MY CITY IS GONE!

This article can be classified with the category of “The best of times, the worst of times!”

We don’t have to express the fact that the threat of the virus still exists. With over 100,000 accounted deaths so far, the crisis is far from over. However, that is not the only element that is of major concern right now.

Over the last week, there has been riots within the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota over a death that involves an arrest of a citizen that was in police custody. That act brought turmoil in that community, as well as through other communities that expresses the same concerns.

This article won’t address the case in question, even though it’s just as important as notions stand. What will be addressed is that the civil unrest that’s taking place is happening in the city of Minneapolis itself. This is a community that has been known to be labeled one of the better area in the nation to live, work, and even retire. These traits speak for both the city itself and the many suburban communities and areas that are part of the five group regions of Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Anoka, and Scott Counties. Known as the “City of Lakes”, Minneapolis hosts a few of the so-called “10,000 lakes” (as it states on the Minnesota license plates), where its local citizen can enjoy both the lake, as well as the parks that surround each body of water.

What I am attempting to state here is that all of this turmoil is occurring in a town that I have always related to as a community that is peaceful, charming, and if I may state–safe for what it is! This is a town that was never known for its crime rate. There was always an existing amount of crime, but not in the same capacity as New York, Chicago, or even Los Angeles. It was a community that I looked upon as wholesome with a great fondness attached.

This was the area where I was able to start my professional career in the fields of media production, and was the place where I first got my “act” together after experiencing a year of college that wound up to be a personal disaster. (What that “disaster” was will be noted for a future article!)

Back in the early 1980’s when I was the age of a “young adult”, I decided to move to this city to seek my so-called fame and fortune. Perhaps not as a traditional “fame and fortune” where if I wanted to be in show business, I would have moved to Hollywood looking for my big break. Even though I was interested in a career and perhaps lifestyle of being in show biz, that was not my full goal. My goal was just to live a life that was far from staying in the depressed state I was attempting to escape from.

I chose Minneapolis because I did visit the city the year before while hoping to enroll as an undergraduate at The University of Minneapolis-Minneapolis campus. Although the school was worthy enough for my needs, it didn’t offer all of the elements I was looking for at the time. However, unlike some public state colleges that were located in small towns, the U.of M.’s main campus was in the heart of the city that offered plenty of things to do without totally relying upon the campus itself. And even though it was urban, it was still suburban in my viewpoints where people from all walks of life lived. Many of its citizen were born there, lived there, and even died there. And yes, many people did speak with their unique accents and mannerisms common place for the upper midwest, This was a trait that I didn’t notice while I was living there until I saw the feature film Fargo many year later–a movie made by a pair of bothers that were born and raised in that town who used these little notions to their advantage making such phrases as “you betcha” fall into the American lexicon of speech.

I started making the rounds of moving into a large home (c. 1911) in south Minneapolis owned by a guy who was a professor of real estate at the U of M. I was one of three roommates that shared this large two story home complete with a paneled basement space. The other two roommates were people he knew from his junior high school days. I was the first “outsider” to become part of this household.

From there, I got started into TV production, my real career goal. But it wasn’t in a traditional TV station such as KSTP, WTCN, or even in the mighty WCCO. It was at a public access TV facility that was part of the local cable TV system that existed in a suburban bedroom community. (Minneapolis itself was late in the game as they didn’t get cable TV until 1984 when Rogers Cable, a Canadian cable company, was awarded the franchise from the city.) I worked up through the ranks in community TV programming, performing such duties such being as a cablecaster, a camera operator, a videotape editor, and even to a program producer where I became eventually involved in a local live talk program called Accessibly Live–a program that this very news service is a descendant!

I also had my other activities as well. I had my gang of friends, and even encountered my first so-called “girlfriend” who I even lived with for a while. And there was the community itself that I found very appealing and charming. Even through I did not take total advantage of the arts and culture that was at my disposal at the time, it was there for me to know it was there should I ever desired to ever take part of it.

The weather up in the Twin Cities did change for each season. Its Springtimes were mild and pleasant. Summertimes could be hot yet bearable. Its Fall seasons were very cool and became eye candy where the fall leaves on the trees would become a work of art of browns, yellows, and gold colors into itself. And the Winters were rather cold and sometimes brutal. However, one would and could rise to the occasion where one can take winter to its advantage. I learned how to dress warmly donning padded undergarments in layers, while mastering the art of using cross county skies! This form of transportation came in very handy when one had to travel from one part of town to another when there were massive amount of snow on the roads where cars could not travel through the city streets. Ditto for when it was bitter cold. Unless your vehicle was parked inside of a heated garage, your car battery wouldn’t have enough power to start up! And rotsa ruck in getting the AAA to get over to your car to jump it with a set of battery jumper cables!!

