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

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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