals, our job to hold government accountable doesn't stop when people we elected are in power. Kudos to those who know this. To those who don't: get used to it.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Recury Mertrograde!

In case anyone was wondering how I got the name AstroGirl, it's because I used to sometimes send out astrological reports to my friends. I don't focus on astrology as much as I used to, but I still feel the need to let you, my wonderful reader, know what's coming for the next three weeks.

Mercury is going retrograde in Aquarius. A period where Mercury is retrograde is one where, from the point of view of the earth, Mercury appears to move backwards in its orbit. This happens usually 3 times a year and usually for about 3 weeks. (I recently read there will be 4 Mercury retrogrades this year, but I haven't looked at an ephemeris to confirm it yet.)

Mercury is the planet of communication, and communication tends to be difficult during a Mercury retrograde, because people's minds are on their own internal affairs and they aren't necessarily really listening. Hence the jumbled letters in the title of my post. This is supposed to be a bad time to sign contracts and make important decisions. You also might need to make an extra effort to make sure you are understood. Be careful with travel and driving, too.

Aquarius is the sign of the incoming astrological age, which lasts for about 2000 years or so. As such, it governs everything that has to do with the future and also technology. If your computer goes on the fritz in the next 3 weeks, don't be too surprised.

This is a great time to focus on your own internal dialogue, however, and to really get in touch with what you want and need for the coming year, but don't implement any plans you make until after Mercury comes out of its retrograde period.

For those of you who don't believe in astrology, fine, but I will tell you that more than one person I know has been convinced of the reality of astrology by observing what happens during Mercury retrograde.

P.S. If you've been wondering why I haven't posted much lately, it's because I'm trying to finish up a book I'm writing --- a satire about corporate culture. More on that later.

Happy New Year!

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