Of course, all good things must come to its end, and indeed the time I spent up there it did arrive to its conclusion. My career of my job at Group W Cable based in suburban Columbia Heights would be over as its parent company Westinghouse decided to sell off its cable TV network to a media conglomerate that had little interest in public access television as P.A. wasn’t a money maker for them! Although I still had my gang of friends, my relationship with my girlfriend went on the skids. And since I never completed my college degree, I eventually decided to continue my college education after taking the few years off. But the school I wanted to attend was located in Carbondale, Illinois, some 800 miles to the south. It was that moment when it was time to say farewell!

It became a somber moment to finally leave my city after a little over four years of residency. I vowed to never forget the communities I once lived within and to always keep those episodes of my life and times within my own heart and mind.

I did visit Minneapolis a few times since I had moved away with a final return in the fall of 1990. But I never had the opportunity to visit the city that I once called home since then. I always promised to myself that I would return for one day more. Alas, that “one day more” never came to be!

Of course, I speak for a community that I lived in some thirty-five plus years long after the fact. Since I left town, many things has changed. Much of the gang I once knew has either moved away, died, or just wound up on my “whatever because of…?” list. Places I used to visit or even “hung around” are long gone. A few may still remain, but only as shadows of their formal selves. The city itself has grown, and its diversity has changed as well. It is no longer the blond-hair-blue-eyed-white-completion round of citizens that existed while I was present. And these changes were for the better and for the worst.

I had the good times I experienced along with the moments that were not going as well as it could have been. I will always remember those four short years where I was able to develop myself to where and how I stand in this very day and age. I will always call myself a Minneapolitian that’s on a leave of absence. I will always pledge my allegiance to the city and its surrounding community that I so desired to become part of. And I will say that living up in the frozen north was indeed a small portion of the best years of my life.

And as the norskies would say, “Uff da!”
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

For the last few weeks, we have been asked a number of times on the current status of community theater in the Los Angeles region.

Since middle March, no theater, be it the larger establishments or the smaller intimate places have been conducting show performances thanks to the current slow and shut down of activities due to COVID-19.

The following press release on the latest details is being published in its entirety. It speaks for those theater companies that are doing their part in making their long awaited appearance become a reality once more…

Los Angeles Intimate Theaters Release
a Message of Hope and Solidarity for Their Future

Artistic Directors of 44 Intimate (aka 99-Seat) non-profit theaters have created a roundtable to discuss the post COVID-19 re-emergence of theatre in Los Angeles. The group recently released the following statement:

“Like Los Angeles, our theatre community has always been at the forefront of innovation. As an integral part of the cultural conversation, a group of 44 artistic directors from LA’s intimate theaters came together two months ago to discuss how we can move through the current COVID crisis and come out stronger. We are committed to raising the bar and pushing the boundaries of professional theatre. At weekly virtual roundtables, we continue to remind each other that theatre is a collaborative art form, in every sense of the word. We are stronger together as one community regardless of company size.
 
While the doors to our theaters may be shut, our artists continue to innovate and utilize new technology to serve Los Angeles and promote the importance of theatre. Our creative work has never been limited to our stages, and the boundless creativity of Los Angeles theatre artists will ensure that our theaters will reopen with a renewed sense of purpose. Los Angeles is one of the cultural capitals of the world, and together we make sure that #LALivesOnStage.”

This statement was signed by the following intimate theaters:

24th Street Theatre, Actors Co-op After Hours Theatre Company Ammunition Theatre Company Antaeus Theatre Company Boston Court Pasadena Celebration Theatre Chance Theater Company of Angels Coeurage Theater Company Echo Theater Company Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA Fountain Theatre Ghost Road Theatre Company Greenway Arts Alliance IAMA Theatre Company Impro Theatre Latino Theatre Company Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble Matrix Theatre Company Moving Arts Odyssey Theatre Ensemble Open Fist Theatre Company Ophelia’s Jump Productions Playwrights’ Arena Pacific Resident Theatre Rogue Machine Theatre Ruskin Group Theatre Sacred Fools Theater Company Sierra Madre Playhouse Skylight Theatre Company Son of Semele Theatre of NOTE The 6th Act The Group Rep Theatre The Inkwell Theater The New American Theatre The Road Theatre Company The Robey Theatre Company The Victory, United Stages, VS.Theatre Company, Theatre West, and Whitefire Theatre

The group is taking this opportunity of a pause in their programming to consider some of the bigger issues facing Los Angeles intimate theaters. Most importantly, they have implemented action committees for creating collaborative strategies in health and safety protocols for audiences, staff, and artists. Other areas of focus include marketing, and planning an online Intimate Theatre Festival, with a Live LA Theatre Festival in the works once everyone is able to gather again. Partnering with LA Stage Alliance/onStage.LA, the group is working to establish a central hub for all Los Angeles theatre activities.
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!